After another particularly lewd joke that had Gaby hiding her face in her hands and me laughing like I hadn’t laughed in a long time, the door to the kitchen opened and Dante stepped in. His eyes did a quick scan of the room until they settled on his men, then me. His jaw tensed as he glowered at Taft and Enzo. “Shouldn’t you be outside keeping guard?” Dante asked in a dangerously quiet voice.

Both men stood at once. They fled the kitchen without another word.

“Gaby and I should head home too. We’ll clean the kitchen tomorrow,” Zita said as she grabbed her coat and put it on. “Come on, Gaby.” Gaby shot me an apologetic look, although she’d done nothing wrong.

Two minutes later, Dante and I were alone in the kitchen. I had done nothing forbidden, so I had no intention of apologizing. I emptied my red wine, my eyes on Dante, who seemed to become perfectly still as he watched me. Preparing to pounce, it shot through my head. I rose from my chair. In a standing position, at least, I didn’t have to tilt my head all the way back to look Dante in the eyes.

“Why did you eat with Enzo and Taft?”

I almost laughed. “Gaby and Zita were there too.” Was he jealous? Or did he think I was distracting the men from work?

“You could have eaten in the dining room.”

“Alone?” I asked in a challenging tone.

Dante advanced on me, and despite my best intentions I froze. “I don’t play games, Valentina. If there’s something you don’t like, then say it and don’t try to provoke me.”

He stood so close, the spicy scent of his aftershave flooded my nose. I had to fight the urge to grab him by his lapels and pull him in for a kiss.

“I wasn’t trying to provoke you,” I said matter-of-factly. “I was hungry and I didn’t want to eat by myself, so I decided to eat in the kitchen.”

“You should keep your distance to the guards. I don’t want people to misconstrue your friendliness with something else.”

I took a step back. “Are you accusing me of flirting with your men?”

“No,” he said simply. “We would have a different kind of conversation if I thought you were flirting with them.”

I raised my chin, unwilling to let him intimidate me, no matter how intimidating he was. “I won’t eat alone.”

“Would you prefer we have dinner together every night?”

“Of course, I do,” I said exasperatedly. There were many things I wanted to do together with him at night. “We are married. Isn’t that what married people do?”

“Did you and Antonio eat together?”

“Yes, unless he was away for work.” Or had a date with his lover Frank.

Dante nodded, as if he was filing away the information. I’d heard someone once say that he had a photographic memory, which made him a difficult opponent to outsmart, but I wasn’t sure if it was true.

I softened my voice. “What about you and your first wife? Did you eat together?”

I could practically see his defenses coming up. A veil of cold emotionlessness seemed to slide over his face. He pushed up his sleeve, revealing his gold watch. “It’s late. I have an early morning with meetings in our casinos.”

“Oh, sure.”

“You don’t have to go to bed if you’re not tired.”

“No, the wine’s making me sleepy.” We both walked out of the kitchen and headed upstairs. This time Dante disappeared in the bathroom first. I rummaged in my drawer for a skimpy satin camisole and matching panties that barely covered my butt. Maybe that would get Dante’s cold blood boiling.

I nervously paced the bedroom, wondering if tonight would be the night. Maybe yesterday had been a sort of grace period. The door of the bathroom opened and Dante stepped back into the bedroom. Like yesterday he was naked from the waist up. I allowed myself a few moments to admire his body. Even the scars didn’t make him any less gorgeous. If possible they added to his sexiness. Dante paused and I quickly tore my eyes away and rushed into the bathroom.

I took a quick shower and brushed my teeth before I slipped into my lingerie. Showtime. I stepped out of the bathroom. Dante was already in bed, his iPad in hand and back propped up against the headboard. He looked up, eyes wandering the length of my body, lingering on all the right places. Anticipation mixed with nerves filled me as I slowly walked toward the bed, making sure Dante got a good look at me. He hadn’t looked away yet, but he hadn’t put down his iPad either. I stretched out beside him, my back against the headboard. I didn’t bother pulling the covers up. I wanted Dante to see as much of me as possible.

I met his gaze. As usual his eyes were unreadable, but they weren’t quite as cool as usual. He set the iPad down on his nightstand and I almost sighed with relief, but then he shifted and lay down. Confused, I did the same, but I rolled onto my side, facing his way. He hadn’t turned the lights out yet. That had to be a good sign, and I knew he kept glancing toward my breasts. If I was more experienced, I would have initiated things, but I worried about revealing my inexperience to Dante if I risked it. If he made the first move, I could go along with him and would hopefully appear like the experienced woman I was supposed to be.

Dante tore his gaze away, closed his eyes and crossed his arms in front of his stomach. His jaw was locked tightly. Was he angry? He looked like he was on the verge of bursting. Maybe he didn’t like that I was being so forward and practically shoving my breasts into his face. Maybe he preferred his women demure and scared of their own shadow.

Frustrated, I rolled onto my back as well. “What happened to Gaby?” If we didn’t have sex, we might as well talk. Anything was better than the awkward silence.

Tags: Cora Reilly Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles Erotic