He’d demand answers. Answers I couldn’t give him, promised never to give anyone. But Dante was The Boss. Nobody got to that position without knowing how to acquire information. He wasn’t going to torture me, or even raise a hand to me. But I was sure he didn’t need to.
I slipped into the bedroom, then stopped in front of the window overlooking the premises. There was nowhere else to run. The bed was looming in the corner of my eye. I closed my eyes when I heard Dante enter the room and close the door behind him. His tall form appeared behind me in the reflection of the window. I lowered my gaze to my fingers, which were tracing the cool marble of the window sill. Sometimes I felt like I could handle everything, like I was the sophisticated, controlled woman Dante probably wanted, but in moments like this I felt like a stupid girl.
“Virginity?” he said without a hint of emotion. The gift of all men in the Familia. If you grew up with violence and death, you learned to seal your heart off from the world. Why didn’t they teach the same to the women of the Familia? “You and Antonio were married for four years.”
I didn’t turn around, didn’t even dare to breathe. How could I have let that slip? My mistake could ruin Antonio’s reputation, and mine for agreeing to his plan. Being gay was a punishable crime in the mafia, and I’d pretty much helped Antonio committing it. I focused on breathing, on the feel of the marble against my fingertips, on the trees bowing down to the wind outside.
“Valentina.” This time a faint hint of strain carried in the word.
“I shouldn’t have said anything,” I whispered. “It was just a figure of speech. I didn’t mean it in the literal sense.” I was a good liar, didn’t have a choice but to become one. “As you said, Antonio and I were married for four years. Of course I’m not a virgin.”
His hand touched my hip and I practically jerked forward a foot, colliding with the window sill. I gasped in pain, then bit down on my lip to swallow the sound. I’d been longing for Dante to touch me for days and now that he did I wished he’d go back to ignoring me.
Dante was watching me in the window. “Turn around,” he said in a low voice. I didn’t even hesitate. His voice, even without menace and danger in it, carried too much authority for me to resist. I steeled myself as I faced him. I focused on the buttons of his white dress shirt. His eyes would undo me. Every muscle in my body was tense like a bowstring. He put a finger below my chin and lifted it, forcing me to meet his gaze. Again the touch. Why would he touch me now while before he’d gone out of his way to keep distance between us?
I swallowed. Be strong, Valentina. The wish of a dead man is sacred. Don’t break your promise.
And it wasn’t only Antonio I was protecting. I’d lived a lie, had as good as lied to Dante himself since our first encounter, had led him to believe one thing while the other was true. I wished there was emotion on Dante’s face, even anger; I could have dealt with that, but he gave nothing away. Always the iceman.
“So your words downstairs were simply meant to provoke?” He sounded calm and curious, but I didn’t let that fool me. I had all his attention.
I couldn’t say anything. The way he’d worded it made it seem really bad. What was he thinking? I wished I had the slightest hint if he was in a good or bad mood.
He won’t hurt you, Valentina.
He hadn’t done anything to me so far, but we hadn’t exactly interacted all that much in the few days of our marriage. And two days ago he’d been scary as hell when he’d found me with the photo albums.
The tension became too much and a tear slid out of my right eye, trailed down my cheek and caught on Dante’s finger that was still pushing my chin up. He frowned, releasing my chin. I immediately tore my gaze away from him and took a step back.
“Why are you crying?”
“Because you scare me!” It burst out of me.
“Until today you never seemed scared of me.” He was right. Except for a few brief occasions, I hadn’t been scared of him, but I knew with a man like him I should be scared.
“Then maybe I’m a good actress.”
“You have no reason to be scared of me, Valentina,” he said calmly. “What are you hiding?”
“Nothing,” I said quickly.
He closed his fingers around my wrist loosely. “You are lying about something. And as your husband I want to know what it is.”
Anger flared up. This time it was quicker than caution. “You mean as the Boss you want to know, because so far you haven’t exactly been acting like my husband.”
He tilted his head, scrutinizing every inch of my face. “Why would you still be a virgin?”
“I told you I’m not!” I said desperately, trying to slip out if his hold, but he tightened his fingers slightly, only so I couldn’t escape. He pulled me against him, my chest pressed against his. Air left my lungs in a rush as I looked up at him. My heart pounded in my chest, my temples, my veins. And he felt it. That was why he was holding my wrist.
“So,” he said in a curious tone. “If I were to take you toward our bed right now.” He took a step, forcing me closer to the huge four-poster bed. “And would make you mine, I wouldn’t find out that you lied to me just now.”
I’d wanted nothing more than for him to want to finally bed me, and now that he used it as a threat to find out the truth, I wished I’d never wanted anything from him in the first place. Would he feel that I had never slept with a man? I’d only talked with other women about their experiences, but I didn’t know if men could feel if a woman was a virgin.