Salvatore:A Dark Mafia Romance(10)By: Natasha Knight
I placed a piece of the meat in my mouth. So buttery and delicious, it melted on my tongue. God, that made me not care what he thought. I took a second bite, then tasted the grilled potatoes spiced with rosemary and more butter. A bottle of wine stood open on the table. I poured myself a glass, sipping it before returning to the meat. I finished nearly my entire plate and took the wine with me to my room, locking the door behind me even though I knew he had a key. Of course he had a key. It was his house.
I sat on the bed and poured myself another glass. That comment had gotten to him, just like what I’d said in the car had. I didn’t know much about Salvatore’s relationship with his father, Franco, but I had felt Salvatore tense when Franco approached us at the church. I’d been guessing when I taunted Salvatore with my comment about being his father’s puppet but didn’t realize I’d hit the nail on the head. When I’d said it was his father’s house, not his, I’d seen it again, that I’d gotten under his skin. I would learn more, watch their interactions, find and exploit their weaknesses. Maybe it was a matter of pitting son against father.
Then there was Dominic, his younger brother. I knew his relationship with Salvatore was strained, and I didn’t like the way Dominic looked at me, but maybe I could use that too.
Salvatore had mentioned knowing how it felt to lose someone close. I knew he’d lost his older brother, Sergio, and his mother, both within a year of each other. I assumed they were who he meant. I felt like a jerk for a minute. I picked up my glass, drained it, and poured some more. Was he trying to connect with me over our shared pain or something? Why? What would be the point?
I lay my head back on the headboard and closed my eyes. I was tired, overwhelmed with emotion, jet-lagged, and exhausted. I’d cried over my father after the funeral once I’d been left alone here. Why hadn’t I talked to him when he’d called? Why had I refused to see him when he’d come to the school? I knew he regretted what he’d done, selling me to buy his and our family’s lives, but what choice had he had? I was a peace offering, in a way. An olive branch. The white flag of surrender to keep everyone else safe—my sister, my niece, my cousins, aunts, and uncles. It was the deal: no more bloodshed. We surrender. You own us.
I just happened to be the sacrifice.
Whose idea was it, I wondered, my father’s or Franco’s?
I swallowed two sleeping pills and finished the second glass of wine. Setting it on the nightstand, I pulled back the sheets and climbed into bed. I wanted to sleep, to stop thinking about everything.
Darkness fell when I switched off the lamp, and I closed my eyes. My thoughts moved from Salvatore and Franco and my father to Izzy. The pregnancy had saved her, or she’d be the one here in this bed right now. They’d wanted her, the firstborn. I’d heard my father and my sister arguing, yelling like I had never heard him yell before. Not at us, anyway. That’s how I’d found out she was pregnant. That was when Izzy had run away, leaving me to a fate that should have been hers.
I couldn’t blame her, though, not when I thought of Effie. She was protecting her baby. But it didn’t absolve her for leaving me without a good-bye. Without telling me the truth herself. She knew what would happen to me.
Those few words we exchanged at the funeral were the first we’d traded in the last five years. Maybe it was time to forgive her. I needed at least one ally, didn’t I?
* * *
My head hurt the next morning. Probably a combination of too much crying, too much fighting, and too much wine.
A knock came on the door just as I zipped my suitcase.
“Come in,” I said, expecting Salvatore but finding someone else.
“Car is ready,” the man said. He was the same one who’d stood at the door after accompanying us up here yesterday. He moved toward my suitcase. I’d only packed one. It was a brief trip, and we’d be going back to the US today. I’d be going to my new home—Salvatore’s home—in New Jersey.
“Where is Salvatore?”
“He was called to a meeting, left earlier this morning.”
“What’s your name?”
“What meeting, Marco?” I asked, my curiosity piqued.
The man simply looked at me, letting me know he chose not to answer.
I walked out the door carrying my purse, leaving him behind to follow me with the suitcase. I went downstairs with my head held high, hoping most of all I wouldn’t run into Franco Benedetti. As much as I hated to admit it, he scared me.
The front doors stood open, letting in the bright sunshine and already too hot temperatures. I refused to glance around and kept my eyes on the car waiting outside, the driver standing beside it. Marco’s footsteps followed.