She is my brother’s wife. It’s only on paper, though. I know that, don’t I? It’s necessary for what needs to happen next. She belongs to us both. When my uncle asked if it bothered me, though, that it’s Amadeo and not me? The truth of it is yes. Yes, it does. Did. I don’t fucking know.
I shake my head to clear it, to banish the thoughts. This strange feeling in my gut that accompanies them.
No, not jealousy. I need to remember he’s doing it for our cause. It’s necessary. And I need to keep that cause in the forefront of my mind and make sure he does too.
I will talk to Amadeo. Make sure he doesn’t lose sight of who she is, even given what just happened. We can’t forget what her family did. I will ensure my brother and I both remember the endgame because I’m afraid she has the power to make us forget.
Her body shudders. I set her hand on her stomach and look at mine on top of it. Mine is big and calloused, tanned by the constant sunshine. Beauty and her beasts. I draw the blanket over her as the events of the morning replay in my mind’s eye. The stench of the barn. The kneeling men. Her face. Her eyes. The moments before, outside, when I turned to find her leaning against the tree, doubled over and panting. Not there at all for a blink. She had the same look in her eyes at that moment as when she snatched my pistol and gunned down her attacker. Her would-be rapist.
“What happened to you?” I ask her, watching her eyes all along. “What made you like this?”
She watches me, too, then turns her head away. “I’m tired.”
“No. Look at me.” When she doesn’t, I take her chin and make her look. “Something happened to you. What was it?”
Her eyes search mine as I explore hers for answers. The brilliant jewel blue grows cloudy, the whites growing pink as they water. Tears slide out of the corner of each eye and slip over her temples. She doesn’t try to cover them. She doesn’t have the energy to. She’s using up her reserves to hide herself from me.
“Tell me what happened to you.” My voice is quieter, but I want to know. I want more than anything to know what it was that broke her.
Her expression changes, hardening, her jaw setting. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” she says flatly, not like herself at all, and tugs free. I let her roll over onto her side, her back to me. “I’m tired.”
“Killing a man will do that to you.” I draw the blanket up over her narrow shoulders and lean close to her ear, combing her hair back with my fingers. “I’m going to find out, Dandelion.”
No response. Utter stillness in fact. She’s holding her breath. What will happen when I leave this room? Will she break down and sob? Maybe. But I know one thing. It won’t be remorse for what she did to that man. Our dandelion is dark. And I will uncover what made her that.Whomade her that.
“You all right?” Bastian asks as we pull out of the gates and head toward Positano, where Sonny visits one of his regular whores. She’s apparently become such a favorite that he bought the house for her. She must be a hell of a fuck. Although she is all of eighteen while he’s in his late fifties.
When I glance at Bastian, I catch my reflection in the rearview mirror and notice how the line between my eyebrows has deepened. I merge into traffic, two more SUVs following ours. Jarno has men stationed nearer the woman’s house as well.
“I’ll be fine. It’s fucked up, that’s all.”
“Bruno arranged a meeting with Tilbury while we’re in New York by the way.”
“How did he do that?”
“Told the doctor our sister was in need of his services.” I know at the mention of sister, Bastian thinks of Hannah. I wonder what he remembers of her. It’s strange how memories fade. How the faces of the dead fade.
“You think it’ll explain what happened in the barn?”
I shrug a shoulder. “Maybe. Give us a clue at least.”
“I don’t think even she has a clue.”
“It’s the missing year. I know it in my gut.”
We arrive at the woman’s house an hour and a half later. It’s a small cottage outside of town that Sonny gifted her. It’s nice with access to the water. No gates here. When our entourage parks along the edges of the steep, narrow road leading to the entrance, Sonny’s two soldiers who stand casually at the front doors straighten, alerted. One disappears inside. He’ll announce our arrival. I’m surprised there aren’t more. Sonny usually travels with an entourage like he’s the fucking king.
Bastian and I climb out of the SUV with our soldiers, who fan out around the property. I don’t expect Sonny to make a run for it, but it’s time to put him in his place.
Bastian and I head toward the front entrance. The man standing as the lone sentry looks at us, then at the men behind us. He hesitates, unsure whether or not to block our entrance or draw his weapon.