One week later
“What’s so important that you can’t stop looking at your phone?” I ask as Drago lowers his cell to the table for the tenth time in the last hour. “A business emergency?”
“Yeah.” He nods and, nonchalantly, reaches for his coffee.
I narrow my eyes at him. “Mm-hmm . . . If there is an emergency, why are we still sitting in a restaurant, having a second cup of coffee after spending the whole morning buying me shoes?”
“Now you’re complaining because I bought you shoes?”
“You insisted we come to the mall at seven, Drago.”
I tried explaining to him that no mall opens before nine, but he wouldn’t listen. The man basically carried me out of the house, stuffed me into his car, and left the grounds at breakneck speed as if someone was chasing him.
“Maybe I just wanted to enjoy a lazy morning with my wife.” He shrugs.
“You’re the worst workaholic there is. I’m amazed you’d even know the meaning of ‘lazy morning.’” I take a quick look at Drago’s watch. Half past eleven. “And it’s almost noon.”
Drago’s phone vibrates with an incoming message. He glances at the screen, then takes out his wallet and drops a few bills on the table. “We’re heading back.”
“So, you not gonna tell me what’s going on?”
I sigh and rise to straighten my dress. It’s cute and orange, and has a wide lavender belt that matches the shade of the pretty open-toe boots Drago bought for me. “You’re worrying me. Are you sure everything is—”
Drago’s arm wraps around my waist, making me squeal in surprise as he lifts me. His eyes bore into mine as he holds me pressed to his chest while my legs dangle above the ground.
“Everything is fine, Sienna. But we need to hurry.”
“Why?” I lightly nip his lower lip.
I try persuading him to tell me what is happening as he carries me outside and across the parking lot, but he doesn’t utter a word. His lips remain sealed during our drive as well, curled slightly into a self-satisfied, barely there smile.
“What’s with the cars?” I ask when he turns onto the road that leads toward the mansion. Vehicles are parked on each side, and there are dozens of them. “Hey, that’s Arturo’s.”
My husband just keeps driving as if he doesn’t notice the myriad of cars that stretch all the way to the gate and beyond.
“What’s going on? What are all those cars doing here?”
“Sorry, baby. I didn’t catch that,” he says as we pull up to the compound entrance.
The gate starts sliding to the side, revealing a tunnel made of great flower arches that line the driveway to the mansion. I stare open-mouthed as we pass through, taking in the multitude of colorful flowers—big pink and red roses, lilies, daffodils, and many more, weaved into the branches of greenery that make up the structures and tied with wide silk ribbons.
Between the arches, I catch glimpses of two enormous white tents, one on each side of the lawn. The panels of the tents are rolled up, exposing long tables covered in bright-yellow tablecloths and flower arrangements. Elegantly dressed people are milling all around—inside the tents and over the grassy grounds—enjoying drinks and appetizers while waiters rush among them. There must be at least five hundred people, maybe more.
“Drago?” I choke out.
As the car comes to a stop at the end of the archway tunnel, just before the landscaped driveway island with a fountain in the middle of it, music suddenly blasts from somewhere to the left of us. Still in shock, my eyes find Drago, who’s sitting with his arms crossed over the steering wheel, watching me with an amused smirk on his face.
“You said you’d like us to crash another svadba,” he says. “So, here we are.”
“But . . . but whose svadba is this?”
Drago leans forward and places his palm on my cheek. “It’s ours, baby.”
I swallow, trying to keep my composure. And I thought I couldn’t love this man more than I already do. My lips are trembling so badly, I can hardly speak. “Why?”
“Because I know you wanted one.” He slams his mouth to mine, then mumbles into my lips. “But no dancing on the table, Sienna.”
I just smile. What kind of svadba would it be if the bride didn’t dance on the table?
The thought leaves me as I once again get lost in my husband. His taste, his scent, the feel of his palm as it slides to my nape, pulling me closer. I’m drowning in absolute bliss when a shrill, angry yell explodes to the right of us. I jerk back from the kiss and look through the open window, searching for the source.
A group of people gathered around something just outside one of the tents. I recognize Relja and a few others of Drago’s men within the crowd, as well as Don Ajello and his wife who are standing a bit to the side.
“What the actual fuck,” Drago mumbles and exits the car. I also dash out and trot after him, wondering what the hell is going on.
“You slimy Italian bastard!” Tara’s shout comes from somewhere within the circle of onlookers. “How dare you come here after attacking my brother!”
