Damage:an Arranged Marriage Mafia Romance

By: Natasha Knight

I nod, but before I let her go, I need to say one more thing. “I didn’t hurt Alex, Gabriela. What happened to him, it wasn’t me. I swear it.”

She freezes and it’s like she just remembered. A moment later, her face crumples. I take her in my arms, and she sobs again, silent sobs that wrack her shoulders. I hold her, cup the back of her head. Feel her like this, feel her giving herself to me in her grief.

“Go on now, let’s get this done and go home, okay?” I whisper in her ear.

I feel her nod as I draw back. The driver and another of our men get into the car after I give them instructions and once the SUV is out of sight, I turn to the kneeling men awaiting their sentence.



I shiver in the backseat of the SUV as we wait for Stefan and the others. We’re parked just outside of the town and tourists pass by on foot, laughing with each other, waving fans to cool themselves in the stifling heat, children playing as they run up ahead of their parents.

And all I can do is sit here and think about what’s happening up there. What Stefan is doing.

How was this going on just blocks from where I was trapped?

The driver looks at me. “Too cold?”

I drop my arms, shake my head no, even though I am.

I think about Stefan, how he came for me even though I was the one who ran away. How he risked himself to carry me out of that well. I have no doubt he didn’t remove the hood because what I would have seen down there would have terrified me.

I think about how gentle he was. Like the other night when I’d cut myself breaking his bottle of whiskey. Gentle and caring. Like I mattered. Like he actually cared about me being hurt.

My mind wanders back up the hill again. He’s not being gentle now of that I have no doubt.

If I strain to hear, is that a bullet being fired or is it my imagination? Will Stefan really kill all those men?

Don’t I know the answer even as I ask the question?

I am a Marchese, after all. My father may not appear to be as brutal as Stefan, but I know him. I’ve seen first-hand what crossing my father can do.

My thoughts move to Alex and the thought of his death, of his vicious murder, makes my stomach hurt. He didn’t deserve to die. And he didn’t deserve to die like that.

How am I going to tell Gabe? How will I explain it?

And do I believe Stefan?

I remember Alex’s text and realize that my iPod is gone. It’s at the bottom of the ocean with the dead man.

I’ll never be able to go back and reread old texts, revisit old stories. The fact that I’ll never see him again hits then. Even though I know he’s dead, it’s like I’m only now realizing what that means.

I will never see Alex again.

I will never talk to him again. Never hear his voice.

If it wasn’t Stefan, if I believe him, then who?

But why would Stefan do it? What would he have to gain? Especially after talking to him, he knew Alex was no threat, not in any way. In fact, if he does care about me even a little bit, he’d know that it would hurt me to hurt Alex.

Is that why whoever did it, did it?

Guilt knots my stomach but I’m distracted by the cavalcade of black SUVs with their dark tinted windows coming our way.

I see Rafa first. He’s driving the first SUV and Stefan is talking to him. Rafa looks at me. His expression doesn’t change when he does.

The man up there, the one I recognized, I think he was the one driving the car that rammed into us the other day. I’m very sure, actually. I couldn’t forget those eyes if I tried.

So, was it the same person who ordered the chase that ordered my kidnapping? And how did the kidnappers even find me when they did? The only person who knew where I was was my dad and he wouldn’t have done something like this.

Would he?

The procession comes to a stop and Stefan climbs out of the front seat, leaving Rafa alone in the vehicle. He gets into the back seat with me.

He looks at me and I at him and I see how his hair is a little mussed, see how he’s absently rubbing the knuckles of one hand with the other. I almost expect to find a splattering of blood on him, but I don’t. Although he’s dressed in black from head to toe so maybe it’s just that I can’t see it.

Our driver takes the lead and the other SUVs follow ours.

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