Mafia Wife (Book #2 - Mafia Series)

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Chapter 9

A/N: IMPORTANT!!

I’ll be going on vacation next week with limited internet access, so there won’t be an update next week! I will see you all September 16th :)

***

Fucking lunatics.

Niccolo exhaled the smoke that had piled up in his lungs, watching as it mingled with the surrounding air. He never smoked. Alright - sometimes. Mostly in the past. It had been his favorite way to piss off his father as an early teen.

Eventually, he stopped altogether. Nasty habit.

Tonight though, he dug out an old pack from the bottom of his drawers. He had waited until Gabriella had fallen asleep - which hadn’t been an easy feat… and then he snuck out. He left three men standing guard.

Because what she shared was… terrifying.

He wanted to think that she had stretched her imagination too far, that she made up scenarios under the sheer pressure of the current situation. The only problem with all that? Her ramblings made sense.

Niccolo could never figure out why he took Gabriella.

He’d never really been on his radar before. They crossed paths, but for him to take Gabby? She hadn’t - still wasn’t - his anything. Why do it? But if he shifted his perspective and went in with the mentality that it had everything to do with her… and nothing to do with him?

It made sense.

It also explained the other puzzle he hadn’t been able to figure out; why they were so welcoming of Gabriella. They didn’t need to doubt her, to pretend she wasn’t family. If they had their way, she wouldn’t be taking anything from them.

No, because giving her away to the Devil… would give them everything.

It left the why though.

The Mancini family was powerful and ancestral. Why the need to ally with the Devil? There was no way they feared him. He refused to believe that the Devil’s powers reached into their territories. So why?

To break free of Isabella? To undo the last shackles she left behind?

Gabriella meant nothing to them. It was an easy offering.

Could the Devil be that obsessed?

After all these years, he still wanted the bride that was possibly promised to him. He had to admit, Isabella running away from a forced marriage, following her heart… it sounded like the stories he had heard.

However, the Devil had only come into so much power in recent years… maybe the last decade. Which begged the question, why would they have agreed to marry off Isabella to a nobody? Was Gabriella wrong, or were there too many pieces missing from the puzzle?

This was why he was smoking.

This was a fucking shitshow.

Niccolo leaned back into the chair, stretching out his legs to rest his feet on the metal fence of the little balcony. He’d gone deep into the house, as far as he could from anyone else. He knew he would not get any privacy but this balcony gave him a good enough illusion.

He had to get those assholes out of his house - as soon as possible.

Niccolo was about to take another puff when he heard dainty footsteps closing in. There was only one person in this house who walked like that. Someone who thought she was sneakier than she was.

“Missed me already?” he asked out loud.

He had laid next to her, feeling every inch of her stressed-out body. Couldn’t blame her. If she was right, the Devil wasn’t done with her yet.

The door creaked open and she slipped inside the room. Her eyes scanned the room before she headed out to the balcony to join him. As soon as she stepped out, her arms wrapped themselves around her body, the cold air seemingly getting to her.

Because she wore nothing but a camisole and a pair of booty shorts, he wasn’t surprised.

Her nose twitched and he knew she finally realized what he was doing out there. Her eyes narrowed on his left hand and she frowned.

“Really?”

“Want one?” he asked, bringing it closer to her.

“Ew, no. That’s disgusting.”

“Does that mean I won’t get a kiss?”

She opened her mouth, ready to speak, but then she shut it closed. She remembered where she was and that they were never alone - especially right now. Despite her obvious dislike for cigarette smoke, she sat next to him.

He watched as she rubbed her arms with her hands, a foolish attempt to bring some warmth to her body. Niccolo flicked his cigarette on the ground and then bent forward, crushing it with a nearby potted plant.

“Ya alright?”

She shrugged, staring into the distance. “I’m scared I’m right,” she answered in a whisper.

Yeah so was he.

Because that kind of chase would never stop. The only way to be free would be to get rid of the Devil forever and… who could do that? Who could pull off such a feat when he seemed to have supporters everywhere?

