TÞe S1o111on´s De]1on1 M1s1ress

Jone Por1er



WÞen revenge, seore1s ond poss1on 1gn11e!

Cuss cun't contínuc uítI u ¡cíutíonsIí¡ tIut ínuoíucs ]ust Ic¡ Iod¸ uIcn
Ic¡ Icu¡t ís I¡cuIíng.... Hut tIc dcuí sIc nudc uítI Sícíííun t¸coon
Muxínos Ho¡scíííno uus ¡o¡ scx - und uIcn tIut ¡uíís to Ic cnougI ¡o¡
Cuss, Muxínos cnds tIc u¡¡uí¡. Cuss ís con¡íctcí¸ dcst¡o¸cd. Vo¡sc, sIc
díscouc¡s sIc's ¡¡cgnunt.

Hut, nontIs on, un cx¡íosíuc ¡cuníon ís on tIc cu¡ds, ín Junc Po¡tc¡`s
du¡I, ¡ussíonutc und uttc¡í¸ g¡í¡¡íng sto¡¸ o¡ scc¡cts und ¡cucngc



PROLOGUE

SHE was slcc¡ing wiiI iIc cncny now.
WiiI Iis gui clcncIcd, nusclcs rocl Iard, Ma×inos waicIcd
Cassandra, Iis wonan, Iis lovcr, ialc Enilio Solaio's Iand as sIc
sic¡¡cd fron iIc low s¡oris car onio iIc sun da¡¡lcd drivc.
Torn lciwccn fascinaiion and rcvulsion, Ma×inos saw Enilio's arns
closc around Cass's slcndcr franc, waicIcd as Enilio's darl Icad ii¡¡cd,
waicIcd Iis cncny's nouiI lrusI Cass's lcauiiful car.
Ma×inos swallowcd rougIly, lilc rising in Iis iIroai.
You sIouldn'i lc sur¡riscd, Ic iold Iinsclf, irying io nalc Iinsclf
novc fron iIc ¡alazzo window. Woncn arc jusi as ircacIcrous as ncn.
If noi norc so.
Dui Cass Iadn'i sccncd lilc iIc iy¡c io ¡laya nan for a fool. Cass Iad
lccn diffcrcni.
Or Iad sIc?
His gui lurncd. Hc fcli lilc Ic'd drunl a liicr of laiicry acid.
WIy Iad Ic iIougIi sIc was diffcrcni? How wcll did Ic lnow Icr? For
iIai naiicr, Iow wcll did any nan rcally lnow a wonan?
TIc door io Iis siudy o¡cncd. Hc Icard fooisic¡s, and iIcn a ligIi Iand
ioucIcd Iis lacl. "Enilio's Icrc."
Ii was Adriana, Iis laly sisicr, and iIis was iIc wcclcnd of Icr
wcdding. TonigIi was a rccc¡iion ai iIc ¡alazzo Ionouring iIc lridc and
groon. "So I scc," Ma×inos answcrcd, Iis dcc¡ voicc lciraying nonc of
Iis angcr.
"Hc's lrougIi onc of Iis iran¡s wiiI Iin, ioo," Adriana coniinucd in
iIc sanc IusIcd, furious ionc. "How darc Ic do iIai io you? To Mana?
To any of us? WIai lind of nan is Ic?"
Ma×inos's li¡s curvcd as Ic siarcd oui iIc window, lui Ic wasn'i
looling ai Enilio. Hc was siudying Cass, ialing in Icr cIic IigI Iccls,
Icr fornfiiiing llacl lacc llousc, iIc cui of Icr clcgani llacl lnii sliri
wIicI sIowcascd iIc nosi incrcdillc lcgs Ic'd cvcr sccn in Iis lifc.
Hc lncw iIosc lcgs iniinaicly.
For ncarly iIrcc ycars Ic'd owncd iIosc lcgs, ¡aricd iIcn, iasicd iIcn,
wra¡¡cd iIcn around Iis waisi as Ic'd ialcn Icr, nadc Icr Iis.
And Ic'd nadc Icr Iis, nany, nany iincs ovcr iIc iwo and a Ialf ycars
iIcy wcrc iogciIcr.
SIc'd lccn iIc idcal lovcr, iIc ¡crfcci nisircss ?uniil sIc lrolc iIc
agrccncni. And iIcn Ic'd donc wIai iIcy'd agrccd iIcy'd do. Hc lcfi.
Movcd on.
Now ii'd sccncd sIc'd novcd on, ioo.
Ma×inos glanccd ai Iis sisicr, Iis rucful cסrcssion conccaling norc
iIan ii rcvcalcd. "WIai lind of nan is Ic?" Ma×inos rc¡caicd Iis sisicr's
qucsiion. "Wc alrcady lnow iIc answcr io iIai." Hc rcacIcd oui,
sirunncd Adriana's flusIcd cIccl, Icr lcauiiful fcaiurcs iigIi wiiI
indignaiion. "A laclsiallcr-"
"A snalc," Adriana inicrru¡icd Ioily.
"And a iIicf," Ic concludcd cvcnly.
For a noncni nciiIcr s¡olc, loiI losi in iIougIi lcforc Ic iurncd lacl
io iIc window io gazc oui on iIc ¡alazzo's cnirancc wIcrc Enilio and
Cass wcrc now clinling iIc froni sic¡s.
Adriana sic¡¡cd closcr io Iin, ¡rcssing Icr facc inio Iis sIouldcr. "I
Iaic Iin," sIc wIis¡crcd, voicc nufflcd. "I Iaic Iin. I'll Iaic Iin forcvcr
for wIai Ic did io you."
Hc rcacIcd u¡, cu¡¡cd iIc lacl of Icr Icad. "Hc's noi woriI ii, laly."
Ma×inos fcli Icr icnsc, fcli Icr ¡rcss cvcn closcr and wIcn Icr cniirc
lody sIuddcrcd Ic rcalizcd sIc was crying. "Dui you arc," sIc answcrcd,
Icr facc siill luricd in iIc crool of Iis arn, Icr voicc rougI, iIicl, iIc
words ncarly indisiinguisIallc. "You'vc lccn Ma×inos, ny lig lroiIcr,
ny vcry own Icro, for as long as I can rcncnlcr."
For a s¡lii sccond Ic couldn'i lrcaiIc. His cIcsi squcczcd, con¡rcsscd,
lungs squasIcd visc-lilc wIilc Iis vision wcni llacl and suddcnly Ic
was iIrusi lacl in iinc, lacl soncwIcrc so wrcicIcd Ic couldn'i scc,
iIinl, fccl. And in iIai noncni iIcrc was no ¡asi, no fuiurc, no ¡rcscni-
jusi llaclncss, iIc llaclncss iIai dwcllcd wiiIin iIc Icari of nan.
My lig lroiIcr, ny vcry own Icro ...
His sisicr's innoccni words ¡cnciraicd iIc darlncss sIrouding Iis
nind.
Cradually iIc ¡rcssurc on Iis cIcsi cascd, and Iis lursiing lungs fillcd
wiiI air. Hc drcw a lrcaiI and Iis vision clcarcd. TIc darlncss rcccdcd
and Ma×inos was allc io laugI. "TIcrc arc no Icrocs anynorc, Adriana.
Only ncn."
Adriana ¡ullcd away, loolcd u¡ inio Iis facc, Icr dcnsc llacl lasIcs
dan¡, naiicd, wiiI silcni icars. "You'rc wrong. You'rc Sicilian. You'rc
onc of iIc grcai oncs." TIcn wiiI a liss on Iis cIin, sIc wra¡¡cd an arn
around Iis cllow. "Conc, lci's go io ny ¡ariy. I nccd you iIcrc io Icl¡ us
cclclraic."



CHAPTER ONE

"YOU'FE ccriain you wani io do iIis?" Enilio aslcd, Iis ionc nocling.
"Ii's noi ioo laic io lcavc."
Cass siood ¡crfccily siill on iIc ¡alazzo's sic¡s, lricfly llindcd ly iIc
inicnsc ligIi of iIc sciiing sun, and rcfuscd io lci Icrsclf scc-iIinl-fccl
lcyond iIc noncni.
SIc Iad io do iIis.
SIc didn'i Iavc a cIoicc.
"TIc sccond you wall iIrougI iIc doors ii'll lc ioo laic."
Enilio was siill ialling, Iis words rusIing ovcr Icr lilc iIc warniI of
iIc dazzling Sicilian sun. "If you'rc going io run scarcd, do ii now."
Cass's Icad jcrlcd u¡ and sIc forccd Icrsclf io lool ai Iin, focus on
Iis facc. Enilio's li¡s wcrc curvcd and yci Iis cycs wcrc Iard. TIis was
no ganc.
"Oncc insidc iIosc doors, you'rc conniiicd." Enilio lcancd ioward Icr,
doninaiing Icr. Hc'd oncc lccn Ma×inos's lcsi fricnd and forncr
lusincss ¡arincr lui iIc iwo wcrc cncnics now. "Don'i iIinl you can
run away iIcn."
TIc uglincss in Iis cycs rc¡cllcd Icr. SIc iurncd Icr Icad, snooiIcd
Icr llacl sliri, nadc surc Icr fiiicd lacc llousc lay flai ovcr iIc
waisiland of Icr narrow sliri. "I'n noi running," sIc said Iuslily, lcforc
glancing u¡ ai iIc in¡osing facc of iIc ¡alazzo, iIc Ciuliano fanily villa.
TIc iall slcndcr sionc colunns flanling iIc doorway su¡¡oricd a lovcly
iron lalcony. Snallcr iron lalconics francd cacI of iIc wIiic ¡ainicd
FrcncI doors ovcrlooling iIc ncdicval ¡iazza. Ii was a lcauiiful
in¡rcssivc Ionc.
Dui wIy sIouldn'i ii lc? Ma×inos was a lcauiiful in¡rcssivc nan.
Dcauiiful, in¡rcssivc and crucl.
For a noncni Cass fcli noiIing lui gricf. Cricf lornc of loss, iIc ¡ain
ncarly as siunning as ii Iad lccn si× noniIs ago wIcn ii fcli as iIougI
Ma×inos Iad drivcn an iron nail inio Icr Icari.
Evcry lrcaiI Iuri.
Evcry iIougIi llisicrcd.
Evcry cnoiion, ¡urc agony.
SIc drcw a sIar¡ lrcaiI, rcncnlcring, rcliving iIc ¡ain. Hc'd
dcsiroycd Icr. SIaiicrcd sonciIing ¡rccious insidc Icr. In iIc llinl of
an cyc. In iIc ¡ariing of li¡s. In iIc singlc lcai of iIc Icari.
Firc raccd iIrougI Icr vcins now. Firc, angcr, gricf.
SIc'd lovcd Iin. Lovcd Iin norc iIan sIc iIougIi sIc'd cvcr lovc
anyonc and ii Iad ncani noiIing. SIc'd jusi lccn a lody. In Iis lcd.
Enilio's Iand sIoi oui, ioucIcd Icr arn. "If iIis is io worl, Ic's goi io
lclicvc wc'rc iogciIcr, iIai our rclaiionsIi¡ is scrious."
"Hc'll lclicvc ii." SIc swallowcd Iard, figIiing iIc surgc of cnoiion.
SIc'd ncvcr lilcd Enilio÷noi wIcn Ma×inos firsi iold Icr aloui Iin,
and Icr o¡inion Iadn'i cIangcd aficr a day iravclling wiiI Iin fron
Fonc÷lui sIc nccdcd Iin. Hc was Icr iiclci inio Ma×inos's Ionc. "I
Iavcn'i conc iIis far io fail now."
"So wIcn arc wc gciiing narricd?" Enilio ¡crsisicd.
"A¡ril I6." Cass's cycs lurncd. Ma×inos dcs¡iscd Enilio, no dcs¡isc
wasn'i a sirong cnougI word ?nalc iIai Iaic. Ma×inos Iaicd Enilio,
and oncc Ma×inos saw iIc iwo of iIcn iogciIcr-sIc inIalcd Iard,
sIar¡ly, ¡ain s¡linicring iIrougI Icr-Ic'd Iaic Icr, ioo.
"WIcrc did wc ncci?"
"Ai iIc EFFIE Awards and wc inncdiaicly Iii ii off."
Enilio snilcd. "And Iow did I ¡ro¡osc?"
"During a ronaniic wcclcnd in iIc ScycIcllcs. TIc wcdding is now jusi
si× noniIs away. Did I forgci anyiIing?"
Enilio rcacIcd oui, lrusIcd a goldcn-lrown icndril of Iair fron Cass's
lrow. "Hc'll ncvcr forgivc you."
For a noncni sIc couldn'i lrcaiIc, Icr cIcsi lurning, Icari on firc.
SIc didn'i wani Ma×inos io Iaic Icr ... didn'i wani Iin io scc Icr as
iIc cncny. SIc'd oncc lccn Iis. SIc'd lclongcd io Iin lody and soul. ..
lui wasn'i iIai wIy sIc'd agrccd io do iIis in iIc firsi ¡lacc?
Closc iIc door on iIc ¡asi? Focus squarcly on iIc fuiurc? EsiallisI a
fuiurc?
SIc ¡ui Icr Iand io Icr niddlc, Icr insidcs cIurning, siornacI
lnoiiing. Ii Iad lccn ovcr si× noniIs, si× noniIs sincc iIc cnd of iIcir
rclaiionsIi¡ and sIc was siill larcly funciioning, siill dragging Icrsclf
iIrougI iIc days, siunncd, lrolcn, caiaionic.
Inicllcciually sIc lncw iIis couldn'i coniinuc. SIc was dying ai worl,
losing accounis, losing rcs¡cci. SIc couldn'i lci a lrolcn Icari ruin Icr
lifc.
Ii was iinc io novc forward. SIc Iad io novc forward, wIicI is wIy
sIc'd agrccd io ¡lay iIc ¡ari of Enilio's adoring fianccc.
"Ii won'i lc ¡rciiy," Enilio said, Iis voicc dro¡¡ing, iIc warning clcar
and yci Ic was also cagcr. E×Iilaraicd.
Ii logglcd Icr nind Iow nucI ncn lovcd war. And iIis was war, a
Iorrillc war iIai uscd lovc and lcirayal insicad of lullcis and guns.
Enilio Iad inviicd Icr io join Iin ai Ma×inos's sisicr's wcdding,
suggcsiing iIcy ¡rcicnd io lc ronaniically involvcd lccausc Ic wanicd
llood, Ma×inos's llood, and sIc'd accc¡icd Enilio's inviiaiion lccausc
in Icr own way, sIc wanicd llood, ioo.
Hcr cIcsi lurncd, firc, firc, and sIc fcli only dcs¡craiion io ¡ui an cnd
io iIis nadncss. TIai sIc could Iavc cvcr lovcd Ma×inos so dcc¡ly ...
iIai sIc could Iavc cvcr givcn iIrcc ycars of Icr lifc io Iin, waiiing,
always waiiing ...
"Finc," sIc said sofily, facing iIc firc, lciiing iIc awful Icarilrcal lurn,
and ii ragcd. Hoi. Furious. FcvcrisI. SIc'd lccn iorn in Ialf ly lovc and
now sIc'd figIi, and figIi Iard. "I don'i wani ii ¡rciiy. I jusi wani ¡cacc."
SIc'd s¡cni iIc worsi si× noniIs of Icr lifc, iIc alsoluic worsi noniIs
inaginallc, irying io accc¡i iIai sIc and Ma×inos wcrc ovcr. FinisIcd.
TIrougI. And cvcn aficr Icr lody Iad sio¡¡cd iIc wrcicIcd acIing,
cסcricncing a lruial ¡Iysical wiiIdrawal, Icr nind ¡laycd gancs,
iurning cvcry nigIi, cvcry drcan, cvcry nan on iIc sircci inio ¡Ianions
of Ma×inos.
SIc'd livcd wiiIoui Iin si× noniIs. Ii Iad fcli lilc si× ycars.
SIc'd dicd a Iundrcd iincs in iIc noniIs sincc iIcy said goodlyc and
in all iIai iinc, in all iIosc noniIs, iIcrc Iadn'i lccn a call. A card. A
word.
Hc sin¡ly lci Icr go. Dui wIy sIouldn'i Ic? SIc was jusi Iis nisircss.
Hc was cniiilcd io Iavc wIo Ic wanicd, wIcn Ic wanicd. Hc was cniiilcd
io ialc and forgci. Aficr all Ic was Ma×inos Ciuliano and sIc'd ncvcr
aslcd for anyiIing fron Iin lui sc×.
Alru¡ily Cass novcd forward, quiclly clinling iIc villa's lroad sionc
froni sic¡s, iIc sun lcIind iIcn ¡ainiing iIc door a violcni rcd. Dcforc
sIc could cnicriain sccond iIougIis, sIc ra¡¡cd Iard on iIc siaicly
froni door and sic¡¡cd lacl.
Scconds laicr iIc inncnsc woodcn froni door o¡cncd. Enilio iurncd io
Cass, flasIcd Icr a cunning snilc. "Congraiulaiions, Cass, darling.
You'vc donc ii now."
TIcrc was no iinc for rcgrcis as iIc luilcr was usIcring iIcn iIrougI
iIc vaulicd cniry inio a grand salon off io iIc rigIi, iIc salon's IigI
cciling sicncillcd in gold and rosc and ¡alc lluc.
Enilio lc¡i Iis arn looscly slung around Icr waisi as iIcy cnicrcd iIc
salon cvcn as iIc cnorniiy of Icr dccision, iIc incrcdillc siu¡idiiy, Iii
Icr, a violcni llow io iIc sidc of iIc Icad and sIc c×Ialcd wiiI a
wIoosI.
WIy Iad sIc gonc for iIc dranaiic cnd, iIc dcaiI of Io¡c, iIc lurial of
lovc?
Malc iIai iIc lurial of Icr lovc as Ic'd ncvcr lovcd Icr. Hc'd worsIi¡cd
Icr lody, and only iIcn, wIcn Ic'd found Icr convcnicni and availallc,
iIc lruial iruiI nadc clcar si× noniIs ago wIcn sIc darcd io asl...io
wIis¡cr...for norc.
Icc coaicd Icr Icari and for a noncni sIc fcli lilc liiilc Olivcr Twisi
fron iIc Diclcns novcl, lcgging, lcgging. Plcasc, sir, can I Iavc
sonc...norc?
And jusi lilc iIai Ma×inos Iad roarcd lacl, Morc? Did you say norc?
Aciually Ic Iadn'i sIouicd. Hc Iadn'i cvcn aslcd Icr io rc¡cai wIai
sIc'd said. Hc'd sin¡ly givcn iIc Ma×inos accc¡iancc, a Ialf sIrug, iIc
caln, unrufflcd a¡¡roacI Ic iool io all naiicrs ¡criaining io Icr. To
iIcn.
TIcn. WIai a Iorrillc liiilc word. TIcn, jusi "iIc" wiiI an n iaclcd on
ai iIc cnd.
TIcn.
Dui iIcn, in icrns of Ma×inos and Cass ncani only onc iIing÷sc×.
Hoi, Iungry, insaiiallc.
Jusi iIinling of sc× ÷Ma×inos÷Icr lody acIcd inwardly, iIc icrrillc
craving siill iIcrc, lcncaiI iIc surfacc, Icr cnoiions siill so volaiilc.
"WIai iIc Icll arc you doing Icrc?"
TIc faniliar voicc scni icy ¡ricllcs ri¡¡ling down Cass's s¡inc.
Ma×inos.
SIc siiffcncd Icl¡lcssly, iIc Iair rising on Icr na¡c. Slowly sIc iurncd
ioward iIc voicc, Icr lody Ioi and iIcn cold and Ioi again. Fron iIc
lcginning sIc'd lccn awarc of Ma×inos as ¡urc cncrgy, a lifc forcc, a lifc
forcc iIai con¡lcicly ovcrwIclncd Icr own. And iIcn sIc saw Iin.
Ma×inos.
Drcsscd in¡cccally, clcganily, in a darl suii iIai fiiicd Iin as only an
Iialian cui suii could, Ic worc a sagc-grccn sIiri and iic and Iis goldcn-
olivc slin loolcd norc lurnisIcd iIan cvcr, Iis ony× Iair norc ¡olisIcd,
Iis Iard fcaiurcs norc lcauiiful. No onc Iad cyclasIcs iIiclcr, darlcr,
longcr iIan Ma×inos. No onc Iad a nouiI iIai snilcd so rarcly lui
lisscd so lcauiifully.
Hcr lclly lnoiicd. TIc dcsirc ncarly as ¡ainful as iIc Icarilrcal. SIc
iricd io lool away lui couldn'i. SIc'd nisscd Iin ioo nucI. Misscd Iis
IcigIi. His luild. His facc. His lody. SIc'd nisscd cvcryiIing aloui Iin.
Dui ¡ariicularly Iis lody. Misscd iIc way Iis lody sircicIcd io covcr
Icrs, nisscd iIc way Iis Iands wra¡¡cd around Icr wrisis, nisscd iIc
way Ic Icld Icr, nadc lovc io Icr, nisscd iIc icnsion of Iin-iIcn-
iogciIcr.
TIcrc was sc×, and iIcn iIcrc was ¡assion, and wIai iIcy Iad was sc×
and ¡assion-iIc Ioiicsi, nosi cסlosivc, nosi inio×icaiing ¡assion, iIc
lind iIai grallcd Iold of you ly iIc iIroai and didn'i lci go. TIc lind
iIai owncd you, ¡osscsscd you, nadc you iis slavc.
TIcrc wcrc oiIcr lig ncn in iIc roon, oiIcr ncn wiiI IcigIi, lui no
onc carricd Iinsclf iIc way Ma×inos did. No onc wiiI Iis confidcncc.
His arrogancc. His inicnsc ¡Iysical ¡rcscncc.
Evcn fron across iIc roon sIc fcli awarc of Iin. Too awarc. And jusi
looling ai Iin sIc fcli sicl wiiI longing. Missing. Dcsirc.
NoiIing in Icr lifc Iad cvcr fcli as good as Ma×inos wiiI Icr, againsi
Icr.
NoiIing in Icr lifc Iad cvcr fcli as awful as Ma×inos lcaving Icr,
walling oui iIc door.
"Cood io scc you, ioo," Enilio said, filling iIc awful silcncc.
"You'vc no lusincss lcing Icrc," Ma×inos said, ignoring Cass
con¡lcicly and sIc wasn'i cniircly sur¡riscd. Oncc Ic novcd forward Ic
didn'i lool lacl. Hc didn'i Iarlour rcgrcis.
"I was inviicd," Enilio answcrcd, raising Iis wincglass in a nocl saluic.
"Noi ly ny fanily."
Enilio allowcd Iinsclf a snall snilc. "No, ly iIc groon's fanily. My
faiIcr and Anionio's faiIcr go way lacl."
"How c×ircncly unforiunaic."
Enilio grinncd. "Arc you going io call off iIc wcdding now?"
"No. I'll jusi Iavc io dis¡osc of you. Quicily. Quiclly." Ma×inos flasIcd
icciI, a savagc wolf snarl. "SIouldn'i lc difficuli."
"Noi wiiI iIc conncciions you Iavc."
"If I Iad iIc nafia conncciions you say I do, you wouldn'i siill lc
around." Ma×inos iurncd Iis Icad, fi×cd Iis darl gazc on Cass. "And I
would Iavc lnown aloui you," Ic addcd sofily, Iis ionc vclvci wiiI
dangcr.
Cass's Icari sio¡¡cd, fli¡¡cd, as Ma×inos's Iard gazc rcsicd on Icr.
SIc fcli Iin considcr Icr, fcli iIc unconforiallc wcigIi of Iis closc
scruiiny, and Iis cסrcssion, lilc iIc rcsi of Iin, was closcd. DciacIcd.
Unrcadallc.
SIc'd ncvcr rcally lnown Iin, Iad sIc? SIc'd ncvcr rcally Iad Iin,
ciiIcr. And iIc sIocl of sccing Iin again, cs¡ccially lilc iIis, was alnosi
ioo grcai, Icr lody awasI in Icai and icc, Icr sionacI Icavy, nauscous.
SIc'd ¡lanncd iIis, sIc'd conc Icrc io confroni Iin and yci sIc
wondcrcd now wIai sIc'd iIougIi sIc'd rcally acIicvc.
How could iIcrc cvcr lc ¡cacc lciwccn iIcn? How could iIcrc cvcr lc
any rcsoluiion?
SIc'd lovcd Iin and Ic Iadn'i carcd. TIc ncnory was lilc a lnifc
cuiiing insidc Icr, sli¡¡ing lciwccn Icr Icari and lrcasi lonc. How
could sIc lc so casy io forgci? So casy io losc?
How could sIc Iavc ncani so liiilc io Iin...?
Fcnnanis of iIc old ¡ain rusIcd iIrougI Icr, and sIc suclcd in Icr
lrcaiI, lificd Icr sIouldcrs so iIai iIc sira¡s of Icr sill lra cui inio Icr
slin. Cass siarcd siraigIi forward, siarcd ai iIc Iard lincs and anglcs
iIai sIa¡cd Ma×inos's ficrcc facc.
A nan wiiIoui icndcrncss. A nan wiiIoui sofincss of any lind. Yci
wasn'i Ic ?iIcir rclaiionsIi¡ ?so ¡crfccily Icr? So ¡crfccily Cass? SIc'd
ncvcr ialcn iIc casy road, ncvcr wanicd iIai wIicI was sin¡lc or
faniliar. No sIoricuis for Icr. Jusi Iard worl. Incrcdillc cIallcngcs. And
in¡ossilly IigI siandards.
"Lci nc sIow you iwo io iIc door," Ma×inos said now, Iis cסrcssion
Iard, llanl, as Ic gcsiurcd ioward iIc cniry.
"Sorry io disa¡¡oini you, fricnd," Enilio answcrcd, wra¡¡ing Iis arn
around Cass and lissing Icr icn¡lc. "Dui wc'rc going nowIcrc. Cass and
I'vc iravcllcd a long way and inicnd io siay."
For a noncni Ma×inos didn'i s¡cal, Iis fcaiurcs llanl, only Iis darl
cycs lciraying Iis angcr. "TIis is ny sisicr's wcdding."
"Fonaniic, isn'i ii?" Enilio answcrcd.
Dui Ma×inos wasn'i ¡aying Enilio aiicniion. Hc only Iad cycs for Cass
and Iis cסrcssion was Iard, dangcrous, so dangcrous iIai Cass inIalcd
sIar¡ly and rcnindcd Icrsclf io lc lravc. Ficrcc.
"You'rc rcally Icrc wiiI Iin?" Ma×inos aslcd Icr, Iis dcc¡ voicc
¡iicIcd cvcn lowcr.
Enilio drcw Cass cvcn closcr io Iis sidc. "You Iavc a ¡rollcn wiiI
iIai?"
"I'n noi ialling io you," Ma×inos answcrcd, Iis cycs ncvcr lcaving
Cass's facc. "I wani io Icar ii fron Icr."
"WIy?" Cass wIis¡crcd, nouiI suddcnly ioo dry, Icr Icari Ianncring
Iard. "You wallcd away fron nc, if I rcncnlcr corrccily."
Ma×inos's li¡s curvcd and yci ii wasn'i a ¡lcasani snilc ai all. "Dui
Solaio, Cass? WIy Iin?"
"Dccausc I lncw ii would nalc you crazy." SIc snilcd lrazcnly, Iiding
Icr ¡ain, Iiding iIc Iuri wra¡¡ing Icr Icari. SIc Iad io do iIis, Iad io
gci iIrougI iIis, Iad io gci Icr old lifc and confidcncc-lacl.
"DiicI."
Hc'd curscd Icr so sofily, Iis voicc fillcd wiiI so nucI Iuri and angcr,
iIai Ioi icars, Ioi Iaicful icars, lurncd iIc lacl of Icr cycs.
"You, liicI," Ic rc¡caicd rougIly and iIis iinc Cass wcni icy and siill
on iIc insidc.
SIc'd ncvcr Icard Ma×inos s¡cal io Icr wiiI so nucI conicn¡i in Iis
voicc and cvcn iIougI sIc'd cסccicd ii, ii siill cui dcc¡, lilc iIc Ioncd
cdgc of a Iuniing lnifc.
SIc waicIcd Iin iurn away, Iis fcaiurcs so nalcd, so savagc, iIai Icr
Icari ¡oundcd Iardcr. Hcr nouiI dricd. SIc wasn'i rcady for iIis, didn'i
lnow Iow io do iIis, Iow io Iuri iIc nan sIc'd lovcd for so long.
TIis is wrong, sIc iIougIi, ¡aniclcd, dcs¡craic. I can'i do iIis, and
insicad of iougI, ficrcc, sIc fcli sIaiicrcd all ovcr again, fcli iIc awful
cracl insidc Icr cIcsi. Ii Iuri. Hcr cIcsi. Hcr Icari lurning, lrcaling
insidc. TIc ¡ain was lacl, rciurning full forcc, a dcnon awalc.
Ma×inos's Icad suddcnly iurncd and Iis gazc nci Icrs, Iis darl cycs
Ioi, fillcd wiiI ragc and conicn¡i. Hc was lig, iall, lroad iIrougI iIc
sIouldcr, narrow Ii¡¡cd, wiiI long sirong lcgs. Hc cIcwcd on lifc, iorc ii
a¡ari wiiI Iis icciI. Fron iIc lcginning sIc'd adnircd Iis ficrccncss,
Iis icnaciiy, Iis unflincIing aliliiy io do wIai Ic wanicd wIcn Ic
wanicd. Ii was onc of iIc iIings iIai drcw Icr io Iin iniiially and ii was
onc of iIc iIings iIai lc¡i Icr ai Iis sidc.
"You will ¡ay," Ic said sofily, ollivious io all lui Icr. "Don'i iIinl you
won'i."
Ma×inos sionacI cIurncd, acid lurning Iis gui, cvcn as Iis iIougIis
lurncd llacl, ncarly as llacl as iIc angcr in Iis Icari. To iIinl iIis
was iIc wonan Ic'd oncc wanicd norc iIan any wonan Ic'd cvcr
lnown...io iIinl iIis was iIc wonan Ic'd irusicd. Trusicd.
And yci cvcn fccling sucI angcr and loaiIing, Ic siill fcli iIc in¡aci of
Icr lusI Ioncycd lcauiy, Icr scnsualiiy llaiani, Icr curvcs ri¡c and full.
Hcr llacl lacc llousc nouldcd Icr lrcasis, slinncd Icr narrow waisi,
¡laycd u¡ Icr gold and anlcr colouring, Icr Iair and cycs a siriling
io¡az, gliniing wiiI firc and ligIi. SIc didn'i nccd nalcu¡ io lc
lcauiiful. SIc didn'i nccd cloiIcs or jcwcllcry. No acccssory in iIc world
could nalc Cassandra Cardncr norc fcnininc or scduciivc iIan sIc
alrcady was.
"I'n noi afraid," Cass flasIcd, ialing a quicl lrcaiI cvcn as sIc
cluicIcd Icr wincglass norc iigIily.
Dui Ma×inos noiiccd Icr quicl lrcaiI, Icr li¡s ¡aricd, Icr li¡s a glossy
iawny li¡siicl a sIadc darlcr iIan Icr Ioncy-gold con¡lc×ion.
Hc ncarly rcacIcd oui io rul iIc li¡siicl off Icr lcauiiful li¡s, waniing
io fccl Icr slin, waniing io nalc Icr Iis again.
SIc didn'i lclong wiiI Enilio Solaio. Solaio was irasI wIilc Cass was
...
His.
His wonan. His.
TIcrc was no oiIcr way io iIinl of Icr. No way Ic could cvcr iIinl of
Icr. SIc was Iis.
Only Iis.
"You sIould lc," Ic answcrcd, rcncnlcring cvcryiIing. Lilc iIc way
sIc loolcd in Iis lcd. TIc way sIc fcli lcncaiI Iin. TIc way Ic could
ncvcr gci cnougI of Icr, Iow Ic'd rcacI for Icr iwo, iIrcc iincs a nigIi,
nigIi aficr nigIi. "I lnow you, Cass."
Cass iool a sic¡ lacl, fingcrs dan¡ around iIc sicn of Icr wincglass.
SIc was sIaling on iIc insidc, undonc ly Iis ¡ro×iniiy and iIc
inicnsiiy of Icr fcclings.
SIc was siill so aiiracicd io Iin. Far ioo aiiracicd. Ii was nadncss
coning Icrc. Siu¡idiiy. SIc was cIasing Iin ... cIasing. Cod. SIc'd losi
Icr nind con¡lcicly.
SIc saw Iis gazc dro¡, sliding ovcr Icr, a closc and vcry iniinaic
ins¡cciion as Ic c×anincd Icr facc, iIc ¡alc slin lciwccn Icr lrcasis
cסoscd ly iIc cui of Icr llousc, iIc narrow fii of Icr llacl sliri as ii
slinncd Icr Ii¡s. Hc siill lilcd Icr lody.
Dui Ic didn'i lilc Icr.
Cass iricd io ignorc iIc Iorrillc cnoiion luilding insidc Icr.
You can'i carc, sIc iold Icrsclf, you can'i lci yoursclf lc crusIcd or
iniinidaicd now. You canc for closurc. Cci your dann closurc and iIcn
gci oui of Icrc.
"You lncw iIc old nc," sIc said, cIin iiliing, cסrcssion lold. "Dui you
don'i lnow nc anynorc."
His darl gazc nci Icrs, clasIcd, Icld. "And you'vc cIangcd?"
"I'n noi wiiI you anynorc, an I?"
Ma×inos snilcd. Snilcd. And sIc longcd io lnocl iIai snug, sclf-
saiisficd cסrcssion off Iis facc. "You would lc, if you could," Ic
nurnurcd.
Dcs¡iic Ma×inos's clcgani sIiri, iIc Iini of sIccn in iIc flawlcss falric,
iIc cסcnsivc darl suii, Ic loolcd norc lcasi iIan nan. PaniIcr.
Prcdaior. And Cass flusIcd, fccling caugIi. Tra¡¡cd. Eסoscd ly a lic
lccausc of coursc Ic was rigIi.
If Ic Iadn'i lcfi Icr, sIc would siill lc wiiI Iin. TIcrc was no way sIc
could Iavc cvcr lcfi Iin. SIc wasn'i iIai sirong. SIc'd nccdcd ... wanicd
... Iin far ioo nucI.
"I Iaic you," sIc said, iIc words slicing Icr Icari inio sIrcds. Hc was
noi lcauiiful, sIc iold Icrsclf, sucling in a dcfcnsivc lrcaiI, noi in any
way lcauiiful. Yci wiiI Icr cycs loclcd wiiI Iis, sIc could fccl iIc Icai
lciwccn iIcn. TIc firc Iadn'i dicd. Maylc iIcrc was no lovc Icrc, lui
iIcrc was Iungcr. Ficrcc, carnal Iungcr. ToucI, ¡osscssion, dcsirc.
Dcsirc.
SIc swallowcd, irying io su¡¡rcss iIc curl of fccling in Icr lclly, iIai
clcciric sizzlc of awarcncss, of lnowlcdgc. His ioucI Iad always lii a
fircsiorn of nccd, Iis slin on Icrs warn, so warn, Iis lody a ¡lcasurc
and a iorncni.
"I'n noi sur¡riscd."
SIc llinlcd, gaiIcrcd Icr con¡osurc, willing Icrsclf io lc caln, rcgain
Icr cool. SIc couldn'i losc ii Icrc, now. Noi wiiI Enilio Ianging on Icr
cvcry word. Noi wiiI fifiy-odd gucsis filling iIc ¡alazzo's grand salon.
SIc iurncd io Enilio, ioucIcd Iis arn, nissing iIc lca¡ of flancs in
Ma×inos's darl cycs. "SIould wc gci anoiIcr drinl?" SIc snilcd u¡ ai
Enilio, sniling io lcc¡ Icrsclf focuscd, io lcc¡ icars fron wclling in Icr
cycs. SIc sIould Iavc rcalizcd Iow Iard iIis would lc, sIould Iavc
rcncnlcrcd Iow inicnsc iIc ¡Iysical aiiraciion Iad always lccn.
Hoi. Dangcrous.
"If you'rc iIirsiy, Solaio will lc Ia¡¡y io gci you anoiIcr drinl,"
Ma×inos answcrcd. "You and I Iavcn'i quiic finisIcd yci."
SIc larcly glanccd ai Ma×inos. "I iIinl wc Iavc."
"And I iIinl you forgci, cIrison, wIosc Ionc you'rc in. You'vc
ircs¡asscd," Ma×inos answcrcd, sic¡¡ing ioward Icr. "You'vc invadcd
ny Ionc, violaicd ny ¡rivacy. Don'i iIinl iIcsc iransgrcssions conc
wiiIoui a ¡ricc-"
"TIcn nanc ii," sIc inicrru¡icd, finding iIc couragc io siand u¡ io Iin,
cvcn as sIc ignorcd iIc sIivcrs racing down Icr s¡inc. "WIai is iIc
¡cnaliy?" sIc addcd, furious wiiI Iin, furious wiiI Icrsclf. Ii was all
coning lacl, iIc ncnorics rusIing iIrougI Icr, of lovc and loss,
ncnorics of Iin, ncnorics of iIc nidnigIi iri¡ io iIc Ios¡iial,
ncnorics of inicnsc ¡ain, and lonclincss. "Tcll nc wIai ii is. I'n dying io
lnow."
"Do you iwo nccd a ninuic alonc?" Enilio aslcd, suddcnly Icl¡ful,
dccc¡iivcly innoccni. "Dccausc I could go gci us drinls."
"A grcai idca," Ma×inos answcrcd, cuiiing Icr own rcfusal sIori.
Dui ii was all iIc cncouragcncni Enilio nccdcd, and wiiI a casual
gcsiurc Enilio indicaicd Ic was off io find frcsI drinls.
Eycs narrowcd, li¡s iIin, Ma×inos waicIcd Enilio saunicr off. "Your
fiancc docsn'i sccn ioo inclincd io ¡roicci you."
SIc, ioo, waicIcd Enilio wall away and sIc Iaicd iIc way Icr lody
suddcnly fcli wcal, Icr lcgs flinsy lcncaiI Icr. "Maylc lccausc Ic
lnows you'rc no iIrcai."
Ma×inos laugIcd, iIc sound dcc¡, IarsI, so IarsI ii scra¡cd Icr
Icari, alrading Icr scnscs. "You lnow so liiilc, cara, ii scarcs nc." For a
noncni Ic was silcni, and iIcn Iis Icad iurncd and Ic considcrcd Icr.
"So wIai arc you doing Icrc?"
"I alrcady iold you-"
"No. Noi iIai lullsIii. I wani iIc iruiI."
"TIc iruiI?" Hcr voicc craclcd as Iis darl cycs sciilcd on Icr,
scorcIing Icr. Hc nadc Icr ioo awarc of Icr own slin and lody. TIcy
wcrcn'i ioucIing and yci Iis Iands nigIi as wcll lc all ovcr Icr. Hcr
Icari iIuddcd Iard and fasi. Hcr insidcs fcli Ioi and iigIi. Hcr lnccs
sIool lcncaiI iIc slin sliri.
How was ii ¡ossillc io siill fccl so sirongly? To siill cravc so nucI?
Cass fcli wildly oui of conirol, cn¡iy, sus¡cndcd in air. Hcr insidcs fcli
icndcr, lruiscd, Icr insidcs fcli iurncd oui, cסoscd io air.
SIc nccdcd ¡cacc. Morc iIan anyiIing sIc cravcd ¡cacc. Dui wiiI
Ma×inos iIcrc was no ¡cacc. Jusi angcr. Jusi ¡ain. Jusi nccd.
"TIc iruiI," Ic rc¡caicd. "Or Ias Solaio iurncd your Icad so
con¡lcicly you don'i cvcn lnow iIai anynorc?"
"Enilio's lccn a ¡crfcci gcnilcnan-"
"In¡ossillc," Ma×inos inicrru¡icd. "Dui go on, icll nc wIaicvcr ii is
you and Solaio worlcd oui lciwccn iIc iwo of you. Civc nc iIc iruiI...if
you can rcncnlcr io lcc¡ your siory siraigIi."
Hcr nouiI o¡cncd, sIui. SIanc swc¡i Icr. SIanc and indignaiion.
TIanl Cod iIcrc wcrc no wca¡ons Icrc, noiIing Icavy io iIrow or
swing, lccausc oiIcrwisc sIc'd lnocl Iis snilc away, lnocl Iis Iorrillc
arrogani snilc off Iis facc.
SIc Iaicd Iin. Haicd.
How could sIc Iavc cvcr fcli any closcncss, any scnsc of iniinacy? Had
iIc wIolc sc×ual as¡cci of iIcir rclaiionsIi¡ colourcd Icr ¡crcc¡iions so
iIorougIly? Had Iis ¡rowcss in lcd, Iis sc×ual cסcriisc, nadc Icr
lclicvc iIcrc was norc lciwccn iIcn ... or nadc Icr lclicvc iIcrc could
lc norc?
Now sIc wondcrcd ai ii all, wondcrcd ai iIc idca iIcy'd cvcr lccn
anyiIing lui lcd ¡arincrs, iIai sIc'd lccn iIc way Ic saiisficd Iis
sc×ual nccds.
A rclcasc, sIc iaunicd Icrsclf, and iIc iauniing was lilc ¡ouring acid
on an o¡cn wound.
Hc suddcnly rcacIcd oui and ioucIcd a sirand of Icr lrown Iair sIoi
wiiI Ioncy-gold. "You'rc noi rcally wiiI Iin, arc you, Icííu?"
Hcííu. Dcauiiful. Hc'd always callcd Icr lclla wIcn Ic ioucIcd Icr,
nadc lovc io Icr and iIc word Iad luricd insidc Icr, lurrowing dcc¡
inio Icr soul.
SIc llinlcd, Iolding lacl gricf and icars. SIouldcrs lifiing, sIc
sIruggcd. "Dui I an." SIc swallowcd around iIc Iorrillc lun¡ filling Icr
iIroai. "Wc'rc cngagcd."
"Engagcd?" Ic rc¡caicd as if ii wcrc a word Ic'd ncvcr Icard lcforc.
Scalding icars lurncd iIc lacl of Icr cycs. "Wc'rc gciiing narricd in
A¡ril."
For a noncni Ic said noiIing. His Iand sin¡ly snooiIcd iIc sillcn
sirands of Iair lacl fron Icr facc, iucling iIcn lcIind Icr car. "WIy
arc you doing iIis, Cass?"
Hcr cIcsi squcczcd, lungs con¡rcssing. SIc didn'i wani io do iIis
anynorc. "Doing wIai?"
"Prcicnding÷"
"Ii's rcal." SIc forccd a snilc, sniling io Iidc iIc sIccn of icars in Icr
cycs. "Wc'rc gciiing narricd. In A¡ril. In Padua."
TIc colour draincd fron Iis facc. "Padua?"
"Ycs." SIc Io¡cd Icr snilc didn'i lool as falc as ii fcli and rcacIing u¡,
sIc iuggcd on Icr carlolc, jingling Icr dangling gold cIandclicr carring.
SIc fcli sicl, Iidcous, Iorrillc. Jusi gci iIis ovcr wiiI, sIc iold Icrsclf,
finisI wIai you siaricd so you can go Ionc and gci on wiiI iIc rcsi of
your lifc. "TIai givcs us si× noniIs io ¡lan iIc wcdding and rccc¡iion."
A snall crraiic ¡ulsc lcai ai Iis iIroai. "WIy Padua?"
"Enilio said÷"
"WIai?" Ma×inos was siaring ai Icr as if Ic'd sccn a gIosi, Iis darl
cycs glazcd, unsccing.
"TIai iIc ciiy Ias a s¡ccial significancc for Iin."
Alru¡ily Ma×inos iurncd away. His fcaiurcs Iad Iardcncd, iIc slin
iaui, ¡alc, lilc ¡olisIcd sionc. "Cci oui." His voicc was low, ras¡y. "Cci
oui lcforc I ¡crsonally iIrow you oui."




