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Silent Lies: Chapter 11

Sienna

I’ve attended at least ten Cosa Nostra weddings over the years. Most receptions were held in restaurants, fancy hotel banquet rooms, or luxury country clubs. The more expensive the venue and the production, the better. There is no grander way to show off your wealth and importance within the Family. So, I’m rather confused when Drago parks the car some distance from a three-story gray stone house.

I heard the music long before we reached the place, but this close-up, it’s so loud that it takes me several moments to adjust. An enormous white tent is standing in the middle of the big lawn behind the house. Drago must have missed a turn, because I think we’ve ended up in the wrong place.

“Why are we at a fair?” I ask.

“This is not a fairground. It’s svadba. A wedding.”

I widen my eyes and look back toward the rectangular tent in front of us. Its sides have been removed, leaving a great canopy to drape over long tables set within. Each table runs the length of the tent and could easily sit about eighty. There are five tables. That’s four hundred guests, minimum. I don’t think I even know that many people.

At one end, a platform has been set up where a band is playing while a blonde-haired woman in a red dress walks among the tables, singing. Most of the guests are standing next to their chairs, dancing and singing along, but some have gathered around the singer and are putting money into her hands.

Kids—boys in cute suits and girls in pretty dresses—are chasing a dog around, running in and out of the tent through the open side panels. There are no grim-faced men talking business in the corners, no stiff-looking women sitting with their backs straight, worrying over moving a muscle for fear that their hair will come undone while they gossip about those not close enough to overhear them. Everyone seems genuinely happy. So different from the Cosa Nostra weddings.

It’s joyful, positive madness. I love it!

“Let’s go congratulate the newlyweds.” Drago wraps his arm around me, tucking me closer to his side as we walk through the crowd toward the head table on the far side of the tent pavilion. It’s set perpendicular to the rest, and more people are milling around it.

The bride is wearing an amazing white lace dress that features a voluminous, full skirt, and the groom is dressed in an elegant gray suit and white shirt. There are two more people at the table—a man next to the groom and a woman next to the bride. All four, however, have pushed back their chairs, and are dancing and singing at the top of their lungs right on the spot.

When the groom notices our approach, he rushes to meet us. Drago and the man exchange a few words, but their conversation is drowned out by all the noise, so I can’t hear what was said. The groom moves his gaze from my husband to me, his eyes as wide as saucers, then he composes himself and offers me his hand. I expect us to head elsewhere to sit down, but the groom starts waving at someone and shouts, “Drago’s wife!”

A moment later, I find myself surrounded by people—men coming to shake my hand and women kissing my cheeks three times—right, left, right. Everyone talks simultaneously. The whole thing would be a little overwhelming if Drago’s body wasn’t pressed to my back, and his arm wasn’t tightly wrapped around my middle.

“The bride’s grandmother,” he says next to my ear as the older woman approaches. He continues whispering small details to me about each person who comes forward. “The aunt from her father’s side . . . Aunt’s lover . . . The groom’s younger brother . . . And the older one . . . The bride’s mother . . .”

I can’t remember half of the names. It continues for ten minutes until my cheeks are tingling from all the kisses, and my hand feels like mush, but I don’t mind. In fact, I’m smiling so wide my face hurts. I never would have expected such a warm welcome from people who just met me. It feels like . . . I belong. It’s the same feeling I have in Drago’s home, like I’m part of a big family.

Once done with all the greetings, we head toward two vacant chairs at the end of one of the long tables. People previously occupying the spots have just left, taking their plates with them. Drago takes one of the seats and pulls me onto his lap.

“So, what do you think?” he asks.

I grin. “It’s crazy.”

The corner of his mouth curves upward. “I figured you’d like it.”

“Let’s take some photos.” I fish the phone out of my purse and lift it in front of us.

“Do we have to?”

“What kind of question is that?”

I snap a selfie, then look at the picture. “No. You need to wipe that glaring look off your face. Insta will censor my post for disturbing content. Again.”

