All my life I had been taught to be honorable, to do what was expected of me. Today I went against it all.
Dark and tall, Remo appeared in the doorway, come to claim his prize. His eyes roamed over my naked body, and mine did the same.
He was cruel and twisted. Beyond redemption.
Brutal attractiveness, forbidden pleasure, promised pain. I should have been disgusted by him, but I wasn’t. Not by his body and not always by his nature.
I shut off the water in the shower, scared of what he wanted, completely terrified of what I wanted. This was his game of chess; he was the king and I was the trapped queen that the Outfit needed to protect. He moved me into position for his last move: the kill. Check.
He began unbuttoning his shirt then shrugged it off. He moved closer, stopping right before me. “You always watch me like something you want to touch but aren’t allowed to. Who’s holding you back, Angel?”
“I can’t believe you’re getting married in three days,” Samuel said, his feet propped up beside mine on the coffee table. If Mom saw she would strangle us.
“Me either,” I said quietly. At nineteen, I was already older than many other girls in our world when they entered the holy bond of matrimony, and I had been promised to Danilo for a long time. My fiancé was only twenty-one himself, so an earlier marriage wasn’t very desirable. I certainly didn’t mind. It had given me the time to finish school and stay home with Samuel for another year. He and I had never been separated for long, except for a few days when he had business to conduct for the Outfit.
Because of his father’s sickness, Danilo was still busy taking over Indianapolis. A later wedding would have been even better for him, but I was a woman and supposed to marry before my twentieth birthday. I eyed the engagement ring on my finger. A prominent diamond in the center, we had to widen the band over the years as my fingers grew. In three days Danilo would put a second ring on me.
Mom came in with my sister, Sofia, who upon spotting us ran in our direction and wedged herself on the sofa between me and Samuel.
Samuel rolled his blue eyes but wrapped an arm around our little sister as she pressed up against him with big puppy dog eyes, tousling her brown mane. She had taken after Dad and hadn’t inherited the blond hair of our mother like Samuel and I. “It’s unfair that you’re leaving right after Fina’s wedding. I thought you would have more time for me.”
I nudged her. “Hey.” I wasn’t really angry at her. I understood where she was coming from. Being eight years younger than us, she had always felt like a fifth wheel, since Samuel and I were twins.
Sofia gave me an embarrassed smile. “I’ll miss you too.”
“I’ll miss you too, ladybug.”
Mom cleared her throat, standing tall, her hands linked in front of her stomach. She was dressed in a fitted, elegant green dress. Her blue eyes lowered to our feet resting on the table. She tried to look stern, but the trembling of her mouth made it clear she was fighting a smile.
Samuel and I dropped our feet off the table at the same time.
“I thought I should warn you that Danilo just called. He’s coming over because he just arrived in town and is supposed to meet your father and uncle.”
Now I understood why Sofia, too, was dressed in a pretty summer dress. I didn’t even know my father was expecting him. I was leaving for Indianapolis tomorrow.
I jerked to my feet. “When?”
“Mom!” My eyes widened in horror. “How am I supposed to get ready with that much time?”
“You look fine,” Samuel drawled, smirking, his short blond hair purposefully in a disarray. He could pull off the disheveled look, but I definitely couldn’t.
I narrowed my eyes. “Oh shut up.” I ran out of the room, almost bumping into Dad. He stepped back, looking down at me with a questioning smile.
“I need to get ready!”
I didn’t have time to explain. He could ask Mom. I took the steps two at a time. The moment I stumbled into my bathroom and saw my reflection, I cringed. My God. My skin was flushed, and my hair curled wildly around my shoulders. My simple jeans and T-shirt didn’t scream poised future wife either. Damn it.
I quickly washed my face then grabbed a flat iron. My hair was naturally curly, but I always straightened it when people other than my family were around. This time I had five minutes to do it. I stormed back into my bedroom, tore through my wardrobe. Choosing the right dress for such an occasion would have taken at least one hour. Now I had one minute, if I still wanted time to put on makeup. I grabbed a pink dress I ordered online a while ago but never wore and slipped it on. I was immediately reminded why I hadn’t worn it before: it ended several inches above my knees, revealing more of my long legs than I usually displayed, especially when men were around. Danilo would be my husband in three days. It was only fair that he saw a bit more of what he was getting.
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