Home > By Virtue I Fall (Sins of the Fathers #3)(4)

By Virtue I Fall (Sins of the Fathers #3)(4)
Author: Cora Reilly

His rudeness rubbed me the wrong way. I turned back around in a sour mood.

Luisa shrugged. I didn’t bother another contact attempt, and listening in on their conversation was moot. They were too focused on their match.

Later at the juice bar, I tried my luck again and settled on a bar chair close to Clifford and his friend. Their conversation about Lacrosse almost had me fall asleep. Soon two more boys joined him and his friend.

I’d never paid much attention to Clifford Clark, and now I knew why. We didn’t share the same crowd or interests. He was the preppy, polo-wearing, teacher-pet kind of guy. Their track records were as squeaky clean as their tennis attire.

I knew their parents had their own secrets, but they weren’t as dark as the ones mine carried. Clifford and I came from vastly different worlds. He and his friends thought they were tough. I knew what real toughness looked like. I wasn’t sure if I could ever like someone like him, much less respect him.

Mom had asked yesterday if I could imagine marrying Clifford one day. I’d always known I’d have an arranged marriage. For a Capo’s daughter, there wasn’t another option. Right this moment, I had a hard time considering Clifford as anything.

The four boys migrated to a table in the dining room of the tennis club, ordering sandwiches, fries, and sodas. At least in that regard, they weren’t as pretentious as they looked. If Clifford had ordered an acai bowl or tuna sashimi, I would have drawn a line.

Santino appeared in the doorway, obviously tired of waiting. “What’s taking you so long? Can’t you take your green juices to go?”

I rolled my eyes. “We need to relax after training. Give us a few more minutes.”

Santino perched on a vacant barstool. The girl working the counter immediately sauntered over to him, tossing her hair in a flirty way. “What can I do for you? Maybe a nice Ginger booster? It’s spicy and will give you an extra kick.”

Santino’s expression almost had me laughing out loud.

Santino got his kicks in a very different way, most of them involved knives and guns.

“Black coffee, as strong as possible.”

She smiled almost reproachfully. “Too much caffeine isn’t conducive to your health.”

I knew what he was thinking: Pissing me off neither…

Luisa nudged me, dragging my focus away from Santino and back to the table with my possible future husband.

I still listened to Santino and the girl while Luisa and I watched Clifford inconspicuously.

“I’m good,” Santino said sharply when the girl didn’t stop pestering him with juice suggestions and finally she took her clue.

“He looks kind of nice,” Luisa said, eyeing Clifford critically.

He wasn’t bad looking. He was almost too pretty for a boy. I shrugged. “He’s a boy. A rich boy.”

“And you’re a rich girl,” Santino commented.

I jumped, my cheeks flaming. Indignation filled me as I glanced over my shoulder at Santino who’d snuck up on us. He was always close, but I hadn’t thought he’d listen in on our conversation.

“She’s a Capo’s daughter,” Luisa said almost shocked, then smiled awkwardly.

“Thanks for the heads up,” Santino drawled. He cast his eyes skywards, shaking his head and muttering something under his breath. “How much longer will it take you to stalk these boys? I don’t have the patience for awkward pre-teen crushes.”

He hadn’t bothered lowering his voice. Clifford and the other guys slanted us looks and then the Asian boy nudged Clifford with a grin and they all began snickering.

I scowled at Santino. “Great, now he thinks I have a crush on him.”

I hopped off the barstool and headed toward the car, Luisa hot on my heels. Santino sauntered after us, almost bored. “Isn’t that the case?”

I shoved my fists into my sides. “No, it’s not. Mom and Dad are considering marrying me to Clifford Clark, the blond boy. He’s a politician’s son.”

Santino slanted me a look, his face reflecting boredom. “I’m sure they have their reasons,” he said in a manner that suggested he didn’t care what they were, nor that I’d marry at all.

I bit my lip and shut up. Santino had a way to make me feel stupid and like a little child without actually insulting me. His gaze said more than a thousand words.

The strange thing was, while Clifford’s rudeness today made me want to stay away from him, Santino’s abrasiveness only made me more eager to be around him.

 

 

When Mom came into my room that evening to talk about Clifford, I didn’t tell her about my doubts. I could tell how important it would be for the Outfit and I wanted to do my part in helping.

“This won’t be public for a long time. And from what I gathered the Clarks won’t tell Clifford now. They want to wait until he’s older and can grasp the reasons for their decision.”

I nodded. For people outside of our mafia world, arranged marriages were rare. His parents probably worried he wouldn’t be able to handle the situation or let something slip to others by accident. I had to admit I was glad he wouldn’t know until later. That way I wouldn’t have to talk to him again soon.

I was proud that my parents knew I was strong enough to handle my future like this. I wanted to keep making them proud, even if that meant putting up with Clifford.

 

 

Five years.

Five fucking years.

Today was the anniversary of my first day as Anna Cavallaro’s bodyguard, and as if she’d marked down the date, she did her very best to annoy the living shit out of me. Not that she didn’t do this on any other day of the year, but today she went the extra mile.

I could see her smug face in the rearview mirror. Gritting my teeth, I focused on the long driveway that took us to the Cavallaro lake lodge.

I missed my Camaro, the subtle vibrations, the uncomfortable seat, the impatient hum of the engine. But on the job, I was forced to drive a Mercedes limousine so Anna and Leonas felt safe and comfortable. Wouldn’t want their pampered asses to feel the bumpy road.

“Do you know if any of the guards have smokes?” Leonas asked.

“I think one of Sofia’s guards smokes,” Anna said, casting a glance at me. Sometimes I wanted to grab the brat, throw her over my legs, and give her a thrashing.

“If I catch either of you smoking, I’ll spank both your asses with my fucking belt.”

“Kinky,” Anna said, and for a second, I wasn’t sure I’d heard her right. Had she really said that?

I rammed my foot down on the brakes with more force than necessary, jerking the car to a premature stop before the parking slots.

Anna and Leonas both jolted forward. The latter hitting his thick head against the passenger seat because he’d ignored my order to put on his belt.

“Fuck, what was that for?” Leonas grumbled.

I got out without a word before I could do something Dante would make me regret. Samuel’s car and that of his sister Sofia’s personal bodyguard Carlo were already parked in front of the lodge. Samuel was Dante’s nephew and the brooding type, so I wouldn’t have to worry about him grating on my nerves too.

Anna got out as well, cocking an eyebrow at me as she smoothed that ridiculous checkered Chanel costume she wore. “You seem on edge, Sonny.”

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