Three minutes later, I hastened away from the storehouse. I glanced around my surroundings nervously; not only because I worried about being followed but also because this was a deserted and creepy area. It was already getting dark, which didn’t help my anxiety at all. At least I was wearing ballet flats so I could have run if someone attacked me. In the distance, leaning against the wall of another empty warehouse, I could make out a tall figure. I hurried toward it, then slowed because it was hard to make out much. “Frank?” I whispered. “Is that you?”

He took a step away from the wall, looking as nervous as I felt. “Hey Valentina.”

I bridged the remaining distance between us. “What’s going on? Why do you keep showing up in front of my home? Do you want the Outfit to find out about you?”

Frank rubbed his hair, his eyes darting around. “Of course not.” His obvious nervousness was making me nervous in turn. “I need to talk to you.”

“Then talk. I don’t have much time. Don’t you realize what kind of risk we’re taking by talking right now?”

“I think it’s dangerous that you agreed to marry Dante Cavallaro.”

I was taken aback. That wasn’t what I’d expected when he’d told me he wanted to talk. “Why do you care? Your connection to the Outfit died with Antonio.” I realized a moment too late how insensitive that sounded, but Frank didn’t seem to notice. He was busy checking our surroundings, especially the darkness spreading out behind us.

“Can you stop that?” I asked impatiently. “You’re making me nervous.”

“Sorry. I’m not used to sneaking around in dark alleys. That’s Antonio’s thing.”

Was he still not over him? His words made me believe it. Maybe that was why he was here. Maybe he couldn’t let go of his former life and I was the only connection he had to it. “It wasn’t my decision to marry Dante. You should know that marriages are often decided by other people for reasons of power or strategy.”

“You don’t love him.”

“I’m not going to discuss my feelings with you, Frank. What do you want?”

“Did you tell Cavallaro about Antonio and me?”

“I told him that Antonio was gay.”

“Why did you do that?” Frank asked angrily, taking a few steps in my direction, startling me with his outburst, but not enough to back away. I was used to other kinds of men. Frank really wasn’t scary enough.

“That’s none of your business.”

“But you promised Antonio to keep his secret!”

“I know, but he’s dead, Frank, and I’m trying to move on. If Antonio were still alive, I’d take his secret into my grave, but the truth can’t hurt him anymore. And Dante won’t tell anyone in the Outfit anyway.”

“He won’t?” Frank asked hopefully. “What about me? You didn’t tell him my name?” The anxiety returned to his face with full force.

“No. I won’t. You are safe, but for it to stay that way, you need to stop hanging around in our street. It’s only stupid luck that none of Dante’s men has noticed you yet. And when they do, you’ll be in huge trouble. So do us both a favor and move on.”

“I can’t,” Frank said quietly. “Don’t you miss him? Don’t you want him back? Wouldn’t you do anything to have him back?”

“You should really leave. This doesn’t get us anywhere. I promise you are safe.”

Frank gripped my arm stopping me from walking away. “Valentina--”

“Hands off,” a cool voice drawled from the shadows and I let out a scream. Frank whirled around and tried to run away but Enzo was there and pulled him into a headlock. Dante appeared beside me and grasped my arm in a steely grip.

He nodded toward the door to the warehouse. Enzo dragged Frank toward it, despite his struggling.

Dante glared at me. “So this is what you do when I’m not around? Meeting with other men?”

“No!” I protested, horrified that he would think that. “It’s not like you think.”

“He’s been lurking around the house twice now, Boss,” Enzo said, then grunted when Frank’s knee hit him in the groin.

“Explain,” Dante snarled. Enzo was still trying to stop Frank from kicking him. Frank was putting up a surprisingly good fight.

“It’s Frank,” I said quickly, self-preservation overriding my desire to protect Frank.

Dante’s grip on my arm loosened. “Antonio’s lover.”

That caught Enzo’s attention. He knew Antonio. The Outfit wasn’t that big of an organization that Made Men didn’t know each other.

Suddenly shots rang out from somewhere. Enzo cried out and clutched his arm, releasing Frank in the process. More shots rang out. One hit the wall two feet above my head. Dante pushed me to the ground and crouched in front of me, his own weapon drawn and fired into the direction where the shots were coming from. Enzo pulled his own gun but his right hand was useless and it was obvious that he wasn’t used to shooting with his left hand. Frank was running as fast as his legs could carry him away from us toward the shadows. Dante pointed his gun at him. I jerked his hand away when he pulled the trigger and the bullet hit the ground, instead of Frank. “Valentina,” Dante snarled, taking aim again, but Frank had disappeared into the darkness. Dante glanced at Enzo, who was clutching his bleeding arm, muttering under his breath.

“What the fuck was that?” Dante asked, eyes blazing with fury as they held my own.

“I don’t know! I thought he was alone. Frank doesn’t even know anyone who can shoot a gun.”

“You should have let me shoot him. Never interfere like that again.”

“He’s innocent. He doesn’t deserve death.”

“Bullshit. That guy lay a trap and you fucking walked into it,” Enzo muttered.

“What do you mean?” I asked carefully. Dante shook his head. “Haven’t you wondered why he wanted to meet you? Maybe he’s been approached by the Russians and agreed to help them. They’d love to kill you.”

“Frank wouldn’t do that.”

“Are you sure?” No, I wasn’t. “The Bratva can be very convincing. Or maybe they offered him a substantial amount of money. Money makes sinners out of most saints.”

Tags: Cora Reilly Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles Erotic