Home > By Virtue I Fall (Sins of the Fathers #3)(6)

By Virtue I Fall (Sins of the Fathers #3)(6)
Author: Cora Reilly

“Get out.” I motioned at Leonas. “You too,” Leonas grumbled but swam toward us.

Anna grabbed the rail and climbed out. Immediately goose bumps flashed across her skin. It was fucking cold. I headed back to the upper deck where we’d left the towels and grabbed three then headed back toward Anna who was already halfway up the deck. I dropped two towels then unfolded one and held it out to Anna. She allowed me to wrap it around her shoulders and angled her body toward me as she peered up at me with a soft smile. “Thanks, Santino.”

I released her shoulders quickly and nodded as I stepped back. I wished Dad hadn’t taught me to be a gentleman. Most of the time, I managed to refrain from acting like one. Anna didn’t move, only looked at me, still snuggled in that towel.

I dragged my eyes away from her, picked up the other towels and thrust one of them at Leonas’s head.

“Hey!” he protested, then narrowed his eyes at me. “Why don’t you rub me warm with a towel?”

“I didn’t rub anyone, so stop talking shit,” I growled.

Leonas stalked past me, towel-drying his hair with a snort.

Anna too finally began to walk toward the lodge. I followed close behind her, drying my hair. When she stopped abruptly and turned, I couldn’t stop anymore and bumped into her. Luckily she had the towel wrapped around herself.

“You know, Santino,” she said in a sweet voice, peering up at me through those fucking long lashes. “Dad won’t kill you for drying me off.” She pressed her palm against my naked chest. “He might kill you for all the other things we’ll be doing soon.”

What the fuck? I gripped her wrist and pushed it down, then stepped back. This was a game we wouldn’t be playing. The stakes were too fucking high. “We won’t be doing anything, Anna, and if you touch me like that again, you’ll regret it.”

She held my gaze and her smile widened before she turned around and headed into the house.

“Fuck!” I snarled. “Fuck this goddamn job. Fuck it all!”

“What’s your problem?” Samuel asked.

I scowled at him. He was Anna’s cousin, Dante’s nephew and definitely not someone I’d confide in.

This was a delicate matter, and there were only two people with whom I shared these kinds of things. Arturo and Dad. Unfortunately, their advices were usually detrimentally different from each other’s.

 

 

I met with Arturo as soon as we were back in Chicago.

As usual Arturo’s advice had been impractical, so I decided to talk to someone not-crazy and whose moral compass wasn’t quite as out of whack. Dad was surprised when I came over one afternoon. Usually, we only saw each other at work or for family festivities. Since Dad lived alone, it wasn’t as if he ever invited me or my sister over for dinner or tea.

“I’m thinking about resigning.”

“Your bodyguard position?” Dad asked in alarm.

“What else?”

“Santino,” Dad began in the same voice he’d used on me when I was a small kid.

“Anna’s pushing all my buttons. I think she’s flirting with me.”

Dad’s eyes widened in shock, then he gave me a disbelieving smile. “Anna’s a good girl, Sonny. She would never make advances on a man before marriage.”

“She has everyone fooled.”

Dad shook his head again. “Maybe you’re misconstruing her behavior. She’s inexperienced dealing with men, so she probably doesn’t know what she’s doing.”

I gave him a look. “Trust me, Dad, she knows exactly what she’s doing.”

Worry crowded on his face. “You didn’t take her up on those advances, right?”

He still said advances as if I’d made them up. Fuck, Anna was good. She really had everyone fooled. That girl was playing me for her own personal entertainment. Damn it.

“Of course not, Dad. You should know me better.”

He gave me an oh please look. “You’ve made unfortunate decisions regarding your sexual partners in the past.”

Thanks for the vote of confidence…

“I occasionally bang married women. But there are two big differences between them and Anna. They aren’t my ward and they are of age. That’s a big ass deal for me.”

“I wasn’t sure, to be honest. Your friendship with Arturo had me worried you might forget some of the rules I taught you.”

“Arturo likes killing and torturing. That has nothing to do with my sexual preferences.” Talking sex with my father was fucking strange, but if he didn’t have a problem, I definitely wouldn’t make one. Almost nothing on this planet embarrassed me.

“Be careful, okay? If you lose control, there’ll be proof.”

I almost burst out laughing. Proof? Dad really thought I was like a dog in heat. “Don’t worry. I can control myself. There won’t ever be anything physical between me and her.”

 

 

I was still a little hung over from my seventeenth birthday party the day before. Leonas’s gift had been a flask with vodka that had given me a nice buzz throughout my very adult-controlled party.

Unfortunately, today my family and I were invited over to the Clark’s for dinner. Clifford’s parents had finally told their son about our future marriage and now we were supposed to meet officially. He and I hadn’t talked since Santino had embarrassed me in front of him years ago and I’d never felt the need to get closer to him. Eventually we wouldn’t have a choice but until then I wanted to pretend my future was still a mystery.

One thing was sure: I wasn’t in the mood for this kind of surely frosty dinner but as usual, social obligations were more important than personal preferences. I never complained. Mom and Dad didn’t either, and I knew they had as much interest in spending the evening with the Clarks as I did.

The Clark’s house was a splendid mansion that they’d recently moved into. Mr. Clark probably said it was his wife’s family money or his senator’s salary that allowed him to own a place like this on the Chicago Gold Coast. I had my own suspicions regarding his recent rise in liquid funds. If there was one thing the Outfit had more than enough of, it was money. I really hoped Dad didn’t have to bribe the Clarks into marrying Clifford to me. That would have been icky.

A maid in a light gray uniform opened the door when we rang and led us into a big living room with plush carpeting and elegant white sofas. The entire Clark family was waiting for us, perfectly arranged beside the marble fireplace and all dressed up as if they were about to go to the opera.

Mrs. Clark wore a floor-length elegant dress in purple and Mr. Clark a dark-three-piece suit. Clifford stood ram-rod straight beside his father. He was a couple of inches taller than his old man but wore a suit very similar to his. Only his unruly dark-blond locks deviated from his politician looks and gave him a surfer-boy appearance. The icing on the cake were Clifford’s twin sisters. Someone had forced them to wear matching white cocktail dresses and tied white bows into their two side pigtails as if they were five and not twelve. They both smiled like creepy murder dolls. Not that a single Clark mastered a somewhat convincing smile.

Leonas exchanged a look with me, muttering under his breath, “What institution did the killer dolls escape from?”

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