Fragile Longing Page 3

“Pietro, if we follow the rules, Danilo could demand to marry Serafina. They were engaged.”

I waited for them to settle whatever they had to. There was only one solution to our problem.

When Pietro opened his eyes, they were hard, full of warning. “I will give you Sofia.”

My father had been right.

Sofia. She was a child. Ten years younger than me. I’d never even spared her a glance. “She’s what, eleven?” Even though it was the only option, a new wave of anger rose in me. Anger for the situation and absolute rage toward Remo Falcone.

“Twelve in April,” Samuel corrected, scowling at me. His hands were curled into fists, but I had a feeling his anger wasn’t directed only at me.

“I’m ten years older than her. I was promised a wife now.”

“You’ll be busy with this war and establishing your reign over Indianapolis. A later wedding would be advantageous,” Dante said.

Ten fucking years younger than me. I couldn’t even think of her as a woman, let alone as my future wife. Just trying to imagine Sofia as a grownup made me feel like a fucking pervert. Serafina hadn’t been that much older when she’d been promised to me, but we were close in age. I’d wanted her even back then because she was the ice princess, because she was so beautiful that everyone wanted her.

I couldn’t imagine wanting Sofia like that, couldn’t imagine wanting her at all. She was a child. She wasn’t Serafina.

I was going to kill Remo Falcone for stealing my fiancée, for breaking her in ways that made it impossible for her to marry me. I was going to destroy everything that mattered to him. I wouldn’t rest until I’d ruined his life like he had ruined mine.

“Danilo?” Dante asked carefully, and I realized I’d zoned out.

It didn’t matter what I wanted. This bond would save Emma. That was all I could hope for at this point.

“I have one condition.”

“What condition?” Dante’s voice was clipped. His patience was running dry. These last few months had tested us all.

My eyes slanted to Samuel. He was watching me with narrowed eyes. Did I trust him with my sister? More than any of the other prospects. Father would marry Emma off at some point, and nobody of worth wanted her. She’d be cast off to someone who hoped to improve his position, someone who didn’t deserve her.

“He marries my sister Emma,” I said.

Samuel’s face twisted with shock. “She’s in a—”

He stopped short. Good for him because I wanted to kill him.

“In a wheelchair, yes. Which is why nobody of worth wants her. My sister deserves only the best, and you are the heir to the Minneapolis Outfit. If you all want this bond, Samuel will marry my sister, then I’ll marry Sofia.”

“Fuck,” Samuel muttered. “What kind of twisted deal is that?”

“Why? Your father has been testing the waters for possible brides, and my sister is a Mancini. She’s a good match.”

Samuel took a deep breath before nodding. “I’ll marry your sister.”

I bared my teeth at his tone.

“Then it’s settled?” Pietro asked. “You’ll marry Sofia and accept the cancelation of the engagement with Fina?”

I gave a sharp nod. “It’s not what I want, but it’ll have to do.”

“It’ll have to do?” Samuel growled, stepping forward with narrowed eyes. “That’s my baby sister you’re talking about. She’s not some fucking thing you accept as a consolation prize.”

But she was the consolation prize. We all knew it. I laughed bitterly. “You might want to remember that as well when you meet my sister.”

“Enough,” Dante growled.

“The wedding will have to wait until Sofia is of age,” Pietro said in a tired voice.

Did he think I wanted a child bride? “Of course. My sister won’t marry before her eighteenth birthday, either.”

Six long years. It would give me more time to stabilize my rule over Indianapolis, which was the one thing I’d hated about marrying Serafina, but I’d wanted her and she couldn’t wait too long. But now, now I’d have plenty of time to strengthen my reign, to enjoy myself some more—that’s how Father put it. Six years was a long time. So much could happen before then. I wouldn’t lose another girl. I’d make sure Sofia was safe, safer than Serafina had been.

Pietro nodded.

“Then it’s decided,” I said. “I have to return home soon. We can settle the details at a later point.”

Dante nodded.

“Just one more thing. I don’t want word about Samuel’s bond to my sister to get out yet. She doesn’t need to know this was a deal in exchange for Sofia.”

I moved toward the door, wanting out of this house, out of this city, but most of all away from Serafina. Footsteps sounded behind me, but I didn’t turn. There was nothing else left to say, not today.

“Danilo, wait,” Samuel demanded.

Narrowing my eyes, I turned around. “What do you want?”

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