He raised his eyebrows but didn’t say anything in return.


Shortly after midnight, Dante and I excused ourselves. The hotel had offered us their biggest suite for the night, but Dante preferred to return home and I was actually glad. I was eager to finally move into Dante’s house. Although, I was also worried since he’d shared it with deceased wife. It was probably filled with many memories. Bibiana crossed her fingers as I walked past her and I couldn’t help but smile.CHAPTER FOURI was glad it was time for our wedding night. My first real wedding night. I’d waited too long.

On the drive to Dante’s mansion at Chicago’s Goldcoast, neither of us spoke. It seemed to become a loathsome tradition for us. I busied myself watching traffic through the passenger window while I desperately tried to hide my rising nervousness. Was it possible to feel excitement and dread at the same time?

Dante slowed as we approached a huge light-brown three-story mansion. Wrought iron gates swung open when Dante pressed a button in the dashboard and we drove through, then headed for the double garage. My family’s mansion wasn’t too far away. It was smaller than Dante’s home, as was to be expected. The Underboss couldn’t have a bigger house than his Capo.

After Dante had parked next to a Mercedes SUV, he got out. He walked around the car and opened my door for me, then held out his hand and helped me out of the car, which was difficult with my dress. His hand was warm and steady. I was always surprised not to find his skin ice-cold as his persona. He released me the moment I stood, and I almost reached for his hand but stopped myself. I didn’t want to push him. Maybe he could only ever let loose behind closed doors.

He led me through a side door into the lobby of the mansion. The floor and the staircase were dark hardwood and a chandelier cast a soft glow down on us. It was strangely quiet. I knew Dante had a maid and a cook, who handled the household for him.

“I gave Zita and Gaby the day off,” he said off-handedly. Could he read me that easily?

“That’s good,” I said, then cringed at how that might have sounded. It wasn’t as if I thought we’d entertain the entire house with our bedroom noises, but I preferred to have total privacy for our first night together.

Dante headed straight for the staircase, then stopped with a hand on the banister to look back at me. I’d halted in the middle of the lobby but quickly rushed toward him and followed him upstairs. My stomach fluttered with nerves.

This was my second wedding night, but I was almost as inexperienced as I’d been all those years ago, something I really hoped would change tonight. Antonio and I had kissed occasionally at the beginning of our marriage, and he’d even touched my breasts through my nightgown a few times, but when it became clear to me that he wasn’t into it, we abandoned those futile attempts at intimacy.

I wanted to become a real wife, a real woman, and unlike Antonio, I knew Dante was perfectly capable of consuming our marriage. But that was also my problem. What if Dante noticed I was a virgin? Could I hide it from him? Maybe if I asked him to extinguish the lights, I could hide my discomfort or blame it on nerves over being with someone other than Antonio. But what if he felt my hymen? What would I tell him then? I should have used a vibrator to get rid of it, but the romantic part didn’t want to lose my virginity to a device. It was ridiculous.

My thoughts were interrupted when Dante opened the door to the master bedroom and made an inviting gesture for me to go in. I walked past him, my wedding dress swooshing gently with the movement. I flashed him a quick glance in passing to gauge his mood, but as usual his expression was unreadable. The king sized bed was black wood with black satin covers. For a moment I wondered if he’d kept it black since his wife’s death. And then a worse thought took its place: was it the same bed he’d shared with his first wife?

“The bathroom is through that door,” Dante said with a nod toward a dark wood door to my right.

I hesitated. Did he want me to freshen up? He closed the bedroom door and started loosening his tie. Didn’t he want to undress me? He headed toward the window and looked out, his back to me. I got the hint. Disappointed, I walked into the marble bathroom. It was black marble, so maybe Dante simply liked black. I strode toward the window that faced the same direction as the one in the bedroom, wondering if Dante saw the same view I did; the boisterous lake, the black clouds dotting the night-blue sky and blotting out the full moon, or was he far away, lost in memories? The idea made me uncomfortable and so I turned away from the window and began to undress before I took a quick shower. I’d waxed my legs in preparation for the wedding as was tradition, so I didn’t need to shave. After I’d dried off, I put on the plum satin nightgown I’d bought for the occasion and brushed out my hair. My stomach fluttered again with nerves and excitement. I took a few moments to gather myself, to look all the way the experienced woman I was supposed to be; then I stepped back into the bedroom. Dante hadn’t moved from his spot at the window. I allowed myself a moment to admire him in his black suit. He looked strong and sophisticated, untouchable, with his hands pushed into his pockets. An iceman, cold, emotionless, controlled.

I cleared my throat nervously and he turned toward me. His cold blue eyes scanned my body briefly but his expression didn’t change. There wasn’t even the flicker of desire. There was nothing. He might as well have been carved from stone. Antonio had at least complimented me on my beauty on our wedding night. He’d even kissed me, had tried to pretend he could desire me, but it had become obvious pretty quickly that the kiss had done nothing for him.

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