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Twisted Pride (The Camorra Chronicles Book 3)

By:Cora Reilly

PROLOGUE


SERAFINA

All my life I had been taught to be honorable, to do what was expected of me. Today I went against it all.

Dark and tall, Remo appeared in the doorway, come to claim his prize. His eyes roamed over my naked body, and mine did the same.

He was cruel and twisted. Beyond redemption.

Brutal attractiveness, forbidden pleasure, promised pain. I should have been disgusted by him, but I wasn’t. Not by his body and not always by his nature.

I shut off the water in the shower, scared of what he wanted, completely terrified of what I wanted. This was his game of chess; he was the king and I was the trapped queen that the Outfit needed to protect. He moved me into position for his last move: the kill. Check.

He began unbuttoning his shirt then shrugged it off. He moved closer, stopping right before me. “You always watch me like something you want to touch but aren’t allowed to. Who’s holding you back, Angel?”



CHAPTER 1





SERAFINA

“I can’t believe you’re getting married in three days,” Samuel said, his feet propped up beside mine on the coffee table. If Mom saw she would strangle us.

“Me either,” I said quietly. At nineteen, I was already older than many other girls in our world when they entered the holy bond of matrimony, and I had been promised to Danilo for a long time. My fiancé was only twenty-one himself, so an earlier marriage wasn’t very desirable. I certainly didn’t mind. It had given me the time to finish school and stay home with Samuel for another year. He and I had never been separated for long, except for a few days when he had business to conduct for the Outfit.

Because of his father’s sickness, Danilo was still busy taking over Indianapolis. A later wedding would have been even better for him, but I was a woman and supposed to marry before my twentieth birthday. I eyed the engagement ring on my finger. A prominent diamond in the center, we had to widen the band over the years as my fingers grew. In three days Danilo would put a second ring on me.

Mom came in with my sister, Sofia, who upon spotting us ran in our direction and wedged herself on the sofa between me and Samuel.

Samuel rolled his blue eyes but wrapped an arm around our little sister as she pressed up against him with big puppy dog eyes, tousling her brown mane. She had taken after Dad and hadn’t inherited the blond hair of our mother like Samuel and I. “It’s unfair that you’re leaving right after Fina’s wedding. I thought you would have more time for me.”

I nudged her. “Hey.” I wasn’t really angry at her. I understood where she was coming from. Being eight years younger than us, she had always felt like a fifth wheel, since Samuel and I were twins.

Sofia gave me an embarrassed smile. “I’ll miss you too.”

“I’ll miss you too, ladybug.”

Mom cleared her throat, standing tall, her hands linked in front of her stomach. She was dressed in a fitted, elegant green dress. Her blue eyes lowered to our feet resting on the table. She tried to look stern, but the trembling of her mouth made it clear she was fighting a smile.

Samuel and I dropped our feet off the table at the same time.

“I thought I should warn you that Danilo just called. He’s coming over because he just arrived in town and is supposed to meet your father and uncle.”

Now I understood why Sofia, too, was dressed in a pretty summer dress. I didn’t even know my father was expecting him. I was leaving for Indianapolis tomorrow.

I jerked to my feet. “When?”

“Ten minutes.”

“Mom!” My eyes widened in horror. “How am I supposed to get ready with that much time?”

“You look fine,” Samuel drawled, smirking, his short blond hair purposefully in a disarray. He could pull off the disheveled look, but I definitely couldn’t.

I narrowed my eyes. “Oh shut up.” I ran out of the room, almost bumping into Dad. He stepped back, looking down at me with a questioning smile.

“I need to get ready!”

I didn’t have time to explain. He could ask Mom. I took the steps two at a time. The moment I stumbled into my bathroom and saw my reflection, I cringed. My God. My skin was flushed, and my hair curled wildly around my shoulders. My simple jeans and T-shirt didn’t scream poised future wife either. Damn it.

I quickly washed my face then grabbed a flat iron. My hair was naturally curly, but I always straightened it when people other than my family were around. This time I had five minutes to do it. I stormed back into my bedroom, tore through my wardrobe. Choosing the right dress for such an occasion would have taken at least one hour. Now I had one minute, if I still wanted time to put on makeup. I grabbed a pink dress I ordered online a while ago but never wore and slipped it on. I was immediately reminded why I hadn’t worn it before: it ended several inches above my knees, revealing more of my long legs than I usually displayed, especially when men were around. Danilo would be my husband in three days. It was only fair that he saw a bit more of what he was getting.

