Mafia Wife (Book #2 - Mafia Series)

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Chapter 5

Water?

Gabriella cracked her eyes open, darkness surrounding her. She rubbed her eyes with her hand, trying to adjust to the lack of light. Why was there water running? She tapped her way to the nightstand, finally feeling her phone beneath her touch.

She turned on the screen, the time glaring back at her in bright white numbers: 2H10AM.

She flipped around in the bed, catching the light coming from under the bathroom door. Niccolo. Who else could it be? He hadn’t spent one night in their room since they announced their wedding to her mother.

He had even acted out of character like he had a chip on his shoulder. She didn’t question it. After all, he was leaving her alone. These moments of peace allowed her to stash away a very important item.

Her grandpa’s journal.

She didn’t have a perfect grasp on this world, but she knew enough to know what it was. Blackmail. That was how he quit the life, how he moved on. They didn’t pry into his fake death, his name change… they didn’t go looking for him.

Because he had accumulated a blackmail journal, enough to ruin a few families from what she saw. If they went poking around, he might release it and a lot of them would have a price to pay. So they let it be.

She didn’t see everything. She couldn’t risk anyone knowing about it. She hid it in her purse, and luckily for her, as soon as they got back, Niccolo left. She dug around the house, finding a metal box with a lock. She couldn’t ask anyone or they might get suspicious. She finally found one and put it inside.

The second part was hiding it. Locking it away wasn’t enough. Purse in hand, she went outside for a stroll, despite the darkness. She noticed by the gardens there was some beautiful flowers, and under the pretense that a rabbit had ruined some of them, she took a shovel, replanting flowers.

And burying the box at the same time.

Darkness was her friend, though a lot of shielding and crouching was necessary to ensure no one would notice what she was doing. She wasn’t stupid enough to think there weren’t a thousand pairs of eyes on her.

As for the key, she had shoved it in her lotion bottle that came with a pump mechanism. She put it in her drawer, which should limit anyone tossing it. Worst case? She could break the lock or something.

It had been three days, and no one had said anything and the flowers had remained undisturbed. She probably got away with it - except she could never be too careful. This was hers - only hers.

Niccolo had his plans and his own safety in mind. She had to have hers. If she shared it with him, he might use it for himself. She couldn’t afford that. If something bad happened, Gabriella needed a bargaining chip and this was it.

So now that Niccolo was finally showing up - and taking a shower to boot - she was concerned. Had he gone digging? She tossed the blanket aside, getting up from the bed as quietly as she could manage. She tiptoed her way around the room until she reached the bathroom.

The only way to know was to go in.

She turned the handle and in one good yank, opened it. As soon as she stepped inside, Niccolo stopped moving. His arms, which had been up scrubbing his hair, went down. He turned, the fog in the glass shower doing very little to hide him.

Gabriella glanced at the floor, seeing his discarded clothes. Red. They were covered in blood. One glance at the bottom of the shower, and she could also see the red tint that colored the otherwise clear water.

Whatever he had been doing didn’t involve dirt.

“No more knocking?” he teased, reaching to the side to turn off the water.

“Even your wife has to knock?”

“If she’s my wife on paper only, yeah.” There was a sting to his words, and yet, a hint of a smile was present on his face.

She pursed her lips, nodding. To be fair, she felt the same way. She was keeping information from him. Something he had been doing since the very beginning. If he didn’t trust her, she wouldn’t trust him either.

He opened the door, steam escaping the confines of the shower. He had no shame as he walked out, his entire body on display. Nothing she hadn’t seen before. “Are you spying on me, Conticello?”

“No, why would I?” Yes, yes she was.

“I don’t know, maybe you’ve got something to hide.”

Her breath got caught in her throat and she did her best to keep a poker face. Did he know? He hadn’t touched it yet - but maybe that was part of his plan. That or her trust issues were getting out of control. Could anyone blame her though?

“Look who’s talking.”

He got closer to her, leaving trails of water behind as he reduce the distance between them. She couldn’t do anything; she was already against the wall.

“You didn’t answer the question.”

