Page 10 of Code of Silence

My father won’t look me in the eyes. He stares down at the papers in his hands, holding them out of my view. My heart pounds in my chest, and my voice breaks. “Daddy …”

“Haven.”

My chest tightens at the softness in his tone, and tears sting my eyes. “I won’t,” I say even though I’m sure that Matteo is lying. This has to be a mistake. A misunderstanding.

He slaps the edge of his desk with the papers. My father is a tall guy at six feet three. I’m only five feet four. But then again, I’m not his biological child. His dark blue eyes glare down at me, and I shrink back. “It’s done,” he growls. “I don’t wanna hear one more word from you!”

What’s done? I wonder, shaking my head, but I can’t make myself ask the words. A part of me knows, but I just don’t understand why. My father would never do this. I’ve gotten in trouble in the past with the police—had a couple of rowdy years—and I know I still live at home at twenty-four, but I’m not that big of a problem. He wouldn’t do this to get rid of me. Would he? “No.”

Marriage?

To Luca Bianchi?

Why now? Why him?

I look at his father. “He won’t agree to this.”

He looks me up and down the same way Matteo did and gives me a smile that would scare any grown man. “It was his idea.”

I take a step back from the desk, then another. I turn, yank open the door, and run out of his office. I stomp down the staircase, through the house, and out the back door. Tears run down my face, but I don’t stop as I run across the stone path yard. Then my shoes hit the patch of synthetic grass that my mother had my father put in years ago. I round the inground pool and come to the rock wall. I reach up, gripping a hold and place my shoes in an open slot. Looking up, I begin to climb, but I scream out, letting go and falling to my ass. Adding another bruise to my already black and blue body. I scramble back as the man I’ve tried so hard to forget jumps down from where he’s perched at the top. He was sitting in my favorite spot, waiting on me.

“Get back!” I shout.

Luca Bianchi stands before me with his hands tucked in his jeans. It’s May, and he has a black leather jacket on over his white T-shirt but has left it unzipped. He always wears it. Some would think it’s ’cause he’s cold natured, but I know it’s to hide the gun and holster he wears. Last time I saw him was almost two years in this very spot. He lied to me, and then he left me. No text. No letter. Nothing. It was a common occurrence.

For too long I’ve been playing this cat and mouse game.

He no longer looks like the boy I once fell in love with. He was always on the skinny side back then, but he’s filled out in all the right places. From what I can see, his arms are bigger, and he no longer shaves his face. He keeps it trimmed short, giving him a five o’clock shadow. And I hate how much I like it. How much it makes him look like a man.

His dark eyes rake over my bruised knees, my earlier fall leaving a hole in my yoga pants. Now the white spandex material is covered in blood along with dirt. Then they trail up my naked stomach and to my sports bra, and my nipples harden when he licks his luscious lips.

I cross my arms over my chest to try to cover them.

He grips his jeans-clad thighs, pulling them up to allow him to kneel before me. “Hello, Haven.”

Dread washes over me. Like a wave shoving me under the water, holding me hostage. “Why are you here, Luca? And don’t give me any bullshit.”

He tilts his head to the side, his eyes never leaving mine, and it makes me nervous. As if he’s searching for something. I was always an open book when it came to him. Not only could he read my thoughts, but he would use my body. I would spread my legs for him like an avid reader would turn the pages of a book.

My heart pounds, and my breathing increases. I think I’m gonna hyperventilate. Pass out.

“What do you mean by bullshit?” he asks.

He still takes me as a naïve woman who will believe everything he says. I’ve changed just as much on the inside as he has on the outside. My eyes narrow on him. “Cut the shit.”

He sighs. “I’m here to give you what you’ve always wanted.”

I eye him skeptically. The Bianchi men aren’t fucking genies. They don’t grant anyone a wish they want, unless it’s something they know that can benefit them. “What I’ve always wanted?”

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