A nervous thrill took hold of my body, but I pushed it aside and quickly slipped on matching heels then hurried to my vanity. I didn’t have enough time to put much effort into my makeup. My skin was quite flawless, so I decided against foundation and only put some blush and mascara on before rushing out of my room and down the corridor toward the stairs.

I slowed my steps considerably when I heard Danilo, Samuel, and Dad in the foyer below. It wouldn’t be wise to appear as if I had rushed to get ready for any man, not even my fiancé.

They were shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries.

I had met Danilo a few times before. I’d been promised to him since I was fourteen and he sixteen, but this time felt more intimate. In only three days I would become his wife and share a bed with him. Danilo was very attractive and had much success with women, a ladies’ man, but to me he had always been a perfect gentleman. He wore a white dress shirt and black pants, his dark hair immaculate.

I took the first step, placing my foot on the creaky stair on purpose, one long leg extended, my head held high.

All eyes turned to me. Danilo’s gaze zeroed in on my exposed legs, then he quickly snapped his brown eyes up to meet my eyes, smiling. Dad and Samuel both looked briefly at my legs, but their reaction was less than thrilled. Dad was patient and loving with Mom and us kids, even Samuel, which made it easy to forget that he was Underboss of Minneapolis—and a feared one at that. I was quickly reminded just how scary he could be as he put his hand on Danilo’s shoulder, wearing a hard expression on his face.

“I’d like to give you something in my office, Danilo,” he said in a cold voice.

Danilo wasn’t impressed by my father’s mood change. He was going to be the youngest Underboss in the history of the Outfit, and he was practically already ruling over Indianapolis because his father was so sick. He gave a curt nod. “Of course,” he said calmly, appearing so much older than his years. Hardened, grown-up. More man than I felt woman. Danilo gave me another smile then followed my father.

I descended the remaining steps, and Samuel barred my way. “Go change.”

“Excuse me?”

He pointed at my legs. “You’re showing too much leg.”

I pointed at my arms and throat. “I’m also showing my neck and arms.” I lifted one leg. “And I have nice legs.”

Samuel stared down at my leg then up at my face with a frown. “Yeah, well, Danilo doesn’t need to know that.”

I snorted then quickly looked around, worried Danilo was close enough to overhear. “He will see more than my legs on our wedding night.” Involuntary heat blasted my cheeks.

Samuel’s expression darkened.

“Get out of my way,” I said, trying to pass him.

Samuel mirrored my move. “Go change, Fina. Now,” he ordered in a voice he probably reserved for business with other Made Men.

I couldn’t believe his nerve. Did he think I would obey him only because he was a Made Man? That hadn’t worked these last five years. I quickly reached for his stomach and pinched him hard, which wasn’t easy considering Samuel was all muscle.

He jerked in surprise. I used his momentary distraction to slip past him then made a show of swaying my hips as I headed into the living area. Samuel caught up with me. “You have an impossible temper.”

I smiled. “I have your temper.”

“I’m a man. Women are supposed to be docile.”

I rolled my eyes.

Samuel crossed his arms and leaned against the wall beside the window. “You always act like a well-behaved lady when others are around, but Danilo will get a nasty surprise once he realizes he didn’t get a lady but a fury.”

A flicker of worry flooded me. Samuel was right. Everyone outside my family knew me as the Ice Princess. Our family was notorious for being poised and controlled. The only people who really knew me were my parents, Sofia, and Samuel. Could I ever be myself around Danilo? Or would that put him off? Danilo was always controlled, which was probably why Uncle Dante and Dad had chosen him for my husband—and because he was the heir to one of the most important cities of the Outfit.

A knock sounded and I turned around to see Danilo step in.

His brown eyes met mine, and he gave me a small smile. Then his gaze moved on to Samuel leaning against the wall behind me. Danilo’s expression tightened the slightest bit. I risked a look over my shoulder and found my brother glaring at my fiancé as if he wanted to crush him to dust. I tried to catch Samuel’s gaze, but he was content killing Danilo with his eyes. I couldn’t believe him.

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