Chapter Ten

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Alex and I flew down the stairs, her fingers wrapped tightly around mine.

Raul and Claire were already waiting in the foyer but they were on high alert, eyes darting around the room for any would-be attackers.

It was impossible to tell who was on whose side. I was sure the Estate guards—the men I spoke to everyday on my way to the kitchen, the soldiers that kept guard outside my bedroom—they were on my side. They had to be.

But what about the ones from out of town? The ones that I didn't know personally?

The four of us hid just under the stairs, near the door that led to the main hallway that led to the library. Sophia would be hiding there.

"Raul, get Alex out of here," I told him, hoping that he would forget that he didn't work for me.

"I'm not leaving you here," Alex declared, predictably. "And don't order my body guard around," she added, narrowing her eyes at me, "I don't order yours around."

"Like you could," Claire huffed, lifting her brows in challenge when Alex shot her a look full of lightning.

Raul glared at them, a surprising display of emotion for a usually stony-faced man. He turned to look at me, offering me a slight nod of his head. "Ms. Greco is right," he said simply. He held a gun at his side, and returned his attention to the foyer, his eyes narrowing as a few more people ran out the front door. "Vittorio will have a direct view of the front door from the top of the stairs. It's too risky for us to exit that way, even if we run the..." He paused briefly as he calculated, "20 feet across the foyer. We could be directly in his crosshairs for too long. We have to find a different way out."

"There are a bunch of other rooms through here," I said, opening the door leading to the hallway and gesturing them through. They filed into the hallway, nervously looking up and down it, but we were alone.

I stared straight into Raul's eyes as I gave him directions, my hands waving wildly about as if that would help. "Find a window or a backdoor that leads to the yard. Run along the stone wall surrounding the property. It'll take you a few minutes to reach the end of the property, but there's an old gate there that leads into the street—"

A memory of taking that route myself last time the Estate was under attack flickered through my brain. My stomach began to hurt. I could feel Alex's gaze burning into the side of my face, but I wouldn't look at her, I couldn't.

"What about you?" Alex asked, her hand reaching for mine again, temporarily snapping me out of it.

I knew what she was doing—pretending to be affectionate when she was really just trying to get a hold on me so she could drag me along with her instead of me running off on my own.

I didn't let her touch me. Instead, I bent down and hitched up my dress, revealing a small pistol I had strapped around my thigh. "I'll be fine," I said as I straightened, checking to make sure the gun's safety was off. "I'm going to find Sophia. The rest of you should—"

"We're not just going to leave you here—" Alex began, but a familiar voice cut her off.

"Val!" Vincenzo called as he ran down the hallway towards us. He grabbed my shoulder with his one good arm, a look of concern on his face as his pale blue eyes looked me over. "You are alright!" He exclaimed, the tension on his face easing.

Relief filled me. Finally! Someone who would unquestioningly follow my every demand. I gave up on Raul, and instead gave my loyal lackey orders instead. "Vin, I need you to get Alex and Raul out of here." I turned to my assistant, who had been mostly silent, her eyes darting around as she searched for threats. "Claire," I said, getting her attention, "go with them."

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