I wrap my arm around his neck, press my cheek to his, and raise the phone.

Click.

“One more,” I say and smile into the camera. When I take a look at the new photo, Drago is brooding in this one, too.

“You’re not taking this seriously.” I reach out and take his chin between my fingers, then tilt his head so he’s looking at the phone. His gaze meets mine on the screen. “Now, smile.”

He rolls his eyes but smiles. It’s kind of sour, but I guess it’s the best I’m going to get.

Click.

I let go of his chin and lower the phone. That’s when I notice people looking at me strangely. Maybe you’re not supposed to take photos at Serbian weddings? I quickly put the phone away.

One song ends and another starts. Obviously, although I don’t know it, it’s a popular tune because people start yelling and singing along with the first note. I try listening to the lyrics, but it’s much harder to understand sung Serbian words than spoken ones. Something about mixing black and gold, then mentioning a . . . frame? Is it about art? A painting, perhaps?

A woman a few seats away abruptly stands and climbs onto the table. I stare, open-mouthed, as she starts dancing, her heels clicking on the linen-clad tabletop, just missing the plates and cutlery. People around her are cheering, clapping their hands. Another woman, further down, climbs onto the table. Then, the bride takes off her shoes and does the same. The crowd goes crazy, and I laugh amid the excitement. Never in my life have I witnessed such a joyous celebration.

I look at my husband and bite my lip. “Can I try?”

“Try what?” he raises an eyebrow.

“The table thing.”

His arm around my waist tightens. “No.”

“What? Why?”

Drago leans forward. “I won’t have my wife mounting a table and shaking her hips with over four hundred people watching.”

I narrow my eyes at him. “And what if I dance only for you? Pretty please?”

A low rumble comes from his throat. “All right. But you make sure I keep my eyes on you—only you—because if my gaze wanders, and I notice other men looking at you, the next song playing will be a funeral march, mila moya.”

I squeal in delight and start unstrapping my heels.

 

Drago

 

Transfixed. Hypnotized. Absolutely mind fucked. That’s how I feel as I watch my wife dance on the tabletop in front of me. I’m not sure what I like more—her perfect little body, which sways slowly and sensually as she moves, her ridiculously sunny personality, or the brilliant intellect that hides behind her sparkling shell.

Last weekend, I walked in on her and Keva sitting at the kitchen table, discussing money laundering. I leaned my shoulder on the wall and observed my wife as she explained in great detail how it’s possible to launder money through renovation work of real estate properties. In the five minutes I spent watching, she gave Keva a step-by-step strategy—starting with the purchase of a derelict building and moving on to the remodeling activities that would allow for the optimum amount of money to exchange hands, and not missing any of the steps in between. And then, she finished by highlighting the estimated timeframe for the whole ordeal. When she was done, she took out her phone and snapped a picture of the pile of carrots she’d finished peeling while she spoke.

But the way she dances now is something else altogether, sending all the blood rushing straight to my cock. I lean back in my chair and let my gaze glide over the long-sleeved blue silk dress. A rather tame choice, given her fashion taste. Well, if you disregard all the sequins and the huge gold heart-shaped earrings.

Sienna places her hands on her waist and, looking straight into my eyes, starts rotating her hips. She’s smiling mischievously, and that smile is doing strange things to my insides. So fucking beautiful. The sight of her almost makes me forget the throbbing migraine that started the moment we approached the wedding venue and exponentially worsened the closer we got to the noise.

My enchanting wife is attempting a pirouette without tripping over a plate when a gunshot pierces the air.

She stops in midmotion, her eyes going wide with panic. Shit. I forgot to give her a heads-up about the celebratory shots.

 

Sienna

 

Bang!

In an instant, I freeze, my heartbeat skyrocketing, and stare at Drago as he slowly rises from his chair. A few more gunshots ring out somewhere outside the tent. A strangled cry escapes me, and I jump into my husband’s arms, wrapping my shaking limbs tightly around his neck.

