Content Warning: mild sexual references, suggestive poses and like… naked legs and stuff.
“Somebody asked about you yesterday,” Franco said, eyes on Vittoria. “He’s no longer asking. Or breathing.”
Carlo thanked him and snuck a look at Vittoria. It had been two weeks since the assassination attempt, and people were still flooding to Monte Vista. Most just wanted her dead, but Franco had let him know that there were others.
“And those others,” Carlo said now. “The ones you said are waiting…”
“They’re saying they want her to come back and take charge again.”
“Did you get their names?” she asked.
“Matteo Arrighi is their leader, so to speak. He says there are more with him who would like to see you come back.”
“He never liked me much. I don’t trust him.”
“Then neither do we,” said Carlo. “Let them stay where they are for now, but don’t tell them where Vittoria is. If they step out of line, you know what to do.”
“I’ve been looking up some old contacts of mine,” Vittoria said. “They should be willing to help me out.”
Carlo looked up at her and felt a pang of desire. The knowledge that she was a gang leader and stone-cold killer hadn’t made him want her less. Quite the contrary. And ever since their talk, she had been unashamedly flirty with him. She’d brush him when walking by or move inappropriately close, and when he was just about to break and claim her, she’d move away and say “There’s work to do, darling.” He hadn’t the faintest clue how he could have missed that she was pure evil. Pure, beautiful, seductive evil.
And she was staring at him, a smile playing in her eyes, as though she could guess where his mind had been going. The little minx bit her lip and said:
“That okay with you?”
“Do you trust them?” he asked.
She rolled her eyes. “No. That’s why I’m still alive. But with the right kind of persuasion, perhaps some kind of promise that the Good Guys are on my side…”
Carlo straightened up in his chair, and next to him Franco chuckled.
“Very well. Tell them that.” Carlo nodded. “Just don’t tell them where you are.”
She spun and walked out of there with rocking hips and a little smile at him.
“She’s dangerous,” Franco said.
Carlo glanced at his accomplice and lowered his voice. “Am I doing the right thing here?”
Franco tapped a foot. “That’s not for me to say.”
“I was afraid you’d say that.” Carlo leaned back in the chair. “I can’t keep my head on straight around her. If you can’t tell me if I’m being an idiot, who can?”
“It won’t be any harm. You can have your fun, and then if it turns out she’s bad news…”
“Wish it were that easy.”
His accomplice turned to him and only said: “Oh.”
Carlo took a deep breath and ran his fingers through his hair, tried to quieten the feelings and the fire and it was no use. If it had been only the desire to have her for a few days, that would have been different. He wanted quite a bit more than that, though.
“I don’t think I can help you there,” Franco said.
“No.” He stood up. “Look into her. Ask those guys who want her to come back what kind of leader she was. You tell me directly and keep it quiet.”
Franco nodded and left, while Carlo followed Vittoria.
Vittoria was scrubbing the counters furiously, as always. Sometimes, he wondered if she really did think completely clean surfaces were dirty or if there was just some manic energy she needed out. Was it just tidiness or a coping mechanism? All he knew was that he couldn’t keep going on like this, so he moved up behind her and pulled her to his chest.
“I want you,” he whispered in her ear.
She stood still, not moving.
“You asked me two weeks ago if I still want you, and the answer is yes.”
Even before she answered, he knew what she was going to say:
“Well, there’s work to do, darling.”
She twisted out of his grasp and walked away.
“Am I ever going to live that down?” he asked, his heart racing after seconds of closeness.
She sped up, he followed, she sped up a little more and made it to the next room. He grabbed her, caught her waist and pulled her close to him. Vittoria laughed, making no attempts to break away.
“You’re also never going to live down the parasol,” she said. “Or kicking me out.”
He kissed her.
He felt her almost stumbling and letting out a little sound like surprise, but he wrapped his arm tighter around her and held her there. At first, he kissed her softly and slowly, over and over and over, until his head spun and she clung to his jacket. He let the kisses grow more urgent. Harder. His tongue came out to meet with hers and by the time he came up for air, his breathing was heavy.
“You’ll be the death of me,” he growled. “The way you’ve been around me lately…”
“Now you know what it’s like being around a damn tease,” she whispered.
“Oh, I’m the tease?”
“Yes. Ever since the day you kicked me out of your house, you’ve been like this. Mr. Use-Me-Up-and-Throw-Me-Away. And no, you’re not living that one-.”
He shut her up with another kiss.
