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Sweet Temptation(2)
Author: Cora Reilly

Felix Rizzo ruled as Underboss over Baltimore. He’d gained the position by marrying one of Luca’s aunts—not because he was good at the job—but he was a tolerable man. I didn’t remember his daughter.

“Why isn’t she married yet?” As the daughter of a high-ranking Made Man, she would have been promised to someone in the Famiglia for years… unless something was wrong with her.

Luca and Father exchanged a look which raised my alarms. “She was promised to the son of a Captain, but he got killed during a Bratva attack last year.”

Quickly recognizing my troubled expression, Father added, “She didn’t know him. She only met him once when she was twelve.”

There was more.

“You could marry her in early November. That way the wedding wouldn’t be too close to Gaia’s funeral.”

“Why November?”

“That’s when she turns eighteen,” Luca said.

I stared at him and my father. Had they lost their minds? “The girl is almost fourteen years younger than me!”

“Given your circumstances, she’s the best option, Cassio,” Father said imploringly. “All the other available daughters of high-ranking Made Men are even younger, and I doubt you’d be willing to marry a widow, given your past experiences.”

My expression became hard. “Today isn’t the right time to discuss this.”

Luca inclined his head. “Don’t wait too long. Felix wants to find a match for Giulia as quickly as possible.”

I gave a terse nod then returned inside. Mother was trying to calm Simona who’d started crying, and Mia was on her way out of the living room with Daniele in mid-tantrum. I needed a wife. However, today I didn’t have the mental capability to make that kind of decision.

 


Faro handed me a martini before he sank down in the armchair across from mine in my office. “You look like shit, Cassio.”

I gave him a tight smile. “Another sleepless night.”

Taking a sip from his drink, he gave me a disapproving look. “Say yes to Rizzo. You need a wife. You could have one in less than four months. He desperately wants you in his family, saving his sorry ass, or else he wouldn’t have waited all these weeks for you to make up your mind. I’m sure he could have found another husband for his daughter by now.”

I drank half of my martini in one sip. “Almost fourteen years between us. You realize I’ll be waiting for that girl to turn eighteen.”

“Then you’ll have to marry a widow. Do you really want a woman who’s hung up on another man after the thing with Gaia?” he asked quietly.

I grimaced. Most of these days I tried to forget Gaia, and even Daniele had stopped asking for his mother, realizing she wouldn’t be coming back. He’d become awfully quiet ever since, never saying a single word.

“No,” I said harshly. “No widow.” Not only did I not want to risk a repeat performance, but all the widows on the market had kids and I didn’t want my children to have to share her attention. They needed all the care and love they could get. They were suffering, and no matter how much I tried, I wasn’t the person who could give them what they needed.

“For Heaven’s sake, call Rizzo. What’s the problem? The girl will be of age soon.”

I gave him a look.

“Other men would kill for a chance to have a sexy young girl in their bed once more, yet you play woe-is-me when one is offered to you on a silver platter.”

“If we weren’t childhood friends, I would have relieved you of one of your fingers for that tone,” I said.

“Good thing we’re friends, then,” Faro said, raising his glass.

 


After yet another night full of screaming, I called Felix in the morning.

“Hello, Felix. It’s Cassio.”

“Cassio, what a pleasure. I assume you’ve come to a decision regarding a bond with my daughter?”

“I’d like to marry her.” That wasn’t exactly the truth. She was the only option to save my sanity. “I can’t wait long. You know I have two small children who need a mother.”

“Of course. Giulia is very caring. We could set up the wedding for early November, a day after Giulia’s eighteenth birthday?”

I gritted my teeth. “All right. That’s reasonable.”

“I’d like you to meet her before so we can discuss the details for the feast. It’ll be a lot of work to set up a grand wedding on such short notice.”

“You insist on a big celebration?”

“Yes. Giulia is our only daughter, and my wife wants to organize something special for her. With our son, she couldn’t really plan as much as she wanted. Not to mention considering our status, it’ll be an important social gathering, Cassio.”

“I can’t be involved in the planning. I have enough on my plate as it is, so your wife would have to do everything.”

“That won’t be a problem. Let’s discuss the details when you come over, shall we? When can you make it?”

Sybil planned to spend the weekend at my house to keep an eye on the kids. “In two days, but I can’t stay long.”

“Perfect. You made the right decision, Cassio. Giulia is wonderful.”

 

 

Dad was acting strange during dinner. He kept staring at me as if he was on the verge of saying something but never did. Mom looked like she’d gotten an invitation to an exclusive Chanel summer sale.

When I was done with dinner, I waited for Dad to excuse me. I wanted to finish the painting I began this morning. Now that I was finished with high school, I’d been using my free time to improve my painting skills.

He cleared his throat. “We need to talk to you.”

“Okay,” I said slowly. The last time Dad began a conversation like that, he’d told me that my fiancé had been killed during a Bratva attack. It hadn’t hit me like it should have, considering our planned future, but I’d only met him once and that had been many years ago. Mom had been the only one who’d cried bitter tears, mainly because his death meant I was left without a fiancé at seventeen. That was a scandal in the making.

“We’ve found you a new husband.”

“Oh,” I said. It wasn’t that I hadn’t expected to be married off soon, but given my age, I was hoping they would have involved me in the process of finding my future husband.

“He’s Underboss!” It burst out of Mom as she beamed at me.

My eyebrows rose. No wonder she was enthusiastic. My late fiancé had only been the son of a Captain, nothing to get too excited about—in Mom’s opinion.

I wracked my brain for an Underboss close to my age, but came up empty-handed. “Who is he?”

Dad avoided my eyes. “Cassio Moretti.”

My mouth dropped open. Dad often talked to me about business if he needed to vent because Mom wasn’t interested in the details. The name Moretti had been making the rounds for months now. The cruelest Underboss of the Famiglia had lost his wife and was now left to raise his two little kids alone. Speculations on how and why his wife had died were rampant, but only the Capo knew the details. Some said Moretti had killed his wife in a rage, while others said she’d become sick living under his strict rule. There were even people that speculated she’d killed herself to escape his cruelty. Neither rumor made me want to meet the man, much less marry him.

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