I blink, turn my hands over again. They’re just my hands with the wedding band on one finger. The ring finger of my other hand empty.
I look up. Amadeo and Bastian stand in the doorway watching me. Bastian is fresh from a shower. Amadeo’s suit is rumpled, and his usual five-o’clock shadow is denser. He looks older today. I study them both, seeing the similarities, the differences. Seeing how they’re both looking at me with something different than usual.
But then their eyes move to the piece of paper in my hand, and mine do too, and I read it again. See that name again. I squeeze my eyes shut. Today is my birthday. I’m twenty-one years old. Not fourteen. I’m in Dominic Benedetti’s penthouse. Not locked in a too-bright, too-antiseptic white room. I’m safe.
I open my eyes and see the skin of my hands again. Pull the towel off my head and let my wet hair drip down my back. It’s long. Not shorn. I see a flash of the woman who cut it. Remember her meaty hands. Her meanness.
“Vittoria.” It’s Amadeo. He’s standing just a few feet from me.
I stand up, show him the note in my hand although they’ve already seen it and know that I know.
“Is that where you went?” I crumple the scrap and chuck it at his chest.
It bounces off him and drops to the floor. He searches my face, takes my hands in his and looks down at them so I am looking at the top of his head, the thick dark hair. Bastian closes the door. I hear the click but don’t look away as Amadeo turns my hands back and forth as if he’s searching for something.
Afraid of what he’ll find, I snatch my hands away and shove him backward. “Is that where you went?” I ask again, my lip curling around the words.
He nods gently, and it only pisses me off more.
“You put me to bed, then snuck out to go see what you could find on me?”
“It’s not like that, Vittoria.”
“Don’t fucking call me that. I’m Dandelion to you. To you both! Let’s stay on our sides of the boxing ring.”
“We’re not in a boxing ring,” he says. Taking my hands again, he kisses the back of each one, then turns them over and kisses my palms, the tip of each finger.
My stomach flutters, and all I can do is watch because his touch is confusing. His gentleness is confusing.
I glimpse Bastian leaning against the wall. He’s got his arms folded and is watching intently, and when I look at Amadeo again, he’s looking at me.
“What did you learn, then? What did he tell you about me?” Because these two know something I don’t. And I don’t like the way they’re watching me. Like they think I’m going to break or something.
“He filled in some gaps,” Amadeo says, eyes intent on mine.
“So much for doctor-patient confidentiality,” I say flippantly and try to take my hands from his, but he doesn’t let me go. “What gaps?” I ask, hating that I’m at a loss. That I don’t know what he could have told them. All I know is I’m afraid of it. Of them finding out whatever it is.
“Nothing that makes any difference. Nothing you need to worry about.” He lets me go and checks his watch. “I need to have a shower.” He turns toward the bathroom, but I catch his arm.
“What gaps?” I ask, stepping in front of him.
He looks me over, and that look, it’s pity. It’s fucking pity.
“Why the fuck are you looking at me like that?” I shove him again. They’re both so big that I don’t know why I bother. I can’t usually budge them. “What did he say to make you look at me like that?”
Amadeo takes my wrists, his eyes growing darker. “What could he say?”
I’m confused. I blink away, glancing at Bastian. I flush, remembering last night. But I turn my attention back to Amadeo.
“You had no right. You’re invading my privacy.”
At that, he chuckles, then walks me backward until my back hits the wall. “Your privacy, Vittoria? I think we’re past that, don’t you?” He shifts my wrists to one hand, and with a tug, the towel loosens and drops to the floor. He glances down, then brings his mouth to mine and kisses me, and I’m taken aback. Because Amadeo doesn’t like kissing me. It does something to him. And to me.
I make a sound—it’s not a protest so much as surprise—and I close my eyes and feel him. Just feel him.
“I like you, Dandelion,” he says before taking my mouth again and swallowing anything I would have said. When he draws back to look down at me, his eyes are almost black. “I heard my brother promised to make you come twice.” He grins, and Bastian chuckles from his place at the wall.