The Proposition 3: The Ferro Family

BOOK: The Proposition 3: The Ferro Family
5.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


Bryan Ferro

Vol. 3






H.M. Ward







H.M. Ward Press




This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


Copyright © 2013 by H.M. Ward

All rights reserved.


No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form.


H.M. Ward

First Edition:
March 2014































Holy crap. It’s like a sucker punch straight into the stomach. The air is forced out of my lungs and my jaw drops. Neil lifts the ring higher making the stone sparkle in the light. The ginormous diamond is larger than life and much more than he could possibly afford.

Cecily has her hands over her mouth in giddy excitement.
She looks as if she wants to jump up and down. “Oh this is so exciting! Just think of the wedding!”

Neil is beaming at her before his gaze returns to meet mine. I
haven’t said anything yet and it’s becoming noticeable. Our hands are touching, but it’s uncomfortable. I don’t like this. My stomach twists into knots. I don’t know what I want. He’s a good guy for the most part, but I’ve been through so much so fast that this scares me. I need time to think, but with Cecily there, I can’t say that. What do I say? Finally, I stammer out, “Neil, I—”

Cecily mistakes my lack of words for something else and shoves Neil’s shoulder.
It’s affirmation, a pat on the back. “See! You’ve rendered her speechless! Look at that! My little star ran out of words. Well, don’t just stand there, Neil, put the ring on her finger.” Cecily’s scratchy voice comes with gusto and the huge-ass smile that lines her painted lips is going to crack her plastic face.

l does as he’s told and I shiver as the cold band slides over my skin. It feels wrong, but I can’t find the words. My mind picks the ring apart. Gently, it prods me:
The metal is the wrong color, the stone is the wrong shape, and this is the wrong guy.
The thought starts to form, but before it solidifies, Cecily blasts it to bits.

“Come along, I ha
ve them all waiting!” She grabs us both, pulling our wrists toward the back of the little house.

Neil tries to explain as he beams at me.
“You’re going to love it. Just wait, Hallie.” Neil is wearing his Saturday date clothes—his favorite outfit with the button down white shirt, complete with French cuff links, and a bland tie. He’s wearing a leather vest over it that’s buttoned and pristine. Not a hair is out of place.

Leaning in, I
try to whisper to Neil, but Cecily keeps talking over me, prattling about something she got for us. I’m thinking it’s a present that she’s pulling us toward, so I keep trying. “Neil, I need to talk to you. Neil?”

But he’s all toothy smiles and laughing with Cecily as we’re shoved out the back door. Then a barrage of flashing lights blinds me. Cecily’s voice booms
behind me into a microphone, “She said yes!”



Holy shit! The yard is filled with people. They’re everywhere. I’m blinded by lights and shield my eyes to see a sea of faces I don’t recognize.

Neil tugs me to his side and holds up my hand. I barely have time to take in the reporters and Neil’s friends before he grabs the mic
rophone from Cecily. “This is the happiest day of my life. Here’s to Hallie! I love you, baby.”

Someone shoves a champagne flute in my hand and a band starts to play. The tiny yard is filled with little white lights, music, and food. It’s a party. I blink again and realize what he’s done. This is an engagement party. Neil clicks his glass to mine and takes a sip.

Holy rabid fuckbunnies. Why does he do stuff like this? I’m not ready for marriage. I would have waited, but now I don’t have the choice. If I say something, I’ll humiliate him and look like a bitch. I down the glass of champagne and laugh nervously. Tension lines my neck and shoulders as I plaster a fake smile on my face. I’ll tell him later, I’ll say no when everyone isn’t around. I can fake it until then.

Cecily pulls me away and takes me to meet some industry people, but I’ve mentally left the party. My mind drifts back to Bryan. I wish things were different. I w
ish he was serious about me, but he’s not. Neil’s the one who wants to marry me. Maybe I should keep this ring, after all, if I give it back I’ll be alone. Neil may not be perfect, but he’s good enough, isn’t he?