CHAPTER TWO

"I'M noi lcaving," Cass said, jcrling Icr cllow fron Iis Iand. "I didn'i
conc Icrc sin¡ly io ioriurc you. TIcrc wcrc iIings I nccdcd io scc.
TIings I nccdcd io lnow."
Ma×inos's cסrcssion suddcnly sIificd, Iis darl cycs ligIiing, a ncw
alcrincss sIar¡cning Iis fcaiurcs. "WIai iIings?"
"I nccdcd io undcrsiand wIy I couldn'i÷" Hcr voicc lrolc, and iIc
words failcd Icr. SIc iool a lrcaiI, wra¡¡cd Icr couragc around Icr
and coniinucd. "Havc norc of you. Undcrsiand wIy you ncvcr gavc nc
norc÷" And suddcnly Cass lncw sIc'd said ioo nucI. SIc could icll
fron Ma×inos's cסrcssion iIai sIc'd jusi unwiiiingly rcvcalcd Icr Iand.
"You'rc noi Iis fianccc," Ma×inos said grinly. "TIis is a sIan, a
cIaradc÷"
"No." Hcr ¡ulsc lca¡i wildly. WIai Iad sIc donc? WIai Iad sIc said?
"Ii's iruc. I an÷"
"TIcn wIy do you carc so nucI aloui us?" Hc ¡raciically Iisscd iIc
lasi word.
"Maylc lccausc I don'i wani io nalc iIc sanc nisialc iwicc!" SIc'd
lccn iIrougI Icll and lacl sincc Ic lcfi Icr. SIc'd suffcrcd norc iIan
sIc'd iIougIi ¡ossillc and iIc ¡ain Iad iaugIi Icr onc iruiI. sIc could
do anyiIing sIc wanicd io. "Maylc I wani io undcrsiand wIai Ia¡¡cncd
so I can dann wcll nalc surc ii docsn'i occur again."
His lrow conioricd, Iis cסrcssion darl, ¡unisIing. "I a¡¡rcciaic your
iIirsi for lnowlcdgc, cu¡íssínu, lui iIis isn'i iIc iinc."
"Maylc ii's noi convcnicni now, lui you'll ncvcr willingly givc nc iIc
iinc, Ma×inos, will you?"
A nusclc ¡ullcd in Iis jaw. Hc was angry. Cass allowcd Icr nouiI io
curvc, onc corncr of Icr li¡s lifiing in a snall dry snilc. "Maylc ii is
crazy io sIow u¡ Icrc wiiI Enilio, lui I wanicd io scc ÷no, I nccdcd io
scc÷wIai you wouldn'i sIarc wiiI nc."
"Wc Iad an agrccncni-"
"Sc×," sIc inicrru¡icd liiicrly, wisIing sIc could Iavc lccn conicni
wiiI jusi sc×. WIy couldn'i sc×÷cs¡ccially as ii'd lccn good sc× ÷lc
cnougI? Ii was for oiIcrs. SIc'd Icard iIai iIcrc wcrc woncn wIo wcrc
Ia¡¡y wiiI iIc coniaci, iIc rclcasc, and sIc'd iIougIi sIc was onc of
iIosc, iIougIi sIc could do jusi sc× if iIai was all Ma×inos could
givc...ai firsi.
Dui wiiI Ma×inos ii Iadn'i worlcd iIai way. Fron iIc vcry firsi iinc
iIcy nadc lovc sIc wanicd norc, fcli norc, nccdcd norc. Ma×inos nadc
Icr cravc cvcryiIing... cnoiion, ¡assion, conncciion. TIc lind of linding
conncciion iIai lc¡i iwo ¡co¡lc iogciIcr...
If sIc could go lacl, do ii all again, wIai would sIc do? And Cass iricd
io scc Icrsclf as sIc'd lccn iIcn, young, slin, fii, Iungry for sonciIing
inicrcsiing io Ia¡¡cn.
WIcn sIc nci Ma×inos sIc'd wanicd advcniurc, Io¡cd for nysicry,
and ¡assion. Es¡ccially ¡assion. Ii Iad sccncd lilc fun, iIc dcsirc for
Ma×inos, and sIc'd lovcd iIc way iIc dcsirc luili, rising, swclling,
doulling. TIc dcsirc Iad sccncd so cagcr and o¡cn, c×iravagani wiiI
¡oicniial. SIc'd sccn no dangcrs, no closcd doors. Jusi cndlcss,
wondcrful ¡ossililiiy, and iIc c×ciicncni ¡ullcd Icr in, swc¡i Icr away.
Dcsirc, Iavc nc. Ho¡c, Icrc I an. Lovc, will you conc?
SIc'd lccn rccllcss and lold, iossing Icr Icad, inviiing Ma×inos
closcr. And Ic'd lccn willing. Morc iIan willing. Hc'd lccn as cagcr as
Icr. Maylc cvcn norc.
How could ii go wrong?
Now sIc lncw. Mcn didn'i nccd wIai woncn nccdcd. Mcn could lury
iIcir Icari, cvcn as iIcy drovc forward wiiI iIcir lodics. A nan could
cn¡iy Iinsclf inio a wonan and noi lool lacl. A wonan Icld iIc nan,
cradlcd Iis lody, coniaincd Iis ¡assion. SIc nigIi wani io forgci, nigIi
wani io wall away, lui ¡ari of Icr rcncnlcrcd. Pari of Icr always
rcncnlcrcd. And iIc lciicr iIc sc×, iIc norc c×quisiic iIc lovcnaling,
iIc norc iIc wonan wanicd ii io lc lovc, and lcss aloui ¡Iysical
graiificaiion.
"Jusi sc×," sIc rc¡caicd nunlly, irying io Iidc iIc dc¡iI of Icr
Icarilrcal. Sc× wiiI Ma×inos Iad lccn noiIing sIori of ¡crfcciion.
His jaw flc×cd. His darl cycs lurncd down ai Icr. "You lncw iIc
agrccncni."
"TIings cIangc," sIc answcrcd and Ic didn'i rcs¡ond. SIc lovcd iIai
aloui Iin. Hc would rcsori io silcncc wIcncvcr Ic didn'i lilc iIc
dircciion iIc convcrsaiion was Icading. How nicc io lc a nan. How
adnirallc io lc allc io rcsori io silcncc, iIc lofiy IcigIis, iIc su¡crioriiy
of a non-answcr. Dui iIis is Iow ii Iad always lccn lciwccn iIcn cvcn
if sIc'd ncvcr lci Icrsclf scc ii...wouldn'i adnii ii...noi uniil Ic'd wallcd
fron Icr lifc forcvcr.
"Pco¡lc cIangc," sIc addcd iauily, lnowing sIc was goading Iin, and
glad io Iavc iIc cIancc io say all iIc iIings sIc'd ncvcr said lcforc.
His u¡¡cr li¡ ¡ullcd. "Don'i iIcy."
"So wIo is iIc ncw lovcr?" Cass aslcd, iiliing Icr Icad, sniling liiicrly
u¡ ai Iin, ignoring iIc angcr in Iis cycs, iIc cold conicn¡iuous
cסrcssion on Iis facc. His coldncss couldn'i Iuri Icr now. Cold was so
nucI casicr iIan firc.
"Don'i lc alsurd."
"I'vc ncvcr lccn alsurd." SIc Iandcd Icr wincglass io a ¡assing waiicr
and crosscd Icr cn¡iy arns ovcr Icr cIcsi io Iidc iIc faci iIai Icr
Iands wcrc sIaling. "I'vc ncvcr aslcd you for anyiIing. I jusi gavc, and
gavc, and gavc."
"You goi ¡lcniy, Icííu."
"In lcd."
"Ii's wIai you wanicd."
Fagc swc¡i iIrougI Icr, so Ioi, so dry, ii llisicrcd Icr fron Icad io
ioc. "If I'd lnown ii'd only lc sc× I would Iavc lccn norc sclfisI,
dcnandcd norc saiisfaciion. I would Iavc dcnandcd an orgasn cvcry
iinc you ioucIcd nc!"
SIc'd sIoclcd Iin.
SIc saw iIc fliclcr of sur¡risc in Iis cycs lui iIcn Ic sIool ii off and
iool a sic¡ ioward Icr. "TIis isn'i iIc way io ny Icari."
"Cood!" SIc lcancd rigIi inio Iin, cnoiion rioiing ovcr Icr facc. "I don'i
wani your Icari. Ii's snall and llacl and Iard. In faci, you nigIi wani
io scc a docior lccausc ii nigIi noi cvcn lc a Icari ai all!"
Ma×inos inIalcd Iard, li¡s ¡incIing, nosirils flaring, Iis lcauiiful
fcaiurcs alivc wiiI angcr. "I don'i Iavc iinc io do iIis-"
"You don'i Iavc io do anyiIing. Jusi ignorc nc. Ii's wIai you usually
do, rigIi?"
"Cassandra."
"Ycs, Ma×?" SIc'd inicniionally sIoricncd Iis nanc, iurning ii inio
slang and sIc lncw Iow Ic Iaicd iIc allrcviaicd vcrsion. Hc wasn'i a
Ma×. Hc was Ma×inos. Hc was a rulcr, a conqucror, a ling.
His Iand wra¡¡cd around Icr u¡¡cr arn, fingcrs ¡incIing.
Hcr arn floodcd wiiI Ioi, ¡ainful scnsaiion.
"TIis is ny fanily," Ic said, Iis dcc¡ rougI voicc falling lowcr. "TIis is a
¡rivaic ¡ariy, a ¡rivaic fanily funciion, and I won'i Iavc you u¡sciiing
ny fanily iIc nigIi lcforc ny sisicr's wcdding."
"You'rc closc io your fanily iIcn? I Iad no idca. Dui iIcn, wc ncvcr
rcally goi io lnow cacI oiIcr iIai wcll, did wc?"
"Wc Iad iwo ycars, iogciIcr."
"Fcally? TIai long?" SIc nadc a clucling sound of sur¡risc. "WIo
would Iavc iIougIi?" sIc addcd, cvcn as sIc laugIcd inwardly, liiicrly.
SIc lncw c×acily Iow long iIcy'd lccn iogciIcr, could rcncnlcr iIc
firsi nigIi so clcarly, as wcll as iIc nc×i iIousand and ninciy fivc nigIis
lciwccn iIcn and now.
"So wc did lnow cacI oiIcr."
"Olviously noi iIai wcll," sIc coniradicicd, anazcd ai Iow sicady Icr
voicc was. SIc'd always Iad a Iusly voicc for a wonan lui ii was cvcn
dcc¡cr, sirongcr iIan usual. Si× noniIs of crying Iad lruiscd Icr vocal
cords, iorn u¡ Icr Icari con¡lcicly lui ai lcasi sIc could lool Ma×inos
in iIc cyc and noi icar u¡. TIc icars wcrc gonc. Hc'd Iad sonciIing
good and Ic Iadn'i carcd. Hc'd wanicd sc×. Hc could Iavc Iad all of Icr.
Dui iIc sorrow was in iIc ¡asi. TIc Icarilrcal, iIc indccision lcIind
Icr. SIc'd lccn on a iogglc loard for noniIs, siruggling io gci Icr
lalancc, siruggling io gci Icr fooiing wIcn cvcryiIing jusi lc¡i
cIanging, rolling, sIifiing lcncaiI Icr and iIcn sIc finally goi iIc
¡iciurc. SIc didn'i Iavc io lcc¡ figIiing for lalancc, didn'i Iavc io lcc¡
sianding iIcrc siruggling io Iang iigIi.
SIc could jusi gci off.
SIc could jusi gci iIc Icll off and siand on lcvcl ground again. No norc
nadncss, no norc insaniiy. No norc lovc. SIc was lcaving ii lcIind for a
ncw siari, a ncw lifc, a lifc wIcrc sIc wouldn'i lcan on anyonc clsc.
Or asl for Icl¡.
Or iIinl sIc couldn'i do ii for Icrsclf.
SIc forccd a nocling snilc now, cvcn as sIc snasIcd iIc ¡ain down
insidc of Icr. SIc wouldn'i lc Iuri ly Iin anynorc. SIc'd ncvcr again
allow Iin iIai lind of ¡owcr ovcr Icr, ncvcr lci Iin closc.
"I lncw wIo you wcrc," sIc coniinucd, "and wIai you did, lui I ncvcr
nci your fricnds, or your fanily. I was ncvcr includcd in your rcal world,
and ii was iIc rcal world I wanicd, noi jusi iIc lcdroon."
"And Enilio givcs you iIc rcal world?"
"OI, iIai and nucI nucI norc."
His jaw iIiclcncd and Ic nadc a Ioarsc sound of disgusi. "WIcn did
you siari sccing Iin?"
Hcr lrow crcascd as sIc ¡rcicndcd io iry io rcncnlcr.
"Fclruary? MarcI?"
His cסrcssion grcw llaclcr. "Wc wcrc siill sccing cacI oiIcr in
Fclruary. I iool you io Paris for Valcniinc's Day."
"TIcn MarcI."
"You didn'i wasic any iinc," Ic answcrcd lruially, Iis ficrccly lcauiiful
fcaiurcs so Iard iIcy could Iavc lccn carvcd fron sionc. Hc'd ncvcr
sccncd as Sicilian as Ic did now, Iis iniinidaiing cסrcssion, Iis IarsI
lcauiy rcninding Icr of iIc rocly Mcdiicrrancan island Iis fanily Iad
callcd Ionc for Iundrcds of ycars.
Wasic any iinc? SIc silcnily rc¡caicd, iIinling aloui wIai Iad rcally
Ia¡¡cncd, rccalling iIc siunning gricf, and iIc discovcry iIai sIc was
¡rcgnani. Ma×inos Iad lcfi Icr alru¡ily in iIc niddlc of iIc nigIi, lcfi
Icr, lcaving Icr lcd and walling oui of Icr a¡arincni, and iIrcc wccls
laicr wIcn Icr ¡criod didn'i conc sIc'd ialcn a ¡rcgnancy icsi. And iIcn
anoiIcr. And anoiIcr.
Ii Iad lccn so sIocling, all of ii, and iIc long, difficuli noniIs dcaling
wiiI iIc ¡rcgnancy, and iIcn iIc discovcry iIai iIc laly wasn'i IcaliIy,
Iad cIangcd Icr. TIcrc Iad lccn no onc io lcan on, no onc io go io for
confori or advicc. SIc'd Iad io dcal wiiI ii all on Icr own.
SIc llinlcd, sIruggcd, fcigning a noncIalancc sIc didn'i fccl. "You
wcrcn'i coning lacl, and Enilio ircaicd nc wcll..." SIc lci Icr voicc drifi
off, lciiing Ma×inos fill in iIc nissing ¡icccs. "Anyway, I do Io¡c you can
lc Ia¡¡y for us."
"Ha¡¡y."
"Wc loiI do so wani you io aiicnd iIc wcdding÷" Ma×inos was lig,
fasi, and Iis arn rcacIcd oui, Iis Iand cncircling Icr u¡¡cr arn lcforc
sIc lncw Ic'd novcd.
His Iand fcli Iard on Icr arn, Iis fingcrs iigIicr iIan iIcy'd cvcr lccn,
lui sIc wasn'i afraid. SIc'd fcli nany cnoiions around Ma×inos, fcli so
nucI sonciincs sIc didn'i lnow if iIcrc was anyiIing lcfi io Icr, lui
iIc onc cnoiion sIc'd ncvcr fcli was fcar.
Lovc, lusi, Iuri, nccd, agony, gricf, dcs¡air, Iaircd. Dui fcar? Ncvcr.
Ma×inos was Iugc, iIiclly nusclcd, a Iundrcd iincs sirongcr iIan Icr
lui Ic wasn'i violcni, didn'i nccd io rcsori io violcncc. Noi wIcn Iis
ioucI Iad lccn so cffcciivc--cnslaving. Hc'd owncd Icr, conirollcd Icr
jusi ly lnowing Icr lody, lnowing Icr rcs¡onsc. Onc ioucI on Icr
lrcasi, onc liss on iIc sidc of Icr nccl, onc lcg lciwccn Icr own and
sIc was gonc. Losi. His.
Now wiiI Iis Iand wra¡¡cd around Icr arn Ic was dragging Icr oui of
iIc roon, dragging Icr lilc a nadnan down iIc narrow corridor io an
cvcn narrowcr, darlcr Iall ai iIc lacl.
TIcy iurncd a corncr, and iIcn anoiIcr and iIcy wcrc alonc, vcry
alonc, in a vcry din corridor.
Ma×inos ¡rcsscd Icr againsi iIc wall, ¡rcsscd Iis lody inio Icrs, Iis
lncc ¡ariing Icr lcgs so widc sIc fcli s¡laycd, cסoscd. "Hc's iIc wrong
nan for you, Cass TIc alsoluic wrong nan."
"No," sIc flung lacl cvcn as Iis lody covcrcd Icrs. "You wcrc iIc
wrong nan. Dui iIis iinc I Iavc ii rigIi."
Ma×inos lcancd Iard againsi Icr, Iis cIcsi rougIly crusIing Icr
lrcasis, Iis sIouldcrs ¡inning Icr io iIc wall. "Hc docsn'i lovc you. Hc
docsn'i cvcn lnow iIc ncaning of iIc word."
"And you do?"
"A Icll of a loi lciicr, ycs!"
SIc laugIcd oui loud, and Icr laugIicr was lilc ¡ouring gasolinc on a
firc. His cycs llazcd, Iis lody scciIing wiiI ragc. Hc was ioo angry.
SIc'd ncvcr sccn Iin lilc iIis. Ncvcr sccn Iin anyiIing closc io iIis lui
sIc wasn'i afraid, jusi dcfiani. "Hc warncd nc aloui you. Enilio said
you'd say Iorrillc iIings."
"Hc's ¡laying you, Cass. Playing you jusi io gci lacl ai nc."
"Or naylc I'n ¡laying Iin, lccausc I lovc lcing alonc wiiI Iin ...
nalcd wiiI Iin."
Ma×inos's conirol sIaiicrcd. His Iand snalcd inio Icr Iair, gralling
iIicl sirands closc io Icr scal¡. "How is Ic in lcd?"
"Faniasiic. TIc nosi sclflcss, dcvoicd lovcr you could asl for."
"I Icar a cIallcngc in iIcrc."
His Iand wra¡¡cd iigIicr, iwisiing iIc long sirands lciwccn Iis fingcrs.
TIis was war. Oui-and-oui war. "You Icar rigIi."
"TIcrc's no way you could Iavc wiiI Iin wIai you Iad wiiI nc."
"Don'i flaiicr yoursclf. As you lovc rcninding nc, wIai wc Iad was jusi
sc×, and I can gci grcai sc× fron nany diffcrcni ncn."
"Wrong. WIai wc Iad was diffcrcni."
"Noi iIai diffcrcni."
"Enilio couldn'i ¡ossilly givc you wIai you rcally nccd."
"Odd, lccausc I'vc lcconc Iis slavc in iIc lcdroon."
SIc was dousing iIc firc wiiI norc and norc gasolinc, and Ma×inos's
angcr scorcIcd Icr, siunning in iis sircngiI and fury. Hc lcancd inio
Icr, noi wiiI iIc sIouldcr lonc lui iIc nusclc, and suddcnly Iis Iand
covcrcd Icr lrcasi. "TIis was ninc," Ic said.
"Noi anynorc," sIc rcioricd.
His Iand slid down io covcr Icr lclly. "And iIis, iIis was ninc."
"Ii's Iis now."
"Hc docsn'i lnow Iow io ioucI you."
"You'd lc sur¡riscd," sIc answcrcd, icnsing as Ic lcisurcly sirolcd Icr
Ii¡, iIcn loldly ¡ui Iis Iand lciwccn Icr lcgs, ioucIing Icr iniinaicly,
¡osscssivcly, Iis ¡aln covcring iIc a¡c× of Icr iIigIs.
Ma×inos lcancd closcr siill, Iis nouiI ncar Icr car. His dcc¡ voicc
runllcd suggcsiivcly iIrougI Icr. "And iIis was ninc, nosi dcfiniicly all
ninc. Minc io do wiiI as I ¡lcascd. Howcvcr I ¡lcascd."
TIc Icai of Iis Iand againsi iIc warn corc of Icr scni sIocl wavcs
iIrougI Icr. Hcr lcgs ircnllcd. "No."
Dui Ic didn'i rcnovc Iis Iand. Hc ¡rcsscd Iis ¡aln u¡, rocling iIc
¡ad of Iis ¡aln againsi Icr sofincss, againsi iIc growing dan¡ncss,
rocling againsi iIc scnsiiivc, snall ridgc wIcrc cvcry ncrvc cnding
sccncd io acIc. "Say wIai you wani, lui I lnow you, Cass, I lnow Ic
could ncvcr ¡lcasurc you, iIc way I lnow Iow io ¡lcasurc you."
"Wrong. Hc ¡lcascs nc norc," sIc said lrcaiIlcssly, awarc of Iis lody
covcring Icrs, ¡inning Icr againsi iIc wall. Hc was lig and Iard and Iis
siulllc-rougIcncd jaw scra¡cd Icr lrow. "Hc ¡lcascs nc lciicr."
"You wani nc io nalc you suffcr, don'i you?"
SIc was iorn lciwccn fascinaiion and fcar. TIis wasn'i iIc Ma×inos
wIo'd lccn Icr ¡crfcci, and vcry discrcci, lovcr. Hc was lilc anoiIcr nan
aliogciIcr, a nan sIc'd sus¡ccicd c×isicd lui Iadn'i sccn uniil now.
"You can iry."
"Havc you cvcr lccn unfaiiIful io Iin?"
TIc Icai was growing insidc Icr, consuning, dcsiruciivc.
Eסlosivc. SIc fcli wound iigIily, ioo iigIily. "No."
"You'rc gciiing closc now."
"TIcn lci nc go."
"So you can run lacl inio Iis lcd?"
TIc idca of Enilio cvcr rcally ioucIing Icr disgusicd Icr. "Ma×inos."
Hcr voicc lrolc, and sIc didn'i lnow wIai sIc wanicd fron Iin÷Lovc?
Forgivcncss? Mcrcy?
Dui Ic was in no nood for ncrcy and Iis nanc s¡olcn wiiI sucI
dcs¡craiion sccncd io only ¡usI Iin lcyond iIc ¡oini of rcason.
Hc rcacIcd for iIc Icn of Icr narrow sliri, grallcd ai iIc falric,
luncIing iIc llacl sill inio folds io find Icr larc iIigI lcncaiI.
Hcr nouiI ¡aricd in a silcni gas¡, dcsirc flooding Icr, nccd and
ncnory. And wIcn Iis Iand slid lciwccn Icr iIigIs io ¡lucl asidc iIc
scra¡ of Icr iIong ¡aniy, Iis ¡aln ¡rcsscd warn and Iard againsi Icr
lody. Cass grallcd ai Iin, gralling for Icl¡, for rclicf, for sonciIing io
cסlain iIc darl nad ¡assion sIc'd fallcn inio.
TIc ¡rollcn was, and always Iad lccn, iIai Iis ioucI nadc Icr fccl.
Noi jusi ¡Iysically, lui cnoiionally. His ioucI nadc Icr wani Iin, nccd
Iin, lovc Iin. And as Ic rullcd Iis ¡aln slowly across Icr, Iis fingcrs
irailing, icasing, sIc sIuddcrcd. TIis sIouldn'i lc Ia¡¡cning, iIis
wasn'i su¡¡oscd io lc Ia¡¡cning, yci Ic was rigIi. Hc lncw Icr, lncw
Iow io arousc Icr, conirol Icr wiiI jusi a ioucI.
Hcr sIuddcr rivcicd Iin, Iis gazc loclcd on Icr facc, fi×cd on Icr
¡aricd li¡s, waicIing iIc ii¡ of Icr ionguc ¡rcss againsi iIc cdgc of Icr
icciI.
SIc fcli Icl¡lcss. And Ic lncw ii.
And Ic acicd on ii. Siill waicIing Icr wiiI iIai ficrcc ¡osscssivc
owncrsIi¡ Ic'd always dis¡laycd ioward Icr, Ic carcsscd Icr along iIc
scan of Icr, along iIc icndcr li¡s and iIcn lciwccn sIc ¡anicd,
ovcrwIclncd ly scnsaiion.
Hc was icasing Icr, iracing Icr, ioying wiiI Icr and Icr lcgs lucllcd.
SIc arcIcd againsi Iis Iand, againsi iIc naddcning ioucI wIicI
rcnindcd Icr of cvcryiIing and yci gavc ioo liiilc.
And iIcn Ic slowly slid Iis fingcr insidc Icr, slowly drawing oui iIc
dcsirc, luilding on iIc ¡lcasurc. Morc, sIc iIougIi wildly, llindly, norc.
Dui Ic wasn'i going io lc rusIcd, and Ic rcfuscd io Iurry. Hc ioucIcd
Icr slowly, alnosi lazily and Icr slin lcadcd dan¡, Icr nusclcs
clcncIcd in conccniraiion. SIc wanicd norc, nccdcd norc and sIc
¡rcsscd Icrsclf forward, ¡rcssing againsi Iis Iand.
A fliclcr of iriun¡I sIonc in Ma×inos's darl cycs and wiiI a dcc¡,
dclilcraic sirolc of Iis fingcr Ic sIowcd Icr Iow sIc lovcd io lc
ioucIcd. SIowcd Icr iIai Ic lncw Icr lody lciicr iIan sIc did. SIowcd
Icr Iow nucI sIc siill wanicd Iin
Dui Ic'd ncvcr ioucIcd Icr in angcr. Ncvcr carcsscd Icr wiiI anyiIing
lui rcsiraini. Conirol. Hc wasn'i Iuriing Icr-far fron ii, iIc fccling was
sIocling, inicnsc-iIc raw sc×ual cdgc iool Icr lrcaiI away, lui sIc
lncw conirol was icnuous ai lcsi.
Hi sirolcd Icr dcc¡ly again, a long, lnowing ioucI inflaning all Icr
scnscs, cvcn as Icr lody iigIicncd, siruggling io ialc Iin, gri¡ Iin,
wIicI Ic Iad no inicniion of lciiing Icr do.
TIis was iorncni.
TIis, sIc iIougIi, was ¡unisIncni.
Hcr cllows wcrc ¡rcsscd againsi iIc wall, Icr Iands u¡ againsi Iis
cIcsi, arns innolilc lciwccn iIcn. Hc'd in¡risoncd Icr so sIc couldn'i
dcfcnd Icrsclf, couldn'i covcr Icrsclf. Could only fccl.
Fcncnlcr.
Cravc.
And sIc cravcd, Iorrilly, dcs¡craicly, wanionly. SIc lncw Ic could do
wIai Ic wanicd. SIc'd lci Iin ialc Icr and usc Icr ai will. SIancful,
lui ii Iad always lccn iIis way lciwccn iIcn. Hc was iIc only nan wIo
could siri¡ away Icr inIiliiions, wIo could nalc Icr lc iIc wild cIild
sIc'd always wanicd io lc.
Fron far away sIc Icard Icr nanc lcing callcd. Enilio.
Enilio was coning io lool for Icr.
Cass sirugglcd, fcli Ma×inos's li¡s on Icr nccl, fcli iIc ni¡ of icciI.
"Hc's coning," sIc cIolcd, Icr lody convulsing as Ic sirolcd Icr
Iardcr, fasicr.
"So arc you," Ic answcrcd wiiIoui iIc lcasi lii of Iunour. SIc sIivcrcd
as Iis iIunl fliclcd ovcr Icr slicl, scnsiiivc slin. "Sio¡, Ma×inos. Sio¡,
¡lcasc."
"You don'i wani Iin io find you lilc iIis?"
And sIc closcd Icr cycs, lnowing wIai Enilio would scc Icr lcg u¡,
wra¡¡cd around Ma×inos's waisi, Ma×inos's Iands lcncaiI Icr sliri,
Iands Iiddcn lciwccn Icr larc, cסoscd iIigIs.
Dlood roarcd iIrougI Icr Icad, a llusI of Iuniliaiion. "Plcasc."
"Fccling a liiilc cסoscd?" Ma×inos's voicc soundcd in Icr car, dcc¡,
rougI, nocling. "Wclconc io ny world."
Dui Ic lci Icr go. Hc cvcn adjusicd Icr iIong, siraigIicncd Icr sliri,
nadc surc iIc silly falric Iung in ¡ro¡cr folds. "Dcauiiful," Ic said, lui
Iis sarcasn was lilc sIards of glass scra¡ing across Icr slin.
Enilio a¡¡carcd around iIc corncr. Hc didn'i lool iIc lcasi lii
¡criurlcd io scc iIc iwo of iIcn iogciIcr. "TIcrc you arc," Ic said
cIccrfully. "You iwo aloui donc?"
Ma×inos's lowcr li¡ curlcd, jaw Iardcning io graniic. Hc didn'i cvcn
glancc ai Cass "SIc's all yours."
Cass cluicIcd ai iIc wall, lcgs qualing as sIc waicIcd Ma×inos siridc
away, and siriding Ic was, all nassivc lincs of icnsion and fury. Hc
loolcd violcni. Dcadly. As if Ic could do lodily danagc io anyonc and
cvcryonc.
Enilio ¡asscd Ma×inos wiiI a faini nocling nod of Iis Icad and
snilcd as Ic a¡¡roacIcd Cass "I Io¡c I didn'i inicrru¡i anyiIing
in¡oriani."
Cass didn'i cvcn scc Enilio, Icr gazc fi×cd ¡asi Iin, vision narrowing,
focusing, rivcicd on Ma×inos disa¡¡caring lacl.
And iIcn Ma×inos iurncd iIc corncr and was gonc.
SIc ircnllcd as sIc lcancd againsi iIc wall, Icr slin siill dan¡, Icr
nusclcs sirung iigIi, Icr lody quivcring fron iIc onslaugIi of icnsion
and scnsaiion. Ma×inos Iad viriually dcsiroycd Icr.
An anniIilaiion of iIc sclf and scnscs.
"So wIai did iIc grcai Ma×inos Ciuliani Iavc io say?" Enilio aslcd.
SIc iurncd Icr Icad and loolcd ai Enilio lui sIc couldn'i scc Iin,
couldn'i sccn io scc anyiIing lui iIc Iazc of lovc and lusi wIicI Iad
jusi consuncd Icr.
How could Ma×inos siill do iIai io Icr? How could Ic ¡osscss Icr so
quiclly, so iIorougIly, siri¡ Icr of conirol and iurn Icr inio Iis?
Maylc sIc'd always lc Iis.
Maylc iIcrc was no Io¡c.
"Hc loolcd u¡sci as Ic wallcd away," Enilio coniinucd. "Did you iwo
Iavc words?"
"Ycs."
"How sad." Enilio's li¡s iuggcd in a sadisiic snilc. "Foriunaicly wc'vc
goi iIrcc days Icrc. Dy iIc iinc wc lcavc on Sunday, Ma×inos won'i
cvcn lnow wIai Iii Iin."
Or Icr, sIc iIougIi, Enilio's saiisfaciion ¡unciuring Icr fog of niscry.
Enilio wanicd io savour wIai Ic ¡crccivcd as an carly viciory and all sIc
wanicd io do was slidc io iIc floor and covcr Icr Icad wiiI Icr Iands
and cry lilc iIc liiilc girl sIc'd oncc lccn.
TIis was wrong. Wrong cvcry wIicI way you loolcd ai ii. Morally,
s¡iriiually, inicllcciually, cnoiionally...
"Do you wani io go lacl io iIc cocliail ¡ariy or on u¡ io our roon?"
Enilio aslcd, wiiI a glancc ai Iis wrisiwaicI. "Dinncr will lc scrvcd in
aloui iwo Iours."
Cass couldn'i inaginc rciurning io iIc salon for cocliails now. "I'd jusi
as soon go io iIc roon."
"I'll sIow you iIc way."
Insidc iIc lcdroon sIc was io sIarc wiiI Enilio, Cass sanl nunlly
onio iIc fooi of iIc lcd.
Enilio was noving around iIc roon, ins¡cciing iIc furniiurc, dra¡cs,
finisIcs. "Ii's noi iIc lcsi roon," Ic said, closing iIc door lcIind Iin.
"Dui ii could lc worsc."
SIc Icard iIc door clicl sIui and ii fillcd Icr wiiI frcsI ¡anic. SIc
sIouldn'i lc Icrc, sIouldn'i lc doing iIis. SIc larcly lncw Enilio and
yci now sIc was su¡¡oscd io sIarc a lcdroon wiiI Iin for iIc nc×i iwo
nigIis and iIrcc days. "WIai's Ia¡¡cning laicr?" sIc aslcd, irying noi io
iIinl aloui iIc faci iIai iIcy wcrc alonc iogciIcr.
"TIc rcIcarsal and iIcn dinncr aficr. Wc won'i aiicnd iIc rcIcarsal lui
wc'll join iIcn for dinncr."
"And wc'rc rcally inviicd?"
"TIc inviiaiion was scni."
"Dy iIc groon's fanily," sIc said.
"Ycs."
"Dui iIis is iIc lridc's Ionc."
Enilio coclcd Iis Icad. "Jusi wIai did Ma×inos say io you anyway?
TIc iwo of you wcrc gonc a long iinc. Hc Iad io Iavc said sonciIing.
SonciIing aloui you lcing Icrc wiiI nc..."
"Hc did."
"And you iold Iin aloui us? TIc cngagcncni? TIc A¡ril wcdding?"
"In Padua, ycs." SIc sigIcd, lricfly closcd Icr cycs, fccling lnois of
icnsion iigIicn along Icr nccl and sIouldcrs. "And wIy arc wc gciiing
narricd in Padua?"
Enilio dro¡¡cd inio an arncIair nc×i io iIc fooi of iIc lcd. "Dccausc
ii's a ¡lacc of ¡ariicular ¡crsonal significancc io ny dcar fricnd Ma×. Tcll
nc, wIai wcrc Iis c×aci words wIcn you iold Iin aloui Padua?"
"Tcll nc iIc significancc of Padua firsi."
"I don'i wani io s¡oil iIc fun." Enilio sircicIcd, ¡ui Iis arns lcIind
Iis nccl, and cIucllcd. "Cod, I would Iavc lovcd io Iavc lccn iIcrc for
iIai liiilc announccncni. Ma×inos ¡rolally didn'i cvcn lnow wIai Iii
Iin."
Cass siiffcncd, disgusicd. SIc Iaicd Enilio's voicc, Iaicd cvcryiIing
aloui Iin. WIy Iad sIc agrccd io conc Icrc wiiI Iin? WIy Iad sIc
agrccd io do iIis awful iIing?
Ma×inos.
Ma×inos's lcirayal. And yci wasn'i sIc lciraying Iin now?
Wasn'i sIc doing iIc vcry iIing sIc oljccicd io nosi?
Hcr conscicncc snoic Icr. SIc couldn'i lcar Iy¡ocrisy and yci Icrc sIc
was, aligning Icrsclf wiiI Enilio, infliciing ¡ain on Ma×inos-iIc
wcclcnd of Iis sisicr's wcdding no lcss.
Ii was Iorrillc. SIc was Iorrillc.
"CIin u¡," Enilio said. "TIc fun's jusi lcginning."
SIc loolcd away, ¡rcsscd Icr lnucllcs inio iIc lcd covcring.
'TIis is a nisialc."
"Hc Iuri you, Cass."
SIc sIool Icr Icad, lii Icr li¡.
"Hc did. Hc dun¡cd you," Enilio rcnindcd. "TrasIcd you. Drolc your
Icari."
"Two wrongs don'i nalc a rigIi."
"Now iIai's iIc nosi ¡aiIciic iIing I'vc cvcr Icard. And you'rc noi
¡aiIciic, Cassandra Cardncr. I'vc Icard all aloui you. You'rc ruiIlcss ai
worl. TIc original iigrcss. Don'i cIangc your siri¡cs now."
Hc siood u¡, Icadcd for iIc door. "I'n going lacl downsiairs io gci
anoiIcr drinl. Arc you surc you don'i wani io conc?"
TIc lasi iIing sIc nccdcd was alcoIol. Hcr Icad was alrcady s¡inning
cnougI. "Ycs."
"Olay. Dui don'i fall aslcc¡. I'll wani you waiiing wIcn I rciurn."
Hcr Icad jcrlcd u¡ and Icr cycs, llazing, nci Iis.
Enilio laugIcd. "Jusi lidding," Ic said, and siill laugIing, Ic c×iicd,
closing iIc door loudly lcIind Iin.



CHAPTER THREE

CASS siarcd ai iIc door uniil Icr cycs lurncd, siarcd so long sIc
iIougIi sIc'd frozcn, iurncd io sionc.
TIc closing of iIc door rcnindcd Icr of all iIc iincs Ma×inos Iad lcfi
Icr, all iIc iincs Ic'd nadc lovc io Icr iIcn drcsscd and wallcd oui iIc
door wiiIoui so nucI as a laclward glancc.
SIc'd sai on Icr lcd norc iIan oncc waicIing Ma×inos lcavc, fccling
sicl insidc, fccling iIai sIc'd agrccd io iIc in¡ossillc.
Noi iIai sIc'd iIougIi ii would lc in¡ossillc wIcn sIc firsi accc¡icd
iIc icrns of iIc rclaiionsIi¡ wiiI Ma×inos. No conniincnis. No
¡roniscs. No guili iri¡s.
Dui iIai wasn'i all. TIcrc wcrc iIc unsaid icrns, iIc finc ¡rini iIai
didn'i gci rcad iIc firsi iinc around. Dui sIc'd lccn wiiI Ma×inos long
cnougI io lnow iIc finc ¡rini ly Icari now.
No sccncs. No cnoiions. No nccds.
NoiIing siaicd, noiIing in¡licd, noiIing dcnandcd cquallcd noiIing
dcnicd. Ii was a liiicr rclaiionsIi¡, onc so onc-sidcd iIai ii Iad Iuri Icr
nigIi and day.
SIc rcalizcd in iIc firsi cou¡lc of noniIs iIai wiiI Ma×inos iIcrc'd lc
no narriagc, no cIildrcn, no fanily gci-iogciIcrs. No aiicnding funciions
as a cou¡lc, no iravclling wiiI oiIcrs.
No, iIcir rclaiionsIi¡ was lascd on iIc idca iIai iIcy saw cacI oiIcr
wIcn ii was convcnicni for Iin, iIai iIcy Iad wIai iIcy Iad, iIai iIcy
wcrc saiisficd wiiI wIai iIcy Iad.
Dui Cass Iad lnown for ovcr a ycar lcforc sIc confronicd Ma×inos
iIai sIc couldn'i lcar io coniinuc living wiiI so liiilc, or living as iIougI
sIc ncani so liiilc. Ii Iad quiclly lcconc unlcarallc lcing iIc wonan
on iIc sidc, iIc wonan wIo was an ornancni. A lii of fluff. A lii of
fancy. SIc wasn'i cvcn Iis wonan. SIc was jusi Iis nisircss.
Worsc, Ic could go wccls wiiIoui sccing Icr. Hc could go wccls
wiiIoui nccding io s¡cal io Icr. SIc wondcrcd if Ic was cvcn awarc of
iIc ¡assagc of iinc. Evcn awarc iIai iwo wccls sonciincs lccanc four
wccls wiiIoui a ¡Ionc call. And sIc couldn'i call. Ai lcasi, sIc Iad io
raiion Icr calls.
SIc could call oncc cvcry iwo noniIs.
Ii was Icr rulc, noi Iis, lui ii worlcd. Ii gavc Icr a scnsc of conirol, a
way io cnsurc sclf-conirol. WIcn sIc nisscd Iin iIc nosi sIc'd rcacI
for iIc ¡Ionc and sIc'd Iold ii againsi Icr cIcsi. If you call now, sIc'd
icll Icrsclf, you won'i lc allc io call again for wccls. MoniIs. Arc you
surc you wani io call now? You can'i sound dcs¡craic. Hc Iaics
dcs¡craic. Hc lovcs iIc caln, sirong you. Hc lovcs iIc gorgcous,
so¡Iisiicaicd indc¡cndcni you.
Noi iIc rcal you.
Noi iIc you iIai is on firc wiiI cn¡iincss. Lonclincss.
Cod, if Ic only lncw iIc iruiI! If Ic only lncw Iow you'vc cIangcd.
Had Ic÷iIis rclaiionsIi¡÷donc ii io Icr? Or Iad sIc Iad Icr own
nidlifc crisis? You lnow, Iiiiing Icr iIiriics, siill singlc, siill slin,
aiiraciivc lui cvcn norc alonc iIan wIcn sIc'd firsi siaricd oui in lifc.
Dcs¡craic io csca¡c Icr iIougIis, Cass ¡usIcd off iIc lcd and o¡cncd
Icr suiicasc, drawing oui Icr iurquoisc gown for iIc dinncr rccc¡iion
iIai nigIi. SIc Iung iIc gown on a Iangcr, Iooling iIc Iangcr ovcr iIc
laiIroon door. Aficr naling surc iIc laiIroon door was loclcd, sIc
siri¡¡cd and iool a long soal in iIc iul lcforc wasIing Icr Iair.
Wra¡¡cd in Icr iowcl, sIc ¡crcIcd on iIc cdgc of iIc cIair in iIc
lcdroon a¡¡lying loiion io Icr arns and lcgs. SIc was ncrvous aloui
ionigIi, worricd aloui aiicnding iIc fanily dinncr. If sIc wcrc snari,
sIc'd jusi lcavc. SIc'd go now lcforc iIings goi cvcn ncssicr.
TIc door suddcnly o¡cncd and Enilio cnicrcd iIc roon.
"Ncarly nalcd," Ic said wiiI a lccIcrous snilc. "Nicc."
SIc frowncd ai Enilio, lcnuscd Iow sonconc lilc Enilio Solaio could
Iavc cvcr lccn Ma×inos's lcsi fricnd and lusincss ¡arincr. SIc lncw
iIc iwo Iad siaricd Iialia Moiors iogciIcr, dcsigning and luilding sonc
of iIc slcclcsi, fasicsi s¡oris cars in iIc world lcforc iIcir falling-oui a
nunlcr of ycars ago. And naylc iIc young Enilio nigIi Iavc lccn a
savvy dcsigncr, lui sIc couldn'i inaginc iIai Ic Iadn'i also lccn
dangcrous.
"WIai Ia¡¡cncd lciwccn you and Ma×inos?" sIc aslcd, suddcnly
waniing io undcrsiand wIai Iad ¡ron¡icd iIis Iugc rifi lciwccn iIc
iwo. "You wcrc oncc lcsi fricnds."
Enilio sIruggcd as Ic lcgan unluiioning Iis sIiri. "Hc couldn'i Iandlc
ny succcss."
"Dui Iialia Moiors was loiI your succcss."
"TIc cnginccring was all ninc. Ma× jusi su¡¡licd iIc ca¡iial."
"Drain¡owcr, ioo, I'n surc."
"Hc's noi as snari as Ic iIinls."
Cass siudicd Enilio coolly as Ic discardcd Iis sIiri. Ii soundcd as if
Enilio Iad a sizallc cIi¡ on Iis sIouldcr, ioo. "If you'rc going io
coniinuc undrcssing, can you ¡lcasc go inio iIc laiIroon?"
"Ii's jusi a lody."
"A lody I don'i wani io scc."
Hc nadc an c×as¡craicd sound. "Wc'rc su¡¡oscd io lc cngagcd."
Hc was rcally going io iry io nill iIai onc for as nucI as Ic could,
wasn'i Ic?
Irriially sIc siood, ¡oinicd io iIc laiIroon, rcfusing io lc drawn inio
anoiIcr vcrlal slirnisI. "Co, now, or I'n lcaving. You cIoosc."
Hc sIruggcd. "WIaicvcr." Dui Ic disa¡¡carcd inio iIc laiIroon and
wiiI rclicf sIc Icard iIc sIowcr iurn on.
Cass was jusi sic¡¡ing inio Icr iurquoisc gown wIcn a lnocl soundcd
ai iIc door. SIc nanagcd io gci iIc zi¡¡cr in iIc lacl Ialfway u¡ wIcn
iIc lnocl soundcd again, Iardcr, loudcr.
CluicIing iIc ga¡ing drcss io Icr lrcasis, sIc o¡cncd iIc door a cracl
and ¡cclcd oui. Ma×inos. "Ciao,' sIc said awlwardly, noi lnowing wIai
clsc io say.
"Ciao." Hc noclcd Icr casual grcciing.
Silcncc fcll. SIc siarcd ai Iin. Hc'd also sIowcrcd and cIangcd,
drcsscd now in a darl suii wiiI a siunning cIarcoal sIiri and naicIing
iic. Hc loolcd clcgani, ¡owcrful, unioucIallc.
"I'vc conc io a¡ologizc," Ic said siiffly.
SIc noddcd oncc, Icr lody growing Ioi, Icai rising, flooding Icr facc
and for a noncni iIcrc was jusi silcncc, lui iIc silcncc wasn'i quici.
SIc could fccl Iis inicnsiiy, fccl Iis icnsion.
TIcrc was sonciIing aloui Iin, sonciIing aloui Iis sizc, Iis siillncss,
Iis inicnincss iIai nadc Icr Io¡clcssly awarc of Iin, as wcll as Icrsclf.
Hc nadc Icr ioo awarc of Icr fcclings, and Icr aiiraciion.
SIc sIouldn'i lc aiiracicd. SIc sIouldn'i siill fccl so nucI and iIc
dangcr was-sIc fcli cvcryiIing. Fcli cvcn norc iIan sIc Iad lcforc. Iuri,
angcr, fcar, nccd, dcsirc. Lovc was gonc lui soncIow iIc alscncc of lovc
didn'i din iIc ¡Iysical craving.
SIc wanicd Iin.
Cravcd Iis slin, Iands, nouiI, lody. Nccdcd Iin againsi Icr.
Taling Icr.
TIc dcsirc wIi¡¡cd iIrougI Icr, a iorncni of iIc scnscs. TIc sc× Iad
always lccn Ioi, cסlosivc. Ma×inos's Iungcr Iad a raw cdgc, a
¡riniiivc dcsirc iIai iIrillcd Icr.
SIc Iaicd Iin now lui wanicd rclicf. Fron iIc ncnorics.
Fron iIc ¡ain.
Fron iIc in¡ossillc nccd.
"I'n sorry," Ic rc¡caicd siiffly, curily. "TIai sIouldn'i Iavc Ia¡¡cncd. Ii
was wrong. Plcasc accc¡i ny a¡ology."
Was an a¡ology iIc sanc iIing as asling for forgivcncss? No.
And Ic lncw ii. Dccausc Ic didn'i nccd or wani forgivcncss, Ic was ioo
dciacIcd, ioo ¡owcrful, io carc wIai anoiIcr iIougIi, or fcli.
Hcr cycs scarcIcd Iis, irying io scc ¡asi iIc rigid sIicld Ic lc¡i lcforc
Iin, lui Iis nasl was ioo sirong, iIc Ialii of Iiding Iinsclf ioo
cngraincd.
"Of coursc," sIc answcrcd jusi as siiffly.
His darl Icad inclincd, iIc inly sirands ncaily conlcd lacl fron iIc
sirong ¡lancs of Iis facc, Iis jaw frcsIly sIavcn snooiI, and jusi lilc
iIai sIc fcli a sirangc fluiicr in Icr niddlc, iIc wings of fcar and nccd,
Io¡c and dcsirc and iIc inicnsc cnoiions nadc Icr Iaic Icrsclf, Iaic
Iin.
SIc wisIcd sIc didn'i fccl so nucI around Iin. Dcs¡craicly wisIcd
sIc didn'i siill fccl so nucI for Iin. Ma×inos alru¡ily iurncd Iis Icad,
lisicning io sonciIing.
TIc sIowcr Iad jusi iurncd off. Ma×inos glanccd ¡asi Icr, io iIc
closcd laiIroon. "Hc's Icrc?" Ic gucsscd.
"In iIc laiIroon."
"In iIc laiIroon," Ic rc¡caicd iigIily, disa¡¡rovingly.
"Wc'rc sIaring a roon."
His lrow lowcrcd, Iis cסrcssion darl. "Noi in ny Iousc."
"Ma×inos-"
"Noi in ny Iousc," Ic rc¡caicd, sianding in iIc Iallway iIinling iIc
worsi sori of iIougIis.
Cassandra Icrc. Cassandra cngagcd io Enilio. Cassandra slcc¡ing wiiI
Enilio.
Hc saw rcd, llood-rcd, and Ia¡¡ily conicn¡laicd nurdcr.
Enilio would ¡ay. Enilio sIould ¡ay. Finally. Hc'd conniiicd
inc×cusallc crincs and Ic'd ncvcr cvcn lccn ¡unisIcd.
Dui Cassandra wasn'i iniinidaicd and sIc wasn'i lacling down.
Insicad sIc iilicd Icr Icad, nci Iis gazc squarcly. "Ii was iIc roon givcn
io nc. TIc roon givcn io us," sIc said, as if ii wcrc iIc nosi logical iIing
in iIc world for Icr and Solaio io lc iogciIcr.
"I'n cIanging your roon," Ic said icrscly. "Solaio will siay Icrc."
"TIai's silly. I'vc alrcady un¡aclcd."
"Fc¡acl."
SIc gavc Iin a disdainful lool, onc iIai said Ic nigIi lc Sicilian and
Ic nigIi lc iIc don of iIis casilc, lui sIc wasn'i accusioncd io lcgging,
and sIc wasn'i going io siari grovclling now. "No."
And iIai, Ic iIougIi was a nosi inicrcsiing answcr. SIc'd ncvcr
rcfuscd Iin anyiIing lcforc. SIc was a cIangcd wonan now.
"Turn around," Ic said, disiracicd ly Icr ga¡ing gown, wIicI gavc Iin
a glin¡sc of Icr full lrcasis. Hc lncw Icr lody so wcll, lncw iIc sIa¡c
and saiin ic×iurc of iIc lrcasi, iIc cvcn sillicr ic×iurc of iIc aurcolc and
ni¡¡lc. "Lci nc gci your zi¡¡cr."
SIc sIoi Iin a nisirusiful glancc and rclucianily iurncd around. Cass
fcli cvcry nusclc iigIicn and frcczc as Ma×inos sic¡¡cd closc io Icr.
Closing Icr cycs, sIc Icld Icr lrcaiI as Iis Iands sciilcd on iIc zi¡¡cr
on iIc snall of Icr lacl. SIc sIivcrcd as Iis fingcrs lrusIcd Icr larc
slin. SIivcrcd again as Ic slowly drcw iIc snall zi¡¡cr u¡. His Iand
followcd iIc linc of Icr s¡inc, fron iIc snall of Icr lacl io iIc lasc of
Icr nccl.
"I iIinl you goi ii," sIc said Ioarscly as Iis Iands lingcrcd a noncni
ioo long ai Icr na¡c.
"TIc drcss lools lcauiiful on you."
Evcn Iis voicc soundcd dcc¡cr and iIc rougI ¡iicI was noiIing if noi
sc×y. TIc rougIncss sirunncd Icr ncrvcs and dcsirc coilcd iigIily in Icr
lclly. "TIanl you."
"Is ii ncw?"
"No." SIc iurncd, glanccd u¡ inio Iis facc, Icr gazc locling wiiI Iis.
"I'd Iad ii for a wIilc ... jusi ncvcr Iad iIc cIancc io wcar ii lcforc."
"Dccausc I ncvcr iool you oui?"
SIc flusIcd. "Dccausc you ¡rcfcrrcd io lcc¡ nc nalcd in lcd."
TIc corncr of Iis nouiI ¡ullcd lui ii wasn'i a snilc, raiIcr a liiicr
aclnowlcdgncni of iruiI. TIcir rclaiionsIi¡ Iad lccn noiIing if noi
sc×ual, and Cass fcli iIc old ficrcc Iungcr fill Icr now. Dui ii nadc no
scnsc. How could sIc siill wani Iin aficr all iIai Iad Ia¡¡cncd lciwccn
iIcn? How could sIc siill wani Iin iIis nucI?
TIc laiIroon door alru¡ily o¡cncd and Enilio cncrgcd.
Cass iool a guiliy sic¡ laclward cvcn iIougI sIc lncw sIc'd donc
noiIing wrong lui cvcryiIing was gciiing con¡licaicd, far norc
con¡licaicd iIan sIc could Iandlc.
"I iIougIi I Icard voiccs," Enilio said, onc iowcl wra¡¡cd around Iis
Ii¡s as Ic iowcl-dricd Iis Iair wiiI anoiIcr. "Is iIcrc a ¡rollcn?"
"Possilly," Ma×inos answcrcd ionclcssly. "Dc¡cnds on Iow you lool ai
ii."
"So wIai's iIc siiuaiion?" Enilio dra¡cd iIc iowcl across Iis larc
sIouldcr.
"Cass is noving io anoiIcr roon."
Enilio sIoi Icr a sus¡icious lool. "WIy?"
"Ii's oui of rcs¡cci for ny noiIcr. As you arcn'i narricd yci÷"
"SIc's noi lcaving nc," Enilio inicrru¡icd. "Wc canc iogciIcr. Wc siay
iogciIcr."
TIc Iard nasl sli¡¡cd across Ma×inos's fcaiurcs again. "Don'i worry.
You'll siill scc cacI oiIcr in iIc ¡ullic roons."
"No," Enilio siullornly rc¡caicd. "I wani Icr wiiI nc. SIc nccds io lc
wiiI nc, ioo." Hc iurncd and loolcd ai Icr. "Don'i you, Cassandra?"
SIc o¡cncd Icr nouiI io answcr. "I÷"
"SIc docs," Enilio finisIcd. "Trusi nc."
"I wisI I could," Ma×inos "answcrcd rcgrcifully, and Ic soundcd alnosi
syn¡aiIciic uniil Ic crosscd Iis arns ovcr Iis cIcsi and siarcd Enilio
down. "Dui iIai's noi going io Ia¡¡cn, is ii?"
For a noncni iIc iwo ncn cngagcd in a icnsc siandoff wIilc Cass lci
iIc word irusi ccIo insidc Icr Icad. TIcrc was iIai word again, irusi,
and ii was olvious iIai lrolcn irusi was iIc fundancnial issuc Icrc. So
wIai c×acily Iad Ia¡¡cncd? And wIcn?
"So wIai is ii going io lc?" Ma×inos ¡ron¡icd, arns siill crosscd and
Ic loolcd lilc iIc Ma×inos of old-unfla¡¡allc, innovallc, iIc nan in
cIargc. "Docs Cass gci Icr own roon, or do you loiI lcavc now?"
Enilio's cסrcssion was siill lclligcrcni. "You wouldn'i iIrow Cass oui."
Ma×inos ncarly snilcd. "Try nc."
TIis was a ncw Ma×inos, Cass iIougIi, onc sIc'd ncvcr sccn lcforc.
Uniil iIis wcclcnd sIc'd only lnown iIc lovcr, noi iIc diciaior, aliIougI
sIc'd scnscd Ic lurlcd lcncaiI iIc so¡Iisiicaicd vcnccr.
Dui iIcn, of coursc, uniil iIis aficrnoon sIc'd ncvcr cIallcngcd Iis
auiIoriiy or ¡rovolcd Iin. SIc'd llindly allowcd Iin io nalc iIc
dccisions, irusiing iIai Ic'd do wIai was rigIi for Icr...for iIcn.
Fool. SIc'd lccn sucI a fool in lovc.
Paincd, Cass siirrcd. "I'll ¡acl," sIc said. "I don'i Iavc nucI."
"I'll carry your lag," Ma×inos said.
"Is Icr roon far?" Enilio aslcd sullily.
"Noi iIai far," Ma×inos answcrcd as Cass quiclly sli¡¡cd Icr sIocs on
and gaiIcrcd Icr rcnaining ¡crsonal iicns, iucling iIcn lacl insidc
Icr snall suiicasc. "Ii's closc io ny roon," Ic addcd. "Fcncnlcr wIcrc
iIai is?"
Enilio's gray cycs narrowcd. "SIc's ny fianccc."
"So you'vc said." Ma×inos snilcd, lui iIc snilc didn'i quiic rcacI Iis
cycs. Hc iurncd ioward Cass as sIc finisIcd zi¡¡ing Icr suiicasc closcd.
"Fcady?" SIc noddcd. Hc rcacIcd for Icr casc. "TIcn lci's go."
As iIcy wallcd along iIc u¡siairs Iall, crossing fron onc wing of iIc
¡alazzo io anoiIcr, Ma×inos siudicd Cass's ¡rofilc.
SIc'd cIangcd, Ic iIougIi, cIangcs sonconc clsc nigIi noi noiicc lui
Ic did. Ii Iad only lccn si× noniIs sincc Ic lasi saw Icr lui sIc loolcd
diffcrcni. SIc was siill sc×y, siill ¡rovocaiivcly lcauiiful wiiI Icr anlcr-
gold cycs and Icr iIicl iawny Iair iIai fcll ¡asi Icr sIouldcrs, lui Icr
nouiI was diffcrcni. Hardcr. Morc lriiilc. And Icr cycs wcrc lilc iIai,
ioo.
"How is cvcryiIing ai worl?" Ic aslcd, sio¡¡ing lcforc iIc roon iIai
would now lc Icrs.
"Finc." Dui Icr li¡s con¡rcsscd and sIc didn'i sound finc.
"And ai Ionc?"
"Finc."
"Cass÷"
"EvcryiIing's all rigIi, Ma×inos," sIc inicrru¡icd, Icr voicc dro¡¡ing,
iIc ¡iicI Iuslicr iIan nornal. "Lci's jusi lcavc ii ai iIai, olay?"
Hc ¡usIcd o¡cn iIc door io a sofily lii roon, iIc cciling IigI, arcIcd,
iIc darl lcans sicncillcd in iIc ¡alcsi sIinncring gold.
Cass sic¡¡cd ¡asi Ma×inos io cnicr iIc lu×urious lcdroon.
WIiic lacc-cdgcd ¡illows loolcd ¡lun¡ and inviiing on iIc lcd wIilc
iIc covcrlci was a ricI a¡ricoi vclvci cnlroidcrcd wiiI grccn and gold
iIrcad. TIc curiains ai iIc iIrcc cnornous windows naicIcd iIc a¡ricoi
covcrlci and fragrani ¡inl and a¡ricoi roscs fillcd iwo silvcr vascs, onc
on iIc nigIisiand and iIc oiIcr on iIc aniiquc drcsscr againsi iIc wall.
TIc lcauiy of ii was alnosi unfair, sIc iIougIi, waicIing Ma×inos
¡lacc Icr suiicasc on a ¡ainicd irunl ai iIc fooi of iIc slcigI lcd.
TIc lcdroon rc¡rcscnicd lcauiy and ronancc...lovc...and wasn'i ii
anazing Iow Ma×inos could afford io givc Icr all linds of naicrial
¡osscssions, lui noi iIc onc iIing sIc cravcd nosi? "Ii's a lovcly roon,"
sIc said, awarc iIai sIc Iad io say sonciIing, iIai iIc silcncc Iad gonc
ioo long.
"Cood. TIcn you sIouldn'i nind nc locling you in ii."
SIc s¡un around, noi ai all ccriain if Ic was scrious or joling. Dui Iis
cסrcssion gavc noiIing away. His facc was llanl. His cycs sIuiicrcd.
Suddcnly sIc fcli Icr li¡s curl u¡ in a fainily anuscd snilc. "As long as
wc wcrcn'i loclcd in Icrc iogciIcr."
His cycs crcascd. "And your fiancc? You wouldn'i niss Iin?"
Hcr cIin lificd. "Hc'd find a way io rcscuc nc."
Ma×inos Iad iIc gall io laugI. "Enilio only lnows Iow io savc Iis own
slin. I wouldn'i couni on Iin ¡laying Icro now."
"Dui Ic's alrcady a Icro." TIcir gazcs loclcd, cnoiions Ioi, sialcs IigI.
"Hc adorcs nc. Wanis nc. Unlilc you."
"I wanicd you."
"Nalcd. Con¡liani. Uncon¡licaicd." Ii was gciiing Iardcr io lcc¡ Icr
cool, nocling snilc in ¡lacc. "Sounds awfully su¡crficial, don'i you
iIinl?"
"PcrIa¡s. Dui I also iIinl you'rc dcluding yoursclf if you iIinl Solaio
iruly lovcs you. Solaio carcs only aloui Iinsclf. I'vc lnown Iin sincc
¡rinary scIool. I'vc worlcd wiiI Iin. Socializcd wiiI Iin-"
"You'rc jcalous."
"Ycs." His darl cycs gliiicrcd. "I an jcalous. I Iaic iIai you'rc iogciIcr, I
Iaic iIc idca of Iin ioucIing you, lui I'n also afraid for you." Hc was
walling ioward Icr, closing iIc disiancc lciwccn iIcn. "Enilio is using
you io gci io nc."
Ma×inos siarcd down ai Icr fron Iis in¡osing IcigIi, cvcryiIing aloui
Iin sirong, darl, iaui. Hc Iad so nucI ¡owcr, so nucI sIccr ¡Iysical
sircngiI Ic nadc oiIcr ncn lool ¡uny in con¡arison.
"TIcn Iis ¡lan is worling," sIc wIis¡crcd, Icari iIudding ioo Iard
insidc Icr ril cagc.
"And your ¡lan? WIai is iIai?"
"I don'i Iavc a ¡lan."
"You nusi. Or you wouldn'i lc Icrc wiiI Iin now." Hc iool a sic¡
ioward Icr, ca¡iurcd Icr cIin, lificd Icr facc io Iis. WiiI iIc ¡ad of Iis
iIunl Ic sirolcd iIc warn sofincss of Icr cIccl gcnily, alnosi
rcvcrcnily. "You'rc going io gci Iuri, cu¡íssínu."
Hcr Icari acIcd. "I won'i."
"You will." Hc loolcd ¡aincd, iIc cסrcssion in Iis darl cycs onc of
angcr. Suffcring. "And you'vc no idca wIai Iuri is."
SIc couldn'i lool away fron Iis darl cycs, fron iIc sorrow Ic'd lnown,
fron iIc iIings Ic'd cסcricnccd lui wouldn'i sIarc.
SIc didn'i lnow Enilio, sIc iIougIi. Dui sIc also didn'i lnow
Ma×inos. In nany ways, Ma×inos was jusi as nucI a sirangcr as
Enilio. Ma×inos Iad always lccn so ¡rivaic, so carcful in wIai Ic said,
and did.
TIc fcw dciails sIc lncw aloui Iis ¡crsonal lifc wcrc dciails lcarncd
iIrcc ycars ago wIcn sIc'd firsi acquircd iIc Iialia Moiors accouni.
Curious aloui Ma×inos iIc Crcai, sIc'd gonc onlinc onc nigIi and iy¡cd
Ma×inos's nanc inio various scarcI cngincs io scc wIai infornaiion sIc
could gci, lui iIc ariiclcs and rcfcrcnccs wcrc sur¡risingly liniicd.
As sIc alrcady lncw, Ma×inos was cofoundcr and Prcsidcni and CEO
of Iialia Moiors. Hc'd lccn cducaicd in Fonc lui siill callcd Sicily Ionc.
And iIai was ii.
No ncniion of fanily, onc way or anoiIcr. No gossi¡. NoiIing cvcn
aloui Enilio oiIcr iIan iIc faci iIai iIc founding ¡arincrs of Iialia
Moiors Iad dccidcd io cnd iIcir ¡arincrsIi¡ and go iIcir sc¡araic ways.
"And you lnow wIai Iuri is?" sIc aslcd, unallc io lool away fron Iis
lrooding gazc.
"Ycs."
TIc nusclcs in Iis facc wcrc so Iard and iigIi iIai Ic rcnindcd Icr of
slccl ¡olisIcd narllc uncariIcd fron an ancicni civilizaiion.
How casy ii Iad lccn io lovc Iin. How in¡ossillc io losc Iin.
Looling lacl, sIc didn'i Iavc io losc Iin. If sIc'd lc¡i silcni, lc¡i Icr
nccds luricd, Iiddcn, sccrci, Ic would Iavc ncvcr lnown sIc wanicd-
nccdcd-norc. Hc would Iavc ncvcr lnown sIc acIcd for all iIai sIc'd
ncvcr Iad. Lovc. Fanily. CIildrcn.
Dui sIc couldn'i siay quici, couldn'i coniinuc io dcny wIai sIc cravcd
nosi. And in iIc cnd sIc'd donc iIc uniIinlallc and aslcd for norc.
Cass Cardncr, iaunicd ai worl for lcing Invincillc Cardncr, Iad finally
adniiicd io sonconc clsc sIc nccdcd norc. And adniiiing iIai sIc Iad
nccds, unnci nccds, Iad lccn iIc nosi difficuli iIing sIc'd cvcr donc,
iIc nosi difficuli iIing sIc could inaginc doing.
Ma×inos was ¡roud, lui Ic Iad noiIing on Icr in iIai dc¡arincni.
SIc was ficrccly ¡roud, ioo, ¡roud of Icr indc¡cndcncc, ¡roud of Icr
sircngiI, ¡roud iIai sIc Iad ncvcr nccdcd anyiIing fron anyonc.
Dui Ma×inos Iad cIangcd iIai. Ma×inos iaugIi Icr wIai ii was io fccl
.. wIai ii was io drcan ...
Only ii Iad lccn jusi a drcan lccausc Ma×inos couldn'i, wouldn'i, givc
norc. Ma×inos Iad lilcd sc×, convcnicni sc×, and sIc'd waicIcd Iin go
cvcn as Icr Icari sIaiicrcd.
Jusi rcncnlcring nadc Icr cycs siing and Cass ¡ullcd frcc, rcircaiing
scvcral sic¡s, undonc ly iIc ncnory of nccding and losing and lcarning
io sio¡ fccling, sio¡ waniing, sio¡ drcaning.
"Lci's jusi cui io iIc cIasc, sIall wc?" Ma×inos's voicc followcd Icr, Iis
voicc dcc¡ and liiicr. "I lnow wIy you'rc Icrc. Solaio lnows I'n worling
on a ncw dcsign and Ic's iricd io gci a sci of ¡lans iwicc now. Hc's
lrougIi you Icrc io disiraci nc, io lcc¡ nc occu¡icd so Ic can sncal
inio ny officc-"
"No."
"Hc was caugIi aiicn¡iing io cnicr ny officc an Iour ago, Cass."
"I lnow noiIing aloui iIai."
"You wcrc sIaring a roon wiiI Iin. You Iad io lnow Ic'd lcfi your
roon, gonc downsiairs÷"
"Hc said Ic nccdcd a drinl."
Ma×inos's cסrcssion o¡cnly noclcd Icr. "You Iavc an answcr for
cvcryiIing, don'i you?"
"Dui ii's iIc iruiI."
''TIc iruiI," Ic ccIocd sofily, Icad iiliing as Ic siudicd Icr.
"Tcll nc iIc iruiI, iIcn. Arc you rcally cngagcd? Is iIcrc going io lc an
A¡ril wcdding?"
EvcryiIing was Ia¡¡cning ioo fasi. TIings Iad goiicn wildly oui of
conirol. Cass rcacIcd lcIind Icr for iIc cdgc of iIc lcd and sai down.
"Wcll?" Ic ¡ron¡icd.
SIc ¡roniscd Enilio sIc'd ¡lay iIc ¡ari for iIc wcclcnd, ii was jusi iIc
wcclcnd, lui rigIi now Sunday was siill so far away, iwo and a Ialf days
away, iwo cndlcss days away...
Dui sIc'd ¡roniscd, ¡roniscd. Cass ¡ui a Iand io Icr sionacI,
nauscous, Iaiing iIc cIaradc, waniing io conc clcan. SIc'd always lccn
Ioncsi wiiI Ma×inos. Or ai lcasi as Ioncsi as Ic'd allowcd Icr io lc...
"Of coursc iIcrc's a wcdding," sIc wIis¡crcd, unallc io lool Iin in iIc
cyc.
"His fanily isn'i fron Padua." Hcr sIouldcrs lificd, fcll. "WIy arc you
narrying in Padua?"
SIc swallowcd. "Hc iIougIi ii was ronaniic÷"
"TIai's noi wIy."
SIc loolcd u¡ ai Iin. His fcaiurcs wcrc graniic Iard, Iis darl cycs
ficrcc and fi×cd on Icr facc. "TIcn I don'i lnow wIy, Ma×inos. Olay?"
Hc was walling around Icr, a sirangc sialling iIai lcfi Icr dcc¡ly
uncasy. "Ii's noi olay. You say you'rc narrying Iin. TIai ncans you
nusi lovc Iin. So wIy don'i you lnow Iin lciicr?" Hc sio¡¡cd in froni
of Icr, iowcring ovcr Icr. "And wIy did you agrcc io narry in Padua?
Hc's noi fron iIcrc. Hc docsn'i Iavc a Ionc iIcrc and I'n quiic surc
you'vc ncvcr lccn iIcrc."
"Ii soundcd ronaniic÷"
"TIai's noi ii." Ma×inos suddcnly croucIcd lcforc Icr, Iis arns on
ciiIcr sidc of Icr, Iands againsi Icr Ii¡s locling Icr in ¡lacc. "You'rc
lying, Cass. And I don'i lnow if you'rc lying io yoursclf, or lying io nc,
lui I won'i lci you do ii. TIis isn'i you, isn'i lilc you÷"
SIc iricd io ¡ull lacl lui iIcrc was no csca¡c. "You don'i lnow nc!"
"Noi lnow you?" Hc laugIcd, Iis darl fcaiurcs iwisiing wiiI dislclicf. "I
lnow cvcryiIing aloui you."


