The Redemption of Roan (The Syndicate #2)(4)

By: Kathy Coopmans

I take a big gulp of my wine, telling myself not to think about Royal anymore. For some reason, though, my mind drifts back to my family.

Growing up I thought we were a modern Russian-American family. I was taught two different languages. Went to public schools. All my brothers played football. I was on the soccer team. On the outside, we were as normal as any other American family. On the inside, we lived a very different life. Many men and women traveled the short path down the foyer to my dad’s office. I thought nothing of it. I played with my dolls, kept to myself, unless I was being picked on or teased by one of my brothers, then I plotted as best as a young little girl’s mind would let her to find a way to get them back.

It wasn’t until I was old enough to understand that my life wasn’t all full of those bright colors you see in a gumball machine. It was one solid color. The color Red. The boldest color on the wheel. Bright as blood. It can be angry, mysterious, and ever since the day I found out exactly who my family was, I’ve hated the color red. I’m a Doctor and I hate the color red. The only way I stomach seeing that color is knowing I may be saving the life of another.

My dad met my mother after his family moved here from Saint Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia. They never went back, choosing to re-enlist their use of organized crime in the States.

I haven’t spoken to my parents in years. I want no part of that life. If any member of my family wants to see or talk to me, then they come to me. I will never step foot in their home again. My dad is the root of it all. How my mother with her pretty smile and her soft-spoken voice can stand by and ignore her surroundings is something I will never comprehend. I miss her like crazy, but she’s either scared or stupid. Or both. There was only one time I brought it up to her. Asked her how she could do it. How she could sleep next to a man who, when he left in the morning and then came home at night, she knew could very well have had that vibrant color of red on his hands while he was gone. Her response was quick and to the point. “There are no correct words to describe love, Alina. You feel it here.” She pointed to her chest. “You have every right to not want to be a part of what this family does. But as long as you live under this roof, you will respect me and the love your dad and I have for one another and never bring it up again.”

That day distanced me from my mother too. I love her and I love my dad. I often tell myself I’m such a hypocrite for having a relationship with my brothers but not my parents. It’s a catch-22 sort of thing. I’ve searched long and hard for answers and come up with only one. My dad started this and my mother helped him grow. He was the first bud on a tree; then came her and the rest of us. Now that tree is fully grown. And yet I miss them both terribly.

There are times like this when I feel so alone that I wish I could pick up the phone and call them. Ask them to forgive me, but I won’t. I choose to live my life in the dark of my family’s business. The less I know, the better. One thing I do know is my dad still has me being protected. I’m constantly watched, guarded by a man named Hugo, who reports to my dad daily, this I’m sure of. Yeah, I know. I’ve gotten to know my bodyguard quite well over the years. Especially these past few years since Royal Diamond has gone missing after his failed attempt to try and kill his brother Roan and his cousin Calla.

Calla and I have become very close in the past few months. She herself has been through a lot. Her family is mafia too. Her dad and her mother as well as her husband. Calla found out about her family a few years ago. She’s now one of their attorneys. I admire her ability to be brave and accept them for who they are. It’s so hard for me to think about the things they all do when I’m a doctor who would run and try to save one of those lives that my family can so easily snuff out.

Why do I judge my parents and not anyone else? I’m not sure, I just do. Maybe because if it weren’t for them, I would feel normal. My life would be different, my heart wouldn’t be so bitter and angry toward every male I come across. I wouldn’t feel so alone and I would not be standing here right now staring up into the green eyes of Roan Diamond. A man I met a few months ago when out to lunch with Deidre and Calla. A man who looks a lot like his brother Royal. A man who tried to get me to go out with him, and a man who has no idea I know he has been following me. Another trait I picked up from Hugo. “Always watch your back, Alina, even when I’m around. And never let your guard down.” Those were Hugo’s exact words. “I’ve had my guard up for years,” I told him. He just doesn’t know why. Hugo thinks I’m bitter and angry because of who we are. Of course that’s part of it, but most certainly not all of it. I’ve had my eyes wide open out of fear that one day Royal would find me, and a repeat of the things he did to me would happen. I am certain he would kill me.

Also By Kathy Coopmans

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