Salvatore:A Dark Mafia Romance(5)By: Natasha Knight
These were violent men. Men to whom killing was part of life. Part of business. Even having grown up in their world, it still made me shudder.
Salvatore shifted his gaze to me. From this distance, I couldn’t see his eyes, but he watched me while standing beside the sedan ready to drive us to the cemetery. “I have to go.”
“Lucia,” my sister started, this time taking my hand. Hers felt warm, soft. It made me want to cry for all we’d lost.
“What?” I snapped. I could not cry. I would not. Not here.
“Be strong. You’re not alone.”
“Really?” I tugged my hand free. “That would be a first.”
Anger flashed through her eyes. Did she want to slap me, I wondered? Would she? Would Salvatore allow it? For a moment, I thought of him coming to my rescue, of him punishing my sister for laying a hand on me. But then, I remembered who I was. Who he was. What I was to him.
“I have to go.” I took a step back.
Isabella’s eyes filled with tears, sadness replacing the momentary anger, and I turned away.
Show no weakness. Not an ounce of it.
I faced Salvatore, the man who owned me. Surely the contract we’d signed wouldn’t hold up in any court of law. But it wasn’t the contract that dictated my life. I knew what would happen if I didn’t do as I was told. I knew who would pay.
I glanced at Isabella and her daughter again. At my uncles and aunts and cousins.
No, they wouldn’t need a court of law to ensure I cooperated. The contract was simply another means of humiliation, like the examination had been.
No. Block that memory. I would not have it.
Salvatore straightened to his full height, standing nearly a foot taller than me at six feet four, and opened the sedan door. Even from across the square, I could see he waited patiently, and I thought he might be trying to be civilized, polite. For the sake of the gathered reporters? Surely not for my benefit. I wondered for a moment if he wanted this. If he wanted me like this, knowing it was not my will.
But then again, owning another person? That had to be the ultimate high.
I glanced back once more at Isabella. I couldn’t help it. For the last five years, I’d been shut away at school. I’d lived at St. Mary’s and received private tutoring to earn my high-school degree before attending the small college there, studying, free—to a point. But now, it was time to enter the den of the wolf. My schooling was complete, and it was time for me to assume my place as Salvatore Benedetti’s possession. For one moment, I tried to imagine that it wasn’t true. That it was all a dream, a nightmare. That I could look at my big sister and know she’d make it all okay, like she always did. Just one moment, then I’d be able to do this. To go to my enemy, to enter into his house, knowing I would be an outsider forever. Hated. My presence like a living trophy of their victory over my father, my family.
What would Salvatore expect of me?
I steeled myself and faced him, determined to hold his gaze as I crossed the square. Eyes burned into my back, and the crowd hushed, watching me go to him. He didn’t smile as I neared. Nothing changed. His face seemed to be set in stone. I reached him and stopped just inches from him, our eyes locked on each other.
Salvatore said my name, his voice low and dark, making me shudder.
I didn’t know what to say, even though I’d practiced this moment in my mind for months. Years. Now, I simply stood like a mute thing.
But then his father, Franco Benedetti, head of the family and a man I thoroughly despised, approached. He didn’t even try to hide his enjoyment of the situation.
I cleared my throat, finally finding my voice. “Why are you here? You have no right.” I heard my question, knew it was the same one I’d asked my sister.
“I came to give you my condolences.”
Franco leaned in, looking around as if we were somehow coconspirators.
“Actually,” he started, his tone lower, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
I didn’t think. I didn’t do anything but feel the anger, the hot rage as it bubbled over inside me. My hands clenched into fists, and I spat at his shoe. Except he moved at the last moment, and I missed. When I looked up, Salvatore’s face showed his shock, and Franco’s was quickly reddening, showing his fury. Although I stood my ground, my heart jackhammered against my chest. I wasn’t sure he wouldn’t hit me. Hell, between this and my comment to Isabella, maybe that’s what I was going for.
Salvatore gripped my arm. “Apologize.”
“No,” I replied, my eyes locked on his father’s black gaze.
Dominic, Salvatore’s brother, who’d stood watching from a few feet away, approached. He had a smile on his face as he put his arm around his father’s shoulders. Salvatore tensed beside me.