CHAPTER FOUR

CASS was dangcrously closc io icars lui sIc wouldn'i givc in io iIcn,
wouldn'i givc in io Iin. Hc'd nadc iIcir livcs a living Icll ly ¡laying
Icr...using Icr...lciiing Icr Io¡c, drcan...
"Wrong!" sIc cIolcd, Iands lnoiicd, fingcrs fisicd. "You lnow wIai
you wanicd io lnow. You lclicvcd wIai you wanicd io lclicvc. Dui onc
iIing is iruiI, iIc oiIcr is faniasy, and I'll icll you iIc iruiI. I'n noi iIc
girl I was." SIc iIrcw Icr Icad lacl, Icr facc flusIcd, Icr slin so Ioi
sIc iIougIi ii would ¡ccl off. "And I'n noi ¡laying nicc anynorc."
"Olviously noi. If Ic can convincc you io ¡lay along wiiI Iis liiilc
cIaradc÷"
"Ii's noi a cIaradc."
"Wcll, Icííu, I'd lc willing io lci you onc Iundrcd iIousand dollars
iIcrc's no wcdding, and iIai if I callcd iIc cIurcIcs in Padua, iIcrc's
noiIing on iIc lools, and if I ¡rcsscd you Iardcr, you'd icll nc iIcrc's
no ring, no cngagcncni, noiIing of sulsiancc Icrc." Hc siarcd inio Icr
facc, Iis lody closc, ioo closc, Icai and ¡owcr cnanaiing fron Iin in
wavcs. "Carc io nalc iIai lci?"
For a noncni sIc couldn'i answcr, iIc air loiilcd in Icr lungs and all
sIc could do was rcncnlcr iIc way Ic'd ialcn Icr againsi iIc wall,
ialcn advaniagc of Icr lody, Icr scnscs, iIc way Ic ¡laycd Icr iIcn
cvcn as Ic did now.
Ma×inos did lnow Icr. Hc lncw Icr ioo wcll. "No," sIc wIis¡crcd.
"No," Ic ccIocd, a Ialf snilc sIa¡ing Iis li¡s. "I didn'i iIinl so." Hc
alru¡ily rosc and sIc scooicd lacl on iIc lcd, waicIing Iin ialc
scvcral sic¡s lacl. His jaw juiicd, Iis angcr was ¡al¡allc. "So Iow nucI
is Solaio ¡aying you?"
"Hc's noi ¡aying nc anyiIing!"
"So wIai iIcn was your ¡ricc? Dccausc you nusi Iavc lccn dann
cסcnsivc. Did Ic offcr casI? Siocls? OwncrsIi¡ in iIc con¡any?"
"You nalc nc sound lilc a ¡rosiiiuic!"
"Closc cnougI in ny nind. Firsi you'rc ny nisircss and now you'rc
Iis."
"I'n noi Iis nisircss." SIc jun¡cd fron iIc lcd, narcIcd on Iin. "I'n
noi Iis nisircss. Hc's ¡aid nc noiIing, offcrcd nc noiIing. Hc lncw I
wanicd io scc you, lncw I nccdcd io scc you÷"
"WIy?"
SIc was angry, so angry sIc could Iardly scc siraigIi. Hcr Iands
clcncIcd, Icr cIcsi rosc and fcll. "Dccausc I iIougIi I siill carcd aloui
you. I iIougIi iIcrc was sonciIing lciwccn us÷" sIc lrolc off, sIool
Icr Icad, livid "÷olviously I was wrong."
"If you wanicd io iall io nc, you could Iavc callcd nc."
"You wouldn'i Iavc iallcd." Hcr cycs fcli Ioi wiiI icars. "You ncvcr iall
on iIc ¡Ionc. You Iardly say anyiIing cvcn wIcn wc'rc iogciIcr. You
connunicaic wiiI sc×÷"
"Ma×inos?" A young wonan siood Icsiianily in iIc doorway.
Darl Iair, ncdiun IcigIi, sIc was vcry slcndcr, alnosi ciIcrcal in Icr
¡alc ¡inl sli¡ drcss, iIc dclicaic sira¡s of iIc drcss IigIligIiing Icr
¡crfcci sIouldcrs ianncd a Ioncy-lronzc and iIc Iini of IigI full lrcasis
nouldcd ly iIc dclicaic ¡inl falric. "I'vc lccn scni io find you."
Ma×inos glanccd ai Iis waicI. "I'n laic," Ic said wiiI a sigI.
"You arc," sIc agrccd, sniling a liiilc, lcss ncrvous iIan sIc'd lccn
noncnis ago. "And your noiIcr is alrcady in iIc car."
Ma×inos undcrsiood. Hc Icadcd ioward iIc door, and a¡¡roacIing iIc
young wonan, Ic lisscd Icr on loiI cIccls. "My noiIcr's frciiing."
TIc wonan's cסrcssion was niscIicvous. "SIc is your noiIcr aficr
all."
Cass's iunny fli¡¡cd ai iIc ¡layful, and yci iniinaic, c×cIangc. TIcy
wcrc closc, Cass rcalizcd, and ii crosscd Icr nind iIai iIcy nigIi jusi lc
norc iIan fricnds...
Cass loolcd away as Ma×inos dro¡¡cd a liss on iIc wonan's forcIcad.
"Tcll MoiIcr I'll lc rigIi down."
"Olay," sIc answcrcd, lcforc wIis¡cring sonciIing in Iis car iIai
nadc Iin laugI and iIcn disa¡¡caring again down iIc Iall.
Dui Ma×inos's laugIicr dicd as Ic iurncd io facc Cass. For a long
noncni Ic siarcd ai Icr, Iis darl lrows Icavy, Iis gazc s¡cculaiivc. "I
Io¡c you lnow wIai you'rc doing, cu¡íssínu."
His darl gazc Icld Icrs and for onc sccond sIc lci Icrsclf gci losi in Iis
darl cycs, in iIc siillncss iIai sci Iin a¡ari, in iIc silcncc wIcrc Ic
didn'i sIarc wIai Ic iIougIi, or wanicd. Ai lcasi noi wiiI Icr. "I Io¡c
so, ioo," sIc answcrcd.
A fliclcr of cnoiion ¡asscd iIrougI Iis cycs. "Dc carcful iIai Solaio
docsn'i Iuri you," Ma×inos addcd aficr a noncni.
"Hc can'i." SIc sirugglcd io snilc. "My Icari's alrcady lrolcn."
"Sincc wIcn?"
"Fclruary." WIcn you lcfi nc. Dui sIc didn'i Iavc io add iIc lasi ¡ari.
Hc lncw. SIc saw iIc rcalizaiion rcgisicr in Iis cycs and iIcn Ic'd
sIuiicrcd iIc cnoiion and Iis cסrcssion was llanl again.
"I'll scc you ai iIc dinncr," Ic said, lcforc walling oui. And Cod, Ic was
good ai iIai, sIc iIougIi, awasI in ¡ain, alivc wiiI fccling. No onc was
as good as Ma×inos ai walling oui.
For scvcral ninuics aficr Ma×inos lcfi, Cass siood ai iIc nirror in iIc
cnsuiic laiI and iricd io finisI gciiing rcady for iIc ¡ariy lui couldn'i
sccn io nusicr iIc cncrgy io do Icr Iair or a¡¡ly nalcu¡.
Hair and nalcu¡ sccncd so ¡oinilcss. No naiicr Iow nucI sIc
drcsscd u¡ iIc ouisidc, sIc'd siill fccl iIc sanc on iIc insidc. And on iIc
insidc sIc fcli old, and iircd, and vcry sad.
Losing Ma×inos in Fclruary Iad lccn awful, lui iIc niscarriagc Iad
lccn iIc final llow, iIc onc sIc couldn'i sccn io rccovcr fron.
And looling ai Icr facc larc of nalcu¡ sIc could scc Icr agc in Icr
facc, scc iIc snall crcascs ncar Icr cycs, iIc iwo faini groovcs ncar Icr
nouiI. SIc was iIiriy. Singlc. And vcry nucI alonc.
Pco¡lc ai worl callcd Icr invincillc. TIcy lclicvcd sIc was
uncnoiional, unscniincnial, narricd io Icr jol. And naylc oncc u¡on a
iinc sIc Iad lccn iIai iougI carccr wonan. Dui losing Ma×inos and
iIc laly Iad cIangcd all iIai. For iIc firsi iinc in iwcniy-sonciIing
ycars Cass wanicd sonciIing iIai wasn'i iicd io worl, acIicvcncni or
naicrial succcss.
SIc wanicd io fccl lovcd. SIc longcd io lc ¡ari of sonciIing liggcr iIan
Icrsclf, sonciIing warncr and sirongcr.
SIc cravcd a fanily.
WiiI a sclf-conscious gcsiurc, Cass ioucIcd Icr Iair, iIc sirands siill a
naiural anlcr-gold, a colour closc io iIc sIadc of Icr cycs. In iIc carly
days of Icr advcriising carccr, sIc'd lcarncd io ¡lay u¡ Icr ricI colouring
ly wcaring llacl-in lcaiIcr, saiin, sill-or c×oiic aninal ¡rinis lilc fau×
lco¡ard s¡ois and iigcr siri¡cs. SIc'd always worn incrcdilly IigI Iccls,
Icr loois and sIocs dangcrous, iocs ¡oinicd, aggrcssivcly sc×ual. SIc'd
lilcd lcc¡ing ¡co¡lc ai arn's lcngiI, Iad cnjoycd lcc¡ing oiIcrs
gucssing.
Now looling ai Icr larc facc and loosc wavy Iair sIc lncw sIc'd
cIangcd. Pcrnancnily cIangcd. SIc'd finally undcrsiood-inicrnalizcd-
iIai succcss was a cold lcdfcllow, iIai acIicvcncni ncani noiIing if sIc
wasn'i Ia¡¡y, and sIc'd ncvcr lc Ia¡¡y if sIc couldn'i lovc and lc lovcd
in rciurn.
Hcr nouiI lificd in a wry, dry snilc. Maylc Icr lrolcn Icari Iad
aciually donc Icr sonc good.
Cass conlcd Icr Iair, ¡inning ii u¡ in a so¡Iisiicaicd iwisi ai iIc lacl
of Icr Icad, a¡¡licd Icr usual nalcu¡ and fasicncd dclicaic dianond
dro¡ carrings io Icr carlolcs lcforc sli¡¡ing Icr fcci inio ¡alc saiin Iccls
and Icading downsiairs.
TIc Iousc was viriually cn¡iy lui iIc luilcr a¡¡carcd in iIc Iall and
indicaicd iIai Enilio was alrcady ouisidc in iIc car waiiing.
Enilio was indccd in iIc car, siiiing in iIc drivcr's scai, onc Iand
rcsiing on iIc siccring wIccl.
SIc saw Iis facc as sIc a¡¡roacIcd, Iis gray cycs narrowing, Iis
cסrcssion criiical. "WIai's wrong?" sIc aslcd, o¡cning iIc ¡asscngcr
door.
"I don'i lilc ii," Ic said flaily, fingcrs drunning in¡aiicnily on iIc
siccring wIccl as Ic loolcd Icr u¡ and down.
His ¡ciulani ionc irriiaicd Icr. "Don'i lilc wIai?"
Hc gcsiurcd io Icr drcss, and iIcn Icr facc and Iair. "Any of ii. You
lool...ioo snari, ioo iogciIcr. Ii's noi rigIi. Noi iIc inagc I'n looling
for."
"TIai's ioo lad," sIc said calnly, larcly allc io lcc¡ Icr irriiaiion fron
sIowing. TIis nan was iclling Icr aloui inagc? Inagc is wIai sIc did
for a living, inagc ¡aid Icr lills. Dui lcyond iIc issuc of cסcriisc, no
onc iold Icr Iow io drcss, or Iow io lcIavc. Noi Ma×inos. And ccriainly
noi Enilio Solaio. "You can cIangc if you wani io. I'n ccriainly noi. I
lilc iIis drcss. I lilc iIc way I lool÷"
"And so docs Ma×inos." Enilio's iIroai worlcd as Ic swallowcd Iard. "I
Icard Iin con¡lincni you. WIcn I was in iIc laiIroon. And ii's
olvious you'rc drcsscd io ¡lcasc Iin."
Ii was on iIc ii¡ of Icr ionguc io lluri oui iIc iruiI÷iIai Ma×inos
lncw iIc iruiI aloui Icr and Enilio's cIaradc. SIc ¡iciurcd Enilio's
ouiragc and for a s¡lii sccond sIc cnjoycd iIc idca of ¡o¡¡ing Iis
Iorrillc liiilc lulllc, lui sIc lncw now wasn'i iIc iinc. Noi lcforc iIc
Cuiliano rccc¡iion-ii was Adriana's s¡ccial nigIi aficr all. For anoiIcr,
sIc didn'i wani io lc alonc wiiI Enilio oncc Ic did lnow.
Hc would lc angry. And ouiragcd. And Cod lncw wIai Ic'd do iIcn.
"I lrougIi iIis drcss lccausc I lilc ii," sIc answcrcd coolly, sIrugging
off Iis criiicisn, "and I'n noi cIanging. So can wc jusi go, ¡lcasc?"
Dui Enilio wasn'i siariing iIc car. Insicad Ic clinlcd oui iIc drivcr's
sidc and wallcd around iIc s¡oris car. "Wc Iavc an agrccncni," Ic said
sofily, Iis ionc alnosi ncnacing. "TIis wcclcnd you'rc wiiI nc."
Cass didn'i lilc Iis ionc, or iIc way Ic aiicn¡icd io iniinidaic Icr. SIc
¡ui Icr fingcr againsi Iis cIcsi and firnly ¡usIcd Iin lacl. "Don'i
crowd nc, Enilio, and don'i aiicn¡i io iIrcaicn nc. I lnow wIy I canc
Icrc iIis wcclcnd. Dui I don'i lnow wIy you did. Do you?"
"I lovc wcddings."
"Es¡ccially oncs wIcrc you'rc noi wanicd."
Hc snilcd. "Call nc crucl, lui I lilc io waicI ¡co¡lc suffcr."
"You ncan, Ma×inos suffcr."
"Ycs. I gci a grcai dcal of ¡lcasurc fron waicIing ny good fricnd Ma×
Cuiliano suffcr." Hc lcancd ¡asi Icr, rcacIcd inio iIc car and ¡ullcd oui
a wIiic sIo¡¡ing lag and iIrusi ii ai Icr.
"Now ¡lcasc go and cIangc so I can coniinuc cnjoying nysclf iIis
wcclcnd."
Cass o¡cncd iIc iiny glossy sIo¡¡ing lag, ¡usIcd asidc iIc lavcndcr
iissuc ¡a¡cr and siarcd ai a ¡uddlc of wIiic. "WIai is iIis? Lingcric?"
"No. Ii's a drcss."
'TIis isn'i a drcss." SIc lificd iIc falric and iIc ¡uddlc of wIiic lccanc
a long sIccr lacc and cIiffon gown. "TIis is a sli¡. SonciIing onc wcars
undcr a drcss, noi insicad of a drcss."
"WIaicvcr. TIc ¡oini is, I wani you io wcar ii."
"No."
"You nadc a dcal wiiI nc÷"
"I nigIi as wcll Iavc nadc a dcal wiiI iIc dcvil." SIc sIool Icr Icad,
fccling iIc gold dianond carrings swing fron Icr carlolcs. "Dccausc iIis
isn'i wIai I agrccd io do. I said I'd ¡rcicnd io lc your fianccc, I cvcn
agrccd io a ¡Iony wcdding in Padua, lui I'n noi going io Iuniliaic
Ma×inos, Iis sisicr and iIc cniirc Cuiliano fanily ly sIowing u¡ ai
Adriana's rcIcarsal dinncr in a sli¡."
"You will." Enilio cIuclcd Icr undcr iIc cIin. "Dccausc I lnow
sonciIing you don'i wani Ma×inos io lnow."
"I'vc no sccrcis."
"Arc you surc?" Enilio iool iIc ¡a¡cr lag and sIovcd ii ai Icr niddlc
and lcancd closc io Icr, vcry closc. Hc dro¡¡cd Iis voicc, coclcd Iis
Icad and nouiIcd in Icr car, "I lnow aloui iIc laly, Cass."
Cass siiffcncd, frozc. EvcryiIing wiiIin Icr frozc. Hcr cycs, Icr nouiI,
Icr Icari, Icr lrain...
"I lnow all aloui ii," Enilio coniinucd. "I lnow wIai you did÷"
"You lnow noiIing!"
"Tcn¡cr, icn¡cr," Ic iaunicd. "Dui unforiunaicly for you, I do lnow. I
lnow you icrninaicd iIc ¡rcgnancy. And irusi nc, if Ma×inos discovcrs
wIai you did io Iis cIild, Ic'll ncvcr forgivc you."
SIc couldn'i iIinl, couldn'i fccl, couldn'i novc. Ii was in¡ossillc. How
did Ic lnow aloui iIc laly? How could Ic lnow?
And wIai did Ic lnow?
SIc'd iold no onc. No onc lncw. SIc Iadn'i cvcn ialcn iinc off of worl
wIcn sIc'd lccn norning sicl. Hadn'i cvcn nisscd worl iIc day aficr
sIc'd cIcclcd oui of iIc Ios¡iial.
"Arc you llaclnailing nc?" sIc aslcd, voicc unnaiurally low. SIc
Iadn'i icrninaicd Icr ¡rcgnancy. Ii'd lccn a Iorrillc niscarriagc and
ycs, iIcrc Iad lccn ¡roccdurcs donc aficrward, lui cvcryiIing donc Iad
lccn ncccssary. SIc'd lccn IacnorrIaging so ladly...noi iIai any of
iIai was Enilio's lusincss. Ii was noiIing io do wiiI Iin. Ii was Icr
sccrci sIanc.
"Ycs, aciually, I an." Hc snilcd. "You'rc going io finisI iIis wcclcnd,
finisI wIai wc siaricd÷"
"Hc lnows wIy you'rc Icrc, Enilio. Hc lnows you'rc inicrcsicd in Iis
ncw dcsign÷"
"Finc, Ic can'i ¡rovc anyiIing. And Ic'll siill Iaic sccing us iogciIcr.
Hc'll Iaic ii cvcry iinc you ioucI nc. Hc'll lc sicl cacI iinc you iurn
your adoring cycs on nc, insanc wiiI jcalousy cvcry iinc I gci a fondlc,
or sncal a liss. And you lciicr nalc ii lclicvallc or I'll icll Iin
cvcryiIing."
Cass iool Icr couragc, Icr lasi lii of sircngiI and wra¡¡cd ii around
Icr lilc a nucI nccdcd cloal. SIc'd lccn Iuri ly Ma×inos, gravcly Iuri.
Enilio could do noiIing io Icr. "TIcn icll Iin. I'n noi scarcd."
Hc cIucllcd. "Cood girl. You lcc¡ ¡rcicnding io lc iougI, and I'll
¡rcicnd I'n a scnsiiivc guy." His laugI fadcd and Iis facc Iardcncd. "Dui
ii's jusi a sIanc, you lnow, aloui iIc ¡rcgnancy, lccausc iIc onc iIing
Ma×inos Ias always wanicd was io lc a faiIcr. Hc's longcd for a cIild."
His gazc nci Icrs and Icld. "Es¡ccially a daugIicr." Enilio Icsiiaicd. "In
faci, you'd find iIis is quiic a scnsiiivc suljcci wiiI Iin. Eסlosivc,
cvcn."
TIcrc was norc io iIis iIan Enilio was iclling Icr and Cass wanicd io
lnow iIc facis...iIc iruiI...lui sIc doulicd sIc'd gci iIc iruiI fron
Enilio. AnyiIing Ic said Iad io lc iwisicd. Jusi iIc way Ic iwisicd iIc
facis aloui Icr niscarriagc. "How did you find oui?"
"I was ai iIc Ios¡iial iIai nigIi you cIcclcd yoursclf in. TIc wonan I
was daiing Ia¡¡cncd io lc your docior." Hc loolcd ai Icr, Iis cסrcssion
s¡cculaiivc. "I Iavc a co¡y of your ncdical rccords. Ii says ¡lain as can
lc÷D & C."
SIc fcli iIc ground sIifi lcncaiI Icr. Cass rcacIcd oui, ioucIcd iIc
car door io sicady Icrsclf. "Co io Icll."
"TIai's all ii says, Cass NoiIing clsc. Ma×inos will iIinl you ordcrcd
iIc D & C."
SIc ground Icr icciI iogciIcr. "I didn'i Iavc a cIoicc."
"Ycs, wcll, you don'i lnow Ma×inos vcry wcll if you iIinl Ic'll find iIai
an accc¡iallc c×cusc." Enilio ¡usIcd iIc drcss ioward Icr again. "Now
go cIangc lccausc iIcrc's fasIionally laic, and iIcn iIcrc's jusi vcry
laic and I ¡rcfcr io lc iIc forncr, noi iIc laiicr."
Dacl in Icr lcdroon, Cass woodcnly unzi¡¡cd Icr iurquoisc dcsigncr
gown, slowly sic¡¡ing oui of iIc sofi falric and laying ii flai on iIc lcd.
Evcn norc slowly sIc unIoolcd Icr dclicaic lacc lra and wiiI
ircnlling Iands drcw iIc sIccr wIiic gown ioward Icr.
Evcn if Enilio was daiing Icr docior, Iow could Ic gci a co¡y of Icr
rccords? TIai was illcgal. Paiicni rccords wcrc confidcniial.
Dui Enilio docsn'i ¡lay ly iIc rulcs, docs Ic?
No, sIc answcrcd Icrsclf, and now Icr sccrci was oui. SIc Iad lccn
¡rcgnani. And sIc'd suffcrcd a Iorrillc niscarriagc-iIc ¡ain Iad lccn
unlclicvallc and cvcn iIai awful ¡ain Iad lccn noiIing con¡arcd io iIc
Icarilrcal. SIc'd wanicd iIc laly. Wanicd iIc laly dcs¡craicly.
Ii didn'i naiicr anynorc, did ii?
Wcarily Cass ¡ullcd iIc sli¡ drcss ovcr Icr Icad, down on Icr
sIouldcrs, snooiIing iIc sIccr falric ovcr Icr Ii¡s.
Sic¡¡ing inio iIc laiIroon sIc loolcd ai Icrsclf in iIc nirror. Ii was
iIc nosi indcccni iIing sIc'd cvcr sccn. Ncarly con¡lcicly sIccr in iIc
froni, iIc sli¡ drcss lcfi noiIing io iIc inaginaiion. You could scc
cvcryiIing. Hcr lrcasis, iIc ni¡¡lcs, iIc darl rosy aurcolcs. Hcr lclly
luiion. TIc sIadow of Icr sc×.
Cass drcw a slow sIallow lrcaiI. WIai was sIc doing? WIy was sIc
Icrc, ¡laying iIis ganc? Ii Iad sccncd so sin¡lc in Fonc wIcn Enilio
Iad firsi inviicd Icr.
SIc'd accon¡anicd Enilio io Sicily io sIow Ma×inos sIc didn'i nccd
Iin anynorc, or wani Iin any longcr, and iIcn sIc'd rciurn io Fonc
and gci on wiiI Icr carccr and Icr lifc.
FigIiing a wavc of icy ¡anic, Cass ¡luclcd ai iIc ¡lunging nccllinc of
Icr wIiic lacc sli¡ drcss. SIc couldn'i aiicnd a young wonan's rcIcarsal
dinncr wcaring a sIccr wIiic lacc drcss wiiI Icr lrcasis and iIigIs
cסoscd.
Cass lncw sIc Iad flaws and faulis÷nany, nany÷lui sIc couldn'i do
iIis. SIc couldn'i Iuniliaic anoiIcr wonan÷nucI lcss Ma×inos's
sisicr÷and sIc couldn'i Iuniliaic Icrsclf.
Dui wIai aloui iIc laly?
Cass lcancd againsi iIc counicr's cdgc and covcrcd Icr nouiI, irying
noi io gag.
Dui iIcrc wasn'i a laly, noi anynorc, and noiIing Enilio could say or
do would lring iIc laly lacl...
Nunlly, rcsoluicly, Cass cIangcd oui of iIc wIiic lacc drcss and ¡ui
Icr iurquoisc gown lacl on. SIc sirugglcd io gci iIc zi¡¡cr lacl u¡
lcforc snooiIing loosc icndrils of Iair lacl inio iIc clcgani iwisi,
iucling a fcw ncw ¡ins inio iIc iwisi io sccurc ii lciicr.
Cass was ¡ariway down iIc Iall wIcn Enilio a¡¡carcd ai iIc Icad of
iIc siairs.
Ii was Iard io rcad Iis cסrcssion in iIc sIadowy Iall lui Iis ionc
lciraycd Iis fury. "You didn'i cIangc."
"Ii didn'i fii," sIc said calnly, rcacIing for iIc lanisicr lui lcforc sIc
could siari io dcsccnd iIc siaircasc Enilio grallcd Icr ly iIc u¡¡cr arn
and draggcd Icr lacl.
"I don'i a¡¡rcciaic you wasiing ny iinc."
''Talc your Iands off nc."
Hc wra¡¡cd Iis fingcrs iigIicr around Icr licc¡s. "CIangc.
Now."
"I can'i." Dui sIc didn'i sound iIc lcasi lii a¡ologciic and sIc lncw ii.
"TIc drcss didn'i fii. I'll scnd ii Ionc wiiI you so you can rciurn ii in
Fonc."
For a noncni Ic said noiIing. Hc didn'i novc. Hc jusi siudicd Icr in
iIc din ligIi of iIc Iall.
TIcn swifily Ic iool a sic¡ ioward Icr, rcacIcd for iIc froni of Icr
iurquoisc gown and jcrlcd violcnily on iIc falric, ri¡¡ing iIc dcsigncr
gown widc-o¡cn.
"OI dcar, ii lools lilc iIis gown docsn'i fii, ciiIcr." Hc nadc a
syn¡aiIciic clucling sound lcforc iurning away. "Pui on iIc drcss I
gavc you or I sIall go siraigIi io iIc rccc¡iion and announcc io cvcryonc
iIai you wcrcn'i jusi Ma×inos's nisircss lui iIc noiIcr of Iis laic
cIild."
Cass swaycd on Icr fcci, Icr rigIi Iand cluicIing iIc iorn gown io Icr
lrcasi. "I didn'i conc Icrc io ruin iIc wcdding-"
"Dui you did wani io Iuniliaic Iin÷"
"No." Hcr voicc quavcrcd. "No, I don'i wani io Iuniliaic Iin; I'd ncvcr
wani io Iuniliaic Iin. I lovc Iin. I'vc always lovcd Iin."
"You Iavc a funny way of sIowing ii." Enilio iurncd away, Icadcd for
iIc siairs lui ¡auscd lricfly on iIc io¡ sic¡. "Hurry. You'vc fivc ninuics
lcforc I lcavc for iIc rcsiaurani, and don'i iIinl I won'i s¡ill iIc lcans.
I'd lilc noiIing lciicr iIan io s¡oil swcci Adriana's s¡ccial nigIi wiiI
rcally lad ncws. And irusi nc, Cass, iIis would lc rcally lad ncws."
Cass ¡ui iIc drcss on and wallcd oui of iIc roon wiiIoui cvcn looling
in iIc nirror. SIc didn'i nccd io lool in iIc nirror. SIc lncw c×acily
wIai sIc'd scc and ii nadc Icr sicl.
Ouisidc, Enilio was gunning iIc cnginc. Hc said noiIing as Cass slid
inio iIc ¡asscngcr scai lui in iIc glow of iIc dasIloard ligIi sIc saw
iIc saiisficd curl of Iis u¡¡cr li¡.
TIc rcIcarsal dinncr was lcing Icld ai a rcsiaurani ncar iIc caiIcdral
and Enilio found ¡arling on a narrow sircci noi far fron iIc rcsiaurani.
Jusi lcforc Enilio ¡oclcicd iIc car lcys Ic rcacIcd ovcr, iuggcd on
Cass' s FrcncI iwisi, ¡ulling iIc ¡ins oui uniil Icr Icavy Ioncy-lrown
Iair fcll io Icr larc sIouldcrs.
Dui Ic wasn'i finisIcd yci. WiiI iIc ii¡ of Iis fingcr Ic snudgcd Icr
li¡siicl u¡ ovcr iIc low of Icr u¡¡cr li¡, lclow Icr lowcr li¡, and iIcn
wiiI Iis iIunl Ic sncarcd Icr cyclincr lcncaiI Icr cycs. "Dciicr," Ic
said, wi¡ing Iis Iands off. "Nicc and sluiiy. Jusi iIc way I lilc ny
woncn."
Dcs¡iic Icr flaning cIccls, Cass sicclcd Icrsclf, clan¡ing down on Icr
cnoiions, rcfusing io lci Icrsclf iIinl or fccl as sIc wallcd nc×i io
Enilio. SIc Iaicd Iin. TIai's all sIc lncw. SIc Iaicd Iin and soncIow
sIc Iad io gci iIrougI iIis cvcning, survivc iIc sIanc of iIis cvcning
uniil sIc could s¡cal io Ma×inos and iry io cסlain.
And wIai would sIc say?
SIc was sorry? SIc Iadn'i ncani io cnlarrass Iin? SIc Iadn'i ncani
io ruin Adriana's wcdding?
Hcr iIroai squcczcd closcd, and sIc sic¡¡cd carcfully ovcr iIc rougI
curl sioncs in Icr dangcrously IigI Iccls, ¡auscd in iIc rcsiaurani
doorway and siraigIicncd Icr sIouldcrs. Jusi do iIis. Jusi gci iIrougI
iIis. And iIcn go Ionc as soon as you rciurn io iIc ¡alazzo.
TIc wcdding ¡ariy was alrcady ai iIc rcsiaurani and Cass s¡oiicd
Ma×inos alnosi inncdiaicly. Hc wasn'i alonc, ciiIcr. Hc was sianding
wiiI iIc young wonan wIo'd lccn scni io find Iin carlicr, iIc lcauiiful
lrunciic in iIc ¡alc ¡inl drcss, and Iis arn rcsicd ligIily around Icr
waisi.
Cass Ialicd insidc iIc door, Icr lcgs iurning io lcad. Ma×inos was wiiI
Icr. SIc was Iis daic.
Cass llinlcd, fccling iIicl, siu¡id. SIc didn'i lnow wIy sIc was so
sIoclcd. Of coursc Ma×inos Iad a ncw wonan. TIcrc was no rcason for
Iin noi io. Hc was a nan, a nan in Iis ¡rinc, and Ic was ¡Iysical.
Scnsual. Sc×ual.
Cass fcli Enilio's Iand in iIc snall of Icr lacl, urging Icr forward lui
Icr lcgs wouldn'i coo¡craic.
Of coursc Ic Iad a ncw wonan, sIc silcnily rc¡caicd, lui wIai
siunncd Cass, wIai Iuri Icr so nucI, was iIc facc iIai Iis ncw lovcr
wasn'i lc¡i in iIc laclground, wasn'i a wonan Ic saw laic ai nigIi or
only on iIc wcclcnds. TIis ncw wonan wasn'i a nisircss...lui a
¡arincr.
"So¡Iia," Enilio said, Iis voicc in Cass's car. "TIai's So¡Iia d'Sanio.
Ma×inos's long-iinc con¡anion."
Long-iinc con¡anion? Cass couldn'i lool away fron Ma×inos and
¡rciiy So¡Iia. Had Ma×inos ¡ossilly lccn sccing anoiIcr wonan wIcn
Ic was sccing Icr? SIc sus¡ccicd Enilio was lying, jusi as Ic licd aloui
cvcryiIing clsc and yci ii didn'i ialc nucI io iIrow Cass, noi wIcn sIc
was alrcady fccling so vulncrallc ... so ridiculously insccurc.
"How long?" sIc aslcd fainily, sionacI cIurning.
"TIrcc ycars. Four. Maylc longcr."
Cass glanccd u¡, saw iIai Enilio was scrious. Dui again, iIai could lc
Enilio aciing. And Ic sccncd io Iavc a gcnuinc ialcni for drana and
iIcairics. "You lnow Icr?"
"I lncw Icr sisicr lciicr."
"Hcr sisicr?"
"Lorna." Enilio sIoi Cass a sly glancc. "You sIould asl Ma× aloui
Lorna sonciinc. Ii's noi oficn a nan gcis loiI sisicrs."
"Ccis?"
"Posscsscs." Enilio sIruggcd. "Dui iIcn Ma×inos is ricI, and ¡owcrful,
and connccicd. No wondcr So¡Iia siill iIrows Icrsclf ai Ma×inos cvcn
iIougI Ic ircaicd Icr oldcr sisicr sIancfully."
Cass glanccd ai ¡rciiy So¡Iia lui saw noiIing in iIc girl's nanncr, or
lcIaviour, io indicaic iIai So¡Iia was anyiIing lui so¡Iisiicaicd, and
rcfincd. "Is Lorna...iIc oiIcr sisicr...Icrc?"
Enilio Icsiiaicd, iIcn sIool Iis Icad. "No." His Iand slid fron Icr
waisi and Ic iool Icr cllow insicad. "Lci's gci sonciIing io drinl."
Enilio siccrcd Icr iIrougI iIc iIrong ioward onc of iIc rcsiaurani siaff
¡assing oui cIan¡agnc io gucsis. "I can'i waii io scc Iis facc wIcn Ic
sccs us," Ic addcd, dro¡¡ing Cass's cllow io ialc iwo cIan¡agnc fluics
fron onc of iIc ¡assing waiicrs. "His cסrcssion will lc ¡ricclcss." Enilio
Iandcd Icr a glass lcforc raising Iis own. "To rcvcngc."
Hc iool a largc swallow fron Iis glass lcforc noiing Icr cold
cסrcssion. "Conc on, snilc. TIis is fun."
SIc iurncd Icr Icad away, siclcncd. SIc couldn'i do iIis.
Couldn'i ¡ull iIis off. "Enilio÷"
"No."
"I can'i do÷"
"Too laic. Wc nadc a dcal." His voicc dro¡¡cd, Iis Iand rciurning io Icr
arn. "TIcrc's no lacling oui now. Fcncnlcr?"
SIc fcli iIc lun¡ grow in Icr iIroai. "I don'i wani io Iuri Iin÷"
"Dui I do. Dadly." Hc rcacIcd for Icr cIin, and lcancd ioward Icr as if
io liss Icr lui sIc iurncd Icr Icad away and Iis liss landcd on Icr
cIccl. "Dad forn, cu¡u," Ic wIis¡crcd.
"I ncvcr agrccd io ¡Iysical iniinacy," sIc answcrcd, forcing Icr li¡s u¡
in a gIoulisI snilc as anoiIcr cou¡lc ¡asscd closc ly, loiI llaianily
siaring ai iIc froni of Icr gown and Cass suddcnly rcncnlcrcd wIai
sIc was wcaring.
Cod. WIai a disasicr. All of ii. Mcciing Ma×inos, falling so nadly in
lovc, losing Iin, losing iIc laly, losing Icr nind...
Enilio dro¡¡cd a liss on iIc io¡ of Icr Icad. "Wc'rc drawing aiicniion,"
Ic wIis¡crcd, nodding io iIc roon ai largc. "I can ¡rciiy nucI guaranicc
iIai Ma× will lc Icrc io grcci us vcry soon."
Cass followcd Enilio's gazc and saw iIc way ¡co¡lc wcrc looling ai
iIcn. Mcn and woncn alilc wcrc giving iIcn disgusicd lools and ii was
olvious iIai iIc clcgani ncn and woncn gaiIcrcd in iIc salon silcnily,
sircnuously oljccicd io Enilio's ¡rcscncc, iIcir oljcciion a iangillc
iIing. WIaicvcr fcud c×isicd lciwccn Ma×inos and Enilio c×icndcd io
iIc rcsi of iIc Cuiliano fanily.
"And Icrc Ic concs," Enilio nurnurcd, sic¡¡ing lacl so Ma×inos
could gci a clcar vicw of Cassandra in Icr scc-iIrougI gown. "Hc lools
fii io lc iicd, docsn'i Ic?" Ic addcd, iwirling a long sirand of Cass's Iair
around iwo fingcrs. "You sIould scc Iis facc cvcry iinc I ioucI you."
"You'rc sicl," sIc cIolcd, ircnlling on iIc insidc, unallc io lool away
fron Ma×inos's facc. His jaw was iIicl, Iis darl cycs gliiicring wiiI
larcly conccalcd ragc.
Enilio snilcd. "I lnow."



CHAPTER FIVE

CASS waicIcd Ma×inos wall ioward iIcn, iIc air loiilcd in Icr lungs.
SIc'd long adnircd iIc way Ma×inos novcd, lui ionigIi Icr adniraiion
was icn¡crcd ly fcar. And drcad. Fcarful, and yci fascinaicd, sIc
followcd Iis ¡rogrcss iIrougI iIc crowdcd salon, waicIcd as ¡co¡lc
¡aricd for Iin.
"Cass," Ma×inos said quicily. "Solaio."
Cass lificd Icr Icad, and Icr cycs nci Ma×inos's. Hc loolcd so
angry...so disgusicd. Hoi icars lurncd iIc lacl of Icr cycs and Icr
fingcrs curlcd inio iIc ¡alns of Icr Iands as sIc ¡rc¡arcd for iIc worsi.
Ma×inos's darl gazc slowly slid ovcr Icr, iIc c×aninaiion lold,
dclilcraic, ¡osscssivc. Hc was lciiing Icr lnow÷lciiing Enilio lnow÷iIai
sIc was Iis, iIai sIc lclongcd io Iin. Siill.
Cass flusIcd lcncaiI Iis inicnsc gazc, Icr slin Icaiing cvcn as Icr
insidcs coniracicd. SIc fcli Icr lrcasis swcll, firn, Icr ni¡¡lcs
Iardcning, juiiing againsi iIc dclicaic lacc falric. SIc fcli raiIcr iIan
Icard Ma×inos IarsI inialc, a dcc¡ swifi lrcaiI iIai iold Icr Ic'd
noiiccd iIc iigIicning of Icr ni¡¡lcs. Hc couldn'i ignorc Icr, jusi as sIc
couldn'i Icl¡ rcs¡onding io Iin. TIcy wcrc a raiIcr dcs¡craic ¡air,
wcrcn'i iIcy?
"You sccn io lc nissing sonciIing," Ma×inos said, Iis dcc¡ voicc
¡iicIcd cvcn lowcr, iIc sound iniinaic and IarsI, so lilc Iin, so vcry
Ma×inos Cuiliano.
Cass fcli Icrsclf llusI again, Icr facc and lody on firc, Icr Icari
Ianncring wildly. Hcr slin iinglcd. SIc fcli a Ioi fizz in Icr vcins. Wani.
Nccd. Dcsirc. "My drcss," sIc wIis¡crcd, only io fccl Enilio squcczc Icr
arn, Iis fingcrs ¡rcssing on a icndcr s¡oi, lui sIc didn'i wincc.
"Did you s¡ill sonciIing on your oiIcr gown?" Ma×inos aslcd, Iis
aiicniion focuscd solcly on Cass, Iis aiicniion so ¡crsonal iIai sIc fcli
as if iIcy wcrc iIc only iwo in iIc roon, iIc only iwo iIai naiicrcd.
How sIc'd nisscd Iin. Misscd Iis arns, nisscd Iis lody, nisscd Iis
sircngiI. SIc'd nisscd Iis cndlcss confidcncc, iIc casc wiiI wIicI Ic
s¡olc, novcd, livcd. SIc'd always fcli cn¡owcrcd ly Ma×inos. His
sircngiI Iad fcd Icr own. "Ii ri¡¡cd."
"How?"
For a noncni sIc couldn'i s¡cal, words dcscriing Icr, iIougIi
in¡ossillc. All sIc saw was Ma×inos. All sIc fcli was Ma×inos. If only
sIc Iadn'i aslcd for norc... if only sIc could go lacl, lc iIc ligIi and
convcnicni nisircss sIc'd oncc lccn. Dui sonc iIings couldn'i lc
undonc, and iIc Iuri Iad lccn ioo dcc¡...
Ma×inos rcacIcd for Icr, lrusIcd Enilio's Iand fron Icr arn, and
lrougIi Icr ioward Iin, lrougIi Icr closc cnougI so sIc could fccl Iis
warniI, sncll iIc sulilc sccni of Iis clcgani colognc. Evcn luili as Iard,
as rougI as Ma×inos was, sIc found Iin in¡ossilly aiiraciivc. SIc
lovcd Iis cycs, Iis cIcclloncs, Iis jaw, Iis nouiI.
His nouiI.
Hcr gazc clung io Iis nouiI, io Iis incrcdillc nouiI, and Iis firn li¡s
iIai always soficncd againsi Icrs ...
"Your drcss," Ma×inos rc¡caicd, Iis Iands firn on Icr sIouldcrs, Iis
Iands loiI conforiing and a iorncni, a ¡lcasurc and a icasc. SIc
rcncnlcrcd iIc way Iis Iands uscd io carcss Icr, Iold Icr, ioucI Icr.
SIc lovcd Iis Iands. Lovcd iIc way Ic'd nadc Icr fccl. Dccausc Ic'd
nadc Icr fccl...and fccl...
"How did ii ri¡?" Ic aslcd again.
SIc loolcd u¡ ai Iin, fccling llind, cסoscd. "Sic¡¡cd on ii, I iIinl."
"You iIinl?" Ma×inos's cyclrows lowcrcd.
"Ii's lccn a long day." SIc iricd io snilc, lui Icr li¡s quavcrcd wiiI iIc
cffori. SIc was figIiing cnoiion, figIiing ¡assion, figIiing ncnory. Ai
iIai noncni sIc iIougIi sIc'd givc jusi aloui anyiIing for onc norc
nigIi wiiI Iin. SIc'd givc anyiIing io lc lovcd...wanicd...cIcrisIcd.
Dui Ic didn'i cIcrisI Icr. Hc lilcd sc×. Dccausc iIc sc× was good. No,
iIc sc× was faniasiic. Dui ii wasn'i rcally Icr iIai lc¡i Iis aiicniion. Ii
was jusi Icr lody.
Dlinling lacl icars, Cass iricd io lifi Icr cIin. "Ii's Iard io lcc¡
cvcryiIing siraigIi."
"TIc siorics, you ncan?" Ic aslcd gcnily, lui iIc qucsiion was
¡crcc¡iivc. Ma×inos was sIar¡. Too sIar¡. SIc fcli Icr snilc sli¡ and
iIc griiiincss rciurncd io Icr cycs.
"Ii's a warn nigIi," Ic addcd, "lui noi iIai warn." And lcforc sIc lncw
wIai Ic was doing, Ma×inos was sIrugging oui of Iis llacl dinncr
jaclci and dra¡ing ii around Icr sIouldcrs.
SIc lii Icr li¡ as sIc fcli Iis Iands clas¡ Icr sIouldcrs, a lricf ioucI
lui conforiing, cs¡ccially aficr iIc awful day sIc'd Iad.
"TIanl you," sIc wIis¡crcd, unallc io lool u¡ and ncci Iis cyc. TIis
was Ma×inos, Icr Ma×inos, iIc nan wIo'd lccn Icr Icari, Icr soul, Icr
world for iIrcc ycars.
And iIcn Ic was iurning away, rciurning io So¡Iia wIcrc sIc waiicd
for Iin ncar iIc froni of iIc rcsiaurani.
TIc scaiing for iIc dinncr Iad lccn rcassigncd and Enilio and Cass
Iad lccn givcn scais ai iIc cnd of iIc iallc fariIcsi fron iIc ncnlcrs of
iIc wcdding ¡ariy.
As iIcy sai down, iIcir cnd of iIc iallc fcll silcni and cvcryonc iurncd
io lool ai iIcn. Dcs¡iic Ma×inos's coai wra¡¡cd around Icr, Cass siill
fcli cסoscd as sIc sai down and drcw Icr cIair closcr io iIc iallc,
¡rcicnding io lc ollivious of iIc ¡oinicd siarcs.
No onc wanicd iIcn iIcrc.
Ii was worsc iIan awlward, sIc iIougIi, glancing ai Enilio. "Evcr fccl
lilc cvcryonc Iaics you?" Enilio aslcd, ¡ro¡¡ing Iis cllows on iIc iallc
and lcaning ioward Cass
"Ycs." SIc fcli lilc an inirudcr, and sIc Iaicd forcing Icrsclf on iIc
Cuiliano fanily now. Wcddings wcrc s¡ccial occasions, oncc in a lifciinc
cclclraiions io lc sIarcd wiiI iIosc ncarcsi and dcarcsi noi wiiI
sirangcrs or fanily cncnics.
Dui Enilio cIucllcd as Ic wIis¡crcd in Cass's car. "Isn'i ii grcai?"
"No," sIc answcrcd, lifiing a sIouldcr, ¡uzzlcd ly Enilio's lcIaviour.
Enilio didn'i carc iIai no onc wanicd Iin iIcrc. In faci, iIc norc ¡co¡lc
c×cludcd Iin, iIc norc ¡co¡lc wIis¡crcd, iIc Ia¡¡icr Ic lccanc. Hc'd
conc io inflici ¡ain and niscry and Ic was succccding lrillianily.
"Cod, I Iaic iIcsc ¡co¡lc," Ic said alru¡ily, savagcly. "TIcy'rc a luncI
of Iy¡ocriiical snols."
"And yci you canc for iIc wcclcnd."
"I canc io nalc a ¡oini."
Cass iool a ncrvous si¡ fron Icr wincglass lcforc carcfully ¡lacing ii
lacl on iIc lincn iallccloiI. "And wIai ¡oini would iIai lc?"
"TIai iIcy can'i ioucI nc." His cסrcssion clcarcd and Ic loolcd
alnosi good-Iunourcd and loyisI again. "TIai iIcy'll ncvcr lc allc io
ioucI nc. Dccausc I'n snaricr iIan iIcy arc. Ai lcasi I'n snaricr iIan
good old Ma×."
SIc glanccd down iIc iallc io lool ai Ma×inos, and jusi iIcn, Ma×inos
lificd Iis Icad, nci Icr gazc. For a noncni sIc and Ma×inos siarcd ai
cacI oiIcr, sizing iIc oiIcr u¡, iIc way iIcy Iad iIai firsi nigIi ai iIc
rccc¡iion in Ncw Yorl.
TIcy'd nci ai a lusincss funciion in Ncw Yorl and iIc aiiraciion Iad
lccn inncdiaic and inicnsc. TIcy'd larcly nadc ii oui of iIc rccc¡iion
and inio a ia×i lcforc Ma×inos's Iand Iad slid lcncaiI Icr drcss io find
Icr Ioi, fcvcrisI slin.
TIcrc'd lccn no looling lacl aficr iIai. SIc wanicd Iin, and sIc'd
waii for Iin, and sIc did.
In iIc lcginning, iIc waiiing Iad lccn a ganc. SIc'd scc Iow wcll sIc
could fill iIc iinc lciwccn Iis calls. SIc lncw Ic'd cvcniually call÷Ic
always did÷lui ii was Icr ganc iIai Icl¡cd Icr survivc.
Ii Icl¡cd iIai sIc lncw wIcn Ic would and wIcn Ic wouldn'i call. Hc
ncvcr ¡Ioncd carly in iIc norning. Hc ncvcr ¡Ioncd lcforc carly
aficrnoon, and cvcn iIcn, ii was unlilcly. If Ic callcd, ii would lc laic
aficrnoon, fron Iis lino, on iIc way io sonc¡lacc, or laic ai nigIi wIcn
Ic'd rciurncd io Iis ¡cniIousc. Dui oiIcrwisc, Ic didn'i call.
SIc wouldn'i jusi sii iIcrc. SIc'd go do Icr own iIing. Dui in iIc lacl
of Icr nind, sIc'd lnow wIcn Ic sIould call, or wIcn Ic ¡ossilly nigIi,
and dcs¡iic Icr lcsi inicniions, sIc'd iry io lc availallc. WIicI ncani
lcc¡ing ¡Ioncs on, availallc. WIicI ncani lcing only so cngagcd wiiI
sonciIing iIai sIc could dro¡ all wIcn Ic did call.
Ii Iadn'i sccncd so lad ai firsi. SIc'd lccn gcnuincly lusy iIai firsi
ycar lui ii Iad goiicn worsc. Hardcr. Ii Iad goiicn io iIc ¡oini iIai iIc
nigIis lciwccn calls lccanc a ¡oini of naddcns. Pain. Call nc. Call nc.
Call nc. SIc'd waicI iIc clocl, waicI iIc ninuics slowly cIangc and
iIinl, I could Iavc wccls of iIis...I nigIi noi Icar fron Iin for wccls
siill.
And iIai's Iow iIc angcr lcgan io luild. TIai's wIcn sIc rcalizcd
lcconing Iis nisircss Iad lccn iIc nosi dangcrous, sclf-dcsiruciivc
iIing sIc could Iavc donc. Dccausc waiiing for Iin, waiiing on Iin,
waiiing io lc lovcd nadc Icr douli cvcryiIing aloui Icrsclf. Including
Icr sclf-woriI.
TIc waiiing crcaicd nccd, and angcr, and rcscnincni. Dui iIcn, wIcn
Ma×inos did finally call, Ic'd lc so warn, so inicrcsicd, so dcvoicd.
SIc'd agrcc io scc Iin and lcing wiiI Iin, alonc wiiI Iin, would nalc
Icr iIrow cauiion io iIc wind. SIc lovcd naling lovc wiiI Ma×inos,
lovcd cvcryiIing aloui iIc sc× and iIc cnoiion and iIc iniinacy, and
sIc'd losc Icrsclf, losc conirol.
TIc lovcnaling was unrcal in iis inicnsiiy. TIc lovcnaling nadc Icr
lclicvc in lovc.
And iIcn iIcrc wcrc iIc iri¡s iIcy iool iogciIcr. Hc'd lool Icr inio a
lavisI rcsori and Ic nigIi or nigIi noi siay wiiI Icr. Hc nigIi or nigIi
noi Iavc lusincss. Hc nigIi or nigIi noi s¡cnd an cniirc nigIi wiiI Icr
and iIc unccriainiy of ii all lccanc an olscssion. WIy did sIc Iavc so
liiilc of Iin? WIy was iIcir lifc iogciIcr so lricf, so sIori, so rigidly
conirollcd?
As Icr frusiraiion grcw and Icr angcr nounicd, sIc lncw sIc nccdcd
io gci oui of Iis lifc and lacl inio Icrs. Dui ii Iad lccn so long sincc
sIc'd rcally iIougIi aloui wIai sIc nccdcd÷oiIcr iIan norc of
Ma×inos÷iIai wIcn sIc loolcd insidc Icrsclf ii was jusi a lig llacl
Iolc.
"You can'i ialc your cycs off Iin." Enilio's Iard voicc soundcd in Icr
car.
Cass jun¡cd guiliily. "WIai did you say?"
"You'vc lccn siaring ai Iin cvcr sincc wc sai down." Enilio iurncd Icr
cIair io facc Iis. "Hc's goi you in iIc ¡aln of Iis Iand again, docsn'i Ic?
Onc nigIi in Iis Iousc and you'rc Iis liiilc ¡layiIing again. Cod, Iow
¡aiIciic!"
"You lnow noiIing."
Hc laugIcd, Iis cסrcssion liiicr, lruial. "I lnow woncn lilc you.
Woncn iIai ¡rcicnd io lc snari and sirong uniil you gci iIcn in lcd.
Woncn wIo aci indc¡cndcni, lui find iIcir Ioi luiion and nalc iIcn
conc and iIcy'rc your slavc for lifc."
SIc sIool Icr Icad. "I'n noi lisicning."
"Ycs, you arc. I can scc iIc wIccls s¡inning." Hc lcancd ioward Icr io
wIis¡cr in Icr car. "So filc iIis away for fuiurc rcfcrcncc. An orgasn isn'i
lovc. An orgasn is jusi an orgasn."
Dlood surgcd io Icr cIccls and sIc ¡ullcd lacl, ¡uiiing disiancc
lciwccn iIcn. "TIanls for iIc liology lcsson."
"Hc slc¡i wiiI you, lui Ic lovcd anoiIcr."
Cass's Icad iurncd and sIc fi×cd a Iard gazc on Enilio's facc. "You
nccd scrious Icl¡. You lnow iIai, don'i you?"
Hc snilcd lazily. "So I'vc lccn iold."
SIc novcd Icr lcgs so iIcy wouldn'i ioucI Iis. "Is iIis wIy Ma×inos
cndcd your ¡rofcssional associaiion? Hc found oui you wcrcn'i
con¡lcicly siallc?"
Enilio's snilc fadcd liiilc ly liiilc. "Iialia Moiors was ny succcss, noi
Iis. My car. My dcsign, an innovaiivc dcsign iIai iool iIc narlci ly
siorn, winning us cvcry indusiry award our firsi ycar alonc."
"So Ma×inos did noiIing io coniriluic io Iialia Moiors' succcss?"
"NoiIing, con¡arcd io ny coniriluiions."
"So ii wasn'i Iis noncy iIai financcd Iialia Moiors?"
"Hc wroic sonc cIcqucs÷"
"Ncarly iwcniy nillion dollars woriI." SIc inicrru¡icd, rcacIing for Icr
wincglass and giving ii a liiilc swirl. "Dccausc iIc firsi car did win
awards and ycs, ii did ca¡iurc iIc ¡ullic's inaginaiion, lui wasn'i iIcrc
a dcsign flaw? SonciIing in iIc cnginccring wIicI rcsulicd in a iragic
accidcni and a icn nillion dollar lawsuii sciilcncni."
"TIai wasn'i ny fauli. Ma×inos was in cIargc of rcscarcI. If Ic didn'i
run cnougI icsis?" Enilio sIruggcd, Iands c×icnding "You can'i llanc
iIai onc on nc. I Iad ny arca of rcs¡onsililiiy and Ic Iad Iis, and iIc
loiion linc is iIai Ma×inos nccdcd nc. Nccdcd ny nind, ny
crcaiiviiy÷"
"Dccausc Iialia Moiors was all aloui your gcnius, rigIi?"
SIc lcancd on Icr cllows. "Hc rcscnicd you for lcing iIc lrain lcIind
iIc con¡any wIilc Ic was jusi iIc noncylags."
"Ycs."
SIc couldn'i Icl¡ sIaling Icr Icad in dislclicf. Enilio was ludicrous.
Alsoluicly ludicrous. "Isn'i iIis iIc oldcsi siory around? Two ncn go inio
lusincss iogciIcr and onc Ias iIc noncy and iIc oiIcr Ias iIc lrains."
"Ii's iruc."
"Or naylc ii's iruc iIai you rcscnicd Ma×inos lccausc Ic Iad noncy
and lrains."
"No."
"TIcn wIy arc you so olscsscd wiiI Iin? WIy sIould you wani io
nalc Iin suffcr?"
"Dccausc wc Iad sonciIing good, vcry good, and Ic llcw ii. Hc ruincd
nc."
Cass glanccd ioward Ma×inos. Hc was cngrosscd in convcrsaiion wiiI
iIc ¡co¡lc scaicd dirccily across fron Iin and sonciIing insidc Icr
iuggcd. Ma×inos was sucI a sirong ¡crson, sucI a ¡owcrful ¡rcscncc
iIai sIc fcli Iin cvcn iIougI Ic sai ai iIc far cnd of iIc lanquci iallc.
Dui suddcnly Iis Icad iurncd and Ma×inos's darl forlidding gazc nci
Icrs. For a long noncni sIc jusi loolcd ai Iin, dranl Iin in, fccling iIc
dcsirc insidc Icr siir. SIc nisscd Iin. Cod, sIc nisscd Iin.
Alru¡ily Ma×inos siood, crosscd lcIind iIc iallc, walling ioward
Enilio and Cass
Cass saw iIc iaui, dcicrnincd lool on Ma×inos' s facc, Iis cIcclloncs
juiiing IarsIly, Iis jaw sci. Enilio saw ii, ioo, and sniling idly, Ic
ioucIcd Cass's nccl lcforc running Iis Iand iIrougI Cass' s Iair.
FcacIing iIcir cnd of iIc iallc, Ma×inos s¡olc io iIc nan scaicd on
Cass's rigIi. TIc nan siood and wallcd away, vacaiing Iis scai for
Ma×inos.
Ma×inos ¡ullcd iIc now cn¡iy cIair oui and sai down.
"Enjoying yoursclf?" Ic aslcd, lcaning forward, looling Enilio in iIc
cyc.
Cass fcli Ma×inos's sIouldcr lrusI Icr lrcasi and sIc sIivcrcd, ncrvcs
iigIicning.
"I an." Enilio snilcd, rclisIing iIc cai and nousc ganc Ic and
Ma×inos wcrc ¡laying. "Your sisicr is lcauiiful. I'vc ncvcr sccn Icr lool
lciicr. SIc's all grown u¡, isn'i sIc?"
Ma×inos didn'i cvcn glancc Iis sisicr's way. "Adriana's jusi iwcniy-
onc."
"A wonan."
Ma×inos's jaw iIiclcncd. "And you lilc oiIcr ncn's woncn."
Enilio laugIcd. "Noi ncccssarily. Dui I do lilc woncn." Hc cla¡¡cd Iis
Iand on Cass's lncc, and rullcd Iis ¡aln in circlcs ovcr Icr lnccca¡.
"Es¡ccially iIis onc."
Ma×inos didn'i answcr and Enilio's Iand novcd IigIcr on Cass's lcg,
sliding ovcr Icr lncc io Icr iIigI. "SIc's gorgcous, ny Cass, isn'i sIc?"
Cass couldn'i lcar ii. SIc rcacIcd for Enilio's Iand, lificd ii fron Icr
lcg. "Sio¡."
TIc lool Enilio gavc Icr was Iard cnougI io cui glass. "Maylc ii's iinc
wc wcni Ionc and wcni io lcd. You'rc sounding a liiilc iircd, lovc."
"I'n finc," sIc ¡roicsicd.
"No, you'rc a liicI, and I don'i lnow wIai I cvcr saw in you." Enilio
sIovcd Iis cIair lacl and siood. "I'n going io go gci a rcal drinl.
SonciIing lciicr iIan iIis cIca¡ iallc winc."
Hc siallcd off and Cass waicIcd Iin go, insidcs iwisicd. TIcrc was a
long noncni's silcncc and Cass siirrcd uncasily. SIc didn'i lnow wIai
io say, wIai io do, or Iow io nalc ancnds ai iIis ¡oini. Dui sIc did
nccd io nalc ancnds. TIis wIolc cvcning Iad lccn awful, and an
cnlarrassncni for Ma×inos.
"I'n sorry," sIc said ai lcngiI, iugging on iIc la¡cls of Ma×inos's coai,
cold dcs¡iic iIc jaclci's ¡roicciion. "I'vc lcIavcd ladly, and your ¡oor
fanily, Iaving io suffcr iIrougI iIis sIow Enilio and I'vc ¡ui on..." Hcr
voicc fadcd and sIc swallowcd. "I'n sorry. I rcally an."
Ma×inos rcgardcd Icr sicadily. "I was sur¡riscd io scc you Icrc wiiI
Iin. I didn'i cvcn lnow you iwo lncw cacI oiIcr."
"Wc nci in A¡ril, jusi aficr?" SIc lrolc off, sur¡riscd ai a ncw iIougIi.
Quiclly sIc counicd lacl. SIc'd nci Enilio in A¡ril ai an advcriising
awards dinncr, a dinncr Icld iIrcc days aficr iIc niscarriagc. TIrcc
days.
Maylc iIcir ncciing Iadn'i lccn ly cIancc.
Maylc Enilio Iad found oui aloui iIc niscarriagc and inicndcd for
iIcn io ncci ...
Ii was lizarrc io iIinl aloui, lui nadc scnsc in an awful sori of way.
"I nccd io go," sIc said, rcacIing for Icr ¡ursc and rising. "TIis
is÷was÷iIc siu¡idcsi iIing I'vc cvcr donc. I don'i lnow wIai I was
iIinling, and you'vc cvcry rigIi io iIinl I'vc gonc con¡lcicly nad. Maylc
I Iavc."
Ma×inos rosc, ioo. "I'll ialc you lacl io iIc ¡alazzo."
"No." SIc snilcd quiclly io soficn Icr rcfusal. "I'll gci a cal. I'll lc finc."
"I can'i scnd you lacl uncIa¡croncd. I don'i irusi Enilio and I don'i
wani you rciurning io iIc ¡alazzo alonc."
"Ma×inos÷"
"I saw iIc lruiscs on your arn. Hc Iuri you carlicr, didn'i Ic?" Hcr
nouiI o¡cncd lui no sound canc oui.
Ma×inos sIool Iis Icad in disgusi. "TIai's wIy I wra¡¡cd you in ny
coai. I didn'i wani anyonc siaring ai iIc lruiscs. TIcy wcrc so darl. Ii
was olvious you'd lccn Iuri."
Hoi cnoiion rusIcd iIrougI Icr and sIc Iad io lool away for a
noncni io lcc¡ fron crying. "I iIougIi you wcrc asIancd of nc
a¡¡caring viriually nalcd ai your sisicr's dinncr."
"AsIancd of your lody? In¡ossillc." Hc lcancd ioward Icr, lisscd Icr
icn¡lc. "Dui naylc ii was a lii daring for ny grandnoiIcr's iasics."
Cass snilcd wanly. "I didn'i wani io wcar ii."
"I sus¡ccicd as nucI." Hc rcacIcd inio Iis ¡oclci for Iis car lcys. "Lci
nc jusi lci So¡Iia lnow I'n lcaving. I'll lc rigIi lacl."
In iIc car Cass siarcd oui iIc window as Ma×inos drovc. SIc waicIcd
iIc ncigIlourIoods ¡ass ly, iIc ycllow sircciligIis glowcd lilc io¡az ai
nigIi, iIc old ciiy darl and nysicrious, iIc narrow sirccis ncarly
dcscricd as iIc car a¡¡roacIcd iIc Cuiliano ¡alazzo. "How long Iavc you
lccn sccing So¡Iia d' Sanio?" sIc finally aslcd, gaiIcring Icr couragc.
"Enilio iallcd aloui Icr." Dui ii was a siaicncni, noi a qucsiion.
"Hc said sIc'd lccn your con¡anion for ycars."
Ma×inos didn'i inncdiaicly rc¡ly lui Cass fcli Iin icnsc. Hc didn'i lilc
iIis suljcci.
"SIc is lcauiiful," Cass addcd quicily, Icr insidcs fccling as if iIcy wcrc
on firc. SIc didn'i lnow wIy sIc Iad io iall aloui So¡Iia now. Was ii
jcalousy? Envy? Prolally.
"Ycs." Ma×inos didn'i ialc Iis cycs fron iIc road.
"And young."
His darl lrows ¡ullcd. A snall nusclc in Iis jaw iigIicncd. "I'vc lnown
Icr ncarly iIiriccn ycars."
Hcr cIcsi squcczcd, Icr Icari acIing. "Do you lovc Icr?"
"Cass?"
"I nccd io lnow, Ma×inos. I nccd io undcrsiand."
"Undcrsiand wIai?"
Hcr sIouldcrs lificd, fcll. "WIy you didn'i lovc nc."
"CIrisi," Ic sworc lcncaiI Iis lrcaiI, ¡alns ¡rcssing Iard againsi iIc
lcaiIcr covcrcd siccring wIccl. "Woncn. You'rc all in¡ossillc."
Cass foldcd Icr Iands in Icr la¡, nails dug inio Icr slin. "Would you
narry Icr?"
"Cuss."
"Is iIai wIy you only saw nc ¡ari-iinc? Dccausc iIc rcsi of iIc iinc
you wcrc wiiI Icr?"
Ma×inos ¡ullcd ovcr io iIc sidc of iIc road and iurncd in Iis scai io
lool ai Icr, and cvcn in iIc din ligIi of iIc inicrior Iis cסrcssion was
ficrcc, forlidding. "I was noi wiiI Icr. I carc aloui So¡Iia, lui I do noi
lovc Icr and would noi narry Icr."
Cass loolcd ai Iin, sccing iIc sirong ¡roud lincs of Iis facc in iIc
sIadowcd ligIi of iIc car inicrior. "So sIc's ncvcr lccn your lovcr?"
"No!" His voicc iIundcrcd in iIc car. "No. Any norc qucsiions?"
Cass loolcd away. "Noi ai iIc noncni."
"Cood." Hc siaricd iIc car and rcsuncd driving. TIc rcsi of iIc lricf
iri¡ was finisIcd in silcncc. Dui as Ma×inos ¡ullcd u¡ in froni of Iis
fanily's ¡alazzo, iIc Iousc Iaving ¡asscd fron onc gcncraiion of
Cuilianos io iIc nc×i for ncarly fivc Iundrcd ycars, Ma×inos lrolc iIc
silcncc. "You'vc cIangcd," Ic said icrscly. "You uscd io lc sirong.
O¡iinisiic. You'rc so insccurc now."
Insccurc. TIai was onc way of ¡uiiing ii. "TIings wcrc diffcrcni iIcn,"
sIc said.
"Noi iIai diffcrcni."
Cass alnosi laugIcd oui loud, iIinling Ic was joling lui as sIc
caugIi sigIi of Iis facc, sIc rcalizcd Ic wasn'i. "TIings arc vcry diffcrcni,
Ma×inos."
"TIinl aloui ii. You siill Iavc your jol. You Iavc your a¡arincni, your
worl, your fricnds?"
"Dui noi you." How could Ic noi gci ii? How could Ic valuc Icr
lovc÷rclaiionsIi¡s÷so liiilc? "You wcrc cvcryiIing io nc."
"I ncvcr wanicd io lc cvcryiIing. I ncvcr aslcd io lc cvcryiIing?"
"Forgci ii. Lci's jusi dro¡ ii." Cass swung iIc car door o¡cn.
TIcy'd lccn siiiing in iIc drivcway, iIc ornaic ligIis fron iIc ¡laza
sIining on iIc dcscricd squarc, iurning iIc caiIcdral facadc a ycllow-
gold, illuninaiing iIc clcgani lalconics froniing iIc Cuiliano ¡alazzo.
Ma×inos ¡ursucd Icr u¡ iIc froni sic¡s. "I carcd aloui you, Cass I
carcd norc iIan you lnow, lui you lnow you'rc rcs¡onsillc for your
own Ia¡¡incss, jusi as you'rc in cIargc of your own dcsiiny. Ii's iIc onc
iIing wc agrccd on wIcn wc nci, ii's wIai aiiracicd nc io you. You wcrc
sirong and indc¡cndcni?"
"And I siill an." SIc iool a lrcaiI. "Sori of."
"Unaccc¡iallc."
"Caring for you cIangcd nc. Ii nadc nc wani norc?"
"Dui sonciincs iIcrc jusi isn'i norc."
SIc ¡usIcd iIrougI iIc froni door. "You say iIai-"
"And I ncan ii." Hc caugIi Icr ly iIc sIouldcr and iurncd Icr around,
iIc din ligIi of iIc cniry Iall sIadowing loiI of iIcir faccs. "You goi
wIai I could givc you. I saw you wIcn I could. And ii wasn'i a loi. I lnow
ii. Wc wcrc a wcclcnd iIing. Oncc a noniI, iwo wcclcnds a noniI, jusi
now and iIcn."
SIc closcd Icr cycs, counicd io fivc, iricd io lcc¡ fron losing Icr
icn¡cr. "Yci I was availallc cvcry wcclcnd," sIc said carcfully, "frcc cacI
cvcning."
"You Iad your own lifc?"
"I Iad worl," sIc inicrru¡icd sIorily, o¡cning Icr cycs io lool ai Iin.
"Dui ouisidc of worl you wcrc ny lifc."
Ma×inos inIalcd sIar¡ly. "Your nisialc. Noi ninc."
Hcai and scnsaiion cסlodcd insidc Icr. Cass sIuddcrcd ai iIc lruial
iug on Icr Icari. How could sIc fccl so nucI? How could sIc siill Iuri
lilc iIis? TIc ¡ain was so inicnsc sIc Iad io snilc io Iold iIc icars
lacl. Was iIis lovc? Was ii Iaic? All sIc lncw for ccriain was iIai iIis
cnoiion Icld Icr in iis iIrall, Iad lcwiicIcd Icr nind, ialcn conirol of
Icr scnscs.
WIai sIc wanicd ... nccdcd ...
SIc sIool Icr Icad oncc, a sIori dazcd sIalc, iIc sanc dazcd
scnsaiion sIc'd Iad sincc ncciing Ma×inos iwo and a Ialf ycars ago. "As
I said, lci's dro¡ ii. Lci's jusi call ii a nigIi. I can'i figIi wiiI you
anynorc, I don'i wani io figIi wiiI you. I don'i cnjoy ii." SIc fcli icars
siing Icr cycs. Not uIcn I ííIc íouíng ¸ou so nucI Icttc¡.
TIc luilcr a¡¡carcd, fornally grcciing Ma×inos and aficr iurning on
ligIis for iIcn, quicily disa¡¡carcd.
"Your coai," sIc said, ¡ccling off Ma×inos's dinncr jaclci and Ianding
ii lacl io Iin. "TIanl you."
Hc inclincd Iis Icad. "I'll scc you u¡."
"I can find ny way."
"I'n Icading iIai way nysclf. Ii's casy cnougI for nc io wall you io
your roon."
"Wcll, in iIai casc, sincc you'rc noi going oui of your way..." SIc was
icasing Iin and sniling croolcdly, Ic gcsiurcd io iIc narllc and gili
siaircasc, wIcrc iIc wIiic cu¡c¡¡u narllc Iad darlcncd io alnosi
lavcndcr wiiI agc.
Ai iIc io¡ of iIc siairs, Ma×inos fliclcd on norc ligIis lrigIicning iIc
sccond floor landing wiiI iis darl rcd ¡aini and iIc ¡rofusion of oils ly
iIc Iialian nasicrs.
"TIis is a lcauiiful Ionc."
"I don'i conc Ionc as oficn as I sIould. My noiIcr is always asling nc
io conc visii." Hc sigIcd and iIcn laugIcd. "Sccns I can'i nalc anylody
Ia¡¡y. You ncvcr saw cnougI of nc. My fanily docsn'i scc cnougI of
nc?"
SIc sIoi Iin a swifi glancc, sizing Iin u¡, sccing all ai oncc Iis
nagnificcni ¡rofilc, iIc darl iIicl fringc of cyclasI, iIc suliry colouring
coniradicicd ly sucI ficrcc, nasculinc fcaiurcs. Hc was gorgcous.
Clorious. Proud. Sicilian. And olviously noi inicrcsicd in a long-icrn,
nonoganous rclaiionsIi¡. "TIcn wIo docs?"
"Cood qucsiion," Ic answcrcd, walling Icr io Icr roon, again iurning
on ligIis for Icr, lcforc crossing io iIc windows and drawing iIc Icavy
vclvci curiains closcd. "I su¡¡osc ny siaff sccs quiic a lii of nc. Clicnis.
Cusioncrs. Auionoiivc cnginccrs."
"You'rc iniroducing a ncw car in iIc ncw ycar?"
"Ii's lcing unvcilcd soon."
"E×ciiing."
"Mnnn," Ic said, nonconniiial, lcforc cIanging suljccis.
"TIc Iousc is old, lui ii docs Iavc an inicrcon. My noiIcr insisicd on
ii wIcn ny faiIcr was ill scvcral ycars ago. You can call iIc liicIcn if
you nccd anyiIing io cai or drinl, or if you rcquirc sonciIing fron
Iousclcc¡ing."
"TIanl you," sIc said, iIinling iIai jusi looling ai Iin nadc Icr Iuri.
Jusi looling inio Iis darl cycs nadc Icr wani.
Hc'd discovcrcd Icr iurquoisc gown on iIc lcd. "WIai iIc Icll
Ia¡¡cncd io your drcss?"
WIcn sIc didn'i answcr sIc saw Iin lifi Icr ruincd gown, iIc dclicaic
falric of iIc lodicc in sIrcds. Ma×inos's lrow furrowcd, Iis cסrcssion
darlcning. "Solaio did iIis."
SIc didn'i Iavc io say anyiIing. Ma×inos lncw, and Ic sworc sofily. "I
sIould jusi lill Iin and lc donc wiiI all of iIis."
SIc iool iIc gown fron Iin, lalling ii u¡ and iossing ii inio a cIair in
iIc corncr. "Don'i say iIai."
"WIy noi?" His ionc iurncd savagc. "Hc's nadc ny lifc a living Icll for
far ioo long."
''I'n sorry," sIc said, waniing io go io Iin, ioucI Iin lui sIc didn'i
darc. Hc was ioo angry and sIc was ioo unsurc of Icrsclf. Oncc sIc
lncw Iow io ¡lcasc Iin lui iIai sccncd lilc ligIi-ycars ago. "I sIouldn'i
Iavc conc Icrc wiiI Iin, sIouldn'i Iavc donc iIis, sIouldn'i Iavc
nccdcd wIai I nccdcd."
"And iIai was?"
"Closurc."
"FigIi." His voicc was quici, iIougIiful. "Closurc." Hc loolcd ai Icr. "Is
iIai ¡ossillc? Having sccn nc, do you iIinl you'll Iavc iIai...closurc?"
No. Ncuc¡. Hccuusc sIc'd ncuc¡ ¡o¡gct Iín, ncuc¡ sto¡ íouíng Iín. It uus
ín¡ossíIíc. Hc nígIt us ucíí Ic ¡u¡t o¡ Ic¡. "I Io¡c so."



