Home > Damage an Arranged Marriage Mafia Romance(7)

Damage an Arranged Marriage Mafia Romance(7)
Author: Natasha Knight

I straighten, look down at her. I run a hand through my hair.

“Doctor’s coming tomorrow,” I say.

“He just came today.”

“He’s coming again.”


“Birth control.”

Her mouth falls open. Not what she was expecting, I guess.

“We’re moving the wedding up.”


I lean down so my face is inches from hers. “You better not lie to me again, Gabriela.”

She stares at me.

I turn and walk back out onto the balcony, into the rain. One of the metal chairs screeches when I stumble into it before making it into my bedroom and collapsing on my bed.









I don’t sleep after that. I can’t.

We’re moving the wedding up? Why? What does my getting kidnapped have to do with the wedding?

Is it because he wants to fuck me? Is he so honorable that he won’t do it before the wedding?

Even as I think it, that word, honorable, makes me sneer. Because what if I say no? What then? How honorable will he be then?

There are two sides to Stefan Sabbioni. Maybe more than two. One is violent, filled with rage. The other is the one who carried me out of that well. The one who swore he’d never let anyone hurt me again.

I don’t know if I can reconcile the two.

When the doctor comes the next day, he gives me the birth control shot. After he leaves, the seamstress is back with the final fitting of the hideous wedding dress. Millie’s in and out too and there seem to be double the guards as there were before.

The only person not here is Stefan.

I’m surprised when Millie walks into my bedroom that afternoon to tell me my father is on the line. She’s holding a house phone out for me. I guess I don’t expect him to call me here.


“Gabriela. Why haven’t you called me?” Not are you okay?

“I’m just trying to wrap my brain around it all myself.”

“Well, I’d have preferred to hear from you that you’re all right rather than that man.”

“That man saved me.”

“He should have had you better protected. I’ll kill him if anyone touches a hair on your head again.”

How heartfelt, I think, rolling my eyes. “Well, I’m on the mend if you’re concerned.”

Silence. “Of course I’m concerned,” he says a few moments later. “Don’t be stupid.”

“The men on the boat, are they both…”

“Gone. Yes.”

“I’m sorry about that.”

“It’s their job. They knew the risks.”

Still. It’s two lives. Two more lives gone because of me. “He’s moving the wedding up,” I tell my father. He sighs and I realize something. “You already know, don’t you?”


“Doesn’t what happened change things?”

“Why would it?”

“Because I nearly died.”

He makes a sound like a snort or a chuckle. “Don’t be dramatic, Gabriela.”

I’m shocked. But why am I shocked? I know my father, don’t I?

“Did you arrange it?” The words are out before I can stop them and the instant they are, I swear I feel ice on the line.

“Did I arrange for men to kidnap my daughter and drop her into a well?”

It’s his tone that has me quieting. That has me remembering those moments in the water when I’d thought of her. My mom. His tone and the silence after that remind me of that night so many years ago and even though we’re separated by hundreds of miles, even though I can put the phone down and just walk away, I shudder, freeze up.

My father still scares me.

And I’m very aware that he’s not denying that he had anything to do with it.

“Waverly is sending over a revised contract. Be sure to read the modification before you sign it. I’m sure as heroic as you must think your husband-to-be, he won’t have shared this little tidbit.”

“What modification?”

“It’ll be hand delivered. I have to go, Gabriela.”

“What modification?” I press.


I hear a click and he’s gone. For a moment, I stand listening to the dial tone before finally putting the phone down.

I sit on the edge of the bed and run my fingers through my wet hair. I touch the bruise on my forehead, the one from when Rafa and I were driving, and those men sideswiped us. It’s the same person who arranged for me to be kidnapped because the man Stefan was asking about was at both events.

Why didn’t I tell him that? Tell him about Rafa and Taormina and that man?

There’s a knock on my door and Miss Millie comes inside with a tray of food.

“Shall I take this?” she asks about the phone once she sets the tray down. She doesn’t ask me how the call was. She knows better. Or maybe she just reads it on my face.

“Yes, thank you.” She’s about to leave when I stop her. “If he calls again, can you tell him I’m not here please?”

She studies me for a moment, then nods her head. “Of course, dear.”

On the second evening, I go downstairs for dinner because if I spend one more minute in this bed, I’m going to go crazy. There’s a replacement cell phone on the table at my place with a note from Stefan stuck to the box.

Don’t drop this one at the bottom of the sea.




The joke is in poor taste, but I find myself smiling anyway.

I take it out of the box. It’s the same pretty rose gold as the original phone and the same numbers are programmed.

I check the time. It’s almost noon on the East Coast. I program the number for Clear Meadows and ask the receptionist for Melanie. She connects me a few minutes later and I ask if it’s a good time to FaceTime Gabe. I can hear the smile in her voice and a few moments later, using Melanie’s cell phone, I’m looking at Gabe sitting in the community room with a smock on that has paint smeared all over it.

“Gabi!” he calls out and I see his finger coming toward the camera. I guess he’s trying to touch my face.

“Gabe! It’s so good to see you!”

“What happened to your face?” he asks.

I touch my bangs, push them down to cover the bandage.

“Oh, it’s nothing. Just fell down. You know how clumsy I am.”

“You’re not clumsy.” He peers closer, the camera showing me just part of his eye and nose for a moment. “You’re hurt,” he says, his expression so worried, it breaks my heart.

“I’m okay, Gabe. I promise. It’s just a little bump.”

He just sits there studying me for a moment and his expression is almost like it used to be. Like he used to be.

But then it’s as though he suddenly remembers something and shifts the phone to his knee where there’s a scrape covered by a band-aid.

“I fell too, Gabi. We have matching band-aids.”

I smile when I see his face again. “How did you fall?”

“I tripped when I was running.”

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