KON (Trassato Crime Family Book 2)(7)

By: Lisa Cardiff

Regrettably, flaunting my success came back to haunt me during Laney’s first stint of sobriety and every one following. It never failed. She came after me like a stage five clinger, meddling in my life and trying to worm her way back into my home. I made the mistake of helping her out once, and I’d never repeat it. She stole everything of value in my place, and disappeared.

“Actually, you know what? I don’t want to know what that was about. Just cut to the chase. What’s going on here? I don’t get it. You don’t want anything to do with the deal I made with your dad, but you want to sit here for three hours, doing what? Staring at each other?”

“I said I didn’t want anything to do with the arrangement, but that doesn’t mean I won’t go through the motions if I have to.”

“Go through the motions?”

“We’re going to date. You know, pretend we plan to fulfill the terms of the agreement until we find a way out of this.”

“How will dating help anything?”

“It will get my dad off my back.” I pinched the bridge of my nose and released a strained breath. My headache from drinking too much last night roared back to life with a vengeance. “Right now, he’s pushing to announce the engagement as a way to force your family to the negotiating table. I don’t want that, and I’d bet my life you don’t either.”

“He can’t do that. My family would freak. It would be ugly. And I’ve gone on a few dates with someone else recently. It would look suspicious. They’d never buy it.”

A surge of unexpected and unwanted jealousy rushed through my veins. “Dates with who?”

She licked her lips, then lifted her glass of ice water. I couldn’t look away. Something about the way her full lips curled around the glass made my pulse rate skyrocket. Images of her on her knees with her lips parted, looking at me with those amber eyes through the fringe of her lashes flashed through my brain.

“I can do whatever I want with whomever I want. It’s none of your business,” she said, squashing the depraved spiral of my thoughts as effectively as throwing a cold glass of water in my face.

“Like hell, it isn’t.” I snatched her wrist. “Don’t fuck with me. I didn’t get where I am by being a pushover.”

“No, I suspect you got where you are with a little nepotism and a whole lot of murder.”

I released my grasp. “Don’t push me. Trust me. You won’t enjoy the consequences.”

She cocked a brow. “Oh, yeah? Is that a threat, Mr. Trincher? Because if it is I’d like to remind you I’m not some powerless twit. I can rain Hell down on you with the snap of my fingers.”

“Have it your way.” I tossed my napkin on the table. “I’ll tell my dad to go ahead and announce our engagement. I don’t give a fuck.”

“Ugh.” She threw her hands up. “Fine. Don’t be such an ass. I’ve gone on a few dates with Nico DeAngelo.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

“What’s wrong with Nico?”

I snorted. Of all the men she could be dating in this city or in her circle of acquaintances, she decided to explore something with Nico DeAngelo. He was a manipulative bastard. Every move he made was calculated to line his pockets. Dominick held the title godfather in the Trassato family, but Nico had his greedy fingers in everything, distorting the truth to his benefit. Dominick was dumb as fuck if he actually trusted him. He was doing thousands of dollars of business off the record, and Dominick either ignored it or was too senile to see it.

“So many things I don’t know where to start.”

“Why don’t you give it a stab?”

“I’ll let you figure out his flaws for yourself.”

“Does that mean you won’t interfere in our relationship?”

“So now you’re in a relationship.” The word tasted like poison on my tongue.

“Not really.” Her shoulders dipped, and she unfolded her napkin, dropping it in her lap. “My dad wanted me to marry him. My uncle has given his official nod of approval. I’ve been dragging my feet, but if I can get out of this thing with you, it’s probably a done deal. That’s how things work in my family.”

“Do you like him?”

“He’s okay, not that it matters what I do or don’t like.”

She chewed on the corner of her lip, her gaze flitting around the restaurant. In that second, I saw straight through her tough exterior, and the misery in her eyes squeezed at that big organ in the center of my chest. Here was this completely stunning woman with her dark hair, glowing eyes, the perfect amount of curves, living a charmed life without many responsibilities or financial hardship, yet you’d think she had nothing and no one. Some previously undetected piece of me that gave a damn about people wanted to pull her into my arms and erase her pain. I squashed the thought as quickly as it surfaced. I didn’t have time for sentimental emotions. They kicked my ass before, and they’d do it again if I didn’t keep myself firmly in check.

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