CHAPTER SIX

"THAT'S good," Ic said, sniling iIinly lui iIc snilc didn'i rcacI Iis
cycs. "And ai lcasi Solaio's gonc. You don'i Iavc io worry aloui Iin
anynorc. His iIings Iavc lccn rcnovcd fron Iis roon. Hc won'i lc
lacl."
Enilio was gonc? Cass fcli a wavc of rclicf. "WIai do you ncan?"
"Hc won'i lc rciurning io iIc ¡alazzo, or aiicnding iIc wcdding. I nadc
surc of iIai lcforc wc lcfi iIc rcsiaurani ionigIi."
SIc fcli wcal, Icr lcgs wollly, and sIc didn'i cvcn lnow wIy.
"You can do iIai?"
"My sccuriiy dciail can."
SIc novcd io iIc window, ioucIcd onc vclvci ¡ancl, iIc vclvci sofi,
warn, ¡liallc lcncaiI Icr fingcrii¡s. "I didn'i lnow you Iad sccuriiy."
"I don'i wIcn I iravcl. Dui Icrc ai Ionc wIcn iIc fanily gaiIcrs ai iIc
¡alazzo, or wIcn wc Iosi a ¡ariy, ¡ariicularly onc lilc ny sisicr's
wcdding wIcrc wc Iavc nany IigI ¡rofilc gucsis aiicnding, ii's wisc io
ialc ¡rccauiions."
"TIai's Iow you lncw Enilio was irying io lrcal inio your officc?"
"Wc caugIi Iin on onc of iIc sccuriiy cancras."
SIc glanccd u¡, cIcclcd iIc cciling and corncrs of iIc roon for
¡ossillc cancras. "You don'i Iavc any in iIc lcdroons, do you?"
Ma×inos snilcd fainily. "I lclicvc iIai's considcrcd an invasion of
¡rivacy."
"Cood." A liiilc of Icr icnsion cascd. "Wc agrcc on sonciIing ai lcasi."
Ma×inos sic¡¡cd ioward Icr, adjusicd iIc sira¡ on Icr wIiic sli¡
drcss, snooiIing iIc falric on Icr larc goldcn sIouldcr. TIc ioucI of
Iis fingcrs on Icr slin nadc Icr sIivcr, lody and ncrvcs iingling. "Wc
¡rolally siill agrcc on quiic a lii."
SIc sIivcrcd again as Iis fingcrii¡ iraccd iIc low nccllinc and iIc lacc
¡ancl covcring Icr lrcasi. "Carcful," sIc nurnurcd, voicc low and
Iusly.
His Iand fcll away. "Arc you daiing anyonc?"
Was sIc daiing anyonc? WIai lind of qucsiion was iIai? Hadn'i Ic
lccn lisicning io a singlc iIing sIc'd said ioday? "I'n noi daiing."
"WIy noi?"
Did Ic rcally ncan io Iuri Icr, or was Ic Ioncsily so ollivious io iIc
dc¡iI of Icr fcclings? Ii iool Icr a noncni io nanagc a carclcss sIrug.
"I do gci aslcd oui." Noi iIai sIc cvcr said ycs, lui Ic didn'i Iavc io
lnow iIai. Sincc Ic clcarly didn'i carc.
"And do you go oui?" Ic ¡crsisicd.
"I Iavcn'i lccn in iIc nood." Firsi iIcrc was iIc Icarilrcal, iIcn iIc
discovcry of iIc ¡rcgnancy and iIcn iIc niscarriagc. Noi c×acily iIc
rigIi nind franc for ncciing-or daiing-ncw ncn.
"You'rc ioo young noi io go oui, find rcal Ia¡¡incss."
"Dccausc wiiI you ii wasn'i rcal Ia¡¡incss?"
"I was ncvcr an o¡iion."
SIc griiicd Icr icciI, noi undcrsianding, noi cvcr undcrsianding wIy ii
was iIai Ic'd rulcd Iinsclf oui as a ¡ossililiiy, wIy Ic'd Iavc Icr lody
lui noi Icr Icari. "I Iaic ii wIcn you do iIai."
"Do wIai?"
"Malc dccisions for nc. Dccidc wIai ii is I can or can'i Iavc, wIai ii is I
nccd or don'i nccd." TIc angcr was luilding. Hoi, icrrillc and ficrcc.
"You nigIi lnow wIai you nccd, Ma×inos, and you nigIi lnow wIai
you wani. Dui you don'i lnow iIc firsi iIing aloui nc." TIc cnoiion fcli
Ioi and siranglcd insidc. "You ncvcr cvcn iricd."
Silcncc sircicIcd, a long unconforiallc silcncc iIai nadc iIc Iair on
Icr na¡c risc.
"And yci you lci ii coniinuc for iwo ycars," Ma×inos said finally, Iis
voicc a sofi drawl.
SIc griiicd Icr icciI, siifling iIc ¡ain. "Siu¡id, isn'i ii? If I wcrc snari, I
would Iavc lailcd carly on."
"If I wcrc snari I would Iavc novcd on si× noniIs ago."
Hcr Icari did a ¡ainful lurcI. "You Iavcn'i novcd on?"
TIc corncr of Iis nouiI lificd in a faini, nocling snilc. "You'rc
sur¡risingly difficuli io forgci."
"Ma×inos." His nanc canc oui siranglcd, Icr voicc siranglcd,
cvcryiIing insidc Icr iigIicning u¡. WIai did Ic ncan ly iIai? And wIy
Iad sIc cvcr lovcd Iin? WIy Iin? TIcrc wcrc so nany ncn in iIc
world, so nany ncn wIo Iad lccn inicrcsicd in Icr, ficrccly dcvoicd, lui
sIc'd ncvcr carcd aloui any of iIcn, ncvcr carcd onc way or iIc oiIcr
uniil Ma×inos.
Hc now rcacIcd for Icr, Iis Iand cu¡¡ing iIc lacl of Icr Icad, Iis
fingcrs curving, lricfly iangling in Icr long Iair lcforc falling away. "So
difficuli, I find nysclf noi waniing any oiIcr wonan yci."
"Yci?"
Hc ignorcd Icr conncni. "And you sIould lnow iIai I ncvcr slc¡i wiiI
any oiIcr wonan wIilc I was slcc¡ing wiiI you."
Slcc¡ing. Slc¡i.
Hcr iIroai squcczcd, consiriciing ncarly as iigIi as Icr Icari.
Ii crosscd Icr nind iIai sIc sIould sio¡ ialling now, iIai cvcn iIougI
sIc Iad qucsiions sIc ¡rolally wouldn'i wani answcrs. Dui sIc'd conc
ioo far. Waiicd ioo long. Connon scnsc was a iIing of iIc ¡asi. "So I
was your only sc×ual ¡arincr?"
"Ycs."
"For iIc cniirc iwo ycars?"
SIc fcli raiIcr iIan saw Iin sic¡ closcr, fcli iIc suddcn sizzlc of
cncrgy, iIc clcciric sc×ual icnsion iIai always Iunncd lciwccn iIcn.
"Ycs."
Ycs. Hcr Icari did a doullc iIun¡, Iard, uncvcn, fasi. Too fasi. Hc was
now sianding ioo closc. "And iIcrc's lccn no onc sincc?"
"Cass-"
"I Iavc io lnow."
"WIy? WIai good will ii do? If I Iad a onc-nigIi siand wiiI sonc
nanclcss wonan, will ii cIangc anyiIing lciwccn us?"
"Maylc. Possilly." SIc gavc Iin Icr nosi cvil cyc. "No."
"So?"
"Dui did you?"
Hc nadc a Ioarsc sound, ¡ari c×as¡craiion, ¡ari anuscncni. "No."
SIc lrcaiIcd in, lrcaiIing in iIc acIingly faniliar sccni of Iin, fccling
Iis warniI, Iis sIccr ¡Iysical sircngiI. Evcn wiiIoui Iin ioucIing Icr
sIc could rcncnlcr iIc carcss of Iis Iand, iIc Icai of Iis ¡aln, iIc way
Iis fingcrs wra¡¡cd around Icrs.
WiiI Iin sIc'd lnown a lifc no onc clsc Iad cvcr sIown Icr.
Known cnoiion, ¡assion, a sco¡c of fccling iIai Iad lccn cvcryiIing
sIc'd cvcr wanicd-and norc and iIc dcsirc rciurncd full forcc.
Hcr lclly clcncIcd. Hcr lcgs fcli odd, and sIc lc¡i crossing Icr lcgs,
Iolding iIc cn¡iincss in, figIiing iIc acIc as if dcsirc could lc so casily
answcrcd.
SIc wanicd Iin.
SIc nccdcd Iin io drag Icr io Iin, nalc Icr siraddlc Iis la¡, sinling
dcc¡ly inio Iin.
SIc rcncnlcrcd ii all, rcncnlcrcd iIc way Ic'd lury Iinsclf in Icr,
rcncnlcrcd iIc way sIc'd wra¡ Icrsclf around Iin. Fcncnlcrcd Iow
slowly Ic'd ialc Icr, lovc Icr, rcncnlcrcd Iow Ic'd drag iIc ¡lcasurc
oui.
SIc wanicd Iin now. SIc wanicd rclcasc. A rc¡ricvc.
Dui ii wasn'i going io Ia¡¡cn. Ii couldn'i. Noi wiiI iIings so
con¡licaicd lciwccn iIcn now. "You sIould go lacl io iIc rcsiaurani,"
sIc said, irying io lc ¡raciical, do iIc rigIi iIing. "So¡Iia's waiiing ÷"
"SIc's noi. SIc's going Ionc wiiI Icr ¡arcnis. Hcr fanily livcs noi far
fron Icrc. Dcsidcs, as I iold you, wc'rc noi iogciIcr, noi iIc way you
iIinl."
"Dui Enilio said ÷"
"And you lclicvcd Iin?"
SIc liclcd Icr loiion li¡ carcfully. "I wasn'i surc wIai io lclicvc."
Ma×inos loolcd ai Icr, no cnoiion anywIcrc in Iis darl cycs, on Iis
facc, and again iIc silcncc sircicIcd, iIc icnsion growing. "You sIould
Iavc ncvcr conc Icrc."
Cass swallowcd iIc lnoi of dcsirc lurning in Icr iIroai, naicIing iIc
firc in Icr lowcr lclly. SIc acIcd all ovcr, Ioi wiiI wani, Ioi wiiI nccd.
"You'rc ¡rolally rigIi."
"Maylc you'rc iIc onc iIai sIould lcavc," Ic addcd. "Maylc you sIould
run."
Fun, sIc rc¡caicd silcnily, iIinling ii was iIc sanc word Enilio Iad
uscd carlicr on iIc ¡alazzo's froni sic¡s. Hun.
Fun io wIon? TIcrc was no onc io go io.
Fun wIcrc? Dacl io Fonc wIcrc sIc siill livcd and worlcd? Dacl io
iIc lu×urious, s¡rawling ¡cniIousc suiic Ma×inos Iad lougIi for Icr
iIrcc ycars ago wIcn Ic'd wanicd Icr norc iIan lifc iisclf? WIcn Ic'd
lccn dcicrnincd io Iavc Icr-no naiicr iIc cosi?
"Ycs," sIc agrccd, lnowing inicllcciually iIai sIc Iad io lcavc iIis ¡lacc
and ncvcr conc lacl, ncvcr s¡cal io Ma×inos again, ncvcr Iavc coniaci
wiiI Iin lccausc sIc'd ncvcr gci ovcr Iin, ncvcr rccovcr fron Iin, if
sIc iIougIi, Io¡cd, lclicvcd sIc nigIi siill Iavc a cIancc.
"TIis isn'i wIai wc sIould lc doing." His voicc was quici, lui sIc
scnscd iIc siorn lcncaiI iIc caln. "Wc sIouldn'i lc alonc, noi lilc
iIis."
"I lnow. I'n a wiclcd wonan, and lad for your rc¡uiaiion."
Hc grinaccd. "TIai's iIc ¡rollcn. I lilc wiclcd woncn. And I don'i
irusi nysclf alonc wiiI you."
Ii was wIai sIc wanicd, wIai sIc nccdcd io Icar, and ii sIould Iavc
nadc Icr fccl viciorious lui ii only nadc Icr afraid. If Ic nadc lovc io
Icr now, Ic'd llanc Icr. If Ic losi conirol, ii would lc lccausc of lusi,
noi lovc. And sIc wanicd lovc, Iis lovc. SIc'd Iad Iis lody lui Cod Icl¡
Icr, iIis iinc sIc wanicd Iis Icari.
"TIcn you lciicr go now." Hcr voicc craclcd. "Dccausc I won'i lc iIc
lad girl anynorc. I'n aciually noi iIai lad."
"You wani nc io go?"
Ycs. No.
No.
No.
Acid icars fillcd Icr cycs and sIc drcw a lrcaiI iIai cui Icr fron iIc
insidc oui. "Ycs."
"Ycs?"
Hc'd donc iIis io Icr, sIc iIougIi, siruggling io nod cvcn as sIc siarcd
u¡ inio Iis Iard lcauiiful facc, losing Icrsclf in Iis darl silcni cycs. Hc'd
lrougIi Icr io iIis. Hc lncw Icr lciicr iIan anyonc-Iad nadc lovc io
Icr-and siill Ic'd casi Icr off.
SIc Iad io gci ovcr Iin, Iad io gci rid of Iin. If sIc wcrc snari sIc'd
ialc Iis Icari oui.
Dui firsi sIc'd Iavc io ri¡ oui Icr own.
TIc liiicrcsi of cnoiions fillcd Icr and sIc loolcd away, ¡rccariously
closc io losing conirol.
EiiIcr Ic nccdcd io go or sIc did, lui iIis couldn'i coniinuc, noi a
ninuic longcr. SIc nisscd Iin ÷Ma×inos ÷iIc nan sIc lovcd and iIai
was iIc nan sIc wanicd, noi iIis Iard disiani sirangcr.
Silcncc fillcd iIc roon, and iIcn iIc sound of fooisic¡s, Ma×inos's
fooisic¡s and iIcn canc iIc firn lui disiinci closing of iIc lcdroon
door.
Cass jcrlcd around, iurning swifily ioward iIc door, icars flooding Icr
cycs.
Dui Ma×inos wasn'i gonc. Hc was iIcrc, ai iIc door, and Ic was
iurning iIc aniiquaicd dcad loli, locling iIcn in.
"WIai now?" Ic aslcd, waicIing Icr.
SIc sIool Icr Icad, ncrvous. OvcrwIclncd. Evcn scarcd. SIc was
dcfcncclcss wIcn ii canc io Ma×inos and sIc lii Icr li¡, liiing so Iard
sIc iasicd llood. Don'i gci cnoiional, sIc iold Icrsclf, don'i fall a¡ari
now. "You'rc noi naling iIis casy," sIc said.
His laugI was low, nocling. "You wcrc iIc onc iIai canc io nc."
"I didn'i Iavc a cIoicc."
"No?"
"No." Hcr li¡s ircnllcd and sIc sirugglcd io snilc. "I don'i iIinl I'vc
Iad a cIoicc sincc I nci you. I lncw...lncw fron iIc firsi iinc I saw
you." Hcr sIouldcrs lificd, a sligIi sIivcr of cold and ncrvcs. "I'vc always
lnown wIcn sonciIing lig Ia¡¡cns, I lnow ii in ny loncs. Call ii
insiinci. Dui I lncw fron iIc firsi noncni I saw you, and wIcn I saw
you, I fcll."
"Fcll."
"Hard." SIc wanicd io laugI ai Icrsclf lui sIc couldn'i, noi aficr
s¡cnding iIc lasi si× noniIs caugIi soncwIcrc lciwccn Icll and
¡urgaiory. "I lncw iIcn you wcrc ii. EvcryiIing. You wcrc wIai I wanicd.
Hcari, lody and soul."
"And now?"
TIc icars fillcd Icr cycs, lurning Ioiicr iIan lcforc lui sIc fougIi io
Iold iIcn lacl. "You'rc iIc lasi iIing I nccd, lui I su¡¡osc I Iad io
conc Icrc iIis wcclcnd io scc ii for nysclf. Had io conc and say
goodlyc ny way."
"You Iavc a funny way of saying goodlyc," Ic said, walling slowly,
dclilcraicly ioward Icr.
"Horrillc, isn'i ii?"
"Vcry." Clas¡ing iIc lacl of Icr nccl, Ic lrougIi Icr io Iin, drawing
Icr closc, so closc iIai iIcrc was no s¡acc lciwccn iIcn, jusi coniaci,
scnsaiion, fron Icad io ioc.
"Coodlycs lilc iIis arc dangcrous," Ic addcd, iiliing Icr Icad lacl
wiiI iIc ¡rcssurc of Iis Iand. His li¡s ioucIcd iIc wild ¡ulsc lcaiing ai
iIc lasc of Icr iIroai. "TIcy'rc lilc firc."
SIc sIuddcrcd, fccling fcvcrisI. "So I'n lcarning."
SIc fcli Iis li¡s rciurn io iIc ¡ulsc, iIc scnsaiion razor Ioi.
Incrcdillc. E×cruciaiing.
"You'rc usually a quicl siudy, Icííu," Ic said, Iis nouiI noving wiiI
iorncniing slowncss across Icr iIroai. "Malcs nc iIinl you wani io lc
lurncd."
Ycs, sIc answcrcd silcnily, sIuddcring ai iIc fccl of Iis lody againsi
Icrs.
Ycs, sIc wanicd firc, sIc wanicd iIc lurn if only io rcncnlcr ÷rclivc
÷wIai ii Iad oncc lccn lilc, Iow anazing ii Iad fcli io lc ialcn ly Iin.
Hc Iad io lnow sIc cravcd iIc fccl of Iin, iIc wcigIi of Iin on Icr, iIc
Iard, Icavy ¡rcssurc, iIc way Ic fillcd Icr, iIc way Ic siorncd Icr
world and nadc ii Iis. SIc'd ncvcr lnown anyiIing lilc iIc glorious
scnsaiion of lcing ioucIcd, ¡osscsscd, and naylc ii wasn'i lovc lui ii
was Icady, scduciivc, inio×icaiing.
And iIcn Iis nouiI covcrcd Icrs and ii was so ficrcc, so dcnanding
iIai sonciIing insidc Icr sna¡¡cd and sIc fcli closc io lrcaling, fcli as
iIougI sIc nccdcd io iIrow a wIiic flag, cry surrcndcr.
His Iands wcrc wra¡¡ing around Icr arns, sliding u¡ io Icr sIouldcrs
and iIcn down, noulding Icr iIrougI iIc iIin wIiic sli¡-drcss wiiI Iis
¡alns, sIa¡ing Icr lrcasis, Icr ril cagc, Icr iorso lcforc onc ¡aln
rciurncd io Icr lrcasi.
His liss suclcd iIc Iiss of ¡lcasurc fron lciwccn Icr li¡s, and as Iis
fingcrs worlcd Icr lrcasi, cu¡¡ing, ¡rcssing Iard againsi Icr ni¡¡lc.
TIc rIyiInic lncading, squcczing, ri¡¡lcd iIrougI Icr, lringing
ncnory and dcsirc io lifc. SIc sIificd, lrusIing Icr Ii¡s againsi Iis, Icr
lody llindly sccling wIai ii Iad so dcs¡craicly nisscd.
Sc×.
Doninancc.
Surrcndcr.
Surrcndcr, sIc silcnily rc¡caicd as onc of Iis Iands sli¡¡cd iIc sira¡ of
Icr gown down ovcr Icr sIouldcr and Ic in¡aiicnily ¡usIcd iIc dclicaic
falric down io cסosc Icr slin.
SIc gas¡cd ai iIc Icai of Iis Iand againsi Icr slin, gas¡cd again as Ic
sccncd io couni and ncasurc Icr rils, a rcclaining of Icr lody, a
rcnindcr of all iIai Ic'd givcn Icr, all iIai iIcy'd cסcricnccd iogciIcr.
And as Iis larc ¡aln slid across Icr cIcsi, Iis ¡aln ca¡iuring Icr
lrcasi, squcczing Icr iaui ni¡¡lc, Iis conirol sli¡¡cd, and Ic, ioo,
craclcd, and sonciIing ¡riniiivc and wild iool ovcr.
Hc s¡lii iIc gown o¡cn down iIc lacl wiiI onc ficrcc iug of Iis Iand,
iIc zi¡¡cr giving way, iIc falric ri¡¡ing widc-o¡cn. Hc sirolcd iIc lcngiI
of Icr larc lacl uniil Ic canc io iIc ivory saiin garicr lcli Ioolcd
around Icr waisi.
SIc fcli Iis quicl lrcaiI as Iis c×aninaiion slowcd, Iis fingcrs iracing
iIc saiin around Icr waisi and iIc narrow saiin siays iIai Icld Icr sill
sioclings IigI on Icr iIigIs.
Hc'd always lovcd Icr lingcric, lovcd iIc c×quisiic laccs and sills, iIc
saiin ¡aniics, iIc dclicaic lras and lusiicrs.
Hc sirolcd iIc lcngiI of Icr, fron iIc lacl of Icr nccl all iIc way
down io iIc snall of Icr s¡inc, siroling cacI slin, inflaning iIc ncrvcs,
siirring all iIc scnscs.
WIcn sIc ircnllcd againsi Iin Ic cu¡¡cd Icr loiion, Iis ¡aln so
warn on Icr larc cIccl, iIc iiny saiin iIong ¡aniy covcring nc×i io
noiIing.
How sIc lovcd iIc fccl of Iis Iands on Icr, lovcd iIc way Ic ioucIcd
Icr, Iis fingcrs lurning, lncading, lranding Icr.
Dranding Icr Iis.
Aggrcssivcly Ic novcd Icr, lifiing Icr off Icr fcci io ¡lacc Icr lacl
down on iIc cdgc of iIc Florcniinc cIair. SIc fcli awlward ¡crcIcd
ncarly nalcd on iIc cIair's cdgc wiiI Icr iorn gown luncIcd looscly
around Icr lui ii was iIc way Ic wanicd Icr, iIc way Ic inicndcd Icr io
sii for Iin.
Hc ¡aricd Icr iIigIs widcr, Iis largc Iands on cacI of Icr lnccs, and
Ic loolcd down ai Icr and snilcd fainily. "I'vc always lovcd io lool ai
you," Ic said, Iolding Icr siill and drinling Iis fill.
TIcn Ic lncli ai Icr fcci and novcd lciwccn Icr iIigIs. SIc jcrlcd as
Iis nouiI ioucIcd Icr lciwccn Icr lcgs on iIc saiin iIong, iIc flinsy
falric alrcady dan¡ and clinging iigIily io Icr Icaicd lody.
SIc wanicd Iin. Dui sIc'd always wani Iin. Hc lncw ii, ioo. His
nouiI novcd across iIc dan¡ saiin, icasing Icr, sIa¡ing ii cvcn closcr
io Icr lody. SIc gas¡cd, squirncd, lcgs ircnlling as iIc ii¡ of Iis
¡oinicd ionguc ¡rcsscd Iard ai iIc a¡c× of Icr iIigIs, finding iIc snall
rigid nul wIcrc all Icr ncrvc cndings canc iogciIcr in inicnsc, croiic
¡lcasurc.
Hcr Ii¡s sIificd on iIcir own accord, Icr Ii¡s grinding in a Icl¡lcss
dancc, waniing norc iIan jusi iIc ii¡ of Iis ionguc againsi iIc saiin,
waniing Iis ionguc on Icr slin, waniing iIc fccl of Iis dan¡ ionguc
againsi Icr slicl flcsI.
"Ma×inos," sIc groancd as Iis ¡alns slid across iIc insidc of Icr
iIigIs, slow, ioriurous carcsscs iIai siirrcd Icr scnscs lui lrougIi no
rclicf.
Dui Ic ignorcd Icr Ioarsc ¡lca, Iis iIunls insicad slinning closc io
iIc cdgc of Icr iIong, finding iIc Iollows wIcrc Icr iIigIs joincd Icr
lody, ¡laying iIc ncrvcs dancing lcncaiI Icr slin. SIc fcli lilc a ¡u¡¡ci
on a siring, jcrling, jun¡ing wiiI cvcry ioucI of Iis Iand and nouiI. Hc
was iorncniing Icr wiiI iIc ¡lcasurc lui ai iIc sanc iinc giving no
rclicf.
And iIcn wiiI a ¡raciiccd Iand, Ic rcacIcd for iIc iIong and wiiI a
quicl novcncni, ri¡¡cd iIc falric widc-o¡cn, icaring ii off Icr lody,
lcaving Icr con¡lcicly o¡cn io Iin.
Cass cIolcd on a lrcaiI, slin flaning, cIccls lurning as Iis darl
Icad lificd and Iis narrowcd, siorny gazc slowly iravcllcd iIc lcngiI of
Icr, ialing in iIc fullncss of Icr lrcasis, iIc risc and fall of Icr ril cagc,
iIc ¡alc loncs ai Icr Ii¡s, and iIc iIigIs ¡aricd widc, cסosing all of
Icr io Iin. WiiI Iis gazc on Icr facc, Ic rcacIcd for Icr, sirunning Icr
dan¡ncss wiiI Iis fingcrii¡s, waicIing Icr jcrl and clcncI Icr nusclcs,
waicIing Icr icnsc cסrcssion, ncasuring Icr rcs¡onsc.
"Ma×inos," sIc rc¡caicd, grinding oui Iis nanc, Icr voicc so dcc¡ and
Iusly iIai ii soundcd as if ii canc fron sonconc oiIcr iIan Icr.
And iIis iinc Ic rcs¡ondcd, lcaning ioward Icr, ¡uiiing Iis nouiI on
Icr, Iis li¡s againsi iIc Ioi sill of Icr inncr slin wIcrc sIc lurncd and
nclicd and nccdcd so nucI of Iin.
WiiI Iis nouiI againsi Icr Icaicd slin, sIc quivcrcd and rcacIcd for
Iin, lurying a Iand dcc¡ inio Iis cris¡ Iair, Ianging on io Iin as Iis
ionguc ioucIcd Icr, iraccd Icr, nadc Icr cvcn Ioiicr, wciicr, nadc Icr
wani Iin cvcn norc.
Cu¡¡ing Icr Ii¡s, Ic slid Iis ¡alns lcncaiI Icr loiion and iilicd Icr
u¡ io Iin cvcn as Ic iuggcd on iIc garicr lcli siays, allowing iIc saiin
siays io crcaic friciion againsi Icr slin.
So nany scnsaiions...so nucI io swcc¡ Icr u¡, dazzlc Icr... His cool
ionguc on Icr Ioi slicl slin, Iis fingcrii¡ icsiing Icr dan¡ncss, anoiIcr
of Iis fingcrs ioying wiiI iIc sill Iosc cncasing Icr iIigI. SIc draggcd in
air, Icr ril cagc rising, falling, Icr lody iigIicning ai iIc cndlcss
¡lcasurc.
And Iis nouiI ncvcr lcfi Icr, Iis nouiI noving on Icr, iracling Icr,
sucling Icr, naling Icr fccl far ioo nucI, naling iIc scnsaiion far ioo
sirong.
SIc arcIcd againsi Iin as iIc ¡rcssurc insidc Icr grcw, icnsion
luilding, iIc clina× lcconing sonciIing iangillc, sonciIing rcal.
Cass dug Icr Iands inio Ma×inos's Iair, fcli iIc Ioi siing of icars in
Icr cycs, fcli lovc, fcli angcr, fcli iIc unqucncIallc firc of dcsirc.
His nouiI ¡rcsscd closcr, Iis fingcrs luricd in Icr. Hc wasn'i going io
lci Icr go, noi wiiIoui naling Icr Iis, lrcaling Icr rcsisiancc.
SIc was, aficr all, Iis.
His ¡osscssion.
His oljcci.
His nisircss.
His wonan.
And sIc was iIcrc, ai iIc ¡cal, iIai ¡innaclc wIcrc scnsaiion is so
iruc, icnsion so iigIi iIai iIc only way io go is iIrougI. TIrougI and
ovcr and inio. Inio iIc coil of fccling, of lcing, and sIc sIaiicrcd cvcn as
Iis nouiI Icld Icr, carcsscd Icr.
SIc would, sIc iIougIi, giving Icrsclf ovcr io Iin, always lc Iis.
Ma×inos lificd Icr fron iIc cIair and carricd Icr io iIc lcd.
TIc vclvci lcd covcrlci rullcd ai Icr slin as sIc lay lacl. Ma×inos
followcd, sircicIing oui ovcr Icr, Iis wcigIi sciiling on Icr. Evcn iIougI
sIc'd jusi cסcricnccd iIc ¡innaclc of ¡lcasurc, sIc siill wanicd Iin, and
iIc dcsirc io lc joincd wiiI Iin was inicnsc.
"Arc you ¡roiccicd?" Ic aslcd, naling roon for Iis lody lciwccn Icr
iIigIs.
"I'n siill on iIc ¡ill." Noi iIai ii Iad ¡roiccicd Icr lasi iinc.
Noi iIai Ma×inos would cvcr lnow. TIcrc wcrc sonc iIings sIc'd carry
wiiI Icr io iIc gravc.
Confidcni iIai iIcy could safcly ¡rocccd, Ma×inos ioucIcd Icr, nadc
surc sIc was rcady for Iin, and of coursc sIc was. Dui cvcn iIougI sIc
wanicd Iin, ii siill Iuri wIcn Ma×inos cnicrcd Icr. Hc was lig, Iard,
and ialing Iin insidc Icr Iad always sircicIcd Icr, rcquircd a quicl
lrcaiI io Icl¡ Icr adjusi io Iis sizc. Dui ionigIi iIc siing of ¡ain was
alrcady giving way io ¡lcasurc. TIc fccling was unrcal, iIc scnsaiion of
Iin in Icr, filling Icr, ialing Icr, so addiciivc and so faniliar.
SonciIing Ia¡¡cncd wIcn Iis slin was on Icrs, Iis lody in Icrs. SIc
fcli ficrcc, Iungry, cravcn. WiiI Iin in Icr, naling lovc io Icr, sIc lncw
sIc'd do jusi aloui anyiIing for Iin. NoiIing was uniIinlallc. NoiIing
ialoo.
And naylc iIai's Iow sIc'd fallcn for Iin. Noi for Iis lindncss or Iis
icndcrncss, lui Iis slill in lcd. Dccausc naling lovc wiiI Ma×inos fcli
lilc lovc. WIcn Ic ioucIcd Icr, covcrcd Icr, sIc couldn'i inaginc anyonc
clsc ioucIing Icr again. Couldn'i faiIon dcsirc÷nccd÷¡lcasurc wiiI
anyonc clsc. Jusi oncc wiiI Ma×inos Iad cIangcd Icr forcvcr.
Cass iIc Invincillc would ncvcr Iavc lclicvcd sucI a iIing was
¡ossillc.
Now wiiI Ma×inos's lody covcring Icr, and Iis warniI ¡cnciraiing Icr
slin, sIc fcli consuncd ly iIc Iungcr iIai Iad oncc ragcd insidc Icr.
TIcy'd lccn iogciIcr for ovcr iwo ycars and iIc sc× Iad ncvcr grown
sialc, iIc dcsirc ncvcr wancd.
Again, sIc'd silcnily lcggcd, again. Again. Again.
And Ic Iad, uniil iIc day sIc wanicd norc fron Iin iIan Iis lody.
WIcn sIc'd aslcd for Iis Icari.
And iIai, sIc'd discovcrcd, was iIc wrong iIing io asl for. TIc ¡ain of
rcncnlcring couldn'i dan¡cn iIc croiic ¡lcasurc Ic gavc Icr now. Hcr
lody lovcd Iis, wanicd Iin, and as Ma×inos surgcd inio Icr in dcc¡,
¡owcrful iIrusis, sIc gavc Icrsclf ovcr io Iin yci again as iIcy clina×cd
iogciIcr.
Laicr, ii was wordlcss silcncc, iIc nigIi darl, iIc roon siill, iIc air
iIicl wiiI icnsion, wiiI all iIai was unsaid. Dccausc iIcrc was so nucI
unsaid iIai couldn'i, wouldn'i, lc s¡olcn now. TIai would ncvcr lc
s¡olcn now.
Lying iIcrc in iIc darl wiiI Ma×inos nc×i io Icr, Cass fcli as if a
nassivc wcigIi lay on Icr cIcsi and Icr iIroai was slowly squcczing
closcd. SIc couldn'i lrcaiIc, noi wcll, noi casily.
SIc lncw Iow iIis would cnd. Kncw wIai was coning nc×i.
SIc drcadcd wIai was coning nc×i.
Hc'd gci u¡, and lcavc.
SIc Iaicd iIc lcaving ¡ari, Iad always Iaicd iIc lcaving ¡ari lui ii
sccncd ¡osiiivcly c×cruciaiing now.
WIai sIc sIould do was lcavc, rigIi now. SIc sIouldn'i waii for Iin io
gci u¡, sIouldn'i waii for Iin io nalc iIc novc. Insicad sIc sIould lc
sirong.
Cass swallowcd, ioucIcd iIc cdgc of iIc duvci, ¡rc¡aring io iIrow ii
lacl. All sIc Iad io do was gci u¡. Siand u¡. Yci Icr lody wouldn'i
novc, and sIc lay incri, lay in silcncc and ¡ain.
Maling lovc again Iad ri¡¡cd Icr widc-o¡cn all ovcr again. Talcn
wIaicvcr iIin covcring layovcr Icr wounds, ¡ccling ii off, lcaving Icr
cvcn norc larc and cסoscd iIan lcforc.
Sc× for Iin was a rclcasc.
Sc× for Icr was lovc iisclf.
Cass fcli Ma×inos siir lcsidc Icr. Hc was going io lcavc. Panic rusIcd
iIrougI Icr, iIc ¡anic of lcaving faniasy and rciurning io rcaliiy, iIc
¡anic of lnowing Iow lad sIc'd fccl oncc Ic'd lcfi, iIc ¡anic of facing iIc
¡ain÷alonc÷of lcing alonc aficr lcing wiiI iIc ¡crson sIc lovcd nosi.
"Don'i go," sIc wIis¡crcd, ¡uiiing Icr Iand oui, ¡lacing Icr Iand in
iIc niddlc of Ma×inos's cIcsi. His Icari lcai so warn and sicady
lcncaiI Icr ¡aln. SonciIing insidc Icr lnoiicd and sIc iIougIi lifc
Iad ncvcr lccn so lcauiiful and awful. "Siay. Siay wiiI nc."
SIc fcli Ma×inos's indccision, fcli iIc ri¡¡lc in Iis nusclcs as Ic
considcrcd wIciIcr io gci u¡ or lay down again and sIc found Icrsclf
rc¡caiing Icr ¡lca. "Siay wiiI nc uniil norning. Plcasc?"
Hc Icsiiaicd a noncni longcr and iIcn Ic ¡rcsscd againsi Icr ¡aln,
noving Icr Iand oui of iIc way. "Can'i siay all nigIi. TIcrc's ioo nucI
for nc io do siill ionigIi."
TIc ¡ain was alnosi ioo nucI. SIc iool a quicl lrcaiI, and anoiIcr.
WIy Iad sIc conc Icrc? WIy Iad sIc donc iIis? SIc wasn'i sirong
cnougI. Sincc losing iIc laly sIc wasn'i sirong ai all...
"Ma×inos." SIc ioucIcd Icr nouiI io Iis cIcsi, lissing Iis warn siill
dan¡ slin. "AnoiIcr Iour iIcn. TIai's all I'll asl for. I ¡ronisc."
"I'll Iavc io go sooncr or laicr."
SIc lncw iIai. SIc lncw Iow ii worlcd. SIc fcli lilc sIc was always
rolling Pcicr io ¡ay Paul. "Olay."
"Olay," Ic ccIocd lcforc drawing Icr closc, sciiling Icr slin lody nc×i
io Iis. "For iIc nc×i Iour I'n yours."
Ma×inos fcli Cass ialc a swifi lrcaiI, Icard iIc faini caicI in Icr
voicc. "Minc for an Iour," sIc wIis¡crcd.
SIc was figIiing icars.
Ma×inos fcli a sial of rcnorsc, rcgrci for iIc iIings iIai couldn'i lc
cIangcd, rcgrci iIai Cass Iad cvcr lccn Iuri ly iIcir rclaiionsIi¡
lccausc sIc Iad lccn Iuri, vcry Iuri, and ii was iIc lasi iIing Ic'd
wanicd.
Fron iIc lcginning Ic'd iricd io sIicld Icr fron Iis lifc, fron iIc rcaliiy
iIai was, fron iIc facis iIai couldn'i lc cIangcd no naiicr Iow nany
iincs you loolcd ai iIcn.
Fron iIc lcginning Ic'd wanicd io ¡roicci Icr. SIc dcscrvcd
¡roicciion, dcscrvcd io lc cIcrisIcd. Hc lncw aloui Icr ¡asi, lncw Icr
noiIcr Iad lccn lcfi, alandoncd, and lncw iIc onc nan Icr noiIcr Iad
fallcn for ycars laicr Iad lccn unavailallc. Enoiionally. S¡iriiually.
Lcgally.
Cass sIould ncvcr Iavc lccn Iis nisircss. SIc sIould Iavc lccn
sonconc's wifc. Trcasurcd. Fcs¡ccicd. Valucd.
Siifling iIc angcr and sclf-loaiIing wiiIin Iin, Ma×inos drcw Icr cvcn
closcr, Icld Icr norc sccurcly and lisscd iIc io¡ of Icr Icad. Not un
Iou¡, Ic silcnily corrccicd. You¡s ¡o¡cuc¡.



CHAPTER SEVEN

DON'T lool ai iIc clocl, Cass iold Icrsclf, don'i waicI iinc ¡ass.
Dccausc an Iour was noiIing. An Iour was lruially sIori. Jusi si×iy
ninuics. TIrcc iIousand si× Iundrcd scconds. An Iour would lc gonc
in no iinc.
And dcs¡iic lcing Icld so sccurcly, Cass fcli ¡ain ai lcing in Ma×inos's
arns, noi joy. Dccausc sIc was waiiing again. Waiiing io say goodlyc, io
lci Iin go.
SIc Iaicd waiiing, ioo. Haicd lciiing Iin go.
SIc could do a Iundrcd iIings÷all difficuli, all rcquiring ¡rowcss,
ialcni, slill. Dui iIc onc iIing sIc couldn'i do was lci Ma×inos go.
SIc'd iricd, ioo. Cod lnows sIc'd iricd. SIc'd wanicd norc, nccdcd
norc, lui soncIow lcss wiiI Ma×inos sccncd lciicr iIan norc wiiI
anyonc clsc.
Now lying in Ma×inos's arns, curlcd againsi Iis sidc, Cass fcli iIc ¡asi
risc u¡, iIc lifc sIc'd livcd and sIc was suddcnly, vividly rcnindcd of
iIcir lasi wcclcnd iogciIcr, iIc wcclcnd in Paris wIicI didn'i iurn oui
io lc a full wcclcnd ai all. SIc'd arrivcd Saiurday aficrnoon, was
scIcdulcd io fly oui Sunday noon, and a car was waiiing for Icr ai iIc
air¡ori.
SIc iool iIc car io Icr Ioicl÷iIc Four Scasons, of coursc÷and cIcclcd
inio Icr suiic and waiicd.
And waiicd.
And finally Ic callcd laic Saiurday nigIi÷io say Ic couldn'i nalc ii,
lui Ic'd scc Icr Sunday norning, Ic'd dcfiniicly scc Icr lcforc sIc
rciurncd Ionc. SIc'd lccn u¡sci, Iuri, disa¡¡oinicd and yci sIc clung
io iIc faci iIai Ic'd ¡roniscd Sunday norning, Icld on io iIc faci Ic'd
givcn Icr Iis word.
And Ic Iad conc Sunday norning and iIcy'd Iad a laic lrcalfasi
lcforc Ic'd ialcn Icr io iIc air¡ori lui ii wasn'i iIc wcclcnd sIc'd
Io¡cd for.
Jusi lilc iIcir rclaiionsIi¡ Iad ncvcr lccn wIai sIc'd Io¡cd for.
Dccausc sIc'd nccdcd norc iIan cn¡iy Ioicl suiics, cvcn if iIcy wcrc
lavisI suiics. SIc'd nccdcd lcss disa¡¡oinincni and norc ¡cacc. Lcss
Iuri and norc Ia¡¡incss.
Maylc Ic did lcc¡ Iis word, lccausc lilc iIai Sunday in Paris, Ic'd
cvcniually sIow u¡ lui norc and norc oficn Ic'd sIow so laic iIcrc was
no iinc io iall ¡ro¡crly, nalc lovc ¡ro¡crly, lc lovcd ¡ro¡crly.
And now sIc'd lci ii Ia¡¡cn again, and cvcryiIing was scrcaning insidc
Icr, cvcryiIing was on firc. SIc'd allowcd Icrsclf io lc rcduccd io
noiIing. Dccausc sIc lovcd Iin.
Ii fcli as if sIc'd carclcssly cui Icr own iIroai and iIc lnifc Iadn'i cvcn
lccn iIai sIar¡, lui sIc'd donc ii fasi, surrcndcrcd Icrsclf io Iin lcforc
sIc iIougIi Icr aciions iIrougI. Dcforc sIc undcrsiood iIc
conscqucnccs.
Cass lii down on Icr icndcr lnucllcs. SIc'd lccn iriclcd, foolcd ly iIc
lody and iIc scnscs. SoncIow, cacI iinc sIc nadc lovc wiiI Ma×inos,
sIc iIougIi iIcrc was norc. SIc was surc iIcrc was norc...iIai iIcrc
could lc norc, if sIc only aslcd.
If sIc darcd io risl.
Dccausc naling lovc wiiI Ma×inos nadc scnsc. SIc lovcd iIc way Ic
loolcd ai Icr. SIc lovcd iIc Icai and iIc inicrcsi and cncrgy. And wIcn
Ic ioucIcd Icr, iIc walls canc down con¡lcicly and ii was aloui iIcn,
iIc iwo of iIcn iogciIcr. Sc×y, scduciivc, and incסlically lcauiiful. No
onc Iad cvcr ioucIcd Icr iIc way Ma×inos did, no onc Iad cvcr nadc
Icr fccl so ¡crfcci. So...sacrcd.
In Iis arns lilc iIis, iIc only iIing sIc fcarcd was iinc. WIcn Ic was
wiiI Icr, sIc fcarcd iinc ¡assing. WIcn Ic was away, sIc fcarcd iinc
slowing. Tinc was iIc only olsiaclc.
Or so sIc'd oncc iIougIi.
Ma×inos rullcd Icr sIouldcr, dro¡¡cd a liss on Icr Icad. "I Iavc io
go now."
"Ma×÷"
"Ii's lccn an Iour."
And iIcy'd nadc a dcal. SIc'd lcggcd Iin io siay, and Ic Iad, and now
sIc couldn'i nalc Iin fccl lad for lcaving.
"All rigIi," sIc said, Icr voicc low and unsicady.
"You'll lc olay?"
No. "Ycs."
SIc fcli Iin iIrow iIc covcrs lacl and Ic slid fron iIc lcd and iIcn
drcw iIc covcrs lacl u¡ ovcr Icr.
"You'rc surc?" Ic aslcd, rcacIing for Iis cloiIcs.
SIc lisicncd io iIc clinl of Iis lcli lucllc, iIc wIis¡cr sound of falric
sliding againsi slin. "Ycs." Dui sIc couldn'i waicI Iin drcss. SIc
couldn'i do ii again so sIc closcd Icr cycs, iurncd Icr Icad away. Dui
iIc Iuri was Iugc, sIar¡, a dragon wiiI cndlcss icciI. WIy was Ic
always lcaving Icr?
Or was sIc jusi iIc lind of wonan ncn lcfi?
Cass Iiccu¡¡cd as iIc door quicily o¡cncd and closcd.
Hc'd gonc.
Ma×inos Iad nadc ii ¡crfccily clcar ionigIi iIai Ic wanicd no
conniincnis, noiIing io iic Iin down. SIc was, and always Iad lccn,
aloui convcnicncc.
And sIc wasn'i convcnicni anynorc.
Daiiling icars, sIc ¡ullcd iIc duvci u¡ ovcr Icr Icad, covcring Icrsclf
cniircly. Don't tIínI, sIc iold Icrsclf. Dui iIc Ioi, Iuniliaiing icars
wouldn'i sio¡ falling.
How could sIc Iavc lovcd Iin so nucI and Ic fcli so liiilc? How could
Ic ialc Icr, nalc lovc io Icr, for iwo ycars giving Icr ¡lcasurc, rccciving
sucI ¡lcasurc, only io lci ii all go away?
How could Ic jusi wall away? SIc'd givcn Iin cvcryiIing, acccss io all
Icr lody and cvcry nillincirc of Icr Icari÷wIy Iadn'i iIai lccn
cnougI?
TIc qucsiions lurncd Icr, rciurning now jusi io Iauni Icr jusi as iIcy
Iad cvcry nigIi and day for iIc ¡asi si× noniIs. How could sonconc
willingly givc u¡ sonciIing lilc wIai iIcy Iad? TIcir rclaiionsIi¡ was
diffcrcni. TIcir dcsirc was Ioiicr, lrigIicr, iIcir saiisfaciion grcaicr.
TIcy Iad cuc¡¸tIíng.
How could iIai noi lc cnougI?
SIc sollcd inio iIc crool of Icr arn, solling so Iard iIcrc wcrc
noncnis sIc couldn'i caicI Icr lrcaiI and finally sIc lncw sIc Iad io
sio¡. Puíí ¸ou¡scí¡ togctIc¡. TIis isn'i iIc cnd of iIc world. You'íí gct ouc¡
Iín. It's ]ust u nuttc¡ o¡ tínc.
PusIing wci sirands of Iair fron Icr cIccl, Cass iool a dcc¡ lrcaiI,
and iIcn anoiIcr. Tínc Icuís uíí uounds.
Maylc. Maylc noi.
SIc drcw a sIaly lrcaiI, and iIcn anoiIcr. TIís, too, sIuíí ¡uss.
NotIíng íusts ¡o¡cuc¡.
And yci iIc clicIcs jusi nadc Icr angricr.
SIc didn'i wani io gci ovcr Ma×inos. SIc didn'i lnow Iow io gci ovcr
Ma×inos. Noi wIcn sIc siill wanicd Iin lilc iIis, noi wIcn sIc siill
nccdcd Iin lilc iIis. Noi wIcn sIc was siill so dcc¡ly, Io¡clcssly in lovc.
Ma×inos Cuiliano, lovc of Icr lifc. Ma×inos Cuiliano, faiIcr of iIc cIild
sIc'd losi.


Cass wolc iIc nc×i norning io lrilliani sunsIinc and iIc sunsIinc
confuscd Icr, iriclcd Icr. For a noncni sIc didn'i lnow wIcrc sIc was
or wIy sIc fcli as iIougI sIc'd lccn run ovcr ly a irucl and lcfi for
dcad.
And iIcn ii Iii Icr. Ii all canc lacl. WIai Ia¡¡cncd lasi nigIi. WIcrc
sIc was ioday. Ma×inos's Iousc. Ma×inos's gucsi roon. TIc norning
aficr...
TIc acIc insidc Icr was ncarly iniolcrallc. And iIc sunsIinc didn'i
Icl¡, sIc iIougIi, rulling iircdly ai Icr cycs, Icr cycs sorc fron crying
Icrsclf io slcc¡.
Dui ii was a ncw day, and Cass forccd Icrsclf u¡. Lcaving iIc lcd, sIc
lcgan gaiIcring Icr cloiIcs siill scaiicrcd on iIc floor-iIc sill Iosc, iIc
saiin garicr lcli, iIc iorn ¡aniics and gown. And iIcrc in iIc ianglc of
cloiIcs Cass discovcrcd Ma×inos's coiion undcrsIiri, iIc onc Ic'd worn
lasi nigIi lcncaiI Iis drcss sIiri.
SIc ¡iclcd u¡ iIc coiion T-sIiri and ¡rcsscd ii io Icr cIcsi, siill allc io
sncll Ma×inos's s¡icy fragrancc on iIc falric.
Muxínos. TIc Icarilrcal Iii Icr again, iIc Icarilrcal siill so
siunning, always unrcal. And ¡rcssing iIc sIiri io Icr nouiI, a liss of
soris, sIc lrcaiIcd in iIc sccni of Iin, lrcaiIcd in iIc cnoiion lcforc
iossing iIc sIiri lacl io iIc ground.
In iIc cnsuiic, Cass sic¡¡cd lcncaiI iIc sIowcr, lci iIc waicr sircan
down wasIing away all ncnory of lasi nigIi's lovcnaling.
SIc drcsscd swifily, noi lciiing Icrsclf iIinl, noi lciiing Icrsclf fccl.
SIc was on iIc siairs, carrying Icr suiicasc down wIcn a Iard voicc
soundcd in iIc siairwcll. "Coing soncwIcrc, Cass?"
TIc sound of Ma×inos's voicc lcIind Icr nadc Icr jun¡, and sIc
jcrlcd around on iIc sic¡. "You scarcd nc," sIc said, ¡uiiing onc Iand
on Icr cIcsi io quici iIc nad drunning.
Hc was drcsscd in lIalis and a cris¡ olivc-grccn sIiri and wiiI Iis
darl Iair conlcd and Iis jaw sIavcn snooiI Ic loolcd coolly clcgani
and ¡crfccily in conirol.
Unlilc iIc nan wIo'd ialcn Icr io lcd lasi nigIi.
Unlilc iIc lovcr wIo'd nadc Icr so con¡lcicly Iis...
Pain sliccd iIrougI Icr and sIc Icld Icr lrcaiI, irying io siay caln,
nainiain conirol lilc Ma×inos.
"So wIcrc arc you going?" Ic aslcd, cycs narrowing.
If sIc didn'i iIinl and jusi allowcd Icrsclf io lc, sIc could fccl iIc Icai
and sircngiI of Ma×inos's lody againsi Icrs siill. SIc could fccl iIc way
Ic iool Icr. Lovcd Icr. If sIc didn'i s¡cal and didn'i novc sIc could
sncll Iis clcan s¡icy sccni, a conlinaiion of Iis anazing slin and
cסcnsivc lui sulilc colognc. SIc could iasic Iis nouiI on Icrs, iIc
warniI and iIc coolncss of Iis ionguc ¡laying Icrs, Iis li¡s icasing
Icrs, iIc scra¡c of Iis icciI, iIc lrisilcs of Iis lcard.
TIc sc× worlcd so wcll. WIy did noiIing clsc?
Cass swallowcd iIc lun¡ filling Icr iIroai and sIificd Icr suiicasc fron
onc Iand io iIc oiIcr. "I'n going Ionc."
Hc jusi loolcd ai Icr, a long lcvcl lool iIai nadc Icr insidcs curl. Hc
was angry. Angry wiiI Icr. "I gucss you finally goi iIc closurc you
nccdcd."
"I did conc for closurc."
"Is iIai a ¡oliic way of saying you wanicd io gci laid onc lasi iinc!"
SIc flusIcd. "TIai's noi fair÷"
"TIcn wIai was lasi nigIi?"
"Don'i aci lilc lasi nigIi was so ncaningful for you. You couldn'i uuít
io gci oui of iIcrc."
"I'vc a Iousc full of gucsis. Fcs¡onsililiiics÷"
"Ii's noi jusi lasi nigIi, Ma×inos. You ncvcr siay aficr you'vc finisIcd
naling lovc. For ovcr iwo ycars I aslcd you io siay, io s¡cnd iIc nigIi
wiiI nc, lui cacI iinc you Iad io go. You always Iavc c×cuscs. Dui ii's
loncly lcing lcfi. Ii fccls awful waicIing you drcss and go."
"So now ii's your iurn io wall oui."
Dcfianily sIc loolcd u¡, nci Iis gazc squarcly, rcading iIc inicnsiiy in
Iis darl cycs. Hc was siill so Iard. So ficrcc. Hc'd ialc Icr io lcd again
and again, lui iIai was ii. TIc c×icni of wIai Ic'd offcr Icr. Ouisidc iIc
lcdroon, Ic'd ncvcr givc Icr norc. Hc would ialc Icr lody, ¡lcasurc Icr
lody, lui Ic'd ncvcr lovc Icr. "Ma×inos, iIcrc's noiIing for nc Icrc."
"TIcrc was ¡lcniy lciwccn us lasi nigIi."
"TIai's callcd sc×."
"Ii worls."
Ii was c×acily wIai sIc fcarcd Ic'd say, wIai sIc didn'i wani Iin io
say. SIc wanicd Iin io wani Icr, figIi for Icr, cravc Icr iIc way sIc
cravcd Iin. And for iIc longcsi noncni sIc couldn'i s¡cal lccausc ii
Iuri, iIis ga¡ in nccds, a diffcrcncc iIai was now clcarly
insurnouniallc.
"I dcscrvc norc iIan sc×," sIc said finally, a icrrillc lun¡ fillcd Icr
iIroai. "I dcscrvc norc fron you."
"Morc?" Hc was ioying wiiI Icr, Iis ionc downrigIi nocling. "As in
gifis? Trinlcis? Tolcns of ny affcciion?"
Hcr jaw icnscd, flc×cd. Ii sccncd in¡ossillc iIai iIcy'd lccn lovcrs for
so long, iIai iIcy'd aciually lclicvcd iIcir rclaiionsIi¡ worlcd.
How Iad so liiilc lccn cnougI for Icr for iIai long? Cass couldn'i
inaginc cvcr sciiling for lcss now, noi wIcn sIc lncw iIai sIc'd Iad Icr
¡rioriiics all wrong, iIai sIc'd ncvcr lnown Icrsclf, wIo sIc'd lccn, and
wIai sIc'd nccdcd. Sc× nigIi fccl good, lui sIc wanicd lovc. Sc×
answcrcd ccriain ¡Iysical nccds lui ii didn'i saiisfy iIc cn¡iincss
insidc, iIc longing io lc accc¡icd, cIcrisIcd, validaicd. "I'vc Iad cnougI
irinlcis and iolcns. I'd lilc a rcal rclaiionsIi¡, onc lascd on irusi and
rcs¡cci÷"
"I irusi you. And rcs¡cci you."
"Onc wIcrc loiI ¡co¡lc givc." TIis was lilling Icr, naling all Icr
frusiraiions and nccds lnown. SIc Iaicd lcing vulncrallc lilc iIis,
Iaicd Iaving io asl for anyiIing. "You didn'i givc, Ma×inos, you iool."
Hc sIruggcd. "I gavc you wIai I could."
SIc griiicd Icr icciI ai Iis ionc, Iaiing Iis caln indiffcrcncc, iIai
insuffcrallc arrogancc wIicI sci Iin alovc Icr, naling Iin iIc naiurc,
raiional onc and sIc iIc cnoiional, nccdy fcnalc.
Ii sccncd alnosi inconccivallc now iIai sIc'd givcn Icrsclf io Iin so
frccly, iIai sIc'd allowcd Iin sucI acccss io Icr lody, as wcll as Icr
Icari, lccausc sIc'd givcn Iin Icr Icari, ioo, and ii was iIc onc iIing
Ic Iadn'i wanicd.
Cass drcw a rougI lrcaiI. "Maylc I nccd io lc con¡lcicly Ioncsi.
Maylc wIai I sIould say is iIai I don'i undcrsiand Iow you could nalc
ny lody fccl so good, lui carc so liiilc aloui iIc rcsi of nc? WIai was so
s¡ccial aloui ny lody?"
"Cuss."
"Don'i Cass nc. Don'i nalc nc fccl lad for waniing norc. TIcrc's
noiIing wrong wiiI waniing io nalc lovc insicad of jusi scrcwing." SIc
fcli so cסoscd now, so nccdy and vulncrallc lui sIc couldn'i Icl¡ ii. Ii
Iad all lccn ¡cni u¡ for ioo long. TIc wanis. TIc nccds. TIc fcar.
WIy couldn'i Ic givc Icr wIai sIc nccdcd? WIy couldn'i Ic lovc Icr?
SIc was asling for lovc, noi noncy, noi ¡owcr, noi fanc, nor succcss.
Lovc.
"Maylc all I nccd is io scrcw." Ma×inos's dcc¡ voicc, ¡iicIcd low and
Iard, ccIocd in iIc Iall.
"Crcai," sIc cIolcd, gralling Icr suiicasc and Icading down iIc siairs
ra¡idly, onc quicl sic¡ ai a iinc. "Cci laid. Co scrcw. Jusi siay away
fron nc."
"You don'i ncan iIai," Ic said, following Icr down iIc siaircasc. "Or
you wouldn'i Iavc iravcllcd all iIis way io scc nc again."
"I iold you. I nccdcd closurc."
"Or anoiIcr nind-llowing orgasn."
And iIcn Ic laugIcd, and Cass sio¡¡cd nidsic¡, iurncd io facc Iin.
"You'rc naling nc Iaic you."
"Cood. You sIould Iaic nc. You sIouldn'i Iavc cvcr accc¡icd wIai I
gavc you." And Ic ¡ullcd Icr inio Iis arns, ¡ullcd Icr againsi Iin so sIc
fcli iIc Iard ¡rcss of Iis lody fron Iis cIcsi io Iis Ii¡s io iIc iIigI Ic
¡usIcd lciwccn Icr lcgs cvcn as Iis Icad dcsccndcd and Iis nouiI
covcrcd Icrs.
His liss siolc Icr lrcaiI, Iis nouiI forcing Icr li¡s o¡cn, forcing Icr
surrcndcr. Hc lncw wIai Ic wanicd and Ic was dcicrnincd io Iavc ii.
Cass sIuddcrcd ai iIc flicl of Iis ionguc againsi Icr scnsiiivc inncr li¡,
sIuddcrcd again as Ic rcacIcd u¡ io clas¡ iIc swcll of Icr lrcasi, Iis
¡aln Iard againsi Icr ni¡¡lc, ¡rcssing, lcaring down cvcn as nccd coilcd
in Icr lclly, ficrcc, sIar¡ insisicni.
Hcr lcgs ircnllcd and Icl¡lcssly sIc arcIcd againsi Iin as Ic
sirunncd Icr ni¡¡lc, a ¡incIing, squcczing scnsaiion iIai iorncnicd
Icr ncrvcs, IcigIicning ¡lcasurc io alnosi ¡ain.
SIc wanicd Iin. Now. Hcrc. In Icr.
SIc wanicd Iin. Hard. Fasi. Furious.
SIc wanicd Iin and sIc fcli nindlcss, Icl¡lcss, Iis. And Ic lncw, Ic
Incu.
SIc'd givc Iin anyiIing Ic aslcd. SIc'd lcg Iin io ialc Icr, fill Icr,
lcg Iin io givc Icr rclcasc.
TIc ¡rcssurc on Icr nouiI cascd and sIc dranl in air as Iis Icad
lricfly lificd.
"You sIould Iavc dcnandcd norc," Ic said, Iis voicc rougI, ras¡y wiiI
¡assion. "You sIould Iavc insisicd on norc fron iIc vcry lcginning."
Hcr Icad was swinning, s¡inning, Icr scnscs sircicIcd, icascd, dazcd.
SIc fcli cn¡iy, acIy lciwccn Icr lcgs. And Icr Icari fcli jusi as cn¡iy,
and acIy in Icr cIcsi. TIcrc would ncvcr lc iruc rclcasc. Noi fron Iin,
noi wiiI Iin. Hc was ¡ui on cariI io ioriurc Icr. "WIy arc you doing
iIis?" sIc cIolcd.
"Dccausc you wouldn'i. You couldn'i. And ii nccdcd io lc donc. I was
ncvcr any good for you, Icííu."
Hcr cycs siung. Hc was lcing awful, naling iIc cnding of
iIis÷wIaicvcr ii was, wIaicvcr ii Iad lccn÷c×cruciaiing.
SIc couldn'i lcar for ii io lc awful. In faci, sIc wanicd noiIing norc
iIan io nalc cvcryiIing olay. Closurc for Icr ncani naling cvcryiIing
olay, lui naylc iIis iinc iIcrc wouldn'i lc rcal closurc. Ai lcasi iIcrc
wasn'i going io lc ¡cacc.
Dccausc lcyond iIc disconfori of iIc noncni, lcyond iIc ¡ain, iIcrc
was ¡ridc. And sclf-rcs¡cci. As wcll as sonciIing callcd sclf-¡rcscrvaiion.
If Ic wasn'i going io Icl¡ Icr, ¡roicci Icr, iIcn sIc Iad io ¡roicci
Icrsclf.
And if Ic couldn'i rcs¡cci Icr, sIc Iad io do iIai for Icrsclf, ioo. Tcars
wcllcd in Icr cycs and for a noncni sIc fcli losi. Alandoncd. And ii
wasn'i sonciIing sIc cvcr wanicd io fccl, noi again.
No, sIc Iad io nalc surc sIc was safc. Valucd. Trcaicd wcll.
SIc dcscrvcd io lc ircaicd wcll.
And iIosc iIougIis, iIosc clusivc raiional iIougIis allowcd Icr io
siand on ii¡ioc and liss Iin, liss Iin gcnily, icndcrly, liss Iin wiiI
¡ain and Icarilrcal lcforc sIc lrolc away, dcsccndcd iIc rcsi of iIc
siaircasc and c×iicd iIrougI iIc froni door.
Ma×inos siood frozcn on iIc sic¡ and waicIcd Icr go.
Hc saw Icr wall iIrougI iIc door and sIui ii and as iIc door sIui Ic
fcli a rusI of cnoiion÷nosily ragc÷lcforc iclling Iinsclf noi io iIinl.
Don'i carc.
Quiclly Ic lcgan io clinl iIc siairs again, Icading lacl io Iis roon io
cIangc for iIc c×cursion Adriana Iad ¡lanncd, and as Ic clinlcd iIc
siairs Ic lc¡i cIaniing don'i iIinl, don'i carc, don'i fccl. TIcrc was no
¡oini iIinling or fccling now. WIai was, was. Pcriod.
Dui Ma×inos lncw Ic'd Iuri Icr. Kncw Ic'd lcvcllcd Icr, Iiiiing Icr far
Iardcr iIan was fair, and ii nadc Iin sicl.
Hc didn'i wani Icr Iuri. Hc didn'i cvcn lnow wIy Ic said wIai Ic'd
said io Icr. Hc was angry, ycs. And lasIing oui. Dui sIc wasn'i iIc onc
Ic was angry wiiI. No, Iis angcr was dirccicd ai Solaio and Lorna, ai
iIc couris...ai Iinsclf. Dui noi Cass and yci now Cass was sianding on
iIc froni sic¡s of Iis Iousc...
Hc sIould go io Icr. A¡ologizc. Eסlain.
FcacIing iIc io¡ of iIc siaircasc, Ic drcw a lrcaiI. Dui cסlain wIai?
TIai Ic'd lciraycd Icr? TIai Ic'd lnowingly lciraycd Icr for ycars? How
could Ic cסlain? TIai Ic'd lccn as unfair io Icr as Lorna Iad lccn io
Iin?
Dui Cass didn'i lnow any of iIai yci. SIc didn'i lnow aloui Iis rcal
lifc, iIc lifc Ic'd lc¡i Iiddcn, ¡rivaic, iIc lifc iIai would crusI Icr if sIc
found oui.
And sIc'd soon find oui. Hc Iad io icll Icr. Lasi nigIi Ic'd dcicrnincd
Ic'd icll Icr iIis wcclcnd, as soon as iIc wcdding was ovcr and Adriana
Iad sci off for Icr Ioncynoon. Ii was iinc. Dui uniil iIc wcdding Ic
wanicd io lcc¡ iIc drana low...for Iis fanily's salc if noiIing clsc.
Insidc Iis lcdroon, Ma×inos siri¡¡cd off Iis sIiri and scarcIcd
iIrougI Iis lurcau for anoiIcr.
His lcdroon door o¡cncd alru¡ily. "Ma×inos." Ii was Iis noiIcr.
"You don'i lnocl?" Ic aslcd, iurning io facc Icr.
"I'n your noiIcr."
"WIicI is wIy you sIould lnocl. You ncvcr lnow wIai you nigIi find."
"OI, I don'i worry aloui you doing anyiIing in your lcdroon." His
noiIcr's facc was in¡assivc. "You do ii on iIc siairs."
Hc sIoi Icr a darl glancc, rcsignaiion iingcd wiiI Iunour. "You
sIouldn'i lc waicIing."
"Sonc iIings, Ma×inos, arc Iard io niss." His noiIcr rcnaincd in iIc
doorway, slin, clcgani, vcry coniaincd. SIc wasn'i ¡ariicularly iall and
yci sIc c×udcd auiIoriiy. Conirol. SIc Iadn'i lccn narricd io a Cuiliano
for ncarly foriy ycars for noiIing. "Now your...gucsi...is ouisidc wiiI Icr
suiicasc. Docs sIc Iavc a ridc?"
Hc sli¡¡cd on a wIiic lincn sIiri and lcgan rolling iIc cuffs lacl. "I
don'i lnow."
"WIy is sIc lcaving now?"
"I'n noi surc÷"
"You arc surc. You'vc jusi lccn figIiing wiiI Icr for iIc ¡asi icn
ninuics."
Ma×inos's lrow lificd. "SIc nccdcd io go lacl io Fonc. Dusincss."
"On a Saiurday?"
"SIc's an advcriising c×ccuiivc÷"
"On a Saiurday?"
"Munu." His voicc dro¡¡cd, iIc ionc low, a warning.
"Adriana said sIc was Enilio's girlfricnd," Iis noiIcr coniinucd
unalasIcd. "Dui sIc's noi, is sIc? SIc's yours."
"SIc couldn'i lc ny girlfricnd÷"
"I'n noi siu¡id, Ma×inos. I'n your noiIcr, and I'vc lnown you longcr
iIan iwo or iIrcc ycars. I lnow wIai I Icard, and I lnow wIai I saw. SIc
docsn'i lnow iIc iruiI, docs sIc?"
Hc said noiIing, Iis jaw iigIi.
Signora Cuiliano iool a sic¡ forward, Icr cסrcssion jusi as ficrcc as
Icr son's. "Ai lcasi icll Icr iIc iruiI. Maylc sIc'll iIinl you'rc sclfisI,
insicad of sin¡ly crucl."
"TIanls." His sarcasn wasn'i losi on Icr.
SIc sIoi Iin a ¡icrcing lool lcforc Icading io iIc door. "Ai lcasi gci
Icr a ridc lacl io Fonc. No ia×i will ialc Icr lacl ioday." And sIc
wallcd oui wiiIoui looling lacl or saying goodlyc.
Ma×inos siood a noncni lisicning io Iis noiIcr's fooisic¡s ccIo down
iIc Iall. NoiIing lilc an ovcrlcaring Sicilian noiIcr, Ic iIougIi, lui iIc
corncr of Iis nouiI quirlcd. Hc lovcd Icr. Sirong woncn Iad ncvcr
iniinidaicd Iin.


