It was almost ten when we finally stepped into my home. “Do you want to grab something to eat or would you like to try to get some sleep?”
“I’m not really hungry,” Bibi said hesitantly. “But I don’t think I can fall asleep right now.”
“We could sit in the library and talk a bit. Or I could run you a bath so you can relax.”
“I think I’d rather talk. I don’t want to be alone.”
“Okay, I…” I trailed off when I saw Dante heading our way. Bibi stiffened beside me, her terrified gaze darting to me. I wasn’t sure why but I positioned myself between Dante and Bibi. He noticed of course and gave me a searching look. “Good evening, Bibiana,” he said politely.
“Evening,” she said quietly. Dante’s cool blue eyes scanned her bruised face and arms briefly before they fixed on me. “Tommaso called me to ask if his wife was here. He said you’d picked her up at their house without his permission.”
“His permission?” I hissed. “She’s not a dog. I don’t need to ask him permission for anything.”
“That’s what I told him,” Dante said calmly, startling me.
Bibi watched us with wide eyes.
“Of course, you are my wife. If you want to have a word with one of the wives of my soldiers, you have every right to do so.”
We both knew that wasn’t the reason why Bibi was here. Dante wasn’t blind. I hoped he could see how grateful I was for his support. “So he’s okay with her staying the night?”
“I didn’t know that’s what you’d planned as you didn’t inform me,” he said simply. I could hear the hint of a reprimand in his tone. He knew I’d left without a guard – again.
“I didn’t have the time,” I said. “But I think Bibi should stay here, so Tommaso can calm down.”
“If he comes here and asks for her, it would be against our traditions to deny him. She is his wife.”
Bibi nodded. “He’s right. I shouldn’t have come.” The defeat in her eyes and voice almost brought me to my knees. I shot Dante a pleading look.
Dante pulled his phone from his pocket and pressed it against his ear. After two rings, I could hear a deep voice on the other end but I couldn’t hear the words.
“Yes, Tommaso. I want you to accompany Raffaele when he checks out the new goods. I trust your judgment, and Club Palermo could use fresh blood. I want your report tomorrow.” Dante listened to something Tommaso said. “My wife and Bibiana have plans. Don’t worry. She’s safe here. I’ll have my driver take her home tomorrow.” Dante lowered the phone and put it back in his pocket.
“Thank you,” Bibi said in a shaky voice. I stayed silent, overwhelmed by Dante’s kindness.
“You realize I sent your husband out to sleep with our new prostitutes, but I suppose you don’t mind.”
“No, I don’t. I’m waiting for the day when he finally finds a mistress he prefers to me.”
Dante inclined his head to show he understood. Then his eyes found mine. I tried to send him all the gratitude I was capable of with that one gaze. I was quite sure he could see it. “I’ll return to my work. I’m sure you and Bibiana have a lot to talk about.”
He turned around and strode back to his office, disappearing from our view. I linked arms with Bibi who was gaping at me. “I can’t believe he did that for you. He must really care about you.”
“He tried to help you. He saw your bruises.”
Bibi laughed. “He did it for you. It was written all over his face.” She paused, then quickly added. “Not that I mind. I’m just glad that he got rid of Tommaso for now.”
“Come on, let’s go into the living room. I’ll put in a movie and we’ll have a glass of wine. You deserve it. Do you need some Tylenol with it?”
Bibi grimaced. “Yes, please. I feel sore. I think Tommaso bruised my ribs.”
That was the last mentioning of what had happened with Tommaso today. We spent the rest of the night remembering our childhood and teenage years, laughing, and getting drunk.
The next day I regretted last night’s wine when a splitting headache woke me from sleep. I sat up, groaning. Pressing a palm against my forehead, I took a few deep breath, hoping it would help with the nausea. Something red caught my eye. A small parcel lay on Dante’s side of the bed. I snatched the card propped up against the parcel.
‘I would have given this to you last night but I didn’t want to wake you’ was written in neat script on the card. Delighted, I grabbed the present and unwrapped it. Inside the small velvet box rested a delicate whitegold necklace with an emerald pendant. I stumbled out of bed and hurried toward my vanity, holding it up against my eyes. The emerald had almost exactly the same color. That couldn’t have been a coincidence. I sank down on the chair and fastened the necklace around my neck with shaking hands.
I probably wouldn’t have gone to work at all that day – Leo could take care of everything without me – if I hadn’t told Frank to meet me there.
After we’d dropped Bibiana off at her home and I’d made her promise to call me the moment Tommaso was home, Enzo drove us to the casino and we went inside as we always did. Luckily for me Raffaele was screaming at one of the girls, which wasn’t a one time thing either, but today it was the distraction I needed. I turned to Enzo. “Could you please have a private word with Raffaele and make it clear that I don’t appreciate him manhandling our girls?” Enzo looked only too eager to comply.
He headed straight for Raffaele and shoved him into one of the private rooms. Leo was making a beeline for me but I shook my head and told him that I was busy. He seemed confused but didn’t try to stop me when I stepped into the elevator. Guilt almost stopped me in my tracks a couple of times. My secret meeting with Frank could be construed as a betrayal of Dante’s trust. After this morning’s considerate gift, the idea of going against him like that made me feel even worse. He seemed willing to try, and I was risking it all because of Frank.