I knew all that but that didn’t mean I couldn’t hope and dream, sometimes it felt like that was all I could do.
“How many men will have had Gianna by then? She’ll be worth nothing even if she returns,” Father spat. I winced, horrified by his harsh words. Worth nothing? Surely we were more for him than a commodity to sell off. More than a thin piece of flesh between our legs?
Father gripped my shoulders, his eyes burning into me. I shied back but he didn’t release me. “Don’t think I don’t see how you’re making eyes at my soldiers. You’re too much like Gianna for your own good. I won’t have another daughter make a fool out of me.”
“I won’t,” I whispered. Father had never talked to me in that tone before. His expression and words made me feel cheap and unworthy, like I needed to clean myself of my impure thoughts.
“That’s right. I don’t care if I have to lock you into your room until your marriage day to protect your reputation and honor.”
This wasn’t about my honor or reputation. I didn’t care about it. This was all about my father. It was always about the men in the family, what they wanted and expected.
“Rocco, Lily is a good girl. She won’t do anything,” Mother said carefully. That wasn’t what she usually told me. She always warned me that I was too flirty, too aware of the effect that my body had on men. But I was glad for her support because too often she’d remained silent when Father had attacked Gianna in the same way.
Father let go of me and turned on her. “It was your job to raise decent girls. For your sake, I hope you’re right and Liliana won’t follow after Gianna.” The menace in his voice made me quiver. How could he be so horrible toward his own wife?
Mother blanched. I backed away and nobody tried to stop me. I quickly ran upstairs. Fabi waited for me, his eyes wide and curious. “What happened?” he asked fearfully.
I shook my head in response, not in the mood to recap everything for him, and stormed toward my room.
I’d never been at the center of Father’s anger like that. But now that Gianna was gone as well, he’d keep an extra eye on me, making sure I was the perfect lady he wanted his daughters to be. I’d always felt free, never understood why Gianna felt so restrained by our life, but now it started to dawn on me. Things would change now.
In the months since Gianna’s escape, things at home had been tense at best. Father had lost it over the smallest things. He’d hit me only twice, but Fabi hadn’t been as lucky. But worse than the violence was his constant suspicion, the way he watched me like I was another scandal in the making. My golden cage had become a bit smaller, even though that had seemed hardly possible before. I hoped things would change now that Matteo had caught Gianna and was bringing her back to Chicago. Maybe that would appease Father, although he’d seemed far from appeased when I’d last seen him. I wasn’t quite sure what exactly had happened but from what I gathered Gianna had been caught with another man, and that was the worst-case scenario in our world. Father would probably put me in shackles to stop me from doing the same.
“When will they be here?” Fabiano asked for the hundredth time. His voice had a whiny tinge to it and I had to stop myself from lashing out at him in frustration.
Fabiano and I had been waiting on the first floor landing for the last twenty minutes, and my patience was running thin.
“I don’t know,” I whispered. “Be quiet. If Mother figures out we’re not in our rooms, we’ll be in trouble.”
Voices sounded below. I recognized one of them as Luca’s. He managed to fill a house with it; now wonder considering how big he was.
“They’re here!” Fabiano dashed away and I was close behind him as we stormed down the staircase.
I spotted Gianna immediately. Her hair was brown now and she looked utterly exhausted but apart from that she was the sister I remembered. Father had often made it sound like she would be a new person if she ever returned; a horrible worthless person.
Father sent Fabi and me a glare when he noticed us, but I didn’t care. I rushed toward Gianna and wrapped my arms around her. I’d missed her so much. When I’d first heard that she’d been caught by Matteo, I’d worried he’d kill her, so seeing her unharmed was a huge relief.
“Didn’t I tell you to keep them upstairs?” Father hissed.
“I’m sorry. They were too quick,” Mother said. I peered over my shoulder to see her apologetic face as she came down the staircase. Since Gianna’s escape Father had been on edge constantly and often lashed out at her as well. His screams had woken me more than once at night. I wasn’t sure when he’d become so violent. I didn’t remember him being like that when I was younger, or maybe I’d only been less aware of those things.