Bound By Vengeance(7)

By: Cora Reilly


“Oh my God, that was creepy,” Anastasia whispered. “He should have stayed in the hole he crawled out of.”

I couldn’t say anything. My tongue seemed to be stuck to the roof of my mouth.

“Is he still watching?” I asked eventually, my eyes firmly plastered on the bubbles still rising in my glass.

“No, he’s gone,” Anastasia said with no small relief. “I can’t believe he came here. People like him should stay among themselves and not pretend they belong to us.”

I peered toward the corner he’d previously stood but like Anastasia had said, he was gone. For some reason it made me nervous that I didn’t know where he’d gone. He was one of the people you’d like to keep track of because you feared they could sneak up on you. And I could have sworn that I could still sense his eyes on y skin. I shivered. Paranoia usually wasn’t my style.

I searched my surroundings but he was nowhere to be seen. I shook the ridiculous feeling of being watched off. It wouldn’t do for me to start acting paranoid. If I embarrassed myself here, it would be a while before I’d be invited to anything again. Or worse, Cosimo would decide I wasn’t fit to become his wife. Mother and Father would never forgive me if that happened.

“Look who’s coming,” Trish said under her breath, and for a ridiculous, heart-stopping moment I actually thought it was Growl.

I turned to see who she was talking about and felt heat rush into my cheeks. Cosimo was heading our way. He was dressed in a grey double-breasted suit, dark-blond hair slicked back and thin-rimmed glasses on his nose.

“He looks like a broker,” commented Trish in a low voice.

He managed Falcone’s money, so that wasn’t very far off. The suit was his second skin. I’d never seen him in anything else. It was a stark contrast to the man I’d been spying on mere seconds ago.

Trish and Anastasia took a step to the side, huddling together and pretending to give Cosimo and I some privacy, which really was only pretense since I knew they’d be hanging on our lips, memorizing our words.

I doubted they’d be using them against me. They were my friends after all but I didn’t want to risk it.

Cosimo came to a stop a little too close and brought my hand to his lips. I almost rolled my eyes at the gesture, though a small part of me relished in the appreciative glances Trist and Anastasia exchanged.

“Care for a dance?” he asked, voice smooth and even. That, like the suit, was always the same. Trish had compared him to a well-oiled machine once. The term fit too well. His eyes darted to my friends but he didn’t say anything. I didn’t follow his gaze, worried Anastasia would look pissed off. Sometimes I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on with her.

I let him guide me toward the dance floor, aware of my friends’ curious gazes following us, and they weren’t the only ones watching. My parents, too, had turned their attention toward us. I almost cringed at the force of attention.

Don’t trip, I told myself over and over again as we started moving to the music.

As we danced closely, I waited for a flutter, for something, the smallest hitch in my pulse, but nothing happened. Not that Cosimo looked as if he was madly in love with me. Not that love was required for a marriage, but it would have been nice nevertheless. Cosimo tried to make conversation. The weather, how lovely my dress was, this and that he thought I might be interested in. He couldn’t have been farther off.

My friends were still watching Cosimo and me. Though, ‘watching’ wasn’t the right term for the look Anastasia was giving me. I really hoped she’d find a man for herself soon. Knowing her, she was probably just pissed that for once I was in the lead, even though I wouldn’t have minded if my father had taken more time to find someone for me. I tore my gaze away from my friend’s scowl and let my eyes settle in the corner where Growl had stood. He still wasn’t there.

“My friends and I noticed a man earlier,” I said, not even sure what Cosimo had been rambling on about before I interrupted him. “My friends told me his name was Growl. He looked…”

I didn’t get further.

Cosimo’s grip on my back tightened. “He should have stayed where he belongs,” Cosimo said with a sharpness that surprised me, then he gave me an encouraging look. “Don’t worry. You’re safe. He knows he’s not allowed near women like you.”

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