Salvatore:A Dark Mafia Romance(9)By: Natasha Knight
“How is this hard for you?” she asked again, her voice quivering as her chest heaved with a heavy breath.
The way she looked at me—did she think I wanted this?
I raked my hand through my hair, feeling like an asshole. “I meant it earlier, when I said I know what it’s like to lose someone you love.”
She remained silent, watching me.
“Even if you weren’t close with your father, he was your father.”
I knew on the one hand that I needed to control this, control her. I knew how my father would do that. Knew he’d call me weak if he saw me now. But I couldn’t do it. Not yet. Not today.
“Look, it’s been a really long day. A long fucking week. We’re both tired. Just eat something. I’ll leave you alone.”
I left her room without looking back and walked out the door of the suite, trying to shake off the image of her anguished face. It was impossible.
“You look like shit, boss,” Marco said as I walked out into the hall.
Marco was my private bodyguard and my friend. One of the very few in the world. Maybe the only one I had left.
“I feel like shit. Make sure she doesn’t go anywhere, okay?”
I headed for the stairs. The house had four floors, of which my room took up half of the third. My father’s rooms were on the top floor, and Dominic’s were down the hall from mine. The second floor housed more guest rooms, but we didn’t have any other overnight guests apart from Lucia tonight.
Before reaching the first-floor landing, I heard the loud voices of men talking. I followed the sound into the dining room, where a large group had gathered around the table, my father at its head. He looked at me, his gaze flat. I wondered what he thought of me right at that moment. If he was surprised to see me downstairs. Dominic, my younger brother, sat beside him with that stupid grin he always wore. The one that made me want to smack the living shit out of him.
I didn’t miss the fact he sat to my father’s right. My seat.
He didn’t make a move to rise. Instead, my uncle and family advisor, Roman, who sat to my father’s left, got up. He was my mother’s brother, and one of the few men my father trusted.
He offered me his seat. I thanked him and sat down.
Dominic picked up his beer and leaned toward me. “Thought you’d be busy with your shiny new plaything.”
“She just buried her father, asshole.” I signaled for a beer, which the waiter brought a moment later. They were all jumpy, eager to serve. Probably more eager to get us the hell out of there. I hadn’t been back in a few years but knew when we were in town, the house became a target. The Benedetti family was a sort of legend here. We owned southern Italy and were moving in on the Sicilian territory. Another war brewed, one we’d win, like we’d won over the DeMarcos. Wherever we went, violence followed. The girl upstairs was testament to that.
Her words played back in my ears.
“I’m the one who pays when I didn’t have anything to do with anything.”
She was right. She was an innocent; her fate decided when she hadn’t been more than a child. Her sister’s pregnancy had placed Lucia at the heart of a decades-old war.
“She is a sweet little thing,” Dominic continued, sipping his beer. “Nice piece of—”
“Shut the fuck up, Dominic,” I said, my hands fisting.
“Salvatore’s right. Girl just buried her father,” my father admonished my brother, his gaze locked on me.
I didn’t trust this, didn’t trust him. My father had always been better at cutting me down. Certainly not defending me.
“You just make sure she knows who the boss is, son. I don’t ever want to see another incident like this afternoon again, you understand?”
Ah, there they were, my father’s true colors.
I nodded without looking at him, swallowing half of my drink.
“Good. Let’s eat.”
Salvatore surprised me. I expected violence. I’d prepared myself for it. But this, this kindness? His attempt to understand? Was that what it was? I didn’t like it. And I didn’t like how my body reacted to having him so close.
When I heard him leave, I went to the outer room. My stomach growled. I hadn’t eaten all day, and as appealing as a hunger strike seemed, when you were actually hungry, it lost some of its appeal.
I took the lid off one of the two dishes to find a thick steak, potatoes, and mixed grilled vegetables. I swallowed, salivating already, and sat down. Picking up the knife and fork, I glanced at the door before I dug in. If he returned, I’d be ashamed at having given in. Even if he kept his word and stayed away, when he saw I’d eaten, wouldn’t it just be a second victory to him?