“That’s where one of the underground casinos is, right?”
I stared. Antonio had told him? Damn it. Why couldn’t Frank have stayed away? “We’ll talk tomorrow.” I let the window slide back up and pulled away. Nobody seemed to have followed me, or at least I didn’t see anyone. I hoped I could sneak out of the casino tomorrow undetected. I needed to clear things up with Frank. But what if he really wanted to blackmail me somehow? I knew he’d leave me no choice but to tell Dante about it if he did.
Why did today have to turn into such a mess?
It took me less than ten minutes to arrive at Bibi’s house. As always a guard was sitting in a car in front of it. He gave me a curt nod when he saw me getting out of the car. I almost ran toward the door. Bibi opened it before I even got the chance to ring the bell. I had to stifle a gasp when I saw her face. Her lower lip was busted open and dried blood stuck to her lower chin and her shirt. A bruise was already forming on her left cheek and the eye above it was starting to swell shut. She ushered me in, then quickly shut the door. Before I had time to say something, she threw herself into my arms. I embraced her but she winced when I touched her ribs and I loosened my hold on her. I pulled back to look at her face. “Why did he beat you up?”
Bibi shrugged, then winced. I didn’t even want to know what her body looked like under her clothes. Finger marks bloomed bluish-red on her throat and her collarbone. “He’s been in a foul mood all day and when I told him I still wasn’t pregnant he lost it.” Something tickled at the back of my mind but I pushed it aside for now.
“Maybe it’s his fault. Maybe the old fool is infertile,” I muttered. I didn’t like the word ‘hate’ or the sentiment behind it. Hate always only led to more hate, but I definitely hated Tommaso. Dante wasn’t sure I was capable of taking another person’s life, but I did.
“He can’t be. He got a few of the whores in Club Palermo pregnant.”
My eyes widened. Bibi had never told me. “So he’s got children with other women?”
“No, he forced them to get an abortion. Nobody wants to fuck a pregnant whore, that’s what he said.”
“I’m so sorry, Bibi.”
“I feel so bad for calling you away from Dante on Valentine’s Day.”
I’d completely forgotten about that. Not that Dante had given any indication that today was special during our breakfast together.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You know I’m always there for you. What can I do?”
A small sob escaped her and she clapped her hand over her mouth, her eyes huge and full of fear. She lowered her hand. “I don’t know. I just don’t know, but I was so scared and didn’t know who else to call. You are the only one who seems to care.”
“I do care, Bibi. You know that.”
“I’m scared of when he returns. He told me it wasn’t over. And he’s always more brutal after he spent time with Raffaele. They are both disgusting sadists. Oh, Val, the things Tommaso sometimes does to me, the things he forces me to do, I can’t even tell you.”
I grabbed her hand. “Come. Spend the night at my place.”
“I can’t run away from him. You know they’d never let me. They’ll always force me to return to him no matter what he does.”
I knew. How could I have felt self-pity for my loveless marriage when Bibi had it so much worse? “I know, and I didn’t mean that you should move out. But you could spend the night with us so Tommaso has some time to cool off, and tomorrow after breakfast I’ll take you back home.”
Bibi nodded slowly. “Are you sure Dante won’t mind? I don’t want to impose on your time together.”
I almost laughed. “He won’t mind, don’t worry,” I said. “Do you want to leave now?”
She shivered, her thin arms coming up to wrap around her middle. There were bruises on her wrists too. If my fury alone could have killed Tommaso, he’d be dead now.
I helped Bibi pack a few things before I led her out of the house. The guard looked up, then started, obviously unsure of what to do. Tommaso had probably told him Bibi wasn’t allowed to leave the house, but I was the wife of the Capo, who was his main boss. Bibi tensed in my arm but didn’t stop walking. Not even when he picked up his phone and called someone, undoubtedly Tommaso. I felt the childish urge to give him the finger rise in me, but I’d passed the age where I would have considered acting on it. Bibi plopped down into the passenger seat and I slipped behind the steering wheel. “You are without a guard?”
I shrugged. “I didn’t want to waste time looking for Enzo or Taft.”
“I don’t want you to get in trouble because of me,” she said miserably.
I started the car and pulled away from the curb. Bibi’s guard didn’t try to follow us. He knew where we were going anyway. “I won’t.”
“Does Dante ever beat you or force himself on you?”
“No. He’s not violent. Well, at least not in our marriage. Of course I know that he’s perfectly capable of atrocious acts. He told me he doesn’t believe fear or hatred belong in a marriage. That’s probably why.”
“He’s a good man.”
“I wouldn’t say that. If you want a good man, you have to go looking outside of the Outfit.”
“Remember when we were young and dreamed about finding our Prince Charming and marrying him? I was obsessed with Disney princes. They were all so gallant and good.”
I smiled at the memory. “We were young and stupid. I’d give everything to be that clueless again, if only for a few hours.”