Dante's Honour-bound Husband(5)

By: Day Leclaire

Another man! His hands collapsed into fists. How could she? He’d promised he’d return the instant he could provide for her, and she’d agreed to wait. For nearly two years he’d worked endless days and nights to make that happen. How could she turn her back on what they had? What they could have? Didn’t she feel it, that ferocious wildfire that exploded into flames whenever they were in the same room together?

He stared down at his balled hands and it took every ounce of resolve to ignore the relentless itch centered in the palm of his right hand. It was an itch that had flared to life the first moment Gianna Dante had slipped her fine-boned hand into his, and it had continued over the course of the ensuing months, no matter how much distance separated them.

Constantine knew what it was. Though Gianna had neglected to explain what she’d done to him—a lengthy and pointed discussion for another time—his sister, Ariana, had described it in graphic detail after her husband, Lazz, had Infernoed her when they’d first joined hands at the altar on their wedding day. Those damned Dantes and their damnable Inferno. It wasn’t enough that they’d used it to overpower his sister. That wasn’t good enough for them. Hell, no. For some reason, the sole Dante female had chosen him for her mate, had used The Inferno to steal every last crumb of his own self-control. Ever since that day he’d been trapped with no hope of escape other than to surrender to its demands.

And now, he couldn’t even do that because Gianna had “moved on.” He wanted to roar in outrage. Not a chance in hell would he let her get away with it. She’d soon discover that she couldn’t move on, up, down, or sideways without his being right there waiting for her. Whoever she’d chosen to infect with The Inferno this time around was out of luck.

No matter what it took, no matter whether she faced her fate willingly or otherwise, he intended to claim Gianna Dante for his own. The Inferno might have caused him to lose his legendary control, but marriage to her would allow him to regain it. Once he had his ring on her finger and her delightful curves in his bed, this hideous need would ease and he’d be able to wield it as he saw fit. Until then… He stared at her broodingly.

God, he wanted her.

“Did you hear the news?” Elia Dante asked. She lounged in a chair outside the dressing rooms of a snazzy little boutique called Sinfully Delicious. “No, Gianna. Not the salmon. Go with the bronze halter gown. It complements your eyes better than the other one.”

Gianna held up one gown, then the other, before nodding in agreement. Though why she bothered to compare the two, she didn’t know. When it came to fashion, her mother was infallible. “What news?”

Elia took a delicate sip from a tiny cup of espresso before announcing, “Constantine Romano has moved to San Francisco. He opens the doors to Romano Restoration any day now. Apparently he organized the transition all the way from Italy.”

Gianna stiffened, grateful she had her back turned to her mother. She should have anticipated this. Foolish of her not to, all things considered. “That’s rather unexpected, isn’t it?”

“Do you think so?” Elia asked softly. “Somehow he’s gotten his entire operation up and running without any of us being the wiser.” She lifted a delicate eyebrow. “I’m guessing as a surprise for a certain someone?”

Gianna sighed. Her mother was the only person who knew what she’d experienced when she and Constantine first met. She’d been very careful to keep it from everyone else, knowing her family would interfere if they knew. “Yes, Mamma, it is. What we had, or rather, what I thought we had ended a long time ago.”

“The Inferno doesn’t end, chiacchierona.”

“Maybe it does.”

Gianna swung around to face her mother. What would Elia say if she knew the whole truth about The Inferno? If she’d heard what Gianna had when Uncle Dominic explained the facts to Aunt Laura? Or watched what he’d done to rid them both of The Inferno? She’d never dared tell anyone, terrified that she’d see other relationships ruined as a result of her revelation. If the rest of her family believed in The Inferno with all their hearts, maybe they’d never discover what her aunt and uncle had…

That The Inferno wasn’t forever.

Gianna hesitated, still unwilling to tell her mother the entire truth. She chose her words with care. “Maybe it’s different because I’m a woman instead of a man,” she suggested. “Maybe it only went one way and he doesn’t feel what I do.”

“If that were so, Constantine wouldn’t be here.”

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