Twisted Bonds

By: Cora Reilly

“I do,” I said quietly, then cupped the back of her head, trying to remind her that she trusted me enough to touch her there. “You remember the rule we established at the beginning of our marriage? No lies. Don’t keep secrets from me, Kiara.”

“Secrets aren’t necessarily lying. You should know, Nino. I think you have more secrets than I do.”

That was true, but it wasn’t because I didn’t trust Kiara with them. “Do you want to know every aspect of our business, everything I do?”

Her lashes fluttered, hesitation clouding her expression. Kiara was clever, she knew the nature of my work, but there was a difference between knowing in general and knowing the sordid details. “No, I don’t think I could stomach it.”

That’s what I’d thought. Kiara was inherently kind, proven by her insistence to refrain from eating meat. She pressed her forehead to my chest, seeking solace in my closeness as she so often did.

“I only said to Serafina that there’s more to Remo than meets the eye and that she might be able to get through to him,” she said.

“If you think that she could be for him what you are for me, you’re forgetting that Remo’s initial situation is different from mine. I started on neutral ground. I didn’t have any kind of emotions for you, neither positive nor negative, but Remo’s opinion of women is tinged with anger.”

Kiara pulled back. “That doesn’t mean it can’t be changed. He seems to get used to me, so who’s to say he can’t get used to someone else?”

I couldn’t imagine Remo allowing an emotional bond with a woman, and even if Kiara might wish for it, not everyone was destined to find love. I still had trouble grasping the full concept of it, to understand its many nuances.

“I’m going to take a swim in the pool. Why don’t you join me?”

“Are you trying to distract me?”

I was, but that was beside the point. “That, and you said you wanted to learn how to swim.”

Her mouth curved down. “I can swim ... I think. I was never very good and it’s been almost a decade since my last swim, but it’s not something you can’t unlearn, right?”

I never unlearned anything, but I was aware that the workings of my brain were different from those of most people. “Why don’t we test your theory?”

Her eyes dragged back to Serafina’s door.

“You did what you could. She’s safe for now.”

Kiara pursed her lips. “What about her wound?”

“Remo takes care of it, and he won’t hurt her like that again. He never intended to do so in the first place. He’ll re-evaluate his tactic to adapt to her volatile personality.”

“His tactic,” Kiara said in disdain, then let out a soft sigh.

“Come on. Let’s go for a swim.”

Kiara gave me a small teasing smile. “You only want to see me in a bikini.”

“I prefer you naked.”

A blush stained Kiara’s cheeks and I swiped my thumb over it, always fascinated by her body’s reactions to a simple truth. “I have my swim trunks under my pants. Why don’t you get changed and I go ahead to warm up?”

Pushing up to her toes, Kiara kissed me then headed away. My gaze followed her for a moment before they settled on the key in Serafina’s door, wondering if it was best to hide it. Trust. It was difficult to gain and just as hard to maintain. I turned, leaving the key where it was, and headed downstairs. Only Savio was still in the common area, lounging on the sofa, one leg thrown over the armrest. He didn’t look up when he spoke. “And how did it go? Are Kiara and the captive BFFs now?”

“Hardly,” I said. “Where are Remo and Adamo?”

“Remo went into the kitchen, and Adamo’s sulking in his room.” He tore his eyes from the screen. “I think he might refuse the tattoo.”

“He won’t.”

Savio put his phone down and swung into a sitting position. “I wouldn’t be sure, if I were you. He’s feeling rebellious, wants to be a better man, or boy, whatever. I think he might use the initiation ceremony to make a statement.” Savio’s lip curled. “Come on, don’t tell me you haven’t considered it. He’s trying too hard, if you ask me. He’s like us and he can’t accept it. That’s all.”

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