Home > Bound By Honor (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #1)(8)

Bound By Honor (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #1)(8)
Author: Cora Reilly

I glared at Umberto. “I need to help Gianna with her lip.”

Umberto shook his head. “It’s nothing. You two in a room together always bodes trouble. Do you think it’s wise to irk your father any more tonight?” Umberto closed Gianna’s door and gently pushed me in the direction of my room next to hers.

I stepped in, then turned to him. “A room full of grown men watches a man beat a helpless girl, that’s the famous courage of made men.”

“Your future husband stopped your father.”

“From hitting me, not Gianna.”

Umberto smiled like I was a stupid child. “Luca might rule over New York, but this is Chicago and your father is Consigliere.”

“You admire Luca,” I said incredulously. “You watched him cut off Raffaele’s finger and you admire him.”

“Your cousin is lucky The Vice didn’t cut off something else. Luca did what every man would have done.”

Maybe every man in our world.

Umberto patted my head like I was an adorable kitten. “Go to sleep.”

“Will you be guarding my door all night to make sure I don’t sneak out again?” I said challengingly.

“Better get used to it. Now that Luca’s put a ring on your finger, he’ll make sure you’re always guarded.”

I slammed the door shut. Guarded. Even from afar Luca would be controlling my life. I’d thought my life would go on as it used to until the wedding, but how could it when everyone knew what the ring on my finger meant? Raffaele’s pinky was a signal, a warning. Luca had made his claim on me and would enforce it cold-bloodedly.

I didn’t extinguish the lights that night, worried the darkness would bring back images of blood and cut-off limbs. They came anyway.

CHAPTER THREE

My breath clouded as it left my lips. Even my thick coat couldn’t protect me from Chicago’s winter. Snow crunched under my boots as I followed mother along the pavement toward the brick building, which harbored the most luxurious wedding store in the Midwest. Umberto trailed closely behind, my constant shadow. Another of my father’s soldiers made up the rear, behind my sisters.

Revolving brass doors let us into the brightly lit inside of the store and the owner and her two assistants immediately greeted us. “Happy birthday, Ms. Scuderi,” she said in her lilting voice.

I forced a smile. My eighteenth birthday was supposed to be a day for celebration. Instead it only meant I was another step closer to marrying Luca. I hadn’t seen him since that night he’d cut off Raffaele’s finger. He’d sent me expensive jewelry for my birthdays, Christmas holidays, Valentine’s days and the anniversary of our engagement but that was the extent of our contact in the last thirty months. I’d seen photos of him with other women on the internet, but even that would stop today when our engagement would be leaked to the press. At least in public he wouldn’t flaunt his whores anymore.

I didn’t kid myself into thinking he wasn’t still sleeping with them. And I didn’t care. As long as he had other women to screw, he’d hopefully not think about me in that way.

“Only six months until your wedding if I’m correctly informed?” the shop owner piped. She was the only person who looked excited. No surprise really, she would make a lot of money today. The wedding that marked the final union of the Chicago and the New York mafia was supposed to be a splendid affair. Money was irrelevant.

I inclined my head. 166 days until I had to exchange one golden cage with another. Gianna gave me a look that made it clear what she thought of the matter, but she kept her mouth shut. At sixteen and a half, Gianna had finally learned to reign in her outbursts, mostly.

The shop owner led us into the fitting room. Umberto and the other man stayed outside the drawn curtains. Lily and Gianna plopped down on the plush white couch while Mother began browsing the wedding gowns on display. I stood in the middle of the room. The sight of all the white tulle, silk, gossamer, brocade and what it stood for, corded up my throat. I’d be a married woman soon. Quotes about love decorated the walls of the fitting room; they felt like a taunt considering the harsh reality that was my life. What was love but a silly dream?

I could feel the eyes of the shop owner and her assistants on me, and squared my shoulders before I joined my mother. Nobody could know that I wasn’t the happy bride-to-be but a pawn in a game of power. Eventually, the shop owner approached us and showed us her most expensive gowns.

“What kind of gown would your future husband prefer?” she asked pleasantly.

“The naked kind,” Gianna said, and my mother shot her a glare. I flushed, but the shop owner laughed as if it was all too delightful.

“There’s time for that on the wedding night, don’t you think?” She winked.

I reached for the most expensive dress in the collection, a dream of brocade; the bustier was embroidered with pearls and silvery threads forming a delicate flower pattern. “Those are platinum threads,” the shop owner said. That explained the price. “I think your groom will be pleased with your choice.”

Then she knew him better than I did. Luca was as much as stranger to me today as he had been almost three years ago.

***

The wedding would be held in the vast gardens of the Vitiello mansion in the Hamptons. Everyone was already abuzz with the preparations. I hadn’t set foot into the house or even the premises yet, but my mother kept me up-to-date, not that I’d asked her to.

The moment my family had arrived in New York a few hours ago, my sisters and I had huddled together in our suite in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan. Salvatore Vitiello had suggested we live in one of the many rooms in the mansion until the wedding in five days, but my father had declined. Three years of tentative cooperation and they still didn’t trust each other. I was glad. I didn’t want to set foot into the mansion until I had to.

Father had agreed to let me share a suite with Lily and Gianna, so he and mother had a suite for themselves. Of course, a bodyguard was stationed in front of every of the three doors to our suite.

“Do we really have to attend the bridal shower tomorrow?” Lily asked, her bare legs swung over the backrest of the sofa. Mother always said Nabokov must have had Liliana in mind when he wrote Lolita. While Gianna provoked with her words, Lily used her body for that. She’d turned fourteen in April, a child that used her tentative curves to get a rise out of everyone around us. She looked like the teen model Thylane Blondeau, only her hair was a bit lighter and she didn’t have a gap between her front teeth.

   
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