God, I wish Maggie were here. Where is she anyway? I stop the man who’s been talking a mile a
minute since Cecily walked me over. I waited and waited for him to come up for air and hush for a second so I could excuse myself.

I finally put my hand on his forearm and smile up at his wrinkled, round face. “Thank you so much, and I’d love to discuss this with you more at length, but I need to go see to something.” Cecily looks mortified, but I walk away. More people take my picture as I shoulder my way through the crowd looking for Maggie. She has to be here. Neil wouldn’t throw an engagement party without my best friend, but I don’t see her.

Neil is standing with a group of his co-workers and as I approach, I can hear him saying, “It’s all part of the psyche that lies dormant. Hallie is rational as they come. It was ingenious of her to consider the ramifications of leading such a feral lifestyle in her novel. I think that’s why people are drawn to it, the book has that train wreck morbidity that renders people unable to look away—it’s human nature.”

He’s smiling and all his friends are nodding along with hi
m. What a bunch of pretentious, arrogant, tight-asses. Meanwhile, I’m sure there isn’t one of them that wouldn’t like to take a woman’s ass or fuck her face. They’re just too chicken to do it, or admit it. Neil makes me sound like a monster because my character enjoys such things, because I enjoy those acts of passion.

“Neil?” I sound like a little
dormouse. My voice is barely a squeak. My throat tightens when he turns to look at me.

“Ah, my little creative
genius.” His false flattery hurts my ears, but I continue to smile. Neil pulls me next to him. “I was just telling these men that you’re docile as they come.” He winks at me.

I’m too
embarrassed to look over at them. Even with everything I did with Bryan, I never felt shame, but the way Neil says our sex life is tame makes me squirm. I don’t like him telling them anything. Appraising eyes move over my body and I know they’ve read my book. They’re wondering if I’d do those things and are picturing me on my knees, naked.

“Neil, where is Maggie?”

“What? She’s not back yet?” His tone is off, but he glances around.

My smile falls.
“Neil, where is she?”

He smirks. “Well, I know how rambunctious she can be, so I arranged for her to get here after the press leaves.”

A bad feelings stirs within me. “Where is she?”

“I told her that you left your
purse at her apartment. She went home to grab it.”




My heart pounds hard once, and then stops. I can’t breathe. I stagger and nearly fall. Neil reaches out for me, grabbing hold of my arm by the elbow. “Hallie, are you all right?”

Suddenly there are people trying to swarm me. They all repeat Neil’s words until it sounds like I’m in an empty hallway and there are nothing but echoing voices. I don’t blink. Before they can smother me, I shoulder my way past them and race through the house
, grabbing my jacket and pulling on my gloves on the way out. It’s not winter, but I want them. Part of me knows what’s coming, the dark part that says this can’t be happening but I’ll do anything I need to do to save her.

Neil hurries behind
, calling my name, but I’m in the little red car and out of sight before he can stop me.

I floor it and head toward Maggie’s
, trying to remember exactly where that hellhole of an apartment is located. I’m so mad at Neil that I can’t stand it. He shoved the ring on my finger without waiting for an answer. He always does stuff like that, but this is unforgivable.

He didn’t know
, a voice reminds me.
You never told him how bad Maggie had it.

At the moment, I don’t care. Maggie is in way over her head and I can’t let her—

The thought cuts off. I don’t want to even consider the rest of the statement. I saw what her boss will do to her if she goes back. I have no idea what I’m going to do when I get there. I’m hoping I’ll see her little beat up car racing toward me, but it doesn’t happen.

I’m driving down the street, way too fast, and whip into the parking lot. The cherry red sports car
means I’m either someone to fear or I’m incredibly stupid. I’m both. Maggie is the only family I have left. Neil’s not the same, and he never will be. I’ll be damned if I let some low life drug dealer dump her body in an alley.

