Home > Bound By The Past (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #7)(9)

Bound By The Past (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #7)(9)
Author: Cora Reilly

“I’m sorry for your loss. I haven’t told you personally so far.”

Sadness flickered in her eyes. “Thank you. It means a lot coming from someone who understands what it means.”

My chest constricted but my mask remained perfectly still.

“Not everyone comprehends that it takes time to overcome sorrow.” Her eyes darted briefly to her father who talked to Rocco.

She was obviously unhappy about his attempts to remarry her so quickly, another fact that made her the perfect option. After the dance ended, my decision was made. I’d discuss a possible union with her father as soon as my own had agreed.

 

 

As expected, Father wasn’t excited about my choice. “She’s been married before, Dante. Do you really want a woman that’s been claimed by another man? In a few months, you’ll be Capo. You can have any girl you desire, why opt for second-hand ware?”

I stifled my annoyance and kept up my stern expression as I shoved my hands into my pockets. “It’s either her or no one. I don’t want a young girl at my side. Valentina is perfectly capable to give me what I need.”

Father sighed, his milky blue eyes trying to stare me down, but he’d grown old and the only thing that protected him from an early grave was the fact that I respected Mother and knew that many men looked up to my father despite his many faults.

“Talk to Giovanni. I’m sure he’ll jump at the chance to make the match.”

Without another word, I headed out of his office and continued out of my parents’ house toward my car as I sent Giovanni a message that I’d be coming over for a business matter.

I didn’t see Valentina or her mother anywhere when Giovanni led me into his office, obviously confused by my appearance. “Is something the matter, Dante? I’m confident that our men will keep Grigory’s soldiers in check.”

“That’s not why I’m here.” I accepted the drink he held out to me before I sank down on the sofa. Giovanni sat across from me, a flicker of unease in his eyes. Did he think I was here because I’d remove him from his position as Underboss now that I’d become the Boss of the Outfit? After all, we were the only mob family where the Capo allowed an Underboss in his own city.

“Have you found a husband for your daughter yet?”

He lowered his glass with a look of confusion. “I have a couple of suitors who’d be willing to accept a widow. They are soldiers like Antonio but I hadn’t really expected that I’d manage to find a better match for her. I should have never agreed to her marriage to Antonio in the first place, but I wanted to see her happy and now see where it’s gotten us.” He shook his head and opened the button of his jacket as he relaxed in the chair.

I nodded even if it didn’t matter to me. “If she isn’t promised to someone yet, I’d ask you to give me her hand in marriage.”

Giovanni coughed as he choked on his scotch, his eyes watering. “Excuse me?”

“I’d like to marry your daughter, if that’s agreeable for you.”

Giovanni stared at me for so long, I wondered if he’d suffered a stroke, then he laughed. When I didn’t fall in, he fell silent and he cleared his throat. “You’re being serious.”

“I am. I want to marry Valentina in January before I take over as Boss.”

Giovanni sank back against the backrest, releasing a low breath as he ran a hand through his hair, looking seriously stunned. “I didn’t expect that.”

“I can see that.”

“Does your father agree to you marrying someone who isn’t pure?”

My lips tightened. “I don’t ask for permission, Giovanni. You know as well as I do that I already rule over the Outfit. My word is law.”

Giovanni nodded, swirling his drink in its glass and shaking his head again. “Why my daughter, Dante?”

I hadn’t expected that question. “I thought you’d be happy about a union between Valentina and me.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I am, and Livia will undoubtedly be ecstatic to have you as her son-in-law, especially after all the trouble Orazio has been giving us,” he said quickly, but he didn’t look it. He took another sip, obviously weighing his next words. “But you have nothing to gain from a union like that.”

“I’ll gain a beautiful wife and a mother for my children.”

“There are dozens of girls in our territory that could give you the same thing with the added bonus of you being their first husband.”

“I’m not interested in having a teenage girl at my side, nor do I see an advantage of being with a virgin.”

Giovanni grimaced and something in his eyes changed. It was a subtle change but one I noticed because I’d learned to pay attention to the little details. He was a man who’d switched from asking as my Underboss to interrogating me as Valentina’s father. “You know me, Dante, I mind my own business, but in my position, I’d have to be deaf not to hear the occasional tidbit of gossip.” His eyes held mine. “I know you used to frequent the Palermo. Tommaso and Raffaele are men who like to hear themselves talk, you know that.”

“Say what you have to say,” I said coldly, even though I had a feeling I knew where this was going.

“According to their words, and I quote ‘you went there to fuck your anger out of your system’.”

“How I spend my nights is my business and so are my sexual preferences.”

“They are, unless you intend to use Val to get rid of your anger. She isn’t a virgin, all right, but I won’t have her abused because you think your conscience will give you less trouble with an experienced woman.”

Giovanni was a loyal soldier, a good Underboss and a better man than I’d realized. Rocco like so many other men would have handed his daughters over to me no questions asked, but Giovanni wanted to protect Valentina and I respected him for it, which was why I’d cut him slack for the way he’d talked to me. “I don’t have a conscience that could give me trouble,” I bit out. “But I can assure you I won’t abuse Valentina, virgin or not. You know my stance on domestic violence and rape, Giovanni. You were at my side when I tried to rule it over.”

He tilted his head but his expression remained wary.

I considered what to tell him. He had been right that I wanted Valentina because I hoped she’d be willing to settle for a bond of convenience that extended to angry sex. I wasn’t looking for closeness or love but a way to fulfill my duty to the Outfit. If this bond allowed me to fuck my anger out of my system without using whores, that would be an added bonus but only if Valentina wanted the same. “I want your daughter as my wife because we’ve both lost someone and that’s a base we can build a mutually beneficial bond on.”

“That’s a reason I can accept, but I’m not sure if Val shares our views.”

“She seems like a woman who sees reason. I’m sure she’ll agree this is the best solution for both of us.”

“I’m sure she will,” he said slowly. There was a note to his voice I couldn’t place but it was irrelevant.

“Is it settled then?”

He raised his glass. “It is.”

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