Home > Bound By Honor (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #1)(5)

Bound By Honor (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #1)(5)
Author: Cora Reilly

“Here.” Mother handed me five-inch black heels. Maybe I’d reach Luca’s chin when I wore them. I slipped into them. Mother forced her fake smile onto her face and smoothed down my long hair. “Hold your head high. Fiore Cavallaro called you the most beautiful woman of Chicago. Show Luca and his entourage that you are more beautiful than any women in New York too. After all, Luca’s knows almost all of them.” The way she said it I was sure she’d read the articles about Luca’s conquests as well, or maybe Father had told her something.

“Mother,” I said hesitantly, but she stepped back. “Now go. I’ll come after you, but this is your day. You should enter the room alone. The men will be waiting. Your father will present you to Luca and then we’ll all come together in the dining room for dinner.” She’d told me this dozens of times already.

For a moment, I wanted to take her hand and beg her to accompany me; instead I turned and walked out of my room. I was glad that my mother had forced me to wear heels in the last few weeks. When I arrived in front of the door to the fireplace lounge on the first floor in the west wing, my heart was beating in my throat. I wished Gianna was at my side, but Mother was probably warning her to behave right now. I had to go through this alone. Nobody was supposed to steal the show from the bride-to-be.

I stared at the dark wood of the door and considered running away. Male laughter rang out behind it, my father and the Boss. A room filled with the most powerful and dangerous men in the country and I was supposed to go in. A lamb alone with wolves. I shook my head. I needed to stop thinking like that. I’d made them wait too long already.

I gripped the handle and pressed down. I slipped in, not yet looking at anyone as I closed the door. Gathering my courage, I faced the room. Conversation died. Was I supposed to say something? I shivered and hoped they couldn’t see it. My father looked like the cat that got the cream. My eyes sought Luca and his piercing stare rendered me motionless. I held my breath. He put down a glass with a dark liquid with an audible clank. If nobody said something soon, I’d flee the room. I quickly scanned the faces of the gathered men. From New York there were Matteo, Luca and Salvatore Vitiello, and two bodyguards: Cesare and a young man I didn’t know. From the Chicago Outfit there were my Father, Fiore Cavallaro, and his son, the future head Dante Cavallaro, as well as Umberto and my cousin Raffaele whom I hated with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.  And off to the side stood poor Fabiano who had to wear a black suit like everyone else. I could see that he wanted to run toward me to seek solace, but he knew what Father would say to that.

Father finally moved toward me, put a hand on my back and led me toward the gathered men like a lamb toward slaughter. The only man who looked positively bored out of his mind was Dante Cavallaro; he had only eyes for his Scotch. Our family had attended the funeral of his wife two months ago. A widower in his thirties. I would have felt pity for him if he didn’t scare me senseless, almost as much as Luca scared me.

Of course Father steered me straight toward my future husband with a challenging expression as if he expected Luca to fall on his knees from awe. Going from his expression, Luca might as well have been staring at a rock. His gray eyes were hard and cold as they focused on my father.

“This is my daughter, Aria.”

Apparently, Luca hadn’t mentioned our embarrassing encounter. Fiore Cavallaro spoke up. “I didn’t promise too much, did I?”

I wished the ground would open and swallow me whole. I had never been submitted to so much…attention. The way Raffaele looked at me made my skin crawl. He’d been initiated only recently and had turned eighteen two weeks ago. Since then he’d been even more obnoxious than before.

“You didn’t,” Luca said simply.

Father looked obviously put off. Without anyone noticing Fabiano had snuck up behind me and slipped his hand into mine. Well, Luca had noticed and was staring at my brother, which brought his gaze entirely too close to my naked thighs. I shifted nervously and Luca looked away.

“Maybe the future bride and husband want to be alone for a few minutes?” Salvatore Vitiello suggested. My eyes jerked in his direction and I didn’t manage to hide my shock fast enough. Luca had noticed but he didn’t seem to care.

My father smiled and turned to leave. I couldn’t believe it.

“Should I stay?” Umberto asked. I gave him a quick smile, which disappeared when my father shook his head. “Give them a few minutes alone,” he said. Salvatore Vitiello actually winked at Luca. They all filed out until only Luca, Fabiano and I were left.

“Fabiano,” came my father’s sharp voice. “Get out of there now.”

Fabiano reluctantly let go of my hand and left, but not before sending Luca the deadliest look a five-year old could manage. Luca’s lips quirked. Then the door closed and we were alone. What had Luca’s father’s wink meant?

I peeked up at Luca. I had been right: with my high heels, the top of my head graced his chin. He looked out of the window. He didn’t spare me a single glance. Dressing me up like a hooker didn’t make Luca any more interested in me. Why would he be? I’d seen the women he dated in New York. They would have filled out the bustier better.

“Did you choose the dress?”

I jumped, startled that he’d spoken. His voice was deep and calm. Was he ever anything but? “No,” I admitted. “My father did.”

Luca’s jaw twitched. I couldn’t read him and it was making me increasingly nervous. He reached into the inside of his jacket and for a ridiculous second I actually thought he was pulling a gun on me. Instead he held a black box in his hand. He turned toward me and I stared intently at his black shirt. Black shirt, black tie, black jacket. Black like his soul.

This was a moment millions of women dreamed off, but I felt cold when Luca opened the box. Inside sat a white gold ring with a big diamond in the center sandwiched between two marginally smaller diamonds. I didn’t move.

Luca held out his hand when the awkwardness between us reached its peak. I flushed and extended my hand. I flinched when his skin brushed mine. He slipped the engagement ring on my finger, then released me.

“Thank you,” I felt obligated to say the words and even look up into his face, which was impassive, though the same couldn’t be said for his eyes. They looked angry. Had I done something wrong? He held out his arm and I linked mine through it, letting him lead me out of the lounge and toward the dining room. We didn’t speak. Maybe Luca was disappointed enough with me that he’d cancel the arrangement? But he wouldn’t have put the ring on my finger if that were the case.

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