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Silent Vows: Chapter 28

Conner

I would have strangled that fucker if I could have. The way Noemi tensed up around her father made me want to shoot him on the spot. I wasn’t sure how I hadn’t seen it when we first met, except that I’d been distracted by the entire concept of an arranged marriage.

I would have thought Noemi would feel emboldened now that she was free of him, but I got the sense he still held some power over her. It pissed me the fuck off—so much so that it was unsettling.

How had I gone from begrudgingly agreeing to marry a woman to obsessing over her thoughts and feelings? This marriage was only ever supposed to be about duty and proving my loyalty. Somehow, my perspective had completely shifted in two short weeks.

When Noemi had asked me why I’d agreed to marry her, I couldn’t tell her the truth. That she was fucking mine, and that was why. Not just in the eyes of the law or the church. I knew she was mine, deep in my bones.

How fucking nuts was that after only two damn weeks?

We hadn’t even spoken to one another for one of them—partially because I’d been insanely busy, but also to keep my head on straight. I had to stay away from her to keep the growing addiction from taking over.

Fuck.

What the hell was happening to me?

I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. The only thing that soothed my irritation was seeing Noemi wrestle with her own conflicted feelings. She may not have liked it, but I was winning her over one small victory at a time. Whatever the source of the magnetic pull between us, it was mutual. That helped calm my frustration.

I was even more intrigued when my new bride sidled up to me during the receiving line. When I saw Ivy step forward, I realized what was happening. Noemi was staking her claim.

Fuck me if I didn’t love the way that felt.

I had no clue how she’d known I had a past with Ivy, but she couldn’t have been more obvious if she’d tattooed her name on my forehead.

You wouldn’t see me complaining. She could have pissed a circle around me, and I would have just laughed, pleased to know she couldn’t say a damn word when I went positively primitive over my own jealousy.

It was bound to happen sooner rather than later.

She looked like a goddamn queen in her gown. Hair all piled on her head to expose every inch of her graceful spine, she was nothing short of royalty. Every man in that room had a semi for her, but I was the only one who could touch her. Taste her.

With every minute that passed, I became more rabid with desire, itching with the need to get her alone. By the time Mia Genovese approached me two hours into the reception, my well of patience had run dry. Noemi had been distracted by her cousins. Mia used the opportunity to try to get a private word with me.

“Congratulations, Conner. We’re all so incredibly happy for you.”

“Thank you. I’m glad you could be here.” I gave a tight smile, hoping the brief encounter with my birth mother was over, but I should have known better by the desperate gleam in her eye.

“Do you think I could have a minute of your time? Maybe just a minute in the hallway?”

“I’m not sure this is really the time or place,” I said stiffly. As far as I was concerned, the only right time was never.

She worried her hands and chewed on her lips. “I know. I left messages for you. It’s just—”

“It’s fine, Mia, really. I’m not interested in the past. I’m very happy with how my life has turned out, so no need for guilt.” I clasped a hand on her arm reassuringly just as Noemi joined us.

“Mia, right?” she asked, surprising me that she knew the woman. They were both Italian but part of two separate organizations.

“Yes, it’s so good to see you again. You look absolutely stunning, my dear.” Mia beamed.

“Thank you so much.” Noemi lifted her gaze back to me. “Mia and I had the pleasure of meeting briefly at my bridal shower.”

Ah, so that explained it. I hadn’t told Noemi about my newly discovered relations. Not that it was a secret. For all I’d known, her family had already told her the sordid details.

“I brought the girls, too,” Mia added. “They were so excited to meet you.”

“Yes, Giada mentioned getting together sometime.” Noemi looked up at me questioningly. I appreciated her consideration because I wasn’t sure how I felt about the women cozying up to one another.

“I’m sure we’ll have time to sort it out,” I forced. “For now, we really need to greet some more guests.” I nodded to Mia and ushered Noemi away, ignoring her shocked glance at my abruptness. Thankfully, she didn’t push for an explanation.

Mia had reached out several times over the past weeks, but I had no desire for awkward apologies and guilt-ridden explanations that served no purpose. I truly was happy with my life. My adoption resulted in a loving family, wealth, and privilege. She couldn’t care for me at the time, so she did what she thought was best. I wasn’t impressed with her family for not supporting her. That fact had always colored my perception of the Italians in general. Still, I had no particularly hard feelings toward her.

The past was the past. End of story.

Exhausting the last of my reserves, I guided us toward the ballroom entrance. It was time to draw the curtain on the reception portion of our evening. I was ready to be alone with my new wife.


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