Even as his entire body hummed and he longed for more, Franco’s words rang in his ear. Vittoria was dangerous and not just because she could kill him without breaking a sweat.
“What are you up to, darling?” he whispered.
“Mm.” He lifted her chin with a finger, taking in her lovely face. “I’m wrapped around your finger, and because I am, so is the rest of Monte Vista’s underground. It’s very convenient.”
“So you think I’m using you?”
“I don’t know yet.”
He tried to kiss her again, but she drew back and looked at him with a smile that both scared him and sent excited thrills down his spine.
“Let me make one thing very clear, Mancini,” she said, putting a hand on his chest. “I don’t fuck around with just anyone. I have taste. And if I didn’t want this, you’d be dead.”
He picked her up, pushed her against the door, and kissed her hard.
“Nothing like casual death threats to get a guy going,” she whispered against his lips.
“You have no idea.”
He claimed her lips once more and carried her upstairs.
Vittoria started awake when she felt a hand on her head.
“Just me,” Carlo said, as he started to stroke her hair.
It took a moment for her surroundings to register, but then it all came into view. She was in her bedroom at the farm, dressed in Carlo’s shirt, and though her body was still humming with hormones and joy, a sense of dread was in the back of her head.
She wasn’t sure yet if she liked this unusual tenderness of his. It didn’t seem right that someone would be so passionate, but so gentle. No one had ever looked her in the eyes without hesitation like he had when he made love to her. For that matter, nobody had ever stuck around afterwards and stroked her hair and whispered softly at her. But he did all of that.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Stroking your hair. Would you rather I stop?”
“I guess not.”
So he continued, eventually drawing her into his arms. When he turned her around to face him, his eyes were so tender, she wanted to look away and tell him to stop the nonsense. None of this was right. It was like the parasol and the romantic movies and the painting and his hugging her while promising to take care of her.
He was a walking contradiction.
He turned her around to face him and looked at her with his head cocked.
“This makes you uncomfortable.” It wasn’t a question.
“You don’t think this is odd?”
“Nothing odd about it,” he said, kissing her softly. “Did you expect me to leave while you were sleeping?”
“Of course. That’s how this usually works.”
“What, so because I’m a criminal, I must also be a scumbag?”
“Isn’t that the general definition? Besides, I seem to remember someone saying he was going to use me up and throw me out. I figured that’s what you’ve done now.”
He tightened his arms around her.
“Don’t remind me of that. It’s true, that’s what I used to do.”
“Are you going to tell me your tragic backstory, now?”
Carlo laughed and pressed a kiss to her neck. With his fingertips, he stroked her cheek gently.
“Nothing tragic about it. I used to do that kind of thing in my teen years. Girl after girl. Promised them the moon and the stars, left the next morning, never picked up the phone when they called me. That was only until my dad found out, though.” He broke into a huge smile, another contradiction. “I’ve never seen my old man that mad, before or since. I remember what he said so well: ‘I didn’t raise a slimy little snake all these years, did I?'”
“You’re a strange man,” she said.
He rested his forehead on hers. “Do you want me to leave now?”
Vittoria couldn’t say. This was foreign territory. The realm of cheap romance novels and those romantic movies he seemed to enjoy. This was that scene, with the heart to heart, where he finally confessed his love, and she swooned and they made love all night, and it was a scene she couldn’t feel herself fit into. She told him.
He nodded, then pulled her into another kiss. This one deeper, warmer, and somehow still gentler than the previous ones.
“I don’t think I want you to leave,” she admitted.
He moved his lips to her neck again, then her collarbone, and lower, while his other hand undid the buttons on the shirt. His breath got heavier, and she felt her body relax and melt into his. Suddenly, he stopped kissing her. He leaned on his elbow and cupped her cheek and his eyes were desperate. Her heart was in free fall.
“Vittoria, I’m so fucking in love with you.”
Author’s note: Hiiiiiiii! So, we’re back in Monte Vista this week 🙂 I hope you guys are having a great time. I’m at a neat little hotel in the middle of a forest, so safe to say I’m doing pretty awesome.
This chapter was hard to write. Nothing new there, though. Vittoria is still damn hard to write, and I never get her right in my first draft. There are always rewrites. On top of everything, this is pretty much the most sexual I’ve gotten in my writing and I’m not terribly comfortable with writing that kind of stuff. So. Yeah. Hope it wasn’t too painful to read, and I wish you all a happy weekend ^_^ Cheers!