I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if that happened. I wanted to close my eyes against Dante’s piercing gaze but I knew it would have been a bad idea. “I can’t tell you. I won’t. I’m sorry, Dante, but no matter what you do, I won’t give you a name.”
Anger flashed across Dante’s face, fiercer than yesterday. This was real fury and for the first time it was directed at me. What had Bibiana said? Dante didn’t tolerate disobedience. “You’ve lived a sheltered life, Valentina. I’ve had hardened men say the same to me, and in the end they gave up all their secrets.”
“Then do what you have to do,” I snapped, pulling away. “Cut off my toes and feed them to me. Beat me, burn me, cut me, but I’d rather die than be responsible for the death of an innocent man.”
“So he’s an outsider.”
I stared at him agape. That’s what he gathered from my outburst? God, he was good at this. He hadn’t even hurt as much as a hair on my head and had already got information out of me. “I didn’t say that.”
But it was too late. Dante smirked. “You didn’t have to.” His eyes were keen and eager. He looked like someone on the hunt. “If Antonio took his lover home, I assume you’ve met him and know his name and can describe him to me.”
I pressed my lips together, glowering at him. Not in one million years would I tell him what he wanted to know. I’d already said too much. I’d have to be more vigilant in the future.
Dante came closer again. He touched my hips and despite everything, the simple touch sent tongues of fire through my belly. I wanted him, maybe more than ever before. What was it that made dangerous men so irresistible?
“Aren’t you loyal to me?” he murmured. “Don’t you think you owe me the truth? Don’t you think it’s your duty? Not only because I’m the Boss of the Outfit but because I’m your husband.”
“And you owe me a decent wedding night. As my husband it should be your duty to take care of my needs. I suppose we both will have to live with the disappointment.”
His mask cracked. Without warning, he gripped me and whirled me around so my back was pressed against his chest.
“I’m a patient hunter, Valentina,” Dante said in a low voice that I could feel all the way to my core. “You will tell me what I want to know eventually.” His hand slid down my side to my thigh, lingering there for a moment, making me hold my breath in anticipation and confusion. He pushed up my nightgown as he stroked his way up to my panties. I shivered and pressed myself even harder against his chest. The crisp fabric of his shirt rustled at the contact. It was a strangely erotic sound. Dante slipped a finger under the lacy fabric of my panties and brushed my folds. I whimpered, already wet and aching from our argument and his closeness. I wasn’t sure why he was suddenly touching me or what had brought on that change of mind, and I didn’t care as long as he kept touching me. He dipped his fingers between my lower lips and his breathing deepened. “You want this?”
“Yes,” I hissed, rubbing myself shamelessly against his hand, but his other arm came around my waist and held me fast. “I want you, Dante.”
“Tell me what I want to know.” He stroked his fingers slowly back and forth. The slow sensual assault was making me breathe heavily. I was already so close. My body had waited too long for this. My legs started to shake and I threw my head back against Dante’s shoulders. “Don’t you want me?” I panted, instead of what he wanted to hear. His finger brushed my clit as if in answer, and I came apart with a small cry as ecstasy exploded through me. Dante’s arm around my waist kept me upright, strong and unyielding, as I trembled under my climax.
“I do. That’s the problem,” he growled. Suddenly, he let me go and stepped back. I gripped the window sill to stop myself from falling to the floor. I whirled around, my pulse still pounding in my veins, but Dante was already on his way out of the room.
What had just happened?CHAPTER NINEDante didn’t come to bed that night. I waited for a long time, unable to fall asleep, too confused by what had happened. He’d admitted he wanted me, had touched me, but then he’d pulled back. Why? When I woke the next morning, his side of the bed was untouched, and when I walked into the dining room thirty minutes later, his newspaper lay discarded beside a clean plate.
Worried, I approached his office. It was silent behind the door but that didn’t mean anything. I knocked, then entered without waiting for a reply. I didn’t want to give Dante the chance to put up his defenses. Maybe if I caught him by surprise again we’d get somewhere. Dante sat behind a black wood desk and narrowed his eyes when I entered his office for the first time. Maybe he felt like I’d encroached on his personal space again by entering.
My eyes settled on the silver picture frame on his desk. A picture of his smiling first wife. It sat in the middle of the desk as if he’d hastily put it down when I’d opened the door. There weren’t any other photos in the room.
My stomach lurched violently. Trying to hide my hurt, I met his disapproving gaze. “What are you doing here?”
“This is my home too, isn’t it?”
“Of course it is, but this is my office and I need to work.”
“You always do. I wanted to see if you were alright.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Why wouldn’t I be?
“Why? Because you acted very strange yesterday. One moment you’re touching me and the next you can’t get away fast enough from me.”