Home > Salvatore: a Dark Mafia Romance (Standalone)(4)

Salvatore: a Dark Mafia Romance (Standalone)(4)
Author: Natasha Knight


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.

What would Salvatore expect of me?

I steeled myself and faced him, determined to hold his gaze as I crossed the square. Eyes burned into my back, and the crowd hushed, watching me go to him. He didn’t smile as I neared. Nothing changed. His face seemed to be set in stone. I reached him and stopped just inches from him, our eyes locked on each other.

“Lucia.”

Salvatore said my name, his voice low and dark, making me shudder.

I didn’t know what to say, even though I’d practiced this moment in my mind for months. Years. Now, I simply stood like a mute thing.

But then his father, Franco Benedetti, head of the family and a man I thoroughly despised, approached. He didn’t even try to hide his enjoyment of the situation.

I cleared my throat, finally finding my voice. “Why are you here? You have no right.” I heard my question, knew it was the same one I’d asked my sister.

“I came to give you my condolences.”

Franco leaned in, looking around as if we were somehow coconspirators.

“Actually,” he started, his tone lower, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

I didn’t think. I didn’t do anything but feel the anger, the hot rage as it bubbled over inside me. My hands clenched into fists, and I spat at his shoe. Except he moved at the last moment, and I missed. When I looked up, Salvatore’s face showed his shock, and Franco’s was quickly reddening, showing his fury. Although I stood my ground, my heart jackhammered against my chest. I wasn’t sure he wouldn’t hit me. Hell, between this and my comment to Isabella, maybe that’s what I was going for.

Salvatore gripped my arm. “Apologize.”

“No,” I replied, my eyes locked on his father’s black gaze.

Dominic, Salvatore’s brother, who’d stood watching from a few feet away, approached. He had a smile on his face as he put his arm around his father’s shoulders. Salvatore tensed beside me.

“We’re getting some attention. Come on, Paps. Let’s go.”

I met Dominic’s gaze, and I would have sworn he was enjoying the spectacle.

“Apologize.” Salvatore’s grip tightened around my arm.

I cocked my head to the side. “I’m sorry I missed,” I said, a grin spreading across my face.

Dominic’s eyebrows shot up, and Salvatore muttered a curse under his breath.

“Let’s go,” Dominic said just when I thought his father would explode.

“In.” Salvatore’s other hand gripped my waist as he pushed me into the sedan.

“Get your hands off me,” I said, trying to force him off.

He climbed in beside me and pulled the car door shut. The driver started the engine. Salvatore transferred his grip to my knee, his eyes burning a hole through me. “That was a very stupid thing to do.” His fingers bit into my flesh.

I had nothing to say. In fact, all I could do was shake violently. I wrapped my arms around myself.

“Turn down the air conditioning,” he told the driver, his gaze still locked on mine.

I wished it were the cold that had me shivering.

“Yes, sir,” the driver said.

Being so close, seeing him again, it was too much, too intense. It brought too many memories back and foretold a future I did not want.

“You’re hurting me.”

Salvatore blinked, as if processing each word I spoke one at a time. He shifted his gaze to where his hand gripped my knee. I held my breath, feeling powerless, knowing I was entirely at his mercy.

Knowing this was only the beginning of my hell.

 

 

2

 

 

Salvatore

 


I looked down to where I held her, how hard my fingers were squeezing her. It took some effort, but I released her and sat back in the seat, my gaze still on her, on this rebellious, courageous stranger.

Courageous. Lucia was courageous.

She was also a stranger.

I knew nothing about her. Only her name and her face. Her signature on a stupid piece of paper.

I had never seen a woman stand up to my father like that. I’d never seen a man do it either—or, I should say, when I had, it had been the last time I’d seen that man alive.

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