But it wasn’t, couldn’t be. “I killed him.” I squeezed my eyes shut against the images my mind created, but they were even more colorful against the black canvas of my closed eyelids. “I killed him,” I repeated over and over again, until I wasn’t sure if the words still left my lips or if it was an echo in my ears.
“Val,” Dante said firmly, his fingers on my face tightening. “Look at me.”
I peeled my eyes open, staring at the beautiful face of my husband. Beautifully cold. Not a flicker of regret.
“You did what was right.”
Did I? Sometimes it was hard to see the line between right and wrong from all the death and blood plastering the mob’s paths.
“You did what you had to do to protect me.” His fingers stroked my chin. “I won’t ever forget it. Never.”
“I told you that you could trust me,” I whispered.
“I know, and I do.”
I wanted to believe him, but he still hadn’t said anything about our child, still hadn’t admitted that it was his, that he’d been wrong to accuse me of cheating. Too proud, too stubborn. He must have known he was wrong all along, because if he’d ever really thought I had cheated on him he would have moved heaven and earth to find the man who touched me. I didn’t want to think about it, but as my mind shied away from one hurtful topic, it latched onto the next. “Did you get the names of the other traitors?”
Dante nodded grimly. “Yes. I’m fairly sure. Enzo and a few others are taking care of the less important rats right now.”
“What…what did you do to Antonio?” I knew I shouldn’t ask. It wouldn’t make things better. It would only add fuel to the fire that was my guilt.
Dante shook his head. “He’s dead, Val.”
“I know but what did you do to him.”
“If it’s any consolation for you, I focused my main attention on Raffaele. Antonio got a quicker death than any other traitor.”
Tears pooled in my eyes. “Thank you.” What kind of twisted world did we live in that I thanked my husband for killing my first husband quickly, for keeping the torture to a minimum. A world of blood and death. A world our child would be born into and grow up in, and maybe one day if he was a boy, he’d follow in Dante’s footsteps and kill and torture others to stay in power. An endless circle of blood and death.
Dante searched my eyes. “Val, you’re worrying me.”
I raised my head and pressed my tear-slick lips against Dante’s. He didn’t pull back, only watched me with furrowed brows. I drew back a couple of inches, my fingers curling in his hair, my eyes pleading. “Please,” I said quietly. “Make love to me. Just today. I know you don’t love me. Pretend, just for tonight. Hold me in your arms for once.”
Tumultuous wasn’t the right word to describe the look in Dante’s eyes, but it was the only thing that came to my mind. “God, Val.” He released a harsh breath, then he pressed his lips to mine, parting them and tasting me, tasting my tears, my sorrow, and somehow taking some of it away with every brush of his mouth. His hand ghosted over my collarbone, my arm, my side, my hip, like a whisper of a touch, barely there and yet the only thing I was aware of. He sat up and quickly unbuttoned his shirt before throwing it mindlessly to the ground and then his bare chest was pressed up against me, so warm and solid. He left cotton-soft kisses on my temple, forehead and cheek before he found my lips again for a kiss that took my breath away. His hand discovered my breast as if for the very first time, fingertips laying feather-light touches on my skin, laying claim to me without the usual burning possessiveness. I moaned against his mouth as his fingers traveled the length of my body to slip between my legs. He nudged them apart and then he lightly explored my folds, gentle and unhurried. I whimpered softly but Dante silenced me with another kiss before he nuzzled my neck and collarbone. When his lips finally closed around my nipple, I was already panting. Dante slipped one, then two fingers into me before he got off the bed and stood. He made quick work of his remaining clothes, and then he was on the bed, gloriously naked and hard. He settled between my legs and lowered himself to his elbows, molding our bodies together like we were one. He didn’t enter me. Instead his hand caressed my leg and raised it until it was curled over his back. His erection pressed against my inner thigh but Dante didn’t seem in any hurry. He kissed me, his eyes dark and probing as they watched me. He lightly petted my breast, making me ache for him to finally claim me.
He must have seen the need on my face because he reached between us and lined his erection up with my entrance. His claim didn’t come in one swift, hard move as so often in the past. It was a slow conquest and my walls yielded to him as they always did. I gasped when he was buried completely inside me. Dante cradled the back of my head, his forearms braced to both sides of my face and then he started to move in me. Time seemed to stand still as our bodies glided against each other. Was this love-making?
I wrapped my arms around Dante, trying to bring him even closer. Dante didn’t resist. He brought his face down to mine, kissed my lips, then my cheeks until his mouth brushed my ear. “I should have made love to you before,” he said in a low voice.
And I cried in response. I wasn’t sure if this was part of his pretense, and I didn’t care. In this moment, it felt real and that was all that mattered to me. When Dante shuddered under his release, he took me with him, and even afterward as he started to soften inside me, he didn’t pull away.