Damage:an Arranged Marriage Mafia Romance

By: Natasha Knight


I realize I never buckled my seatbelt when Stefan leans over me to buckle it.

“Are you okay?” he asks.

I nod. “What did you do to them?”

He studies me. “You don’t need to be a part of that.”

“I already am, aren’t I?”

“You recognized one of the men.”

I swallow, take a sip from my bottle of water.

“We’ll talk about it later,” he says. “At home.”

Home.

“The phone you gave me, it’s gone,” I tell him. “I lost it in the water. I’m sorry.”

“That doesn’t matter, Gabriela. What matters is that you’re safe.”

“Who took me?”

“That’s what I’d like to know.” He holds out his phone. “Call your father.”

I look at it, but I shake my head. I have too many questions I know my father won’t answer. Like how he knew so quickly what had happened to Alex. Like how there was a second boat out there. How it came right toward us like those men knew exactly where we were.

Stefan types out a text. “I’ll let him know you’re safe.”

“Stefan?”

He hits send and looks at me, tucking his phone into his pocket.

“Did my father do this?”

I can see from the look on his face he’s considered this.

“I called him twenty minutes before I went outside. How did that other boat get out there so fast? How did they know we’d be out there at all?”

“That’s what I’m going to find out.”

I look out the window. Could my father have done this to me? Is he that wicked?

“Where are we?”

“We’re in Calabria. It’s on the mainland and the town they held you in is called Pentedattilo. We’ll take the jet back to Palermo. Or we can get a hotel room, get you cleaned up, get some food if you want.”

I shake my head. “I want to go home.”

There’s that word again.

Home.

Do I even have a home?

He reaches over, takes my hand, squeezes it. “You’re safe now. Nothing’s going to happen to you ever again. I swear it.”





3





Stefan





Nothing’s going to happen to you ever again.

I swore it.

But can I guarantee that? Obviously not.

I look at her while she stares straight ahead. I think she’s still in shock. And part of me, it’s pissed at her. Pissed at her for walking out of the house and onto that stupid boat. For putting herself in this situation.

And the other part wants to hold her close and never let her go because when I saw her at the bottom of that well, hell, before that, there were moments when I thought she might be gone.

There were moments these last couple of days where I thought she’d drowned.

Fuck.

I tug at my hair.

What the fuck is wrong with me?

I killed every one of those men. I did it slow. Bullet after bullet placed to inflict pain but not kill. Then I dropped them into the well. Some survived the drop. I heard them down there. And I walked away.

I’m a monster, I know that. What would she think if she knew exactly what I did? Would she run from me?

As if I’d let her go.

I laugh out loud and see how her gaze snaps to me.

She doesn’t talk much during the trip back home, but I’m surprised when, as soon as we’re back and she sees Millie, she goes straight to her and lets Millie envelope her in her arms, breaking into sobs the moment she’s there.

This is a girl who grew up without a mother. A girl who grew up without affection. Physical touch. At least not the right kind.

Millie hugs her hard and I see the look of concern on her face. She was worried about Gabriela. This arranged—no, let’s be real here—this forced marriage, I don’t know what I expect from it. I haven’t thought it through on any level, actually. Other than I am taking her from Marchese, I haven’t given thought to what I’d do with her. To how real this marriage will be. I haven’t considered what her days will be like.

I haven’t cared.

And it’s not that I care now, I tell myself as Millie looks Gabriela over and tells her she’ll make her something to eat and get her something to drink.

“I want to shower. And throw these clothes away,” Gabriela says.

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