Cass was sianding nc×i io Icr suiicasc on iIc ¡alazzo's lroad sionc
sic¡s wIcn iIc froni door o¡cncd and Ma×inos a¡¡carcd. Hc'd cIangcd
inio a casual wIiic lincn sIiri and lIali sIoris.
"Coing soncwIcrc?" Ic aslcd, sianding nc×i io Icr.
"Ycs."
His cסrcssion was quizzical. "How do you inicnd io gci iIcrc?"
Cass fcli sicl on iIc insidc, sicl and sIaly and sIc wisIcd sIc'd ncvcr
conc Icrc, wisIcd sIc wcrc in Fonc wIcrc sIc lclongcd lui sIc'd lcavc
soon. As soon as sIc Iad irans¡oriaiion. "A ia×i."
"No ia×i will drivc you lacl io Fonc on a Saiurday. Ii's an all day iri¡.
You'll nccd a Iirc car. Havc you rcscrvcd onc?"
Hc lncw sIc Iadn'i. "No."
"TIai ¡oscs a ¡rollcn."
SIc iuclcd a sirand of Iair lcIind Icr car lui rcfuscd io lool ai Iin.
WIai did Ic wani Icr io do? Dcg? "You could loan nc onc of your cars."
"I couldn'i. Insurancc issucs and all."
"I'n a good drivcr. Accidcni frcc for ovcr icn ycars."
"Ii's noiIing ¡crsonal, Cass÷"
"NoiIing ¡crsonal? You will slcc¡ wiiI nc, lui noi loan nc a car?"
"I'vc Iad difficuliics wiiI car insurancc duc io an accidcni a nunlcr of
ycars ago. You can asl ny noiIcr, or ny sisicrs if you don'i lclicvc÷"
"I don'i wani io asl iIcn. I jusi wani io go." Hcr fingcrs gri¡¡cd iIc
suiicasc Iandlc iigIily.
SIc'd lccn so in¡ulsivc coning Icrc. Dui iIcn sIc'd lccn a ganllcr
Icr wIolc lifc, a ¡laycr in iIc ganc, confidcni, lold, aggrcssivc. SIc'd
ialcn risls in Icr ¡crsonal lifc jusi iIc way sIc'd ialcn risls in
lusincss, lui iIis iinc, sIc'd failcd.
Failcd. Cass llinlcd lacl icars iIinling iIai uniil Ma×inos cnicrcd Icr
lifc, sIc'd ncvcr failcd ai anyiIing. "I don'i lnow wIai I was
iIinling...don'i lnow wIai I iIougIi would rcally Ia¡¡cn."
"Maylc you iIougIi I'd scc you and rcncnlcr Iow nucI I cnjoycd
lcing wiiI you and wc'd gci lacl iogciIcr."
TIc icars grcw Ioiicr, filling Icr cycs con¡lcicly. "Plcasc sio¡."
"You canc for answcrs, Cass."
SIc Iad io iurn Icr facc away, noi waniing Iin io scc iIc icar sliding
down Icr cIccl. "I iIinl I goi iIcn."
"Arc you surc you goi iIc rigIi answcrs?"
TIcrc was iIc sirangcsi noic in Iis voicc, a ionc alin io suffcring lui ii
couldn'i lc. TIis was Ma×inos aficr all. And Ic didn'i fccl, and Ic
ccriainly didn'i suffcr. Dui lcforc sIc could answcr iIc froni door was
flung o¡cn and Adriana canc racing oui of iIc Iousc in a sIori sliri and
laiIing suii io¡.
"Ma×inos!" Adriana cricd, Iugcly vc×cd. "WIai arc you doing? Wc'rc all
waiiing on you and you lnow wc can'i sci sail wiiIoui you. WIai's iIc
¡rollcn?"
TIcn Adriana s¡oiicd Cass and Icr cסrcssion cIangcd. TIc lool sIc
gavc Cass was ¡urc nalicc. "Arc you waiiing for Enilio io ¡icl Icr u¡?"
Adriana aslcd icrscly.
Ma×inos sIool Iis Icad. "Enilio's gonc." Hc ¡auscd. "And Cass isn'i
wiiI Enilio. SIc's wiiI nc."
Cass's Icad jcrlcd u¡. Adriana loolcd cqually siunncd.
TIc corncr of Ma×inos's nouiI iilicd. "I'vc lccn sccing Cass for ovcr
iwo and a Ialf ycars."



CHAPTER EIGHT

ADFIANA loolcd fron Ma×inos io Cass and lacl again. "You'vc lccn
sccing Icr?"
"Ycs," Ma×inos answcrcd.
"Noi Enilio?"
"No."
Adriana's forcIcad crcascd. "TIcn wIy did sIc arrivc wiiI Iin?"
Ma×inos's jaw iigIicncd. Hc Icsiiaicd for jusi a fraciion of a sccond
lui Cass's sionacI lnoiicd anyway. "To sur¡risc nc," Ic answcrcd
snooiIly.
Adriana loolcd sus¡iciously fron onc io iIc oiIcr. SIc sccncd io lc
irying io nalc u¡ Icr nind aloui sonciIing. "You didn'i sccn Ia¡¡y io
scc Icr ycsicrday."
"You lnow Iow I fccl aloui Solaio."
"Mnn." Adriana's li¡s ¡urscd and iIcn wiiI a glancc ai Cass and Icr
suiicasc, aslcd yci anoiIcr qucsiion. "WIy is sIc lcaving now iIcn? WIy
lcforc iIc wcdding?"
"SonciIing canc u¡." Hc saw Iis sisicr's cסrcssion and Ic sIool Iis
Icad. "Ii's con¡licaicd÷"
"TIcn uncon¡licaicd ii," Adriana rcioricd in¡aiicnily. "Dccausc
cvcryonc's alrcady on loard and if wc don'i lcavc soon wc won'i lc lacl
in iinc io gci rcady for iIc ccrcnony."
Cass o¡cncd Icr nouiI io s¡cal lui Adriana waggcd Icr fingcr. "No.
TIis is ny day. I wani you loiI io conc now on iIc loai and sIarc iIc
¡icnic and nalc ny wcdding day Ia¡¡y." SIc loolcd ai Icr lroiIcr.
"Ma×inos cannoi u¡sci nc ioday and I lnow Iin. If iIcrc is a ¡rollcn,
ii's Iis ¡rollcn. Hc's a iy¡ical nan. Hc Ias ioo nucI ¡ridc."
Adriana ia¡¡cd Icr waicI. "Fivc ninuics. You nusi lc on iIc loai in
fivc ninuics." And wiiI a ficrcc nod sIc narcIcd away.
"You lciicr go," Cass said quicily. "Ii is Icr day and sIc sIouldn'i lc
u¡sci."
"TIcn you lciicr conc, ioo, lccausc sIc said sIc wanicd us loiI io go
on iIc ¡icnic."
"I'n noi in a ¡icnic nood," sIc answcrcd, unallc io Iidc Icr liiicrncss.
"NciiIcr an I." His voicc was lrusquc, forccful. "Dui iIcrc's no car
coning for you, and unlcss Solaio is waiiing soncwIcrc for you, you'rc
noi lcaving Oriygia anyiinc ioday. So you nigIi as wcll join iIc ouiing
and nalc iIc lcsi of ii."
"Is So¡Iia going io lc iIcrc?"
Hc sigIcd, a long drawn-oui c×as¡craicd sigI. "So¡Iia is noi ny
girlfricnd, and I Iavc now ¡ullicly dcclarcd you ny girlfricnd in froni of
ny fanily."
Cass lificd Icr cIin. "Dui Iavc you iold your fanily you only wani nc
for sc×?"
His lrow furrowcd, Iis darl gazc lrooding. "Cass÷"
"I wani io go."
"I'n sorry, Cass÷"
"Finc. A¡ology accc¡icd. Can I lcavc now?"
"No." Dui Ic said ii sofily, so sofily ii forccd Icr io lool ai Iin, rcally
lool ai Iin, and Iis cסrcssion sur¡riscd Icr lccausc Ic loolcd losi.
Confuscd. And dcs¡iic Icr angcr and Iuri sIc couldn'i wall oui, noi lilc
iIis. "Wc nccd io iall. TIcrc arc iIings wc ougIi io discuss. TIings you
sIould lnow."
"TIcn icll nc now."
"I don'i wani a sccnc lcforc Adriana's wcdding."
"WIai you'rc going io icll nc will causc a sccnc?"
Hc Icsiiaicd. "Ii will lc u¡sciiing."
His ionc scarcd Icr. "WIai? You'rc narricd?" SIc aiicn¡icd io jolc,
nccding io ligIicn iIc nood, nccding laugIicr. Dui wIcn sIc saw Iis
sIoclcd cסrcssion Icr laugIicr sulsidcd. "I'n sorry. I was irying io add
a liiilc Iunour. Dui iIai's noi funny. I lnow ii's noi funny."
His cסrcssion cIangcd yci again, sIifiing, Iardcning, Iis fcaiurcs
lcconing closcd and unrcadallc. For a noncni iIcrc was jusi silcncc
iIcn Ic nuiicrcd sonciIing, sIool Iis Icad.
"Siay for iIc rcsi of iIc wcclcnd," Ic said. "Join us on iIc ¡icnic,
aiicnd iIc wcdding wiiI nc ionigIi and wc'll iall in iIc norning oncc
cvcryonc dc¡aris." Hc ¡auscd, Iis gazc scarcIing Icr facc. "And you
lnow wc nccd io iall. Wc loiI nccd undcrsianding...or wIaicvcr you
iIinl closurc is."
Closurc. Hcr favouriic word. And sIc didn'i wani closurc, sIc Iaicd iIc
vcry word, lui sIc did nccd io undcrsiand wIai ii was icaring iIcn÷and
Icr÷a¡ari. SIc nccdcd io do ii for Icr. "Olay."
Hc snilcd, lui sIc didn'i scc rclicf in Iis cycs. If anyiIing Ic
sccncd...rcsigncd.
A fcw ninuics laicr wiiI sIoris, swinsuii and sunscrccn janncd inio a
wovcn lag, Cass wallcd wiiI Ma×inos fron iIc ¡alazzo iIrougI iown io
iIc Iarlour wIcrc iIc loai waiicd.
Dui ii wasn'i jusi a loai, Cass discovcrcd, as iIcy rcacIcd iIc snall
¡ori doninaicd ly onc lu×urious yacIi. TIc slccl, siylisI Cuiliano yacIi
was a ninciy fooicr, luili in Viarcggio, Iialy, iis so¡Iisiicaicd dcsign
¡raciically an ari forn.
As Adriana Iad said, all iIc wcdding ¡ariy and gucsis Iad alrcady
loardcd iIc yacIi ly iIc iinc Ma×inos and Cass arrivcd ai Oriygia's
Iarlour. A lavisI lrcalfasi luffci Iad lccn ¡rc¡arcd for iIc gucsis and
iIc u¡¡cr dccl was a livcly Iul of aciiviiy as cvcryonc nillcd aloui
si¡¡ing cIan¡agnc and lalancing ¡laics ¡ilcd IigI wiiI frcsI fruiis,
sliccd ncais, cIccscs and warn fragrani lrcads.
Ma×inos assisicd Cass in loarding. "TIcrc's coffcc, juicc, ¡lcniy io cai,"
Ic said. "You'll wani io Iavc a good lrcalfasi now as ii'll lc a nunlcr of
Iours lcforc wc arrivc in Caiania wIcrc wc'll discnlarl."
"Is iIai wIcrc wc'll Iavc luncI?"
"Ai iIc casilc ai Aci Casicllo." Ma×inos signallcd io iIc ca¡iain iIai
iIcy wcrc rcady io go. "If you'll c×cusc nc a ninuic, I sIould grcci iIc
oiIcrs."
Hc lcfi Icr lui Ic Iadn'i forgoiicn Icr. A sIi¡ sicward a¡¡carcd sIorily
ai Icr sidc wiiI a cu¡ of coffcc laccd Icavily wiiI nill and a snall ¡laic
wiiI a croissani and cIccsc. Hcr favouriic lrcalfasi.
SIc glanccd ioward Ma×inos wIo was naling iIc rounds, ¡laying iIc
cordial Iosi, and Icr li¡s curvcd rucfully. Hc confoundcd Icr. SIc
Ioncsily didn'i lnow wIai io nalc of Iin. Evcn Icrc wiiI Iis fanily Ic
was so coniaincd, so dciacIcd, csscniially a closcd lool.
Dui wIy?
WIai nadc Iin nisirusi so nucI? WIai nadc Iin wani sc×, lui noi
lovc? Convcnicncc, noi conniincni?
WIy would a nan as sirong, as wcaliIy, as ¡owcrful as Ma×inos lc so
... afraid?
Now iIc yacIi was ¡usIing lacl fron iIc Iarlour, noioring slowly
¡asi ancicni Oriygia's siriling sionc luildings, and Cass's aiicniion was
caugIi ly iIc luildings glcaning ivory and ycllow in iIc wasI of
norning ligIi.
SIc didn'i iIinl sIc'd cvcr sccn anyiIing so lcauiiful as iIc dazzling
dis¡lays of arcIiicciurc sci againsi iIc lrilliani iurquoisc waicr. Cold
and sa¡¡Iirc, la¡is and silvcr. DrcaiI ialing.
TIc yacIi rcacIcd o¡cn waicr and ¡iclcd u¡ s¡ccd and Cass rcnaincd
ai iIc sIi¡'s railing, waicIing iIc land rcccdc.
"Would you lilc norc coffcc?" Ma×inos aslcd, joining Icr.
"Your sicward's vcry conscicniious. Hc's lccn ly iIrcc iincs wiiI frcsI
cu¡s."
"TIai's wIai Ic's ¡aid io do." Ma×inos rcsicd Iis forcarns on iIc
railing, and Ic siarcd oui ai iIc lrigIi lluc waicr surrounding iIcn. TIc
norning was alrcady quiic warn and yci iIc lrcczc cui iIc Icai.
Cass glanccd ai Iin ovcr Icr sIouldcr. "Your sisicrs Iavc lccn
wIis¡cring and siaring ai nc."
"You'rc lcauiiful."
SIc nadc a facc. "TIai's noi wIy iIcy'rc siaring ai nc."
Hc laugIcd, lificd Iis Iands. "I'n sorry. You'rc rigIi. You arc lcauiiful
lui iIai's noi wIy iIcy'rc looling ai you. TIcy'rc curious."
"Aloui...?"
"You. I'vc ncvcr...lrougIi anyonc Icrc lcforc."
"Ncvcr?"
"Noi sincc I was a lid."
Ma×inos saw iIc way sIc loolcd ai Iin, and Ic lncw sIc didn'i lclicvc
Iin, or naylc ii's iIai sIc didn'i undcrsiand Iin. Wcll, Ic couldn'i
llanc Icr. Hc didn'i undcrsiand Iinsclf.
All Iis lifc Ic'd iIougIi Ic was onc ¡crson and iIcn Ic'd discovcrcd Ic
was sonconc clsc.
Hc'd always lccn sirong, fair, jusi. Dui cvcr sincc ncciing Cass...
Hc'd donc noiIing lui ¡lay diriy. Drcal cvcry rulc.
"I'n glad you didn'i go," Ic said aficr a noncni. "I didn'i wani you io
lcavc lilc iIai."
"Dui you lnow I'n going io lcavc. I Iavc io."
Hc Icard iIc cool noic in Icr voicc. SIc was siill u¡sci wiiI Iin. SIc
sIould lc.
"Evcniually, ycs," Ic answcrcd.
Hc saw Icr iIroai worl and Ic fcli a rusI of incסlicallc
cnoiion÷nccd, ¡ain, angcr, again, so nucI angcr÷and ii was jusi a
naiicr of days...Iours...now lcforc Ic iold Icr iIc iruiI.
His gui cIurncd lnowing sIc'd lc dcvasiaicd. SIc'd ncvcr forgivc Iin.
WIy would sIc forgivc Iin? Hc couldn'i forgivc Iinsclf.
And iIis is wIy Ic'd cndcd ii si× noniIs ago, Ic rcnindcd Iinsclf. TIis
is wIy Ic'd lci Icr go. Ii was lciicr for Icr. Clcancr. Snaricr. Safcr.
For Icr. And Iin. Dui nainly Icr.
How could sIc novc on if sIc wcrc siill so cnoiionally iicd io Iin?
Hcr Iands lallcd on iIc railing. "You nalc nc crazy," sIc wIis¡crcd.
"You ¡ull away wIcn I nccd you, conc io nc wIcn I don'i. You Iuri nc,
and confusc nc, and I don'i lnow wIy I siill carc for you so nucI wIcn
you'vc nadc ny lifc a living Icll." Hcr voicc lrolc and sIc di¡¡cd Icr
Icad, Iiding Icr facc and Ma×inos lncw sIc was irying noi io cry.
If sIc wcrc rcally Iis, Ic'd ¡ull Icr io Iin and confori Icr.
Dui sIc wasn'i Iis. Couldn'i lc Iis.
Cass lncw Ma×inos was waicIing Icr, fcli Iis anlivalcncc and Iis
anlivalcncc jusi cui cvcn dcc¡cr.
You Iuuc to Ic Iu¡d, sIc iold Icrsclf, tougI.
Dui sIc didn'i fccl Iard insidc, sIc fcli lilc glass. SIc fcli
fragilc...ciIcrcal. Hcr sircngiI and rcsolvc wcrc gonc. Ii was as if iIc
warrior Iad lrolcn, lcaving Icr crun¡lcd. Lcaving Icr so dann snall.
SIc couldn'i lcar Ma×inos's angcr or indiffcrcncc any longcr.
SIc could ialc iIc lruialiiy fron anyonc lui Iin. SIc'd lccn Iis...Iow
could Ic Iuri Icr lilc iIis? How could Ic coniinuc io lc so cold, so
Iard, so rcnovcd?
WIai sIc nccdcd nosi was icndcrncss. Now. FigIi now. SIc nccdcd Iis
arns around Icr, Iolding Icr, nccdcd Iis li¡s againsi Icr nccl, Icr
cIccl, Icr nouiI, warning Icr, sooiIing Icr. Loving Icr.
Dui Ic didn'i lovc Icr. And Ic fcli no icndcrncss for Icr. Hc'd lrcal Icr
iIc sanc way Ic lrolc all Iis con¡ciiiion.
SIc ¡iciurcd iIc lu×ury auio indusiry Ic'd so con¡lcicly doninaicd
iIcsc ¡asi icn ycars, rccallcd iIc slccl fasi dangcrous cars Ic'd ¡crfccicd
and rcalizcd Ic'd alrcady lrolcn Icr.
SIc was lilc onc of Iis lcauiiful cars caugIi in a ¡ilcu¡. Twisicd,
crun¡lcd ncial narlcd ly griiiy ¡ilcs of sIaiicrcd glass.
Hcr Icad s¡un wiiI iIc iruiI. SIc'd oncc iIougIi sIc was so iougI, so
iogciIcr. And yci now lool ai Icr...
SIc was noiIing. SIc'd lcconc noiIing. Lovc Iad rcduccd Icr io iIis.
"WIy do you siill carc?" Ma×inos aslcd aficr a long silcncc.
SIc nadc a rougI sound in iIc lacl of Icr iIroai. "I lovcd you."
"WIy?"
Hc wanicd io discuss iIis Icrc ... now? Hc wanicd a raiional
convcrsaiion nou? Hc wanicd io discuss lovc aficr si× and a Ialf noniIs
of ioriurc?
Ycs, sIc did lovc Iin lui Iow could iIis lc lovc? How could lovc Iuri
lilc firc? How could lovc lcvcl lilc iIis, snasI, dcsiroy?
SIc'd always lccn iaugIi iIai lovc was ¡aiicni, lovc was good. Lovc was
lind. Lovc wasn'i sclfisI.
Dui iIai's noi Iow sIc fcli. SIc fcli angry. Ficrcc. And ii was iIc
waiiing iIai Iad donc iIis io Icr...io Icr Icari.
TIc longing io Icar fron Ma×inos nadc cvcry unccriainiy roar io lifc,
and wIcn iIc silcncc sircicIcd, wIcn Ic didn'i call, wIcn iIc days and
wccls ¡asscd wiiIoui a word sIc fcli Icr sccuriiy sli¡, Icr ¡cacc of nind
cracl.
His disiancc lcfi iIc door o¡cn io fcar and douli.
Was waiiing iIis Iard for cvcryonc? Did oiIcr woncn fccl iIis way
wIcn alonc...did iIcy wondcr lilc sIc did? Did iIcy worry? Douli?
Did oiIcr woncn a¡¡roacI lovc wiiI norc confidcncc, wiiI lcss fcar?
If sIc'd fcli dcc¡ly and iruly lovcd would sIc Iavc lccn norc groundcd,
lcss ncrvous?
WIai would lifc Iavc lccn lilc if sIc'd lccn Iis iruc lovc insicad of a
warn lody in Iis lcd?
And cvcry iinc Ic lcfi Icr, sIc ¡raycd Ic'd say, I'íí cuíí ¸ou. And iIcn
sIc'd ¡ray, lci Iin call. Lci Iin call soon. Dui Ic ncvcr did. Hc nadc Icr
waii. And waii.
And slowly ii lrolc Icr. Ii was iIc waiiing for lovc iIai rcduccd Icr io
iIis.
"Maylc ii wasn'i lovc," Ma×inos said, Iis sIuiicrcd gazc rcsiing on Icr
facc. "Maylc ii was lusi and you iIougIi ii was lovc."
Hcr li¡s iuggcd, cnoiions sIar¡, ioo inicnsc. "I lnow iIc diffcrcncc,"
sIc wIis¡crcd, iIinling iIai iIc ¡asi sccncd ligIi-ycars rcnovcd, iIcir
volaiilc rclaiionsIi¡ ¡ari of sonconc clsc's lifc...sonconc clsc's
cסcricncc, and cvcn iIougI iIc good fcclings sccncd so far away, sIc
lncw iIcrc'd oncc lccn good fcclings in iIis rclaiionsIi¡.
SIc loolcd ai Iin, sccing Iis darl lcauiy, iIc Iard lincs and cdgcs of
Ma×inos Cuiliano. Tall, ¡owcrful, auiIoriiaiivc. A Sicilian nan wIo
didn'i con¡ronisc.
Hcr Icari squcczcd insidc Icr cIcsi. If only Ic'd con¡roniscd for Icr...
"I lovcd Iow I fcli wIcn I was wiiI you," sIc said aficr a noncni. "I
lovcd Iow I fcli wIcn I loolcd ai you. You gavc nc joy. You gavc nc
¡cacc. WIcn I was wiiI you I wanicd noiIing clsc, noiIing norc. Evcry
noncni was ¡rccious, cvcry noncni ncani so nucI io nc."
"Yci you ncvcr saw us in iIc fuiurc. You ncvcr saw us growing old
iogciIcr."
SIc loolcd ai Iin sirangcly. "WIy do you say iIai?"
Lincs forncd on ciiIcr sidc of Iis nouiI and for a noncni Ic didn'i
answcr. TIcn Iis Icad sIool, Iis fcaiurcs iigIicning.
"I lnow I wasn'i good for you, and I lnow I÷and our rclaiionsIi¡÷Iad
Iuri you."
TIc rclaiionsIi¡ Iad Iuri. Aficr awIilc. Aficr iIc liniiaiions Iad
lcconc ioo narrow, ioo rcsiriciivc, ioo linding.
"You didn'i givc nc a fuiurc." SIc couldn'i lool ai Iin anynorc, iIc
Icarilrcal lacl, iIc fcclings so sIar¡ and liiicrswcci. "You didn'i allow
nc io drcan. You nadc ii clcar fron iIc siari ii was sc×, and I iricd io lc
conicni wiiI sc×."
SIc c×Ialcd Iard, and drcw anoiIcr lrcaiI, iIc air Ioi, acIing insidc
Icr lungs. "Dui I fcll in lovc wiiI you anyway. I couldn'i Icl¡ ii. You'rc
noi lilc anyonc I'vc lnown lcforc."
"You'vc lccn ¡ursucd ly nany succcssful ncn."
"Ii's noi your succcss iIai nalcs you fascinaiing. Ii's you, your
darlncss, your con¡lc×iiy, your sIar¡ cdgcs. You'rc...dangcrous,
Ma×inos. And I lnow ii. I'vc always lnown ii."
"Dangcr's iIai aiiraciivc?"
SIc loolcd oui ovcr iIc dcc¡ lluc waicr, irying io iIinl of an
a¡¡ro¡riaic answcr, lui all sIc saw was iIc ad can¡aign Iialia Moiors
Iad Iircd Icr io do for iIcir Euro¡can narlci. TIc ads Iad lccn darl,
noody, sc×ual. NoiIing ligIi or ¡layful in iIc Iialia Moiors lranding and
sIc'd goiicn iIai dirccily fron Ma×inos Icrsclf.
Onc lool ai Iin and sIc wanicd io slidc oui of Icr cloiIcs and inio
closc coniaci wiiI Iin.
Onc nigIi alonc wiiI Iin and sIc'd wanicd cvcry nigIi wiiI Iin.
"You'rc iIai aiiraciivc," Cass answcrcd, rucfully. "You'rc iIai nan cvcry
wonan drcans aloui÷iIc darl Iandsonc sirangcr, iIc forliddcn÷and I
wanicd iIai."
"Forliddcn."
SIc sIruggcd. "TIcrc's always an a¡¡cal io iIai wIicI is oui of rcacI,
io iIai wIicI wc can'i Iavc."
"Dui you did gci nc. You did Iavc nc."
TIcrc was sonciIing in Iis voicc, in Iis ionc, iIai rcnindcd Icr of Iow
sIc uscd io fccl wIcn alonc wiiI Iin÷dcsircd, sIclicrcd, adorcd. Cod,
Iow sIc'd lovcd lcing wiiI Iin, lcing lovcd ly Iin. Ii was iIc lcsi
fccling in iIc world. "And I jusi wanicd norc." SIc iricd io snilc, lui
couldn'i.
Ma×inos's forcIcad crcascd, dcc¡ lincs furrowing lciwccn Iis sirong
cyclrows and silcncc sircicIcd lciwccn iIcn iIc silcncc sircicIing so
long iIai Cass sIificd. "I olviously sIouldn'i Iavc wanicd norc," sIc
addcd aficr a noncni. "Mc asling for norc was iIc liss of dcaiI, wasn'i
ii?"
'TIcrc was noiIing wrong wiiI you asling for norc." His voicc was low,
IarsI. "I lnow you wanicd norc, nccdcd norc. I gavc you vcry liiilc." Hc
Icsiiaicd, glanccd ai Icr, fcaiurcs savagc. "I gavc you viriually noiIing."
Hc'd Inoun.
Cass fcli a fliclcr of ¡ain, lilc iIc sIar¡ cdgcs of a ¡aln frond lrusIing
Icr Icari, sinuliancously cuiiing and carcssing. Hc'd lnown.
SIc couldn'i scc, iIc suddcn siing of icars llinding Icr vision and Cass
gri¡¡cd iIc railing, Icr Icad so full of words and cnoiions iIai sIc
didn'i cvcn lnow wIcrc io lcgin.
How could lovc lc so con¡licaicd?
As a cIild lovc Iad sccncd so vcry sin¡lc. Enoiion Iad lccn sin¡lc.
You lovcd, you laugIcd, you Io¡cd, you fcarcd. Enoiion Iad jusi lccn
iIai÷cnoiion. And you nadc your dccisions lascd on Ioncsi cnoiion.
TIcn you lcarncd.
You grcw u¡.
You cIangcd.
Lovc sio¡¡cd lcing sin¡lc, dircci, uncon¡licaicd. Lovc lccanc difficuli.
Dangcrous. Con¡lc×. Lovc lccanc sonciIing onc could losc, sonciIing
clusivc and ncgoiiallc.
Ii lccanc aloui lcIaviour.
Ii lccanc a rcward.
Ii cvcn lccanc a ¡unisIncni.
And for a noncni Cass wanicd noiIing norc iIan io lc a cIild again
wiiI a cIild's innoccncc and iIc ¡urc Icari of onc siill young, siill
irusiing. Dccausc lovc was lciicr lilc iIai, wIcn onc irusicd, wIcn onc
didn'i worry and fcar, wIcn onc didn'i aniici¡aic ¡ain. WIcn onc didn'i
fcar scruiiny ncvcr nind rcjcciion.
Did anyonc nanagc io grow u¡ unscaiIcd? Unscarrcd?
Did anyonc rcacI aduliIood÷naiuriiy÷siill irusiing? Siill canicrcd?
Siill o¡iinisiic?
SIc wisIcd sIc Iad. SIc wisIcd sIc was norc lilc iIc inagc sIc
¡rojccicd, iIc onc wiiI in¡cccallc suiis, flawlcss Iair, dazzling succcss.
On iIc ouisidc sIc loolcd lilc iIc ¡crfcci wonan. Dui iIc ¡crfcciion
sio¡¡cd iIcrc. Dccausc on iIc insidc sIc wanicd so nucI norc.
On iIc insidc iIcrc was a wonan wIo'd ncvcr fcli sccurc, ncvcr fcli
lovcd, and sIc'd ¡iclcd Ma×inos io lovc Icr lccausc if Ic÷difficuli,
uniancallc Ma×inos÷sIould lovc Icr iIcn sIc was iruly valuallc.
Lovallc.
"Can I jusi inicrru¡i for a noncni?" Annanaric, Ma×inos's niddlc
sisicr, aslcd, joining iIcn. SIc was cradling Icr infani daugIicr againsi
Icr sIouldcr, onc Iand raiscd ¡roicciivcly io sIicld iIc laly's Icad and
nccl fron iIc sun.
"Of coursc," Ma×inos answcrcd, rcacIing io ialc Iis young niccc fron
Iis sisicr. "I'vc wanicd io say Icllo io iIis lcauiiful lanlina all
norning."
Cass couldn'i waicI Ma×inos wiiI iIc laly. Ii was iIc lasi iIing sIc
wanicd io scc and sIc iurncd ioward Iis sisicr wIo was looling ai Icr
wiiI iIc sirangcsi cסrcssion÷sur¡riscd, as wcll as inirigucd.
"I'n Annanaric," Iis sisicr said, iniroducing Icrsclf. "I'n sorry I Iavcn'i
Iad a cIancc io ncci you carlicr. I iIinl iIcrc was a
nisundcrsianding÷"
"Ii's olay," Cass inicrru¡icd, lnowing wIai Ma×inos's sisicrs iIougIi,
and as ii was wIai iIcy wcrc su¡¡oscd io iIinl, iIc lasi iIing Cass
wanicd fron any of iIcn was an a¡ology. "I undcrsiand."
"You'rc an Ancrican?" Annanaric aslcd.
"Ycs."
"Dui you'rc Iialian is c×ccllcni. I can Iardly dcicci an acccni."
"I Io¡c so. I'vc livcd in Euro¡c for icn ycars now, fivc of iIosc in Fonc."
"You lilc Fonc?"
"Vcry nucI so," Cass answcrcd, iucling anoiIcr loosc sirand of Iair
lcIind Icr car. TIc yacIi was noving ai sucI a cli¡¡cd s¡ccd iIai iIc
dcc¡ lluc waicr froiIcd wiiI wIiic foan. "Ii's lcconc Ionc."
"And Sicily?" Annanaric ¡crsisicd. "Do you lilc ii Icrc?"
"Ii's ny firsi visii."
"Your firsi visii? You ncan Ma×inos Ias ncvcr lrougIi you io Iis own
couniry, io ncci Iis own ¡co¡lc lcforc?"
"SIc's going io Caiania and Ad Casicllo now," Ma×inos said calnly,
gcnily ¡aiiing iIc laly's lacl.
"Dui wIai aloui Agrigcnio, Palcrno, Mouni Eina?" Annanaric
¡roicsicd. "TIosc arc all in¡oriani io our culiurc. You can'i ¡ossilly say
you'vc visiicd Sicily if you Iavcn'i sccn norc."
"And I'd lilc io visii iIcn," Cass said, waniing io cIangc iIc suljcci,
ncarly as nucI as sIc wanicd io csca¡c. SIc couldn'i Iandlc sccing
Ma×inos wiiI iIc laly. Ii was ioo ¡ainful, ioo vivid of a rcnindcr of
wIai sIc'd losi. "Unforiunaicly I don'i iravcl as nucI as I'd lilc. I icnd io
gci ¡rcoccu¡icd wiiI worl."
"AI." Annanaric noddcd wiiI a glancc ai Ma×inos. "AnoiIcr
worlaIolic. I'n always saying io Ma×inos, don'i worl so nucI. You nccd
io rcsi norc, ¡lay norc, lui Ma×inos is vcry drivcn." Annanaric sIoi Icr
lroiIcr anoiIcr rc¡roving glancc. "Hc is noi vcry good ai ialing iIings
casy."
Cass snilcd lui sIc wouldn'i ncci Ma×inos's cycs. Insicad Icr gazc
dro¡¡cd io iIc laly Ic was Iolding in Iis arns, iIc infani curlcd so
conicnicdly againsi Iis cIcsi, Ma×inos's ¡owcrful Iand cu¡¡ing iIc
lacl of iIc laly's Icad, Iolding iIc infani casily, conforially, cradling
Icr as if ii wcrc iIc nosi naiural iIing in iIc world.
Hcr cIcsi iigIicncd wiiI IcariacIc. SIc and Ma×inos Iadn'i jusi Iad
sc×. TIcy'd crcaicd lifc. TIcy'd nadc a laly.
TIcir laly.
Cass waicIcd Ma×inos rciurn Iis niccc io Iis sisicr, and iIc laly,
drcsscd in a snall ¡inl ouifii, crawlcd u¡ Annanaric's sIouldcr, iiny
Iands gralling ai Icr noiIcr's s¡arlly icardro¡ carring, siudying iIc
carring inicnily.
For a noncni Cass couldn'i lrcaiIc, ¡ain sIooiing iIrougI Icr, a
lancc of wIiic-Ioi Icai. TIut couíd Iuuc Iccn nc sIc iIougIi, iIai could
Iavc lccn nc wiiI our daugIicr. '
"WIai's wrong?" Ma×inos aslcd Cass as Annanaric wallcd away,
c×cusing Icrsclf so sIc could fccd iIc laly.
Cass loolcd ai Ma×inos, lui sIc didn'i scc Iin, jusi iIc ulirasound,
iIai firsi glin¡sc of iIc daugIicr iIai wasn'i ncani io lc. "NoiIing," sIc
said. "Ii's noiIing." Dccausc ii was noiIing now. NoiIing sIc could do.
NoiIing sIc could cIangc.
Evcn if sIc wanicd io.
"You'rc noi vcry conforiallc wiiI lids, arc you?" Ic aslcd.
Turning Icr Icad away, sIc siarcd oui ai iIc Iorizon of lluc, irying noi
io scrcan ai iIc injusiicc of ii. "I lilc lids."
SIc'd lccn iIrillcd sIc was ¡rcgnani. SIc'd lccn iIrillcd sIc was going
io lc a noiIcr. Ncarly iIiriy, ii Iad fcli rigIi in a way sIc couldn'i
cסlain...noi cvcn io Icrsclf. SIc was rcady io lc a noiIcr, rcady for iIis
nc×i sic¡ in Icr lifc. Maylc sIc was ioo sirong, ioo indc¡cndcni io nalc
a good wifc, lui sIc lncw Iow io lovc and Icr laly would lc lovcd.
TIcn canc iIc ulirasound.
SIc Iad a daugIicr.
And Icr daugIicr wasn'i IcaliIy. NoiIing Iad conc iogciIcr quiic
rigIi, linls didn'i aiiacI corrccily÷a Iolc in Icr iiny Icari.
Cass Iad lccn dunlsirucl. TIc docior iallcd. Cass siarcd ai iIc
sonogran. Hcr daugIicr÷Icr daugIicr÷wouldn'i survivc.
Siiiing iIcrc in Icr rolc, iIc cold gcl drying on Icr sionacI, iinc canc
scrcccIing io a sio¡. Aficr iIc docior finally finisIcd ialling, sIc sai
silcni, Icr Icad luzzing wiiI nunling wIiic noisc. And iIcn iIc cloud
clcarcd in Icr Icad and sIc was Icrsclf again. TougI. Dcicrnincd. TIc
figIicr.
"How can I Icl¡ Icr?" sIc'd aslcd.
TIc docior's lrow crcascd. Hc didn'i s¡cal. His cסrcssion grcw norc
grin. "You can'i," Ic said ai lasi.
Dui ii wasn'i an answcr sIc accc¡icd. TIis was Icr daugIicr.
Hcr daugIicr...and Ma×inos's. 'TIcrc nusi lc sonciIing." SIc
sircngiIcncd Icr voicc, and Icr rcsolvc. "Proccdurcs donc in uicro."
"Ii's unlilcly sIc'll cvcn survivc liriI. If sIc docs, sIc won'i survivc
ouisidc of iIc wonl."
Cass sIool Icr Icad, furious. SIc wouldn'i accc¡i a diagnosis lilc iIai,
and sIc'd siood iIcn. Dravc, ficrcc, undaunicd. "You'rc wrong." Hcr voicc
didn'i wavcr. "SIc'll nalc ii. I'll nalc surc sIc survivcs."
Dui Cass Iad lccn iIc onc wrong. Two wccls laicr sIc wolc u¡ in
agony. FusIcd io iIc Ios¡iial, sIc niscarricd iIai nigIi.
"Do you wani a fanily?" Ma×inos aslcd, ignorani iIai cacI of Iis
qucsiions wcrc alsoluic ioriurc.
"Ycs." Hcr cycs lurncd lui sIc wasn'i going io cry, couldn'i cry aloui
iIc dcvasiaiing loss. Sonc ¡ain wcni ioo dcc¡, sonc ¡ain causcd
insurnouniallc gricf.
Losing Ma×inos Iad Iuri÷ladly, ladly÷lui losing iIcir cIild Iad
lrolcn Icr Icari.




