Page 44 of Code of Silence

She nods. “I gave her a call, and she sounded out of breath. I asked her if she was fucking. She went silent for a second and then explained she was boarding a plane back to Chicago.”

I sit back in the booth. “Why didn’t she call and tell me?”

“She was just in town for the day. It’s her mom … She’s sick.”

My chest tightens. “Sick how?”

“Lymphoma. Stage four.”

I gasp.

“Gave her six months to live. She was heading back to Chicago to pack up her things and place her apartment on the market so she can move back here and help her father take care of her.”

“Why …?” I swallow. Gripping my phone, I wish I could call her and tell her I’m sorry. That I love her, and that I’m here for her. “Why hasn’t she told me this?”

She shrugs. “You know how Emilee deals with things. I’ve tried calling her since, but she never answers.”

“How did we get here?” I ask.

“Celibate?”

It makes me laugh at how she deflects. “No. So distant. We used to be inseparable.”

She shrugs again. “Life happens. We get older, and everything goes to shit.” She reaches for a piece of calamari off the plate I ordered in the middle of the table and shoves it in her mouth. “You should see my tits. Time has not been nice to them.”

I doubt that. They’re fake. But instead of reminding her of that, I say. “I’m getting married.”

She looks up at me through her dark lashes. Her hands pause with more calamari. “My hearing must be going to shit as well ’cause it sounded like you just said you’re getting married.”

I hold up my left hand to show her my ring.

Her eyes widen. “You’re gonna be a …”

“Bianchi,” I finish for her.

Sitting back in her seat she releases a heavy sigh. “What? How …? When did you get back together?”

Tears sting my eyes, and I lick my lips. Taking in a deep breath, I fill her in.

_______________

“Say something,” I prompt, hating sitting here in silence.

She blinks. “I … uh …” Clearing her throat, she shifts in her seat. “What’s the problem here?”

“Jasmine,” I growl.

“What? Haven.” She reaches across the table and grabs my hand. “I honestly don’t see the issue. You love Luca. You’ve always loved him. Now he’s all yours.”

I remove my hand from hers. “Only on paper.”

“You don’t know that. Have you given him a chance? Sat down and really spoken to him?”

My mouth falls open. “Unbelievable.”

“Haven …”

“You’re supposed to be on my side. He slept with another woman.”

“Made you think he slept with another woman,” she corrects me. “This is all you’ve ever wanted. Why are you fighting it so much?”

“Because he didn’t want me,” I say softly. “It’s all about money. Power.”

“I don’t believe that for a second.” She shakes her head. “I think you’re just afraid.”

“Am not.”

“You’re afraid that for once in your life, it’s not falling apart.”

I roll my eyes.

“Look at you.” She gestures to me. “You’ve been a total mess since he left for Italy. You spent most of your time in a bottle of wine or drowning in a tub of ice cream. Your life is a mess …”

“Thank you.” I snort. “We both know that yours is just perfect.”

She tilts her head to the side. “I’m not about to say I have my shit together. But we both know this isn’t about me.” She looks down at her hands knotted on the table. “I have my own issues when it comes to love, and I know that if I was offered the same opportunity as you, I’d jump on it without thought. Even if it came with a contract and a payment.”

She’s referring to Trenton. After all these years, she’s still hung up on him. Even though the guy is now married.

Her eyes meet mine. “Just give him a chance. Maybe it’ll turn out to be the best thing to ever happen to you.”

“Or the worst,” I add.

I feel a set of eyes on me. I look up, and Luca is standing beside Nite. His eyes on mine as he speaks to him. And I know my time with my friend is over.

LUCA

An hour later, we’re boarding my private jet. Nite sits down across from me, and Haven sits to my right. Two men by the name of Max and Gabe sits on either side of Nite.

Titan gave them to me. He said that they are the best he has, and he trusts them with everything. So I told them to pack their shit they were going on a trip. This is their training. Maybe I’ll bring them back alive, maybe I won’t. That depends on them.

Haven pulls her shade down and cuddles up with her pillow. Closing her eyes, I watch her breathing even out as she falls into a deep sleep.

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