She tried to read his eyes, but she couldn’t tell. Did he know? How could he hide his emotions, his self so well?

“I’m not hiding anything.”

He didn’t believe her. She knew him well enough to read some of his facial cues and this was clear. Fuck. She had been alone with her mother when she had given her the journal. She had even left the door open.

Had he seen it in her purse?

Did he suspect something?

Niccolo was like a dog with a bone, he wouldn’t let something go and now he was under the impression that she was keeping something from him. That wouldn’t work. A distraction; that was what she needed.

There weren’t many ways to distract Niccolo…

Gabriella leaned forward, gripping his wet, slippery shoulders. “Wanna check if I’m hiding something?” Not the hiding he had been referring to but - she was a terrible flirt and she had to do something.

“Need a body check?”

“You’re the one having trust issues.”

His hands came up to her hips, pressing her flush against his damp body. She arched her back, the wetness spreading through her clothes. “Then what should I check first?”

Gabriella wasn’t able to decide on an answer before Niccolo’s lips were on her neck. He nibbled at the sensitive skin, forcing her to tilt her head back into the wall.

“Here maybe?”

A kiss.

“Or down here?”

He peppered her skin with kisses, working his way down to her collarbone. Teeth scrapped at it, his hands squeezing her a little harder. Her nipples hardened under her shirt as he sucked at the top of her breasts.

“Maybe there’s something here.”

He covered her nipple with his mouth, through her shirt, forcing a hiss out of her. This was the kind of plan that backfired. He sucked, and one of her hands lifted. Was she going to bring him closer or push him away?

She didn’t have a chance to decide.

Because he pulled away.

“Cute. You’re getting smarter,” he said, his hands releasing her hips.

“Excuse me?”

“Using sex as a distraction, smart move. It almost worked.”

Goddamn it. Did he have to notice so quickly? Gabriella had banked on him being a little more… under the pressure. He hadn’t done anything with her in a while. Then again, that didn’t mean he kept it in his pants.

“My bad, I was under the impression that it had been a while. I forgot who you were.”

“Now if anything, I’ve been the one with the stellar behavior. Can’t say the same about your friend Vanessa.”

He didn’t have to say more. She could put the pieces together like a big girl. It wasn’t like she had blind faith in her. “And I should believe that you turned her down?”

“I’m a married man. Would I sleep with my wife’s bridesmaid?”

“Why not? We both know it would take a lot more than a wedding ring to keep you on a leash. If she propositioned you, it’s because she saw an opportunity.”

She forced the damn wedding down her throat… and then she turned around and did this? No wonder Niccolo had trust issues. Everyone was a backstabbing whore. Yeah, so, Niccolo wasn’t hers… Vanessa didn’t know that.

This fucking world was bullshit. It was impossible to let your guard down for a second. Anyone would exploit any little flaw, any weakness.

It was exhausting.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me. I gotta get dressed. Unless you wanna go through with this even if I keep asking questions you don’t wanna answer.”

“No thank you. Not unless my life depends on it.” She cleared her throat. “And even then, remind me to wrap it up. Wouldn’t wanna catch your whores’ diseases.”

“I have needs Gabby, but I’m not stupid and I don’t trust easily.”

“For someone with trust issues, you weren’t very careful with me.”

Pregnancy didn’t cross her mind during their unprotected intercourse, but she should have been careful as to not catch one of the thousand things that were probably crawling all over his… thing.

“Princess, I noticed the implant on your arm a long time ago. I’d usually wrap it up for the sake of keeping it clean but - figured a virgin like yourself was clean as a whistle.” He chuckled. “Excuse me, almost virgin.”

He had a point there. She had gotten a check-up after her one time and at least she had been fine. It was then that the doctor told her about the arm implant. Gabriella couldn’t be trusted to remember to take something every day and the implant was good for five years… it felt like the best option.

Perhaps he did notice everything.

“Yeah, like I’m gonna take your word for it.”

“I’m not the one keeping something from you.”

She chuckled. “Right, you are correct. You’re not keeping something from me - you’re keeping everything from me.”

“What, because you wanted to know about your grandpa? Your family?”

