Twisted Bonds

By: Cora Reilly


Nino motioned toward a door to our right and stopped me before I could go in. “Be careful. People who are backed into a corner are dangerous.”

“Don’t worry. Everything will be fine.”

“I know.” He said it in a way that made me pause because of the steely undertone.

I knocked and, when no protest sounded, I turned the key and pushed inside.

Serafina was on the bed, her eyes filled with surprise. She was beautiful in an angelic way; long blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin.

“Kiara Vitiello,” she said.

My name coming from her lips, I could practically hear all the stories she’d heard about me. People whispered about the bloody wedding, about what Remo and Nino had done, about the reasons for their actions.

“Kiara Falcone now, but yes, that’s me.” Nino stood close behind me as if he expected an attack any moment. His worry warmed my heart and annoyed me equally. I doubted Serafina would talk to me as long as he was present. She didn’t have reason to trust me, but she had plenty of reason to mistrust him and his brothers.

I told him, “You don’t have to stay. Serafina and I are going to talk. She poses no danger to me.”

Nino wasn’t looking at me, his calculating eyes firmly focused on Serafina. “I will stay.” He closed the door after him and leaned against the wall to watch everything. “And if you make a move toward my wife, the consequences will be very unpleasant.”

How could he say something like that? I gave Serafina an embarrassed smile before I moved close to Nino and pressed my palms against his chest. He lowered his gaze to me, the remnants of harshness still in his eyes. “She’s an innocent woman, Nino. You shouldn’t threaten her, much less consider hurting her.”

Nino’s expression remained hard. “I don’t care who she is, woman or man, innocent or guilty. If she poses a threat to you, I’ll cause her the amount of pain necessary to make her back off.”

I swallowed at his voice. When Nino was around me, he made it so very easy to forget what he was capable of. To me he was loving and gentle, but not to others.

“I don’t want you to hurt her.”

“I always respect your wishes, but this is something I won’t promise you. Protecting you is the only thing I care about. As long as she acts accordingly, she’s safe from me.”

“Nino,” I tried again. He shook his head and made it clear I wouldn’t be able to change his mind about the matter. I moved closer to Serafina, who eyed me as if I was the enemy. I was probably the only person in this house, except for Adamo maybe, who cared for her wellbeing, but our conversation showed that she had no intention of opening up to me.

“I doubt you’ve come to offer your help. You are loyal to the Falcones,” she said at last, sounding almost accusing.

“I am. They are my family.”

NINO

Hearing Kiara say that she was family, my chest felt lighter and some of the tension slipped away. She smiled softly at me, still loving and caring despite what she often witnessed us doing.

I’d been content with our family, of just my brothers and me building a tight-knit unit. I hadn’t seen any necessity to extend it, and still hadn’t considered it when I’d been set up to marry Kiara for tactical purposes. It had seemed impossible that anyone could fit into our family, that anyone could become part of our life and gain our trust, especially a woman, but Kiara had surprised us all. She found her place in our family in her own quiet, thoughtful way, accepted us despite our many faults, and tried to better us in subtle ways. That she considered us capable of being better men was something that filled me with contentment, even if her attempts were bound to fail.

Kiara turned back to Serafina and leaned close to her. I took a step in their direction. Sitting so close to the enemy was foolish. What was she telling Serafina? Vigilance and distrust were the foundations of my nature, but I couldn’t imagine Kiara betraying us in any way. I didn’t want to even consider the option that she could.

After their talk, I led Kiara outside and locked the door. “What did you tell her?”

Kiara peered up at me, frowning. “Don’t you trust me?”

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