Self-confidence was not something he lacked, but he was also realistic. He didn’t have enough manpower.

“Still waiting for you to tell me I’ve got batshit crazy.”

Niccolo gripped at his jaw, before letting his hand slide down. “Shit, sweetheart. I’d love to tell you that.”

Despite all the shit that happened - she trusted him. Trusted him to not fuck her over. It was clear that the Devil wanted his prize. At the moment, Niccolo stood in his way. Big fucking time. Before, he had been an obstacle, but now he had gone and married her.

No wonder Caterina considered killing him.

The easiest way to get him the fuck out of the way.

He could make his life easier - he could hand her over. It would solve everything. It would give him everything he had always wanted. But it would also mean playing into his games. There was a reason he eliminated Luca’s family. They had chosen the wrong side.

This business was ugly - no matter what.

But some lines could not be crossed. Sure, handing her over wasn’t child trafficking. But it was encouraging the Devil.

It didn’t take a genius to guess what Gabriella’s life would be like if she ended up in the Devil’s hands - he wouldn’t let that be her life. He had seen what he did to people he didn’t care for, and he couldn’t imagine the torture he had reserved for someone he obsessed over…

For fucking years.

All this time, and he was still set on having Isabella? It didn’t indicate anything good.

“So, gonna turn me over for some money?” she was smiling as if she was joking, but he could easily spot the hint of fear in her eyes.

“Thought you knew me better than that,” he said with a wink. “I’m not that heartless.”

“Right, Niccolo the Savior,” she said, using her fingers to make quotation marks. “Keeping people out of the Devil’s claws.” She sighed. “So is that it? You’re not cruel enough to throw me to the wolves?”

He sat up straight, putting his elbows on his thighs as he leaned closer to her. They couldn’t be having this conversation so loudly. She sat down next to him, approaching her body to his as she seemed to understand what he was trying to do.

“What are you expecting here, sweetheart? A love declaration?”

Did she want him to tell her he was saving her because he thought she was something special? Because she meant something to him? He wouldn’t tell her that. It would all be bullshit. Even when people said it, thinking they meant it, they didn’t.

No one ever did.

Love’s ultimate end was always betrayal and pain. Always.

He saw it happen to his mother, he saw it happen to his father’s other whores. He saw the other men out there. They had their wives put on a front, smile, and act as though they were a strong unit.

The truth? They all hated their husbands. They stayed for the children, the money, the power - or maybe even out of fear. But none of them stayed for love. Love had long ago been replaced by resentment.

He wouldn’t be any different.

He took what he wanted - always. It was the way he had survived. He couldn’t be anything else. He knew that.

She needed to know that.

Unless recent events had scrambled her brain, she knew it.

“Don’t worry, I’m not stupid enough to think there’s a heart in there.”

“Good.”

Sometimes, sometimes, he did feel trapped. She was here. He was turning down other women. His mother’s ring. It felt like something was clamping down on his throat, blocking off his air supply.

Niccolo had never kept anyone as long as he had kept her around. He hadn’t meant to do it. All of it sort of happened on its own. The more time passed, the more they were tangled together. It would be a fucking mess to split it all apart later.

Eventually, they would part ways… He could have fun forever, but Gabriella wouldn’t want fun forever. He wasn’t her keeper. He wouldn’t give her what she wanted…. So she would get it somewhere else.

The thought of that… was infuriating.

“You’re still mine though,” he said with a wink.

For now.

His father loved his mother. He owned every aspect of her life. She did anything and everything for him and got nothing in return. Love was nothing but a term to hide ownership. Like a bird with clipped wings.

“Look, there’s nothing we can do about this right now. We’ll do the wedding, get them the fuck out of here and then we’ll figure it out.”

“You think they’re gonna leave after the wedding?”

He shook his head. “Not if you’re right. But they won’t be staying here anymore. It’ll be a little easier to talk.”