“It was part of the deal.”

“Gabriella, what did you wanna know that you can’t put together already? Your grandpa was a killer. He was the one sent out to deal with the problems. Do I really have to explain to you what problems mean? You’re a smart girl.”

“My grandpa wasn’t a killer.”

“The shed, the bloody knife, come on, princess. Even you had to see it. It’s not my fault you decided to ignore it. Do you know what the problem is? You didn’t wanna see the truth about yourself.”

“Oh, this is about me now?”

“Damn right it’s about you. It’s always been about you.”

“How is this about me?”

“Come on. Did ya really wanna know about your grandpa? Did you need to know that bad, princess? Or is it that you wanted to know.” Niccolo reached for her hair, twirling a lock of her blond mane. “Maybe there was a part of you that wanted this. You always knew what your grandpa could do. Maybe you wanted to know what you could do.”

She pushed him away, forcing him to let go of her hair. “Fuck off.”

“Truth always hurts, princess.”

She shook her head, walking past him as she exited the bathroom. He didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about. She hadn’t done any of this for her own sake. She had done it to…

Gabriella swallowed hard.

She couldn’t have just walked out. No, she couldn’t have. He was wrong.

Her stomach churned as she glanced around the room - his room… their room? Fuck this.

She needed some fresh air.

Anywhere but here.

***


Bang! Bang!

What in the fuck? Would people stop freaking waking her up?

If that wasn’t startling enough, the groan coming from next to her was. Niccolo was sprawled in the bed, next to her, the blue sheet barely keeping him decent. It hung low on his hips, his naked back visible to all.

“Who the fuck is this?”

“Niccolo.”

“WHAT?” he barked out, pushing himself away from the bed.

“We have visitors.”

To her, that meant nothing. To Niccolo? The meaning appeared to be quite clear because he jumped into a sitting position, his hand running through his messy still damp locks. “Are you fucking kidding me?”

“Is someone gonna explain it to me?”

“Your family, princess. Your family is here.”

“How do you know?”

He dragged a hand across his face. “Who the fuck else would show up at the most inconvenient of times? Who else would be trying to catch us off guard?”

“So you’re assuming, you don’t know?”

“Wanna bet? If I win, I’ll tie you to the bedpost.”

“Put some clothes on,” she said, huffing, as she tossed the sheet off her body.

So maybe he could be right. They were a little early… not only that but she never thought they would be here-here. Wouldn’t they prefer to stay somewhere else? Wouldn’t it be… safer or something?

“Yes, wife.”

Right. Husband and wife. Totally in love. The whole thing.

She cleared her throat, her eyes scanning the floor. She needed to be presentable, didn’t she? Her nerves were on high alert, knots forming in her stomach as her pulse picked up. They were strangers, but - they were in a way… connected to her dad? A dad she didn’t remember.

She had mixed feelings about this.

Gabriella retrieved a black t-shirt from the floor, slipping it on over her camisole. It would cover her more - it did go lower than her shorts. She snapped the hairband off her wrist, combing her long blond locks into a quick, messy ponytail.

There.

“Wanna go put some makeup on too?”

He was still sorta naked. Perhaps she should be happy he had put boxers and a t-shirt on. Better than showing up naked…

“Let’s do this.”

“Stay on your guard.”

“What, are they gonna stab me in the hallway?”

“There’s a reason they’re pulling this crap.”

“Fine,” she gave in, walking past him.

It was the middle of the fucking night - and unlike him, she wasn’t used to jumping into attack mode the second she opened her eyes. Even now she could barely keep them open. She was fucking exhausted. Between the stress of everything, the constant training, and the mental drain from this life of lie…

She couldn’t keep up.

They headed down to the front door in silence, Niccolo hovering behind her, but never touching her. His presence made her uneasy; perhaps because she could feel like he was on edge.

He was letting strangers into his home.

Strangers he did not trust.

“Oddio! As I live and breathe. Isabella.”

Gabriella barely had a chance to open her eyes, adjusting to the light, frail arms weakly hugged her, a face buried in the crook of her neck. Wait, what?