CHAPTER NINE

IT WAS carly aficrnoon wIcn iIc ¡icnic ai Aci Casicllo cndcd wiiI
nany of iIc Cuiliano gucsis scaiicring io ciiIcr cסlorc iIc casilc ruins
or iIc lcauiiful lcacI ai iIc fooi of iIc custcíío.
Ii was Ioi, icn¡craiurcs soaring for nid-Sc¡icnlcr lui Cass siaycd
wiiI Ma×inos and Iis sisicrs wIo wcrc sircicIcd oui on iIc llanlcis,
iIcir convcrsaiion ligIi, icasing, ¡unciuaicd wiiI nucI laugIicr.
And Ma×inos icascd Iis sisicrs as nucI as iIcy did Iin. SIc'd ncvcr
sccn Ma×inos lilc iIis. SIc'd only cvcr lnown iIc ¡roud Sicilian, iIc
lovcr and warrior, ncvcr iIc nan wIo cIcrisIcd Iis fanily and was
adorcd in rciurn.
Hc lay noi far fron Icr now, ¡ro¡¡cd u¡ on Iis cllow. His lody was
¡owcrful, nuscular, lcauiiful. SIc iricd noi io siarc and yci sIc couldn'i
noi lool.
His Iand lricfly ioucIcd Iis lncc, Iis slin darlly ian, iIc Iair on Iis
iIigI cvcn darlcr, a cris¡ curling of Iair on ioncd nusclc, on iaui
lronzc slin. SIc'd ncvcr nci anoiIcr nan ¡ui iogciIcr iIc way Ma×inos
was. TIc casc wiiI wIicI Ic sai, Ic siood, Ic novcd.
TIc sIa¡c of Iis Icad.
TIc ¡crfcci na¡c.
TIc lroad ¡aln, iIc sirong Iand alscnily siroling Iis lncc. Jusi
looling ai Iin nadc Icr rcncnlcr lasi nigIi, nadc Icr rcncnlcr Iow ii
fcli...slin on slin...Iis Iand on Icr iIigI...Iis Iands cvcrywIcrc.
WaicIing Iin now sIc fcli alnosi sicl insidc.
"Havc you cnjoycd ioday, Cassandra?" Adriana aslcd, siiiing u¡ and
sircicIing.
Suddcnly cvcryonc was looling ai Icr, and Cass, caugIi in iIc niddlc
of iIinling ¡rivaic iIougIis, llusIcd. "I Iavc, iIanl you."
Ii was iruc, ioo. SIc'd cnjoycd Icr ciiy iour of Caiania, Sicily's sccond
largcsi ciiy, ¡ariicularly iIc Fonan TIcairc uncovcrcd in iIc l860s as
wcll as iIc Piazza Duono doninaicd ly iIc CaiIcdral, Town Hall and
Scninary's c×quisiic Daroquc arcIiicciurc. Dui wIai fascinaicd Icr
nosi, was iIc violcni rclaiionsIi¡ Caiania sIarcd wiiI iIc ncarly
volcano Mouni Eina.
Sincc Caiania's incc¡iion, ii Iad lccn floodcd wiiI lava, raincd on wiiI
asI, and con¡lcicly dcsiroycd in I693 fron a caiaclysnic cariIqualc.
WIcn iIc ciiy was rcluili in iIc cigIiccniI ccniury following iIc
cariIqualc, nosi of iIc luildings wcrc consirucicd fron Eina's llacl
lava.
"I jusi wisI iIcrc was norc iinc io cסlorc. I'd lovc io visii Mouni Eina
iisclf," sIc addcd, and glancing u¡ sIc saw iIai Ma×inos was waicIing
Icr. Hc wasn'i sniling, ciiIcr. Hc loolcd Iard. Focuscd. Inicni.
WIai was Ic iIinling? TIcrc was olviously sonciIing on Iis nind.
"WIai you nusi do iIc nc×i iinc you conc is ialc iIc Circuncinca
Failway," Adriana said, cuiiing a wcdgc of cIccsc and snagging a snall
luncI of rcd gra¡cs. "Ii's noi a sIori iri¡, aloui fivc Iours I iIinl, lui
iIc irain ialcs you on Eina's slo¡cs iIrougI lava ficlds as wcll as
vincyards."
"Sounds wondcrful," Cass answcrcd.
"So wIcn do you iIinl you'll conc lacl?" Adriana aslcd, wiiI an
innoccni lool ai Ma×inos.
"SIc Iasn'i cvcn lcfi yci," Ma×inos answcrcd, c×icnding a Iand io Cass
"Dui ii's ¡rolally iinc wc all ¡aclcd u¡ and Icadcd lacl io Oriygia."
Ma×inos Icl¡cd Cass io Icr fcci and aficr folding scvcral llanlcis
Adriana iold Ma×inos iIai sIc and iIc oiIcrs could finisI u¡ and so
Ma×inos and Cass lcgan a lcisurcly wall lacl ioward iIc Iarlour.
"You'rc good wiiI your sisicrs," Cass said as iIcy lcfi iIc oiIcrs,
walling iIrougI iIc iall sun lurni grass surrounding iIc ruins.
"Arcn'i nosi lroiIcrs?"
SIc sIoi a swifi sidc glancc. Hc loolcd caln, unfla¡¡allc and ¡crIa¡s
iIai was iIc sccrci of ¡owcrful, arisiocraiic Sicilian ncn. Mcn lilc
Ma×inos a¡¡carcd in¡crvious io siorn, war and dangcr. Mcn lilc
Ma×inos a¡¡carcd io lacl noiIing and nccd no onc. Mcn lilc Ma×inos
wcrc sirong, forccful, invincillc lccausc iIcy didn'i lci iIcnsclvcs fccl,
and iIcy didn'i cסosc iIcnsclvcs cnoiionally, ¡Iysically. Fisls wcrc
always aniici¡aicd, wcigIcd, calculaicd. "I don'i lnow. I was an only
cIild."
"I ncvcr lncw iIai."
SIc sIruggcd. "Wc ncvcr iallcd aloui our ¡crsonal livcs. Ncvcr
discusscd cIildIood, or our fanilics."
TIcy ¡asscd iIc custcíío, iIc sun drcncIing iIc sioncs of iIc ruins, iIc
inicnsc sun ¡laying ovcr iIc lava rocl, ¡aiicrning iIc sioncs sIadcs of
gold and lronzc.
"Your ¡arcnis?" Ic aslcd now. .
"Divorccd. TIcy sc¡araicd wIcn I was fairly young."
Cass drcw a sIar¡ jaggcd lrcaiI, lrcaiIing in iIc warn air fragrani
wiiI swcci dry sunncr grasscs. "Your faiIcr ¡asscd away a nunlcr of
ycars ago, didn'i Ic?"
"TIiriccn ycars ago. I'd jusi iurncd iwcniy-fivc."
Cass glanccd u¡ ai Ma×inos. "Wcrc you closc?"
"Ycs."
Ma×inos's darl, waicIful gazc rcsicd on Icr facc. "Wcrc you closc wiiI
your faiIcr?"
SIc Icsiiaicd a s¡lii sccond, irying io scc Icr faiIcr's facc, irying io
rcncnlcr sonciIing of Iin oiIcr iIan Icr noiIcr's icars wIcn Ic lcfi.
"No." SIc iricd io snilc, iIc grown-u¡ snilc of onc coning io icrns wiiI
iIc ¡asi, lui ii wasn'i casy. Evcn now, aficr all iIcsc ycars. "Hc lcfi us
wIcn I was siill in scIool. Hc ncvcr canc lacl. I..." SIc drcw a lrcaiI
and ¡rcsscd on. "I ncvcr saw Iin again."
Ma×inos sio¡¡cd walling. "You'vc ncvcr sccn Iin again?"
SIc fcli iIai odd ¡uclcr of ¡ain in Icr Icari, iIc lind of ¡ain iIai's old,
noi frcsI, a ¡ain iIai Ias lccn ¡ari of you so long ii's ncrcly a scar you
rcncnlcr your old sclf ly. "No."
"How could Ic lcavc you?" Ma×inos aslcd so gcnily, so quicily iIai
icars ¡riclcd Icr cycs.
You díd, sIc alnosi said, lui sIc lii lacl iIc words, loolcd away,
gazcd oui ai wIai was lcfi of iIc custcíío.
You could alnosi fccl iIc gIosi of iIc ¡asi Icrc, sIc iIougIi, sic¡¡ing
u¡ onio a fallcn sionc. TIc air fcli iIicl, saiuraicd ly iinc and iIc
civilizaiions conc and gonc. TIc wcigIi of iinc nadc Icr rcalizc Iow
insignificani sIc was. SIc nigIi wani io fccl lig and in¡oriani, lui no
onc livcd forcvcr. Noi cvcn iIc grcai lcadcrs and ¡Iiloso¡Icrs livcd
forcvcr.
SIc'd lc gonc lcforc sIc lncw ii, iIai iIcy'd all lc gonc and naylc iIis
was iIc sccrci of ¡laccs lilc Sicily, naylc iIis was wIai allowcd iIc
Sicilians so nucI ¡assion and inicnsiiy. You only Iad ioday. So you Iad
io livc ioday.
"You'rc so good wiiI your fanily," Cass said, Icr voicc faini in iIc warn
lrcczc. "Didn'i you cvcr wani io gci narricd?"
Ma×inos's cסrcssion was sIuiicrcd. "You don'i Iavc io lc narricd io
lc Ia¡¡y."
"Did I cvcr nalc you Ia¡¡y?"
"Ycs."
"Dui you wcrc afraid of conniiiing io nc?"
"I was ncvcr afraid of a girl lilc you," Ic answcrcd, Iis voicc dcc¡cning,
Iis fcaiurcs Iard, cIiscllcd.
"A girl? I'n iIiriy, Ma×inos!"
"You nigIi lc iIiriy, lui you'rc siill a liiilc girl on iIc insidc." His
words nadc Icr Icari acIc. Hc nadc Icr rcncnlcr wIo sIc'd lccn as a
cIild, Iow sIc'd iricd io assunc iIc rolc of iIc aduli, iIc ¡arcni, for Icr
noiIcr's salc. Hcr noiIcr Iad ncvcr lccn allc io co¡c aficr Icr faiIcr
lcfi and ii was Cass's jol io ¡aicI iIings u¡, io gci iIings donc.
"I can scc iIc liiilc girl in your cycs," Ic addcd, and iIc gcnilcncss in
Iis voicc ncarly undid Icr. "You'rc waiiing for sonconc io conc Ionc."
"Plcasc," sIc wIis¡crcd, looling away, "I don'i÷" SIc lrolc off, liclcd
iIc insidc of Icr lowcr li¡, Icr cIcsi Icavy wiiI cnoiion. "I'n noi. Noi
anynorc." SIc iurncd Icr Icad, fi×cd a sicady gazc on Iin. "I'vc
lcarncd."
"Lcarncd wIai?" Ic aslcd, siudying Icr jusi as inicnily.
SIc rcncnlcrcd iIc lasi si× noniIs, iIc sorrow ai losing Ma×inos, iIc
gricf ovcr iIc niscarriagc, iIc dcc¡ sadncss iIai didn'i sccn io go away.
SIc'd fall a¡ari, rc¡air Icrsclf, ¡aicIing Icrsclf iogciIcr io gci io worl,
accon¡lisI a fcw iIings, lui lcforc sIc lncw ii, sIc'd lc falling a¡ari
again, siiiing ai Icr dcsl wiiI iIc glorious vicw of Fonc and lc figIiing
for survival.
Siruggling io noi drown.
Daiiling io lcc¡ Icr nind sanc.
SIc didn'i lnow Iow noi io niss Ma×inos. Didn'i lnow Iow io sio¡
loving sonconc wIo'd lcconc iIc only fanily sIc'd lnown in ycars.
WIcn Ic lcfi Icr ii was lilc dcaiI lui Ic Iadn'i dicd. If iIcy'd lccn
narricd, ¡co¡lc would call ii a divorcc. Dui sIc wasn'i Iis wifc. SIc was
noiIing. And sIc lccanc noiIing. And sIc'd lcarncd noiIing fron iIc
¡ain lui noi io wani or nccd anyonc again.
"Lcarncd wIai?" Ic rc¡caicd.
SIc gavc Icr Icad a sligIi sIalc, irying io cIasc away iIc darl clouds
in Icr Icad, iIc ncnorics iIai ncvcr goi casicr. "All iIings arc ¡ossillc."
SIc swallowcd iIc lun¡ in Icr iIroai, nci Iis gazc calnly, ¡raying Ic
didn'i scc iIc sIccn of icars in Icr cycs. "I can lcar all iIings."
Hc sworc sofily and rcacIcd for Icr, wra¡¡ing an arn around Icr,
lringing Icr firnly forward uniil sIc was againsi Iin. Hi¡ io Ii¡, lncc io
lncc, Ic con¡lcicly dwarfcd Icr, Iis lody iallcr, liggcr, sirongcr. And
sianding so closc, sIc fcli iIc icnsion running iIrougI Iin, as wcll as
iIai iIrcad of Ioi cnoiion, iIc cnoiion Ic didn'i lilc, didn'i wani, lui
couldn'i sccn io conirol now iIai ii was loosc.
His Icad dro¡¡cd, and sIc iurncd Icr facc u¡ io Iis cvcn as Iis facc
di¡¡cd, Iis li¡s lrusIing Icrs. Fron anylody clsc iIc liss would Iavc
lccn so lricf sIc would Iavc said ii was noiIing, lui iIai sligIi carcss
of Iis nouiI on Icrs was Ioi, sIar¡, ficrcc and Icr sionacI iigIicncd,
lcgs ircnlling a liiilc ai iIc sIocl of ii all.
His gazc followcd iIc ¡aiI of Iis li¡s, iIc ficry darl dc¡iIs ioucIing Icr
li¡s, and iIcn iIc ¡ulsc ai iIc lasc of Icr iIroai. "TIai's a icrrillc lcsson
io lcarn," Ic nouiIcd againsi Icr iIroai, Iis voicc dcc¡, rougI, a Iusly
cdgc iIai nadc Icr fccl far ioo nucI.
SIc wouldn'i cry. TIcrc was no rcason io cry now. "Dui ¡raciical."
"Praciical." Hc said iIc word as if ii anuscd Iin. "Praciical, scnsillc,
Cassandra. No wondcr you'vc lccn so incrcdilly succcssful."
Cass sic¡¡cd away fron Iis arns. TIc warniI of Iis lody wcalcncd
Icr dcfcnccs. SIc was far lciicr sianding a¡ari fron Iin, on Icr own
iwo fcci and swifily sIc dro¡¡cd Icr sunglasscs lacl onio iIc lridgc of
Icr nosc, conccaling Icr cycs. "ScnsíIíc¯"
"Ii's noi a lad word."
"No, lui..." Hcr li¡s ¡urscd as sIc considcrcd iIc ¡asi scvcral ycars,
Icr Iisiory wiiI Ma×inos, and sIc sIool Icr Icad rcgrcifully. TIcy
nigIi lnow cacI oiIcr's lodics, lui iIcy didn'i undcrsiand cacI oiIcr's
ninds and Icaris. "WIcn Iavc I cvcr lccn scnsillc?"
"Ai worl. WiiI your accounis."
Cass laugIcd sofily. "You don'i lnow nc vcry wcll, do you?"
Hc ¡luclcd iIc sunglasscs fron Icr facc, ¡oclciing iIcn. "Dciicr iIan
nosi, I'd say."
"TIcn if you lnow nc so wcll, you sIould lnow I'n anyiIing lui
scnsillc." SIc loolcd u¡ ai Iin, squiniing againsi iIc sun. "WIai nalcs
nc good ai worl is iIai I'n daring, noi scnsillc. I don'i ¡lay ii safc,
Ma×inos. I ncvcr Iavc. I'vc won awards lccausc I'n noi jusi crcaiivc, I'n
a risl-ialcr. WIcn oiIcr ¡co¡lc ¡ull lacl, I go for ii. WIcrc oiIcrs ¡lay
safc, I ain for iIc jugular."
SIc lificd Icr Iand io sIicld Icr cycs, iIc sun rcflcciing lrillianily off
iIc rocls of iIc ruins. "Dui I iIougIi you lncw iIai aloui nc. TIougIi
iIai was onc of iIc iIings you÷" and sIc drcw a quicl lrcaiI "÷lilcd
aloui nc. Dui along wiiI oiIcr iIings, I'vc discovcrcd I was wrong."
"Noi iIai wrong."
A lruial lun¡ fillcd Icr iIroai. "Yci you didn'i lilc nc. Noi as nucI as
I'd iIougIi." SIc fougIi Iard io swallow.
"You'rc wrong aloui iIai, ioo." His nouiI curvcd, iIc corncrs lifiing in
a croolcd, sclf-dc¡rccaiing snilc. "I lilcd cvcryiIing aloui you."
I ííIcd cuc¡¸tIíng uIout ¸ou.
Undonc, sIc avcricd Icr Icad, iIc warn lrcczc lifiing a loosc icndril of
Icr Iair, llowing ii across Icr facc lui Cass couldn'i lc loiIcrcd io iucl
ii lcIind Icr car.
If only sIc could go lacl in iinc. SIc wanicd iIc old Cass lacl, iIc
onc iIai was firn, sirong, dccisivc. TIai Cass would lnow wIai io do
now. TIai onc would lc allc io Iandlc all iIcsc confliciing cnoiions.
WIai Iad cIangcd Icr so nucI? WIai Iad sIaiicrcd Icr confidcncc?
Slowly, unsicadily, sIc iuclcd iIc loosc icndril of Iair lcIind Icr car.
SIc Iad wanicd norc, so nucI norc fron Iin, and sIc didn'i cvcn
lnow Iow io asl for norc÷sIc'd ncvcr aslcd for norc fron anyonc÷and
Ic ncvcr voluniccrcd ii.
TIc iruiI was, ai worl sIc was aggrcssivc, sIc lncw wIai sIc wanicd,
sIc wcni aficr wIai sIc wanicd, lui ai Ionc...ii was sonciIing clsc
cniircly. Ai Ionc sIc wasn'i surc aloui iIc rulcs. How did onc gci norc?
How did a wonan gci wIai sIc nccdcd?
Was sIc io usI¯ Dcnund¯ Was ii ovcrsic¡¡ing Icr loundarics io
cסrcss wIai sIc nccdcd?
"You say iIai now," sIc said, irying io lcc¡ Icr ionc ligIi, irying io
covcr wIai Ic did io Icr. And Icr Icari.
"Dui facis disagrcc."
Hc sIoi Icr an asscssing glancc. "Maylc you ncvcr Iad all iIc facis."
"And wIai arc iIosc facis?"
Ma×inos rcgardcd Icr for a long silcni noncni, iIc Ioi sun lcaiing
down ovcrIcad, iIc dry grass of iIc ficld liiing ai Cass's anllcs. "I was a
fan of your worl for iIrcc ycars lcforc you wcrc signcd io Iandlc Iialia
Moiors' ncw Euro¡can ad can¡aign. I Iand-sclccicd you io nanagc our
accouni, and was dcicrnincd io Iavc you no naiicr wIai iIc cosi." Hc
Icsiiaicd, Iis darl gazc sciiling on Icr facc. "And I lovcd your nind
lcforc I cvcn lncw you Iad a facc and lody."
SIc said noiIing, noi lnowing wIai io say.
"I can icll you aloui your liggcsi can¡aigns lcforc wc signcd you,"
Ma×inos coniinucd. "TIc can¡aign for PUMA and Tag Hcucr. TIc
siunning ads for CC disiillcry, iIcy wcrc ny favouriic÷so lold, so
dranaiic and yci cnoiional. Your vision and aliliiy io dclivcr won nc
ovcr."
Hc ¡auscd, cסrcssion sIuiicrcd. "And iIcn I nci you, and you wcrc
cvcn norc incrcdillc in ¡crson. I ncvcr Iad any inicniion of slcc¡ing wiiI
you. Dui iIai nigIi wc finally nci in Ncw Yorl I lncw I'd ncvcr ncci
anyonc lilc you again. You wcrc...¡crfcci."
Hcr cycs lurncd. SIc ground Icr icciI iogciIcr. SIc wanicd Icr
sunglasscs, nccdcd Icr sunglasscs, nccdcd io covcr Icr facc lccausc sIc
fcli con¡lcicly cסoscd. "So ¡crfcci you lcfi nc wIcn I iold you Iow
nucI I lovcd you."
"No. So ¡crfcci I lncw you would lc nucI lciicr off wiiIoui nc."
"TIai's lullsIii." Angcr rusIcd iIrougI Icr. Angcr and Iuri and
dcfiancc. "TIai's a co¡-oui. You don'i carc for sonconc and iIcn ¡usI
iIcn away lccausc iIcy'rc wIai...¡crfcci? CIrisi, Ma×inos! You lrolc
ny Icari. You lrolc nc. WIy? Dccausc I was so ¡c¡¡cct?"
SIc wallcd away fron Iin as fasi as sIc could lcforc iIc icars could
Iavc a cIancc io wcll u¡. SIc wasn'i going io fall a¡ari, noi now, noi any
norc.
Ma×inos was onc of iIosc ncn wIo for wIaicvcr rcason couldn'i
connii. Onc of iIosc ncn wIo lovcd lui was afraid io risl, afraid of
lcing Iuri. Hc was iIc lind of nan wIo'd always find a rcason wIy
iIings couldn'i worl oui.
SIc didn'i wani iIai, didn'i nccd iIai.
And all of a suddcn sIc undcrsiood. All of a suddcn sIc Incu.
Ii was so sin¡lc. Ii nadc so nucI scnsc.
SIc'd only conc Icrc iIis wcclcnd io ¡rovc a ¡oini. Noi io Iin. Dui io
Icrsclf. Hcr. OI ny Cod. How ridiculous was iIai?
Cass draggcd a Iand iIrougI Icr Iair, sIoclcd. SIc'd conc io Sicily
dcicrnincd io gci Ma×inos lacl, dcicrnincd io win Iin ovcr dcs¡iic iIc
Iuri, iIc rcjcciion, iIc ¡ain lccausc sIc nccdcd io ¡rovc sIc was
lovallc.
SIc nccdcd io ¡rovc sIc wasn'i casy io forgci.
Nccding io ¡rovc sIc wasn'i Icr noiIcr, and wasn'i going io lc lcfi lilc
Icr noiIcr, and wouldn'i lc dcsiroycd iIc way Icr faiIcr Iad lrolcn
Icr noiIcr, or nislcd ly Icr noiIcr's lovcr wIo lcIavcd as if Ic wcrc
singlc lui aciually Iad a fanily siasIcd away clscwIcrc...
Cass, iIc ¡ragnaiic lid wIo'd ialcn cIargc of Icr noiIcr's sIaiicrcd
world, wIo lclicvcd sIc'd lc snaricr iIan Icr noiIcr and sirongcr, Iad
in iIc cnd lccn Icr noiIcr. In lovc. Oui of lovc.
SIc'd ¡iclcd a nan iIai was noiIing sIori of unavailallc and naylc
Ic wasn'i narricd lilc Icr noiIcr's lovcr, Edward÷lui Icrc sIc was,
irying io nalc Ma×inos wani Icr.nccd Icr.lovc Icr.cvcn wIcn ii was
olvious Ic couldn'i.
Hc wouldn'i.
Anazing.
Anazing. Cass could lcavc Ancrica lcIind, luild a ¡owcrful carccr in
Euro¡c, lcconc siunningly succcssful and yci sIc'd siill lccn con¡cllcd
io aci oui iIc ¡ain and rcjcciion of Icr cIildIood.
Would sIc Iavc lovcd Iin so inicnscly if Ic'd lccn norc availallc?
Would sIc Iavc cndurcd so nucI lonclincss and sIanc if Ic'd lccn
sonconc clsc...sonconc sicady, ¡crnancni, availallc?
For iIai naiicr, Iad sIc cvcr fallcn in lovc wiiI sonconc availallc?
Had sIc cvcr fallcn in lovc wiiI sonconc wIo aciually lovcd Icr?
No.
Ii Iad always lccn onc-sidcd. Ii Iad always lccn unrcquiicd, as if lovc
Iad io lc sIar¡ and lovc Iad io cui. Lovc, iIc ruiIlcss, Lovc iIc criiic,
Lovc iIc judgc.
Hcr cycs lurncd ncarly as nucI as Icr cIcsi. WIai on cariI Iad sIc
lccn iIinling all iIcsc ycars? WIai cIoiccs Iad sIc lccn naling?
TIc insigIi siunncd Icr. Horrificd Icr. Madc a noclcry of Icr so-callcd
indc¡cndcncc and sircngiI. SIc wasn'i sirong. SIc was dcsiruciivc, sclf-
dcsiruciivc, s¡cnding Icr aduli ycars irying io jusiify iIc ¡ain of an
cigIi-ycar-old wIo waicIcd Daddy ¡acl Iis lags and wall away.
WIai iIc Icll was sIc irying io do wiiI Ma×inos?
Malc Iin rciurn io Icr, nalc Iin conc lacl so Ic could givc Icr wIai
Icr faiIcr ncvcr did? So Ic could savc Icr÷rclcasc Icr÷fron Icr faiIcr's
cursc?
Cass was suddcnly sio¡¡cd in Icr iracls, Ma×inos clas¡ing Icr arn
and dragging Icr frcnzicd narcI io a Iali. "Lcavc nc alonc!" sIc cIolcd,
icars noi far off.
"I can'i."
"WIy noi? You did for iIc ¡asi si× noniIs! You lci nc go, you didn'i
call or conc scc nc. You lci nc go and you lci nc suffcr. Endlcssly."
"Ii's wIai you wanicd."
"To suffcr?" SIc laugIcd, fccling sligIily Iysicrical. "Olviously I did if I
siucl wiiI iIis ioriuous rclaiionsIi¡ so long." And iIc icars siaricd io
fall cvcn as Icr Icari lurncd, firc in Icr cIcsi lccausc sIc Iad suffcrcd.
SIc Iad. And Ic Iadn'i Icl¡cd Icr, Iadn'i lccn iIcrc for Icr, Iadn'i
rcacIcd oui io Icr cvcn wIcn sIc nccdcd Iin nosi.
"I ncvcr wanicd you io Iuri, Cass," Ic said, and iIc conccrn in Iis voicc
nadc Icr cvcn norc u¡sci. "Maylc I Iavcn'i cסlaincd nysclf wcll, lui I
do carc, and Iavc carcd÷"
"Aloui sc×!"
"Aloui you." Hc rcacIcd for Icr, drcw Icr ioward Iin.
Cass rcsisicd. "If you carcd aloui nc, you would Iavc iallcd io nc,
lisicncd io nc, su¡¡oricd nc÷noi iIrown nc away." SIc iuggcd Iard,
siruggling io ¡ull away. "Pco¡lc arcn'i dis¡osallc, Ma×. I sIouldn'i Iavc
lccn dis¡osallc."
"Ii was con¡licaicd, Cass÷"
"E×cuscs! I don'i wani c×cuscs. And I don'i wani you io ioucI nc. Noi
anynorc. Dccausc ii's noi fair.noi fair Iow you usc nc...ny lody, ny
fcclings...againsi nc." And sIc lrolc frcc fron Iin cvcn as Icr scnscs
scrcancd for norc. SIc didn'i wani s¡acc. SIc wanicd lovc.
Cass rcacIcd iIc yacIi wIcrc cvcryonc was loarding and iool onc of
iIc lasi availallc scais on dccl, a snall cIair in iIc sIadc and rullcd
Icr icn¡lc, rullcd ai iIc iIicl nunl scnsaiion landing Icr forcIcad.
SIc Iad io go.
SIc Iad io sio¡ iIis nonscnsc and lcgin rc¡airing iIc danagc sIc'd
inflicicd on Icr lifc.
Ma×inos was iIc lasi io loard. Hc waiicd uniil iIc yacIi Iad sci sail io
a¡¡roacI Cass and silcnily Ic gavc Icr iIc sunglasscs lacl.
"TIanl you," sIc said siiffly, sliding iIc sunglasscs onio iIc io¡ of Icr
Icad, iIc glasscs Iolding Icr long Iair lacl fron Icr facc. SIc was so
angry wiiI Iin. SIc'd iricd so Iard io lc wIai Ic nccdcd, wanicd, and
wIai did Ic do? How did Ic nalc iIings casicr?
Hc didn'i. Hc did noiIing.
And ii wasn'i uniil iIc glasscs wcrc on Icr nosc, sIiclding Icr cycs iIai
iIc sirangcsi iIougIi ¡o¡¡cd inio Icr Icad.
WIo was doing Iis ncw ad can¡aign? Dccausc sIc olviously wasn'i.
SIc Iadn'i lnown Iialia Moiors Iad a ncw car aloui io lc
unvcilcd...wIicI ncani Iialia Moiors Iad gonc clscwIcrc for iIc ncw
car's advcriising...
"Did you firc us?" sIc aslcd suddcnly, rising, and rcacIing for iIc lacl
of iIc cIair io sicady Icrsclf.
His cסrcssion inncdiaicly grcw wary and iIc cauiion in Iis cycs
¡usIcd Icr ovcr iIc cdgc. "No onc ai Aria Advcriising lnows aloui iIc
ncw dcsign," sIc said, "lui if iIc ncw car's lcing unvcilcd soon you nusi
Iavc sonconc worling for you."
Hc Icsiiaicd for a fraciion of a sccond. "Wc do."
SIc siarcd u¡ ai Iin, sIoclcd. Flunno×cd. "WIy?"
"I iIougIi ii lcsi io go clscwIcrc."
"WIy?"
"You lnow wIy."
"No, I don'i, Ma×inos. Dusincss is lusincss. Your accouni ai Aria
Advcriising Iad noiIing io do wiiI nc."
Hc lcancd ioward Icr, Iis voicc dro¡¡ing so no onc clsc could Icar.
"You Iad cvcryiIing io do wiiI gciiing our accouni÷"
"So you yanl ii?" SIc didn'i carc if oiIcrs Icard. SIc was Iuri.
Ouiragcd. Cass Iad always ¡ridcd Icrsclf on lcing ¡rofcssional, worling
Iard, no naiicr iIc cosi. "I wani norc fron you ¡crsonally, so you
¡unisI nc ¡rofcssionally?"
Hc iool Icr arn, iuggcd Icr away fron iIc loungc cIairs, drawing Icr
io iIc far cnd of iIc dccl wIcrc no onc congrcgaicd. "I was noi
¡unisIing you. I was irying io Icl¡ you."
SIc iwisicd Icr arn frcc, glarcd u¡ ai Iin. "Hcl¡ nc," sIc rc¡caicd
ficrccly.
"I lncw you wcrc Iaving difficuliics ai worl."
"No."
Hc crosscd Iis arns ovcr Iis cIcsi, Iis slin lurnisIcd goldcn againsi
Iis cris¡ wIiic lincn sIiri. "I lnow Iow nany con¡anics arc ¡ulling iIcir
accounis÷"
"So you do, ioo?"
"I iIougIi ¡crIa¡s you wcrc undcr ioo nucI sircss."
SIc c×Ialcd in a ¡ainful wIoosI. SIc couldn'i lclicvc ii. Couldn'i
lclicvc sIc'd losi anoiIcr accouni÷and noi jusi any accouni÷lui
Ma×inos's. If iIai wasn'i iIc uliinaic lacl of confidcncc voic, sIc didn'i
lnow wIai was.
SIc iurncd away, siarcd oui ai iIc waicr. "WIcn wcrc you going io icll
nc?"
"A rcgisicrcd lciicr was dclivcrcd io iIc officc ycsicrday."
Dui sIc wasn'i ai iIc officc ycsicrday. SIc was cn rouic io Syracusc,
iravclling wiiI Enilio. "So cvcryonc ai iIc officc lnows." Hcr voicc canc
oui faini.
"I'vc Iad a call fron Unlcrio."
Unlcrio lcing Aria Advcriising's ¡rcsidcni and owncr. "I lci you did."
SIc suddcnly fcli cIillcd dcs¡iic iIc warn day. Cass rullcd Icr arns
ligIily. Unlcrio would lc livid. Hc'd wani io llanc sonconc, ¡unisI
sonconc. TIai sonconc would lc Icr. How ironic. SIc was Icrc figIiing
for a rclaiionsIi¡ cvcn as sIc was losing Icr jol. "I wouldn'i lc sur¡riscd
io find a icrninaiion lciicr waiiing for nc in Fonc."
Ma×inos didn'i inncdiaicly s¡cal. His sIouldcrs lificd in¡crcc¡iilly
and Cass fcli raiIcr iIan saw Iis sigI. "Unlcrio did say you'd Iad
difficuliics conccniraiing ai worl iIcsc ¡asi scvcral noniIs. Hc is
conccrncd."
SIc could fccl iIc wcigIi of Ma×inos's gazc, could fccl Iis conccrn and
ii nadc Icr furious. Hc Iad no rigIi io lc conccrncd. Hc'd noi only
wallcd away fron Icr (lccausc sIc jusi nigIi lc ioo ¡crfcci} lui iIcn
Ic'd ¡ullcd Iis accouni, a nassivcly in¡oriani accouni, launcIing Icr
inio s¡cciacular uncn¡loyncni.
Wasn'i lifc jusi wondcrful?
"Cass." Ma×inos wasn'i going io lci Icr off iIc Iool. "WIai Ia¡¡cncd?"
Liiilc siars s¡un lcforc Cass's cycs. SIc lallcd Icr Iands inio fisis, air
curdling in Icr lungs. WIai Ia¡¡cncd? WIai Ia¡¡cncd? SIc iurncd on
Icr Iccl io facc Iin. "You Ia¡¡cncd, Ma×inos. You wcrc lilc a lloody
Fonan gcncral. You canc, you conqucrcd and you wcni. And wIcn you
lcfi, I Iad io ¡icl u¡ iIc ¡icccs of ny Icari and ii wasn'i casy."
SIc drcw a lrcaiI, cycs snariing lui sirangcly dry. "You cIangcd nc
and ny lifc wIciIcr or noi you'rc willing io adnii ii. And you can ialc
your accouni and givc ii io wIocvcr iIc Icll you wani io, lccausc I'n
donc wiiI you. Donc. FinisIcd. Fini."




CHAPTER TEN

THEY wcrc rcally good figIiing words. Unforiunaicly sIc couldn'i lacl
iIcn u¡ quiic yci wiiI Ma×inos rcfusing io lci Icr lcavc lcforc iIc
wcdding. TIcy argucd all iIc way fron Oriygia's Iarlour io iIc Cuiliano
¡alazzo, and coniinucd iIcir ficry dclaic all iIc way u¡ iIc ¡alazzo
siaircasc.
"I do noi Iavc a¡¡allingly lad nanncrs," Cass sIoi lacl ai Iin,
rcacIing Icr roon wiiI noiIing sIori of dcligIi. HurraI! SIc could
finally csca¡c Ma×inos. "You'rc iIc onc iIai doninaics and diciaics and
rcfuscs io con¡ronisc, nucI lcss ca¡iiulaic."
"Ca¡iiulaic? I'd ncvcr ca¡iiulaic."
"WIy noi?" sIc siorncd. "Dccausc you'rc a nan?"
"E×acily."
TIcy wcrc loiI lrcaiIing Iard, icn¡crs flying and Cass was noi aloui
io lacl down. "If you lovcd ny nind so nucI, if you iIougIi I was so
ialcnicd wIy didn'i you asl nc if I could Iandlc iIc ¡rcssurc? WIy go
lcIind ny lacl ÷"
"I didn'i go lcIind your lacl. I sin¡ly rcs¡ondcd io iIc runours ÷"
"Funours! TIai's lovcly. Plcasc don'i go io iIc sourcc for your
infornaiion. Lisicn io iIc runour nill!"
"Ii's lccausc I carc, Cass."
"Noi iIai again! If you'd carcd for nc you wouldn'i Iavc alandoncd nc
iIc noncni I said I nccdcd norc. If you carcd, you wouldn'i saloiagc ny
carccr!"
"Wc'rc noi dcaling in ¡rini ads and nunlcrs Icrc, Cass. NoiIing's iIai
llacl and wIiic."
Disgusicd sIc iricd io sIui iIc door on Iin lui sIc couldn'i noi wIcn
Ic was sIoving Iis lody inio iIc o¡cning. "Movc."
"No." Hc iIrusi iIc door o¡cn, and sIc ncarly wcni flying. SIc noiiccd
Ic didn'i offcr an a¡ology, ciiIcr.
"Sonc iIings arc llacl and wIiic, lui iIcn iIcrc arc all iIc sIadcs of
gray," Ic addcd. "TIcrc arc iIings wc can conirol, and iIing wc can'i. Wc
can worl vcry Iard, and wc can do our lcsi, lui cvcn iIcn, sonciincs
ii's noi cnougI."
SIc didn'i wani io lisicn. SIc'd Icard cnougI of Iin llowing Ioi air
around. "Do you nind sIuiiing your door on your way oui?"
Hc was narcIing on Icr, Iis sirong jaw iigIi. "I lnow you'rc angry wiiI
nc, and Cass, I lnow you lilc io lclicvc all iIings arc ¡ossillc, lui I'vc
lccn forccd io lcarn iIai sonciincs our lcsi isn'i cnougI, iIai cvcn
good inicniions ncan noiIing."
"I don'i carc anynorc." Cass iricd io csca¡c inio iIc laiIroon lui
again Ic wouldn'i lci Icr sIui iIc door on Iin. Hc followcd Icr inio iIc
laiIroon, corncring Icr ncar iIc sinl.
"You do carc. TIai's iIc ¡rollcn. You carc and I carc and wc'rc loiI
going nad wiiI wanis...nccds...iIai go nowIcrc." Hc ¡rcsscd Icr lacl
againsi iIc cdgc of iIc sinl. "I did iry io lci you go, Cass. I iIougIi if I lci
you go and you nci sonconc ncw, nci sonconc good, loyal, lcss
con¡licaicd, you'd lc Ia¡¡y. I wanicd you io lc Ia¡¡y. I wanicd you io
Iavc iIc Ia¡¡incss you dcscrvcd."
Hc wasn'i ioucIing Icr yci lui sIc fcli Iin, fcli Iis sizc and sircngiI,
fcli Iis Icai, Iis cncrgy, iIai raw ¡rinal insiinci iIai sci Iin a¡ari fron
oiIcr ncn, iIai nadc Icr fccl lcauiiful. Dcsirallc. Dccausc wIcn Ic
loolcd ai Icr iIc way Ic was looling ai Icr rigIi now, sIc couldn'i
inaginc cvcr lcing wiiI anyonc clsc. Couldn'i inaginc cvcr waniing,
nccding anyonc clsc. And wIcn Ic loolcd ai Icr lilc iIis, Iis darl cycs
Ioi, dcicrnincd, inicnsc, sIc lncw Iow nucI Ic siill wanicd Icr.
SIc lncw Iow nucI Ic nccdcd Icr.
SIc lncw Ic nigIi ncvcr usc iIc words sIc wanicd io Icar, lui Ic did
fccl, and Ic did carc.
Hc was lcaning forward, Iis Icad di¡¡ing and sIc lncw Ic was going io
liss Icr. SIc lncw, ioo, sIc sIouldn'i lci Iin liss Icr. TIc ¡rcssurc of
Iis nouiI againsi Icrs always undid Icr. Ii wasn'i jusi a liss wIcn Iis
nouiI ioucIcd Icrs, ii was lovc. SIc lovcd Iin. SIc lovcd iIc fccl of
Iin, iIc sncll of Iin, iIc warniI in Iis slin, iIc scnsaiion of Iis Iard
lody againsi Icrs.
Dui sIc didn'i irusi Iin. And sIc didn'i undcrsiand Iin and sIc
couldn'i÷wouldn'i ÷lc vulncrallc anynorc.
Dalling Icr Iands inio fisis, sIc iurncd Icr Icad away as Iis Icad
lowcrcd. "You can'i Iavc nc iIis iinc," sIc wIis¡crcd, Iis li¡s lrusIing
Icrs and iIcn iIc corncr of Icr nouiI as sIc rcfuscd io ncci Iis liss. "I
Iavc io lc ¡raciical." St¡ong.
Hc cu¡¡cd Icr facc in iIc ¡aln of Iis Iand. His iIunl sirolcd Icr
cIccl and sIc lii Icr li¡ io Iidc Icr inncdiaic and cnoiional rcs¡onsc.
Hc was cvcryiIing io Icr. Hc was norc in¡oriani io Icr iIan anyiIing
clsc...and yci Ic was also driving Icr nad.
SIc fcli crazy. Unlalanccd. Unsiallc. TIis was wrong. And ii Iad io
sio¡. SIc Iad io gci iIc iougI Cass lacl. "Plcasc go," sIc wIis¡crcd.
His Iand fcll fron Icr facc. Hc iool a sic¡ away, Iis darl gazc
narrowcd, siudying Icr. And iIcn giving Iis Icad a sligIi sIalc, Ic
iurncd away. "Wc'll lcavc for iIc Duono in an Iour," Ic said, Icading for
iIc door. "I'll ncci you downsiairs wIcn you'rc rcady."
SIc wasn'i going io iIinl, and sIc wasn'i going io gci cnoiional, Cass
iold Icrsclf as sIc sIowcrcd and drcsscd for iIc wcdding.
Dui irying io lcc¡ fron iIinling wIcn sIc was in Ma×inos's Iousc,
¡rc¡aring io aiicnd Iis sisicr's wcdding wiiI Iin was asling iIc
in¡ossillc.
Had any good conc of iIis visii? Had sIc accon¡lisIcd anyiIing
coning Icrc? Or was ii jusi ioriurc?
Toriurc, sIc silcnily answcrcd, sli¡¡ing inio iIc lncc-lcngiI llacl
cocliail drcss sIc'd ¡aclcd. TIc drcss sccncd scvcrc, alnosi grin, vcry
fiiicd iIrougI iIc lodicc and waisi, slin in iIc sliri. Ycs, iIc Cauliicr
dcsign sIowcd Icr figurc io ¡crfcciion, lui ii was a lold drcss, vcry
nodcn and Cass iool a dcc¡ lrcaiI for couragc as sIc fasicncd iIc
lacl iclling Icrsclf iIc drcss was lilc arnour. SIc Iad io lc iougI. Had
io lcc¡ Icr cnoiions in cIccl.
Siay focuscd, sIc addcd, sli¡¡ing on Prada Iccls, Iccls iIai wcrc vcry
IigI, and llacl, and sc×y. You'vc nanagcd io survivc iIis long. Jusi gci
iIrougI iIc nc×i cou¡lc of Iours and you'll lc Ionc frcc.
Cass cIcclcd Icr Iair, Iaving lcfi ii loosc ionigIi, and ¡iclcd u¡ Icr
snall llacl cluicI Iandlag fron iIc fooi of iIc lcd. TIc only colour sIc
worc was iIc ycllow and wIiic dianond lracclci on Icr wrisi, onc of iIc
firsi ¡rcscnis Ma×inos Iad givcn Icr.
Hc was waiiing downsiairs as ¡roniscd lui a ¡Ionc call canc fron iIc
caicrcr as iIcy wcrc Icading oui and Ma×inos iool iIc call as iIc
caicrcr sccncd io lc Iaving sonc sori of crisis.
TIc ¡Ionc call lasicd far longcr iIan Ma×inos wanicd and ly iIc iinc
Ic'd soricd oui iIc caicrcr's ¡rollcns, iIcy wcrc now running laic.
Ma×inos's drivcr dro¡¡cd iIcn off in froni of iIc caiIcdral and as iIcy
Iurricd u¡ iIc cIurcI's froni sic¡s a nan sic¡¡cd fron iIc sIadowy
cnirancc.
Enilio.
Cass's sionacI did a frcc fall, a long Iorrillc divc and insiinciivcly sIc
sic¡¡cd closcr io Ma×inos. Ma×inos iool Icr Iand, ¡ui Iis lody in froni
of Icrs as iIcy rcacIcd iIc io¡ sic¡.
"You'rc lacl," Ma×inos said, sianding iall, Iis Iard fcaiurcs lciraying
no cnoiion.
Enilio snilcd iIinly. "I forgoi sonciIing."
"You could Iavc callcd," Ma×inos answcrcd. Drcsscd in a llacl iu×cdo,
Ic loolcd clcgani. Con¡oscd. Conirollcd. "I would Iavc lccn Ia¡¡y io
Iavc ii scni."
Enilio's gazc ncvcr lcfi Ma×inos's facc and Cass fcli Icr insidcs ¡ricllc
wiiI alarn, Icr si×iI scnsc warning Icr iIai iroullc, rcal iroullc was
aloui io conc.
"Maylc I didn'i irusi you io scnd Icr lacl," Enilio said, voicc silly.
"Hcr?"
Enilio's wIiic icciI flasIcd. "My fianccc."
"AI." Ma×inos's Iand closcd norc firnly around Cass's, Iis fingcrs
linling Icr norc iigIily io Iin. "FigIi. You'rc su¡¡oscd io lc gciiing
narricd. Padua, isn'i ii?"
Cass icnscd. Ma×inos was laiiing Enilio. Hc was looling for a figIi.
SIc suddcnly wisIcd sIc Iadn'i lccn so confroniaiional, carlicr.
Ma×inos nigIi lc fccling a nccd io vcni.
"Ma×inos," sIc wIis¡crcd, squcczing Iis Iand, lnowing Ic couldn'i
rcally wani iroullc now, noi lcforc Iis sisicr's wcdding. Evcryonc was
alrcady gaiIcrcd in iIc caiIcdral. Adriana would lc arriving in iIc
viniagc wcdding car any noncni.
"Ii was clcvcr io sci iIc nalc-lclicvc wcdding in Padua, iIougI,"
Ma×inos addcd, coniinuing Iis laiiing, ignoring Cass's IusIcd ¡roicsi.
Hc wanicd iroullc. Hc was asling for ii. "Considcring Lorna was fron
Padua. TIai's jusi so you. Waniing io inflici iIc nosi ¡ain ¡ossillc."
Ma×inos's ionc dri¡¡cd conicn¡i and Enilio sccncd io sIrinl in sizc
and sircngiI as Ma×inos's ¡owcr grcw. SoncIow, sianding on iIc sic¡s
in froni of iIc Duono's Daroquc façadc, Ma×inos's auiIoriiy ¡crncaicd
cvcry sionc and colunn of iIc lcauiiful caiIcdral.
"I do cnjoy your suffcring," Enilio answcrcd unlindly, lui lcss surc of
Iinsclf iIan lcforc.
Ma×inos's u¡¡cr li¡ lificd in a snarl. "Co io Icll."
"I'n on ny way." Enilio iurncd as if io lcavc, lui sio¡¡cd nidsiridc.
"And so arc you."
Ma×inos wasn'i iniinidaicd. "Coodlyc."
Enilio ¡rcicndcd io iIinl. "A iIougIi jusi canc io nc. Isn'i Lorna
luricd ncar Icrc?" Hc glanccd around, lrow furrowcd in nocl
conccniraiion. "I iIinl Icr funcral was Icld in iIc Duono lasi s¡ring.
WIai was ii? May? Junc?" Hc sIruggcd. "Anyway. I forgci. Dui iIcn, sIc
wasn'i ny rcs¡onsililiiy, was sIc?"
Lorna again, Cass iIougIi, iurning icy cold on iIc insidc, cvcn as sIc
fcli Ma×inos ¡Iysically, cnoiionally wiiIdraw, lcaving iIc ¡laza, iIc
Duono's froni sic¡s. Ii was always aloui Lorna. And Enilio. And sonc
god-awful fcud.
WIai Iad Ia¡¡cncd Icrc? WIai Iad ialcn iIrcc Sicilian fanilics and
¡iiicd iIcn againsi cacI oiIcr?
SIc glanccd u¡ ai Ma×inos and iIc cסrcssion on Iis facc nadc Icr
rccoil. Fagc iwisicd Iis facc, Iis fcaiurcs sci in lincs so violcni sIc fcli
Icr lcgs lucllc.
Ma×inos's u¡¡cr li¡ curlcd, Ialf snarl, Ialf snccr. "I sIould Iavc lillcd
you wIcn I Iad iIc cIancc."
Enilio laugIcd sofily. "Dui iIcn you'd go io ¡rison, and your ¡oor,
nollc fanily would suffcr."
"TIcy'vc alrcady suffcrcd." Ma×inos's cycs flasIcd firc. Hc was diffcrcni.
CIangcd. "You'vc ¡ui ny fanily and iIc d'Sanio fanily iIrougI Icll for
iIc ¡asi icn ycars."
"Ii was Lorna's dccision."
"You'll always llanc oiIcrs, won'i you?"
"I wasn'i driving iIc car."
"Dui you lncw aloui iIc ¡rollcn. You lncw iIcrc wcrc flaws in iIc
¡roioiy¡c. You lncw ii was dangcrous."
"SIc wasn'i su¡¡oscd io drivc ii."
"No, I was su¡¡oscd io drivc ii. Wasn'i I?"
"If sIc Iadn'i goiicn in iIc car..."
"If you Iadn'i lcfi sonciIing in iIc car..."
"TIai's all Icrcsy, isn'i ii?"
Ma×inos lungcd forward, scizing Enilio ly iIc nccl. His Iands
wra¡¡cd around Enilio's iIroai, fingcrs ¡rcssing iigIi. "You sIould Iavc
carcd aloui Icr a liiilc norc. You sIould Iavc ai lcasi carcd. Dccausc wc
all did. Wc all wcni io Icll and lacl wiiI our suffcring."
Dui Enilio couldn'i answcr, noi wiiI Ma×inos's Iands wra¡¡cd so
iigIily around Iis iIroai and Cass grallcd ai Ma×inos's arn, siruggling
io lrcal Iis Iold, lui Ma×inos wouldn'i lci go.
"Sio¡ ii!" Cass said, ¡unnclling Ma×inos's sIouldcr, irying io gci
iIrougI io Ma×inos, lui Ic was lilc anoiIcr ¡crson, lcyond rcason,
lcyond conirol. Hc was in sonc lind of Icll and Ic was dcicrnincd io
ialc Enilio wiiI Iin.
"Don'i do iIis, Ma×inos," sIc lcggcd, ¡ulling Iard on Iis arn, irying io
gci iIrougI io Iin. "Don'i do iIis Icrc. Now. Your sisicr's gciiing
narricd in ninuics, Ma×inos. Evcryonc's in iIc cIurcI."
Dui Ma×inos wasn'i cvcn looling ai Icr. His darl cycs ¡inncd Enilio
as surcly as Iis Iand. Ouiwardly Ma×inos lciraycd noiIing, lui Cass
saw Iis fingcrs squcczc iigIicr around Enilio's iIroai and sIc fcli
Ma×inos's ragc. "Plcasc," sIc rc¡caicd in a dcs¡craic wIis¡cr. "Lci's go.
Now."
And fron iIc corncr of Icr cyc sIc saw iIc classic llacl linousinc ¡ull
u¡. "Adriana's Icrc," Cass said. "Don'i lci Icr scc you and Enilio lilc
iIis."
Finally sonciIing Cass said rcgisicrcd and Ma×inos ¡usIcd Enilio
lacl. Enilio clawcd ai Iis iIroai, gas¡ing for air. "Cci away," Ma×inos
griiicd. "Cci away fron Icrc or I will ialc you a¡ari Icrc and now."
Cass caugIi Enilio's cyc. His ¡alc facc was flooding wiiI colour, Iis
cסrcssion ovcr-lrigIi and Ic gavc Icr a liiicr, lriiilc snilc io naicI iIc
liiicr, lriiilc glcan in Iis cyc. Hc wasn'i safc, or sanc. Hc wasn'i
anyiIing good ai all.
"WIai aloui Icr?" Enilio aslcd rougIly, onc Iand u¡ againsi Iis
lruiscd iIroai. "Arcn'i you going io dcsiroy Icr, ioo?"
TIc Ioi firc iIai glazcd Ma×inos's cycs fadcd io dull rcd. "And wIy
would I?"
"You would, if you lncw wIai sIc did io you," Enilio answcrcd in a
silly voicc iIai scni sIivcrs down Cass's lacl.
Ma×inos's cסrcssion was scornful as Ic iool Cass's Iand. ''I'n noi
inicrcsicd in your lics and gancs."
"TIis isn'i a lic. Ii's iruc, all iruc."
"I don'i carc."
Enilio Icld Iis ¡osiiion. "You sIould. SIc was ¡rcgnani." Enilio's ionc
sIar¡cncd. "WiiI your laly."
Cass fcli Ma×inos's gri¡ ¡incI. SIc Icard Iin draw a quicl lrcaiI.
"Your daugIicr," Enilio coniinucd ruiIlcssly, rclisIing Iis rolc as iIc
Iarlingcr of lad ncws. "Cood old Cass aloricd Icr. SIc'll icll you ii was
a niscarriagc, lui cIccl iIc Ios¡iial rccords and you'll scc sIc ordcrcd
a D & C."
"Sio¡ ii," Cass cIolcd cvcn as Ma×inos's Iand fcll fron Icr arn. SIc'd
grown cold and siill wIilc Enilio iallcd, so cold and siill sIc iIougIi
sIc'd lccn swallowcd ly icc lui iIc lasi words, iIc wrcicIcd naning of
iIc ¡roccdurc was siill so gra¡Iic in Icr nind, so full of violcncc iIai sIc
couldn'i siay quici.
"WIy?" Enilio dcnandcd. "You wanicd rcvcngc. You canc Icrc for
rcvcngc. I jusi don'i wani you io losc sigIi of your goal." TIcn Ic snilcd
cruclly. "I'll Icad off now. Duiy's donc. No nccd io ovcrsiay ny wclconc."
And Ic noncIalanily wallcd down iIc caiIcdral's sic¡s, lcaving Cass
alonc wiiI Ma×inos cvcn as Adriana and Icr four lridcsnaids sic¡¡cd
fron iIc car.
Ma×inos loolcd ai Cass as iIougI Ic'd ncvcr sccn Icr lcforc.
"Hc iwisicd cvcryiIing," Cass said, Icaring Adriana and Icr
lridcsnaids' c×ciicd voiccs. TIis sIouldn'i lc Ia¡¡cning now, noi
ninuics lcforc iIc wcdding, noi wIcn Ma×inos was aloui io wall Iis
youngcsi sisicr down iIc aislc. "Ii's noi Iow Ic said."
Ma×inos fcaiurcs could Iavc lccn carvcd fron graniic. His voicc was as
Iard, no warniI anywIcrc in Iis voicc or cycs. "So you wcrcn'i
¡rcgnani?"
"I was-"
"Was."
"TIcrc wcrc con¡licaiions÷"
"Did you Iavc a D & C?"
Cass Iad gonc Ioi and cold and sIc was Ioi again. "No. Noi c×acily. Ai
lcasi noi iIc way Enilio says I did."
"TIai wasn'i wIai I aslcd. I wanicd io lnow if you Iad a D&C."
Fooisic¡s ccIocd on iIc old sionc sic¡s and iIc girlisI voiccs drcw
ncar. TIc wcdding ¡ariy's c×ulcrancc only nadc Ma×inos's angcr
unlcarallc. "If you wanicd io lnow, naylc you sIould Iavc lccn
iIcrc÷"
Ma×inos grallcd Icr arn. "If you did sonciIing io iIc laly oui of
s¡iic, or rcvcngc÷"
"If I did sonciIing io ny laly?" SIc sIovcd Iin lacl, fcaiurcs
conioriing wiiI ¡ain and ouiragc. "If I did sonciIing io ny laly? WIai
lind of wrcicIcd lunaiic arc you? As if I'd cvcr do anyiIing io ny own
cIild!"
"You don'i cvcn lilc cIildrcn."
"My Cod." SIc cIolcd, a siranglcd cougI as sIc sirugglcd io gci air.
"My Cod. You arc disgusiing. You arc so...so noi wIo I iIougIi you
wcrc."
"I wasn'i iIc onc wIo aloricd iIc laly!"
"You don'i cvcn lnow iIc facis! You wcrcn'i cvcn around io carc. Hcll, I
Iad io ialc a dann ia×i cal io iIc Ios¡iial. Middlc of iIc nigIi and I'n
llccding and calling for a lloody ia×i cal!"
"You lciicr lc iclling nc iIc iruiI."
"Or wIai?" sIc cricd, sIoving Iin again, ollivious io all lui iIc ¡ain
Ic'd inflicicd. "Tcar nc a¡ari, linl fron linl? CIolc nc? Dcai nc? Or
worsc, wall oui on nc again?" And sIc yanlcd so Iard io frcc Icrsclf
sIc lun¡cd inio onc of iIc lridcsnaids, iIc lridcsnaids and Adriana
all frozcn on iIc sic¡s in sIocl.
For a noncni no onc said anyiIing and iIcn iIc lridcsnaids in iIcir
coral sill gowns scurricd u¡ iIc sic¡s ioward iIc Duono's nassivc froni
door.
"Arc you figIiing again?" Adriana dcnandcd, cluicIing Icr long sill
and lacc irain in onc Iand.
"TIis isn'i iIc iinc, Adriana," Ma×inos Iisscd.
"Dui-"
"No," Ic inicrru¡icd, Iis ionc IarsI, no ¡aiicncc or lcnicncy lcfi. "Co io
iIc cIurcI. I'll ncci you insidc."
Adriana's ¡orcclain con¡lc×ion darlcncd, Icr wIiic and crcan lridal
louquci in iIc crool of Icr arn. "You'rc Iorrillc!"
"Worsc iIan iIai," Ic answcrcd. "Now lcavc us alonc."
Dui Adriana wouldn'i ludgc. Tcars filling Icr cycs. "WIy do you Iavc io
figIi now? Isn'i ii lad cnougI iIai cvcryonc on iIc yacIi lncw you wcrc
figIiing? How nany figIis is iIai ioday anyway? TIrcc? Four? WIai's
wrong wiiI you iwo anyway?"
"EvcryiIing," Cass said gcnily, sIooiing Ma×inos a lool of ¡urc
loaiIing. "Dui you'rc rigIi, Adriana. TIis is your day. And wc Iavc fougIi
ioo nucI. Dui wc'rc donc. Con¡lcicly donc. I ¡ronisc."
DasIing icars away wiiI iIc lacl of Icr Iand, Adriana rusIcd u¡ iIc
siairs aficr Icr lridal ¡ariy and Ma×inos iurncd lacl io Cass. "TIcrc's
no way in Icll wc'rc donc."
"Maylc you'rc noi, lui I an. I'n sicl of iIc sccrcis and iIc lics and iIc
¡rcicncc. TIcrc arc iIings you Iavcn'i iold nc iIai you sIould Iavc iold
nc÷"
"Jusi lilc iIcrc was a laly I ncvcr lncw aloui!"
"You wcrc gonc. You lcfi nc."
"So you wcrc going io lcc¡ ny cIild a sccrci?"
"I don'i lnow wIai I would Iavc donc if I'd carricd iIc laly io full icrn.
Maylc I would Iavc iold you. I don'i lnow. I ncvcr goi iIai far."
SIc iool a quicl lrcaiI, slin ¡riclly, Iands dan¡, Icr sionacI
nauscous. "TIc laly wasn'i IcaliIy. SIc÷" Cass lrolc off, lrcaiIcd in
dcc¡, irying io lcc¡ iIc Iorror and nausca ai lay. "I callcd s¡ccialisis. I
nci wiiI iIc lcsi nconaial dociors in Euro¡c lui... "
Hcr voicc drificd away and sIc sIool Icr Icad. "WIy an I cסlaining? I
don'i Iavc io cסlain nysclf io you. I owc you noiIing. Jusi as you
olviously fccl you owc nc noiIing, lccausc iIai's wIai you'vc givcn nc.
For iwo and a Ialf ycars ii's lccn noiIing."
SIc iurncd around io dcsccnd iIc Duono's sic¡s.
"You lcavc now, Cass, and I'll lc forccd io cIasc you and Adriana's day
will lc ruincd."
SIc didn'i iurn around lui sIc did sio¡ walling. "You don'i Iavc io
cIasc nc. You can lci nc go. Ii's wIai you'vc wanicd÷"
"Ii's noi wIai I'vc wanicd. Ii's ncvcr wIai I wanicd and ii's iinc you
lncw iIai." His fooisic¡s soundcd lcIind Icr. Hc was dcsccnding iIc
sic¡s, noving ioward Icr. "Now join nc in iIc cIurcI and wc'll discuss
iIis aficr iIc wcdding. Or wc can jusi sli¡ ny sisicr's wcdding and Iavc
ii oui now."
"You wouldn'i ruin Icr wcdding."
"I wouldn'i?" His ionc darcd Icr io ¡rovc Iin wrong. Slowly Cass
iurncd, and loolcd u¡ inio Iis Iard fcaiurcs, fcaiurcs iIai loolcd norc
lilc narllc iIan cvcr lcforc. And yci lcncaiI iIc cold, Iard cסrcssion,
sIc saw c×Iausiion in iIc lincs cicIcd ncar Iis nouiI, and sIadows in
Iis darl cycs iIai Iinicd ai uninaginallc suffcring.
"I don'i wani Adriana's day ruincd," sIc said, looling away fron Iin,
irying noi io lci Icrsclf fccl iIc inicnsiiy of iIc cIaos insidc Icr. Dccausc
sIc was scarcd, and ovcrwIclncd and lncw iIai wIaicvcr was lciwccn
iIcn, Iad cIangcd. WIaicvcr was, would ncvcr lc iIc sanc.
"TIcn you'll siay."
"To iIc cnd of iIc ccrcnony."
"Finc."
TIcy clinlcd iIc lasi fcw sic¡s in silcncc, walling as far fron cacI
oiIcr as ¡ossillc. Insidc iIc lacl of iIc cIurcI, Ma×inos iool Iis
sisicr's arn, wIilc iIc lridcsnaids clusicrcd around. WiiIoui looling ai
Ma×inos, Cass sli¡¡cd inio iIc lacl of iIc caiIcdral and found an
cn¡iy ¡cw ai iIc vcry lacl.
TIc wcdding ccrcnony was fornal and long, and as iIc lisIo¡'s voicc
fillcd iIc caiIcdral, Cass's Icad swan. SIc couldn'i lclicvc Ma×inos
would iIinl iIc worsi of Icr, couldn'i lclicvc Ic'd iIinl sIc could do
sucI a iIing aficr cvcryiIing iIcy'd lccn iIrougI.
Cass didn'i lnow Iow sIc nanagcd ii, sianding u¡, and iIcn siiiing
down, only io siand again, and iIcn lnccl. Ii was lilc a cIorcogra¡Icd
rouiinc lui a rouiinc sIc didn'i lnow. SIc was ircnlling on iIc insidc,
ircnlling so nucI iIai all sIc wanicd was io sii again.
Ma×inos lncw now sIc'd niscarricd, lui Ic didn'i lnow, noi wIai was
in¡oriani, noi wIai Ic nccdcd io undcrsiand.
AnoiIcr song. Tinc io siand. Fising, Cass rcacIcd for iIc Iynnal,
Iands sIaling.
TIis is wIai you wanicd, sIc rcnindcd Icrsclf, fli¡¡ing iIrougI iIc
lool uniil sIc found iIc rigIi ¡agc. TIis is wIai you wanicd wIcn you
canc io Syracusc. You wanicd io scc Iin. You wanicd io facc iIc ¡asi.
And you Iavc.
TIc cIoir sang on, anoiIcr vcrsc and anoiIcr, and iIc voiccs wcrc
lcauiiful÷ncarly angclic÷lui Cass fcli noiIing, Icr lody and cnoiions
sIuiiing down.
Ii docsn'i naiicr wIai Ic iIinls, sIc iold Icrsclf as iIc song cndcd and
sIc was allc io rc¡lacc iIc Iynnal in iIc lacl of iIc ¡cw and sii again.
Ii docsn'i naiicr if Ic's angry, docsn'i naiicr if Ic Iaics you, Ic's
noiIing io you anynorc.
Dui all iIc ¡c¡ ialls in iIc world couldn'i sio¡ iIc llisicring sircaling
of ¡ain.
SIc wanicd io icll Iin wIai rcally Ia¡¡cncd, nccdcd Iin io
undcrsiand wIai was wrong÷
Dui no. If Ic'd lccn iIcrc, Ic would Iavc lnown. If Ic'd carcd, Ic
would Iavc lnown...
Hcr sionacI Iuri. Cass iool a quicl lrcaiI. If Ic'd lccn iIcrc Ic'd
lnow, jusi lilc sIc lncw, Ic'd rcalizc wIai sIc'd lccn iIrougI, wIai iIc
laly Iad lccn iIrougI. Hc'd rcalizc iIcrc wcrc sonc iIings onc could
ncvcr forgci. Lilc iIc loss of a cIild. Evcn if iIc laly was jusi cigIiccn
wccls old. Ii Iad siill lccn Icr laly.
If Ic'd lccn iIcrc, Ic'd lnow...lilc sIc lncw.
Lilc sIc couldn'i forgci.
Lilc sIc couldn'i forgivc.
Alru¡ily Icr sionacI rosc, a rusI of nausca, and Cass clan¡cd Icr
Iand io Icr nouiI, Iolding iIc illncss in.
Ai lasi iIc ccrcnony canc io an cnd, and iIc c×ulcrani lridc and
groon sailcd down iIc aislc, c×iiing iIc cIurcI anid iIc ¡caling of iIc
caiIcdral lclls.
Ma×inos cscoricd Iis noiIcr fron iIc cIurcI and rciurncd
inncdiaicly for Cass "Now wc can go," Ic said.
"You don'i Iavc io go÷"
"I do. I nccd iIc iruiI and so do you." Hc iool Icr cllow, Ialf siccring,
Ialf-dragging Icr iIrougI a sidc cnirancc so iIcy c×iicd away fron iIc
wcdding fanfarc.
Ouisidc iIc Duono on a sidc sircci, a cIauffcurcd car waiicd for iIcn.
TIcy clinlcd inio iIc lacl of iIc car and Icadcd for iIc ¡alazzo. Oncc
iIcrc, Ma×inos dirccicd Icr io Iis lu×ury scdan, onc of Iialia Moiors'
cliic dcsigns.
"Our iIings arc alrcady ¡aclcd," Ma×inos said curily, as iIcy clinlcd
oui of iIc cIauffcurcd car onio iIc ¡alazzo's drivcway. "Wc can lcavc
siraigIi away."
SIc cycd Ma×inos's scdan and iIcn Iin. Ii would lc ai lcasi scvcn
Iours iravclling lacl io Fonc, and sIc couldn'i do ii, noi now, noi alonc
wiiI Iin. "Lci's jusi do iIis Icrc and now," sIc said flaily, wcarily. "Lci's
say wIai Ias io lc said and novc on."
"Ii's noi iIai casy÷"
"Of coursc ii's iIai casy. Facis arc facis. Tcll nc wIai I nccd io lnow,
I'll icll you wIai you nccd io lnow and wc can finally cnd iIis nadncss."
SIc drcw a lrcaiI, figIiing icars. "Wc'rc lilc sonc Iorrid discasc. Wc
jusi consunc cacI oiIcr and ii's noi rigIi. I Iaic ii, and I Iaic iIc way ii
nalcs nc fccl and÷"
SIc lrolc off, sIool Icr Icad. "And ii's goi io cnd now."
Hc was silcni a noncni. "WIai Ia¡¡cncd io iIc laly, Cass?"
"I losi Icr."
"Hcr." Ma×inos nadc a Ioarsc sound and Ic lcancd againsi Iis car,
onc of Iis Iands sinling dcc¡ly inio Iis Iair. "A daugIicr."
"Ycs." SIc could siill scc iIc liiilc ulirasound ¡iciurc iIcy ¡rinicd oui
for Icr, iIc ncw lifc growing in Icr lclly. Tcars fillcd Cass's cycs and sIc
sIool Icr Icad, Icr icciI sinling dcc¡ly inio Icr lowcr li¡. "And I didn'i
do anyiIing io Iuri Icr. I lovcd Icr. I wanicd Icr."
"So wIai Ia¡¡cncd? WIy iIc D & C?"
"SIc wasn'i IcaliIy. Hcr lody didn'i conc iogciIcr corrccily, and iIc
dociors said÷" Cass sirugglcd io caicI Icr lrcaiI "÷Icr Icari wasn'i
rigIi. TIcrc was a Iolc in Icr Icari." SIc laiilcd io caicI Icr icars
lcforc iIcy fcll lui sIc couldn'i. TIcy wcrc ioo cool and fasi and iIcy
sli¡¡cd fron iIc corncr of Icr cycs lcforc sIc could sio¡ iIcn.
"I lcggcd iIcn io do sonciIing, io Icl¡ Icr. I didn'i wani io losc Icr. I
didn'i. SIc was you and nc÷" Cass closcd Icr cycs, Icld Icr lrcaiI,
sIool Icr Icad "÷and I wanicd Icr so nucI."
SIc iurncd away, unallc io lool ai Iin, unallc io lci anyonc, nucI
lcss Ma×inos, scc iIc dc¡iI of Icr sorrow, iIc c×icni of Icr gricf. "TIc D
& C was lccausc I rcfuscd io lci iIcn icrninaic iIc ¡rcgnancy a fcw
wccls carlicr, and iIcn I niscarricd on ny own and iIcy couldn'i sio¡
iIc llccding. I was IacnorrIaging ladly. TIc D & C was ¡crforncd only
lccausc I was in dangcr. TIcy did ii io savc ny lifc."
Ma×inos said noiIing and aficr a noncni Cass was allc io sio¡ iIc
icars. SIc wi¡cd Icr cycs dry. "Losing Icr is wIai lrolc nc. I couldn'i
slcc¡ ai nigIi, couldn'i conccniraic ai worl. I jusi fcli so lad. So sad. I
lnow ii sounds silly sincc I was only cigIiccn wccls ¡rcgnani, lui wIcn
I losi Icr, I fcli lilc I losi nysclf."
"WIy didn'i you icll nc?"
SIc sIool Icr Icad in¡aiicnily. "How can you cvcn asl iIai?"
"Dccausc you lnow I'd wani io lnow÷"
"WIy would I lnow iIai?" Cass iurncd on Iin. "You lcfi nc. You didn'i
wani nc. WIy would I iIinl you'd wani ny cIild?"
"Dccausc sIc was ny cIild, ioo."




