Isabella takes a glass from the waiter and leans toward me.
“Emiliano Caruso,” she mumbles. “Damian said you two worked together on some project in January, but he doesn’t have any details. Emiliano has been trying to climb the hierarchy ladder for years. He wants Donato’s spot, but my grandfather wouldn’t let him have it. He was the main suspect in a case involving illegal dog fights a few years back, and Nonno didn’t want anyone who’d ever been on the police radar.”
I nod, brush my hand down Isabella’s back and place a kiss on the top of her head. We’ve been mingling for almost two hours. She’s been giving me details on every guest as they’ve arrived, and I’ve let her, even though it’s not necessary anymore. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t tell her this morning that my memory has come back. Maybe because I wanted to see her in action tonight. It’s amazing how much information she keeps in her brain. Over the past two days, she’s filled me in on every member of the Family expected to attend the banquet, their roles, family members, and dirty laundry. People would be shocked if they were aware how many details of their lives were stored in Isabella’s pretty head.
“Why did you send Rosa to her friend’s house for tonight?” Isabella asks. “She was so excited about the party, especially the cake.”
“I didn’t want her here in case something bad happens,” I say.
“It’s a party, Luca. We have a ton of security. Nothing bad is going to happen.”
I look down at her and brush my thumb along the line of her chin while my lips curve into a smile. “We’ll see.”
Isabella’s eyes widen. “What are you not telling me?”
Several excited shouts come from the other side of the room, and we both look toward the commotion near the door.
“Shit!” Isabella grabs my hand and squeezes it. “What the fuck is Davide Barbini doing here? He wasn’t on the guest list, and I strictly forbade the guys at the door to admit anyone who’s not on it.”
“It looks like Lorenzo brought him in,” I say and watch my underboss standing next to his nephew while the people gather around to chat with the newcomer.
“I still don’t understand what the hell Davide is doing in Chicago,” she whispers.
“Yes, quite interesting, don’t you think?” I smile and take her hand in mine. “Let’s go say hi.”
“What!” she whisper-yells. “Damian was only able to share some general info on him. What if he mentions something that happened when the two of you went to school?”
“You’ll improvise?” she snaps. “Are you crazy?”
I stop, turn her toward me and lift her chin with my finger. “Trust me, tesoro,” I say and place a kiss on her lips.
The group with Lorenzo and Davide has moved to the center of the room, where more than a dozen round tables have been set. As we walk in their direction, I cast a glance at the corner where Marco is standing, and when our gazes connect, I give him a discreet nod. He tilts his head, speaking into his headpiece, and in my peripheral vision, Emilio locks the front door and blocks it with his body.
By the time we reach the center of the room, two of my security guys are positioned at each exit point. Just as I instructed. It might be overkill since this is a no-weapons-allowed event, but I don’t want to risk it.
“Davide,” I say and clasp him on the back. “I’m so sorry we didn’t get the opportunity to catch up the other day. Let’s eat and you can tell us about your life in Italy.”
He opens his mouth to say something, but I push onto his shoulder until he sits down on the chair.
“You can join us, Lorenzo.” I turn toward my underboss. “If I remember well, you said you have something important to discuss.”
Lorenzo smiles and takes a seat next to Davide. The quick calculated look the two of them exchange doesn’t escape my notice. Isabella doesn’t say a word, just keeps squeezing my hand and doesn’t release it even when we walk around the table and take our seats opposite them.
“I hear you had an accident two months back,” Davide says. “I hope it wasn’t anything serious.”
“Not at all. A mild concussion. Some burns and scratches.”
“You were always thick-headed, Luca.” He smirks. “Remember that time when we stole your father’s car and headed to Luigi’s? When we crashed not even a mile after we left the grounds?”
Isabella’s hand squeezes mine under the table and I can feel her fingers are trembling. I recline in my chair and cock my head, regarding Davide, then turn my gaze to Lorenzo. He’s looking at me with an evil glint in his eyes and a barely visible self-satisfied smile on his lips. Yes, it looks like I was right in my assumptions.
“You don’t remember?” Davide continues, but I keep watching Lorenzo, whose smile is getting wider by the second.
We are so fucked.
I keep my eyes glued to the table in front of me, trying to think of a way to get us out of this fuckup. Why doesn’t he just say he remembers and be done with it? I can then try changing the direction of the conversation afterward.
