Four years later
We gathered in front of the house as the limo pulled up to the curb. The kids were on their way downstairs to say goodbye to the twins, giving us a few minutes alone to get our queen to act like one.
Alex was a mess, crying and clinging to my side. She clutched my silk handkerchief and sobbed.
Marcello was on her right, his lips right beside her ear as he ran his fingers down her arm to soothe her. “Do you I need to kiss all of your tears away, princess?”
Bash pushed the blonde curls off her shoulder from behind and kissed her neck. “Relax, Cherry.” He stroked his thumb across her cheek. “The boys can handle initiation.”
Damian was on her left and kissed her cheek. “Shhh, Pet. We got you. They’re going to be fine. It’s only a few months. We all went through it.”
“A few months where they can’t talk to their Ma.” She wiped at her eyes. “They need me.”
I laughed. “They’re men now, Drea. Our boys can handle themselves. They don’t need their mother wiping their asses anymore.”
“Luca,” she groaned, then slapped my arm. “Twenty years of marriage, and you’re still the same asshole I married.”
“You wouldn’t want me any other way.” I winked, and she frowned, so I hooked my arm around her and kissed the top of her head. “You knew this day was coming, my queen. Angelo and Leo are Salvatores. They’re adults now, not babies. One of them will replace me on their twenty-fifth birthday, and they can’t do that if they don’t pass initiation.”
She forced a smile.
Alex was mad at me, but she also wanted me to console her, tell her the twins would make it through initiation unharmed. There was no way they could endure the months of hell each of us had to go through to become Knights without it changing them. They had to bond with the other Knights going through the process with them.
This was a necessary evil.
“I’m not ready, Luca,” she choked out. “They’re still boys.”
“Eighteen,” I reminded her. “Same as my brothers and me. We all went through this. Even your brother. And all of us are still breathing.”
She bit her lip. “I know, but…”
“The twins have been men for years. I taught them how to shoot when they were old enough to hold a gun. Marcello trained both of them in mixed martial arts. Damian showed them how to hunt. And Bash has been teaching them survival skills for years. They are more prepared than any of the acolytes.”
Instead of handing the reins to Leo, who was older by three minutes, I wanted the twins to fight for the honor of becoming the Grand Master of The Devil’s Knights. They had to be strong, hardened by this life to replace me. And they would work for it, just like my father had done to Marcello and me.
I pulled her into my arms and parted her pretty pink lips with my tongue. A quick kiss that got her out of her head as she kissed me back.
As our lips separated, she stared at me, breathless. “I know what you’re doing.”
I grinned. “Is it working?”
She shook her head. “I’m so scared, Luca. After all the stories you and your brothers and Aiden have told me about initiation, I feel sick to my stomach.”
“Baby, you’re a queen. Our queen.” I looked at my brothers. “Do we need to get your crown to remind you of its strength? Of your strength.”
She chuckled. “No.”
Alex only wore her crown on special occasions with the Knights. Sometimes, I brought it into the bedroom and made her wear the crown and nothing else. She was so fucking sexy. Seven kids changed her body, but for the better. Our wife had curves for days, her tits even fuller than before she had kids.
We were eighteen when we met, the same age as our twin boys. Back then, she was so young and naïve. Just as broken and damaged as the rest of us. But now, she was strong, a queen in her own right, and the one person who changed all of us.
After one twin succeeded me, Alex would no longer be the Queen of The Devil’s Knights. And no one else would ever have the honor of holding that position. She was the only queen of our corrupt empire.
“Ma,” Angelo said as he walked out the front door beside Leo. “Would ya stop crying already?” He stole her from my arms and wrapped his arms around Alex, towering over her. He was even taller than me. “No one died. Aliens haven’t invaded the planet. It’s not the end of the world. We’ll be back at the end of the summer.”
“And then, you’ll be leaving me again for Harvard.” She cupped his cheek and smiled. “I hate this.”
“I love you, Ma.” He bent down and kissed her cheek. “Stop worrying about us.”
“Yeah, Ma,” Leo said, yanking his mother from his brother’s arms. He hugged her hard against his chest and patted her back. “We’re grown-ass men. Would ya chill?” She raised an eyebrow at him and he added, “Please?”
“So much like your fathers.” She sighed, gripping his muscular biceps. “I’m going to miss both of you.”
“We promise not to get ourselves killed,” Leo joked.
“Not funny,” Alex shot back.
I curled my arms around her and rested my chin on her shoulder. “Remember, I can see everything they’re doing. Nothing is going to happen to them. I promise, baby.”
They would lie, cheat, kill, and steal. Do pretty much anything their Pledge Master forced them to do. But it was a controlled environment, one I controlled.
Knowing I was right, she relaxed, letting her shoulders drop a few inches. “Come here and give your Ma one more kiss before you go.”
“Ma,” Leo grunted.
She raised her hand and beckoned him with her index finger. “Nope. Don’t you Ma me. Get your cute butt over here and give me a proper goodbye.”
I let her go, and the twins hugged her, smacking kisses on each of her cheeks. They were both six feet four inches and so strong. The twins looked like me, except Leo had Alex’s blonde curly hair that he kept short. But Angelo was the spitting image of me and even spiked his hair like mine.
I was so fucking proud of them.
They both graduated with the highest honors from Astor Prep and would attend my alma mater, Harvard University, in the Fall. Soon they would be Knights. I couldn’t wait until the day I got both of them on their knees in the temple, surrounded by the Knights as I welcomed them into our organization.
