“Isn’t that the truth? The girl can’t stand you, and you want her because of it. How is that any different from the story we’re going to tell Father?”
“I don’t want to make her miserable.”
Luca looked doubtful. “The end result might be the same. That girl is going to drive you insane, you realize that, don’t you? I’m really not sure if I want her in New York.”
“You’ll deal with it. And Aria will be happy to have her sister with her.”
“You really think you thought that through, don’t you?”
“I did. And Father will choose some bitch that’ll make me miserable for me soon enough.”
“So you rather choose your own bitch who’ll make you miserable.”
I shook off his hand. “Gianna isn’t a bitch.”
“You want to hit me because of her,” Luca said with a twisted smile.
“I want to hit you for a lot of reasons.”
Luca shook his head. “Come on. Let’s find Father.”
We headed down the corridor and down the stairs toward Father’s office. He was on his way out of the room. I forced my face into a mask of fury. “I can’t believe her fucking nerve.”
“There’s nothing you can do,” Luca said to me, then he turned to Father. “The Scuderi redhead provoked Matteo.”
Father raised his brows in mild interest. “How so?” He gestured for us to move into his office, then closed the door.
I pretended to be seething while Luca made up some ridiculous story that ended with Gianna telling me that her Father would never give her to New York, and that nobody could convince him otherwise.
“She made it sound as if I was beneath her, as if we were beneath her. I want the bitch to pay. I don’t care what she wants. I want her in my bed.”
Excitement flashed in Father’s eyes. The sadist actually believed that bullshit, because in his twisted, power-hungry, sadist mind, it made sense. “I suppose I can talk to Scuderi. He’ll be glad to be rid of her. She’s a handful.” His smile widened. “You’ll have to teach her manners, Matteo.”
“Don’t worry,” I said. I’d teach her a lot of things.
Two days later my father and Scuderi came to an agreement and Gianna was mine. Now I just had to figure out a good time to tell her.
Sometimes at night when I relived our kiss, I wondered if maybe Matteo and I weren’t such a bad idea. But then Aria called and told me about how she’d found Luca cheating on her, and that was the wake-up call I’d desperately needed. Made Men would always kill, always cheat, always ruin anything they touched. I wouldn’t let anyone treat me like that. I wouldn’t even give them the chance to try. No matter how much my body wanted to kiss Matteo again, I swore to myself that I would push him away. One kiss had already been too much. If I let him close again, he’d never leave me alone.
Of course when I visited New York a couple of weeks after Aria’s wedding, Matteo was there in Luca’s apartment to have dinner with us. The grin he gave me when Aria led me toward the table made my blood boil. Had he told anyone about our kiss? I hadn’t even told Aria about it, and I’d always told Aria everything. This would be a long dinner.
The next day I convinced Aria to take me to a club dancing, desperate to forget Matteo. It was my first taste of freedom, and boy, did it taste good. Not as good as Matteo, an annoying voice reminded me, but it was soon blasted away by the beats filling the dance floor of the Sphere. It was an exhilarating experience to have strangers check me out, to have them want me. I’d never dressed this sexy before, had never been allowed to, and couldn’t help but feel strangely empowered. I was dancing with a tall guy when he was suddenly shoved away from me by none other than Matteo fucking Vitiello.
“What the fuck are you doing?” he snarled.
“What the fuck are you doing? This is none of your business.” My dance partner had found his balance again and stepped up to us but before he could say something Matteo punched him below the ribs, sending him to his knees, and then two bouncers were there and dragged the guy away.
I stood in stunned silence. “Have you lost your fucking mind?”
Matteo brought his face close to mine and gripped my upper arm. “You won’t ever do this again. I won’t let you mess around with other guys.”
“I wasn’t messing around, I was dancing.” Then his words really sank in. “With other guys? So you think because we kissed once you can tell me what to do with my life? Newsflash: you don’t own me, Matteo.”