Bound By Vengeance(3)

By: Cora Reilly

“Put on a coat,” Mother said. I grabbed one that wasn’t fur, which wasn’t an easy feat in Mother’s wardrobe, and followed Mother out of the house. I didn’t look back at Talia as I closed the door. Father was already waiting in the driver’s seat of the black Mercedes in our driveway. Behind it, another car with our bodyguards was parked. I wondered how it was for people who weren’t always followed.

Mother opened her coat a bit wider. This was Vegas, and not Russia, I wanted to tell her. But if she preferred to melt so she could stride around dressed in her fur coat, then that was her problem. No pain, no gain, I supposed. Years of ballet classes had taught me that.

Mother sank down on the passenger seat while I slipped into the back of the car. I did another quick scan of my tights for runs, but they were immaculate. I thought companies should put a warning on their packing like ‘Only for standing, no moving allowed’, considering how easy it was to get a run while doing nothing but walking. That’s why I’d stuffed two new tights into my purse just in case.

“Buckle up,” Father said. Mother leaned over and patted his bald head with a tissue, soaking up the drops of sweat that had gathered there. I couldn’t remember Father ever having hair.

“Cara,” Father said, a sliver of annoyance entering his voice.

I quickly buckled up, and he slid the car out of our driveway.

“Cosimo and I have had a short talk this afternoon,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Oh?” I said. A knot of worry formed in my stomach. What if Cosimo had changed his mind? What if he hadn’t? I wasn’t sure which option caused my stomach to constrict harder. I forced my face into a neutral expression when I noticed Mother watching me over her shoulder.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“He suggested you two marry next summer.”

I swallowed. “So soon?”

A small frown appeared between Father’s brows, but Mother spoke first. “You are nineteen, Cara. You’ll be twenty next summer. That’s a good age to become a wife, and mother.”

My head spun. While I could somehow wrap my mind around being someone’s wife, I felt way too young for being someone’s mother. When would I get the chance to be myself? To find out who I really was and wanted to be?

“Cosimo is a decent man and that’s not an easy thing to find,” Father said. “He’s responsible, and he’s been Falcone’s financial advisor for almost five years. He’s very intelligent.”

“I know,” I said quietly. Cosimo wasn’t a bad choice, not by any standards. He wasn’t even bad looking. There just wasn’t that flutter I’d hoped for when I’d meet the man I’d have to marry. Maybe tonight. Weren’t occasions like a party the perfect place to fall head over heals for someone? I just needed to be open for the possibility.

We entered the premises of the Falcone mansion fifteen minutes later and drove for another two minutes until the driveway finally opened up to a majestic palace-like house and the huge fountain in front of it. The thing spewed water in blue and red and white out of its roman statues. Apparently, a stonemason from Italy had created the thing for Falcone. It had cost more than Father’s car. It was just one of the many reasons why I didn’t like Falcone. From what Father had told me about the man, he was a sadistic show-off. I was glad that my family and I were one his good side. Nobody wanted to have Falcone as their enemy. Everywhere you looked expensive cars were parked. From the sheer number, I wondered how all the guests would fit into the house without stepping on each other’s feet. Several bellboys rushed toward the car the moment it came to a stop and opened the doors for us. A red carpet led up the stairs and through the front door. I shook my head but quickly stopped at a look from Mother. She and Father made me walk between them as we headed toward the front door. There, another servant was waiting for us with a professional smile on his face. Neither Falcone, nor his wife, were anywhere to greet us. Why was I even surprised?

The entrance hall was bigger than any I’d ever seen. A myriad of crystal figures in all sizes stood against the walls and on the sideboards, and several huge portraits of Falcone and his wife plastered the high walls.

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