Reckless (Bertoli Crime Family #2)

By: Lauren Landish

A Bad Boy Romance

Chapter 1


From ten thousand feet, circling SeaTac in our landing pattern, I was disappointed in seeing Seattle again. I should have driven. Up there, it was too pristine, too clean, too . . . quiet. I'd spent the past four years, more or less, being quiet. I was ready to get back into the pulse of life.

Not that the quiet hadn't helped. Four years prior, when I was eighteen, the last thing I wanted to be was Tomasso Bertoli, heir-apparent of Carlo Bertoli, Godfather of all of Seattle and Tacoma. I wanted to be a normal guy, with normal dreams and the expectation that I wouldn't have to risk my life either by getting shot like my uncle, Johnny, or going to jail like my cousin, Vince. Spending ten years in jail worried about dropping the soap? No thanks. Not for me, even if I was protected.

So I took the opportunity to get the hell out of Seattle. In fact, I went country, although my family never really knew to what extent. Going by the name of Tom Bertoli, I couldn't hide my heritage, but I hid just about everything else. Gone were the suits, the designer clothes, and the slick looks that had gotten me plenty of attention and plenty of ass in high school. Instead, I'd worn off-the-shelf jeans and t-shirts. My Alfa Romeo was replaced with a Chevy, and I tried to act like a normal college student.

Well, a normal college student in most ways. I was about fifty miles from the Gulf Coast in Alabama, in a little town that was just outside Mobile, and I grew to appreciate a few things. Fried catfish, for one, dusted in corn flour and then deep fried. I had to work hard to keep the weight off during my first year in college. I'm not one of those skinny poof types—I took after my uncle Johnny and have loved the weights and the powerful look since about the first time I picked up a weight in the house gym. So as good as it was, I had to watch the Southern food.

But the second and best part about being in the South? Southern girls. Say what you want—there are lots of dirt poor areas—but the women are something else. Southern girls know how to treat their men right. They know how to talk, how to move, and how to be feminine in ways that the girls I knew in Seattle didn't. Some of them liked to put on a front about being good girls, but once you got past it, they were down to fuck like it was nobody's business. The hardest part was getting the snaps on their shorts undone.

But starting in my junior year, things just went weird for me. Maybe it was that I got bored. Classes were easy, and finding new challenges in the women department was getting harder and harder. I mean, I'd picked up a pretty good list of accomplishments, but it was just too easy, and I stopped wanting to be in the South any longer.

Whatever the reason, during my last semester in college, I felt an itch inside me, a desire to go back to Seattle. I'd left because I didn't want to be Tomasso Bertoli, crown prince of the Bertoli family, and I knew I still didn't . . . at least to a degree. I didn't want to be handed a position merely due to my last name. What I wanted was to earn my place, to work my way up. If I were to take over when my father was ready to retire, then I'd do it because I was ready to handle the position. If I couldn't, then I'd happily pass it on to Adriana or Daniel if they wanted it, or to my little brother, Angelo.

My thoughts raced in my mind as the Delta 737 circled SeaTac. The city was just too damn sleepy and sterile up in the air. I should have driven.

Thankfully, I was met at the gate by one of my favorite members of the Bertoli family, Pietro Marconi's son, Jake. Instead of going to college, Jake signed up for a three-year hitch with the Army, figuring that he'd pick up all the training he needed to become better at following in his father's footsteps by working a little bit for the government. He'd gotten out a few months before I graduated, and he looked healthy and happy. "Tommy, it's good to see you."

"Actually, Jake, you can call me Tomasso now," I said with a smile, exchanging brotherly hugs with my friend. "I think I got all the ‘Tommy’ out of me down South. You ever get to Alabama?"

"Can't say that I did," Jake replied. Unlike his father, who looked like he was Italian, Jake always had a bit of a California surfer vibe to him, but who knew where in his DNA the dark dirty-blond came from? His mother, Carla Marconi, had coal black hair like her husband. “The best I could manage was doing infantry school over at Fort Benning, Georgia. Then they stuck me in fucking Korea for the rest of the time."

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