Wildfire

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10.

ADELAIDE

I slammed the door so hard connecting our rooms that I heard the windows shake in their frames. He was infuriating!

I’m not an idiot, I knew I shouldn’t go near Damien Moretti or do anything ‘stupid’ as Luca so kindly put it. My scalp still ached from where he had fisted my hair.

Asshole.

The power hadn’t come back on but from what I could tell it was maybe 1 or 2 in the morning and I was utterly spent. My brain and emotions were on overload as I crawled into my bed and quickly passed out, not even having the energy to think anymore about Luca or even dream.

When I woke up, all my lights were on meaning the power was back and I felt the desperate need for a shower. I wanted to shower off any and all feelings I had for Luca, the moment we had last night, and the anger he brought out of me.

He may like me but he still had me behind a wall, showing me how quickly he could change for caring and playful to merciless and dark.

It was enough to drive anyone insane how he could change at the flip of a dime.

As I walked around to turn all the lights off in my room that had been left on before the power went out, I heard no noise coming from Luca’s room.

Good, I didn’t want to see him today anyways.

Liar.

The feeling of craving his attention tried peeking its head from the surface but I shoved it back down, keeping it in its place. I may like Luca as well but I didn’t like the way he could switch like that and I didn’t like being talked to like I was clueless.

There had been other conversations I had listened in on. Sometimes the door to the office hadn’t been shut all the way and I could slip by without being seen and hear a thing or two. I mean for God’s sake my father’s office was right down the middle of main hallway.

Other times when Luca thought no one was around while he made a phone call to one of this brothers or father, I’d been listening around the corner, more so to avoid running into him.

I knew that they had taken over the shipping yard, cutting into Damien Moretti’s already shrinking territory and I knew he wasn’t happy about it. I also knew it meant the Katsaros would now be almost matched to what my father ruled over. They had taken over most of the illegal drug and weapons trade, and were now moving into taking over the businesses that were a front of it. Brothels, bars, etc. After our marriage, the Katsaros would have even more territory as the alliance between my father and them would be sealed, my father forfeiting over more of it in order to pay back the debt. And forfeiting me in the process.

All of this ran through my head as I started my shower and stared back at my reflection as I waited. It was all tied to me that Luca would gain this power. Me, whose bags under my eyes had gotten darker and I had gotten paler at the lack of sleep, my skin looking dull. My hair was a tangled mess as usual. What kind of beauty Luca saw in me obviously wasn’t there, at least not today.

I undressed and got into the shower, shrinking back into the hot water as it ran down my shoulders, helping loosen the tension in them.

My mind never stopped replaying the events of last night and what had happened between us. How he had held me as I panicked over the storm, comforting me in a way I didn’t think was ever possible of Luca Katsaros. He’d told me he liked me, even if we still went back to arguing and fighting with each other like sworn enemies. In a way we were in that our father’s hated each other and we were like a Shakespearean classic, fated to be together against all odds. Except those odds were one another and our short patience.

And I thought about how I had let his hands and lips roam my body, kissing wherever he saw fit. A shudder rippled though my whole body as I remembered every single touch, every kiss, every dirty thing he whispered in my ear. I could feel my body getting hot again, my core tightening. I quickly flipped the shower to cold, trying desperately to stop the thoughts. I was still angry with him for how he talked to me like a child and didn’t want to give him that control over me, the control to make me feel like he did even when he wasn’t around.

I got out of the shower and dressed, slipping on a pair of high-waisted leggings, a cropped tank top, and cardigan. I attempted the knots in my hair, cursing worse than Luca some days as I battled with it.
My phone dinged with a message.

Dad — Please come to my office in 10 minutes, there’s some things we need to discuss.

I let out a loud sigh. It was never a good conversation when my father needed me to come to his office. Now they usually just revolved about the Katsaros and how important it was for Luca and I to appear that we liked each other in front of the other houses to not give off any suspicion. The more we pretended, the better off my father was.

I straightened up around my room to kill a few minutes and try to calm my nerves. I still hadn’t heard anything from Luca’s room and that set me on edge a little more, not knowing if he was here or not and if I’d run into him after last night.

