Home > Sweet Temptation(10)

Sweet Temptation(10)
Author: Cora Reilly

I chuckled. Difficult I could deal with. It was the character traits beyond difficult that worried me.

 

 

All evening, I kept an eye on my wife. She wasn’t comfortable with my close proximity. Her trembling during our dance had made that clear. That reaction didn’t bode well for tonight.

After her dance with my father, Giulia hurried out of the room, and Father came over to me. “Would you excuse us for a moment, Luca? I need to have a word with my son.”

“I’ll dance with Aria.” Luca gave us a curt nod before he headed over to his wife.

“What’s the matter?”

“Your girl is terrified. She’s trying to put up a brave front, as she’s been taught, but I can see it in her eyes.”

My gaze rested on the door through which Giulia had disappeared. “Don’t call her my girl, Father. It makes me feel even older.”

Father chuckled. “Maybe it’s good that you do. That you remember you’ve been given a wife who’s been a child not too long ago, that you need to be good to her.”

I frowned. “I have no intention of not being good to her.” Being good to her would be difficult, no doubt.

“Maybe you should tell her, talk to her before tonight. It would be wise to take some of her fears away in advance.”

My mouth tightened. “Father, I’m not going to discuss my wedding night with you.”

Father smiled. “I’ll thank you for that. Go talk to her, Cassio. Do your old man that small favor.”

“When she returns, I’ll have a quick word with her.”

“Cruelty has a place, Cassio. Marriage isn’t it.”

I had enough. “Do you want to have another talk about Gaia? Today?”

“My concern is that you forget that Giulia isn’t Gaia.”

“It seems you know my wife better than I do.”

I walked off, even if it was disrespectful, but Father was no longer Underboss. I didn’t need his guidance in that regard, nor in my marriage. Mia gave me a hard look from across the room and slipped out as well.

Giulia had been gone for a while…

Sighing, I made my way over to find my young bride. I headed toward the restroom then followed the sound of low female voices around another corner. I stopped. Mia and Giulia were sitting on the ground, their expensive dresses spread out around them. Seeing them beside each other, Giulia’s age became more apparent again. My sister was younger than me yet still looked so much older than my wife. It was a sobering realization.

The moment Giulia spotted me, tension spread in her narrow shoulders. I strode closer. “Let me talk to my wife,” I ordered Mia.

She glanced between Giulia and me before she held out her hand. I helped her to her feet. “Be a husband, not a mobster for once, how about that?” she whispered under her breath.

I ignored her. Once she had turned the corner, I held out my hand. “How about we catch some fresh air?”

Giulia put her hand in mine. Her slender, trembling fingers were clammy. I pulled her to her feet then put my hand on her back. She didn’t say anything as I led her back to the ballroom and toward the French doors leading onto the terrace of the hotel. Her mother’s eyes widened, and she glanced at the clock as if I was going to pounce on her daughter outside in the garden before the scheduled bedding time. The guests mingling outside immediately went back inside to give us space. I stopped a good distance away from the windows then looked down at my wife. With those bangs, she looked awfully cute and pretty, both of which would have been fine if they didn’t also make her appear innocent and young.

“My father told me you’re scared.” Maybe I should have found a more delicate way to broach the subject, but that wasn’t one of my strengths.

Her eyes widened, those red lips falling open. “I… I’m not… I…” She bit her lower lip and looked away. The moonlight highlighted her smooth skin, unblemished and soft-looking.

“Will you look at me?”

She raised her eyes. I ran my thumb over her fingers to the ring, and she shivered slightly. “This ring makes you mine.”

She tensed, and I realized I should have chosen different wording, something that didn’t sound like I was a Neanderthal about to claim her, not that it wasn’t true. I would claim her tonight, if only to follow traditions we both couldn’t evade, and she was mine, but that wasn’t what I meant to say. I wasn’t sure what to say to set her at ease. Gaia and I hadn’t talked much. She’d screamed or cried and sometimes talked sweetly when she wanted something.

“Tradition binds us, Giulia. Not just you, but also me.”

I’d sworn to protect her, like a husband was supposed to protect his wife, and I would do my best to do a better job this time.

“I know of our traditions,” she said quickly, embarrassed.

“I’m not talking about the bloody sheets.”

She swallowed. “What are you talking about, then?”

“That, as my wife, you’re also entitled to my protection.”

Giulia tilted her head, regarding me curiously. “Okay.”

I wasn’t sure if I got my point across, but I’d never been a man of many words when feelings were concerned. I’d do my best to treat her right.

Silence fell over us. I could tell that Giulia wanted to say something, perhaps even wanted me to say more, but I remained silent. I didn’t know my young wife and had no clue what she did all day except for shopping and meeting other women. She was a teenager, and I was not. I hadn’t even acted like one when I’d been her age.

“Let’s return. Our guests are waiting. It’s almost midnight.”

She tensed, but followed me inside.

 

 

Luca’s uncles—my fellow Underbosses that I couldn’t stand—were the first to demand I bed my wife.

Giulia and I stood with my sisters and her parents when the first shout cut through the music.

Appreciative roars and clapping followed and then a chorus of “bed her” came from most of the men.

Giulia’s father and brother did not take part in it. Christian gave me a look that bordered on threatening. At another time, I would have reacted accordingly to that kind of disrespect. Now wasn’t the time, however. He was a braver man than his father. I had to give it to him.

Giulia clutched her wine glass and gave my sister Mia an embarrassed smile.

Mia hugged me tightly. “Don’t make me kick your ass, big brother. Be good to that girl. She’s such a cutie.”

I untangled myself from my sister. I would not discuss my sex life with her.

Felix gave me a hard look, but we both knew that whatever went on tonight was no longer his responsibility. He certainly loved his daughter, but he also loved power, and if he had to choose between the two…

I turned to my wife, tired of everyone shoving their noses into our marriage. Giulia gave me a shy look, her cheeks red. I held out my hand, and she took it without hesitation. Her palms were sweaty. “Are you ready to go upstairs?” I murmured, bending down so only she could hear me.

She swallowed, but nodded.

I turned to our families. “If you’ll excuse us?”

Before Giulia and I could take our leave, Egidia hugged her daughter once more and whispered something in her ear that drove a fierce blush into my wife’s cheeks.

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