Salvatore:A Dark Mafia Romance(5)

By: Natasha Knight


“Mama,” Effie repeated with the impatience of a child, tugging at Isabella’s skirt. Isabella picked her up.

“Why did you come back?” I asked, my voice sounding foreign. Cold. “Why now?” It was that or falling apart, and I would not allow the latter.

She looked taken aback. Her little girl watched me while I tried not to look at her. It was impossible, though. Pretty, blue-gray eyes watched me, seeming to bore right through me. I wondered if they’d come from her father, but Isabella had always refused to tell anyone who that was.

“This is Effie,” Isabella said, choosing to ignore my question. “Effie, this is your Aunt Lucia.”

Effie studied me for a long moment, then gave me a quick smile, a small dimple forming in her right cheek when she did.

“Hi, Effie,” I said, touching her caramel-colored curly hair.

“Hi.”

“Why are you back?” I asked again. I felt so much anger, and I wanted to burn everyone up with it. Everyone who had abandoned me. Who had so easily given me up.

“Because I should never have left. Forgive me.” She glanced at the hearse. “Life is too short.”

I knew she’d not had a choice. When my father had found out she was pregnant, he’d freaked. Firstborn daughter to the boss of the DeMarco family pregnant out of wedlock. As modern as my family was, there were some things that did not change. I still wonder if my father regretted his decisions. It had cost him two daughters.

But then again, we seemed to be easy to give away. If he’d had a son, perhaps things would have been different.

“I’ll come see you next week.”

“Why? Why bother now?”

She lifted her chin, a stubborn gesture I remembered from when we were little.

The sound of a car backfiring made us all jump. The soldiers circling the square all drew weapons until we all realized there was no threat. Before I turned back to her, though, I noticed Salvatore, who stood by his car, tuck the shiny metal of a pistol back into its holster beneath his jacket.

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.

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