Scorned Vows excerpt
COPYRIGHT 2023 Victoria Paige books
SETUP: Natalya and Luca are in the library of Tralestelle, the Moretti mansion. Luca fell asleep on the couch. 😁
I peered behind the glass display. They were antique-looking, leather-bound editions of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. I picked a book below the glass display. I wasn’t familiar with the author, but the cover art certainly got my attention.
I glanced back at Luca. His head was thrown back and his eyes were closed.
I walked back to him, a tenderness blooming in my chest. He looked less fierce in sleep. So handsome.
“Caro,” I said softly and shook him.
He shifted on the couch and murmured, “Not tonight, Jessica.”
Ice water splashed away the warmth I was feeling. He didn’t mean it. He was asleep. Should I let him sleep like that on the couch? No.
I shoved him hard.
“What the fuck?”
“You wouldn’t wake up,” I snapped.
“I’m tired.” He scrubbed his face and then glared at me.
“Well, at least I did my duty and you won’t be having a crick in your neck tomorrow morning from sleeping at an odd angle.”
“Woman…” he muttered.
“I’m going to bed.”
Luca didn’t follow immediately. Just as well. Unlike at the wedding when I was in tears, this time, I was more territorial. She couldn’t have my husband. I put my hand to my stomach. I would give Luca his son and I would become the most important woman in his life.
I was finishing up in the bathroom when he came in.
“No one wants to be jarred awake like that,” he told me. “Careful, baby, you’re lucky the alcohol and food relaxed me and I didn’t have a gun.”
“Oh, so now you’re threatening me?”
He took a step behind me. “What is wrong with you?” His eyes reflected in the mirror could cut me to pieces. “I fell asleep on you. So what? If these little things bother you too much, we have bigger problems.”
It took all my energy not to lash out at him. It wasn’t his fault he said another woman’s name in his sleep. Because of this, I didn’t want him to think I was irrational either. Swallowing my pride, I said, “You said Jessica’s name when I tried to wake you up.”
He stilled and mouthed, “Fuck.”
My blood boiled again, and I pushed past him. “Exactly.”
“How is it my fault?” he said. “I was unconscious, and I certainly wasn’t a virgin like you when we married.”
I spun around and poked him in the chest. “What if I said another man’s name in my sleep?”
He smirked. “I know he didn’t get far.”
The arrogant bastard. “Yes, but what if he gave better orgasms than you do?”
A dangerous gleam entered his eyes. “Then he’ll be swimming with the fishes.”
I grabbed the pillows and a blanket from the bed and walked over to the couch in front of the bedroom hearth.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“I don’t want to sleep beside you right now.”
“Natalya.” His voice was stern. “I’m giving you some leeway because of your age, but don’t test me.”
“Stop using my age as an excuse to treat me this way.”
“What way?” he roared. The sudden increase of volume in his voice told me Luca was at the end of his patience.
“Like my feelings don’t matter as long as it suits you.”
“Are you saying I should apologize for saying something in my sleep? For all you know I might be having a nightmare.”
I paused at this. “Maybe.”
“What exactly did I say?”
I blew out a breath. “Not tonight, Jessica.”
He crossed his arms. Indignation, apparently, was a shared feeling between us. “And for that, you gave me a rude awakening.”
“Obviously, she’s still in your subconscious.”
Luca spread his arms in a helpless gesture. “I give up explaining to you. I’m not making excuses for my past sex life.” He turned away from me and slammed into the bathroom, leaving me stewing in my decision whether or not to sleep beside him.
But my pride had pushed me too far. By the time he came out of the bathroom, I was snuggled cozily on the couch.
He muttered a stinging string of Italian profanity. Suddenly, I was rethinking my impulse of sleeping on the couch.
I could feel him standing in front of me. His stare was like lasers penetrating my closed eyes.
“This is ridiculous.” He scooped me up. “My wife sleeps with me.”
“I rest my case,” I retorted.
He lowered me onto the bed. “What now?”
“You say I should sleep beside you, yet you have no problem being away from me for two weeks.”
He rounded the bed and got to his side. “I’m not arguing with you. I need my sleep. If you want to return to the couch, be my guest.”
Ha! Because I made a good argument, but I didn’t get up. Somehow making my point and proving him to be a double-standard asshole sat well with my conscience. I stared up at the ceiling of the room where I would spend an indefinite amount of time. Until Luca decided I could join him in Chicago, I needed to make the best of my stay here.
I was thinking of my plan and then I fell asleep.
I woke up the next morning to find Luca gone by my side. It also occurred to me that was the first time we hadn’t made love at night. Maybe I annoyed him too much for him to be amorous, and it bugged me he might seek his needs elsewhere.
Jessica was in Chicago.
Luca and I didn’t talk about the mafia custom of having a goomah, an accepted practice of having a mistress. I should concentrate on using my time wisely. Mamma’s words came back to haunt me. I wanted to be more than a wife. I wanted him to love being with me. Was that too much to hope for? He gave me a taste of that dream in Paris. How dare he take it away? I’d been prepared to love him enough, knowing what awaited me as a mafia wife. I’d prepared for him to take mistresses eventually, but somehow after what he showed me in Paris, I wanted more.
I wanted everything.
Our own family outside the mafia.
For him to love me in return and I was enough for him.
I could work on attaining that goal if I was with him.
I should give him what he wanted for now. Maybe he would miss me. It was only two weeks. And with that resolve, I dressed quickly so I could see my husband off.