Machiavellian (Gangsters of New York, #1) - Bella Di Corte

Prologue

Vittorio

We were once the rulers of the world. Side by side, my father and I reigned over what I assumed would be mine one day: a kingdom of misfits and a throne built on fear and respect. Soon enough, though, I’d find out that ruling the world was only one reality.

Reality differs from person to person, soul to soul, perspective to perspective.

For instance, my father saw life as a game to be won—to be precise, a chess game. Move for ruthless move, he had become the king of New York by being brutal and cunning. No matter what he did, or what move he made, he did so with one objective in mind: win all, no matter who gets trumped in the end. Strategies, forethought, take no prisoners and show no mercy, not even to those closest to you—these were the three codes he religiously lived by.

He made the right connections, married the perfect girl, worked all the lavish parties and schmoozed or killed numerous people from all walks of life. He proved to the reality we created, the world we ruled over, how competent he was and how vicious he could be. Even those who ruled the streets feared his name.

Arturo Lupo Scarpone, the King of New York.

No one could trump his moves. No one could get close to him. Not even his own flesh and blood. His son.

Vittorio Lupo Scarpone, the Pretty-Boy Prince.

Arturo stripped me of the reality, that name, and banished me from the kingdom he had so savagely prepared me for, and then, and then, he wrote me off as dead.

There was a reason his men called him il re lupo. The king wolf. He’d kill his own offspring if it meant more power.

There’s an old saying: Dead men tell no tales. I didn’t have tales to tell. I only had one gruesome story.

This time the man who created me was going to pay. Because if I was already dead in his eyes, how could he see me coming?

Boo, motherfucker. You called me The Prince. I’m back to rule your world as King.

Vittorio

18 Years Ago

Arranged marriages were not uncommon in our culture. I’d always known that someday I’d marry Angelina Zamboni. Her father was connected, and apart from mine, he was one of the most powerful men in New York. Angelo Zamboni, Angelina’s father, was in politics.

Mine dealt more in fear and bloodshed, though hers didn’t shy away from that either. Angelo’s hands were clean even if his conscience was filthy. Arturo Scarpone was born without a conscience and grew into a man with palms full of blood—most people in our circle both admired and feared that about him. Angelo craved that sort of ruthless backing, so he agreed to the marriage before his daughter had a say.

We were the couple that everyone admired and praised. We made a beautiful couple. We would make beautiful babies. We would make a beautiful life together, even if the shady parts of my life were hidden behind the seemingly perfect life we lived. When the day came for me to rule this ruthless kingdom my father left me, she’d be the queen next to me on this throne built on bloodshed.

Angelina would also be my very own omertà. She’d be my vow of silence through thick and thin, good times and bad, sickness and health, through the most trying police interviews and adversaries attempting to put the fear of God into her.

Loyalty was even more powerful than love in this life. It was imperative to know your enemies better than your friends. But I had learned early on that no one was truly your friend. Loyalty all depended on how much they depended on you, and you on them.

Angelina grinned and then nudged me as we walked the streets of New York, bringing me out of my thoughts. It was dark out, but the many lights around us lit up her face.

Her hair was the color of soft caramel, her skin tan, and her eyes brown. My brother once said she had wicked eyes. They were. When she wanted revenge, they narrowed to daggers and showed no mercy. She wasn’t taller than me even with heels, but she was tall for a woman. Her legs were long enough to wrap around me and pull me closer when we fucked.

In a month’s time, I’d call her my wife—Mrs. Vittorio Scarpone—and years’ worth of business dealings between my father and hers would come to fruition. Arturo liked telling Angelo that the two