“You should get professional help for your anger issues, lady,” Arturo replies in an even tone.
“Oh, yeah? I’ll give you a professional.”
Several people take a hurried step back, exposing my sister-in-law in the middle of the crowd as she reaches for a platter of canapes on the nearby buffet table.
“Tara! Don’t,’ I yell as I follow Drago at a run across the lawn.
I’m not sure if she hasn’t heard me or simply decided to ignore my warning, because she launches the huge round serving tray toward my brother as if it’s an oversized freesbee. Dozens of bite-sized hors d’oeuvres fly off the silver projectile, hitting the bodies and faces of people gathered around the scene while a makeshift weapon slices the air toward my brother’s head. Arturo ducks at the last moment, and the platter ends up in the rose bushes behind him.
“Goddamned crazy woman!” he roars and lunges toward Tara who’s already reaching for something else to throw. “Were you raised in a fucking jungle?”
Everyone around seems to be frozen in place, simply gawking at the commotion unfolding before their eyes. Even the music has died down, and I spot the band members leaving the raised platform stage and creeping closer to have a better look.
“Tara!” Drago howlers, closing in on her.
An evil smirk breaks across Tara’s lips as she grabs an enormous jug filled with punch off the table. In an incredibly elegant move, my sister-in-law turns on her heel, the sides of her long pale-blue wrap dress flutter with the spin and reveal her long legs clad in lacy stockings that are held up by a set of garters in the same azure shade. Pink liquid splashes all over my brother’s face and chest. Pieces of lemon cling to the lapels of his jacket and shirtfront.
Too late, but Drago finally reaches his sister. He throws her over his shoulder as she drops the glass jug and screams for him to put her down. Ignoring her outbursts, my husband proceeds to carry Tara toward the house. Meanwhile, I come up to Arturo, stopping before him. His hands are fisted at his sides, and he’s fuming. I can almost imagine steam rising off his dampened clothes and skin.
“That nutcase needs to be locked away in a fucking asylum,” he growls through his teeth.
I bite at my bottom lip to avoid bursting into a laugh and reach to swipe a lemon slice from his shoulder. “She’s just a little protective. You’re overstating.”
“Overstating?” Arturo snaps as he passes his palm down the front of his designer-cut jacket that’s dripping punch into a puddle at his feet. “Believe me, I’m not. Dear God, I pity the man who chooses to get married to that banshee.”
I sigh. Family gatherings and holidays are definitely going to be interesting.
* * *
Several days later, New York.
Salvatore Ajello’s penthouse
I take a sip of my lemonade, watching my husband over the rim of my glass. The TV is on, but he’s been absently massaging my feet for the past ten minutes, not really paying any attention to the game. He’s plotting, and based on the smug look on his face, it’s nothing good.
“What are you up to, Salvatore?”
He tilts his head to the side, then lifts my foot to his mouth and drops a kiss on the tips of my toes. “Why do you ask?”
“You had that same look on your face when you decided to marry Arturo’s sister off, planting her into the Serbian organization to spy for you.”
“It was a clever plan.” He nods and moves his hands to my other foot. “Too bad it hadn’t worked out like I expected.”
I barely contain the laugh that’s threatening to burst out of me. He was so mad when Sienna kept feeding him random nonsense during her check-ins. Broken fridge and truck’s carburetor issues my ass! “Yeah. Arturo is still pissed at you about that.”
“He is. He’s also become extremely brooding these past few months. Snapping at his subordinates at littlest of provocations.”
“Maybe he’s just lonely and doesn’t know how to deal with it.” I shrug.
“Definitely.” I nod. “He’s been taking care of his sisters for so long, and now, with both of them married, he doesn’t know what to do with himself. Maybe you should arrange a marriage for him, too,” I say, only half-joking.
“That makes sense.”
“What?” I nearly choke on my drink. “I was kidding.”
“It would need to be someone who can handle him and all the shit he’s been through. Not a meek Cosa Nostra princess who would look at him as if he’s some kind of God. Arturo requires a challenge. Someone who won’t dance to his tune.”
“Jesus fuck. Can we just forget I said anything?” I shake my head.
My husband narrows his eyes at me. “I haven’t forgotten a single word you’ve said to me from the moment we met, cara.”
Yes. He has a memory of a damn elephant. “You can make an exception in this one instance.”
“No. It’s a brilliant idea. And I think I have a perfect woman in mind. They’ll make a magnificent match.” A corner of his lips curves upward. “Unless they kill each other in the process.”