As I walked to my father’s office, I felt my heart rate increasing. Since we hadn’t been able to have a good conversation lately that didn’t involve Luca I knew this time it would too. I was nervous about what he would say now as I already didn’t have any choice in the matter.

But no one makes that fire burn hotter and brighter than Luca, and you like it.

I stopped in front of the door to my father’s office, taking a few deep breaths to calm myself as I stared at the wood pattern on the dark oak door, following them with my eyes. One last deep breath and I knocked, hearing his deep voice tell me to come in.

“You wanted to see me?” I peeked my head in to see my father at his desk, look like an imposing figure behind his massive desk. It was dark in the office, most of the wood almost black and shelves covered with volumes and volumes of books, the walls covered with maps of the city with different colored lines all over them, a massive fire place with chairs and a couch around it a little further down. My father sat at his desk with a look of anger on his face, but not directed at me. I stepped in the office and saw who that anger was directed at.

Luca and his father, Demetrios, were standing near the fire place. Luca had a drink in his hand, and I could tell this time it was to calm his own nerves. His eyes were set on me as he was leaned against the wall with the fireplace behind him, one ankle crossed over the other with his hand in his pocket trying to look unbothered as he took me in. He had a custom fitting black suit and I could see his jaw tightened and sawing slightly back and forth like when he was upset about something.

“Have a seat, Adelaide. We have some important matters to discuss.” My father said looking at me, almost pleading with me to not put up a fight today and just sit down. I stared back for a second before willing my body to move forward to sit in one of the large leather chairs in front of his desk. Luca and Demetrios didn’t move to sit but continued standing. I could feel Luca’s eyes on me but couldn’t turn to look at him.

“I’ve been informed today that Damien Moretti sent his men after you and your sister for the purpose of kidnapping you and holding you for ransom. We’ve discovered that ransom being your marriage to Damien in order to gain back his territory and take out most of mine and take out the Katsaros all together.” My father continued to look at me, the anger for Luca and Demetrios still in his eyes. From what I could tell from the tension in the room, what my father was going to tell me was something I wasn’t going to agree with.

“In order to keep you and this family safe, your marriage to Luca will take place in two months and not next year as planned, after your sister’s.” My eyes widened and my breathing stopped. Two months? There hadn’t even been talk of an engagement yet and now we’re to be married in two months? I turned to look at Luca, hoping he wasn’t in on this and it was all a misunderstanding, but his gaze was now refusing to meet mine as he stared at the wall behind me.

Demetrios showed no emotion at all on his face, like he couldn’t care less other than ensuring he kept his territory, his money, and his power.

“You will also be moving into the Katsaros’ home where they can better keep you protected until the wedding, from which you’ll stay after. You’ll be moving by the end of the week.” My father’s face filled with apologies unspoken. Apologies for forcing me into this marriage, for not being able to ensure my safety, for essentially giving me up and handing me straight over to the Katsaros as a winning game piece for them.

I wondered if Luca felt as defeated as I did or if he still saw me as just an advantage, despite his feeling for me.

“No.” I shook my head and shot up out of my seat. There was no way Luca’s family was to be given that much say over me and what I did. “You’re not sending me away from everyone and everything because he says so.” I turned to look at Luca, my eyes burning into his. His eyes flashed with the guilt and apologies for it all, knowing I wouldn’t get to be with my sisters or Edie, and I’d be his just to give his family what they wanted.

“Luca had no say in this. This is to protect you and keep you safe.” My father’s voice snapped my attention back to him. “In fact, Luca wanted to delay your marriage even further until Damien could be dealt with and was no longer a threat.”

I looked down at the floor, instantly feeling regret for placing blame on Luca for this. Sometimes it was hard to remember that he has just as little say as I did in this marriage because of how much he had accepted it. I still didn’t know why Luca had been chosen for this instead of Park, Park being the oldest of them all but I couldn’t worry about that now. All I could worry about was getting through this.

“Wouldn’t it just be easier to stop this marriage all together and rip up the contract? Is it really worth all this trouble?” I said quietly, now refusing to look at anyone. I could feel Luca looking at me again but I just couldn’t face him. I feared that if I look at him now I’d break.

