“Why? Losing your courage? I could ask your father for your hand in marriage if you’re tired of forbidden things.”
“Right,” I said sarcastically. “I will never marry you, that’s a promise. And now that Aria’s already trapped in New York, Father wouldn’t send me away anyway.”
Matteo smiled. “If you say so.”
His overconfidence made me snap. I jabbed my finger against his chest. “You think you’re irresistible, don’t you? But you aren’t. You and Luca and every other man in the fucking mafia think you are oh-so-great. Let me tell you something: if you weren’t fucking rich and didn’t carry a fucking gun wherever you went, you wouldn’t be better than anyone else out there.”
“I’d still be good-looking and I could still kill most of the wimps out there with my bare hands. What about you, Gianna? What would you be without the protection of your family and the money of your father?”
I sucked in a deep breath. Yes, what would I be without all that? Nothing. I’d never had to do anything by myself, never had been allowed to do so, but not for lack of wanting. “Free.”
Matteo laughed. “You won’t ever be free. None of us are. We are all caged in by the rules of our world.”
That’s why I want out of this world.
“Maybe. But a marriage to you won’t ever be my cage.” I stalked off, not giving him another chance for a comeback.
Maybe Gianna didn’t understand it yet but marriage would be her cage no matter if she wanted it or not.
Last night after our kiss, I’d returned to the party to drink myself into a stupor when I’d come across my bastard of a father and Rocco Scuderi, talking about Gianna and his plans for her to marry some old geezer who was known for his hard hand with women. I hadn’t said anything then because I knew Father. If he thought I wanted Gianna because I desired her, liked her or wanted to protect her from a worse fate, he’d never agree to set me up with her.
Now in the morning, after the presentation of the sheets, I searched for Luca and found him on his way to the master bedroom with Aria at his side. “You two lovebirds will have to postpone your mating session. I need to have a word with you, Luca,” I said.
Luca and Aria turned around. Aria’s cheeks turned bright red and she peered up at my brother with a mix of worry and embarrassment. He glared at me before lowering his gaze to his wife. “Go ahead. Check if the maids packed all your stuff. I’ll be back soon.” She quickly disappeared in the bedroom.
“The sheets were fake, weren’t they? My big bad brother spared his little virgin bride.”
Luca glowered as he stepped close to me. “Keep your fucking voice down.”
“What happened? Did you have too much to drink and couldn’t get one up?”
“Fuck off. As if alcohol ever stopped me,” he said.
Luca glared. “She started crying.”
I chuckled. I reached for the knife holder around his forearm and pushed it up, revealing a small wound. Luca snatched his arm away.
“You cut yourself.”
Luca looked like he was considering slicing me up into bite-sized pieces. Since I still needed his help, I decided to keep my taunting to a minimum.
“I knew it. I told Gianna last night that she didn’t need to worry about Aria. You have a soft spot for damsels in distress.”
“I don’t--” He frowned. “You were alone with Gianna?”
I nodded, then led him away from the bedroom, in case Aria was trying to eavesdrop. She’d only tell her sister everything. “I kissed her, and she tastes even better than she looks.”
“I can’t fucking believe you got more action than me in my own fucking wedding night,” Luca muttered.
“The ladies can’t resist my charm.”
He clamped his hand down on my shoulder. “This isn’t a joking matter, Matteo. The Outfit won’t find it funny if you go around deflowering their girls.”
“I didn’t deflower anyone. I kissed her.”
“Yeah, as if that’s ever the end of it.”
“I want to deflower her. But I’m not an idiot.”
‘Really?’ that’s what Luca’s expression said.
“I want to marry her.”
Luca stopped abruptly. “Tell me you’re kidding.”
“I’m not. That’s why I need your help. Father won’t talk to Scuderi on my behalf if he thinks I want Gianna for any other reason than spite or revenge. You know him.”
“So what do you want me to do?”
“Help me convince him that she hates me and insulted me and that I want to marry her to make her miserable.”