Amelie Pearce, born into one of the prominent crime families in Chicago, is a princess of the mafia renowned for her physical attractiveness. However, what many perceive as a blessing becomes her downfall when she is compelled to marry Gio Locatelli, in order to establish peace between two mafia dynasties. Gio is the prospective head of the Locatelli Cartel within the New York Famiglia, a man infamous for his brutal nature and for strangling his cousin with his bare hands. Millie is filled with terror at the prospect of marrying such a monster. Despite being one of the most desirable bachelors in New York due to his good looks, wealth, and charismatic but predatory demeanor, Millie understands that Gio's bad boy persona is more than just an act. Behind Gio's captivating gray eyes and arrogant smile lie bloodshed and death. In her world, an attractive exterior often conceals a hidden monster—one capable of both killing and kissing with equal ease. However, escaping from the arranged union, let alone a man like Gio, is impossible. He would pursue her to the ends of the earth. Millie's only hope of survival in a marriage with Gio is to win his affection and gradually find her way into his heart—despite rumors that suggest Gio possesses no heart at all. A beautiful mafia princess given to a monstrous man. Even monsters harbor a heart. She fully intends to find her place within it.
I was curled up on the chaise longue in our library, reading, when a knock sounded. Sienna’s head rested in my lap and Sienna didn’t even stir when the dark wooden door opened and our mother, Minerva, stepped in, her dark blond hair pulled back tightly and fasted in a bun at the back of her head. Mother was pale, her face drawn with worry.
“Did something happen?” I asked.
Minerva smiled, but it was her fake smile. “Your father wants to talk to you in his office.”
I felt a sense of unease settle in my stomach as I rose from the chaise longue. My mother's behavior and the mention of my father wanting to talk to me in his office indicated that something serious had occurred. I wondered if it had to do with my father's work or if it involved something else entirely.
As I followed Minerva through the library and down the hallway, my mind raced with various possibilities. I couldn't recall any recent missteps that would warrant my father's attention, but I couldn't shake off the feeling that I was about to face a reprimand.
We reached father's office, a grand room with mahogany furnishings and shelves lined with leather-bound books. The air inside was heavy, carrying an atmosphere of tension that made my palms slightly damp. Minerva paused at the door, her hand resting on the doorknob.
"Remember, Millie," my mother said, her voice filled with a mix of concern and caution, "be respectful and listen carefully to what your father has to say."
I nodded, swallowing her apprehension. I understood the importance of showing respect and attentiveness during serious discussions with my parents. I took a deep breath, preparing myself for whatever awaited me on the other side of that door.
Minerva opened the door, revealing the sight of my father seated behind a large oak desk. He looked up from his papers, his gaze stern yet tinged with something else I couldn't quite decipher. His salt-and-pepper hair was neatly combed, and his piercing blue eyes seemed to penetrate her thoughts.
"Come in, Millie," Father said, motioning toward the empty chair across from him. His voice carried a gravity that made her heart race even faster.
I walked into the room and took a seat, hands clasped tightly in my lap. I studied Father's expression, searching for clues as to why I had been summoned.
"What's this about, Father?" I asked, trying to keep my voice steady.
He had a strange expression on his face as he scrutinized me. “The Yaglom and the Triad are trying to claim our territories. They are getting bolder by the day. We’re luckier than the Las Vegas familia who also has to deal with the Mexicans but we can’t ignore the threat the Russians and the Taiwanese pose any longer.”
My frown deepened as I tried to make sense of Father's words. The sudden shift in alliances and the mention of the Yaglom, the Triad, and the Taiwanese had caught me off guard. It was a side of Father's world I had only glimpsed from a distance, and now it seemed that distance was shrinking.
Confusion filled me. Father never talked about business to us. Girls didn’t need to know about the finer details of the mob business.
“We have to lay our feud with the New York Familia to rest and combine forces if we want to fight back the Yaglom and the Triad.”
Peace with the Familia?
Father and every other member of the Chicago Huff’s Order hated the Familia. They had been killing each other for decades and only recently decided on ignoring each other in favor of killing off the members of other crime organizations, like the Yaglom and the Triad. “There is no stronger bond than blood. At least the Familia got that right.”
Her father's words lingered in the air, and I realized that this new direction would undoubtedly have repercussions for my own life. The boundaries between my sheltered existence and the dangerous underworld Father operated in were blurring, and I couldn't help but feel a mixture of curiosity and trepidation about what lay ahead.
“Born in blood. Sworn in blood. That’s their motto.”
As I nodded, my confusion only intensified.
“I met with Agatone Locatelli yesterday.”
The revelation that Father had met with the Locatelli Coalition, the head of the New York mob, left me stunned. A meeting between New York and Chicago hadn’t taken place in a decade and the last time hadn’t ended well. It was still referred to as the Bloody Thursday. And Father wasn’t even the Boss. He was only the Consigliere, the adviser to Vernon Huff who ruled over the Order and with it the crime in NYC.
“We agreed that for peace to be an option we had to become family.” Father’s eyes bored into me and suddenly I didn’t want to hear what else he had to say. “Vernon and I agreed that you would marry Locatelli’s oldest son Gio, the future of Locatelli Cartel.”
I sat quietly, my mind racing with a mixture of fear, resignation, and anger.
“Locatelli and Vernon have been talking on the phone several times in the last few weeks, and Locatelli wanted the most beautiful girl for his son. Of course, we couldn’t give him the daughter of one of our soldiers. Vernon doesn’t have daughters, so he said you were the most beautiful girl available.”
I had always known that my family had connections to the criminal underworld, but I never thought it would come to this. Being forced into a marriage with a man I barely knew, and worse, a man with a reputation for violence, was beyond my worst nightmares.
Harper, my younger sister, was just as beautiful, but she was younger. That probably saved her.
I had dreams of my own, aspirations to pursue my education, build a career, and live a life free from the shackles of my family's dark legacy. But now it seemed like those dreams were being crushed under the weight of my father's decision.
My thoughts drifted to my friends, my classmates, and the life I would be leaving behind. I had always been known as the pretty one, but I never wanted my looks to define my worth or dictate my future. It felt like Father, Vernon and the Locatelli family were treating me as nothing more than a pawn in their power games.
“But, Father, I’m fifteen. I can’t marry.” I tried to reason.
Father made a dismissive gesture. “If I were to agree, you could. What do we care about laws?”
As she gripped the armrests with an iron grip, her knuckles grew whiter with each passing moment. However, she couldn't feel the familiar sensation of pain coursing through her hands. “Vernon mentioned to Locatelli that the wedding would need to wait until you turn eighteen, as your mother insisted that you should be of age and complete your education. It seems that your mother's pleas influenced Vernon's decision.”
The mention of Minerva, gave me a glimmer of hope. Perhaps she could find a way to buy more time, to figure out a plan to escape this fate. I needed those extra years to gather my strength and find a way to break free from this life that had been forced upon me.
As Father continued to praise the benefits of the arranged marriage, I felt a fire ignite within me. Deep down, I knew that agreeing to Father's decision was the only option.