Ruin (Page 35)

Ruin (Songs of Corruption #2)(35)
Author: C.D. Reiss

But maybe, just maybe, I could run.

twenty-eight.

theresa

Daniel’s envelope had a set of seven flaccid wire lengths with plastic nodules on top, and it took me a second to identify them as earpieces. I was about to call Antonio. I wasn’t going to keep a word Daniel said secret. I owed him nothing, and I owed my Capo everything.

I went to the Spanish house on the hill. The door was locked, and the Mas was parked out front. I went around to the side, where I could hear Puccini through the leaded glass windows. I called his name over and over but got no reply. Finally, the obvious occurred to me, and I texted.

—Capo? I’m outside—

The music went off. I waited, but he didn’t come out. I went to the front of the house and found him by my car, driver’s side open. A plume of smoke curled from his perfect lips.

He was smoking. That never boded well. He never lit a cigarette when everything was all right.

“You need to go,” he said when I was within earshot.

“I have things to tell you.” Did he hear I’d been in the same room with Daniel again? That wasn’t my fault, and if that was the source of his anger, he was going to get an earful about waiting to talk to me before making assumptions.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Just go.”

“Whatever it is—”

His face was stone cold. His mouth was set so hard the last wisps of smoke came from his nose.

I crossed my arms. “What?”

“It’s not you—”

“It’s you. I know. I’ve heard it. And I agree. It is you. It’s all you. I’d be at work now, pushing numbers and fighting through protocol meetings, if it wasn’t about you. So, what’s this about now?”

He dropped his cigarette to the ground and stomped it out. “I’m leaving.”

“I’m coming.”

“You can’t.”

“Like hell,” I said.

“I have two choices. I leave quietly, and I’ll be hunted the rest of my life until they find me and kill me. Or I kill everyone who demands the marriage, and I protect you at the same time. Those are the two. There is no third.”

“Another consolidation, to match the marriage in December.”

I must have surprised him with my immediate understanding and my lack of emotion about it.

“Yes,” he said.

“What century is this? Don’t do it. Just say no.”

“The last man who said no washed up on a beach with his girlfriend.”

“The girl’s going to get a complex.”

“I’m sorry, Contessa. I’m willing to die. I’m willing to say no and leave the life, even though one day they’ll kill me. But I keep thinking no matter what I do, I hurt you. And that I’m not willing to do. If I go away, and I’m not around anymore… sure, they find me. I don’t care. Eternity is a long time. Another fifty years on this earth isn’t much, by comparison. But, without you, it’s wasted.”

“And that’s your plan? Run away and get killed to protect me?”

“I’m not dragging you down anymore.”

“I thought the only way out was through.”

“Don’t ever doubt I cared for you,” he said.

He walked back to the house. As soon as he walked back through that door, he’d be gone. He’d close the door and lock it. Then I could text all I wanted; I could call and I could come with a battering ram and a police warrant, but he’d be gone.

I ran ahead of him, wedging myself in the doorframe.

“One more time,” I said. “Then I’ll let you go. I’ll never see you again. But one more time.”

He was on me so fast I didn’t have a chance to put my bag down. His lips crashed into mine, his arms cocooned me, and my knees came out from under me.

He shut the door behind me and pushed me with his lips and his intentions. I pulled his jacket off, and he undid my hair. His face an inch from mine, his palms on my cheeks, he kissed me, and in that kiss there was more love than I thought a human heart could contain.

“I want you right now. Right here. One more time for the rest of our lives.” He kissed me with a mix of gentleness and depth. “Just a moment with you.” His words were breaths made of desperation and heat. “Please. Indulgence. Saintly indulgence before the devil finds me.”

It couldn’t have been that cut and dried: marry another woman and live; stay with me and die. It couldn’t have been that simple. But his mood wasn’t nuanced; he needed me. There was no use denying it. Practical matters would have to wait.

“Take me.” I raised myself. “How do you say it?”

“Fammi tua.” Even as he said the words, his hands were already up my shirt, feeling under the side of my bra and where the underwire creased the soft flesh. I turned and put my arms around him.

“Adesso.” He pushed his hardness against me, and I swung a leg over his waist to get him closer to home.

“Fammi tua.”

His hands crept up my skirt into my panties, finding the split in me, following the wetness.

“Fammi tua!” I cried. “God, is it my pronunciation? “Fammi tua!”

“You are my heaven.” He hoisted me up, leaning me against the rock of his dick. “I can’t say no to salvation.”

He carried me upstairs, kissing me, and laid me on the bed. A full suitcase fell onto the floor, spilling everything.

He pulled his pants off. God, that piece of meat between his legs was a beautiful sight, and when he pulled his shirt off, the shape of his body looked built to fit into mine, every curve and line angled as a calculated match to my desire.

Where was I going? What life was I living, without him? I’d be an empty shell of a woman.

He fell on top of me, yanking my clothes off until we were naked together.

“Wait.” I pushed him away.

“I will not be told what to do.”

He looked at me with such intensity that I knew he wasn’t talking about me telling him to wait.

I laid my hands on his neck. “Daniel found me today.”

“That son of a whore… if he touches you…”

“He wants me to go to the wedding and pass the bathroom attendant a bunch of bugging devices. He’ll hurt you if I don’t do what he says.”

“I’ll be gone. Dead, probably.”

What I was about to do was wrong. This man was willing to die rather than live without me. I wanted to save him, but maybe I’d be damning myself if I told him the extent of Daniel’s manipulation. Even the fact that I was willing to use my safety as a bargaining chip made me wonder about my motives. “He’ll file charges against me.”