“It is like going back in time,” she added as she pulled away from Gabriella. A wrinkly hand came and cupped her cheek, the thumb gently caressing it. “It is like going back in time. You look so much like my sister. They told me, but I didn’t believe it.”

Sister?

A woman who appeared to be her grandfather’s age was smiling at her. She had short grey hair, and dull blue eyes while the skin around her cheeks was sagging downwards. Was this-would this be her grandmother if she had lived longer?

“A-are you Isabella’s sister?”

She nodded. “Si, mia cara. She was my older sister. I’m Caterina.”

“It’s… nice to meet you. I’m Gabby- Gabriella.”

This was the polar opposite of what Niccolo had prepared her for… He said they would doubt her legitimacy, she would have to fight for it… Granted, a few seconds wasn’t enough to ensure she knew everything about them or their gameplay but this was a warmer welcome than she expected.

Now she didn’t know what to do or how to act.

“Now, boy can you fetch our luggage?”

Gabriella blinked once, then twice. Boy? And then she understood. Holy crap she was talking to Niccolo. She rolled her lips inwards as she tilted her head to look behind her. Niccolo’s hands were shoved in his pockets, his shoulders pushed backward.

Time to defuse the tension.

“This is, Niccolo.” She paused. “My fiancé.” They weren’t supposed to be married yet.

She watched as the old lady stared him down, obviously unimpressed by Gabriella’s choice of a husband. She let out a sneer before taking her eyes off him and refocusing on Gabriella.

“Yes, well. Your grandmother also made poor choices when it came to her love life.”

Ouch. She wanted to giggle, but she knew it wouldn’t help sell the lovers story, so she held back by biting on her lips.

“It’s not your fault, dear,” she began, gently squeezing her arm. “How could you know? You were left to your own devices. I suppose we’ll have to make the best out of a bad situation.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” Niccolo cut in, walking to be by her side. Though the words spoken appeared to be nice, his face wasn’t. Tight eyes, pinched lips, and a locked jaw. Oh, she couldn’t even imagine the words he was holding back.

“Yes, nice to meet you,” she replied through tight lips, keeping a grip on Gabriella.

“I imagine it would be,” he said, taking a step forward. “You did rush here in the middle of the night.”

“It’s not every day you receive a wedding invitation from a family member you didn’t know existed.”

“Right.”

“Should we be expecting the rest of the family?”

“No. We assumed the place wouldn’t be large enough to host all of us. I, on the other hand, wanted to get to know my grand niece. I had heard you looked like Isabella. I never thought it could be true.”

“Oh, and where did you hear that?”

“News travels fast.”

“Yes, took two decades for you to hear about it.”

Well, she prayed he wasn’t hoping for a good relationship with her distant family because he was not up to a good start.

She cleared her throat, putting a smile on her face. They were putting down Niccolo, and technically - that was fine. She wasn’t insulted by it. Except, they were being especially nice to her, and especially mean to him.

They didn’t know him, they didn’t know enough to make a judgment or decide if she had made the right decision. If she pushed past the niceness, she could see they were playing the exact game Niccolo had warned her about.

Bringing her to their side.

He was right, it took this to look into her existence. Now that she had a claim on something they wanted. There was perhaps a small chance it was genuine. It would be nice. But it could also be that they were trying to get her away from Niccolo so that they could sink their claws into her.

She couldn’t do that.

“I can show you inside. So you can rest.”

“Thank you, my dear.”

Caterina looped her arm around Gabriella’s affectionately tapping her forearm with her hand. “I see you were taught good manners. I wouldn’t expect any less.” That was… a backhand compliment.

She offered her a smile before glancing at Niccolo. He wasn’t watching her - he was watching Caterina. Gabriella’s call was right; there was something dark hiding behind the niceness. Something she couldn’t trust. She couldn’t let it swoop her in.

It took her by surprise, but now, she had her head screwed on right.

Well, it was official. The walls were breached and the acting had started. Caterina Mancini had come in swinging, and if she even saw an inch of a doubt, she would tear them apart. Willingly or not.

From this moment on and until they left, Niccolo was… the love of her life.

How great.

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