One thing was for sure, the whole place was going to need a fucking bug sweep. He didn’t trust them and he knew they probably set up some way to keep spying on them after they were gone. Mics, camera, staff change maybe. He would have to switch and veto every fucking maid and cook in this place.

Great.

“Get some rest. You gotta be rested bride in a couple of days.”

If it were up to him they would do the fucking wedding tonight so that they could it over with but… they couldn’t be suspicious.

Right… boss.”

They both got up as he walked her back into the small office. The sun was already starting to peak outside and it would be morning. It was too late for him to go back to bed but it would play well into her innocent fiancée persona if she was leisuring about.

He’d be on his guard for the both of them.

No matter what, she was under his protection and he wouldn’t let anything happen to her. He wouldn’t let the Devil get his hands on her. Never. He had already risked everything to get her back, he would do it again.

This time it was getting oddly personal.

“You know,” Gabriella began as she paused her walking. “I don’t know your history, or whatever fucked you up this bad… But you’ve got it wrong.”

“What do I have wrong, sweetheart?”

“Love. It’s not about ownership, it’s not about owning someone. I’m my own fucking person. I’m not yours. I own myself.”

He chuckled. Of course. “Then what’s it about, princess?”

“I used to think it was all… fairy tales and grand gestures.” She scoffed. “Reality is a fucking bitch.”

“Now you get me,” he said with a smirk.

“I didn’t say love was bullshit. It’s just that now, I know what’s important. Love is about finding someone - not that you have to share with, not that you have to be with… it’s someone that makes you wanna open up. Someone that doesn’t change you, but makes you better and that makes the worse not so bad. I don’t want someone who I need to rely on, I want someone that’s there if I need, but that helps me stand on my own. I don’t wanna be trapped, I wanna be free.”

Not what he expected her to say

“You can’t always be in control Niccolo.”

He had to be - because if he wasn’t… everything would spiral out of control. One step out of line and he would lose everything. They were all waiting for him to fuck up so they could take everything from him.

There was no relaxing, there was no real freedom.

“We’ll see about that.”

She shook her head, a ghost of a smile on her lips. “Good night.”

“Good night wife.”

***


“Angelo, you have a visitor.”

“Isabella?”

The nurse smiled as she stepped back to stand next to Niccolo. “No, it’s not your granddaughter. It’s…”

“Her husband.” He cleared his throat. “Niccolo.”

“I don’t know any Niccolo.”

The nurse grabbed Niccolo’s arm, squeezing it gently. “It’ll be good for him. It’s a shame Gabby couldn’t be here with you. She used to come all the time. I think he misses her a lot…” She sighed. “I hope her mom gets better soon and she can resume her visits.”

“She’ll be back as soon as she can,” he replied, clamping his hand on top of the nurse’s to give it a small squeeze.

“I’ll leave the two of you.”

“Thank you.”

Niccolo waited by the entrance until the nurse closed the door as she exited. It was fair to assume that the room should be fairly safe. Though surveillance could be lacking in a place like this, he had his men do quick surveillance once in a while, a review of the security tape, and visitor log.

He wouldn’t say too much, but he should be able to get a few words in.

The old man didn’t give a shit about him. He remained in his chair, sitting by the window, looking out at a world he was no longer a part of… How the mighty had fallen. This man could sneak in and silently murder entire families.

Now he was wearing a fucking diaper.

He didn’t want to get to that point.

It was fucking sad.

“Isabella wanted to be here, but she couldn’t.”

The old man didn’t know him, didn’t trust him. Even without memories, that would be ingrained in him. That didn’t simply go away. It was years of conditioning, decades of following a certain way of life.

Nothing. Not a peep, not a look.

Niccolo had to figure out how to get a few words out of him. He was an old fucking man with Alzheimer’s. If he could find the right trigger, he might get what he was looking for here. There was no way Angelo didn’t know about the Devil. If it was true, he would know about this arranged marriage bullshit.

Unless Isabella had used him.

Because she understood that love was bullshit.

“She wanted to - but she was scared. She thought… he was here.”

Nothing.