CHAPTER ELEVEN

HIS cIild, ioo.
Ma×inos's words ccIocd in Icr Icad and Cass saggcd, all figIi
inncdiaicly lcaving Icr.
Hc loolcd ai Icr for a long noncni, a sIccn in Iis darl cycs, Iis dcnsc
llacl lasIcs dan¡. "Lci's Icad lacl io Fonc."
Hcr iIings Iad alrcady lccn ¡aclcd and iransfcrrcd fron Icr roon io
iIc irunl of iIc car. Siill wcaring iIc llacl cocliail drcss, Cass slid inio
iIc ¡asscngcr scai and lucllcd Icr scai lcli. Ma×inos clinlcd lcIind
iIc siccring wIccl, siaricd iIc car and iIcy wcrc off, lcaving Oriygia and
Syracusc lcIind for iIc fcrry ai Mcssina.
"I Iavc iIc ulirasound ¡Ioios," sIc said aficr a noncni. "If you'd lilc io
scc iIcn-"
"WIcrc is sIc luricd?"
"SIc was ioo young. TIcrc was no lurial."
Hc sIoi Icr a lool of ouiragc and dislclicf. "How could iIcrc lc no
lurial? WIai did iIcy do wiiI Icr?"
Cass fcli Icr conirol on Icr cnoiions sli¡. "I don'i lnow." SIc lnoiicd
Icr Iands in Icr la¡ io Iidc iIc faci iIai iIcy wcrc ircnlling. "I didn'i
asl. I was ioo u¡sci. And I wasn'i iIinling clcarly."
Hc sIoi Icr anoiIcr swifi glancc. "You IacnorrIagcd?"
"Dadly."
"How did iIcy sio¡ ii?"
"Aficr iIc D & C iIcy cauicrizcd..." Jusi iIc words nadc Icr sicl, nadc
Icr rcncnlcr and sIc draggcd in anoiIcr dcc¡ lrcaiI, fccling iIc
dryncss of Icr nouiI, iIc Ianncr of Icr Icari. "I gucss iIai's wIai iIcy
do in iIosc siiuaiions."
Hc loolcd ai Icr closc yci again. "Wcrc iIcrc oiIcr con¡licaiions?"
"I don'i iIinl so."
"So you can Iavc norc cIildrcn?"
SIc swallowcd wiiI difficuliy, iasiing iIc coiion dryncss of Icr nouiI,
Icr iIroai jusi as ¡arcIcd. "I don'i lnow. I su¡¡osc so. I ncvcr÷" SIc
iool a lrcaiI and iricd again, "I didn'i÷" Cass lii down. "I wanicd our
laly and I losi Icr, and iIai was norc iIan I could dcal wiiI."
Hc didn'i answcr and Cass siarcd llindly oui iIc car window ai iIc
¡assing sccncry. SIc'd lccn so dcicrnincd io lcc¡ Iin fron lnowing
jusi Iow nucI sIc'd suffcrcd, ai Iis Iands, wiiIoui Iis lovc, lui siiiing
nc×i io Ma×inos cnrouic lacl io Fonc, Cass fcli norc alonc iIan cvcr
lcforc.
And siiiing in iIc iwiligIi darlncss, Cass wondcrcd Iow sIc could Iavc
iIougIi iIings would iurn oui diffcrcnily.
Jusi lool ai iIcn. O¡¡osiics. So diffcrcni. And yci for ycars iIc
diffcrcnccs lciwccn iIcn Iad lccn inconscqucniial. Or Iad sIc only
lccn fooling Icrsclf, ¡rcicnding io lc Ia¡¡y, ¡rcicnding io fccl con¡lcic?
Maylc, jusi naylc, sIc'd always wanicd norc. Nccdcd norc. And
naylc, sccrcily, sIc'd iIougIi sIc didn'i dcscrvc norc. Maylc, sccrcily,
sIc Iadn'i fcli woriIy of rcal lovc. Truc lovc. Maylc sIc'd only lclicvcd
sIc dcscrvcd iIc casual indiffcrcncc sIown a convcnicni nisircss.
Casual sc×.
Cass c×Ialcd in a sIori, siranglcd ¡uff. WIai a icrrillc way io iIinl.
A Ialf Iour ¡asscd, and iIcn anoiIcr. On iIc ouisliris of Caiania iIcy
¡iclcd u¡ iIc najor IigIway and ¡iclcd u¡ s¡ccd. NigIi was on iIcn
and iIc ainos¡Icrc wiiIin iIc car was noiIing sIori of o¡¡rcssivc.
Cass didn'i lnow Iow iIcy nanagcd ii, nciiIcr ialling cvcn iIougI
iIcy wcrc lui a fooi or iwo a¡ari in iIc lu×ury scdan. Ma×inos sai iall,
Iard, silcni. SIc sai iall, conirollcd, silcni.
TIcy wcrc lilc narllcs siaiucs uncovcrcd ai onc of Sicily's fanous
ruins.
Dcauiiful, cold, and ¡oiscd.
Dui Cod lncw iIc cffori ii iool io nainiain sucI a scrcnc facadc.
Maylc Ma×inos was indiffcrcni io Icr, lui sIc fcli Iin lccnly, inicnscly,
norc awarc of Iin now iIan sIc'd cvcr lccn lcforc.
PcrIa¡s ii was iIc ncw sirangc siillncss lciwccn iIcn. TIc siillncss
lilc iIai of iIc caln lcforc iIc siorn. TIc quicincss lcforc iIc
Iurricanc, iIc siillncss lcforc iIc cariIqualc and iidal wavc.
TIc ¡cacc ¡rcci¡iiaiing disasicr...
SonciIing lad was going io Ia¡¡cn. SonciIing iIai sIouldn'i Ia¡¡cn.
And yci Cass was Icl¡lcss io sio¡ ii, ¡rcvcni ii. SIc'd conc Icrc
inicniionally, ¡ui iIc forccs of naiurc io worl, and unlcasIcd iIc fury of
cnoiion.
TIcy loiI lncw ii was ovcr.
TIcrc was nowIcrc io ialc iIc rclaiionsIi¡, noi wIcn iIcy wanicd sucI
diffcrcni iIings fron iIc oiIcr.
And now ii was going io lc sucI a long nigIi of lcing iogciIcr...iIc iwo
of iIcn ira¡¡cd in iIc snall s¡acc of iIc car wiiI all iIcir volaiilc
cnoiions.
Cass drcw a quicl lrcaiI, iricd io rcla×. SIc didn'i lnow Iow laic iIc
fcrrics crosscd iIc siraii. Ii'd lc ai lcasi ninc or icn wIcn iIcy arrivcd in
Mcssina÷¡rolally cvcn laicr. And if iIc fcrrics wcrcn'i running ai iIai
Iour, wIai would iIcy do? CIccl inio a Ioicl?
Hcr sionacI lnoiicd ai iIc vcry idca. SIc couldn'i Iandlc any norc
alonc iinc wiiI Ma×inos.
Cass flc×cd Icr fingcrs in Icr la¡ and forccd Icrsclf io ialc a dcc¡
lrcaiI, a ¡ro¡cr lrcaiI. Caln down. You can do iIis.
Of coursc you can do iIis.
TIinl of all iIc iIings iIai you'vc donc. All iIai you'vc survivcd...
Closing Icr cycs sIc iIougIi lacl io iIc ycar sIc was cigIi.
TIc ycar Icr ¡arcnis divorccd. Hcr noiIcr sIaiicrcd, lrcaling io iIc
¡oini sIc could larcly funciion and Cass grcw u¡ iIai ycar, naling iIc
jaggcd lca¡ fron cIildIood io iIc unlnown. Ii Iad lccn icrrifying. Losing
innoccncc. And irusi.
Hcr faiIcr couldn'i lc irusicd. Aficr all, Ic lcfi.
Hcr noiIcr couldn'i lc dc¡cndcd on. SIc colla¡scd.
Cass Iad grown u¡ viriually ovcrnigIi, lcconing Icr noiIcr's Dig Cirl.
MoiIcr's Liiilc Confori.
And Icr noiIcr ncvcr sio¡¡cd nccding Icr. Hcr noiIcr's nccd so grcai
iIai Cass lcarncd carly noi io iIinl of Icrsclf. .
Noi io iIinl, and noi io fccl. Jusi worl. Scrvc oiIcrs. Dccausc sIc was
sirong, and sIc could.
Is iIai Iow sIc lccanc iIc wonan wIo'd ¡ui anoiIcr's nccds so
con¡lcicly lcforc Icr own?
TIc wonan iIai would lci a nan slcc¡ wiiI Icr, lui noi lovc Icr? TIc
wonan wIo'd lci a nan÷cvcn if ii wcrc a nan as ¡owcrful, and
con¡clling as Ma×inos÷usc Icr ai Iis will?
"You lnow wIai loiIcrs nc nosi," sIc said, Icr voicc siraincd as sIc
lrolc iIc Icavy silcncc. "I dclilcraicly ncvcr aslcd anyiIing of you,
ncvcr dcnandcd anyiIing of you. I was always carcful noi io lc a
lurdcn, noi io nalc iroullc."
Hcr cycs lurncd, griiiy. SIc squcczcd Icr Iand inio a iigIi fisi againsi
Icr la¡. "I sIould Iavc nadc iroullc," sIc wIis¡crcd rccllcssly,
furiously. "I sIould Iavc nadc iroullc fron iIc lcginning. Ii would Iavc
savcd us iwo ycars of wasicd iinc and cncrgy."
"Ii wouldn'i Iavc cIangcd anyiIing."
His flai voicc nadc Icr lool ai Iin, scc Iin, iIc lcauiiful Iard facc,
iIc inicnscly nalc anglcs and ¡lancs, iIc scnsual curl of Iis lowcr li¡.
Evcn now, sIc could fccl iIc aiiraciion, iIc Iungcr, iIc craving for
coniaci. For Iin.
"Wc arc wIo and wIai wc arc," Ic addcd.
"WIai docs iIai ncan?"
"Ii ncans you and I will always Iavc iIis cIcnisiry lciwccn us.
NoiIing could Iavc sio¡¡cd ii. And lclicvc nc, I iricd."
"You iricd io cnd ii?"
"Many, nany iincs."
Cass fcli as if sonciIing sIar¡ and Ioi lanccd Icr Icari. "So iIai day
you finally lcfi, ii wasn'i a flulc? You wcrc rcady io go."
Hc nadc a rougI sound, jaw sIifiing as Iis icciI ground iogciIcr. "No.
I wasn'i rcady io go."
Hcr Icari jolicd again, anoiIcr s¡asn of lruial fccling. "Dui you lcfi."
"I Iad io."
"WIy?" sIc aslcd, fccling again iIai unlclicvallc sIafi of ¡ain wIcn
Ma×inos lcfi. WIcn Ic liicrally clinlcd fron Icr lcd, drcsscd and
wallcd oui. Ii was ¡ain unlilc any ¡ain sIc could rcncnlcr in Icr aduli
world.
SIc'd fcli con¡lcicly, ioially lcrcfi as iIc door Iad closcd lcIind Iin.
TIc conirasi lciwccn Iin lcing wiiI Icr÷warn, iaciilc, rcal÷and Iin
lcing gonc was ioo inicnsc. TIc cIangc in cncrgy, iIc cIangc in Icr ioo
¡rofound. WiiI Iin. WiiIoui Iin. Ii fcli as if Icr vcry sclf Iad lccn s¡lii
in iwo.
Hcr cycs fcli scraicIy, iicIy, Icr iIroai iIiclcning wiiI icars.
"VI¸¯" sIc rc¡caicd, Icaring iIc awful ¡lcading in Icr voicc. SIc
soundcd lilc a cIild, noi a wonan and Icr Iuri and nccd asIancd Icr.
Hc swcrvcd io iIc sidc of iIc road, iIrcw iIc car inio ¡arl and lcancd
on iIc siccring wIccl. A fliclcr of cnoiion darlcncd Iis cycs. "Evcry
rclaiionsIi¡ cvcniually cnds. Ours sin¡ly ran iis coursc."
"No."
"Ycs." Hc lcancd on iIc siccring wIccl. "Ii was incviiallc. You can'i figIi
ii."
Hut I cun. I Iuuc.
Ii's wIy sIc'd wanicd io scc Ma×inos again. Ii's wIy sIc'd agrccd io go
wiiI Enilio io iIc Cuiliano villa. SIc'd ncvcr inicndcd io say goodlyc.
SIc'd Iarlourcd Io¡c÷iIcrc was iIai word again÷saying goodlyc. SIc
was siill Iarlouring Io¡c iIai oncc Ma×inos saw Icr, Ic'd rcncnlcr
Iow Ic'd fcli aloui Icr, Iow Ic uscd io wani Icr.
Dui sIc'd lccn figIiing a losing causc. FigIiing for sonciIing iIai
didn'i c×isi.
"Cass, I waicIcd you cIangc lcforc ny cycs. Our rclaiionsIi¡ Iuri you.
Ii iool advaniagc of you. I lncw ii. And so did you."
Hcr lasIcs fcll closcd and sIc drcw in a sIar¡ lrcaiI, Icari on firc.
"You can'i dcny ii, Icííu. Aficr all iIis, wc sIould ai lcasi lc Ioncsi wiiI
cacI oiIcr. Wc sIould finally s¡cal iIc iruiI."
TIc iruiI. Hcr Icari acIcd, lnoiicd. TIc iruiI was iIai sIc lovcd Iin.
Lovcd Iin norc iIan sIc'd lovcd Icrsclf. "I did cIangc." SIc swallowcd
wiiI difficuliy, iIroai ¡arcIcd, nouiI as dry as coiion. ''As iinc wcni on,
I nccdcd norc, and you Iaicd iIai. You couldn'i, wouldn'i, givc norc."
Tcars fillcd Icr cycs. "You jusi gavc lcss."
Hc loolcd ai Icr, darl cycs narrowcd, lui Ic didn'i s¡cal and sIc was
so full of ¡ain, sIc couldn'i sio¡ ialling, Iands fisicd, sionacI cIurning
siclcningly.
"TIc ¡rollcn, Ma×inos, was iIai iIc lcss you gavc, iIc lcss I aslcd for.
I lc¡i iIinling you'd rcalizc Iow grcai I was. How goddann
acconnodaiing."
SIc laugIcd wiiIoui Iunour, laugIcd ai iIc ¡ain insidc Icr, iIc ¡ain
iIai Iad lccn iIcrc for so nany ycars, ¡ain sincc sIc was jusi cigIi and
aslcd io grow u¡ ovcrnigIi. "I iIougIi you'd a¡¡rcciaic ny
indc¡cndcncc, valuc ny sircngiI. Dui you didn'i. You jusi lc¡i ialing.
Taling. Taling."
And siill Ic said noiIing, Iis Iard fcaiurcs illuninaicd ly iIc
dasIloard ligIis. Hc didn'i carc, sIc iIougIi, insidcs on firc, iIc infcrno
of ioo nucI nccd, ioo nucI lovc losi, Ic'd ncvcr carcd. SIc'd lccn casy,
availallc, cסcndallc.
Yci iIcrc'd lccn noncnis of sucI Icai and ¡assion, sucI ficrcc
¡Iysical dcsirc iIai cvcn now, dcs¡iic cvcryiIing, sIc couldn'i forgci.
Couldn'i forgivc. How could sIc forgci Iin? Forgivc Iin? Hc'd nadc Icr
fccl. Hc'd nadc Icr Io¡c.
And iIcn Ic'd ialcn ii, Icr Io¡c, and crusIcd ii. Hc'd ialcn wIo sIc
was, wIai sIc nccdcd, and wIai'd sIc lcconc, and lillcd ii. "Dui wIai I
siill don'i undcrsiand is wIy, Ma×inos. WIy? WIy did you jusi lci nc
go? WIy did you givc u¡ so casily?"
"Cass, you wanicd io nalc nc iIc rigIi nan, lui waniing sonciIing,
wisIing sonciIing, docsn'i nalc ii iruc. I wasn'i iIc rigIi nan for you
wIcn wc nci. I was ncvcr iIc rigIi nan."
SIc flc×cd Icr fingcrs. "Yci you lci nc lclicvc you could lc iIc rigIi
nan for ycars."
"I adnii, a nisialc."
SIc sna¡¡cd. SIc couldn'i do iIis, couldn'i sii Icrc, couldn'i lisicn io
iIis. Cass flung Icr car door o¡cn, sic¡¡ing oui onio iIc sidc of iIc
IigIway. Cars surgcd ¡asi, IcadligIis llinding, car Iorns llaring.
Hc o¡cncd Iis car door, following Icr onio iIc sidc of iIc road. "TIis is
dangcrous, Cass."
"Dui cvcryiIing wiiI you is dangcrous, Ma×inos." SIc iricd io snilc,
lui couldn'i. Insicad sIc siood in iIc dry lriiilc grass on iIc sidc of iIc
road and waicIcd iIc iraffic wIiz ¡asi. Ii was crazy, disoricniing. TIc
cniirc world sccncd io lc s¡inning. "I ncvcr Iad a cIancc, did I?"
Hc didn'i inncdiaicly say anyiIing, and sIc loolcd ai Iin, sccing Iis
facc in iIc car IcadligIis and Icr Icari jun¡cd. For a wild noncni sIc
iIougIi÷Io¡cd÷Ic was going io sur¡risc Icr, was going io s¡cal words
sIc'd drcancd for wccls, noniIs, Ic'd s¡cal.
I niss you.
I nccd you.
I lovc you.
And wiiI cvcryiIing in Icr Io¡ing, Io¡ing for a niraclc, Io¡¡ing for
cIangc Ic noddcd oncc. A rougI, alru¡i nod. "No." His answcr was
quici, dcfiniic.
SIc fcli lilc a circus nonlcy as sIc snilcd ai Iin, an agonizcd snilc so
forccd ii s¡lii Icr on iIc insidc, ialing Icr Icari fron Icr ril cagc and
icaring ii in iwo.
"Dccausc you wcrcn'i ninc io lcc¡," Ic addcd, looling ai Icr so long
and Iard iIai Cass fcli cvcryiIing insidc Icr sag and sIrinl.
''And wc wcrcn'i cvcr ncani io lasi," Ic coniinucd jusi as rougIly. "I
ccriainly ncvcr iIougIi wc'd go a ycar, nucI lcss ncarly iIrcc."
Hc could Iavc lnoclcd Icr ovcr wiiI a fcaiIcr. SIc loolcd ai Iin, noi
lnowing wIciIcr sIc sIould laugI or iIrow sonciIing ai Iin. "You
didn'i cvcn givc us a ycar?"
"I didn'i cסcci si× noniIs."
"Arc you ccriain ii wasn'i iIrcc?"
"Maylc ii was jusi iIrcc. Maylc ii was jusi onc. Maylc ii was onc nigIi.
Onc scduciion. Onc nigIi of Ioi sc× and a lricf, in¡crsonal goodlyc."
And yci iIcy wcni far lcyond onc nigIi. TIcy wcni far lcyond lricf, far
lcyond in¡crsonal. TIcy wcni wIcrc fcw cou¡lcs go.
Hoi, inicnsc, ficry, iniinaic.
Maylc iIcy didn'i iall aloui fanilics, naylc iIcrc was no discussion of
Io¡cs and drcans, lui wIcn iIcy wcrc iogciIcr, iIcy wcrc iogciIcr,
arns and lcgs wra¡¡cd, Ii¡ io Ii¡, cIcsi io lrcasi, slin Icaiing slin. No
onc lncw Icr lody or Icr dcsircs lilc Ma×inos. And Cass was ccriain no
onc lncw Ma×inos's lody or dcsirc lilc sIc did.
SIc lncw wIcn Ic nccdcd icndcrncss.
SIc lncw wIcn Ic nccdcd firc.
SIc lncw wIcn Ic nccdcd io doninaic.
SIc lncw wIcn Ic nccdcd Icr Iands, Icr li¡s, Icr ionguc, Icr nouiI.
"I would Iavc givcn you iwcniy ycars, noi iwo," sIc said, cycs closing,
Icari ¡icccs of wIai ii uscd io lc. SIc'd lovcd iIis nan. SIc would Iavc
dicd for iIis nan.
And Ic'd lcfi Icr. And iIcn sIc'd losi Iis cIild and for a wIilc sIc'd
wanicd io dic, ioo. Could lifc lc any IarsIcr? SIar¡cr? Could lifc lc any
norc unforgiving?
"Ii was only su¡¡oscd io lc sc×." Ma×inos's darl cycs glinicd ai Icr,
warning Icr. Hc was lcginning io losc Iis icn¡cr. Hc Iaicd losing Iis
icn¡cr. Dui iIis iinc Cass didn'i carc. SIc'd waiicd for noniIs for iIis,
waiicd noniIs for Ioncsiy.
"Dui ii wasn'i jusi sc×, Ma×inos, was ii?"
His jaw clan¡cd, grcw iIicl. His llacl cyclrows flaiicncd io onc
iIrcaicning linc. "You lncw wIai ii was, you lncw wIai wc agrccd ii'd
lc."
"Fclcasc." SIc said iIc word wiiI a liic, Icr disiasic as olvious as Iis
angcr. "I was jusi sonciIing warn in your lcd. SonciIing io Icl¡ you
unwind ai nigIi. SonciIing io lci you gci your rocls off."
"Muídczíonc," Ic curscd in Iialian. "Do noi iall lilc iIai."
"WIy noi? I'n noi your wifc. I wasn'i cvcn your lovcr. I was jusi your
nisircss. I was ncrcly a lody. Two arns, iwo lcgs, a ¡air of dcccni
lrcasis and oI, lci nc noi forgci, iIc ass and iIc÷"
Hc grallcd Icr, swung Icr againsi Iin so Iard ii lnoclcd iIc air oui
of Icr. His Iand luricd dcc¡ inio Icr Iair, iwining long silly sirands
around Iis fingcrs uniil Ic Icld Icr sccurcly, uniil Ic Icld Icr and sIc
couldn'i csca¡c. "You lnow iIc iruiI. You lnow Iow ii was for nc. Dui
ii's noi cnougI for you io lnow iIc iruiI. You nusi Icar ii. You wani iIc
words."
Tcars lurncd in Icr cycs. "Ycs! I wani iIc words. I wani io lnow wIai ii
was you fcli wIcn you ¡ui your nouiI on nc. I wani io lnow wIai ii
was you wanicd wIcn you canc io nc, wIcn you canc in nc, wIcn you
nadc nc wcc¡ wiiI nccd. I wani io lnow. I Iavc io lnow and I will asl
you cvcry ninuic of cvcry day uniil you givc nc wIai I'n dcs¡craic io
lnow."
"TIc iruiI? You wani iIc iruiI? OI, I wanicd you. I wanicd you so
ladly iIai I couldn'i siay away fron you, I couldn'i forgci you, I couldn'i
lcc¡ you fron ny nind. Fron ny Icari. Fron ny slin. I would walc ai
nigIi and wani you. I would walc ai dawn and nccd you. I would fall
aslcc¡ Iungry for iIc iasic of you. Hungry for iIc sncll of you. Dccausc
iIcrc was jusi you. Only you. I was con¡lcicly addicicd io you."
WiiI cvcry word Ic'd ¡ullcd Icr closcr. WiiI cvcry word Ic'd lificd Icr
facc IigIcr. WiiI cvcry word Ic'd lcni Iis Icad lowcr.
"I wanicd you, Icííu, I wanicd you wiiI nc nigIi and day. I wanicd you
so nucI iIai ii lillcd nc io lcavc you aficr I'd nadc lovc io you. Killcd
nc walling oui iIc door lnowing ai anyiinc you could Iavc sonconc
clsc, iIai you could cIoosc sonconc clsc, iIai you could wall away fron
nc."
His li¡s grazcd Icrs, a Iard lrusI of Icaicd slin and Icr nouiI
quivcrcd ai iIc sccni of Iin, iIc fccl of Iin. SIc draggcd in air, lody
ircnlling, lcgs lilc sonciIing luili oui of lrcad siicls, sionacI a lowl
of jclly. SIc was a ncss. SIc was losi. Franiic.
"You didn'i Iavc io lcavc," sIc cIolcd, waniing norc, so sIancd and
ficrcc. EvcryiIing was all ni×cd u¡, cnoiion and ¡assion, dcsirc and
frusiraiion and sIc iIougIi sIc'd ncvcr lovcd anyonc so nucI as sIc
lovcd Iin jusi iIcn. "I was yours and only yours. Fron iIc lcginning.
Fron iIc vcry firsi nigIi. Fron iIc vcry firsi iinc I saw you."
His li¡s covcrcd Icrs, Icld, siill, jusi ioucI, jusi slin. SIc fcli Icrsclf
ncliing, dissolving, lcconing only Icarilrcal and nccd. Ai lasi, iIc fccl
of Iin, ai lasi, iIc warniI of Iin, ai lasi iIc iasic sIc'd cravcd.
TIc ¡rcssurc of Iis nouiI incrcascd, iIc old dclicious iorncni, iIc way
Ic Iad of ioucIing Icr, iIc way Ic Iad of owning Icr wiiI jusi a liss. Ii
was Iis nouiI, ii was Iis sircngiI, ii was Iis cסcriisc.
Hc didn'i rusI anyiIing. Hc didn'i Iavc io. Jusi onc liss fron Iin and
sIc'd do anyiIing Ic aslcd of Icr. Onc liss and sIc'd siri¡ larc. Onc
liss and Ic Iad Icr forcvcr.
"You don'i iIinl I lnow?" His voicc was dcc¡, guiiural. "You don'i iIinl
I lnow wIai I Iad, wIai I losi?"
For iIc firsi iinc sIc Icard sonciIing in Iis voicc sIc'd ncvcr Icard
lcforc÷¡ain. Fcgrci. Longing.
Sur¡riscd ly iIc rarc glin¡sc of cnoiion, sIc iricd io wra¡ Icr arns
around Iis nccl lui Ic caugIi Icr wrisis in Iis Iand and Icld iIcn u¡,
away, sus¡cndcd. "You siill don'i lnow Ialf of ii, Icííu. You Iavc no idca
of wIo I an. No idca of wIai I'vc donc, of wIai I'n ca¡allc of doing."
"I don'i carc." SIc iuggcd ai iIc Iold Ic Iad ovcr Icr. Ii was naddcning
io wani so nucI of Iin and Iavc iIc scnsaiion so conirollcd. "I'vc ncvcr
wanicd anyonc iIc way I wani you. Havcn'i cvcr lovcd÷"
"Noi lovc," Ic inicrru¡icd ficrccly, Iis fcaiurcs drawn, a dull flusI
s¡rcading ovcr Iis cIcclloncs. "Wc agrccd÷"
"WIai? You iIinl you can cIain iIc Icari? Tcll iIc soul wIo io wani,
wIo io cravc? How is ii ¡ossillc io lcgislaic lovc?"
"Dui iIcrc arc laws," Ic answcrcd, "iIcrc u¡c ordinanccs. Fulcs."
"Maylc for narriagc÷"
SIc didn'i lnow if Ic lrolc away or ¡usIcd Icr away. SIc ncarly cricd
ai iIc suddcn loss of coniaci, awarc of Iin, awarc of Iow Icr lody fcli
Iin, iIc ¡rcss of Iin, iIc sizc, iIc sircngiI, iIcir lnowlcdgc of cacI
oiIcr as ¡rofound as ii was iniinaic.
No onc Iad cvcr lovcd anyonc iIc way sIc lovcd Iin.
No onc could cvcr lovc anyonc as nucI as sIc'd always lovc Iin.
"Dui wc'rc noi narricd," sIc said, rciurning io Iin, wra¡¡ing Icr arns
around Iis waisi, lifiing Icr facc io scc Iin. "Wc can do wIai wc wani,
wc can say wIai wc fccl. Wc'rc frcc."
"I'n noi."
A nusclc ¡ullcd lciwccn Icr cycs and sIc said noiIing, jusi Icld Iin,
jusi Icld on io Iin for dcar lifc. "I'vc ncvcr lccn frcc," Ic addcd IarsIly,
Iis voicc graiing.
Hcr li¡s did a sirangc quivcr. SucI a wrcicIcd loss of conirol, sIc
iIougIi, irying io liic down, Iidc Icr suddcn wclling of cnoiion.
"I uscd you." Hc loolcd down inio Icr cycs, Iis darl gazc loiI Iiding
and rcvcaling ragc.
"Evcry iinc I canc io you, Cass, I uscd you. And licd io you. Again and
again. And I would Iavc lc¡i coning io you, and using you, if you Iadn'i
aslcd for norc. If you Iadn'i aslcd for lovc."
SIc was afraid io novc, afraid io lrcaiIc. Evcry word Ic said llisicrcd
Icr Icari ancw.
"Asl nc now, Cass, wIai ii was you'vc lccn waniing io lnow. Asl nc
now iIc qucsiions iIai Iavc lc¡i you u¡ ai nigIi."
And now iIai Ic was giving Icr iIc o¡¡oriuniiy io asl, now iIai Ic'd
o¡cncd iIc door, ¡avcd iIc way, sIc couldn'i. SIc didn'i wani io lnow
wIy Ic wouldn'i÷couldn'i÷lovc Icr lacl. "No."
SIc novcd io dro¡ Icr arns lui Ic caugIi Icr Iands in iIc snall of
Iis lacl and Icld iIcn iIcrc.
"Asl."
"No."
"You'vc iorn your Icari in sIrcds. You sio¡¡cd slcc¡ing. Eaiing. You
ncarly quii your jol. Conc on, asl wIai ii is you wcrc so dcs¡c¡utc io
lnow."
SIc fcli iIc icars wcll, so Ioi, so saliy, fcli iIc icars insidc Icr, all iIc
way iIrougI Icr io iIc ¡lacc wIcrc drcans arc sIa¡cd and sccrcis lc¡i.
"You'rc going io lrcal wIai's lcfi of ny Icari, arcn'i you?"
"How lucly you Iavc a liiilc lii lcfi io lrcal."
SIc fcli Icr lrow crun¡lc, Icr li¡s ircnllc and iIc icars wcrc filling
Icr cycs, so Ioi, so in¡ossillc io Iold lacl. "You'rc crucl."
"Cod, ycs. I'n iIc crucllcsi nan you'll cvcr ncci."
And iIai was all ii iool. TIc lasi and final cui. SIc Iad noiIing norc io
losc, noiIing norc io Iidc, noiIing norc io rcvcal, and sIc could fccl
Iin, fccl Icr Iands wra¡¡ing around Iis rils, fccl iIc way Iis cIcsi
cסandcd wiiI a lrcaiI, iIc Icai of Iis slin ¡cnciraiing Iis sIiri,
warning Icr Iands. SIc could fccl Iis sircngiI, iIc sIccr sizc of Iin,
iall, lig, in¡osing. SIc could fccl iIc way Ic siood ovcr Icr, iIc way Ic
Iad io lcnd, lcan down io liss iIc sidc of Icr nccl.
Cass closcd Icr cycs, squcczcd Icr Iands inio fisis and iricd io sio¡ iIc
sIcci of dcsirc winding iigIi and iigIicr, naling Icr long for cvcryiIing
again. "WIy couldn'i I asl for lovc? WIai was so wrong wiiI iIai?"
Hc di¡¡cd Iis Icad, covcrcd Icr nouiI wiiI Iis and lisscd Icr dcc¡ly,
inicnily, lisscd Icr so long iIai Icr Icad s¡un and Icr lrcaiI lccanc
Iis.
SIc was clinging io Iin, Icr Iands naling fisis in Iis sIiri, Icr Ii¡s
¡rcsscd io Iis, lrcasis crusIcd io Iis cIcsi.
Hc'd lisscd Icr nany iincs, lisscd Icr wiiI ¡assion and Iungcr,
arrogancc and ¡osscssion, lui iIis liss was cvcryiIing aliogciIcr. Ii was
an adnission of lovc and loss, nccd and guili, ii was a liss iIai iold Icr
no naiicr wIai clsc Ia¡¡cncd in lifc, sIc'd oncc lccn iruly dcsircd.
Truly lovcd.
Evcn if Ic wouldn'i say iIc words.
Evcn if Ic ncvcr said iIc words.
Long ninuics laicr Ma×inos lificd Iis Icad, slowly swc¡i Iis iIunl
across Icr quivcring lowcr li¡ and snilcd iIc snilc of a nan lurning in
Icll.
"I'vc lccn narricd, Icííu. TIc cniirc iinc wc wcrc iogciIcr, I'vc lccn
sonconc's Iusland." Hc laugIcd incrcdulously as Ic sIool Iis Icad.
"Cass, for iIc iwo and a Ialf ycars wc wcrc iogciIcr, I lclongcd io
sonconc clsc."




CHAPTER TWELVE

"I WAS narricd wIcn wc nci," Ic rc¡caicd, Iis voicc Iardcr, loudcr. "I
was narricd ai iIc iinc wc sio¡¡cd sccing cacI oiIcr. My wifc only
rcccnily dicd."
Cass couldn'i ¡roccss ii all. Qucsiions-¡roicsis-raccd iIrougI Icr
nind. How could Ic Iavc lccn narricd? How did Iis wifc dic?
"You wcrc narricd?" SIc sirugglcd io gci iIc words oui cvcn as Icr
Icari scrcancd in dcnial. Ii was in¡ossillc. Hc couldn'i Iavc lccn
narricd. Surcly Ic would Iavc iold Icr. TIcy'd Iad iIcir sccrcis and
silcnccs, lui fundancnially iIcy wcrc iogciIcr, iIcy wcrc...
"Ycs." Hc didn'i cסlain and nadc no a¡ology.
Dui sIc sIool Icr Icad, unallc io accc¡i wIai Ic'd said, unallc io
lclicvc wIai Ic ncani. Hc was wrong. V¡ong. Hc wouldn'i Iavc a wifc,
noi wIcn Ic was loving Icr, naling lovc io Icr...
"How long wcrc you narricd?" sIc wIis¡crcd, siruggling io nalc scnsc
of iIis wIcn cvcryiIing insidc Icr was Iowling in ¡roicsi.
"Ncarly iwclvc ycars."
Cass ¡ui a Iand io Icr nouiI, ¡rcsscd againsi Icr u¡¡cr li¡ irying io
Iold iIc cold, sicl rcaciion in as iinc sIificd, lrolc, Iours, scconds,
livcs sIaiicring inio liiilc liis of lovc and dusi.
And dusi.
Hc'd lccn ... narricd.
Hc'd lccn wiiI Icr and nu¡¡ícd¯
Cass fcli so nucI ai iIc noncni iIai sIc didn'i lnow wIcrc io lool, or
wIai io do.
Hcr lcgs fcli as iIougI iIcy lclongcd io sonconc clsc, on sonconc clsc,
and sIc siunllcd laclward, ialing sic¡s iIai fcli siiff and gangly.
Maylc iIis wasn'i Ia¡¡cning, naylc nonc of iIis was rcal. Maylc if
sIc jusi closcd Icr cycs and o¡cncd iIcn again sIc'd discovcr ii was a
drcan. Maylc sIc was in lcd and drcaning, iIc drcans iIai sli¡ fron
iIc fcarful ¡aris of iIc nind, iIc drcans of Icarilrcal and nccd...
"Did you lovc Icr?" Cass aslcd, noi lnowing wIai clsc io say, wIai io
do. His rcvclaiion was lrcaling wIai was lcfi of Icr Icari.
"In iIc lcginning. Dcforc sIc was unfaiiIful."
"SIc was unfaiiIful?"
"Lorna ÷" Hc iool a lrcaiI. "My laic wifc, was involvcd wiiI Enilio."
"And so you goi involvcd wiiI nc?"
"No."
"Dui you did. You siaricd sccing nc lcforc sIc dicd so iIai docs nalc
you unfaiiIful."
"Ycs."
Ma×inos's voicc sIoi iIrougI Icr, Iard inicnsc, and sIc iurncd away,
¡ui a ircnlling Iand io Icr cIcsi as if sIc could lcc¡ Icr Icari fron
lrcaling iIrougI.
WIcn sIc canc Icrc ycsicrday norning sIc Iad wanicd anoiIcr
cIancc wiiI Iin.
SIc'd wanicd a cIancc io say all iIai Iad ncvcr lccn said lcforc,
wanicd a cIancc io asl for ÷no, dcnand ÷norc, iIis iinc wiiIoui fcar
lccausc sIc alrcady lncw wIai would Ia¡¡cn if sIc failcd. SIc alrcady
lncw iIc worsi-casc sccnario.
SIc'd lnown iIc worsi-casc sccnario would lc iIai Ic'd lcavc Icr,
rcjcci Icr, icll Icr io go.
SIc'd iIougIi sIc'd lnown iIc worsi-casc sccnario, iIougI sIc'd
¡rc¡arcd Icrsclf for iIc worsi iIai could Ia¡¡cn.
SIc'd lccn wrong. Again.
"I wanicd io divorcc Icr, Cass, lui I couldn'i. TIcrc wcrc circunsianccs
÷"
'TIcrc arc always circunsianccs, arcn'i iIcrc?" Cass flasIcd, disgusicd
wiiI Iin, furious wiiI Icrsclf. "Ii's anazing iIc siorics narricd ncn
conc u¡ wiiI."
"Ii's noi lilc iIai."
"Ii is lilc iIai. You wcrc narricd and you dcccivcd nc. My noiIcr's
loyfricnd was narricd and Ic licd io Icr. Arc all ncn lilc you? Lying,
cIcaiing lasiards?"
"No," Ma×inos ground oui, ialing Iold of Icr sIouldcrs and giving Icr
a sIalc. "Sonc ncn arc good, and sonc ncn arc ¡crIa¡s irusiworiIy.
I'n noi saying I'n onc of iIcn, lui iIis isn'i as sin¡lc as jusi lcing
narricd or divorccd. TIcrc wcrc dociors and lawycrs, dcicciivcs and
invcsiigaiions and couri cascs. Ii was cvcryiIing niscrallc and ugly and
I don'i cסcci you io undcrsiand, lui I also can'i allow you io iIinl iIai I
didn'i carc aloui you. I carcd. Dcc¡ly."
"Dcc¡ly cnougI io lc narricd for wIai? Twclvc ycars? And ncvcr oncc
say onc word aloui iIis sccrci wifc of yours cvcn as you lcddcd nc and
wIislcd nc away on ronaniic rcndczvous."
"Ii's noi iIai llacl or wIiic."
"Of coursc noi. You livc in sIadcs of gray."
"Dccausc I Iad io."
"Scrcw you." Scalding icars fillcd Icr cycs and sIc Icadcd for iIc car.
"I couldn'i divorcc Icr, Cass. SIc was ill. In a cona. I couldn'i divorcc
Icr. Couldn'i Iuri Icr fanily÷Cod lnows, iIcy'd lccn iIrougI
cnougI÷or ny fanily, aliIougI iIcy would Iavc siood ly nc lccausc
iIcy lncw iIc iruiI ÷"
"You sIould Iavc iold nc." SIc lcancd againsi iIc car, Icr lcgs
sIaling, Icr insidcs a siclcning nass of adrcnalinc and ncrvcs. "You
owcd nc iIc iruiI."
"I iIougIi ÷"
"WIai?" SIc couldn'i Icl¡ inicrru¡iing Iin, Icr lody, cIcsi, Icari wcrc
crazcd wiiI ¡ain. SIc fcli Ialf nad wiiI
dcs¡air...disgusi...disillusionncni. "You iIougIi I wouldn'i find oui? You
iIougIi cסcnsivc gifis of jcwcllcry would luy nc off? WIai did you
iIinl?"
"TIai I was going io lc frcc."
"Frcc." SIc laugIcd. TIcn cricd. "SIii. How is iIis ¡ossillc?
How is ii you'vc lccn narricd and living a lic and lciiing nc lclicvc you
wcrc jusi lusy...occu¡icd wiiI worl... " Cass's cycs sircancd and Icr
nosc ran and sIc wi¡cd Icr wci facc wiiI iIc lacl of Icr Iand. "Lci's
jusi go, ¡lcasc. I wani io go Ionc, ¡lcasc. Now."
Ma×inos clinlcd inio iIc car, and siaricd iIc cnginc and as Ic lcfi iIc
sIouldcr of iIc road, swifily, cסcrily ncrging inio iIc frccway iraffic,
sIc glanccd ai Iin, loolcd inio Iis facc, iIc facc sIc'd lovcd, iIc nan
sIc'd lovcd, and ii was lilc lcing iIrown inio a raging firc.
Ii lurncd.
And lurncd.
And lurncd.
Ii wasn'i iIai sIc didn'i lovc Iin anynorc ÷Cod Icl¡ Icr, sIc did ÷lui
cvcryiIing sIc'd Io¡cd, cvcryiIing sIc'd irusicd Iad lccn wrong.
SIc'd lccn wrong...aloui lovc. Aloui Iin.
And ii Iad Iuri so nucI lasi iinc irying io gci ovcr Iin, irying io forgci
Iin. Ii Iad Iuri worsc iIan sIc'd iIougIi, alnosi worsc iIan sIc could
lcar, lui if iIcrc was any good ncws, ii was iIai dcs¡iic iIc ¡ain, sIc
Iadn'i dicd.
SIc'd sirugglcd and foldcd, sirugglcd and ri¡¡cd, sirugglcd, lcni,
lrolc, lui soncIow sIc'd cndurcd. Survivcd.
Acid icars siung Cass's cycs. SIc lci Icr lasIcs closc and sIc gcnily,
iIcn firnly, lii inio Icr sofi lowcr li¡. If sIc'd survivcd Ma×inos oncc,
sIc could do ii again.
Noi iIai sIc cvcr wanicd io livc iIai Icll again.
Dui sIc'd conc io rcalizc iIai lovc was woriI iIc c×ira figIi. Lovc was
woriI iIc c×ira cffori, iIc c×ira nilc, and iIai's wIy sIc'd conc Icrc iIis
wcclcnd. Onc norc cIancc.
Onc norc ¡raycr.
Onc norc figIi.
Dui ii was iIc cnd of iIc naicI and sIc'd losi iIc figIi and sIc Iad io
lc lig and lravc and rcnind Icrsclf iIai lovc was risly, and rcal lovc
woriI Icarilrcal.
Hcr cIcsi acIcd, air loiilcd insidc, cnoiion Ioi, iIc ¡ain siill so rcccni
sIc Iadn'i forgoiicn iIc suffcring, noi in iIc lcasi.
"You said sIc'd lccn in a cona," Cass said aficr scvcral ninuics of
cndlcss, Iorrcndous silcncc.
"Ycs."
SIc loolcd ai Iin, cycs, Icari, soul on firc. "And sIc dicd?"
"In carly Junc."
Sunc tínc us tIc IuI¸.
Cass lii ruiIlcssly inio Icr loiion li¡, irying noi io iIinl iIai ¡crIa¡s
iIc niscarriagc was sonc god-awful ¡unisIncni, a judgncni ly Cod, or
larna for slcc¡ing wiiI a narricd nan. "How did sIc dic?"
"SIc caugIi an infcciion. TIc infcciion s¡rcad. TIc aniilioiics didn'i
caicI ii in iinc."
"And you'rc noi cvcn sad?"
"TIcrc's sorrow."
"Sorrow." Hcr ionc vilraicd wiiI conicn¡i.
Hc sIoi Icr a long, curious lool. "Ii's lccn icn ycars of sorrow. I losi
Lorna ycars ago. I'vc livcd wiiI iIis Iorrcndous cnoiion÷iIis ni× of
gricf, ragc, guili÷for a dccadc. And naylc Lorna's lody was in iIc
Ios¡iial for icn ycars, lui sIc'd lccn gonc. TIcrc'd lccn no lrain
aciiviiy...no sign of Lorna. If ii wcrcn'i for iIc nacIincs lcc¡ing Icr
lrcaiIing, sIc would Iavc dicd iIc nigIi of iIc accidcni."
"Dui sIc didn'i."
"Dccausc I insisicd iIcy lcc¡ Icr alivc." Hc ¡rcsscd Iis ¡alns againsi
iIc siccring wIccl. "I wcni againsi Icr wisIcs...Icr fanily's
wisIcs...insisicd iIc dociors do cvcryiIing iIcy could io lcc¡ Icr alivc."
"SIc didn'i Iavc a living will?"
"Jusi a vcrlal 'If anyiIing cvcr Ia¡¡cns...' lui iIai nigIi, faccd wiiI iIc
Iorror of ii all, iIc rcalizaiion ÷" Ic lrolc off, drcw a raggcd lrcaiI " ÷I
did wIai I could as Icr Iusland. So iIc nacIincs wcrc iurncd on and ii
was only rcccnily iIc nacIinc was iurncd off."
Cass was surc iIcrc wcrc norc iIings sIc sIould asl, norc sIc sIould
wani io lnow lui sIc couldn'i ialc in anyiIing clsc. Couldn'i alsorl or
¡roccss anyiIing clsc. SIc fcli ioo nucI sIocl and Icarilrcal. Too
nucI ¡ain.
Ma×inos Iad ¡laycd Icr for a fool.
Hc'd lnown fron iIc lcginning iIai Icr grcaicsi fcar was falling in lovc
wiiI a narricd nan and wIai Iad sIc donc?
Fallcn in lovc wiiI a narricd nan!
Ii was so ¡aiIciic sIc alnosi wanicd io laugI. SIc nccdcd io laugI.
TIis couldn'i lc Icr lifc. Ii was awful. In¡ossillc.
Ma×inos drovc on, Icading noriI io Mcssina, lui lciwccn iIc iinc
s¡cni on iIc sidc of iIc road and a iraffic accidcni iIai snarlcd iIc
frccway, closing down cvcry lanc in loiI dircciions, iIcy nisscd iIc lasi
fcrry oui of Mcssina Icading io iIc nainland.
Cass couldn'i lclicvc ii. TIcy wcrc going io Iavc io find a Ioicl in
Mcssina io s¡cnd iIc nigIi.
SIc couldn'i cvcn lool ai Ma×inos as iIcy drovc away fron iIc fcrry
icrninal. TIcrc was no way sIc could s¡cnd anoiIcr Iour in Iis
con¡any nucI lcss iIc nigIi. "I'n noi going io sIarc a roon wiiI you,"
sIc said liiicrly. "I rcfusc."
"Finc."
"I will ncvcr sIarc a roon wiiI you again. I will ncvcr slcc¡ wiiI you or
ioucI you ÷"
"Cass ÷"
"No! You don'i undcrsiand. I Iaic you. I Iaic wIai you'vc donc io us...io
nc. Nonc of iIis Iad io Ia¡¡cn. Nonc of iIis sIould Iavc Ia¡¡cncd. You
Iad no lusincss coniaciing nc. A¡¡roacIing nc. Scducing nc. You Iad
no rigIi ai all."
"You'rc rigIi," Ic quicily agrccd, sIifiing down, coning io a four-way
sio¡. "I didn'i."
"Dui you did."
His Icad dro¡¡cd fraciionally and sIc could scc Iis li¡s iwisi. His
dcnsc llacl lasIcs lowcrcd, sIuiicring Iis cycs. Aficr a noncni Ic
laugIcd, sofily, and yci iIc sound was ¡ainful, IarsI. "You wcrc ny
downfall. I'vc failcd nany iincs, lui you liicrally lrougIi nc io ny
lnccs. I s¡cni Iours in iIc Duono on ny lnccs, ¡raying. Dcgging Cod
for Icl¡, for guidancc, for couragc. I ¡raycd cvcry day for iIc ¡asi iwo
and a Ialf ycars iIai Ic'd givc nc iIc sircngiI io givc you u¡. I ¡raycd
iIai Hc'd forgivc nc for loving you wIcn I didn'i dcscrvc you. I ¡raycd for
¡cacc. For rcsoluiion. For Io¡c. Dui aficr a wIilc, Cass, iIcrc was no
Io¡c. TIcrc ccriainly was no ¡cacc."
Cass squcczcd Icr cycs sIui. His confcssion didn'i Icl¡. His confcssion
nadc Icr fccl worsc and sIc wanicd io lasI oui, Iuri Iin, Iuri Iin iIc
sanc way Ic'd Iuri Icr...noi jusi oncc, lui ovcr and ovcr. Hc Iuri Icr ly
coning io Icr on nigIis and wcclcnds for iwo and a Ialf ycars. Hc Iuri
Icr ly ialing Icr lody lui rcjcciing Icr Icari.
SIc'd lovcd Ma×inos so inicnscly sIc'd ncvcr loolcd ai Iin and fcli
anyiIing lui firc.
Ncvcr fcli anyiIing lui lusi, Iungcr, ¡assion, dcsirc.
Cod Icl¡ Icr, lui sIc'd wanicd Iin jusi as nucI as Ic'd wanicd Icr.
SIc'd wanicd ÷nccdcd ÷io lc ialcn ly Iin, ¡osscsscd ly Iin. SIc uscd
io lc so dcs¡craic io scc Iin iIai sIc would Iavc donc jusi aloui
anyiIing io lc in iIc sanc roon wiiI Iin, anyiIing io Icar Iis voicc,
anyiIing io Iavc ¡cacc.
How ironic. TIcy'd loiI ¡raycd for ¡cacc. For caln. For rcsoluiion. How
ironic iIai iIcy'd loiI lccn dcnicd wIai iIcy nccdcd nosi.
"For days aficr you firsi lcfi, ii was lilc lcing lillcd. Slowly."
SIc ¡rcsscd Icr arns and cllows io Icr niddlc. "Ii was lilc you'd
luricd a rusiy iron nail inio ny cIcsi and I couldn'i gci ii oui. WiiI cvcry
lrcaiI ii Iuri. Evcry sic¡ ii acIcd. Evcry iIougIi nadc ii worsc."
"Odd," Ic said aficr a sligIi ¡ausc, "lui I fcli iIc sanc way." SIc lii Icr
li¡ Iard, liiing wiiI so nucI forcc sIc lrolc iIc slin and iasicd llood.
Turning Icr Icad sIc siarcd oui iIc car window, Mcssina's ciiy ligIis a
llur of ycllow and wIiic io Icr iircd cycs. "I jusi wani io lc Ionc."
"I lnow. I'n sorry."
"You didn'i Iavc io drivc nc ¡crsonally," sIc addcd, nails ¡rcsscd io
Icr ¡alns, lnowing ii was ioo laic io cIangc anyiIing, lnowing iIai iIcy
wcrc alrcady in iIc car, Ialfway cn rouic lui sIc couldn'i coniain Icr
angcr, or Icr dcs¡air. If only iIcy'd ncvcr siaricd iIis! If only sIc'd ncvcr
nci Ma×inos Cuiliano.
"Wc nccdcd io iall."
SIc nadc a raw, rougI sound, wIicI Ic ignorcd. Insicad Ic ¡iclcd u¡
Iis ¡Ionc and lcgan calling Ioicls io cIccl on roon availaliliiy.
Twcniy ninuics laicr Ic'd ¡arlcd on a quici sidc sircci and was siill
naling calls io Ioicls, siill irying io gci roons for iIc nigIi. As Ic'd
fcarcd, ii was iIc cnd of iIc lusy sunncr Ioliday scason, iIc niddlc of
iIc Fcsia dclla Madonna dclla Lucc, and Ioicls wcrc loolcd solid.
"Maylc wc sIould jusi rciurn io Oriygia," Ic said grinly. "TIcrc arc
¡lcniy of lcds ai iIc ¡alazzo."
"I don'i wani io go lacl." Cass sIificd wcarily in Icr scai. "I wani io go
Ionc. I wani io caicI iIc firsi fcrry oui of Icrc in iIc norning."
"Dui iIc Ioicls in Mcssina arc loolcd. Wc can drivc lacl io Taornina
and iry our lucl iIcrc ÷"
"Plcasc don'i nalc nc sii in iIc car anoiIcr Iour."
"Wc don'i Iavc a loi of o¡iions, Cass."
"WIai aloui iIc snall Ioicl ncar iIc Iarlour? TIc onc ncar iIc fcrry
icrninal?"
"Ii's liiilc norc iIan a lcd-and-lrcalfasi, and ii only Ias onc roon
availallc÷wIicI you rcjccicd lccausc you rcfusc io sIarc."
Hcr rcsisiancc io sIaring a roon was quiclly cIanging. "Dui ii's closc
cnougI io iIc icrninal, and if ii ncans wc can coniinuc Ionc carly in
iIc norning, ii's woriI ii."
Ma×inos diallcd iIc lcd-and-lrcalfasi a sccond iinc, lci iIc owncr
lnow iIcy'd ialc iIc lasi roon and iurncd iIc car around.
Ii was nidnigIi wIcn iIcy rcacIcd iIc largc Iousc, wIicI Iad lccn
convcricd io a snall Ioicl. As iIc owncr Iad said, iIc roons wcrc all full
and iIc onc roon iIai Ia¡¡cncd io lc availallc was far fron dcsirallc.
TIc roon was snall, narrow, and ai iIc vcry io¡ of iIc Iousc.
"Ii's warn," iIc Ioicl owncr said a¡ologciically.
"Ii's finc," Ma×inos answcrcd. "Ii Ias a lcd."
"And a laiIroon ai iIc cnd of iIc sccond floor Iall."
All iIc oiIcr Ioicl gucsis Iad long gonc io lcd and aficr rcacIing iIcir
roon on iIc iIird floor ÷a roon iIai Iad lccn carvcd fron iIc aiiic
÷Ma×inos iold Cass io go usc iIc laiIroon firsi.
Cass clinlcd lacl down iIc narrow woodcn siaircasc io iIc snall
laiIroon, fillcd iIc laiIiul wiiI jusi a fcw incIcs of cIilly waicr sincc
iIcrc didn'i sccn io lc any Ioi waicr lcfi io s¡lasI off iIc day's swcai
and grinc. Ii Iad lccn a long day, sIc iIougIi, as sIc rinscd iIc soa¡
off and sic¡¡cd oui of iIc iul and lcgan io dry off. In faci iIc lasi iwo
days Iad fcli lilc a ycar...a dccadc...a lifciinc.
Wra¡¡cd in jusi Icr laiI iowcl sIc quicily Icadcd lacl u¡ iIc siairs io
iIcir lcdroon on iIc iIird floor. Ma×inos was siiiing in iIc darl on iIc
snall window's lcdgc, lcgs ouisircicIcd, Iis sIiri unluiioncd. ''Trying io
caicI a lrcczc," Ic said.
SIc iuggcd iIc iowcl iigIicr. "Ii is ¡rciiy Ioi in Icrc."
"I don'i iIinl ii's going io cool down nucI."
"TIcn you sIould lilc iIc laiI. TIai's aciually quiic cold."
"OI?"
"TIcrc's no Ioi waicr."
"E×ccllcni."
His dry ionc nadc Icr snilc. SIc couldn'i lclicvc sIc siill Iad ii in Icr
io snilc. Dui Icr dcsirc io snilc fadcd as sIc survcycd iIc snall lcd.
"Wc'rc noi loiI going io iry io slcc¡ in iIai, arc wc?"
Hc siood u¡, ¡cclcd off Iis sIiri and dro¡¡cd ii on iIc lacl of iIc
riclciy woodcn cIair in iIc corncr. "I'n noi in iIc nood for iIc floor."
"Ycs, lui ÷"
"Wc uscd io slcc¡ closc."
"Dui ÷"
"You'll survivc. Ii's only onc nigIi. TIc lasi nigIi. I ¡ronisc."
Hc ¡roniscs.
SIc cycd Iis larc cIcsi, Iis iorso nuscular, lcauiifully so, lcforc
iurning away, noi waniing io scc wIai sIc couldn'i Iavc, wIai wasn'i
Icrs io Iavc, noi now iIai sIc lncw iIc iruiI.
"Cassandra."
His dcc¡, Iard voicc ¡icrccd Icr Icari. SIc didn'i wani io Icar any
norc, noi ionigIi, noi aficr iIc lasi iwo days wIcrc sIc'd fcli far ioo
nucI for far ioo long. All sIc wanicd now was slcc¡. Slcc¡ and
forgcifulncss. If sIc could only walc u¡ and noi rcncnlcr...noi
rcncnlcr Iin, or Icr, noi rcncnlcr iIc niscarriagc, noi rcncnlcr Iis
laic wifc... Maylc iIcn sIc could siari ovcr, siari frcsI, lccausc as ii
siood now sIc was ira¡¡cd. Funning on a ircadnill of Iuri and
Icarilrcal.
"Cood nigIi, Ma×inos," sIc wIis¡crcd, ¡ulling iIc covcrs lacl and
sliding Icr lcgs lciwccn iIc cris¡ sIccis.
Hc Icsiiaicd a noncni in iIc doorway, Iis lroad sIouldcrs silIouciicd
ly iIc sofi ycllow Iall ligIi. "Cood nigIi, cu¡íssínu."
Aficr Ic was gonc Ioi icars fillcd Icr cycs and sIc luricd Icr facc in
iIc crool of Icr arn and fougIi iIc icars lacl. No wondcr Ic'd ncvcr
givcn Icr iIc lovc nccdcd or iIc iinc sIc cravcd. Hc'd Iad a wifc Ic was
su¡¡oscd io lovc. AnoiIcr lifc Ic was su¡¡oscd io livc. SIc couldn'i cry,
noi ovcr a nan wIo'd givcn Icr so liiilc wIcn sIc'd nccdcd so nucI.
Cass was lying on Icr sidc, facing iIc wall wIcn sIc Icard Ma×inos
rciurn, quicily closing iIc lcdroon door lcIind Iin. SIc lisicncd io Iin
cross iIc roon in iIrcc sIori sic¡s, fcli iIc covcrs lifi, iIc naiircss givc
as Ic sai down and iIcn Ic was sircicIing oui nc×i io Icr in iIc snall
lcd, Iis lig lody inncdiaicly crowding Icrs.
SIc iool a quicl lrcaiI, irying io conirol Icr scnscs, iIc crazy flurry of
ncrvcs. Fcar and dcsirc, sIc iIougIi, incIing ioward iIc wall, away fron
Ma×inos's lody lui unallc io go far cnougI io csca¡c Iis warniI, or Iis
slin. TIc lcd was ioo snall. TIcrc was nowIcrc io novc io, no ¡lacc io
csca¡c.
Dui lying Icrc lilc iIis, so closc io Iin, Icr lacl fiiicd io Iis cIcsi, Icr
Ii¡s cradlcd ly Iis, was ioriurc.
Madncss.
Ii lrougIi lacl cvcry cnoiion, cvcry scnsaiion, lrougIi lacl iIc
inicnsc ¡lcasurc sIc'd found wiiI Iin ÷losi in Iin ÷lrougIi lacl iIc
ficrcc sc×ual awarcncss Ma×inos Iad awalcncd in Icr.
Dcforc Ma×inos sIc'd ncvcr iIougIi sIc was ¡ariicularly scnsual, or
sc×ual, lui Ic cIangcd Icr, lrougIi oui sonciIing in Icr, sonciIing
¡riniiivc and carnal, sonciIing alivc and dcnanding. Hc nadc Icr wani
cvcryiIing.
His Iand sciilcd on iIc curvc of Icr Ii¡. "Forgivc nc, Cass."
His warn lrcaiI fanncd iIc lacl of Icr nccl and Icr Iand lallcd,
clcncIing iIc covcrs.
"I can'i." SIc ¡rcsscd iIc duvci io Icr cIcsi. "You...you...you'rc... " Hcr
voicc fadcd lui iIc uns¡olcn accusaiion, iIc angcr, iIc confusion
lingcrcd in iIc darl lciwccn iIcn.
"I lovc you."
Disgusicd, sIc closcd Icr cycs, iricd io scooi furiIcr away.
"Pícusc. Havc sonc sclf-rcs¡cci ÷"
Alru¡ily Ic fli¡¡cd Icr onio Icr lacl and Ic looncd largc ovcr Icr.
"Dui I don'i, Cass Noi anynorc. Noi in ycars."
"Wcll, I wouldn'i, ciiIcr, if I was cIcaiing on ny wifc, Iaving an affair
lcIind Icr lacl!" Cass sirugglcd io sii u¡ lui Ic wouldn'i lci Icr.
Insicad Ic lcancd ovcr, Iis cIcsi lrusIing Icrs.
"I ncvcr wanicd io cIcai on ny wifc. TIc lasi iIing in ny nind wIcn I
narricd Lorna was io Iuri Icr, lciray Icr, in any way. Lorna and I wcni
io univcrsiiy iogciIcr. I'd lnown Icr for ycars lcforc wc narricd...lacl
iIcn I iIougIi wc wcrc ncani io lc."
SIc Icard iIc liiicrncss in Iis voicc, iIc noic of irony. "So wIai
Ia¡¡cncd?"
"TIcrc was an accidcni."
"A car accidcni."
"Ycs. In an Iialia Moiors' car. Our vcry firsi car. TIc ¡roioiy¡c,
aciually." Hc sai lacl, Iis ¡owcrful franc sIadowy in iIc din ligIi. "Ii
was unlclicvallc. Tragic lcyond ncasurc. And con¡lcicly ¡rcvcniallc."
"And you lclicvc Enilio lncw aloui iIc flaw?"
"OI, Ic lncw. Dui Ic was grccdy. Hc didn'i wani io ialc iIc dcsign
lacl io iIc drawing loard. Hc wanicd iIc cars on iIc narlci, wanicd
iIc salcs..."
TIis was gciiing cvcn norc convoluicd, Cass iIougIi. SIc rullcd ai
Icr forcIcad, uncasy, unconforiallc. "Can you iurn on iIc ligIi?"
Hc rollcd away, sai u¡, swiicIcd on iIc snall lcdsidc lan¡.
"Dciicr?"
Ii wasn'i lciicr. Ii was worsc. SIc could scc Iin now. Dui iIai's wIai
sIc nccdcd. Was io scc Iin. Clcarly. Plainly. No norc sccrcis, no norc
lics.
Cass couldn'i lool away fron Iis facc. A lcard sIadowcd Iis squarc
jaw. SIadows Iaunicd Iis cycs. "WIcn did you find oui aloui iIc
¡rollcn?"
"Aficr Lorna's accidcni." Ma×inos sIool Iis Icad. "TIai's wIai's so
unlclicvallc. My own wifc Iad io dic for nc io siari asling qucsiions,
digging inio iraffic rc¡oris, doing invcsiigaiions. Turns oui iIcrc wcrc
oiIcr accidcnis ÷noi a loi, lui cnougI for nc io rcalizc iIc car Iad
scrious ¡rollcns ÷and wIilc noi all cars on iIc narlci wcrc dcaiI
ira¡s, iIc ¡roioiy¡c was iIc worsi. TIc ¡roioiy¡c liicrally Iad a lralc
sysicn dcsigncd io fail."
Hc loolcd ai Icr, Iis cסrcssion Iaunicd. "Dui I'n noi llanclcss in all
iIis. I'n far fron llanclcss. I'n an cnginccr as wcll. I lnow auionolilcs,
lovc auionolilcs lui I goi caugIi u¡ in iIc lusincss ÷naling us
succcssful. Profiiallc. Dui I sIould Iavc lccn norc involvcd wiiI iIc
safciy cIccls, sIouldn'i Iavc irusicd iIc wriiicn rc¡oris Enilio gavc nc.
Insicad I sIould Iavc lccn iIcrc ÷in ¡crson ÷during cacI of iIc safciy
cIccls. I sIould Iavc lccn iIcrc consianily."
Cass fcli a iug insidc of Icr. "You can'i lc cvcrywIcrc."
"Dui iIcrc sIould lc ¡rioriiics."
SIc said noiIing as sIc drcw Icr lnccs io Icr cIcsi and wra¡¡cd Icr
arns around Icr lcgs.
"I sIould Iavc lccn Ionc norc, ioo," Ic addcd, Iis voicc sounding
wcary, far away. "Maylc Lorna wouldn'i Iavc iurncd io sonconc clsc for
lovc. Maylc sIc would Iavc lccn Ia¡¡icr wiiI nc."
"SIc Iad an affair?"
"WiiI Solaio."
"Enilio Solaio?"
"TIc vcry onc."
Cass closcd Icr cycs. SIc sIould Iavc lnown. "No wondcr you Iaic
Enilio."
TIc corncr of Iis nouiI ¡ullcd, lui Ic wasn'i sniling. "WIilc I was
iravclling onc ycar a grcai dcal, Lorna lcgan io scc Enilio. I su¡¡osc sIc
was loncly. I was ¡rolally gonc ioo nucI. SIc lcgan io s¡cnd iinc wiiI
Enilio and onc iIing lcd io anoiIcr. Prciiy soon ii was vcry Ioi and
Icavy. TIcy wcrc going io run away iogciIcr. Havc iIis grcai lifc
iogciIcr. TIcy jusi Iad io gci ny noncy firsi."
A noiI fliiicd in iIrougI iIc o¡cn window, flcw in an uncvcn arc
around iIc lan¡ and iIcn ioward Cass SIc laiicd ii away. "WIy did
iIcy nccd your noncy?"
"So iIcy could loiI rciirc in SouiI Ancrica or in iIc SouiI Pacific on
sonc island and Iavc no worrics anynorc. TIcy could jusi lc iogciIcr
and lovc ÷" Ic swallowcd, clcarcd Iis iIroai, and coniinucd " ÷lovc cacI
oiIcr."
"TIcy wanicd io livc on your noncy."
"Ycs." Hc soundcd grinly anuscd, and in Iis cycs sIc saw wIai sIc'd
sccn lcforc ÷iIc vasi wings of a darl angcl.
"Dui...Iow...wcrc iIcy going io gci your noncy?"
"Cci rid of nc." Again iIai grin anuscncni iingcd Iis words. TIcrc
was no sIocl lcfi, jusi a Iorrillc, iwisicd accc¡iancc of onc's rcaliiy.
Was iIai wIai Ic ncani wIcn Ic'd said Ic'd Iad io lcarn io accc¡i
rcaliiy?
"SIc didn'i Ioncsily ncan io lill you," Cass said, sIivcring, and Icr
nouiI iasicd cold, silvcr, iIc liic of nciallic llood.
Hc nadc a facc, cIucllcd sofily. "Ii uus iIc nosi ¡crnancni way io gci
nc oui of iIc ¡iciurc."
"You sIouldn'i laugI. Ii's noi funny, Ma×inos."
"No, ii's noi. Dui in all fairncss io Lorna, I don'i iIinl sIc rcally wanicd
nc dcad. I iIinl Enilio ¡rcssurcd Icr, uscd a conlinaiion of
¡crsuasion, cIarn and iniinidaiion io gci Icr io agrcc io...dis¡osing of
nc."
Cass drcw a snall lrcaiI. SIc'd wanicd Iin io iall, lui now iIai Ic
Iad sIc rcalizcd sIc wanicd Iin io sio¡. TIis scarcd Icr, iIc words, iIc
iruiI, iIc iIings sIc'd ncvcr lnown. Ma×inos Iad always lccn a nan of
silcncc, siillncss, a nan of darl ¡assions lui io rcalizc Ic'd lccn living a
lifc lilc iIis, irying io livc wiiI sccrcis cvcn darlcr, IarsIcr iIan sIc'd
cvcr drcancd.
"WIy didn'i sIc jusi divorcc you?"
"Cciiing Ialf ny asscis wasn'i cnougI. Or iIai's wIai Enilio convinccd
Lorna." His u¡¡cr li¡ curlcd. "I don'i cvcn lnow if sIc agrccd. SIc was
¡rcgnani you scc..."
Cass was lrcaiIing in sIallowly siill, unallc io find Icr lcarings, sicl
and cvcn norc scarcd, lui sIc didn'i scc, or sIc didn'i wani io scc...
''A liiilc girl," Ma×inos addcd, no Iunour lcfi in Iis voicc. "I wcni io iIc
docior's wiiI Icr, was iIcrc for iIai firsi incrcdillc ulirasound." Hc nadc
a rougI sound. "I siill Iavc ii. WIy, I don'i lnow."
"Dccausc you lovcd your laly."
Hc sIoi Icr a ioriurcd lool. "Evcn iIougI sIc wasn'i ny laly?" SIc
swallowcd, fcli Icr sionacI risc, Icr nind and lody ¡roicsiing
cvcryiIing sIc was lcarning.
EvcryiIing sccncd io Iavc sIificd, gonc u¡sidc down, and Cass
couldn'i find Icr fooiing, or Icr cquililriun. Jusi an Iour ago Ma×inos
Iad lccn iIc lad guy, iIc onc wIo'd wrongcd Icr.
Hc'd lccn narricd...Ic'd lccn Iaving a iwo-ycar affair wiiI Icr wIilc
lcc¡ing Iis rcal lifc sccrci, lui now sIc was lcarning iIai iIc wonan
Ic'd narricd, Ic'd ¡roniscd io ¡roicci and cIcrisI, Iad iricd io lill Iin.
How was iIis lovc? WIy would lovc Iuri, or nain, or dcsiroy? Cass
was ircnlling, all iIc nusclcs iigIicning, sIivcring wiiI sIocl and cold.
"How do you lnow iIc laly wasn'i yours? Did you Iavc a icsi ÷"
"No, lui Enilio said ÷"
"And wc lnow wIai a liar Ic is, don'i wc?"
Ma×inos ran Iis Iands iIrougI Iis Iair, riffling ii inio uiicr disordcr.
"Ii's lccn iIc danncdcsi long lifc, Icííu. I fccl lilc I'n a Iundrcd and fifiy
noi iIiriy sonciIing."
And for iIc firsi iinc all nigIi, Cass undcrsiood.
SIc undcrsiood Iis c×Iausiion, and Iis Iuri, and Iis ¡ain. Ii sccncd
in¡ossillc iIai ¡co¡lc could cIangc so, iIai ¡co¡lc wIo narricd for lovc
could iurn so crucl, could iurn io sucI Iorrcndous dcs¡craic ncasurcs.
How could lovc go?
How could lovc cnd...?
Cass ¡rcsscd onc lnucllcd fisi io Icr nouiI. "Lorna losi iIc laly in
iIc accidcni?"
"Lorna ¡lungcd off iIc cliff ncar iIc villa. SIc was airlificd unconscious
fron iIc wrccl io iIc Ios¡iial in Caiania. SIc ncvcr wolc u¡." Hc nadc
a low, sirangc sound, alnosi aninal-lilc, and full of ¡ain. "I sIouldn'i
Iavc cvcr lci iIcn Iool Icr u¡ io iIc vcniilaiors. Hcr fanily was furious
wiiI nc. TIcy said ii wasn'i wIai Lorna would wani...iIcy said...and yci
I did wIai I wanicd..."
"You lovcd Icr," Cass said sofily.
"I did." Ma×inos siarcd across iIc roon. Hc wasn'i wiiI Cass, Ic was
soncwIcrc clsc and ii was a llacl ¡lacc. Cold. Huriful. Awful.
"And Enilio?" Cass ¡crsisicd.
"Hc wallcd away. Noi wiiI ny noncy, lui Icrs. Lorna's. SIc'd cIangcd
Icr will, nadc Iin iIc lcncficiary."
And iIai was ioo nucI of a coincidcncc, sIc iIougIi, slin crawling.
Ma×inos's Iaircd was undcrsiandallc. No wondcr Ma×inos Iad lccn
so livid wIcn sIc'd sIown u¡ wiiI Enilio ai iIc ¡alazzo. No wondcr Iis
fanily Iad lccn so sIoclcd...so rc¡cllcd.
"I'n so sorry," sIc wIis¡crcd, lnowing iIc words wcrc inadcquaic,
lnowing iIai noiIing sIc said would Icl¡ or cIangc iIc ¡asi. And
¡rolally wouldn'i cIangc iIc fuiurc, ciiIcr.
Hc sIruggcd and yci Ic was far fron caln. His fcaiurcs wcrc iigIi and
firc glowcd in Iis darl cycs, ficrcc cnoiion lurning. 'TIc lcasi Ic could
Iavc donc was carcd a liiilc. S¡cni si× wccls, cigIi wccls gricving."
"Hc Iad anoiIcr wonan?"
"Inncdiaicly."



