“Why? Because love can grow over time?” Gianna said in what I assumed was an imitation of her mother’s voice.
“Yes, that’s an option.”
Gianna glared. “Come on. I’m not blind. Don’t tell me there’s love between you and Dante. You act like fucking strangers.” She snapped her mouth shut. “That was rude.”
It was, but I couldn’t blame her for speaking her mind, and the truth. “We haven’t been married for very long.”
“Shouldn’t two months be enough to know if you can stand someone or not? I knew after my first encounter with Matteo that I didn’t like that arrogant asshole.”
I put down the spatula and leaned against the counter. “What about Aria and Luca? She seems happy with her arranged marriage.”
“Aria is a pushover. If it had been me who had to marry Luca, either he or I would be dead by now. And Matteo is just as bad.”
“Aria made the best out of a situation she couldn’t escape. That’s all we can do.”
“No, it’s not. She could have escaped, if she’d been braver.”
I paused. Was she saying what I think she was saying? “Nobody escapes the mob.”
Gianny shrugged. “Maybe nobody really tried.”
“Oh, there have been enough people who tried, but eventually your past always catches up with you.”
“I know,” she said softly, then she pointed at the plates. “Shouldn’t we serve dessert now?”
“Yes, you’re right.” We loaded our arms with plates and returned to the dining room. Gianna’s parents cast hopeful glances my way. Dante eyed Gianna, then met my gaze. He seemed to know what the Scuderis didn’t: nobody could get through to Gianna. Her words about Dante and me kept bothering me the rest of the evening. It made me realize just how far my marriage with Dante was from the relationship I longed for.
That evening I decided to help Gaby and Zita wash the dishes, desperate to keep busy. We were almost done when Dante walked in, eyes taking in the scene before him emotionlessly. I was up to my elbows in dishwater. “You can go home,” he told Zita and Gaby who didn’t need to be told twice. They quickly took their leave. I withdrew my arms from the washwater and took the dishtowel Dante held out to me. “Thank you.”
“You are a great cook.”
I chanced a glance at him, wondering if he’d come here to tell me that. “I’m glad you enjoyed dinner.”
He nodded. I blew a strand of hair out of my face, then stretched my tired muscles. Dante’s eyes scanned my body. I became acutely aware of how close we were and how long it had been since we’d had sex. Had he changed his mind?
“I take it your conversation with Gianna didn’t go well.”
I sighed. “Of course it didn’t. How can I possibly convince Gianna that an arranged marriage won’t make her miserable? I’m the least person she would listen to.”
Dante smiled tersely. “You are right.” He took a step. “I’ll get back to work then.”
I didn’t try to stop him. Maybe a few weeks ago I would have made an attempt at seduction but today I lacked the energy. I slumped against the counter as I watched Dante stride out of the kitchen.CHAPTER EIGHTEENI peered at the clock again. It was past midnight but I couldn’t sleep. I longed for Dante’s closeness, for his touch. It had been more than a week since the dinner with the Scuderis, and two weeks since Frank had run off and Dante had fucked me. God, and I missed him.
I slipped out of bed and left the room, not bothering to put on a bathrobe. It was dark in the corridor. I felt my way toward the staircase, then slowly descended it. At the end of the hall, light spilled out from under Dante’s office door. I knocked, then entered without waiting for a reply. Tonight I would take what I wanted. The silent treatment was over.
Dante sat in his leather chair behind the desk. His hair was disheveled as if he’d run his hand through it repeatedly. He’d thrown his jacket and vest over the sofa, unbuttoned the top two buttons of his white shirt and rolled up the sleeves, revealing his strong arms. He hadn’t bothered to remove his gun holster. He was staring at something on his laptop but glanced up when I stepped in.
He looked tired. “Is something wrong?” His voice was gravelly from disuse, almost growly, and made me even more determined to distract him from his work and lure him upstairs. His blue eyes took in my skimpy silk nightgown as I walked toward him. “I was just wondering when you’d come to bed,” I said casually as I walked around his desk and stopped beside him.
He leaned back in his chair, eyes flitting between my naked legs and my face. A couple of months ago I wouldn’t have recognized the look in his eyes, but now I knew it was desire. Maybe he shut himself off emotionally, but my body definitely got his attention. I must have caught him at a good time: too tired to keep up his disinterested act.
“Las Vegas contacted me. They want a meeting.”
I nodded, but I had something very different in mind than a conversation about mob business. I reached out for his laptop and shut it.
Dante raised his eyebrows. “Valentina, I really need to…”He trailed off when I leaned over him and slowly knelt down, running my hands over his thighs. I began massaging them as I looked up at Dante with big eyes. “Can’t the work wait?”
Dante’s eyes darkened with lust. A bulge was slowly forming in his black pants as he regarded me, and I had to stifle a smile. “What do you have in mind?” he asked matter-of-factly, trying to appear unaffected. The hard-on straining against his pants betrayed him of course.
I cupped his erection through the fabric. “I don’t know.”
Dante smiled darkly. “I doubt that.” He reached for his zipper and dragged it down, then he pulled out his hard cock. He stroked it a few times, running his thumb over the tip already leaking pre-cum before he traced my mouth with his thumb. I licked my lips, tasting him on me, and Dante let out a low breath. “Stop teasing me, Valentina.”