“Underground. I don’t want you in the public eye.”

That made sense. People knew I was Dante’s wife. It would attract too much attention if I worked in one of the Riverboat casinos. “I know a little about gambling, and I’m sure I can learn everything else I need to know very quickly.” Actually, the only knowledge about gambling I had were the rules of Texas hold’em that Antonio had taught me, but Dante didn’t need to know that.

There was a knowing glint in Dante’s eyes. “The only thing you need to know about gambling is that the bank always wins.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Really. What kind of job do you have in mind that requires next to no knowledge about the workings of a casino?” I assumed Dante wouldn’t let his wife be one of the girls behind the bar that encouraged men to drink more.

“I want you to manage one of the smaller casinos of the Outfit. The man who’s been in charge for the last three years was laid off yesterday.”

Was that what Dante had done after he’d slept with me? For a few moments, Dante and I stared at each other as if we’d been thinking the same thing, but now wasn’t the moment to bring up sex. “Laid off?” I echoed his words, which I was fairly sure were an euphemism for something else, since it was hard to be fired from a position in the mob. If you messed up in one mob business, it was unlikely that you’d get a position somewhere else, unless you were someone’s son, nephew etc. And if you weren’t…

Dante watched me closely when he said his next words. “I found out that he filled his pockets with Outfit money.”

“So you killed him,” I finished for him. I knew how things worked in our world. Maybe I’d never been allowed in the midst of it, but I heard the stories.

Dante nodded. “I did. And if you want you can have his job.”

“I never managed a casino before. Why are you giving such an important position to me?”

“The assistant manager can do the main work in the background. I need someone to make the high rollers feel welcome.”

I stiffened. Dante of course picked up on it. “I think you misunderstand me.” He stood and stepped in front of me. He rested his hands lightly on my thighs, making my skin tingle even through my tights. “You are mine, Valentina.”

I had to bite back a smile at the possessiveness in his voice. “So what exactly am I supposed to do?”

He removed his hands and strode over to the window, hands in his pockets. “I want you to welcome the high rollers. Show them to their table. Introduce them to our complimentary girls.”

“Complimentary girls, really?”

Dante turned. “Gambling and prostitution are our main businesses, and both can easily be combined.”

“Okay. I can do that.” Even if the word complimentary girls made me want to tear my hair out. “That doesn’t sound like a lot though.”

“Also you organize special events. We have event nights once a month, and I think a female touch might make them more appealing. You also make sure that everything goes smoothly. I want you to be my eyes. I have a feeling I haven’t weeded out all the rotten fruit yet.”

“You want me to spy on your employees.”

“Yes. I want you to keep your eyes open.”

“Is it because you think they’ll be less cautious around me or because you don’t have anyone else you trust with the task?”

“I have enough men I trust. But you are right, I think many men will underestimate you and be less vigilant around you.” He leaned against the window sill. “I don’t trust anyone unconditionally.”

“Not even me?” It was said in a teasing voice, but Dante’s eyes became cool. “You haven’t given me reason to. You lied to me about your marriage to Antonio and you refuse to give me the name of an outsider who might be privy to compromising information about the Outfit.”

The way he worded it made me sound like a notorious liar. “I didn’t lie to you about the marriage. I told you that I’ve never been with Antonio.”

“Yes, you did, but it was a truth I suspect you gave up only because you feared I’d uncover it eventually.”

Of course he hit the nail on the head. I couldn’t deny it. He would have known I lied and that wouldn’t really have helped my situation. “Does it matter why I decided to tell you the truth?”

“It matters greatly, Valentina. Because I don’t know if you’ll be as forthcoming with future truths if you don’t feel cornered. If I counted every coerced truth as redeeming, I would have to spare every traitor who gives away his knowledge under duress.”

Under duress, what a mild word for what the Outfit did to traitors. “I know what you do to traitors, and that’s exactly why I won’t give you the name of Antonio’s lover.”

“You realize that by aiding Antonio in his deceit you became his accomplice and thus a traitor to the Outfit, and that you keep betraying the Outfit and me by withholding information.”

I pushed off the desk, unable to sit still any longer. “I know. But no matter what you think of me, I am loyal to those I care about. I was loyal to Antonio. If he were still alive, I would have taken his secret to the grave with me to protect him.”

Dante shook his head. “That’s something you can’t say for sure. You’ve never suffered through excruciating pain. Torture is a powerful motivator.”

“I guess we’ll never know, unless you intend to test the theory on me and try to coerce the name of Antonio’s lover out of me,” I said insolently.

Dante fixed me with a hard look. “Because you are my wife and because you are a woman, you are safe. You know that very well.”

Because I was his wife, not because he liked me or even cared for me. “I know,” I said, then because I couldn’t bear the tension between us I added. “If you had a secret you needed to hide, I would keep it for you. I would try to brave torture, pain and death to hide it for you.”


Tags: Cora Reilly Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles Erotic
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