Bound By Vengeance(8)

By: Cora Reilly

I opened my mouth for more questions but Cosimo shook his head. “Let’s talk about something else.”

There was nothing else I wanted to talk about right then, but I let Cosimo’s small talk lull me in. It didn’t stop my gaze from searching the room for Growl though.

Cosimo led me back to my friends and a look passed between Anastasia and him. Her scowl obviously hadn’t passed his attention either. If I were braver, I’d have confronted her and asked what her problem was, but I definitely didn’t want any trouble at my first party.

Cosimo excused himself and headed toward a group of men, including Falcone. Trish handed me a fresh glass of champagne. “How was it?”

“Good,” I said automatically, unwilling to admit to them that I couldn’t care less about my soon to be fiancé.

“You looked cute together,” Anastasia said sweetly. Surprise surged through me, and I felt myself relax at once. Apparently, Anastasia had realized that there was no reason for her to be jealous of me and Cosimo.



I’d lost my way; the three glasses of Champagne I’d downed didn’t really help either. This house was a maze, obviously built to impress and intimidate, and not so much as a place to feel comfortable and actually live in. At least I could not imagine ever feeling comfortable in a place like this, but maybe the almost life-sized paintings of Falcone had something to do with it as well. His haunting eyes seemed to follow me wherever I went.

I fumbled for my mobile in my purse and pulled it out, but hesitated. How embarrassing would it be if I called Anastasia or Trish and told them I’d actually managed to lose my way while looking for the ladies room? They wouldn’t let me hear the end of it. The atmosphere between us had been strained since my dance with Cosimo anyway. No need to give them any more ammunition against me.

Not for the first time I wished Talia were here. We’d laugh about this together, and she’d tease me about it for a long time, but never out of malice or schadenfreude. She wouldn’t use it against me when talking to other people.

I paused, realizing with sudden horror that I didn’t even trust my two best friends. I shook my head. This was the world I lived in. ‘You can’t walk around trusting people, not even your so-called friends’, that’s what Father always said. I’d always been reluctant to believe him. I put my phone back into my purse. There was no way I was going to call anyone.

Mother was out of the question anyway.

And Cosimo. No, I didn’t need another reason for it to be awkward between us. And he was as good as a stranger for me. I had an inkling that wouldn’t change until our wedding day and perhaps a long time after.

With a quiet sigh, I kept going. At some point I’d have to see something I recognized and find my way back to the party.

I turned another unfamiliar corner – they really looked all the same – when I spotted someone in the corridor only a few steps in front of me. Finally, someone might be able to point me in the right direction!

My elation turned to shock, then fear when I realized who I’d walked into.


He didn’t move. Just stood there. It seemed as if he’d been in this corridor for a while already.

Waiting for a victim, perhaps, my overactive mind suggested helpfully.

But as much as I wanted to scoff inwardly at the idea, I had a feeling it wasn’t that far off. Fear and fascination battled in me, and I reminded myself that he wouldn’t touch me. My father was too important for Falcone, and that meant I was too. Maybe Growl was a merciless killer, barely more than a killing machine and monster, but he was definitely a clever monster or he wouldn’t have made it this far. And yet I hoped my bodyguards would come to find me soon. But had they even seen me leaving the party? They’d tried to give my friends and me room. Now I wished they hadn’t.

Growl’s eyes showed nothing as he watched me. The suit was too tight around his broad shoulders and the hint of black peeked out under his too white shirt. One of his many tattoos. I’d never seen them, but you couldn’t be part of society and not hear the stories. Even dressed up in a suit, masked like one of us, he couldn’t hide who he was. His tattoos showed, a small hint of the monster beneath the expensive attire. I wondered how he looked without the suit. Heat shot into my cheeks at the ridiculous thought. I’d definitely drunk too much alcohol.

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