Twisted Bonds

By: Cora Reilly

I wasn’t sure how much time passed, but I was getting more and more agitated. When the lock finally turned and the door opened, I was close to exploding.

“Why did you lock me in?”

Nino seemed as if my anger startled him. “I knew you were upset, and I didn’t want you to go into a confrontation with Remo like that.”

I turned around, still angry but also touched, because Nino was trying to protect me, care for me in his own way. I felt him behind me before he touched my shoulders. I said, “Don’t lock me in again. I don’t like it—it makes me feel powerless and trapped.”

Nino’s fingers tightened. He leaned down and kissed the crook of my neck. “I won’t.” He paused, choosing his words carefully, which in turn raised my worries again. “Do you have a few clothes and a white nightgown for Serafina?”

I raised my eyebrows. “Why the white nightgown?”

“Kiara,” Nino’s voice was strained, carrying the unvoiced please with it. His eyes begged me to trust him.

Trust. I went over to my closet and took my silver nightgown out of a drawer. “I’ve got this.”

Nino nodded and took it from me. “That should do.”

I gathered a few floor-length dresses, shirts and shorts, and then hesitated in front of my underwear drawer. It was kind of icky to wear someone else’s underwear, but I assumed Serafina preferred it to not wearing any at all.

Nino took everything from me. “Promise me to stay in this room and I won’t lock it. I’ll make sure the girl is safe, all right?”

“All right.” The word tasted bitter in my mouth, like a betrayal of the old me, like I was failing myself. Trusting Nino when it came to my wellbeing was easy. Without a doubt that he’d never hurt me intentionally, but Nino didn’t feel pity, even now. Not for others, never for others.

Nino was gone for a long time. My resolve to stay in the bedroom was slipping away with every passing second when he finally stepped back in, a deep furrow of displeasure between his brows and much of his hair fallen out of his short ponytail as if he’d ran his hand through it one time too often.

I asked immediately, “What’s going on? What did Remo say? And what does he need the nightgown for?”

Nino closed the door. “Remo will keep her here for now. He thinks she’s safer in the mansion.”

“Safer? She’s a captive. Who says she’s safe so close to Remo?”

Nino didn’t say anything. I could tell that he wasn’t happy about this development, but he was loyal to Remo, nothing would ever change it. I doubted Remo could do anything that would make Nino ever go against him.

“You have to stop him, if he tries to force himself on her. Promise me,” I said fiercely.

“Remo can’t be stopped if he’s made up his mind, not even by me. But as I said, I don’t think you have reason to worry about that.”

“What happens if the Outfit’s Capo doesn’t do what Remo wants? What is he going to do to her then?” I didn’t know much about Dante Cavallaro, only the rumors I’d picked up when I’d overheard Felix and Egidia discuss the Outfit, or the few times Remo and Nino had talked about him in my presence. He seemed to be a logical man who based his decisions on facts, not emotions, and that didn’t make me hopeful about Serafina’s fate. It went against logic to exchange a mere girl for a Consigliere, a man who carried the secrets of the entire Outfit, and probably Cavallaro himself. But Remo and Nino must know that, which left the question—why Remo had kidnapped the girl anyway?

Nino opened his watchband with steady fingers, getting ready for bed. “Kiara, this is Remo’s game. He hasn’t been as forthcoming with information as he usually is.”

“Are you sure? Or are you trying to protect me again?”

His face locked down as he put the watch on the nightstand. “I’m telling you the truth. And you have to remember that this war was initiated by the Outfit. They attacked our territory. They tried to kill all of us, even Adamo. Remo won’t stand back and have his territory breached like that. Dante will have to pay the price for it.”

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