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Bound by Duty(9)

By:Cora Reilly



I shrugged. “My mother booked a ballroom in a hotel. The only thing I need to do is buy a wedding gown.”

“Will you get a white dress again?”

“I don’t think so. My mother doesn’t think it’s appropriate. Maybe cream colored. That should be fine.”

Bibiana huffed. “I think it’s ridiculous that you can’t wear a white dress only because you’ve been married before. It’s not like it was a real marriage.”

“Shhh,” I hissed, my eyes darting to the closed door of the library. I’d told Bibiana about the true nature of my marriage to Antonio a while ago. “You know nobody can know.”

“I don’t understand why you’re trying to protect him. He’s dead. And he used you as a means to an end. You should look out for yourself now.”

“I am looking out for myself. I’ve helped Antonio betray the Outfit. Being gay is a crime, you know that.”

“It’s ridiculous.”

“I know, but the mob won’t change any time soon, no matter how much we want it to.”

“If you don’t want to tell Dante about it, then what are you going to do about your wedding night? Aren’t you worried he’s going to realize you never consummated your marriage with Antonio?”

“Maybe he won’t notice.”

“If it’s anything like my first time, then he will notice.”

“Tommasio treated you horribly. You didn’t want it, so of course you bled. I’m still so mad when I think about it.”

Bibiana swallowed. “What’s done is done. I really wish I’d have been married to a gay man.” She laughed bitterly. I took her hand. “Maybe you’re lucky and Tommasio has a heart attack or gets shot down by the Russians.” It wasn’t even a joke. I wanted Bibiana to be free of that man.

Bibiana grinned. “How sad is it that I’m actually hoping for that to happen?”

“Of course you want him gone. I get it. Everyone would.”

She scanned my face. “So what about you? You want to sleep with Dante?”

“Definitely. I can’t wait.” My cheeks grew warm, but it was the truth and I did see nothing wrong with wanting to have sex with your soon-to-be husband. Dante was an attractive man after all.

“Then maybe you should take preparations that ensure Dante doesn’t realize your first marriage was for show.”

“What? Find a guy to sleep with? I won’t cheat on Dante. I think sex belongs in marriage.” Despite my best intentions not to take everything my mother taught me by heart and not to let the strict words of my catholic teachers worm their way into my brain, I couldn’t imagine being close to someone I wasn’t committed to.

Bibiana let out a choked laugh. “That’s not what I meant.” She lowered her voice, her skin turning red. “I thought you could use a dildo.”

For a moment I didn’t know what to say. I’d never considered something like that. “Where would I get a dildo? I can hardly ask my father’s bodyguards to take me to a sex shop. My mother would die of embarrassment if she found out.” And I would most likely die from embarrassment when I entered said shop.

“I wish I could get it for you, but if Tommaso found out, he’d be furious.” The bruises on Bibiana’s cheekbones from Tommaso’s last outburst hadn’t quite faded yet.

“It’s probably for the best. I don’t like the idea of having sex with an inanimate object anyway. I’ll figure it out.”

“Dante will probably be too wrapped up in his own needs to notice anyway. Men are like that.”

That wasn’t much of a comfort. I hoped Dante would be concerned about my needs too.

***

When January 5th, my wedding day finally rolled around, I felt a flicker of nervousness; not only because of my wedding night. I knew this was my second chance at a happy marriage. Most people in our world didn’t get that. They lived their lives in miserable union  s until death finally separated them.

As I walked down the aisle in my cream sequins dress, I felt more hopeful than I had in a long time. Dante looked sophisticated in his black suit and vest. His eyes never left me, and as my father handed me over to him, I was sure I saw a hint of approval and appreciation in his expression. His hand was warm around mine and the small smile he gave me before the priest started his sermon made me want to stand on my toes and kiss him.

My mother was crying loudly in the first row. She looked like she couldn’t be happier, and my father was practically beaming with pride. Only my brother Orazio, who’d arrived only two hours ago from Cleveland where he had work to do for the Outfit, looked like he couldn’t wait to leave. I preferred the sight of Bibiana’s and Aria’s encouraging smiles. While the priest spoke, I kept throwing glances at Dante and what I saw on his face tore at my heart. Every so often sorrow marred his expression. We had both lost someone, but for Dante the person had been the love of his life, if rumors could be believed. Could I ever compete with that?

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