62 | the promise of death
I yelped when he fisted my hair tightly and pulled me closer. Anger was blazing in his eyes. I paled and placed my hand on his chest to push him away but he didn't budge.
"Is that what you really want?" he growled out.
I looked into his eyes that were hard with fury but kept my voice strong despite my inner turmoil. "Yes, Antonio. That is really what I want."
He sneered at me. "What can you do if I say no?"
"Nothing," I told him bitterly. "Which is exactly why I want my freedom. I'm tired of these games."
He stared me down at me but I didn't dare back away. I stared right back into his dark eyes. If I wasn't observing him so closely then I wouldn't have noticed the slight shift in his gaze. I suddenly felt hollow. I hated this side of him. It was so manipulative.
I took in a shaky breath.
He cupped my cheeks softly as he loosened his hold on me. I leaned onto his touch and his eyes followed my movements like a hawk. "Do you really want to leave me?" he asked, curiously.
I didn't answer, but he got his answer from my silence.
My husband smiled. My breath hitched. God, he was so beautiful. "I'll let you go if you answer my question with the utmost truth."
My heart thudded in my chest rapidly. It wasn't fear that was thrumming through my heart. It was excitement and anticipation of what was going to happen next. His thumb glided over my bottom lip roughly and I held back a moan. How was this turning me on? I needed help.
His gaze darkened at my reaction. "Why did you choose to die by my hands?"
I opened my mouth to answer but he cut me off with a harsh glare. "The truth, Francesca. I may not be as lenient with you as I was last time. There will be no choice next time," he said, but the words felt empty. It was an empty threat.
"I..." I trailed off. How could I tell him?
He stared me down and when I didn't say anything he pulled me closer by my hair. "Speak, bambola."
I gulped as I tilted my head back. "It felt like betrayal," I said, my voice hushed.
His eyes showed understanding but that didn't stop me from continuing. I suddenly felt the need to confess. The burden in my heart suddenly felt suffocating.
"If I killed myself then I would've been running away from the Family. I felt like a traitor, but if you had killed me then I would've die with the knowledge that I stood by my family till my last breath and..." I trailed off again.
He narrowed his eyes at me. He knew what I was going to say. He just wanted to confirm it.
I looked into his eyes. "And I never wanted you to forget me."
He grinned sinisterly. "The guilt," he said. "You wanted to be with me even after death as my guilt."
I couldn't help but smile. There was something beautiful about the truth. It was so peaceful, so serene.
He leaned his forehead against mine. "You don't want freedom, bambola. You want me. You want us. You want love," he said. His hand dropped to my waist as he shifted me closer. "You want control."
I wanted to tell him that everything he said was a lie. I wanted to tell him that I didn't need his love. I wanted to tell him so bad, but I didn't want to lie either. Was I just as cruel and selfish as him if I didn't want to leave? Freedom was right in my hands and I could tell that he would give it to me. Antonio never went back on his word. If he said something then he'd do it and he had given me his word. Honour was everything for him.
"I need control. I crave it," I told him. I was an idiot for making myself vulnerable again but I couldn't help it. There was something about him that was starting to pull me in again. He was like a magnet and I couldn't help the pull. If this was manipulation then it was working very well.
"Then you'll get control and that will be your freedom."
"Could I leave you whenever I want?" I baited.
He didn't react. His fingers glided down my spine and the thin nightie did nothing to protect me. Goosebumps appeared on my skin. "Could I leave you whenever I want?" he asked me.
I bit my lip. We both knew the answer. "You could," I said. "But you won't."
"It's the way it goes. I don't want to replace you and I won't as long as you are by my side. There will be no other woman in my life other than you. No one will ever take your place, Francesca," he said softly, the hard exterior melting off his face.
My heart hammered in my chest. I could almost hear it. "Do you promise?"
He didn't hesitate. "I promise on my life. If I ever falter, I shall face the penalties like a man of honour."
My breath hitched. "No," I murmured. "No. You won't face the penalty. Take back your words."
He pulled me closer. "An honourable man does not go back on his word and an honourable woman does not leave her family behind."
"I need time," I said. "I need to trust you again."
"Take as much time as you need, bambola, as long as you find your way back to me," he said.
I furrowed my brows. "Find my way back?"
He nodded. "I will wait for you," he said and then kissed my forehead, peeled me off his body, and stood up. I watched his back muscles flex as he stood and turned to me. Our eyes met once again. He nodded at me before leaving.
The door clicked shut behind him and I shuddered. His words played in my head. Things made more sense but that didn't mean I was still not bitter about what he did. Was it right for me to still hold onto a grudge?
I looked out the small gap in between the curtains. It was dark and late yet I still found no sleep. I sighed. Things were getting worse. A war within the Nostra Vita was not a good thing, especially now. If the Nostra Vita got weak then Chicago or Boston would mostly likely attack. If they joined hands then everything would be a major disaster.
The Nostra Vita resided in New York and was disputed into the five families with the Godfather of the Giordano Family as the unofficial head head. From what I had heard, the man never got involved. He let Antonio handle things. I was suddenly glad for Raffaello's death. If he had gotten the position of the Godfather then the Nostra Vita was as good as dead.
I placed my hand on my stomach. My child wasn't going to be born in the middle of a war was it? It wasn't going to die. I wouldn't let it. The thought of loosing him or her wasn't something I could handle. No, I needed to talk to Antonio about this. I could not lose my child and I could not lose him to a war either, a war that he didn't start but was going to have to fight. It wouldn't be long before the mob stops seeing who's fault it was. Or maybe, it was already too late. Antonio may be a sinner but he was innocent in this matter. He had no hand in the Bianchi's princess' death and there was no way I would allow myself to lose him in this sick game of chess. The Bianchi had made their move. Now it was ours.