Gaby shook her head. “We stay in the kitchen. This is mostly for the guards because they spend the nights.”

“Where are they now?” I hadn’t seen any guards so far.

“They are outside. Either patrolling the grounds or in their guardhouse.”

“Are there security cameras?”

“Oh no, Mr. Cavallaro didn’t want them. He’s a very private man.” No surprise there.

She headed toward another door. “This way.” We stepped into the back part of the lobby. Gaby pointed at the two doors in the hall. “This is Mr. Cavallaro’s office, and that’s the library. Mr. Cavallaro doesn’t like to be disturbed when he’s in his office.” She flushed. “By us, I mean. He’s probably happy to be disturbed by you.” She bit her lip.

I touched her shoulder. “I understand. So are there other rooms on this floor?”

“Only the living and dining room, and the guest bathroom.”

As Gaby led me upstairs, I asked. “How old are you?”

“I’m seventeen.”

“Shouldn’t you still be going to school?” I sounded like my mother, but Gaby’s shy nature brought out my motherly side even though she was only six years younger than me.”

“I’ve been working for Mr. Cavallaro for three years. I came into this house shorty after his wife died. I never met her but Zita really misses her, that’s why she was rude to you.”

My eyes grew wide. “For three years? That’s horrible.”

“Oh no,” Gaby said quickly. “I’m thankful. Without Mr. Cavallaro I’d probably be dead, or worse.” She shuddered, a dark look passing in her eyes. I could tell that she didn’t want to talk about it. I’d have to talk to Dante about her later. She quickened her pace and pointed at doors on this floor. “These are guest bedrooms. And beside your Master bedroom, there’s a room you could use for your own purposes. The nursery and two additional rooms are on the third floor.”

My eyes rested on a door at the end of the corridor that Gaby had ignored. I headed in its direction. “What about this one?”

Gaby gripped my arm before I could turn the handle. “That’s where Mr. Cavallaro keeps his first wife’s things.”

I had trouble keeping a straight face. “Of course,” I said instead. It couldn’t be locked or Gaby wouldn’t have stopped me from opening it. I’d have to return alone, and find out more about the woman who was casting such a huge shadow on my marriage.


One hour later I showed Aria into the living room. It felt strange to act like the mistress of the house; as if I was an impostor. Aria looked tired when she sank down on the sofa beside me. Dark shadows spread under her eyes. I supposed she had a longer night than I did.

“Coffee?” I asked her. Gaby had set up a pot on the table, as well as assorted cookies.

“God yes,” Aria said, then smiled apologetically. “I didn’t even ask you about your night. You probably got less sleep than me.”

I poured her coffee and handed her the cup as I tried to come up with a reply. “I slept okay,” I said evasively.

Aria watched me curiously but she didn’t push the matter. “So have you and Dante had the chance to get to know each other better?”

“Not yet. There wasn’t any time.”

“Because of us?” Aria asked worriedly. “Luca and your husband have to discuss a few things regarding Matteo’s and Gianna’s wedding.” I could hear the strain in her voice.

“Gianna’s still not happy about it.”

Aria laughed into her cup. “That’s an understatement.”

“Maybe she just needs a bit more time. I remember how scared you were before your marriage to Luca and now you two seem to get along just fine.” Of course I knew that appearances were deceiving. I didn’t know what went on behind closed doors.

“I know, but both Luca and I wanted to make it work. Right now, I think Gianna’s main goal is to make Matteo so sick of her that he cancels the wedding.”

“Not every couple works well together,” I said quietly.

“I’m sure you and Dante will make it work. You are both always so poised and controlled.”

I snorted. “I’m not nearly as poised as Dante.”

Aria smiled. “He is a bit cold on the outside, but as long as he thaws when he’s around you, everything’s alright.”

“So Luca isn’t always this scary?” I joked.

Aria’s cheeks tinged red. “No, he isn’t.”

Seeing Aria’s happiness gave me hope. If she could make it work with someone like Luca, then I could make it work with Dante.

Luca’s and Dante’s conversation lasted longer than expected and I was starting to worry. They weren’t exactly friends, but eventually they emerged and we decided to have lunch together. That’s why Zita had prepared a lamb roast after all.

We settled down at the table. Unlike this morning, Dante didn’t sit at the head of the table. Instead he and I sat on one side while Luca and Aria took the seats across from us. The tension between Dante and Luca was palpable, and I started to wonder if lunch was really the best idea. Fortunately, Zita served food only moments after we’d sat down, so we were busy enjoying the lamb, which lifted the spirits at least for a short while, but the moment our plates were empty things went downhill quickly.

Dante’s face was even colder than usual. He looked as if it had been carved out of marble. Luca didn’t look much happier, but the hardness of his mouth was accompanied by a fiery fire in his eyes. I glanced between them, but it was obvious that they didn’t have anything else to say to each other beyond what had been discussed during their meeting.

Aria gave me a beseeching look.

As the hostess, it was my job to salvage the situation. “So when’s the wedding?”

Dante made a dismissive sound. “If things progress as they do now, never.”

“If things progress as they do now, there will be a red wedding,” Luca said sharply.

My eyebrows shot up, and Gaby who’d come in with a new bottle of wine froze.

Tags: Cora Reilly Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles Erotic