Home > The Ravishing(5)

The Ravishing(5)
Author: Ava Harrison

I loosened my tie. I preferred jeans and T-shirts to this black tuxedo. Predictably, I had gotten wary looks from some guests who’d caught my tattoos. The ones that showed on my hands and fingers.

Good thing I didn’t give a fuck about other people’s opinions.

I was too busy ensuring my father’s empire continued to thrive.

Wealth also gave me the resources to protect her—protect this newly married couple and any children they might have.

Ridley Montebello crossed the edge of the dance floor to reach me. I gestured a welcome not only to a good friend but also my trusted attorney. That black tuxedo made him fit into the crowd like all this finery was easy for him, and in so many ways, it was.

Ridley and I had gone to boarding school together. Both raised far from home, we had bonded instantly. That and the fact that his father and my father had been long-time business associates and friends as well. He’d taken over his late father’s law firm right out of Harvard. None of this decadence would faze him. Nor the impressive guests who’d flown in from Italy. The Venice crowd was made up of distant cousins and other relatives I tried to keep track of. A few nobles were thrown in to make things interesting.

Lowering his voice, Ridley muttered under his breath, “Someone tried to infiltrate the wedding.”

The hairs on my nape prickled as my hands balled into fists.

“Bad time?” His words rose over the music.

“Yes.” I was happy for a brief moment. But now, thanks to Ridley, all sentimentality was fading. “Talk.”

“One man. He’s alone. He’s contained, obviously.”

“Where?”

“Boathouse. Want me to call the police?”

I felt a rush of frustration that one of my favorite places at my sister’s French Provincial mansion in the bayou was about to become a crime scene. Though I would see to it that no one reported anything that went on in here. No one needed to know what happened in the boathouse.

“He works for Glassman.” It wasn’t a question. I didn’t need a gut check to figure that out.

“We’re getting that gist from him, yes.”

“He sent an amateur.”

“I’ll have him arrested for trespassing.”

“Not yet.” I made it sound casual.

Because the man was no doubt here to do so much more than step onto private property.

Keeping my eyes on the dance floor, I asked, “His name?”

“We’re working on it.”

Keeping my tone even, I asked, “Does he have a message from Glassman?”

Though having one of Glassman’s men here to ruin all of this finery could be construed as the message.

Ridley raised his hand in a gesture of defense. “Remember, I’m your attorney, so don’t say anything that will implicate me.”

“Do we have him well-guarded?”

“Of course.” Ridley turned to face me. “Don’t do anything you’ll regret.”

Even now, Ridley had no idea of the extent of evil I’d wielded over the years. He remained blissfully unaware of the men I’d dealt with to maintain our survival. At twenty-eight, he still romanticized the world. As my friend, continuing to shield him was a priority. I’d always sensed he knew of my misgivings but was wise enough not to go there.

I raised my hand to keep him from saying anything else. Not when my sister joyfully waltzed around the dance floor in the arms of her groom. And certainly not when that view of her devastating happiness deserved a respectful silence.

Sofia glanced over at me with sheer love in her eyes. Her bright cheeks flushed with contentment.

This moment wouldn’t be tainted by their name.

They’d already taken enough.

“Sofia looks beautiful,” said Ridley.

My sister looked more than beautiful. She was stunning in the same way our mother was. The mirror image of a piece of our past before the nightmares unfolded, and we were orphaned during that balmy night all those years ago—though it could have been yesterday.

Nearby, a burst of wings took flight. I turned my eyes skyward to follow the flock of sparrows scattering the sky.

The weight of my mother heavy in my arms as she slipped away, that scarlet curse of blood merging with tears.

The rest was blurry.

“Cassius.”

I came back to the moment, furious with myself that Stephen was stealing this evening from us, too.

“Just talk to the guy,” Ridley said, warily. “Then kick him off the property.”

Stephen Glassman might have fulfilled his promise to destroy our family, but he’d failed to kill me that day, and that was where he’d made a fatal mistake.

Anyway, today wasn’t about him. It was about family.

I was proud of Sofia for making a good life for herself despite our past. In all fairness to Jake, no man would be good enough to marry my sister. Even a high-powered banker like himself. Though he had the money and sense to know keeping her safe was a priority.

A few weeks after their honeymoon, they’d be living in England because that was the best place for her. He’d gotten a job at the London Stock Exchange, so there’d be more than enough money. Though she never needed to worry about that.

And if Jake faltered in any way, I’d crush him financially. So there was that. From the way he behaved around me, he knew it, too. Now that Sofia was married and would soon start a family of her own, I’d be sharing the responsibility with him of keeping her safe. That look he threw my way proved he’d honor his word to shield her.

A knowing respect for me as the patriarch of the Calvetti family.

Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight” rose out of the surround-sound speakers.

It was no surprise when Sofia broke away from Jake and gestured for me to join her for the second dance. I stepped foot onto the dance floor and walked toward her.

To some, I’d appear rough around the edges or to the more discerning guests on the groom’s side, dangerous even. We’d survived too many years with only each other for support for either of us to care about the opinions of strangers.

Approaching Sofia, I gave a small bow as Jake stepped aside. With a motion of gratitude, I led my sister away, and we began a slow dance together. I pulled her into my body in an affectionate hug, and she wrapped an arm around my neck, the other holding me close.

“Isn’t all of this perfect?” She looked up at me.

“It really is.”

“You’re the best brother a girl can have.”

“You didn’t always think that.” My brow arched.

“When I was five and you wouldn’t let me play with your toys.”

“You mean my miniature Italian car collection?” I winked.

“Do you still have it?”

Trying to hold a fake smile, I feigned it was somewhere. She didn’t need to be reminded it was in the attic of our old home. The home that had brought her so much grief. The one she rarely visited. Yet, I had stayed there as though afraid my promise to myself all those years ago might never be realized—when I was ready—on my terms.

And not after I’d let the Glassmans have an eternity of knowing I was coming for them. Maybe tonight. Maybe in another decade. When they’d spent even more years watching their backs and jumping at shadows.

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