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Chapter 34 - Flowers for H.

Three weeks later

New York

Alessio’s home is a lot different from mine.

Well, I probably shouldn’t say his house.

He’s been so adamant that it’s our home, and it is. I’m just not used to it.

It’s beautiful though. Spacious yet it doesn’t feel empty. It’s nice here, the atmosphere always feels welcoming and calm.

Except for the last few days.

I toss and turn in bed, covering my head with the pillow, trying to block out their talking from downstairs.

Alessio told me to just stay in bed today, being that we stood up almost all night doing things that have left me exhausted. Ever since Alessio Sicily we’ve become closer, more than what I could imagine — and with that came a lot more intimate moments.

Sighing at how loud their voices are becoming I finally push myself upright and swing my legs off the bed. Bare feet meet the fuzzy warm carpet as I push off the bed, making my way to the vanity mirror.

Alessio told me that while we were in Sicily he had his home renovated, something fitting for me as well. There were a few things he had mimicked from my room as far as the colors I liked and a few furniture pieces. The effort brought a smile to my face that he considered and paid attention to the smallest things just so I could feel at home.

Being that I already freshened up before attempting to go back to sleep, I only fix my hair. Brushing it through with a wet brush, I settle on just leaving it down and free. Lastly, I adjust my clothes, wearing grey adidas sweatpants and a fitted black long sleeve. Something ordinary for relaxing at home.

Though I almost did have a reason to dress up today. With all this chaos I asked Reece if she could spend some time with me, needing a friend to vent to.

Realistically, there’s no way I could tell her everything. Not the fact that I had to rush my marriage or almost died by the hands of an assailant — I could only trust family with that information.

But Harry Giordano stopped that from happening, not wanting to bring her along today for no reason whatsoever.

I don’t know if it’s Alessio rubbing off on me, but lately I find myself more in tune with a side of me that doesn’t take unnecessary dispute well.

I just hope Reece is okay and that Harry stops being a jerk. It amazes me how she deals with him, but it also makes me feel terrible knowing that their relationship is the sad reality for some.

As I step out of the room, I’m cautious about my sound, not wanting to draw attention. I already know what’s being discussed. Alessio has been keeping me well informed.

Right now they are all in Alessio’s office so I head the opposite way. After creeping down the steps I head towards the kitchen, wanting to grab a small snack so I can run up back to the bedroom.

The meetings have been going on for days now, and at first I was willing to sit through it all, but then it started to take a toll on me. I don’t know how my father does it, but now I understand why my mother told me the things she did when I was growing up. Their plans are so elaborate, the information they go on about for hours are incredibly detailed. It’s all so time consuming but they can’t afford the risk of leaving anything out.

After the third day I began to feel uncomfortable, finding it hard to watch Alessio’s family conjure up an elaborate plan to help catch my stalker. They were all willing to put their lives on the line for me and that it had my stomach turning.

It was probably the best that I decided to sit out when I did. The following day, my father had joined in on the meetings after Alessio finally mentioned it to him. He along with a few of my uncles and cousins have been meeting back here ever since.

I know when their here because of how Levii and Fionn get when they start another useless argument. I wonder why they get under each other’s skin so much.

Rounding the corner I nearly bump into someone who I didn’t expect.

“Harry?” Seeing him up and walking around so soon after the bullet he took shocks me. Looks like Alessio was right after all, Giordono men are hard to keep down.

“Are you alright?” He asks.

“I am,” muttering with a small amount of annoyance. “I would be even better if you had let Reece come with you.”

I hear him heavily sigh as he tries to explain himself but all I can think of is how Reece must constantly hear this from him. “Cherry, I-”

“No, it’s fine.” cutting him off as I make my way around him. “You didn’t give me a reason then so why would you give me one now,” boldly saying as I turn and head to the kitchen.

“Have I done something to you?” The question stops me and I really have to consider whether I want to go down this road or not.

Unable to look at him because of how disappointed I am, I answer “not me, but to Reece you have.” I want to stick up for her, no one else is. What she’s dealing with isn’t fair, and the memories of how broken she looked on the day of my engagement party comes flooding back.

Harry’s jaw ticks, a hand brushing back his brown curls as he nods his head once. “Okay, so what did she tell you?”

“You really want to know?” I cross my arms.