“I can’t say I remember that, Davide,” Luca says next to me, and my head snaps up.
Why did he confess that? I turn my gaze on Lorenzo and find him smiling. He doesn’t look surprised by Luca’s answer. In fact, he seems . . . excited. The realization sets in, and I squeeze Luca’s hand with all my might. How the fuck did Lorenzo find out about Luca’s memory loss?
“How can you not remember?” Davide presses.
“Because it never happened, Davide,” Luca says in a cold voice.
My body goes rigid. How would he know that? Did Damian tell him about that event?
“That’s the story Philip told us while we were playing cards at his place.” Luca continues. “It was the summer after freshman year, as I recall. Good old days.”
I feel this strange falling sensation, and I’m spiraling as panic settles inside me. Oh my God, he remembers.
I don’t dare look at Luca, I can’t bear to see the loathing on his face. He probably hates me now. It’s over. Squeezing my lips together, I rein in the tears that threaten to fall and try pulling my hand out of Luca’s grasp. The grip he has around my fingers only gets stronger. Taking a deep breath, I somehow gather the courage to look up at him, but instead of a look of anger which I expected to find, I see a smug smile pulling at his lips. His hand lifts to my face, and he brushes away a stray tear with his thumb. My eyes widen as he leans forward to place a quick kiss on my lips, then turns to Davide.
“I wonder, Davide,” he says, “what were you promised in exchange for running me off that road?”
With his face turned ghostly white, Davide stares at Luca. A chair screeches, and in the next moment, Davide launches toward the nearest door. Marco catches him halfway there.
The room has gone silent.
“Boss.” Marco turns to Luca. “Where should we put him?”
“Kitchen will do,” Luca says. “We have a tiled floor there, it’s easier to wash away the blood.”
Marco nods and starts dragging Davide toward the door on the opposite side of the room. Most of the guests were in the middle of their meals, but now, everyone has stopped eating, and dozens of eyes are staring at Davide, who thrashes and yells as he tries to free himself. Marco backhands him, then keeps hauling him in the direction of the kitchen.
The door on the left suddenly flies opens and three men walk in, followed by Emilio and Tony. I don’t recognize the first two, but the one that follows is one of Lorenzo’s bodyguards. Their hands are tied behind their backs, and they have bruises all over their faces. Emilio nudges one of them with his gun, and the guy stumbles. I shift my gaze to Lorenzo, who’s sitting rigidly in his chair, staring at the tied men.
“To the kitchen, as well. I’ll take care of them later.” Luca crosses his arms over his chest and turns to Lorenzo. “I wonder, what did you promise Davide? A capo’s position when you take over the Family after I’m out of the picture? Was that the plan?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Lorenzo mumbles.
“No?” Luca smiles and leans into Lorenzo’s face. “There was one thing that kept bugging me. Why haven’t you tried again? And then it came to me. You knew I didn’t remember anything. Tell me, what gave me away?”
Lorenzo watches him for a couple of seconds, then grits his teeth. “I found the doctor who treated you when you were admitted to the hospital.”
“But you needed to be sure, didn’t you? Before you revealed it to the Family. So, you brought Davide with you to the lunch yesterday to see how I’d react. And when that failed, you brought him here. I’m so sorry for ruining your plan.”
“You took my place!” Lorenzo sneers. “It was mine! I spent decades licking Giuseppe’s ass, and then you barged in, married this cunt, and fucked up everything!”
Someone gasps at a table nearby, but other than that, the room remains eerily silent.
Luca leaps from the chair, grabs Lorenzo’s hair and smashes his face on the tabletop. The plates and silverware clatter from the force of the blow. Lorenzo flails, reaches for Luca’s hand and tries to wriggle free, but Luca just slams his face into the table again. And again. The tableware clinks and rattles each time. Two of the plates and several glasses end up falling to the floor, the shattering of china and crystal adding to the symphony of brutality.
The gasps and murmurs among the guests continue while my husband does his best to beat the living shit out of Barbini. Eventually, Luca pulls Lorenzo up, still holding him by the hair. “Apologize to my wife.”
I lean back in my chair, staring at the bloody mess of Lorenzo’s face. He looks up, then spits in my general direction, bloodied spittle soiling the white tablecloth.
The eyes of the people in the room dart between Luca and Lorenzo, waiting for what will happen next.
