“Liliana,” I said, my voice shrill with fear. I never called my sister by her full name unless she was in trouble or something was seriously wrong. I wished I was better at hiding my terror. Now everyone was staring at me, including Luca. His cold gray eyes scanned me from head to toe, lingering on my hair.
God, he was tall. The men beside him were both over six feet but he dwarfed them. His hands were still on Lily’s shoulders. “Liliana, come here,” I said firmly, holding out a hand. I wanted her far away from Luca. She stumbled backward, then flew into my arms, burying her face against my shoulder. Luca raised one black eyebrow.
“That’s Luca Vitiello!” Gianna said helpfully, not even bothering to hide her disgust. Fabiano made a sound like an enraged wildcat and stormed toward Luca, and started pummeling his legs and stomach with his small fists. “Leave Aria alone! You don’t get her!”
My heart stopped right then. The man to Luca’s side took a step forward. The outline of a gun was visible under his vest. He had to be Luca’s bodyguard, though I really couldn’t see why he needed one.
“No, Cesare,” Luca said simply and the man stilled. Luca caught my brother’s hands in one of his, stopping the assault. I doubted he’d even felt the blows. I pushed Lily toward Gianna who wrapped a protective arm around her, then I approached Luca. I was scared out of my mind, but I needed to get Fabiano away from him. Maybe New York and Chicago were trying to lay their feud to rest, but alliances could break in a blink. It wouldn’t be the first time. Luca and his men were still the enemy.
“What a warm welcome we get. That’s the infamous hospitality of the Outfit,” said the other man with Luca; he had the same black hair but his eyes were darker. He was a couple of inches smaller than Luca and not as broad, but it was unmistakable that they were brothers.
“Matteo,” Luca said in a low voice that made me shiver. Fabiano was still snarling and struggling like a wild animal, but Luca held him at arm-length.
“Fabiano,” I said firmly, gripping his upper arm. “It’s enough. That’s not how we treat guests.”
Fabiano froze, then gazed up at me over his shoulder. “He’s not a guest. He wants to steal you away, Aria.”
Matteo chuckled. “This is too good. I’m glad Father convinced me to come.”
“Ordered you,” Luca corrected, but he didn’t take his eyes off of me. I couldn’t return his gaze. My cheeks blazed with heat at his scrutiny. My father and his bodyguards made sure that Gianna, Lily and I weren’t around men very often, and the ones he let near us were either family or ancient. Luca was neither family, nor old. He was only five years older than me, but he looked like a man and made me feel like a small girl in comparison.
Luca let go of Fabiano and I pulled him toward me, his back against my legs. I folded my hands over his small heaving chest. He didn’t stop glaring at Luca. I wished I had his courage, but he was a boy, an heir to my father’s title. He wouldn’t be forced to obey anyone, except for the Boss. He could afford courage.
“I’m sorry,” I said, even if the words tasted foul. “My brother didn’t mean to be disrespectful.”
“I did!” Fabiano shouted. I covered his mouth with my palm and he squirmed in my hold but I didn’t let him go.
“Don’t apologize,” Gianna said sharply, ignoring the warning look I shot her. “It’s not our fault that he and his bodyguards take up so much room in the corridor. At least, Fabiano speaks the truth. Everyone else thinks they need to blow sugar up his ass because he’s going to be Capo—”
“Gianna!” My voice was like a whip. She snapped her lips shut, staring at me with wide eyes. “Take Lily and Fabiano to their rooms. Now.”
“But—” She glanced behind me. I was glad I couldn’t see Luca’s expression.
She grabbed Fabiano’s hand and dragged him and Lily away. I didn’t think my first encounter with my future husband could possibly have gone any worse. Bracing myself, I faced him and his men. I expected to be greeted by fury, but I found a smirk on Luca’s face instead. My cheeks were burning with embarrassment, and now that I was alone with the three men, nerves twisted my stomach. Mother would freak out if she found out I wasn’t dressed up for my first meeting with Luca. I was wearing one of my favorite maxi dresses with sleeves that reached my elbows, and I was silently glad for the protection all the fabric offered me. I folded my arms in front of my body, unsure of what to do. “I apologize for my sister and brother. They are—” I struggled for a word other than rude.