“It’s okay,” he coos next to my ear. “That was the best man, shooting into the air. It’s a tradition.”

“Tradition?” I look up. “Your people are a bit crazy.”

“I know.”

I should probably get down since people are starting to give us curious looks. Apparently, I’m the only one who wasn’t expecting intentional gunfire in the middle of a wedding. I really should try to regain some sort of decorum, but I like being held by Drago. Maybe he feels the same, because he lowers himself back onto the chair without letting go of me.

“So, shooting into the air happens often at weddings?” I trace the length of his jaw with the tip of my finger.

Drago’s eyes widen slightly in surprise, but other than that, he pretends he doesn’t notice my caress. “Every damn time. And at most of the other celebrations held outside. I should have warned you.”

“It’s okay.” I shrug and lean forward a little bit. His eyes are so gorgeous. As is his nose, even though it is slightly crooked. “Thank you for bringing me here.”

Heat races along my spine as Drago’s rough palms slide up my back. “You’re welcome.”

The sensual melody I was dancing to transitions to a fast beat. A new wave of cheers erupts from everyone around us as the band kicks it into high gear with a drum and bass pattern that reverberates through the massive tent. Drago tenses and squeezes his eyes shut. His face twists into a grimace, his lips tightly pursed.

“Drago?” I cup his face in my palms. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” His eyes flutter open, and he resumes stroking my back.

Doesn’t seem like “nothing” to me. His body is rigid and there is a strain in the tone of his voice. I stroke the furrows in his brow, trailing the lines that aren’t usually there.

“You look like you’re in pain, Drago. What’s going on?”

“I’m fine, Sienna.”

A few hundred guests belt out the chorus of the song, each refrain louder than the last. Drago lets out a nasty Serbian curse and pinches the bridge of his nose, tightly squeezing his eyes shut.

“Drago?”

He curses again and lowers his hand, but the strain is plainly visible on his face.

“Is it the music?”

“Yes,” he says through grinding teeth. “It’s too fucking loud.”

His hair is so soft as I rake my fingers through the dark strands. I haven’t even realized that I’ve been stroking it. “Let’s go home.”

My husband tilts his head to the side and looks at me as if he’s trying to parse me out. “I thought you were having fun.”

“I was. Not anymore.”

“Why not?”

Because you’re obviously in pain and I can’t have fun knowing you are hurting. But I don’t say it, of course.

“I promised Asya I’d phone her at five tonight,” I lie. “We should get going right away so I don’t miss making that call on time.”

The corner of Drago’s lips lifts just a smidge. “But you have your phone with you. You can make a call from here. Or while we’re driving back.”

“Um . . . I prefer making my phone calls in private.” I shoot him a beaming smile. “It’s about girls’ stuff.”

“Mm-hmm. Or maybe it’s not your sister you need to call?”

My hand stills midstroke. Had someone overheard me calling the don yesterday and told Drago? I always make sure I call Ajello only when I’m alone in the bedroom or strolling through the grounds where no one is around. No, it’s not possible. “Of course not. Why would I lie?”

Drago keeps his eyes glued to mine, a dangerous glint sparks within them, as if he can see right through my lies and defenses, down to my soul. My heartbeat picks up while I stare into those two pools of green with brown flecks. Run! Screams the part of me that’s terrified of baring my secrets to anyone. Run, now, while you still can.

He takes hold of my chin, tilting it up as he slowly caresses my lower lip with his thumb. “Tako lepa usta, а toliko laži.

I blink and try to concentrate on what he said amid all the distractions, but there is too much noise and activity around us so I only understand half of the sentence. I think he said he likes my mouth. My lips part, anticipating a kiss, but Drago releases my chin and leans away.

“Let’s head home.”

Swallowing the disappointment, I smile and get down off his lap. “Sure.”

 


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