I stared at him, surprised. When I’d asked him, I hadn’t expected a detailed reply. Most men didn’t like to talk about business with their wife, and I wasn’t even married to Dante yet.

Dante’s eyes snapped toward me. “You look surprised.”

“I am,” I admitted. “Thank you for giving me an honest answer.”

“I think honesty is the key to a functioning marriage.”

“Not in the marriages I know,” I said wryly.

Dante tilted his head. “True.”

“So you don’t think Luca is a good Capo?”

“He is a good Capo, or he will be once he’s weeded out his adversaries.”

He’d said it clinically. As if weeding out didn’t mean killing other people because they were uncomfortable or a risk to one’s power.

“Is that what you are going to do once you become the Boss of the Outfit?”

“Yes, if necessary, but I’ve proven my claim to leadership in the last few years. I’m considerably older than Luca.”

But still the youngest Boss in the history of the Outfit. People would test him too.

Dante pulled up in front of my parents’ house. He killed the engine, got out and walked around the hood of the car before opening my door. I took his hand and stood, bringing our bodies so close for a moment that it would have been easy to kiss him. Then he took a step back, reestablishing the proper distance between us before he led me toward the door. I turned to face him. “I never see you with a bodyguard. Isn’t it risky to be outside on your own?”

Dante smiled darkly. “I’m armed, and if someone wants to take me by surprise, let them try.”

“You are the best shot in the Outfit.”

“Among the best, yes.”

“Good, I suppose then I can feel safe.” It was meant as a joke, but Dante looked deathly serious. “You are safe.”

I hesitated. Wouldn’t he try to kiss me? We would marry in four weeks. It wasn’t as if we needed to stay away from each other for decorum’s sake. When it became clear that Dante wouldn’t make the first move, I stepped up to him and kissed his cheek. I didn’t dare look at his face, instead I unlocked the door, slipped in and let it fall shut behind me. I waited a few moments before I peered through the window beside the door. Dante’s car pulled away. I wondered why he hadn’t tried to kiss me. Was it because we weren’t married yet? Maybe he thought it wasn’t appropriate for us to get close physically before our wedding. Or maybe he was still in love with his wife? I hadn’t even looked at his hand to see if he had taken off his old wedding ring. Was that why people had talked about me today?CHAPTER THREEBibiana came over the next afternoon, her eyes red from crying. I ushered her into the library and made her settle down on the leather sofa. “What happened?”

“Tommaso is angry that I’m not pregnant yet. He wants me to go to a doctor to see what’s wrong.”

They’d been married for almost four years now, but Bibiana had been taking contraceptives in secret. “Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to get pregnant. If you have a baby, you’d have someone to love and who loves you back.” I wrapped my arm around her. The last few years of seeing Bibiana growing more and more depressed because of her marriage to Tommaso had been heartbreaking. I wished there was something I could do for her.

“Maybe you’re right. And maybe Tommaso won’t touch me if I have a big belly.” She shook her head. “Let’s not talk about this. I want to forget about my troubles for a bit. So what about you? How are the wedding preparations going?”

I shrugged. “My mother booked a ballroom in a hotel. The only thing I need to do is buy a wedding gown.”

“Will you get a white dress again?”

“I don’t think so. My mother doesn’t think it’s appropriate. Maybe cream colored. That should be fine.”

Bibiana huffed. “I think it’s ridiculous that you can’t wear a white dress only because you’ve been married before. It’s not like it was a real marriage.”

“Shhh,” I hissed, my eyes darting to the closed door of the library. I’d told Bibiana about the true nature of my marriage to Antonio a while ago. “You know nobody can know.”

“I don’t understand why you’re trying to protect him. He’s dead. And he used you as a means to an end. You should look out for yourself now.”

“I am looking out for myself. I’ve helped Antonio betray the Outfit. Being gay is a crime, you know that.”

“It’s ridiculous.”

“I know, but the mob won’t change any time soon, no matter how much we want it to.”

“If you don’t want to tell Dante about it, then what are you going to do about your wedding night? Aren’t you worried he’s going to realize you never consummated your marriage with Antonio?”

“Maybe he won’t notice.”

“If it’s anything like my first time, then he will notice.”

“Tommasio treated you horribly. You didn’t want it, so of course you bled. I’m still so mad when I think about it.”

Bibiana swallowed. “What’s done is done. I really wish I’d have been married to a gay man.” She laughed bitterly. I took her hand. “Maybe you’re lucky and Tommasio has a heart attack or gets shot down by the Russians.” It wasn’t even a joke. I wanted Bibiana to be free of that man.

Bibiana grinned. “How sad is it that I’m actually hoping for that to happen?”

“Of course you want him gone. I get it. Everyone would.”

She scanned my face. “So what about you? You want to sleep with Dante?”

“Definitely. I can’t wait.” My cheeks grew warm, but it was the truth and I did see nothing wrong with wanting to have sex with your soon-to-be husband. Dante was an attractive man after all.

“Then maybe you should take preparations that ensure Dante doesn’t realize your first marriage was for show.”

“What? Find a guy to sleep with? I won’t cheat on Dante. I think sex belongs in marriage.” Despite my best intentions not to take everything my mother taught me by heart and not to let the strict words of my catholic teachers worm their way into my brain, I couldn’t imagine being close to someone I wasn’t committed to.

Tags: Cora Reilly Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles Erotic
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