“You know, I’m okay with you trying to kill me,” Luca says, and he looks down at the table. “That’s business. You tried. Failed. I shoot you in the head, and we all go back to our merry lives.” He reaches for a corkscrew on the table, then steps closer to Lorenzo.
“But no one disrespects my wife, Lorenzo,” Luca barks, then looks up at Marco and Emilio who are standing behind the underboss. “Hold him down.”
Luca’s men grip Lorenzo, keeping him in the chair. As I watch, my husband plunges the corkscrew into the side of Lorenzo’s neck, just under the ear. Lorenzo screams and tries to get up off the chair, but Marco and Emilio push him back down and keep a hold of him as Luca rips the corkscrew out. Blood sprays from the wound, soaking the front of Luca’s shirt, as well as Marco’s hands. Several of the guests shriek.
“Did I hear an apology?” Luca bends his head as if to hear what Lorenzo is saying, but the only sounds that leave Barbini’s mouth are choking noises. “Nope, I don’t think it was an apology,” he says and thrusts the corkscrew into Lorenzo’s neck again, from the front this time.
I shut my eyes, not able to watch the bloodbath anymore. But I can’t shut out the whimpering. The choking sounds. I swallow bile.
A minute or so later, the choking sounds cease, and I will myself to open my eyes. Luca is standing in front of Lorenzo, corkscrew in hand. His right arm is covered in blood. His front, too. I move my gaze to Lorenzo, or really his body, and gasp. There’s a long red line around his neck, blood pouring from at least a dozen puncture wounds and flowing down his torso. Bile gathers in my throat from seeing all the blood. Grinding my teeth together, I take a deep breath and force myself to remain still. I am not fainting with the whole Family watching.
Luca turns around, pins me with his gaze and throws the bloody corkscrew on the table. I follow him with my eyes as he covers the distance between us in a few long steps and stands before me while everyone stares at him.
“I’m sorry for ruining your party, tesoro.”
I blink at him. Should I say something?
“Let’s go upstairs.” He takes my hand with his blood-free one and leads me toward the foyer and then up the two flights of stairs.
When we reach the bedroom, Luca heads straight to shower. I walk toward the bed, sit down at the edge and wait, my eyes glued to the bathroom door. I’ve just witnessed a man being slaughtered in front of me, but instead of processing that, I’m freaking out because Luca, obviously, remembers everything.
What happens now? Will he throw me out? Divorce me? I don’t think I can live in the same house with him if he goes back to his old self, but just the thought of not being close to him makes me want to scream. The sound of the water stops, and I hold my breath.
The bathroom door opens and Luca steps out, naked. His hair is wet and falling on either side of his face, just like in my first memory of him. I stand up and watch him approach, waiting. When he’s right in front of me, he lifts his hand and takes my chin, tilting my head up.
“I’m sorry for lying to you,” I whisper.
He bends his head until our noses are barely an inch apart. “About what?”
“About you being in love with me,” I choke out.
The corners of Luca’s lips curve up. “But you weren’t lying, Isabella.” His hand leaves my chin to travel down along my neck and chest, then around my waist to the small of my back. “You see, I was already crazy about you, way before the crash.”
My breath catches. I open my mouth to say something, but nothing comes out.
“I’m so sorry for being a moron, Isa. For pushing you away, even after I fell in love with you” The arm around my midsection tightens, pressing me against his body. “I was afraid that you were too young.”
“You were wrong,” I say, while happy tears gather at the corners of my eyes. I never dared to hope that I’d hear those words leave his lips.
“I know.” He presses his lips to mine. “Will you let me show you how sorry I am?”
Luca’s eyes flare. “Maybe?”
I raise my arms to brush my fingers into his wet strands and look straight into his eyes. “You’re going to fuck me. First with your mouth. Then your hand. And finally, with your cock.”
“But, Luca . . .” I squeeze his hair. “You’re not allowed to come until you have me absolutely sated.”
A wicked smile spreads across his lips, and the next moment, I find myself thrown onto the bed.
“I don’t think I’ve ever told you,”—he says as he crawls up over my body—“how utterly in love I am with your cunning mind.”
“Just my mind?” I ask, then gasp when a tearing sound fills the room. “For God’s sake, Luca. Stop destroying my clothes.”
“I will destroy anything that comes between me and your body.” A kiss lands at the side of my neck, then his mouth moves lower, across my collarbone and chest, to my breasts. I reach behind my back and quickly unclasp the bra so it won’t also end up destroyed.