That was tradition.
A rite of passage.
My father and Adriana came outside a moment later with Eve. She was seventeen and going into her final year at Astor Prep. Cato went straight to Bastian’s side like an obedient dog. They had issues for years, but after Bash found some common ground with him, the two were inseparable. He looked like Bash more each day and was fourteen now, about to start high school.
Marcus clung to my dad’s hip and was tall for a six-year-old. Adriana held Santino, who had just turned four. We knew the moment Alex delivered Saint, he definitely wasn’t Bash’s kid. Alex wanted to name him Santino because he was our little saint. One more miracle after trying for a long time. We did one final paternity test and found out he was Marcello’s boy.
Sofia had left for Europe a few days ago, where she was studying Culinary Arts at the famous Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She wanted to be a master chef. None of us could cook, so she didn’t get it from her parents. When she was a girl, she spent a lot of time in the kitchen with our in-house chefs. Taste-testing turned into her learning how to make pastries and then entrees.
And she was damn good at it.
After everyone said their goodbyes to the twins, I escorted them to the limo and climbed in beside them. I closed the door so I could speak to them alone.
“Listen to me,” I said in a firm tone. “You are never to tell your mother the truth about initiation.”
“But she’s the queen. Doesn’t she know already?” Leo asked.
I shook my head. “No, and it will stay that way. She would be heartbroken if she knew what you’re about to do to become Knights.”
They stared at me with wide-eyed expressions.
“Do you understand me?”
“Yes, sir,” they said in unison.
I wasn’t lying to Alex. It just wouldn’t help her state of mind to know all the horrible shit her boys would do over the next few months. Cato had a few more years until it was his turn. At least she had over a decade before she had to worry about Saint joining his brothers.
“I’m proud of you,” I told them. “One of you will rule the Knights and the other will replace me as the CEO of Salvatore Global. It’s up to you to decide where you belong.”
My father didn’t give Marcello the same option, and he didn’t want it. His talents were better suited for the mercenary side of our business. Sitting on phone calls and board meetings would have bored him to death. My brother liked to be out in the field, commanding his own army.
“May the best twin win,” Angelo quipped, always the smart ass.
“I’m the oldest,” Leo shot back. “It’s my right to be the Grand Master.”
I scooted across the leather bench and held his gaze. “When I was competing with Marcello for your mother, I almost lost her and the right to become the Grand Master.”
Leo's eyes widened. “Is that why Ma ended up with four husbands?”
The boys were old enough to understand all four of us fucked their mother. They never really seemed to care about it. Leo often asked me questions, as if he were wondering what it would be like to share a woman with his brother.
I knew for a fact they both fucked the same girls more than once. Because I’d caught them out by the pool, in their rooms, and even in the garage on the side of the house. Alex didn’t need to know about that either. It would have turned her stomach knowing the next generation of Salvatore men were like her husbands in every way. I let her hang onto the idea they were still her babies.
I nodded. “So don’t get cocky. Age doesn’t matter. I will choose whoever is best suited for each position. Being the Grand Master is hard. So is being a CEO. You have to make tough decisions and do shit you won’t want to do.”
“Can we go to The Mansion when we get back?” Angelo said with a smirk. “Ya know, to celebrate being Knights.”
This fucking kid.
“Always thinking with your dick.” I cupped his shoulder and sighed. “Sure. But don’t tell your mother you’ve ever seen the inside of that place.”
He laughed because that was the same thing I told him whenever he asked for shit that would have given Alex a stroke.
But they were men.
They weren’t boys.
If they wanted to get their dicks wet by pros, who was I to stop them? My dad did the same shit with my brothers and me. All of us lost our virginity at the brothel.
Another Salvatore rite of passage.
“Dad,” Leo said as I gripped the door handle.
I turned to look at him. “Yeah?”
“Any advice on how to get through the next few months?”
“Don’t get yourselves killed. Your mother will be very upset.”
“Dad,” Angelo groaned beside his brother, who shook his head at me. “Seriously?”
I rubbed the top of his head, messing up his gelled black spikes. “Wanna know what Nonno told me before I left for initiation?”
I would never forget the advice my dad had given to Bastian, Damian, and me right before we left the same spot the summer after high school graduation. His words never left me, because I knew one day I would tell my sons the same thing.
“You’re a Salvatore. Make them fear the name I gave you.”
“Love you, Dad.” Angelo smiled, a real one that touched his blue eyes. “We won’t disappoint the family.”
I could almost hear it in his voice. Angelo lived to please me. Leo wasn’t as affectionate as Angelo, kinda like his dad. I didn’t show an ounce of emotion until Alex ripped it out of my cold, damaged heart.
I cupped each of their cheeks in my hands. “I love you both. But if you don’t come back to me with at least a few scratches, it will disappoint me.”
I smirked, sort of joking, but not really, and they laughed. Then I got out of the limo and joined the rest of the family. Alex waited for me with Santino’s head rested on her tits, stroking the back of his neck with her fingers. He was asleep and snoring softly.
Everyone waved as the limo drove around the circular driveway, headed toward the front gate.
“They’ll be okay,” I promised.
Alex smiled. “What did you say to them?”
I glanced over at my dad and tipped my head. “The same thing my father said to us over two decades ago.”
It was time for a new era.
The next generation of Knights.
Thank you for reading!
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