“Go ahead.” His stance shifts as he tucks his hands into his pockets, shrugging at me while looking somewhat annoyed.

“She says you’re cheating,” bluntly saying.

Harry scoffs, thinking it’s a joke at first, waiting for the punchline ... but I don’t have one.

“What?” Disbelief is written all over his face, shocked that I’m being absolutely serious. “Is that what she really thinks? That I’m a cheater?”

“It’s not just her,” I go on. Clearly Harry’s father-in-law is on board with this as well since he basically called Harry out the day of my engagement party and his silence left more than enough room to speculate.

All he had to do was deny it but the way he froze up proves that he’s hiding something.

“Why?” There's hurt in that question which leaves me confused.

“She said you’re becoming distant with her, and the way you started to sneak off at random times doesn’t help your case either.” It’s so strange to think back on when she was happy, telling me sweet things that he would do for her, how he was always a gentleman.

What happened?

Harry seems to be vexed with what I said. “I don’t need to have this conversation with you.” He waves me off but I’m quick with my response. “So then why are you?” I know he’s upset but he shouldn’t have asked me when he could get all the answers he wants from his own wife.

Harry walks towards me, stopping when he’s basically looming over. His height is intimidating but I hold my ground. “I’m only here because I owe your father a favor, not because I want to have this conversation.” The intensity of his stare has me almost wavering. “I’m here for your safety, so the least you can do is mind your own business when it comes to my wife.”

“You asked and I answered. If you didn’t want to hear it from me you should have just went home to ask her yourself.” But he won’t do that. He chooses to not have a real conversation with her, which is why he’s in this mess to begin with. Does he even realize how invested she is in him? When we spoke over the phone yesterday she was still hurting.

“It’s not my fault you don’t love her,” I rush out.

Harry staggers back as if I physically hit him.

Oh shit.

I don’t know why I said it. Granted, it’s what she told me but I didn’t mean to put it out there like that.

Harry eyes hold rage but his body is still in a calm state, for now that is.

Crap, I really shouldn’t have said it.

“You have no idea of what I feel for her,” he whispers, but the statement holds impact that has me stepping away from him, needing the distance.

“So what do you feel then?”

He puts a hand on his waist, the other going to mouth to cover his shallow breath. “I love her,” finally saying after a moment, sounding agitated.

The hand falls, his face seeming despondent. “You want to know the truth so badly? I pulled away because of what transpired between her and I after we got married.” He regards me with an accusing look. “I had an obligation to my own family too, Cherry. You’re not the only one. I had responsibilities and sacrifices to make, just like you.”

My mouth slightly opens to respond, but I have nothing to say.

“You know what it’s like — to do something you don’t want to do. You can’t tell me that when you’re family decided your future that you were fucken okay it.”

He sounds so distraught.

“I was angry and I was hurt to be part of some shit deal. But the thing is, is that I couldn’t afford to reject the plan that everyone had for me. I did what I had to do because people like us don’t get to say no like everyone else does.”

The way I can empathize brings discomfort.

“When I married Reece … I didn’t expect to fall in love with her. I despised our situation but I know it wasn’t her fault, she was forced into this marriage like I was. It wasn’t until later did I realize that she was falling for me the way I was falling for her.”

“Do you have any idea what it’s like to be scared of that — of love?” He goes on. “Look at the way we live, Cherry. Our lifestyle will put her at risk.” Harry looks at me with sympathy, then shame. “Just like you are now. And I can't afford to lose her like Alessio almost lost you.”

Now I understand — he distanced himself so that no one could use Reece as leverage against him… but I still think there’s more to what he’s saying.

Harry has the same body language and desperation written across his face that Alessio had when I confronted him about his own actions.

This isn’t right.

It should be Reece in my place asking Harry these things, I can’t go on with this conversation. I won’t take that away from her.

“So you chose what was good for Reece without confiding with her.”

“Because I love her,” he counters.

Naturally apart of me feels bad for him, but it still isn’t right.

Sadly, I tell him something that I know will strike him to his core. “You can’t see that you’ve become the very thing that you hate so much.”

The Giordonos’ did this to him, and now he’s doing the same by calling all the shots and leaving her to figure it out all on her own.

“You should go home to her.”

With that I walk away from a stun Harry.

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