Tommaso stood in front of me. My eyes widened in surprise, then worry. “Hello Tommaso,” I said, forcing my voice to be pleasant. “I hope I didn’t come at a bad time. I wanted to talk to Bibiana. Is she there?” Is she okay was the question that I really wanted to ask. Tommaso was sweaty, his skin red and his fly was still open. A feeling of dread cursed through me.
Tommaso bared his teeth in a wide smile. He took my hand in both of his. “She’ll be down in a moment. We have always time for Dante’s wife.”
I fought the urge to pull away. His skin was clammy with perspiration and the thought that the reason for his rumpled appearance had something to do with what he’d been doing with Bibiana made me want to scrub my palms raw until no trace of him was left on me. “Bibiana, hurry up. Valentina Cavallaro is here.” As if Bibiana didn’t know who I was.
I gingerly pulled my hands out of his grip.
“I hear you’re taking over the casino,” Tommaso said curiously, his small beetle eyes keen as they watched me.
“Did Raffaele tell you that?”
Tommaso guffawed. “He didn’t have to. Everyone’s talking about it. I wouldn’t allow Bibiana to work, but Dante has been trying to change things up in the Outfit for a while now, even before Fiore retired.”
I tried to figure out if I could construe his words as traitorous, but sadly they were only mildly critical. Nothing that would cause Dante to put a bullet in Tommaso’s head. “Even the Outfit has to keep up with the times,” I said neutrally.
Bibiana appeared at the top of the stairs, her hair all over the place, her blouse dress buttoned wrongly and she didn’t wear shoes. Tommaso winked at me. “Please excuse me. I have a meeting with Raffaele to discuss tomorrow night’s girls.”
Keeping up the smile was almost painful and the moment he was out of sight, I dropped the charade and hurried toward Bibiana who’d come down the stairs. “Hey, everything okay?”
She swallowed. “Can we talk upstairs? I really need to shower.”
“Of course,” I said quickly. She gave me a tiny smile. I followed her silently upstairs, trying to suppress my fury toward Tommaso. I was already looking for ways to make Dante kill him and that wasn’t something I should ever consider. I’d never been responsible for someone’s death. Even if Tommaso was the lowest scum on earth, I shouldn’t want him dead.
Bibiana led me into their bedroom. I pretended I didn’t notice the ruffled sheets as I followed her into the adjoining bathroom. Bibiana and I had seen each other naked before, especially when we were younger, so I wasn’t surprised when she got undressed in my presence. I perched on the edge of the bathtub.
“If I’d known Tommaso was home, I wouldn’t have come over.”
“No,” Bibiana said. “I’m glad you’re here. That way, at least, Tommaso won’t go for a second round right away.” My eyes flitted over the bruises on her hips, inner thighs and upper arms. I lowered my gaze to my lap and blinked away angry tears. Bibiana stepped into the shower and turned the water on. “Val?”
I stood and approached the shower stall. Bibiana’s expression was imploring. “I know I shouldn’t ask you this, but is there anything you can do?”
“Is he doing anything that goes against Dante or the Outfit? Anything at all?”
Bibi shook her head as the water plastered her dark hair against her forehead. “He’s loyal to the Cavallaros.”
That’s what I’d suspected. “Dante won’t act unless he’s a traitor, but maybe we can set him up.”
Bibiana’s eyes became huge. “You would trick Dante if we did that. You can’t go against him, Val. I can’t ask that of you.” She put on a brave smile. “I’m being overdramatic. Women have been going through this for centuries and they all survived.”
Maybe, but that didn’t mean Bibiana should suffer through it.
She stepped out of the shower and I handed her a towel. “Let’s talk about something else. How are things going with Dante and you? Have you?”
I nodded, a blush heating my cheeks. “Twice.”
“And? Was it bad?”
“No, actually it was…” I trailed off, realizing what I was doing. I couldn’t talk about how much I’d enjoyed being with Dante when Bibi had just been mounted by her pig of a husband. “…okay,” I finished halfheartedly.
Bibi gave me a look. “I know you Val. I can tell that you’re lying. You don’t have to hold back because of me. I know that there are women who enjoy sex.”
“It was good,” I said.
Bibi took my hand and squeezed. “That’s good. You deserve some fun after the years with Antonio.”
I wanted to throw my arms around her and hold her, wanted to have Tommaso killed for her, but instead I merely squeezed back. “One day Tommaso will be gone and then it’s your turn.”
She nodded, but the hopelessness in her eyes gutted me. “He’s 52. With my luck, he’ll live another thirty years. I’ll be old and bitter then.”
Twenty minutes later, I was back in the car with Enzo heading home.
As we pulled up in front of the gate to the premises, my eyes were drawn to a man standing on the other side of the street and I jerked in surprise. It was Frank.CHAPTER FOURTEENFrank? I’d recognize his red hair and lanky stature anywhere. Enzo shot me a look but I quickly tore my eyes away from Antonio’s former lover before Enzo followed my gaze. What was Frank doing here? He should know better than to creep around the house of a mob member, especially the Boss of the Outfit. But then, Frank probably didn’t know that’s what Dante was unless Antonio had revealed more to his lover than I was aware of.
I tried to keep a passive face as we pulled up the driveway, but I wasn’t sure I was succeeding. Enzo definitely had picked up that something was wrong and kept looking my way. “Thanks for picking me up,” I said and slipped out of the car the moment we came to a stop in the garage. Once inside the house, I strode upstairs into one of the guest bedrooms facing the street but when I peered out of the window, Frank was already gone.