Luca’s huge hands cup my breasts, squeezing lightly. “I love your pretty boobs.” He bites at my left one, then the right. “As well as the rest of your body.” He trails kisses down my stomach. “And your greedy little pussy.”
He takes the waistband of my panties, and an instant later, a bundle of torn beige lace lands on the floor. I grip at his hair, panting, as he slowly removes the pussy plug. A moan leaves my lips when he buries his face between my legs and sucks on my clit.
“I’ve changed my mind, I need your cock, now,” I whimper. The need to have it inside me is making me insane. Luca grabs my legs and throws them over his shoulders.
“Not yet.” His tongue slides between my folds, and I shudder.
Luca laps at my pussy, switching between licking and sucking as if it’s an ice cream, and the pressure between my legs builds until I feel like I’m going to melt from the inside. I arch my back, pulling at the long dark strands between my fingers, pushing his head down even more. My body is already shaking when he starts slowly sliding his finger inside. I come before it’s even halfway in.
“You even taste like fucking vanilla, Isa,” Luca says as he licks away all my wetness, then lowers my legs and hovers over me. His finger is still inside my pussy, pumping in and out, milking me even more.
“So, you’re not mad that I lied?” I whisper against his lips.
“You weren’t lying. I already told you,”—he adds another finger, thrusting deeper—“I fell for you way before I lost my memories, tesoro. For your stubborn personality. For the way you stood your ground and fought me every time I acted like an idiot.”
“Yes, you did that quite often.” I grab his thick arm and ride his fingers.
“I’m sorry.” There’s a bite on my chin, and another one at the side of my neck. “From now on, I promise I’ll treat you like I should have from the start.”
“And how would that be?”
His fingers still for a moment, but then he thrusts them inside so hard I gasp. “Like a fucking queen, Isabella.”
His words. His fingers. Him. It’s too much.
I come again, tears in my eyes and a wide smile on my lips.
Luca’s arm encircles me, and he flips me around until I’m on my stomach. “And now, I’m going to royally fuck you. With your magnificent noble ass on display the whole time.” He grips my hips, lifts my pelvis, and buries himself inside of me.
I grab at the headboard and hold on with all my might as Luca rocks into me from behind, trying to match my breathing to his tempo. Him, inside—I take a deep breath. Exhale when he slides out. I don’t think I’m getting enough air because I’m feeling lightheaded. It could be due to the lack of oxygen or maybe because I’m going to come for the third time in under ten minutes, and my body has trouble processing that. Luca’s hand moves between my legs, and his fingers find my clit. He slams into me again, pressing onto my bud at the same time, and white stars burst behind my eyelids. I scream as I come, the sounds mixing with his groans as he explodes into me.
* * *
A kiss at the base of my neck, then another one. “Are you asleep?”
I open my eyes and throw a look over my shoulder. “Yes. And I’m half dead, so you can forget about it.”
It’s been an hour since he destroyed me in the best possible way, and I still can’t make myself move.
“Are you sure?” He pushes his finger even deeper inside of me.
I go stone-still. “Was that a gunshot?”
“Sounds like it.” Luca moves his lips to my shoulder.
“Are you not going check what’s going on?”
“We have over forty security men on the premises at the moment. Let them earn their paychecks.”
Another gunshot rings out somewhere in the garden, and then the sound of male yelling reaches us through the window.
“You piece of shit! I’m going to fucking kill you!”
I look at Luca. “That sounded like Franco.”
“Jesus fuck.” He shakes his head, reaches for his phone, and calls someone. “Marco, is my brother still alive?”
“He was two minutes ago when he ran out of the house in only his pants. Unbuttoned,” Marco’s voice comes across the line. “Mr. Conti found him with Miss Arianna in the library.”
“Perfect. Should I come down?”
“I think it would be a good idea, Boss.”
Luca ends the call and looks down at me. “I’m going downstairs to deal with Franco and shoo the rest of the guests out of our home. I’d hoped they leave after the bloodshed.”
“Are you kidding? It’ll be the main source of gossip for the next six months.”
He slides his hand to my ass and squeezes my butt cheek. “I’ll be back in twenty. Then we’ll continue.”
“Of course, Luca.” I smirk.
His eyes flare and he bends his head until his lips touch mine. “I love you, my beautiful, cunning Isa.”