“You’re not understanding your place, Contessa.”
He whipped my pants off. In the split second before he grabbed me again, I scuttled to my feet and backed up.
“My place? It’s next to you.”
“It’s under me.” He came for me. I slapped him again, hard, the force of my body behind it, but it didn’t stop him that time. He took me by the arms and threw me on the couch like a rag doll. I lay there with my legs splayed, my elbows under me, looking up at him with a clenched jaw as he undid his pants.
“Don’t you even think about it.”
“I’m not thinking about it.” He wedged himself between my legs and pushed my knees apart. “I’m doing it.”
I slapped him again, twice in the face, three times in the chest, and he ignored all of it as if he were under attack by mosquitoes.
“Fuck you,” I said when he slid his cock along my soaked cleft, not entering me but teasing, even as I lashed out at him. I got a good shot to the neck, and he latched my wrists together in two of his fingers, binding me with his flesh.
“Say ‘fuck me,’” he said, putting his other hand on my throat.
“Fuck you,” I whispered.
He moved his hips, sliding the length of his cock on my clit. He leaned down, and I smelled the burned nicotine on his breath.
“Wrong. Say what you want.”
My pussy pulsed for him, and while my hands and shoulders thrust against him, my lower half pushed into him.
“You’re hurting me.”
He pressed his dick on me harder and hooked his fingers onto the side of my jaw.
“You’re garbage.” I was clothed in him, a corset laced tight with desire and pain. I wanted his fingers to dig into me and find my filth, my foulness. Only he could find it and grind it out. There was only one way to do that. There had only ever been one way. “Fuck me. Fuck me hard, you worthless piece of shit.”
With a twist of his hips, he was right there. I felt him. I moved against him, the slickness of my pussy an open invitation.
“Do it!” I said as loudly as I could manage with his hand on my throat.
He slid along me again, a strafing of pleasure between my thighs. I moved with him involuntarily, shifting so that worthless and beautiful man would rub me.
“No?” He said it as if he were speaking to a child.
“Now we’re getting somewhere.” He let go of my wrists, and I balled up my fists and pushed against his chest, even as I pushed my hips against him.
“Please, what?” He unstrapped his gun, letting it drop to the floor in a tangle of leather and iron, and pulled his sweater off.
“Please, fuck me good.” I punched his chest. “Fuck me hard. Use me like the punk you are.”
He slammed into me, taking my breath away, before I’d even finished the sentence, and time stopped. He had me pinned, and I accepted him, pushing myself against him. It was the only direction I could move in.
“This good, Contessa?” he said in my ear. “This how you want it?”
My mouth was open, but no words came out. Only vowels. With every thrust, a wave of hot-pink pleasure came in, and then another.
“Capo,” I groaned. “Fuck.”
“Those words,” he whispered.
“You’re ruined, amore. Rovinata.”
And at the thought of being left a ruined piece of flesh and bone, I burst into flames of sensation, crying his name, be it Capo, or Antonio, or my own personal dance with death. I claimed him to the heavens.
I was taught that a woman needed to be protected. She needed stability. Tenderness. A woman needed to feel safe and build a home for a family. A woman needed a future, a hope of comfort. She needed a man who’d stand between her and danger.
The securest place for Theresa was with her ex, Daniel. I admitted I was already failing to put her in the safest situation, because I’d die letting him have her.
My father, who ran the entire olive trade in Napoli, never told my mother a thing about how he got his money. He made two children with her. He made her an honest woman. He gave her all the things a woman needs until she threw it back at him because he couldn’t leave the business. She threw his name away; she took his children; she made herself the target of contempt. I’d always thought my mother was the one with the broken heart, because my father was a cold, cruel man.
One night when I was maybe eighteen, he came to the mechanic shop, drunk. He didn’t drink much, but it was his birthday, and my father did not like birthdays.
I had a Fiat on the lift. Grease up to the elbows at midnight. The customer was demanding, and wanted his car right away. I’d had to leave my father’s birthday party to finish the job.
“Figlio,” he said.
“Papa.” I didn’t look away from the transmission. It was a tricky thing.
“You have a woman now. You’re going to marry her.” He’d told me before that he liked Valentina, so I didn’t expect he was about to give me trouble about it.
“If her father agrees.”
“He will. I’ll make sure of it.”
“I’d rather win my own way.” I always did things my way because it made my mother happy when I was away from my father’s influence. But I liked my father; he taught me a lot, and I felt like a man around him.
He sat in silence for a while.
“What’s on your mind, Papa?”
“When are you leaving for Milano?”
He was obsessed with my going to law school. He asked a thousand questions about it, how much it cost, how the year was broken up, who my compatriots were. But he never got to the point until that night.
“August,” I answered.
“I’ve talked to every capo. None will take you for their consigliere.”
“Have you talked to yourself?” I looked away from the car long enough to make eye contact.
And it all became clear right then. He was worried I’d become like him. Even though he watched over me and gave me jobs, he was of two minds. He’d send me on an errand with one hand, because he didn’t trust anyone else, and with the other, he’d tell me to go to law school in the north to be away from the camorra.
“You will never be my consigliere.” He tilted his chin up and rocked his hand at the wrist, two fingers up, which he did when he meant to be taken seriously.