The Chicago Mob is the same as it has always been—violent, greedy, and excessive. The Outfit families have turned their backs when they were needed the most one too many times, but Dino DeLuca didn’t expect anything different.
His whole life has been lived for the Outfit—for his family.
He has a whole new set of reasons to live and fight now.
Karen Martin makes Dino change all the rules.
He’s finally ready to show everyone just how much waste is truly worth in the mafia, and just how far one will go for freedom from it all.
He’s learned these lessons well.
Author’s Note: The DeLuca Duet is a standalone duet with a HEA ending that can be read independently.
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Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to three young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.
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“Did you do what I asked?” Dino questioned, his gaze flicking to Mike.
He’d allowed himself to think about Karen, and that was enough to hurt.
Dino didn’t want to hurt.
Not right now.
Mike nodded. “I did. I contacted her through private means that wouldn’t draw attention, explained who I was, and what you asked of her. She wasn’t happy—actually, she told me not to ever contact her again.”
Dino cleared his throat, surprised at Mike’s description of Karen’s response. She was not a rude woman, and she wasn’t the type to be purposefully hateful to someone. But then again, maybe all of this had just been too much for her, and that was her way of acting out against it. He didn’t know, and he really didn’t have any reason to speculate on the whys of it all.
“What else?” Dino asked.
“Nothing, Dino. I did as she asked. I can’t force information on her if she doesn’t want to hear it. That’s called harassment.”
“She hasn’t come back since that first time,” Dino said.
“Then she did what you wanted.”
Dino wasn’t sure if that was the case or not. Had she done what he requested, or had that one and only visit and his rejection been the final straw that broke her back where he was concerned?
God knew he wouldn’t blame her if it was.
“But I did receive a letter to my office last week,” Mike said, drawing in Dino’s attention again.
“What does that have to do with me?”
Mike popped open his briefcase, pulling out a white envelope and passing it over. “I only opened it because it wasn’t personally signed to go to you, but to my office, and to me. I figured she meant for it to somehow get to you … maybe, say, in a way that the prison wouldn’t get a hold of it first.”
Dino’s confusion must have shown on his face, because Mike only chuckled when he asked, “She?”
“There’s only one ‘she’ you’re trying to keep away, isn’t there?”
Dino didn’t dignify that with a response.
Mike wasn’t looking for one. “Open it. If you want, I can take it with me when I go, but I think you might want to keep it. At least, if it were me, I’d keep it. There’s not much that could be identifiable, should someone stumble upon it.”
He didn’t have any idea what his lawyer was talking about, but the second he opened the envelope and tipped it over in his hand to empty the contents out, he understood perfectly fine.
A small six-by-four, colored photograph of a baby swaddled in blue with a matching wool cap stared up at him from his hands. For a long while, Dino simply stared at the photograph of the baby boy, unsure and wary in his heart.
But in his soul … oh, there he felt warm.
Like he knew just by looking at the face of the child that this was his son.
Dino sat there, staring at the photograph and saying nothing as he traced the features of his child with the tip of his index finger. He had so much guilt—so much regret. He’d missed too much already, he’d missed his baby’s first day on earth.
He hadn’t been sure he would even know how to be a father when he first learned about the pregnancy, but shit, he wanted to try.
He should be allowed to at least try for his son.
“Flip it over,” Mike said. “She wrote on the back for you.”
Dino did, finding Karen’s familiar scrawl on the back of the photograph.
JD Martin, it read. But I call him Junior.
The baby’s birthdate, just a week and a half earlier, was written underneath.
And then, under that, was something Dino hadn’t expected.
I’ll see you soon, Karen had written.
Dino didn’t need more.
It was enough.
This was perfect.