Page 50 of Code of Silence

He places his hands on my hips and releases a sigh. His dark eyes roam my face before they meet mine. “I blackmailed him.”

I keep my face blank of emotion. He’s being very vague. “Who gave you the information that you needed in order to do that?”

“Your mother.”

My mouth falls open. “What?”

He gently runs his hands up and down my bare thighs. “Your mother called and informed me that your father was in debt. That he had been skimming from the bank for years. She wanted to protect you. Said that you weren’t the same since I left, and that she knew a way I could get you back.”

“She set me up?” I whisper.

He sits up, and I go to pull away, but he wraps his arm around my waist to hold me in place. “She knew I wouldn’t walk away from you, and she knew you needed me.”

“But you did walk away from me. And I was doing just fine without you,” I add with bite. He frowns at me. “It all makes sense. Why my stuff was packed … why she never tried to reach out to me …” My voice trails off as my jaw tightens.

“Haven, she did this …”

“For her!” I growl. “She didn’t want Dad to lose her precious house. Her cars. Money. She wanted to make sure she had a backup plan.”

“Haven …”

“How do you know she wasn’t screwing the banks either?”

“Haven …?”

“Does my dad know?” I demand. “That she snitched on him?”

He shakes his head. “He knows that I know he’s in debt and he needed an escape plan, but he has no idea who gave me the intel. I’m not even sure he knows she’s aware of what is going on with the banks.”

“So … what? You gave him five million, and all is good now?” I cross my arms over my chest.

His jaw sharpens, and he looks away from me.

“Luca …”

“I gave him the money in exchange for you and control over all fifteen locations.”

I nod my head once. “To launder money through.” It’s what the Mafia does. So much of their income comes from drugs and other illegal activities. Cash. They have to hide it from the government, and my father’s misfortune was Luca’s ticket.

“What do you expect?” He growls. “For me to live on the straight and narrow?” He cups my face with his free hand. “I love you, Haven. Always have. Always will. I won’t sit here and apologize for finding a way to get you. And if that means I get to make a little money in the meantime, then so be it.”

I bite my bottom lip. “Why five million?”

He gives me a smile. The one I never could tell no. “Because that’s how deep he was.” He grabs my left hand and looks at my ring. “But I would have paid a billion if it meant you were going to be mine forever.”

I fall down onto the bed next to him, and he pulls me into his side. “What about Mia?” I ask. She’s at risk. I’m just not sure from what yet.

He stiffens. “What about her?”

“Why does your father hide her here?”

He lets out a long sigh. “A player never shows his hand.”

The same thing Mia had told me. I close my eyes, hating those words because I know exactly what they mean. “He’s going to use her. Just like my father used me.” Women are handed over like poker chips. She’ll be married off to a man to benefit his father. They’re always trying to climb the ranks. Doesn’t matter how much money they have or how big their mansions are, they always want more. And they use others to profit from it.

He doesn’t say anything, but what is there to say? It wasn’t a question. And I vow to myself that whatever ends up happening to her, I’ll be there. I may not be able to stop it, but I will not let her feel helpless or lost. I’ll make sure she knows she will always have someone she can call. Who she can run to. I’ll protect her when no one else will. I’ll be the best damn sister since Lord knows her brothers are shit.

I push off the bed, trying to sit up, but he wraps his arms around my waist and pulls me down. His hand runs up and down my stomach, and a thought hits me. “Why don’t we use a condom?” We never were careful, but the fact that the paperwork mentioned heirs makes me think he wants me to get pregnant now. I don’t remember it saying when I had to produce children. I would think a shotgun wedding would look bad for him and the Bianchi family. But even if I was already knocked up, the wedding is in less than two weeks, so I wouldn’t be showing that fast. And they could always lie and say I had the baby earlier than my delivery date. Happens all the time.