Dante’s cold scrutiny was such a stark change from Antonio’s tenderness and easy-going smiles. Antonio had promised me to give me what I wanted, to be a husband I deserved. Three years ago I’d have done everything to hear those words from him, even slipped poison into the glass of someone who wanted Antonio dead. But somehow in the last months of my marriage to Dante something had changed. My heart had moved on from one unattainable man to the next. Despite everything Dante had done and said, he was my husband and I had come to love him, no matter how stupid that made me. He was the father of my child, even if he didn’t want to believe it.

“Valentina?” A hint of impatience crept into Dante’s voice.

“I saw Antonio today.”

Dante frowned. “You went to his grave?”

“No,” I said with a hysteric note. “I saw him in person. He isn’t dead.”

Dante became still. I could tell that he wasn’t sure if he should believe me. He probably thought I was losing it. “What do you mean?”

Tears spilled out. “What I said. He isn’t dead.”

Dante’s face hardened but he remained silent.

“That’s why Frank contacted me. Antonio was there that night at the warehouse. He shot at us to save Frank. It wasn’t the Russians.”

“Why did you meet him without telling me after he tried to kill you once already?”

“I didn’t! He followed me into the pharmacy today.”

Suspicion was edged into Dante’s face. “Why didn’t you call Enzo? Where was he?” He didn’t sound like a husband, he sounded like he was my Boss and I was one of his soldiers.

“I don’t know. I was shocked. I thought Antonio was dead and then suddenly I’m staring at his face. I wanted to hear him out. He told me he faked his death to escape the Outfit and live with Frank.”

“And now he’s back. Does he want my forgiveness? I don’t have any to give. I hope he doesn’t expect me to give him a warm welcome. The only thing he can have is a quick death.”

I wrapped my arms around my middle. “He doesn’t want to ask for your forgiveness.”

Dante searched my face.

“He wants you dead. He and a few others want you and your father gone and take over power.”

Dante’s jaw flexed. “Do they now? And how do they intend to do that?”

“Antonio asked me to poison you.”

Dante’s eyes bored into mine. “Why would he think you’d agree?”

“Because he’s certain I still love him. Because he trusts me. Because it’s probably obvious to everyone how unhappy I am.” My hand unconsciously moved to my still mostly flat stomach. There was only the slightest bump visible when I was naked. Dante’s eyes followed the movement and some of the hardness around his eyes lessened. “And what did you tell him?”

I made an exasperated sound. “Would I be telling you about all this if I wanted to kill you? It was bad enough that you accused me of cheating and didn’t believe me when I told you I was pregnant with your child, although you are the only man I’ve ever been with. But this? Thinking I’d agree to kill you, this is too much, even for me.”

Dante walked up to me and touched my upper arms lightly. “I didn’t ask what you decided. I didn’t think you’d kill me. I asked what you told Antonio. There’s a difference.”

“I pretended to agree with his plan. I worried he’d find another way to kill you.”

“Probably. And I bet he would have tried to kill you too.”

I sucked in a breath. “Antonio would never harm me.”

“Are you sure? This is a man who goes to great lengths to get his way from what I know.”

“I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore.”

Dante kept his hands on my arms. “Did he tell you who else is involved?”

I nodded numbly. “He mentioned Raffaele, but he didn’t want to tell me the other names.”

“Okay,” Dante said gently. “Do you have a way to get in contact with him?”

“You are going to kill him.”

“I’m going to kill them all, Valentina. I have to.”

I stared into his determined blue eyes. No hesitation, no pity, no mercy. “I have his number.”

“You will send him a text saying you gave me the poison and now you’re panicking because you don’t know what to do with my dead body. Ask him to meet you at the warehouse again.”

A tear slid down my cheek. Dante wiped it away with his thumb. “You know what’s strange,” I whispered thickly. “At one point, I thought I could never love someone as I loved Antonio, no matter how unrequited that love was. And today I’m condemning him to his death for another man who will never love me back.”

Dante’s fingers froze against my face. His gaze flickered, and some tiny part of me hoped he’d say that he loved me. It would have made things easier. He cleared his throat. “We shouldn’t wait too long. Maybe he’ll realize it was stupid to contact you and he’ll decide to go back into hiding. We need to reach him before that.”

I drew away from his touch, and nodded. I reached into my bag for my phone, my fingers brushing the vial with the poison. I should tell Dante about it. I pulled out my phone and opened a text. I quickly typed what Dante had told me and sent it off. Afterward, I anxiously stared down at the screen. Less than a minute later, I got a reply.

Meet me in 30 minutes. Bring the body. I’ll take care of everything.

“How am I supposed to get your body into my car?”

“I suppose dragging would work,” Dante said dryly.

I laughed, then choked up. “What now? You will need reinforcements.”

Dante shook his head. “I don’t know who to trust right now. Not until I’ve talked to Antonio.”

I knew he wouldn’t just talk to him and the thought sent a stab through my heart. “But what if Antonio isn’t alone? Isn’t it too risky for you to go alone? Maybe you should ask one of the guards. They have access to this house. If they wanted you dead, they’d probably have figured out a way to kill you by now.”


Tags: Cora Reilly Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles Erotic
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