In the past few days I’d accepted more that I’d marry Luca and it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to me despite how little patience we had for one another. It was the fact that Hannah and Chelsea had been able to choose, they’d been able to get to know their husbands and develop actual feelings. I didn’t want to end up like the Greene’s with Luca, marrying him but living in different homes, only being together at events and somehow having children through it all.

I wanted to be able to choose Luca without any other influence. Not with the threat of being harmed or my family being harmed, not with the weight of the debt my father owed weighing over me. If you took away all those things I wanted to find out if Luca would have set his sights on me or if he would have passed me up, choosing someone else who didn’t war with him as much as I did. But now I wouldn’t know and I didn’t want to feel like any relationship we had was forced.

“It would. But there is too much to gain, my dear Adelaide, with you being with my son. It is an opportunity that we can’t pass up.” Demetrios chimed in, boredom that we were even having this conversation in his voice.

“You wouldn’t have to worry about passing it up if you were better at what you do.” I spat back at him, turning to look at him, my fists clenching at my side. Now I knew where Luca got his way of speaking to others from. Demetrios had a way of making someone feel so incredibly small and insignificant, like they didn’t matter unless he could use them in some way. But he didn’t scare me, none of the Katsaros men did.

If anything they should be scared of me.

Demetrios let out a laugh, his figure remaining hard and dominating. “You’re going to have your hands full with this one.” He turned to look at Luca, who was now staring at me with annoyance that I wouldn’t just drop this and that I was mouthing off again.

“I’m not an object, you can’t just move me around to where you see fit. Maybe Damien would be a better fit to take over the territory since you —“

“Excuse us.” I didn’t even notice Luca coming at me until he had grabbed my arm, dragging me out the door as I was about to go off on his father.

“Let go, Luca!” I snarled at him, twisting my arm in his grip as he held tighter. He dragged me down the hall and threw me into the library, slamming the door behind him.

“Are you out of your fucking mind?” He roared at me as he spun me around, pinning me against the door with his body and caging me in with his arms on either side of me. His nostrils flared and I could see the frustration with me in his eyes.

“Why do you have to keep making this harder than it is, Adelaide?” He huffed out, dragging a hand through his hair in frustration. “You need to get your temper under control and stop mouthing off like that, he’s just going to make it more difficult for your father.”

“I’m not a little toy for you and your father to play as you see fit! It’s not my fault Damien wants me because of the contract your father made, it’s not my fault your family took his territory, it’s not my fault you got picked for this marriage. I’m tired of having no say and being told what to do!” I pushed against him, trying to get away from him. I was so angry at this point I felt like I could just scream for hours.

“You think I like it? Forcing you into something you don’t want? Having you war with me at every single turn even when I try to make it easier for you? I know why you’re so angry, I’m just as angry that we didn’t have a say but this is where we are. So just accept it and control this fucking temper, Adelaide. It just going to be harder.” He threw his hand back against the door, keeping me in my spot as he got in my face. We stared at each other for a few seconds.

“What’s going to make this easier for you? What can I do?” He voice had calmed down, his eyes softening a bit. I just stared at him and searched his eyes as I thought. Not much was going to make this easier, we still drove each other insane. But I knew something that might help.

“Take me on a date.” I stared up at him, forgetting how much taller he was than me. “It doesn’t help that I don’t know you. I know you scare the shit out of everyone but me but I don’t know you.” I felt silly, feeling embarrassment creeping up my chest. We get into a screaming match and I tell him to take me on a date?

He dropped my gaze, looking down at the floor as he laughed. He looked back up at me with playfulness in his eyes. I didn’t laugh or smile back, I was trying to figure out where this would go.

“A date would make this easier? God, Princess, if I knew that’s all it took to get you to calm down I would have taken you on one every day.” He played at me, moving one of his arms to wrap around my waist, pulling me to him.

“A date then. But you need to keep that fire in check until then, no more mouthing off in front of my father or brothers.” My heart fluttered in my chest a little.

“When?” I asked suspiciously, not sure if he would really follow through or not. He caught into my suspicion, holding me tighter.

“Tomorrow night. We’ll go wherever you want. You have my word.”

A date with Luca. A real date. I’d never been on one and wanted to see what it would be like to be with him without others prying in, his family or mine always around.

“Then it’s a date.”
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