Dante's Honour-bound Husband(2)

By: Day Leclaire

He tugged her closer and allowed their bodies to collide and meld once again. “I don’t want to leave, either, piccola. But until I have something more to offer than my name, I must return home to Italy.”

“For how long?”

A good question. Too bad it was one he couldn’t answer. “Until I get my restoration business up and running. Until I can afford a wife and have the means to support her.” He stopped her when she would have argued, stopped her in the most delicious way possible. “Don’t, Gianna. Don’t ask me to compromise my values. I’ll return as soon as I can. And when I do, I’ll be in the position to offer you marriage. To put my ring on your finger. This I swear on my family name.”

He could see endless arguments building, arguments she controlled and suppressed, impressing the hell out of him. “I’ll wait. You know I’ll wait. And in the meantime, we can talk on the phone.” Her chin quivered, but she used a considerable amount of will to steady it. “And there’s always email. I’ll fly over as often as I can. Maybe you can visit during holidays.”

Every word she uttered made it more and more difficult. Nearly impossible. He gathered her hands in his. “Listen to me, Gianna… In order to get back to you as soon as possible, I must focus on work. Every minute of every day. It’s the only way to make it happen quickly.”

A frown formed between her brows. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that you’re a distraction. I’m saying if you’re with me or come to visit or if we are constantly calling one another or emailing, I won’t be able to give my full attention to my business. It’s at a critical point right now. The only way I can return to you in the least amount of time is if I give one hundred percent of my time and attention to Romano Restoration.”

Her breath hitched. “Oh, no. Constantine, you can’t mean it. No phone calls? Not even emails?”

She was killing him by inches. He closed his eyes so he wouldn’t cave while everything within him insisted he do just that. “Please understand, amore. Please trust me.”

A tear escaped, but she swept it away. Determination filled her expression. “Okay, Constantine, we’ll do this your way. For now.” Her eyes glittered with emotion. “But you come back. Soon,” she ordered fiercely.

“As soon as I can,” he promised.

And then he left her. He forced himself not to look back, even though it was one of the most difficult things he’d ever done. With every step he took, he felt that odd connection that joined them. Felt it compelling him to return to her arms, urging him to take what was his. He’d never experienced anything like it. Oh, he’d return to her. He had no choice. But it would be on his terms.

Soon. Dear God, just let it be soon.

Gianna watched Constantine walk away until the tears blurring her eyes made it impossible to see any longer. Should she have told him? Had she made a mistake not explaining about The Inferno—the family “blessing” that sparked between a man and a woman whenever a Dante first touched his or her soul mate? Perhaps. As for keeping it a secret… Well, she had her reasons, not that he’d appreciate them once he discovered the truth behind their odd connection.

She closed her eyes, accepting the hand fate had dealt her. The Inferno had struck almost all of her other Dante relatives…all of her male Dante relatives the first time they met the women who were their soul mates. As the lone female Dante, no one knew whether it was even possible for her to experience The Inferno. She’d learned the answer to that question when she and Constantine first touched. She could and she did. Unfortunately the secret she’d learned about The Inferno hadn’t altered that basic fact.

But she’d been afraid to explain the Dantes’ odd…condition…to Constantine. In the short time she’d known him, she’d realized he was a man who preferred to govern his own destiny, to control his world and those in it. Once he discovered that The Inferno drove the desire and passion he felt, would he be compelled to fight it? They’d had too little time together to know for certain. Until she could be sure, it would remain her little secret.

Now all she could do was wait for Constantine’s return. Wait and see if The Inferno was real…or an illusion. If her family had been correct in their beliefs about it…or if the secret she’d uncovered all those years ago was the real truth. Only time would tell.

Soon. Dear God, just let it be soon.


He’d returned.