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Silent Lies: Chapter 4

Drago

I park my bike a few spots away from the white car I’ve been following for the past hour and watch as the driver opens the back door. Sienna DeVille exits, wearing a wide smile and the most bizarre outfit I’ve ever seen. At first, I wonder if she went out in her pajamas because that’s what this matching set of pants and a blouse looks like. It’s white, with black blotches all over, making it look as if she put on a cow’s hide. Her heels are orange like her coat, and she has a big orange bow on the top of her head, fastened to her high ponytail. She says something to her driver and walks inside a bookstore that faces the street. I wait for a few moments, then take off my helmet and follow.

The bookstore is huge, with several large tables laden with stacked books at the front and wall-wide bookshelves in the back. I don’t have to search for long to find my future wife, because it’s impossible to miss her in that outfit. She’s standing by one of the shelves, holding a thick paperback in her hands. I look at the big sign suspended from the ceiling, expecting it to say beauty or fashion. It doesn’t. It looks like she’s browsing the business section.

A store attendant approaches her, an older woman with a sour face. Sienna smiles and leans forward to whisper something in her ear. The grim attendant widens her eyes, then bursts out laughing. They spend a few minutes discussing something, and when the saleswoman returns to the counter, she’s wearing a bright smile on her face. My future wife checks out a few more books in the section before strolling around the store. I lurk amid the displays of books on politics and continue watching her.

A teenage girl is crouching by the shelf of romance titles when Sienna walks up to her and bends, saying something. The girl shrugs and shakes her head. Sienna sits down on the floor, cross-legged, and starts taking the books off the shelf one by one and passing them to the teenager. Every time she pulls out a new paperback, she leans toward the girl and comments as she holds out the book. With her hand covering her mouth, the girl snickers.

I slip behind the bookshelf just on the other side of them, and now I have a direct view of Sienna’s face through the void over the shorter books lined up in a row, allowing me to focus on her lips without being seen myself.

“. . . my favorite. He’s a grumpy CEO, and she’s his secretary who’s been in love with him since they were kids.” Sienna grins and takes the next book. “Oh, and this one is so good. She’s a model, and there’s some psycho pestering her. So, her father hires a bodyguard who’s a retired SEAL, but the guy can’t stand her. It’s an age gap, grumpy-sunshine trope. You’re going to love it.”

I spend almost an hour stalking my future wife around the store, watching as she chats with random people as if she’d known them for years. Some don’t seem interested in the beginning but, sooner or later, they all end up pulled into a conversation with her. When they leave, smiles light up their faces. It’s as if she’s bewitched them. And it seems, I’m falling under her spell as well, because I have forgotten about the meeting I have with her brother today.

I turn around and exit the bookstore, leaving my future wife to spread the obviously contagious happiness all around her.

 

* * *

 

“There won’t be a wedding reception, Arturo,” I say. “We’ll sign the papers at city hall and that’s it.”

Sienna’s brother stares at me from across my desk, his jaw clenched tight. Arturo and I had a rather nice business relationship before the whole Pisano fuckup.

“Why?” he asks through his teeth.

“The civil marriage ceremony will take place on Saturday. There isn’t enough time to organize anything else.”

“Why so soon?”

“Because I said so.”

He gets in my face. “Who the fuck do you think you are?”

“Someone who agreed to work with you again even though Rocco Pisano killed one of my men.”

“You sent your bikers to storm the Natello shindig. There were civilians there! God only knows how none of them ended up dead.”

“There are no civilians in our business, Arturo. We have dead people on both sides, but Cosa Nostra started this shit. If you want a truce, it’ll be on my terms.”

Arturo glares at me, his nostrils flaring. I can see his control slipping as fire burns in his eyes. A heartbeat. An invisible snap, and he hits the top of the desk with his palm. “Fine.” He turns and marches out of my office.

I take my phone off the desktop and shoot a message to Filip, saying that the wedding date has been confirmed and we’re a go.

My insistence on having the wedding on Saturday has nothing to do with mending the feud between us and Cosa Nostra. But the timing is perfect, and if we’re going through with the truce, I want it to come into effect before our first weapons delivery crosses the border on Sunday.

With any luck, it will take the Romanians at least week, maybe more, to realize what’s happening. In the meantime, I’m not willing to risk that someone may talk. As soon as Bogdan finds out I’m planning on taking over his market, the Romanians will attack. We’ll fight back. In less than a month, we’ll have a full-blown war. And I need Cosa Nostra to stay out of it.

But more importantly, I want the bundle of joy that is Arturo’s sister in my possession as soon as possible.

 

Sienna

 

“What do you mean there won’t be an actual wedding?” Asya’s voice comes through the line. “I only have one sister. I want to see you in a wedding dress going down the aisle!”

“Yeah, well.” I shrug and continue painting my toenails. “Maybe next time.”

“Next time? And how many times are you planning on getting married?”

“Three. That’s my lucky number.”

“Jesus, Sienna. Why are you doing this? If you don’t want to get married, just tell Arturo. He’ll call off the engagement.”

“I don’t want him to call off the engagement. This Popov guy is really handsome. I think I’m in love with him already.” I snort.

“After spending a whole minute with him. Yeah, sure. What’s going on?”

“The guy is hot! And he’s rich. What’s not to love? He ticks all my boxes. You know I’m shallow like that.”

“You are not shallow. You just pretend that you are.”

I tighten the lid on the nail polish and drop the bottle onto the bed while Ajello’s words from two months ago run through my head.

“You have Pasha now,” I say, staring at the ceiling. “Arturo will find someone and marry, eventually. Have kids.”

“So?”

I close my eyes. “I can’t bear the idea of being alone, Asya.”

“Arturo will never let you be alone, even when he marries. The house is large enough for ten people to live in without ever stumbling over each other.”

“I will never force myself on my brother’s family.”

“He doesn’t even have a girlfriend, Sienna. And you’re only twenty. You’ll find someone.”

“Yeah.”

“I can ask Pasha to hook you up with Kostya if you want?”

“Thanks, but no thanks. That man has slept with every woman in the Chicago area. He’s good-looking, but not my type.”

“And what is your type, sis?”

“A big, mean wolf-shifter alpha who hates everyone but me, and who’d make me the queen of his pack,” I declare and burst out laughing.

“Please, be serious.”

“I am!”

“You accepted an arrangement to marry a guy before you even met him! That’s not normal, Sienna! Please, be reasonable and call off the engagement. Please.”

“I’ll send you pictures. Love you,” I chirp into the phone and end the call.

It starts ringing again moments later, so I turn on “do not disturb,” snuggle under the blanket, and then peer out the window without actually seeing anything at all.

Can I pull this off? Live the rest of my life with a man I know nothing about? Pretend innocence while secretly collecting info and relaying it to my don?

Probably.

I’ve been pretending most of my life.

 


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