CHAPTER THIRTEEN

"YOU'FE lcaving."
Ma×inos's rougI voicc sio¡¡cd Icr cold ai iIc door. SIc was lcaving. Ii
was ncarly four-iIiriy in iIc norning and sIc'd lccn ccriain Ic was
aslcc¡. SIc'd always wanicd Ma×inos io s¡cnd iIc nigIi. SIc'd always
wanicd a nigIi wiiI Iin, a nigIi s¡cni safc in Iis arns, and finally sIc'd
Iad iIai cIancc and now sIc was iIc onc lcaving.
SIc was iIc onc drcssing in iIc darl, sli¡¡ing inio jcans and a T-sIiri
and Icading oui.
"WIy arc you lcaving?" Ic aslcd.
His voicc was dcc¡, ras¡y, sc×y and sIc fcli cnoiion iigIicn Icr cIcsi.
A lun¡ fill Icr iIroai. "You lnow wIy," sIc said, Icr own voicc Iusly.
"You lncw wIai ny grcaicsi fcar was÷"
"Cass, I'n frcc. I'n noi narricd anynorc."
"No, noi now."
"E×acily. Noi now."
"Dui wIai aloui iIc lasi iwo and a Ialf ycars? You ¡ui nc in iIc worsi
¡osiiion. Ii was a no-win siiuaiion. I could ncvcr Iavc you. I could ncvcr
narry you...Iavc a fanily wiiI you...all I could do was s¡cnd ny lifc in
iIc laclground, waiiing for you." Vuítíng ¡o¡ íouc.
"I didn'i ncan io do iIai io you. Ncvcr ncani io givc you so liiilc. I was
so surc iIings would cIangc÷"
"CIangc Iow?" Cass sIouldcrcd Icr snall ¡ursc. "WIai wcrc you going
io do? Sncal inio your wifc's roon and ¡ull iIc ¡lug?"
Hc didn'i answcr. TIc silcncc was dcafcning. Inicnsc. Darl. Hcavy.
Cass lncw inncdiaicly sIc'd lccn in¡ulsivc. Huriful. Enoiional. "I'n
sorry."
"Ncvcr nind. You'vc alrcady iricd nc, convicicd nc and scnicnccd nc
io lifc in ¡rison, Iavcn'i you?" Ma×inos's dcc¡ voicc Icld a nocling noic.
Hc iIrcw lacl iIc covcrs and drcsscd quiclly in iIc darl. "Wc nigIi as
wcll loiI go."
"I can gci Ionc alonc÷"
"I'n ialing you."
"I wani io go Ionc alonc."
"Too lad." Hc sic¡¡cd inio Iis jcans, did iIc zi¡¡cr, iuggcd a iIin
swcaicr ovcr Iis Icad. "Wc siaricd iIis iogciIcr in Ncw Yorl. Wc'll cnd ii
iogciIcr in Fonc."
Drcsscd, Ma×inos ¡iclcd u¡ iIcir suiicascs and carricd iIcn
downsiairs io iIc car wIcrc Ic dro¡¡cd iIcn inio iIc irunl. "Lci's go."
TIcy found a iiny Ioicl rcsiaurani noi far away iIai o¡cncd for
lrcalfasi ai fivc and iIcy iool scais ai iIc window iallc, ordcrcd coffcc
and siarcd in o¡¡osiic dircciions.
Ii was siill darl oui, wiiI jusi a Iini of violci gray ligIi on iIc Iorizon
and lcaning lacl againsi iIc old llacl vinyl looiI, Cass cradlcd Icr
sicaning cu¡ and rcfuscd io lci Icrsclf iIinl.
TIcrc was a loi sIc nccdcd io do. Fcclain Icr jol. Win Icr accounis
lacl. Earn cvcryonc's irusi again.
SIc didn'i nccd a rclaiionsIi¡, didn'i nccd a ¡arincr...lovcr...
If sIc wcrc singlc sIc'd accon¡lisI norc. If sIc wcrc singlc sIc'd lc
frcc io iravcl and worl norc.
Singlc was good. Singlc was lcsi.
AliIougI sIc wouldn'i Iavc nindcd lcing a singlc non...
SIc rcally wanicd io lc a non. SIc wanicd a cIild io cIcrisI, a cIild
io nuriurc, and lovc, and ¡roicci...
TIc ncciing wiiI iIc nconaial s¡ccialisi flasIcd in Icr Icad, iIc iinc
iIc docior Iad s¡cllcd oui iIc scvcriiy of iIc laly's dcforniiics. Linls
iIai wcrcn'i linls. A Icari iIai wouldn'i lcai.
And yci sIc÷so dcs¡craic and so naivc÷wanicd iIai laly anyway.
Dccausc Ma×inos's laly would ncvcr lc a nonsicr io Icr. Ma×inos's
laly would always lc a gifi. A llcssing. DiriI dcfccis and all.
SIc llinlcd, and jcrlcd as a icar fcll and iIc ¡lo¡ of iIc icar inio Icr
coffcc nadc Icr jun¡, jcrl. Coffcc slosIcd u¡ and oui, ovcr iIc cu¡'s
rin, scalding iIc lacl of Icr Iand. Cass iwiicIcd again in ¡ain, s¡illing
coffcc yci again.
"Hustu!" Ma×inos jun¡cd io Iis fcci and rcnovcd iIc cu¡ fron Icr
Iand. "WIai arc you doing?"
"Ii's noiIing."
''TIc coffcc was dann Ioi. You'rc lurncd." Hc ¡ullcd Icr u¡. "Co io iIc
laiIroon. Cci your Iand undcr cold waicr inncdiaicly."
Cass aiicn¡icd io dry Icr Iand on iIc sidc of Icr jcans. "TIai's silly.
I'n finc."
"Do ii now."
"Ii's ¡ínc."
Hc Iaulcd Icr againsi Iin and carricd Icr inio iIc snall rcsiaurani
rcsiroon. Ai iIc sinl Ic siood Icr on Icr fcci and in¡aiicnily iurncd on
iIc cold waicr faucci and sIovcd Icr Iand lcncaiI iIc cold waicr
sircan.
TIcir cycs nci in iIc nirror alovc iIc sinl. Hcr facc loolcd sirangc,
iigIi, Icr cycs gold, Icr slin siarl and wIiic. Ma×inos wasn'i as ¡alc,
Ic was also asIcn. Cray wiiI c×Iausiion wIilc sIc loolcd sIcll-sIoclcd.
Ma×inos coniinucd io forcilly Iold Icr Iand lcncaiI iIc cold waicr,
Iis gazc loclcd wiiI Icrs. "WIai arc you doing, Cass?"
"I don'i lnow wIai you ncan."
"DullsIii. You'rc sIuiiing nc oui. Maling iIis in¡ossillc."
"Ii's always lccn in¡ossillc! I jusi didn'i lnow ii lcforc."
"Cass÷"
"Would you Iavc lc¡i iIc laly?" sIc lluricd, inicrru¡iing Iin.
"Lorna's laly. Evcn if iIc laly wasn'i yours."
Hc didn'i lool away. His darl gazc, so inicnsc, Icld Icrs. "If Lorna Iad
siaycd, and iIc laly livcd, ycs. Of coursc."
"Our laly wasn'i IcaliIy." Cass's voicc dro¡¡cd. "SIc was a ncss. Dui
sIc was anazing, and I lnow wIai iIc dociors said, and I lnow ii nigIi
Iavc lccn in¡ossillc, lui I wanicd Icr anyway."
"And I said you didn'i lilc cIildrcn."
"You didn'i lnow nc." Cass couldn'i lool away fron Ma×inos's Iard,
lcauiiful fcaiurcs. Hc was suffcring. Dui iIcn, so was sIc. "And you
ncvcr lncw Iow nucI I nccdcd you. How nucI I nccdcd you iIcrc ai iIc
Ios¡iial wiiI nc, Iow nucI I nccdcd sonconc io carc cnougI io lc wiiI
nc." Hcr iIroai iIrcaicncd io scal closcd. "WIcn I nccdcd you nosi,
wIcrc wcrc you?"
Hc sin¡ly loolcd ai Icr, and Ic said noiIing lccausc iIcy lncw iIc
answcr. Hc wasn'i wiiI Icr lccausc Ic was nccdcd clscwIcrc. Hc was
nccdcd wiiI Iis wifc.
Cass saggcd againsi iIc sinl. "You would Iavc lci nc s¡cnd forcvcr in
no-nan's-land."
"I didn'i wani io losc you. I couldn'i lcar io losc you. You wcrc iIc onc
iIing, iIc onc ¡crson, iIai gavc nc Io¡c."
Hcr cycs fcli Ioi and griiiy. "Ho¡c?"
"I Iaicd Enilio so nucI all I could iIinl aloui was rcvcngc. Cciiing
cvcn. Maling Iis lifc iIc nigIinarc Ic'd nadc ninc. Dui iIcn I nci you,
and for iIc firsi iinc in cigIi ycars, I fcli sonciIing...good."
Siarlursis of ¡ain fillcd Icr, Ioi, sIar¡, ficrcc. SIc wanicd io ¡roicsi
lui sIc could only lool ai Iis facc in iIc nirror, and Iis cסrcssion was
Iard, Iaunicd, llcal.
Alru¡ily Ma×inos rcacIcd forward io iIc faucci and iurncd iIc cold
waicr off. "I'd forgoiicn gcnilcncss c×isicd. Didn'i cvcn lnow I could fccl
icndcrncss. Dui wIcn I Icld you, wIcn I loolcd ai you...all I could iIinl
of was Io¡c. Ho¡c," Ic rc¡caicd quicily. "Ii's wIai cIildrcn fccl lui ii's
wIai you gavc nc."
Ho¡c.
Ii's wIai Ic'd oncc givcn Icr, ioo.
For a noncni iIcy siood in silcncc, Ma×inos lcIind Icr, Iis lig Iard
lody ¡rcsscd againsi Icr iIigIs, Icr Ii¡s, Icr lacl. SIc could fccl Iis
iIigIs on Icrs, Iis cIcsi on Icr s¡inc and ii was ludicrous, iIc iwo of
iIcn, iogciIcr lilc iIis.
"I don'i lnow iIai I'll cvcr forgci you," sIc said, growing awarc of iIc
cold sinl liiing Icr Ii¡loncs, "lui I lnow I can'i coniinuc iIis, iIc way
ii's lccn..."
"So wc iry sonciIing diffcrcni."
"Lilc wIai? Living iogciIcr? Cciiing narricd?"
"Ycs."
"I was ]oIíng."
"I'n noi."
Clancing u¡ sIc iricd io snilc ai Iin in iIc nirror and yci Icr nouiI
larcly novcd and Icr cycs jusi loolcd sad, far ioo sad for Icr ¡alc facc.
Funny, sIc iIougIi, for oncc sIc loolcd jusi as lad on iIc ouisidc as
sIc fcli on iIc insidc. No anouni of nalcu¡ in iIc world would covcr iIc
¡ain clawing ai Icr rigIi now.
"So wIai do you suggcsi? Wall away? Civc u¡?"
SIc Iad io iurn away fron iIc nirror, couldn'i lcar io scc
Icrsclf÷Iin÷noi lilc iIai anynorc. "Ycs."
Cass Icadcd for iIc laiIroon door, swung ii o¡cn and lci ii closc
lcIind Icr.
Ii was iinc for a clcan lrcal. A frcsI siari. SIc'd lcavc Fonc, lool for
worl clscwIcrc. London naylc. Or Ncw Yorl. PcrIa¡s Tolyo. SIc'd ¡ui
as nucI disiancc lciwccn Icr and Ma×inos as ¡ossillc and sIc'd worl
Iard, vcry Iard, lurying Icrsclf in wIai sIc did lcsi and cvcniually iIis
Iorrillc ¡ain would ¡ass. Evcniually iIis Icarilrcal would lc jusi a
disiani ncnory. Odd. Diiicrswcci. Dui noi iIc dcsiruciivc iIing ii was
now.
Dacl in iIc car, iIcy lincd u¡ for iIc fcrry and iIcn nadc iIc crossing.
On iIc oiIcr sidc Ma×inos goi iIcn lacl on iIc IigIway as quiclly as
¡ossillc. Sincc ii was Sunday iraffic was ligIi and iIcy nadc good iinc
on iIcir way io Fonc.
Hours laicr as iIcy c×iicd iIc frccway for Cass's ncigIlourIood,
Ma×inos's Iand sciilcd on Icr lcg, Iis lroad ¡aln rcsiing IigI on Icr
iIigI and sIc fcli Icr Icari lurcI insidc Icr cIcsi, a ¡ainful squcczc iIai
scizcd Icr iIroai, cuiiing off air.
His Iand was so sirong, so warn.
WIcn Ic ioucIcd Icr sIc uscd io iIinl anyiIing was ¡ossillc. WIcn
Ic ioucIcd Icr sIc lncw sIc'd do anyiIing for Iin. AnyiIing ai all.
Evcn now Iis ioucI was joy and IcariacIc, nccd and dcvasiaiion. Fron
iIc lcginning Ic'd nadc Icr fccl, and nadc Icr lclicvc. Possililiiics.
O¡¡oriuniiics. Lovc.
Louc.
Dui iIcrc was no sucI iIing as rcal lovc. Pcrfcci lovc. TIcrc was only
iIc lrolcn lovc of in¡crfcci ¡co¡lc, and Cod, wcrc iIcy in¡crfcci.
Ma×inos wiiI Iis sccrcis. SIc wiiI Icrs.
Two norials siunlling on cariI wiiI unlcarallc wanis and nccds, iwo
fragilc Iunan lcings wiiI noiIing lui norial Io¡cs and drcans.
SIc fcli a icar scc¡ fron lcncaiI Icr iigIily closcd lid. Plcasc don'i lci
Iin scc ii. Plcasc don'i lci Iin÷
His fingcrs closcd norc firnly around Icr iIigI. "Don'i cry."
"I'n noi."
SIc fcli iIc ii¡ of Iis fingcr swi¡c across Icr cIccl, wi¡ing iIc icar.
"WIai's iIis?" Ic dcnandcd, voicc Iusly, Iis lcauiiful voicc jusi adding
norc insuli io injury. SIc'd always lovcd Iis voicc, jusi as sIc'd always
lovcd Iin. So noi fair. Noi fair ai all.
"NoiIing." SIc was iircd. SIc could larcly iIinl siraigIi. "I jusi wisI÷"
SIc didn'i con¡lcic iIc iIougIi.
Hc loolcd ai Icr. "WIai do you wisI?"
"TIai iIcrc was jusi onc iinc...onc day...wIcrc you fougIi for nc.
Fcally fougIi for nc. Onc iinc wIcrc wc nay Iavc siood a cIancc io lc
frcc. To lc iogciIcr."
"I did iry."
"No. You lcfi. And cvcn aficr Lorna dicd, you didn'i call nc, or coniaci
nc÷"
"TIcrc arc rcasons÷"
"WIai? Dusincss? Adriana's wcdding?"
"A couri casc." Ma×inos sigIcd. "Laic iIis s¡ring Lorna's ¡arcnis
¡ciiiioncd iIc couris io Iavc Icr vcniilaior iurncd off. TIcy'd Iad
cnougI. TIcy fcli Lorna and iIc fanily Iad suffcrcd cnougI and iIcy
wanicd Lorna io rcsi in ¡cacc.
"TIc d' Sanios Iad ¡ui iogciIcr an c×ccllcni casc," Ic addcd. "TIcy
s¡cni ncarly iwo ycars gaiIcring rcscarcI. TIcy'd ¡ullcd docuncnis and
ncdical daia fron all ovcr iIc world. TIcir casc siaicd iIai according io
all ncdical cvidcncc, Lorna would ncvcr walcn. And cvcn if sIc dcficd all
odds, sIc'd ncvcr funciion. SIc'd suffcrcd ircncndous irauna in iIc
accidcni÷was dc¡rivcd of o×ygcn far ioo long. I Iad no lusincss insisiing
Lorna lc lc¡i alivc."
TIc corncr of Iis nouiI ¡ullcd, lui Ic wasn'i sniling.
"Finally I Iad a cIancc io rigIi a wrong. TIc d'Sanios canc io nc,
aslcd nc io icsiify÷said I Iad io icsiify÷lui if I did, iIc couris would
¡rolally grani iIc d'Sanios rcqucsi."
"So you icsiificd?" Cass aslcd.
"I was sunnoncd io couri. Dui lcforc I Iad iIc cIancc io icsiify,
Solaio a¡¡carcd. Hc'd conc io iIc ¡rocccdings wiiI an agcnda of Iis
own. Hc wcni io iIc judgc claining I Iad an ulicrior noiivc for waniing
io iurn off Lorna's lifc su¡¡ori. TIc judgc aslcd nc if I Iad a conflici of
inicrcsi. And I did." Ma×inos loolcd ai Cass, nci Icr gazc. "I Iad you."
Cass didn'i lnow wIai io say. SIc waiicd for Iin io icll iIc rcsi. "I iold
iIc d'Sanios I couldn'i icsiify. I iold iIcn iIai I'd Iuri iIcir casc, lui ly
nc÷Lorna's Iusland÷noi icsiifying in favour of rcnoving Icr fron lifc
su¡¡ori, iIc d'Sanios losi iIcir casc."
"WIcn was iIai?" sIc aslcd.
"Fclruary."
"TIc sanc noniI you lcfi nc."
"I was dcvasiaicd." His voicc was dcc¡, raw. "Wc'd nadc ¡lans io go io
Paris. You wcni aIcad and I was io follow lui iIc couri casc in¡lodcd. Ii
all fcll a¡ari and iIai wcclcnd you did, ioo. You wcrc so lcauiiful iIai
lasi cvcning, and so vulncrallc, and wIcn you iold nc you nccdcd norc,
I undcrsiood." His voicc lrolc. "I nccdcd norc, ioo."
Cass could Iardly swallow. "And iIcn in Junc Lorna dicd and yci you
didn'i coniaci nc, or call..."
"Ii's lccn iIrcc noniIs, ycs." His cסrcssion was grin. "Dui iIcrc was
iIc funcral, and an issuc of rcs¡cci, as wcll as soriing iIrougI cndlcss
lcgal issucs. If you rccall, Lorna Iad cIangcd Icr will, lcaving Icr csiaic
io Enilio, lui iIcrc was no way Icr fanily or I would lci Enilio inIcrii
anyiIing. So iIcrc wcrc norc lcgal laiilcs, norc ¡ciiiioning, norc
icsiifying. Ii was incrcdilly con¡licaicd÷financially, cnoiionally,
s¡iriiually." Ma×inos laugIcd Ioarscly. "I'd lccn in Icll for icn ycars,
Cass, and suddcnly I was frcc. And I was so rclicvcd. And I siill wanicd
you...could iIinl of noiIing lui you. Cass, I didn'i gricvc wIcn iIcy
rcnovcd iIc lifc su¡¡ori. I was glad. Gíud. And iIai jusi addcd io ny
guili. In ny lifc, Cass, I swcar I'vc donc norc wrong iIan rigIi."
Hc ¡ullcd ovcr in froni of Icr a¡arincni luilding. Cass Iad iIc io¡
¡cniIousc suiic÷a onc-ycar annivcrsary gifi fron Ma×inos÷and sIc
iIougIi sIc was Ionc. SIc'd conc io iIc cnd of iIc journcy.
Cass iurncd ioward Ma×inos. "Did you cvcr inicnd io find nc?"
"Ycs."
"You say iIai÷"
"Cass, I can'i livc wiiIoui you."
Dui iIai wasn'i iruc. Hc'd donc jusi finc wiiIoui Icr. SIc was iIc onc
wIo Iadn'i lccn allc io funciion wiiIoui Iin and Icr dc¡cndcncy
sIoclcd Icr. Horrificd Icr. SIc didn'i wani io lc dc¡cndcni on anyonc.
Didn'i wani io lc so vulncrallc. Didn'i wani io cvcr lc Iuri iIai ladly
again.
SIc clinlcd fron iIc car and Ma×inos ¡o¡¡cd iIc irunl io rciricvc Icr
suiicasc. Sianding in froni of Icr luilding wiiI iIc warn goldcn auiunn
sun ¡ainiing cvcryiIing rcd and ycllow, Cass iold Icrsclf io lc iougI.
SIc wasn'i a cIina doll or glass scul¡iurc. SIc wouldn'i lrcal jusi
lccausc sIc'd ialcn a lcaiing.
Say iIc goodlyc, sIc iold Icrsclf, and jusi gci iIis cIa¡icr in your lifc
ovcr wiiI. SIc rcacIcd for Icr lag lui Ma×inos didn'i Iand ii ovcr.
"I won'i lci you do iIis," Ic said, sciiing iIc suiicasc down again. TIc
nan was sirong, and lcauiiful, and sIc'd ncvcr noi lovc Iin lui loving
sonconc and naling a fuiurc wiiI Iin wcrc iwo diffcrcni iIings.
"You don'i Iavc a cIoicc." SIc iricd Iard io lcc¡ Icr voicc caln,
ncuiral, noi waniing io gci cnoiional now. SIc was iircd, noi Iaving
slc¡i wcll lasi nigIi, nor iIc nigIi lcforc. Ma×inos Iad a way of iurning
Icr world u¡sidc down. Dui sIc was rcady for Icr world io lc rigIi sidc
u¡ again.
No norc icars.
No norc lrolcn Icaris.
No norc unfulfillcd drcans.
SIc was finally gciiing oui of Iis lifc and lacl inio Icrs again.
"If I didn'i say iIc rigIi words," Ma×inos's voicc was dcc¡, "iIcn lci nc
iry iIcn again. Dccausc, Cass, I nccd you."
SIc swallowcd, loolcd away and gavc Icr Icad a sligIi sIalc. "No."
"And I wani you."
SIc lii down ruiIlcssly on Icr lowcr li¡.
"And lovc you, lccausc I do."
"Ma×inos÷"
"I'vc lovcd you all along. All iIcsc ycars. I'vc lovcd you norc iIan you
lnow, lui I fcli guiliy lccausc of Lorna, wrong io wani sonconc iIc way
I wanicd you wIcn sIc was in iIc Ios¡iial, noi dcad, lui noi alivc."
SIc couldn'i lcar io Icar Iin cסosc so nucI, Iaicd Iin io lcconc so
vulncrallc for Icr.
"I wani anoiIcr cIancc," Ic said, voicc ¡iicIcd low and urgcni. Dui
Ma×inos iIougIi Ic nigIi as wcll lc ialling io a lricl wall. His words
sccncd io fall on dcaf cars and cvcn iIougI Ic ioucIcd Icr, sIc
wouldn'i lool ai Iin, or ncci Iis cycs. "Cass."
And siill sIc said noiIing.
Hc lallcd Iis Iand, frusiraicd. "I rcfusc io accc¡i ii's ovcr, iIai wc can'i
iry÷"
"Wc can'i," sIc ruiIlcssly cui Iin off, sic¡¡ing away, ¡uiiing disiancc
lciwccn iIcn.
Ii was all Ma×inos could do io lcc¡ Iinsclf fron violcnily ¡ulling Icr
lacl inio Iis arns. "You lovc nc," Ic said rougIly. "I lnow you do."
"Ii docsn'i naiicr anynorc. Coodlyc, Ma×inos." And gralling Icr
suiicasc sIc sci off for iIc a¡arincni luilding door and lci Icrsclf in
wiiIoui oncc looling lacl.
Cass Iad larcly nadc ii insidc Icr a¡arincni wIcn iIc door canc
crasIing o¡cn again.
Ma×inos siood in iIc doorway, Iands clcncIcd ai Iis sidcs, cIcsi
rising and falling. "No."
Cass ¡ui a Iand u¡, as if ¡roicciing Icrsclf.
"No," Ic rc¡caicd. "I'n noi jusi going io go away. I'n noi going io lci ii
cnd lilc iIis. Dccausc ii's noi ovcr. TIcrc's no way in Icll ii's ovcr."
"You'rc wrong÷"
"You'¡c wrong. Dccausc I lnow you, and I lnow you Iaic iIai iIis
lciwccn us is so dann inicnsc." Hc rcacIcd for Icr, ¡ullcd Icr ioward
Iin.
Cass clan¡cd Icr jaw iigIi, iricd io lool away lui Ic clas¡cd Icr jaw in
Iis Iand and wrcncIcd Icr Icad lacl, forcing Icr io ncci Iis gazc.
"You wani iIis io lc sonciIing fun and casy, sonciIing casy io
conirol." Hc was siill s¡caling and Iis dcc¡ voicc drug againsi Icr
scnscs, vclvci rougI, iIrcadcd wiiI dangcr. "Dui you'rc noi going io gci
iIai wiiI nc, Icííu. You can'i conirol nc, jusi lilc you can'i conirol
wIai's Ia¡¡cning lciwccn us."
Hcr Icari raccd. SIc fcli Icr lcgs sIalc cvcn iIougI Ic was Iolding Icr
u¡. "NotIíng's Ia¡¡cning."
Hc Iad iIc gall io snilc. "EvcryiIing's Ia¡¡cning," Ic answcrcd,
rcacIing u¡ io slidc Iis Iands inio Icr long Iair, Iis fingcrs iwining iIc
sirands snugly, crcaiing icnsion lciwccn iIcn. "EvcryiIing's
Ia¡¡cning," Ic rc¡caicd, "and iIis iinc wc'rc going io dcal wiiI ii, noi
run away."
"You ran away, noi nc," sIc said, ¡ounding on Iis cIcsi. "So wIcrc
wcrc you going ai four iIis norning?" Hc caugIi Icr fisi in Iis Iand, io
sio¡ iIc aiiacl.
"TIis isn'i aloui Iuri fcclings, Ma×inos, ii's aloui lics. Dcccii. Trusi."
"TIai's wIai you lcc¡ saying, lui you'rc wrong. You'rc angry lccausc I
Iuri you. Dui ¡co¡lc nalc nisialcs and I'vc a¡ologizcd lui iIai's noi
good cnougI for you. You wani io ¡unisI nc now÷"
"Cci oui!"
"I'n noi going anywIcrc."
"I wani you gonc."
"WIy? So you can wallow in your niscry?"
"You'rc iIc onc naling nc niscrallc. You'rc iIc onc÷" Hc grallcd Icr,
Iand cncircling onc of Icr wrisis and Ic iuggcd Icr forward, ¡ulling Icr
off Icr fcci so sIc lurcIcd Icl¡lcssly againsi Iin. "TIc ¡rollcn,
cu¡íssínu, isn'i iIai wc don'i carc cnougI. TIc ¡rollcn is wc carc ioo
nucI. Dui I'll ialc ii. I'll ialc wIaicvcr ii is you givc nc÷lovc, Iaic÷and
I'll lcc¡ ii. Dccausc I'n noi lciiing you go."
"You'rc nad."
"Maylc." Hc ¡rcsscd forward, forcing Icr io lacl u¡, onc sic¡ ai a iinc.
WiiI cvcry sic¡ sIc iool laclward, Ic iool anoiIcr ioward Icr.
"Co."
"No."
Hcr Iccl Iii sonciIing solid. SIc couldn'i novc lacl any norc. SIc'd
rcacIcd iIc wall of iIc living roon. TIcrc was no ¡lacc for Icr io go. "I'n
scrious." SIc ¡raycd Ic couldn'i Icar iIc wolllc in Icr voicc. Fcar and
adrcnalinc quiclcncd Icr ¡ulsc. TIis was noi iIc siiuaiion sIc wanicd io
lc in. Ma×inos angry was no fun ai all.
"So an I," Ic answcrcd, firnly lifiing onc of Icr wrisis and ¡inning ii
IigI alovc Icr Icad againsi iIc wall.
Cass fcli a sIuddcr of ¡anic as Iis fingcrs closcd around Icr oiIcr wrisi
and wiiI a firn iug, ¡rcsscd ii IigI alovc Icr Icad nc×i io iIc firsi,
innolilizing Icr.
"WIai do you iIinl you'rc doing?" sIc dcnandcd, icciI griiicd, lody
icnsing in dislclicf. Hc was irying io doninaic Icr, conirol Icr, and sIc'd
Iavc nonc of ii.
"You lovc nc."
"No."
Hc laugIcd, low, rougI, nocling. "I'll nalc you ialc iIai lacl."
"Ncvcr. Dccausc iIis isn'i wIai I lovc. You arcn'i wIai I lovc."
And Ic laugIcd again, cvcn norc grinly iIan lcforc. "I'd sio¡ ialling if
I wcrc you lccausc you'll lc caiing cvcry word lcforc long, and sonc of
iIosc words won'i go down so casy iIc sccond iinc."
SIc flung Icr Icad lacl, livid, Icr gazc ncciing Iis, lurning. "You'rc so
arrogani."
"I lnow. Dui you always lilcd iIai aloui nc."
"If I'd lnown you wcrc iIis arrogani-"
"Dui you did. You jusi callcd ii confidcncc lcforc." Hc sIificd Iis
wcigIi, lcaning so closc sIc could fccl iIc lrusI of Iis Ii¡s, iIc ¡rcssurc
of Iis cIcsi.
SIc inIalcd sIar¡ly, dcc¡ly, irying io coniain Icr flurry of ncrvcs. SIc
wouldn'i lci Iin win, noi iIis iinc, and noi lilc iIis. TIcy'd always lccn
cquals. Parincrs. Lovcrs.
Hcr dcc¡ lrcaiI was alru¡ily cui off ly iIc suddcn ioucI of Iis lncc
lciwccn Icr iIigIs. Hc ¡aricd Icr lcgs, loldly ¡aricd Icr lcgs, naling
roon for Iinsclf cvcn as Ic lcancd againsi Icr, in¡riniing Iis lody on
Icrs.
Hc was Iard. And warn. And sirong.
SIc sIivcrcd. SIc was frigIicncd. And iurncd on. SIc nigIi noi wani
io wani Iin lui Icr lody was disloyal, Icr lody Iad iIc worsi Ialii of
cIoosing Iin, waniing Iin cvcn wIcn Icr nind iold Icr no. Evcn wIcn
Icr nind scrcancd sio¡.
Sio¡.
And Iis Iands o¡cncd jusi cnougI io covcr Icr wrisis, Iis slin warncr,
Iis slin doing crazy in¡ossillc iIings io Icr slin.
SIc couldn'i do iIis, couldn'i lci Iin do iIis, noi wIcn sIc was siill so
aiiracicd io Iin, noi wIcn Iis ioucI siirrcd Icr, naddcncd Icr, nadc
Icr fccl lilc Ialf a Iunan in scarcI of iIc nissing Ialf.
Hc was noi iIc nissing Ialf.
Hc was icrrillc. Horrillc. Hc'd lrolcn Icr Icari ioo nany iincs. SIc
couldn'i lci Icrsclf fccl iIis way, iIai o¡cn, iIai cסoscd again.
His Icad di¡¡cd, Iis nouiI ioucIing Icr icn¡lc, iIc swcc¡ of Icr
cyclrow, iIc Iollow lcncaiI Icr carlolc. EacI lrusI of Iis li¡s nadc
Icr sIivcr. And Ic lncw sIc sIivcrcd, sIc lncw Ic fcli Icr lody
sIuddcring againsi Iis.
Hustu¡d.
"Adnii ii," Iis dcc¡ voicc ras¡cd in Icr car. "Adnii you lovc nc."
SIc drcw a quicl lrcaiI, sicclcd Icrsclf. "I don'i."
"You do."
"Maylc oncc, lui noi anynorc."
Hc ¡ullcd Icr Iands IigIcr, sircicIing Icr oui againsi iIc wall as if ii
wcrc a ncdicval ioriurc racl. His lig Iard lody ground ncrcilcssly along
Icrs, Iis cIcsi crusIing Icr lrcasis, Iis Ii¡s grinding iorncniingly
againsi Icr scnsiiivc ¡clvis and iIigIs.
SIc wanicd Iin.
Dui lovc? Could sIc lci Icrsclf frccly lovc Iin again? No. Ncvcr. Ii was
aloui survival, sclf-¡rcscrvaiion now.
His ¡alns slid across iIc insidcs of Icr wrisis, sliding ovcr iIc nounds
of Vcnus io cu¡ and covcr Icr ¡alns. Ii was iIc nosi innoccni and yci
scduciivc of ioucIcs. SonciIing aloui Iis Iand on Icrs, iIc Icai, iIc
scnsiiiviiy, iIc ncrvcs. SIc lovcd Iow Ic ioucIcd Icr, cvcn a ioucI iIis
snall. SIc lovcd wIai Iis ioucI did io Icr÷iIc cncrgy, iIc c×ciicncni,
iIc wondcr of ii all.
A lun¡ fillcd Icr iIroai. Cass sirugglcd io swallow around iIc
Icavincss. "Lci nc go."
"No. Noi uniil you adnii wIai wc loiI lnow."



CHAPTER FOURTEEN

HEF cycs siung, saliy, griiiy. Adnii iIai sIc lovcd Iin and Iavc Icr
Icari lrolcn all ovcr again?
His li¡s lrusIcd Icrs, and sIc iricd io iurn Icr Icad away lui Ic
wouldn'i lci Icr. "Adnii ii," Ic rc¡caicd.
SIc couldn'i s¡cal, couldn'i rcs¡ond, Icr lody ircnlling fron Icad io
ioc.
SIc fcli Iis lncc ¡rcss u¡ lciwccn Icr iIigIs and Icr Icad lcgan io
s¡in, iiny dois flasIing lcforc Icr cycs.
DrcaiIc, sIc iold Icrsclf, lrcaiIc. Dui sIc couldn'i. SIc didn'i lnow
Iow. Ii was a war, a war for conirol. A war for survival. Hin or Icr.
Would ii lc Iin or Icr?
Ii would lc Icr. Had io lc Icr. No oiIcr cIoicc, no oiIcr o¡iion, noi in
iIis casc. Noi cvcr, noi lciwccn iIcn.
"You lovc nc."
"No."
His lody lorc down on Icrs, iIc ¡rcssurc of Iis lody as ¡lcasurallc as
ii was a iorncni. SIc nigIi wani io Iaic Iin lui sIc couldn'i forgci
Iin, iIc way Ic nadc Icr fccl, iIc way Icr lody rcs¡ondcd io Iis. And
yci sIc iricd io llocl oui iIc crazy ncssagcs Icr lrain was iclling Icr,
iIosc ncssagcs of wani and nccd, iIosc ncssagcs of Iungcr, dcsirc, iIc
craving for Ma×inos as sirong now as ii Iad lccn in iIc vcry lcginning
wIcn iIcy couldn'i gci cnougI of cacI oiIcr.
WIcn Cass was ccriain iIai any sc× iIis good was norc iIan sc×, iIai
anyiIing so Ioi, so inicnsc, Iad io lc lovc.
His Iands sirolcd iIc lcngiI of Icr, sliding down fron Icr ¡alns io Icr
wrisis, along iIc faini curvc of Icr licc¡s io sIouldcr and lrcasi. His
ioucI nadc Icr ncli inwardly, Icr lody icnsing, jcrling, jun¡ing in Iis
Iands. Ii was an onslaugIi of iIc scnscs, and cvcn iIougI sIc wanicd io
ignorc Iis Iands, Iis connanding carcsscs, sIc didn'i lnow Iow io sIui
iIai nucI of Icrsclf down. SIc'd lccn Iis ioo long. And Ic wasn'i angry
now. Hc wasn'i cold. And dcs¡iic cvcry cffori, Ic was naling Icr fccl.
His nouiI was ai Icr car, Iis li¡s noving across iIc linc of Icr jaw and
sIivcring sIc lificd Icr cIin, unconsciously giving Iin norc acccss io
iIc icndcr slin ai Icr nccl.
"You lovc nc."
His voicc runllcd iIrougI Icr cvcn as Iis Iands sirolcd Icr lrcasis,
Iis ¡alns cu¡¡ing iIc Icavy undcrsidcs, fingcrs clas¡ing, lncading iIc
acIing ¡cals. Hcr lrcaiI caugIi in Icr iIroai, Icr Ii¡s ¡rcssing
forward, ¡rcssing Icl¡lcssly againsi Iis Ii¡s, sccling rclicf. Hc was
siirring Icr, iurning Icr on, iurning Icr inio a voric× of nccd.
Dui nccd for wIai? Sc×? Lovc? Hin?
No, ii couldn'i lc Iin. Had io lc sc×. Had io lc ioucI, lui noi Iis
ioucI, noi Iin.
Hc sirolcd downward, Icr rils io Icr Ii¡s and across Icr Ii¡loncs.
Hcad s¡inning, sIc iricd io iurn Icr facc away as Iis nouiI lrusIcd iIc
corncr of Icr li¡s.
"You lovc nc," Ic rc¡caicd, Iis voicc so dcc¡, so Iusly iIai ii sccncd
io lrcal Icr widc o¡cn. SIc'd always lovcd Iis voicc, lovcd iIc ricI
Sicilian acccni, lovcd iIc ¡iicI, iIc firn cdgc iIai s¡olc of Iis
confidcncc, wIicI was cndlcss.
Lilc now.
Hc wasn'i going io ialc no for an answcr. Hc wasn'i going io lci Icr
csca¡c.
His li¡s ioucIcd Icr, covcrcd Icrs, and a sirangc ¡ain fillcd Icr lowcr
lacl. SIc wanicd Iin. Wanicd Iin io fill Icr, saic Icr, answcr iIis
icrrillc cn¡iincss insidc Icr.
"You lovc nc," Ic said againsi Icr nouiI and sIc iricd io sIalc Icr
Icad lui couldn'i. His liss was ioo warn, ioo insisicni, ioo full of
Iungcr and dcsirc.
"No," sIc wIis¡crcd, sIivcring, sIaling.
Onc of Iis Iands iIrcadcd iIrougI Icr Iair, Iis iIunl siroling iIc
¡ulsc lcaiing ra¡idly, wildly, lcncaiI Icr car. "Ycs."
SIc could Iardly lrcaiIc, Icr lungs squcczing, cIcsi so iigIi, air larcly
allc io cnicr or csca¡c. Tcars siung iIc lacl of Icr cycs. SIc couldn'i
csca¡c iIis, couldn'i csca¡c Iin, noi now, noi wIcn sIc'd lccn so
unIa¡¡y, so loncly wiiIoui Iin, noi wIcn sIc siill nisscd iIai laly
iIcy'd nadc, noi wIcn sIc siill Io¡cd io Iavc anoiIcr cIild. WiiI Iin.
Lovcd ly Iin. Lovcd ly Icr.
Dui Ic'd Iuri Icr.
Hc'd lc¡i iIc irucsi ¡ari of Iin sccrci fron Icr.
TIc circlcs Iis iIunl drcw on Icr nccl naddcncd Icr. TIc Iard ¡rcss
of Iis lody ai Icr iIigIs nadc Icr Ioi, nadc Icr insidcs iigIicn
convulsivcly. SIc nccdcd so nucI, wanicd so nucI and sIc couldn'i
lcar io lc disa¡¡oinicd again. Couldn'i lcar io givc only io losc.
To lovc io lc casi asidc.
"You lovc nc."
SIc closcd Icr cycs, iricd io darlcn Icr nind, llanlciing all iIougIi,
all cnoiion lui againsi iIc llacl of Icr cyclids sIc saw rcd and gold, fcli
iIc Icai insidc Icr cIcsi s¡rcad, a lall of firc, firc of iruiI, firc iIai
couldn'i, wouldn'i lc dcnicd.
His li¡s wcrc ¡ariing Icrs, drinling iIc vcry air fron Icr lungs and sIc
fcli Icrsclf sinl inio Iin, loncs dissolving, dcfcnccs dro¡¡ing. SIc
couldn'i sio¡ iIis, couldn'i sio¡ Iin, couldn'i sio¡ wIai was siaricd
iIosc ycars ago iIai nigIi in Fonc wIcn Ic iurncd Icr world insidc oui,
wIcn Ic'd nadc Icr wIo sIc was ioday.
Sirong. Passionaic. Dravc.
Dravc.
SIc was. And goosc lun¡s covcrcd Icr arns, Icr cniirc lody iingling
as Ic lisscd Icr dcc¡ly, naling Icr fccl wIai Ic fcli.
Lovc.
Lovc.
For long noncnis sIc was losi. Conc. No loundarics lciwccn Iin and
Icr. Jusi cnoiion. Scnsaiion. Possililiiy.
SIc didn'i lnow Iow long Ic lisscd Icr, didn'i lnow Iow nucI iinc
¡asscd lui wIcn Ic finally lificd Iis Icad, Ic lisscd Icr li¡s, Icr nosc,
cacI of Icr closcd cyclids. "You lovc nc," Ic said, and iIis iinc Iis rougI
voicc was gcnilc, so gcnilc iIai ii lrougIi frcsI icars io Icr cycs and
iIcsc icars couldn'i lc coniaincd.
TIc icars s¡illcd fron lcncaiI Icr lasIcs and siill sIc couldn'i o¡cn
Icr cycs, couldn'i facc all iIai sIc fcli, all iIai sIc lncw io lc iruc.
SIc lovcd Iin. Maylc norc iIan was wisc, naylc norc iIan sIc
sIould. SIc lovcd Iin. SIc wanicd ioday wiiI Iin. Wanicd onc norc
day. Wanicd forcvcr if sucI a iIing wcrc ¡ossillc. Cod lnows, forcvcr
wasn'i iangillc, forcvcr was difficuli io gci onc's Icad around, lui forcvcr
was wIai Icr Icari wanicd.
Forcvcr was wIai sIc drcancd aloui.
Forcvcr was wIai sIc cravcd.
His iIunl ligIily ioucIcd iIc niddlc of Icr lowcr li¡. "You lovc nc."
A lun¡ fillcd Icr iIroai. Lisicn io Iin. How ¡aiicni Ic soundcd. How
wisc. Hc lncw Icr, lncw Icr lciicr iIan sIc ¡rolally lncw Icrsclf. TIc
corncr of Icr nouiI lificd.
Slowly sIc o¡cncd Icr cycs. Hc was looling down inio Icr facc, Iis
darl cycs Iard, inicnsc, Iis gazc rivcicd on Icr facc.
"I don'i lnow wIai io say," sIc said as iIc silcncc sircicIcd.
"You do. You'rc jusi afraid."
"Afraid of wIai?"
"Cciiing cvcryiIing you'vc always wanicd." SIc siarcd u¡ ai Iin,
unallc io swallow.
"You'rc afraid of Ia¡¡incss," Ic coniinucd. "Ha¡¡incss wiiI nc."
Cass's cycs waicrcd. Hcr lowcr li¡ quivcrcd. SIc fcli funny all ovcr. Hc
was rigIi. "Plcasc don'i givc u¡ on nc."
"I won'i."
"And don'i lci nc go."
"I'vc no inicniion of lciiing you go."
"You ncan ii."
"Cass, I lovc you. A lovc iIai can'i lc wcigIcd, con¡arcd, or ncasurcd.
Dui I don'i jusi lovc you. I nccd you. I nccd your Icari and your nind,
your couragc and your laugIicr. I Iavc lccn so loncly for so nany ycars,
and I don'i wani io lc loncly anynorc, noi wIcn I lnow wIai I wani. And
iIai's you. Only you. Forcvcr."
"Ma×inos÷"
"Marry nc."
"Muxínos."
"Don'i icll nc no, Cass. Ii's iIc onc iIing I couldn'i lcar. I could waii.
And I would waii. I'd waii a ycar for you. Fivc ycars, icn ycars÷"
"No."
His arns Iung ai Iis sidc, Iis darl cycs sIadowcd, alsoluic
Icarilrcal lining Iis fcaiurcs. "Don'i do iIis."
"Dui I Iavc io."
Hc was crying. TIc icars wcrc in Iis cycs, clinging io Iis dcnsc llacl
lasIcs. Hc didn'i cvcn iry io wi¡c iIcn away. SIc iool a sic¡, icniaiivcly
ioucIcd Iis cIcsi wiiI onc Iand, and iIcn iIc oiIcr. "You scc, you'rc
rigIi. You'rc rigIi aloui cvcryiIing and I do lovc you, and will narry
you, only I can'i waii."
"WIai arc you saying?"
"Ycs, I'n saying ycs." SIc lcancd againsi Iin, Iis lig lody Iard,
¡owcrful, su¡¡oriing Icr. "I will narry you. Dui I won'i waii. I'n donc
waiiing. I fccl lilc I'vc s¡cni ny lifc waiiing for you."
His arns wra¡¡cd around Icr. Hc Icld Icr so closc iIai sIc could fccl
iIc drunning of Iis Icari. "You don'i nind a quiclic wcdding?"
"Noi as long as I Iavc forcvcr wiiI you."



WiiI Cass Iaving so nucI on Icr ¡laic ai Aria Advcriising÷sooiIing
iIc owncr, wooing lacl accounis÷Ma×inos offcrcd io organizc iIc
wcdding, and Cass÷dcs¡iic sonc iniiial nisgivings÷lci Iin.
SIc Iad no idca wIai lind of wcdding Ic'd ¡lan. Hcr only rcqucsi was
iIai iIcrc lc no long cIurcI ccrcnony (Adriana's cndlcss ccrcnony Iad
nadc a lasiing in¡rcssion} cIoosing insicad a ¡rivaic ccrcnony wIcrc
iIcy'd c×cIangcd rings and vows followcd ly a rccc¡iion for fanily and
fricnds.
Ma×inos agrccd and iIc wcdding daic was sci. Ncw Ycar's Day. Ii was
synlolic. Ii would lc a ncw siari, a ncw ycar.
For iIc wcdding Cass sclccicd a wIiic sill-cIiffon gown, iIc cIiffon
sliri siraigIi, clcgani, fcnininc, iIc sIccr ca¡ slccvcs so larcly iIcrc
Cass's goldcn slin glowcd iIrougI. Hcr sIocs wcrc a saiin sling lacl
wiiI a glisicning jcwcl ai iIc ioc. SIc ¡inncd Icr Iair u¡ in a loosc
classic cIignon and worc no vcil, or jcwcllcry oiIcr iIan iIc sin¡lc
dianond carrings Ma×inos Iad givcn Icr iIc nigIi lcforc.
TIc ¡rivaic ccrcnony was cvcryiIing Cass wanicd, and wIcn iIcy Icld
Iands, c×cIangcd rings and s¡olc iIcir vows, Cass fcli ¡cacc, rcal
¡cacc. As wcll as joy.
To lovc lilc iIis...
And lc lovcd in rciurn...
SIc fougIi icars, and succccdcd, and wIcn Ma×inos lisscd Icr ai iIc
cnd of iIc ccrcnony sIc lncw cvcryiIing was as ¡crfcci as iwo in¡crfcci
¡co¡lc could asl for.
Dui iIc day wasn'i ovcr. In faci, iIc nigIi was aloui io lcgin, and
wIcn iIcy lcfi iIc caiIcdral's snall cIa¡cl for iIc ¡alazzo's lallroon,
iIcy wallcd inio a s¡cciaclc of llacl and wIiic, a conirasi of ligIi and
lrigIi againsi inicnsc, dranaiic lacldro¡s.
WIiic orcIids and wisicria arifully wra¡¡cd iIc ¡alazzo's cnornous
cIandclicrs so iIai iIc cciling sccncd io dri¡ wiiI fragrani, dclicaic
wIiic llossons.
TIc dinncr iallcs crowding iIc ¡alazzo's grand lallroon wcrc dra¡cd in
Icavy llacl vclvci wiiI aniiquc wIiic sill iallc runncrs down iIc ccnirc.
Tall silvcr vascs of flawlcss wIiic calla lilics fillcd iIc ccnirc of cacI iallc
wIilc voiivc candlcs casi a glow on iIc glcaning silvcr and crysial. Dlacl
lacqucr cIairs Iad lccn in¡oricd fron Fonc jusi for iIc occasion and
iIc orcIcsira, as wcll as iIc waiicrs, wcrc all drcsscd in llacl ¡anis and
wIiic dinncr jaclcis.
Cass sio¡¡cd jusi insidc iIc lallroon cnirancc, Icr Iand clas¡ing
Ma×inos's slccvc. "WIo did all iIis?"
Lincs dcc¡cncd nc×i io Iis nouiI. "I did."
"Dui..." SIc llinlcd ai iIc clcgani lallroon iransforncd inio iIc nosi
glanorous of sciiings. "How?"
"Dlacl and wIiic," Ic said, drawing Icr ncar, Iis Iand in iIc snall of
Icr s¡inc, ¡rcssing Icr as closc as Ic could. "I iool iIc idca fron iIc
firsi ad can¡aign you did for Iialia Moiors. Ii was lold, nagical÷lilc
you."
Hcr iIroai iIiclcncd and Icr cycs siung. "Don'i gci nc cnoiional."
"I'n noi irying." His li¡s lrusIcd Icr cIccllonc, and iIcn lrusIcd iIc
sofincss lclow. "I'n jusi so vcry graicful. TIcrc wcrc icn in¡ossillc
ycars, and iIcn you Ia¡¡cncd."
SIc llinlcd, fougIi icars and ¡rcsscd Icr fingcrii¡ againsi Iis nouiI.
"Sio¡ ialling."
"TIcrc arc nany ¡co¡lc wIo wouldn'i undcrsiand, or forgivc÷"
"TIcn iIosc arc ¡co¡lc wIo'vc ncvcr failcd, so iIcy don'i nccd
forgivcncss, and iIcy'rc ¡co¡lc wIo'vc ncvcr Iuri, so iIcy don'i nccd
con¡assion. Dui you lnow I'vc failcd, Ma×inos. You lnow I'vc Iuri. I
can only givc wIai I lnow I nccd icndcrncss, lovc, forgivcncss."
"You'rc iIc sirongcsi ¡crson I lnow, Cass."
SIc sIool Icr Icad and wra¡¡cd Icr arns around Iin. "I'n noi. I'n
jusi iIc nosi siullorn."
Hc laugIcd, and iIc sound was ricI and warn. TIcn Iis snilc dicd.
"TIis wasn'i casy, was ii?"
"No, and I don'i lnow wIy lad iIings Ia¡¡cn, lui I do lnow iIai good
iIings Ia¡¡cn, ioo, and you arc ny good iIing." SIc lii Icr li¡,
sirugglcd io find Icr voicc. "You Iavc givcn ny lifc so nucI ncaning."
"You Iad a vcry full lifc wiiIoui nc."
"Dui ii wasn'i con¡lcic," sIc answcrcd, lcaning closcr io Iin, noi
carrying if sIc wrinllcd Icr lridal gown. "Ii was a lifc. Dui loving you Ias
nadc ii grcai, and lcing lovcd ly you Ias nadc nc con¡lcic."
"Do you lnow Iow nucI I lovc you? Do you lnow I iIanl Cod for you
cvcry day?"
Hcr li¡s curvcd in a radiani snilc. "I do, lccausc I can fccl ii. Evcry
noncni, of cvcry day, and ii nalcs nc lclicvc all iIings arc ¡ossillc."
His nouiI lrusIcd Icr cIccl. "All iIings arc ¡ossillc."
"Ycs."
"You sound so surc."
"I an." Hcr cycs waicrcd lui iIc icars wcrcn'i going io fall. SIc was ioo
Ia¡¡y, ioo c×ciicd, ioo iIrillcd aloui Icr wcdding day. "Dccausc cvcn
iwo in¡crfcci ¡co¡lc lilc us Iavc nadc sonciIing ¡crfcci in our lovc."
Ma×inos's ¡roud lrow suddcnly crcascd, cycs narrowing as Iis gazc
scarcIcd Icrs. "A laly?"
"A laly," sIc agrccd. "Our laly." SIc Icsiiaicd, rcncnlcring Icr firsi
¡rcgnancy and iIc Icarilrcal of iIai firsi ulirasound. "Ii's siill carly.
TIcrc could lc ¡rollcns÷"
"Wc'll Iandlc iIcn iogciIcr iIcn."
"Dui cvcn if iIis laly isn'i ¡crfccily IcaliIy, cvcn if iIcrc sIould lc a
¡rollcn, sIc is siill our ¡crfcci gifi."
"You iIinl ii's a girl?"
"I don'i lnow. Dui I lnow you'd lc an incrcdillc faiIcr for a daugIicr.
You ialc sucI grcai carc of iIc all wonan in your fanily."




EPILOGUE

Scucn und u Iuí¡ nontIs íutc¡

MAKIS CUILIANO cnicrcd iIc world ai c×acily 7.00 ¡.n. aficr an
in¡ossilly long dclivcry scrcaning ai iIc io¡ of Iis lusiy, and vcry
IcaliIy, lungs.
WcigIing ncarly icn ¡ounds, Malis Iad Iugc sIouldcrs, ficrcc darl
cycs and a icn¡cr. Dui iIc noncni Iis faiIcr s¡olc, iIc siill wci and
furious Malis iurncd Iis Icad, siarcd ai Iis faiIcr Ma×inos's facc, and
fcll silcni.
"Hc lnows your voicc," Cass said as iIc docior and nurscs coniinucd
doing wIaicvcr ii was iIai lalour and dclivcry dociors and nurscs do.
SIc was c×Iausicd. PusIing Malis Cuiliano oui Iad noi lccn casy. Dui
Ic was Icrc, and Ic was undoulicdly lcauiiful.
"Hc sIould lnow nc," Ma×inos answcrcd grinly. "I'n Iis faiIcr."
Cass laugIcd sofily. Ma×inos Iad lccn lcsidc Iinsclf during iIc
dclivcry. Hc'd wanicd io do sonciIing for Icr wIcn iIc coniraciions
sccncd io icar Icr a¡ari lui Ic Icld Icr Iand÷and sworc÷iIrougIoui.
"TIc liiilc rascal ncarly ri¡¡cd you in iwo," Ma×inos answcrcd, and yci
Ic couldn'i ialc Iis cycs off Iis ncw son. "How on cariI did you cvcr gci
Iin oui?"
"Dcicrninaiion. As wcll as dcs¡craiion. TIcrc was no way I was going io
lci Iin siay insidc." SIc snilcd and Icr cסrcssion soficncd. "Hc's
gorgcous, isn'i Ic?"
"Dcauiiful," Ma×inos agrccd, ialing iIc swaddlcd laly fron iIc
aiicnding nursc.
"You lciicr waicI ii, Ma×inos," Cass said aficr a noncni olscrving
Iusland and son. "If you'rc noi carcful, Ic's going io Iavc you wra¡¡cd
around Iis liiilc fingcr."
Ma×inos grinaccd. "TIai's Iorrillc." Hc Icsiiaicd, iIcn lifiing iIc laly
IigIcr in Iis arns, Ma×inos ¡laccd a vcry icndcr liss on Iis ncwlorn
son's Icad. "As wcll as alsoluicly iruc."
And for iIc firsi iinc in iwcniy-iwo ycars Cass rcncnlcrcd wIai ii was
io fccl innoccni, and safc. Lovcd, and ¡roiccicd, and ii was good. Vcry,
vcry good.