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Bound by Honor(3)

By:Cora Reilly



“Yes. I told Vitiello that you attend an all-girls Catholic school, which seemed to please him.” Of course, it did. Couldn’t risk that I got anywhere near boys.

“Is that all?”

“For now.”

I walked out of the office as if in trance. I’d turned fifteen four months ago. My birthday had felt like a huge step toward my future, and I’d been excited. Silly me. My life was already over before it even began. Everything was decided for me.

***

I couldn’t stop crying. Gianna stroked my hair as my head lay in her lap. She was thirteen, only eighteen months younger than me, but today those eighteen months meant the difference between freedom and a life in a loveless prison. I tried very hard not to resent her for it. It wasn’t her fault.

“You could try to talk to Father again. Maybe he’ll change his mind,” Gianna said in a soft voice.

“He won’t.”

“Maybe Mama will be able to convince him.”

As if Father would ever let a woman make a decision for him. “Nothing anyone could say or do will make a difference,” I said miserably. I hadn’t seen Mother since she’d sent me into Father’s office. She probably couldn’t face me, knowing what she’d condemned me to.

“But Aria—”

I lifted my head and wiped the tears from my face. Gianna stared at me with pitiful blue eyes, the same cloudless summer sky blue as my own. But where my hair was light blond hers was red. Father sometimes called her witch; it wasn’t an endearment. “He shook hands on it with Luca’s father.”

“They met?”

That’s what I’d wondered as well. Why had he found time to meet with the head of the New York Familia but not to tell me about his plans to sell me off like a better whore? I shook off the frustration and despair trying to claw their way out of my body.

“That’s what Father told me.”

“There has to be something we can do,” Gianna said.

“There isn’t.”

“But you haven’t even met the guy. You don’t even know how he looks! He could be ugly, fat and old.”

Ugly, fat and old. I wished that were the only features of Luca I had to worry about. “Let’s google him. There have to be photos of him on the internet.”

Gianna jumped up and took my laptop from my desk, then she sat down beside me, our sides pressed against each other.

We found several photos and articles about Luca. He had the coldest gray eyes I’d ever seen. I could imagine only too well how those eyes looked down at his victims before he put a bullet in their heads.

“He’s taller than everyone,” Gianna said in amazement. He was; in all the photos he was several inches taller than whoever stood beside him, and he was muscled. That probably explained why some people called him the Bull behind his back. That was the nickname the articles used and they called him the heir of businessman and club owner Salvatore Vitiello. Businessman. Maybe on the outside. Everybody knew what Salvatore Vitiello really was, but of course nobody was stupid enough to write about it.

“He’s with a new girl in every photo.”

I stared down at the emotionless face of my future husband. The newspaper called him the most sought after bachelor in New York, heir to hundreds of millions of dollars. Heir to an imperium of death and blood, that’s what it should say.

Gianna huffed. “God, girls are throwing themselves at him. I suppose he’s good looking.”

“They can have him,” I said bitterly. In our world a handsome exterior often hid the monster within. The society girls saw his good looks and wealth. They thought the bad boy aura was a game. They fawned over his predator-like charisma because it radiated power. But what they didn’t know was that blood and death lurked beneath the arrogant smile.

I stood abruptly. “I need to talk to Umberto.”

Umberto was almost fifty and my father’s loyal soldier. He was also Gianna’s and my bodyguard. He knew everything about everyone. Mother called him a scandalmonger. But if anyone knew more about Luca, it was Umberto.

***



“He became a Made Man at eleven,” Umberto said, sharpening his knife on a grinder as he did every day. The smell of tomato and oregano filled the kitchen, but it didn’t give me a sense of comfort as it usually did.

“At eleven?” I asked, trying to keep my voice even. Most people didn’t become fully initiated members of the Mafia until they were sixteen. “Because of his father?”

Umberto grinned, revealing a gold incisor, and paused in his movements. “You think he got it easy because he’s the Boss’s son? He killed his first man at eleven, that’s why it was decided to initiate him early.”

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