Mother shushed me, her eyes shock-wide, but I was beyond listening. If Father told me one more time that I should behave myself like a decent lady, I’d lose my shit. “Why is it so difficult to get into your head? I don’t want to be a lady, definitely don’t want to be a good little wife to some mob asshole some day. I’d rather cut my own throat than end like that.”
I saw it coming but didn’t even try to avoid it. Father’s palm hit my face. It was one of his lighter slaps, which usually wasn’t a good sign. He hit hard when he had no words to break my spirits. If he went easy on me, I wouldn’t like what he had to say. He gripped my shoulders hard until I met his gaze. “Then maybe you should go looking for a sharp knife, Gianna, because Vitiello and I decided to marry you off to his son Matteo.”
My mouth fell open. “What?”
“You must have made quite an impression because he asked his Father to make this arrangement.”
“You can’t do that!”
“I can. And it wasn’t my idea. Matteo seemed very adamant about marrying you.”
Father’s grip tightened and I winced. Lily only stared with huge blue eyes. She and Aria had only occasionally experienced Father’s rougher side. He usually reserved his slaps and cruelness for me, the bad daughter. “This is exactly the reason why I’m glad to have you out of our territory. If I married you off to one of our soldiers, I’d have to punish one of our own for beating you to death for your insolence, but if Matteo Vitiello tortures some sense into you, I’ll be off the hook because I can’t risk war with New York.”
I swallowed my hurt. I knew Father liked me least, and it wasn’t as if I needed his approval or affection, but his words stung anyway. Mother, of course, didn’t say anything, only stared down at her plate while folding and unfolding her stupid napkin. Lily’s eyes were brimming with tears but she knew better than to open her mouth when Father was in a mood. She and Aria had always been better at self-preservation than me.
“When did you make the decision?” I asked firmly, trying to mask my feelings.
“Matteo and his father approached me right after Aria’s wedding.”
And suddenly I knew when Matteo had decided to marry me: when I’d told him the morning after our kiss that I would never marry him. The arrogant asshole couldn’t take the hit to his pride. He was marrying me to prove a point: that he got whatever he wanted, that he had the power while I was a marionette in the hands of the mafia. “I won’t marry him or anyone else. I don’t care what you say. I don’t care what the Vitiellos are saying. I don’t fucking care.”
Father shook me hard until my ears started ringing. “You will do as I say, girl, or I swear I will beat you until you forget your name.”
I glared. I’d never hated anyone as much as I hated the man in front of me, and yet part of me, some hopeful, stupid, weak part loved him. “Why do you do this? It’s not necessary. We already gave them Aria to make peace. Why do you force me to marry? Why can’t you let me go to college and be happy?”
Father’s lips curled in disgust. “Go to college? Are you really that stupid? You are going to be Matteo’s wife. You are going to warm his bed and bear his children. End of story. Now go to your room before I lose my patience.”
Lily sent me a pleading look. What had once been Aria’s job was now Lily’s: keeping me out of trouble. If it hadn’t been for her, I would have continued the fight. I didn’t care if Father beat me over and over again, it wouldn’t change my mind.
I turned on my heel and ran up to my room where I grabbed my phone and flung myself on my bed. I speed dialed Aria and after the second ring she answered. Hearing her voice, the tears I’d been holding back, slipped out. At least, our bastard of a father couldn’t see them.
“Aria,” I whispered. The tears were coming faster already.
“Gianna, what happened? What’s going on? Are you hurt?”
“Father’s giving me to Matteo.” The words sounded so ridiculous. Nobody in the outside world would even understand them. I wasn’t a piece of furniture that could be handed over to someone and yet that was my reality.
“What do you mean he’s giving you to Matteo?”
“Salvatore Vitiello spoke to Father and told him that Matteo wanted to marry me. And Father agreed!”
“Did Father say why? I don’t understand. I’m already in New York. He didn’t need to marry you off to the Familia too.”
“I don’t know why. Maybe Father wants to punish me for saying what I think. He knows how much I despise our men, and how much I hate Matteo. He wants to see me suffer.” That wasn’t exactly the truth. I didn’t really hate Matteo, at least not more than I hated every other Made Men. I hated what he stood for and what he did, hated that he had asked Father for my hand like my opinion didn’t matter.