Author: Alex Crossman
Mexican mafia princess Sierra Vasquez is kidnapped away from the alter on her wedding day by small-time hood Valentino Perez. Perez’s main goal is to discover the whereabouts of the mysterious Golden Hand, a fabled treasure worth billions, and he knows that Sierra knows where it is. Too bad Sierra doesn’t! Locking her away in his summer home and threatening her life doesn’t help, but it does produce a mind-blowing sexual friction between the captor and his beautiful captive princess that will forever change both their lives.
I was sixteen years old before I realized my beloved father was a gangster. I mean, the signs were definitely there—the days and sometimes weeks he spent away from home, the ridiculous luxury of our home on the Gold Coast, the legions of shifty men who visited us at all hours of the day and night. But this was the man who had raised me singlehandedly after my mom had died just after my birth, the man who took me to school in his limo, who taught me to throw a baseball, who took me to the zoo and shopping for my first bra. When I was thirteen, he held a huge birthday party for me in the garden, complete with a performing clown and a monkey, and he let me have as many friends over from school as I wanted. He was the best father a girl without a mother could possibly have.
But yes, he was a gangster, though I didn’t understand that, or just didn’t want to accept it, until I was sixteen and my life changed forever. It was the day of my birthday, my Sweet Sixteen, and my daddy had offered to take me on a vacation down to Mexico, but I had asked if I could just have some friends over. My dad’s wealth—and his propensity for spending it on me—often embarrassed me. That day, my friends gathered around the patio table on the veranda and we had cake and ice cream and talked about all the boys we liked. I was happy to spend the day with my friends, though sad my dad had had to go out of town unexpectedly.
“Connor is totally into you,” my best friend Juanita said, and I laughed at that because Connor was the first boy I had ever crushed on, and just thinking about him made my ears burn.
“Oh, Sierra’s blushing!” my other best friend Fern said. “Sweet Sixteen and never been kissed!”
(That was me—never having been kissed.)
About that time, my dad’s assistant Alejandro stepped out onto the veranda and said, “Sierra, florecita, I must speak to you privately.”
I rolled my eyes at him. Whenever my dad went out of town on business, he left Alejandro to look after me, and he always insisted on calling me florecita, which in Spanish means “little flower”. I stepped inside my father’s study and Alejandro closed the door and asked me to sit down. He made me my first drink, and I knew then that the news wasn’t good.
My father, my daddy, was dead. Alejandro did not sugarcoat it. He’d been shot during a meeting with another businessman and had died en route to the hospital.
I took a trembling sip of my dad’s bourbon, then said the one thing that bothered me more than anything else. “Daddy did bad things, didn’t he, Alejandro?”
“What do you mean, florecita?” Alejandro said, coming up behind the wicker settee where I sat and resting his big hand comfortingly on my small shoulder.
“I mean he was like…Al Capone. He was a mob boss, wasn’t he?”
Alejandro weighed my question a moment before answering, “Yes, Sierra. He was what you would call a mob boss, though we call it Le eMe and your father was El Padre to us. He did some bad things in his life but he was not a bad man, and you must never remember him that way. He was a good man who died unfairly and before his time, but he knew this day would come, and he asked that I look after his beloved nina when he did.”
He came around the settee to kneel down before me and dry my tears with his handkerchief. He let me cry on his shoulder for a good long time before easing me back. Then he showed me the carefully wrapped birthday gift that my daddy had been planning to give me for my Sweet Sixteen.
When I opened the small jewelry box, I discovered a platinum, heart-shaped locket with a picture of my mother on one side and a picture of my dad on the other. A handwritten note accompanied the locket and read, Let this locket guide you to your treasure, my daughter. I love you always, Daddy.
“Now El Padre will never be far from your heart, florecita. And I, Alejandro, will never be far from your side,” my daddy’s right-hand man said, which just made me cry some more.
Alejandro was as good as his word. In a way, he became like my second father. He saw me through the remainder of my high school years and through college and graduation. He even approved my engagement to Connor McDermott when I was twenty-two years old, though Connor was white and not Mexican. I thought he would oppose me on that, but I think Alejandro realized early on that I was not cut out for mob life. I did not want luxury if it meant bathing in blood money, and I did not want to see after my father’s business dealings—I left that to Alejandro.
I did not even seek vengeance for my father’s murder. Alejandro taught me that in Le eMe in order for revenge to be extracted on my father’s murder, I would need to initiate it, as his next of kin, but my heart wasn’t in it. I did not want more men to die, even those who had ended my father’s life.
And besides, I had other ambitions that had nothing to do with mob business. I had graduated with a degree in art and I planned to teach at a local middle school. I was thinking of writing my first illustrated children’s book, and I was getting married in just a few months. For the first time in my life, I was satisfied. Maybe not jumping-through-hoops happy, but satisfied. I loved my life. My crush on Connor had cooled somewhat with time, but he was stable and quiet and unassuming—a good balance to my sometimes fiery Latina temperament.
I had everything I wanted, everything I needed: Alejandro to protect me, my best friends Juanita and Fern to keep me happy, and sweet Connor to comfort and protect me.
Then the day of my wedding arrived, and my life changed all over again.