The Choice She MadeBy: Marissa Farrar
The Mercenary Series Book One
Three Months Earlier
MY NAME IS Verity Guerra and I’m the daughter of the most ruthless mafia don in New York. I was seven years old when I saw my first body. I was sixteen when I first hurt someone badly enough to be hospitalized, and nineteen when I took my first life.
Turns out, it wasn’t to be my last.
I’m standing with a gun in my hand and another at my head. Two women kneel before me—my mother and my sister, both with faces streaked with tears. My mom, still young at forty-two, my sister only seventeen. If I don’t shoot one of them, we all die. Problem is, I’m the one who has to decide who receives the bullet.
How can I?
Or my sister?
If I don’t kill one of them, we’re all dead. That’s the deal, and I don’t doubt for a second that the man holding the gun to my head will go through with it. I hate him with a passion, and I consider swinging the weapon around and firing one single bullet in the hope it will kill him, but I know I cannot. He has other men surrounding us, men who are also armed and won’t hesitate to kill us all. If I fire the shot, I’ve sentenced us all to death.
If I make the choice, two of us will live.
We’re in an empty warehouse, harsh, fluorescent lights overhead, a concrete floor beneath my feet. Outside of the warehouse walls, I hear the low drone of the city, the constant background noise of traffic and sirens that is inescapable in New York. Above that are my sister’s quiet sobs, as she kneels with her hands behind her back, her head down, her eyes squeezed shut.
“Please,” my mother begs the man holding the gun to my head. “Don’t do this. They don’t deserve—”
He cuts her off. “Shut up, whore. This is all your fault.” He turns his attention back to me. “Time’s running out, Verity. Tick, tick, tick ...”
The muzzle of the weapon he holds jams hard against my temple, and he motions to his men to do the same to my mother and sister. All three of us are going to be shot if I don’t do as he asks.
Choose. Choose between the only two people I actually give a shit about in this world.
My finger is rigid around the trigger, my heart lodged in a tight, painful ball in my throat. I can’t do it, I can’t do it ...
But I must.
“Now, Verity!” he roars at me, and my sister gives a cry of fear.
I’ve always prided myself that my heart is cold. But right now it’s breaking. Not that you can tell from the outside. I haven’t cried since I was a child, and even now my eyes are bone dry, though they burn with unshed tears. I learned a long time ago that crying didn’t get me anywhere, and it wouldn’t do anyone any good now, either.
My hand trembles, causing the weapon to shake. I can’t look at them, can’t stand to see the begging in their eyes. I need to shut myself off from it, take my heart and lock it in a metal box and throw away the key.
“I’m sorry,” I say.
And pull the trigger.
“HEY, ASSHOLE,” I shouted across the shit heap I worked in. “Get your goddamned feet off the bar.”
The redneck in the cut-off jacket blew me a kiss, but removed his feet. I was amazed he’d gotten them up there in the first place, considering the amount he’d been drinking. I should have probably cut him off, but I couldn’t be bothered with the fight I knew he’d give me.
With a sigh, I wiped off the shiny mahogany surface with a damp rag and collected a couple of empties. One of the regulars motioned to me for a refill, so I poured him another shot. Cigarette smoke filled the air. No one was supposed to smoke in public areas anymore, but the patrons here never took any notice of that rule. It wasn’t as though the police even cared. In this backward little town, they were probably more bent than the perps they arrested.
“Hey, Johnny,” I called out to my boss, a guy in his mid-forties, who was also working alongside me that night. “Mind if I take my break?”
“Sure thing, Viola,” he yelled back over the music and raucous laughter coming from a group of guys near the pool table.
“Hey, I told you not to call me that. It’s Vee, remember?”