“Isabella thought he found her. So, she sent me instead.”

“Why would she send you? A scrawny kid?”

Brutally honest - Niccolo had to hold back a chuckle. One couldn’t tell from his skinny, bony frame but Angelo used to be quite a man.

“She didn’t wanna leave the shack.” Maybe it would earn him some trust.

Finally, Angelo turned his head to look at him, observing him with dull lifeless blue eyes. “She wouldn’t send you. Isabella’s smart.”

Not bad old man.

I wasn’t born yesterday, you rascal.”

Niccolo reached out in his pocket, pulling out his cell phone. He had a photo with Gabriella in there somewhere. Nothing lovey-mushy. He was making fun of her at some point. He flipped through his photos until he located it.

That should help. He walked towards Angelo, shoving the phone and the photo in his face. “I know her.”

Hopefully, the cell phone wouldn’t throw him off.

“She doesn’t go for skimpy kids like you, you know.”

It was hard not to laugh. He wished he had known Angelo in his prime - what a man. Despite everything, there wasn’t an ounce of fear coming from him. He was snarky and attitude. Now he could no longer tell if Gabby got it from him or her grandmother.

Maybe her dad.

“Duly noted, sir.”

“We haven’t seen Diego in years - he wouldn’t come this far out.”

Diego - who was… He felt his heart still in his chest as he licked his lips. Was… Diego the Devil? His jaw clenched as the air was knocked out of his lungs. They knew nothing about him. He was a mystery.

It couldn’t be this easy, could it?

“He would for his promised bride.”

Angelo swatted him on the forehead. Okay. Ouch. “She was never his. That was Caterina’s doing.”

Caterina.

Holy fuck. Gabriella was right - she had to be. Diego was the Devil. He had a name, a name other than the nickname he spread, trying to intimidate everyone. He was nothing but a man now.

An old obsessed man.

“Caterina?”

“Isabella’s sister. Jealous woman, that one.”

Yeah no shit.

“It’s okay, tell Isabella I trust her.”

“You trust her?”

“Her plan works.”

Her… plan? Isabella had a plan in case someone came for her. Could it - could it be in the journal Gabriella was keeping from him? They would need to do a trade here. He hadn’t told her about this little visit, but she hadn’t told him about that.

If he could only get a little more information…

“Who are you?”

Angelo was staring at him, but this time something was different in his eyes. Panic. He hadn’t seen that emotion on him yet. His lips were trembling, he was clutching his hands and trying to push himself into his little reclining chair.

He was scared of Niccolo.

This wasn’t Angelo.

“NURSE! NURSE!”

Fucking shit. He didn’t need him to make a fucking scene.

“NURSE!”

He watched as Angelo repeatedly pressed a button. The alert button. Great. He didn’t need all this attention on him.

The door slammed open, and the nurse from earlier walked in. “What’s going on here?”

“GET THIS MAN OUT OF MY ROOM!”

Niccolo backed away before turning to smile at the nurse. “I was - I was trying to tell him about his daughter-in-law… I think, he kinda snapped in and out of it…”

The nurse’s shoulders sagged down as she nodded. “Yeah, he gets really upset when it’s about his family.” She walked over to Angelo and put her hand on his shoulder. “Angelo, sweetie. He’s Gabriella’s husband.”

“Who’s Gabriella? I don’t know her! I don’t know him! Who are you?”

She sighed as she shook her head. “Could you maybe come back tomorrow? Sometimes he needs a while to come down and he seems pretty riled up right now.”

Angelo yanked her hand off his shoulder. “I want him out.”

Niccolo nodded. “Sure. I’ll come back.”

No, he wouldn’t. Not yet anyway. Not by himself.

He would need Gabriella for this. He might have told her things in the past that she didn’t put together because she didn’t know about this. He would trust her, he would tell her. It wasn’t how he wanted to go about it, but he didn’t have a choice.

He didn’t like sharing his plans with anyone. He didn’t like relying on someone else to get shit done.

But he needed Gabriella.

When did that happen?

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