I stared at my image in the mirror. My chin was covered in blood and more blood was dripping from the cut in my lower lip and onto my shirt. My lip was already swelling, but I was happy to find my eyes dry, no sign of a single tear.
Matteo appeared behind me, towering over me, dark eyes scanning my messed up face. Without his trademark shark-grin and the arrogant amusement, he looked almost tolerable. “You don’t know when to shut up, do you?” His lips turned into a smirk, but it looked somehow wrong. There was something unsettling in his eyes. The look in them reminded me of the one I’d seen when he’d dealt with the Russian captives in the basement.
“Neither do you,” I said, then winced at the pain shooting through my lip.
“True,” he said in a strange voice. Before I had time to react, he gripped my hips, turned me around and hoisted me onto the washstand. “That’s why we are perfect for each other.”
Back was the arrogant smile. The bastard stepped between my legs.
“What are you doing?” I hissed, sliding back from the edge of the washstand to bring more distance between us, and pushing against his chest.
He didn’t budge, too strong for me. The smile got bigger. He grabbed my chin and tilted my head up. “I want to take a look at your lip.”
“I don’t need your help now. Maybe you should have stopped my father from busting my lip in the first place.”
“Yes. I should have,” he said darkly, his thumb lightly touching my wound as he parted my lips. “If Luca hadn’t held me back, I would have plunged my knife into your father’s fucking back, consequences be damned. Maybe I still will.”
He released my lip and pulled a long curved knife from the holster below his jacket before twisting it in his hand with a calculating look on his face. Then his eyes flickered up to me. “Do you want me to kill him?”
God, yes. I shivered at the sound of Matteo’s voice. I knew it was wrong, but after what Father had said today, I wanted to see him begging for mercy and I knew Matteo was capable of bringing anyone to their knees, and it excited me in a horrifying way. That was exactly why I’d wanted out of this life, why I still wanted out. I had the potential for cruelty, and this life was the reason for it. “That would mean war between Chicago and New York,” I said simply.
“Seeing your father bleed to death at my feet would be worth the risk. You are worth it.”
The first time I saw Gianna she was a scrawny fourteen-year old with a too big mouth, a splattering of freckles on her face and untamed red locks. She was everything a proper Italian girl wasn’t supposed to be, which was probably why I found her entertaining. But she was a kid, and though I was barely four years older I had already been a Made Men for five years, killed several people and fucked my fair share of women. The moment Luca and I were back in New York, busy with mob business and easy society girls, I didn’t give the rude redhead a second thought,
I’d pretty much forgotten all about Gianna when Luca and I returned to New York three years later for his wedding to Aria.
Luca had gotten it into his head that he wanted to see Aria before the wedding. Officially because he wanted to make sure she was on the pill but I knew it was really just because he was eager to see how she’d grown up. And damn, the girl had filled up nicely. When she appeared behind her sister Liliana in the doorframe to their suite in the Mandarin Oriental, my eyes didn’t know what part of her to check out first. She was hot. She was also Luca’s fiancée and so firmly off limits. Not to mention that she was a bit too demure for my taste.
But damn, the moment I entered the suite, Aria was the last thing on my mind. My gaze settled on the girl with the flaming red hair who lounged on the sofa, long legs casually crossed and propped up on the coffee table. At once the long forgotten memory of her rudeness resurfaced and with it my interest in her. She wasn’t the awkward, scrawny girl she used to be.
Definitely not scrawny.
She had developed all the right curves in all the right places, and her face had gotten rid of her freckles. Unlike most girls I knew she didn’t seem impressed by me. To be honest, she looked like I was a cockroach she wanted to squash under her boots. With a grin, I headed straight for her, never one to shy away from a challenge. Especially a hot challenge. What was life without the thrill of getting burned?
Gianna straightened immediately, her black boots landing on the ground with a thud, and then she narrowed her eyes at me. If she thought that would stop me, she was thoroughly mistaken. Unfortunately, the youngest Scuderi girl stepped in my way and gave me her version of a flirty smile. “Can I see your gun?”
Had Gianna asked that question, a myriad of inappropriate replies would have been on the tip of my tongue, but Liliana was a bit too young for them. What a waste of opportunity.
“No, you can’t,” Aria said before I got the chance to come up with a reply fit for younger ears. Always so proper, that girl. Thank God, Father had chosen her for Luca and not for me.
“You shouldn’t be here alone with us,” Gianna muttered, her eyes moving from Luca to me. Damn it. She was something else, really. “It’s not appropriate.”
Luca didn’t seem too impressed with her. It was obvious that she grated on his nerves. Already something she and I had in common. “Where is Umberto? Shouldn’t he be guarding this door?” he asked.
“He’s probably on a toilet or cigarette break,” Aria said.
I almost laughed. What kind of idiots worked for Scuderi? Things in Chicago seemed to follow very different rules. I could tell that Luca was on the verge of an outburst. He’d been on edge for days, probably because his balls were bursting.
“Does it happen often that he leaves you without protection?” he asked.
“Oh all the time,” Gianna snapped, then rolled her eyes at her sister. “You see, Lily, Aria and I sneak out every weekend because we have a bet going who can pick up more guys.”
Big words for a girl who’d probably never seen a cock in real life. From the look Luca shot me, he’d probably thought the same. And Gianna really didn’t know anything about my brother if she thought it was a good thing to taunt him like that.
Luca stalked toward his little fiancée. “I want to have a word with you, Aria.”