I’ve never been in a fight in my life. I have no idea how to throw a punch or what to do, but that doesn’t stop me. Bravery and
stupidity seem to be best friends. I wonder which lot I fall into as I race up the staircase and dart down the hall. If she’s dead, if he hurt her, I’ll kill him. I have no idea how, but he’s a dead man.

By the time I get to her door, I’m huffing. I pat the door with my palm and quietly call her name. “Maggie? Maggie are you there?” No answer. I do it again, and again, but she doesn’t reply.

My throat tightens and I want to cry, but I don’t. Instead, I press my ear to the door and listen. The couple upstairs is quiet tonight. There are no screams, no fighting—no nothing. The soundless halls make my skin prickle. I close my eyes for half a beat when I hear him speak.

“Looking for your friend, pretty girl?”

When I glance up, I’m face to face with Victor Campone.



grins at me in a smug serial-killer way. He hasn’t shaved in days so thick dark stubble lines his cheeks. There’s a scar along one cheek where hair no longer grows. It’s as if someone sliced it open with a pencil and it never healed correctly. The place where skin meets skin is raised and forms a jagged white line that runs over his flesh like a dying river.

I don’t value my life, not anymore. I’ve lost too much and the only person I care about in the world more than myself is on the other side of that door and I’m afraid that I’m not going to like what I see when I go inside. I turn into someone else, someone I don’t know, when I answer him my voice is
fierce and my gaze is cruel. “Where is she?” I growl like a beast ready to rip his throat out.

I think about what I’ll do to him if
Maggie’s hurt, if he did something to her. I don’t fear the repercussions—nothing frightens me at that moment. My heart races faster, but it has nothing to do with this evil man or his cruelty. It’s all me. My hands are by my sides, but I’m already picturing them clutching a rusty nail that protrudes from the wall and slamming it into the side of his face, giving him a matching scar down the other cheek.

Victor smirks. Our eyes have been locked this entire time and I don’t back down or look away. “Listen, you son of a bitch, I’m not leaving without Maggie.”

He appears mildly amused. Victor crosses his meaty arms and leans his shoulder against the wall. “Or you’ll do what?”

Evil thoughts flicker behind my eyes in graphic detail, but I reveal none of them. “You don’t want to find out.” The words come out in a bre

The man’s gaze slips over me once, reevaluating
, as if he underestimated me entirely. “Look at you. Well, who would have figured you’d be a tough little shit?” He smiles like he’s found a diamond at his feet in this wretched place. He pushes off the wall and reaches into his pocket. I flinch, reaching for mine, like I have a gun or something.

Victor laughs and lifts his
palms toward me. “Settle down. I was just grabbing the keys. You can go in and see for yourself.” Victor repeats the movement, and my eyes don’t stray from his hand. He pulls out a ring with a massive amount of keys attached. They’re packed tightly, with little room between each one. The thing must weigh ten pounds. It’s amazing his pants didn’t fall off.

He steps towards Maggie’s door and unlocks it. “Go on. See for yourself.”

My heart pounds harder. I don’t like this. I don’t like him walking behind me or walking into her place like this. I shove aside all rationality and fear, before slamming the door open. The room is empty, just as we left it. Maggie isn’t lying in a pool of blood on the floor. Her silent screams aren’t trapped in the cracking plaster walls. Then, I spot something different. The rest of the room is exactly as we left it, save one thing—a tiny hole in the window. A spider vein crack travels outward from that hole. Someone shot the window.

I glance down at the floor. There’s no blood. Looking up again, I can see straight across into the apartment across the way, the place where the woman was killed last night. When I turn
, Victor is right behind me. I slam into him, and he grabs my shirt, before hissing in my face. “I know what you saw and the only reason you’re still breathing is that I’ve lost a rather large investment. Last I saw her, she ran off with you, so now, Miss Raymond—”

His words ratt
le me and I can’t help but ask, “How do you know my name?”

BOOK: The Proposition 3: The Ferro Family
5.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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