Home > Bound By Vengeance (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #5)(3)

Bound By Vengeance (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #5)(3)
Author: Cora Reilly

One of our bodyguards followed a few steps behind me as I strode away from my parents, while the other positioned himself at the edge of the gathered guests and kept an eye on my parents. I wondered why it was even necessary to have our bodyguards with us at a party of our supposed friends. I pushed the thought aside, wanting to enjoy this evening, and I took a glass of champagne with a quick thanks, then downed a long gulp of the prickling liquid, grimacing at the tart taste.

“How can you make such a face while drinking Dom Perignon? It’s the best drink in the world,” Trish said, appearing at my side out of nowhere and snatching a glass of champagne for herself.

“It’s the water of kings,” Anastasia intoned, and it was unnerving that I wasn’t sure if she was joke or being dead serious.

“I’m trying to get used to it,” I admitted, lowering the flute from my lips. The alcohol was starting to do its magic, and for that I was grateful after the short chat with Falcone. Both my friends were styled to perfection. Anastasia in a floor-length dream in silver, and Trish in a light green cocktail dress that brushed her knees. Not that I had expected anything less from them. They’d told me at length about their shopping trip for new dresses for the occasion. Of course, I hadn’t been allowed to go with them, despite my best attempts to convince my parents. Instead my mother had made me wear a dress I’d bought for Christmas last year. My only consolation was that nobody but my family had seen me wear it, so I wouldn’t embarrass myself in front of my friends.

“I hear it’s an acquired taste,” Trish added thoughtfully. She took a small sip from her glass, her expression turning into one of bliss. “I suppose I’ve always had a knack for Dom Perignon, and in the past year I’ve certainly had enough chances to get acquired to its taste. And I intend to drink even more of it in the future.” She and Anastasia shared a laugh, and I cursed my parents again for sheltering me as much as they did. If Trish and Anastasia could brave the supposed dangers of our world, then so could I.

Trish gave me a teasing smile, then hugged me with one arm, careful not to ruin either of our hairdos or makeup. Anastasia only smiled. Her bodice was a masterpiece of pearls and embroidery. “I’m worried I’ll pull a thread if we hug,” she said only half-apologetically.

“That’s reasonable,” I said, taking another sip from my drink and forcing my expression into one of delight instead of revulsion at the taste. I knew for most people champagne was the height of their drink fantasies, but I just couldn’t enjoy it. I’d have to try harder if I didn’t want to see Anastasia’s pitying expression again.

“One of your hairpins is loose,” she said.

My free hand flew up to the spot she was looking at, and I tried to find the offending pin before it could ruin my hairdo. Other guests were throwing glances my way anyway, as this was my debut at a party. I couldn’t risk appearing anything less than perfect.

“Let me,” Trish said and simply pushed the pin a few inches back. “There. All done.” Her smile was kind.

That was all? From Anastasia’s reaction, one could have thought I’d committed an inexcusable fashion sin.

“There’s a nice selection tonight,” Anastasia said, her eyes lingering on a group of men across from us. So she wasn’t talking about the buffet.

The men in her focus were all at least ten years older than us, and as I surveyed the rest of the room, I realized that we were among the youngest guests. Most of the attendees worked for Falcone. This was a party for his subjects; I doubted he had any friends. Men like him couldn’t afford that luxury.

“But of course, you don’t have eyes for other men anymore, now that you’re engaged to Cosimo,” Anastasia continued, dragging me back to reality.

I wasn’t sure what to say to that. Her voice had been odd. Was she jealous? Her father was probably already looking for a suitable match for her, so she’d soon be engaged as well.

“We’ll all be married soon enough,” I said in a placating tone.

“You got your hands on the highest-ranking bachelor, that’s for sure,” she said with a tight smile. Then she let out a laugh and clinked her glass against mine. “I’m joking, don’t look so shocked.”

I laughed, relieved. I really didn’t want to fight with Anastasia over Cosimo. We’d all marry good matches.

The music picked up and I took another sip of my drink. I was starting to relax thanks to the alcohol spreading in my blood and barely minded the occasional curious glances from other guests. At the next party, I’d already be one of them, and someone else would be the center of attention. Trish tapped her foot on the hardwood floor in rhythm with the song and hummed a few lines before Anastasia shot her a look. I had to stifle a laugh. The dynamic between them was ridiculous at times.

To my surprise, I realized that even my bodyguard had disappeared from view to give me privacy with my friends. Slowly, this evening was getting good.

I knew Talia would give me an earful when I returned tonight, but our parents had been right when they’d insisted she was too young for a social event at Falcone’s house. Of course I wouldn’t tell her that. It would be hard enough to make her forgive me as it was, though a few juicy rumors would probably placate her. Not that I was an experienced socialite. I’d have to rely on Trish and Anastasia for that.

Annoyance toward Father rose up in me. Maybe he’d refused to take me to a social function until now because he thought I’d embarrass him in front of his boss. I’d overheard him tell Mother several times how terrifying and brutal Falcone was, so it wasn’t too far-fetched that Father thought I might cower in fear in front of that man, which was ridiculous. He was still human, not the monster Father always made him out to be, and even if he were, I doubted very much that he’d hate to see me cower in fear. It would probably excite him, if he were truly the man Father had described.

“They are a bit too old for my taste,” Trish said, returning to our previous topic before she took another sip from her champagne.

“I don’t mind. I want to be treated like a princess by my husband, and older men are more likely to appreciate me than a young guy,” Anastasia said. She gave me a knowing smile. For some reason it felt false. “From what I hear the deal between your family and Cosimo is almost done, so your engagement party will be soon.”

I frowned at the use of the word “deal” when it came to me marrying Cosimo. But in all honesty, it was probably the term that fit the whole arrangement best. I gave a small shrug, trying to act nonchalant. I didn’t want to talk about him tonight, especially since the topic seemed to rile Anastasia up.

“Oh my God, Falcone invited his monster,” Trish whispered, clutching at my arm and almost making me spill my champagne over her dress. I followed her shock-widened brown eyes toward a corner of the room where a tall, muscled man leaned against a wall. He was dressed in a white shirt that strained against his massive chest, a black suit and black dress shoes. In fact, he didn’t look that different from the other men in the room except for the missing tie—if you took only his outfit into consideration. But the rest of him, God have mercy.

He looked way too tame for someone like him. Or at least he tried to appear that way. There was no fooling anyone: his nature seemed to radiate off him like a dark cloud of danger. It was almost palpable even from afar.

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