Rival Attractions & Innocent Secretary(103)

By: Penny Jordan


He was kissing her passionately, his tongue circling hers, as finally she joined him, and he dragged from her that last restraint. His mouth stifled her sobs as she gave that piece to him and then his tongue soothed her as he slowly kissed her back to the world.

‘You,’ Luca said slowly, wrapping a towel around her, holding her shivering body, comforting her on a day when it should be her comforting him, ‘make this day bearable.’





CHAPTER SEVENTEEN


SHE was pregnant.

Of that he was sure.

That the baby was his there was no doubt.

He stood in the church, supporting his mother, his weeping sister, and stared beyond the priest to the baptismal font. He tried to comprehend the fact of the D’Amato name carrying on after all—his baby, the future, the family name continuing.

Tried to imagine himself as a father.

Could he do it—could he break every promise he had made to himself?

Today he did his duty, threw a handful of dirt on the coffin and then stepped back.

It should be over—and yet the cycle might now continue.

His mind was a blizzard of conflicting emotions, every tombstone reminding him of his history, of his legacy, of the true meaning of his family name. He wanted to go back to this morning, to the certainty he had felt then, the assuredness that no harm would ever come to someone he loved.

The priest was talking about faith and hope and love.

His faith had long since gone.

He desperately wanted to hope.

And he was terrified to love.

But he was dangerously close to accepting a different future.

He needed to think.

‘Come…’ Mia was calmer. Her tears had filled the church but now she seemed resigned. ‘The cars are waiting.’

‘I will make my own way back.’ Luca looked over at Emma. ‘You go to the house.’

‘You need to greet the guests,’ she pointed out.

‘I want to walk.’

‘You must come back to the house,’ Mia said in exasperation. ‘As his only son, it is tradition…’

‘I will be back.’ Luca refused to be swayed. ‘But right now I need to be alone.’

He did, he needed so badly to be alone, because this was too big to leap into without serious thought.

Soon Emma would tell him, soon he would formally know that he was to become a father, and his response had to be right.

He walked around the graveyard then stood for a pensive moment.

He could hear his mother’s bitter words from the past as clearly as though she’d just said them to him. You are no better than him—you are the same. You are a D’Amato through and through.

‘Luca!’ Leo stood beside him as he stared at his father’s new grave. ‘Can I give you a lift back to the house?’

‘I am not going back yet—I want to walk.’

‘Do you mind if I join you?’ He was about to decline the offer of company, only Leo was wise. Surely, at some point over the years, he must have treated his mother’s wounds or at least seen what was going on—maybe the older man could give him answers.

They walked in silence—through the winding roads and to the next village, where finally they sat. Luca ordered coffee and whisky and wondered how to ask without telling.

‘Emma seems a lovely woman.’ Leo broke the silence.

‘She is,’ Luca agreed.

‘It is good to see you two supporting each other, Luca. To know even in sad times you can find peace.’

‘Can I speak with you as a doctor?’ Luca asked bluntly.

‘Of course.’

‘I think she may be pregnant,’ he revealed. The doctor didn’t offer congratulations; instead he waited to hear what else Luca had to say. ‘I have questions, Leo. Things I need to know about my past, about me…’

‘Then ask,’ Leo offered, ‘and I will try to give honest answers.’

‘Always I feel different from my father—my mother says I am the same, that I am like him…’He watched as Leo’s drink paused near his lips. ‘Do you understand what I’m saying?’

‘I think so.’

‘Is it true?’

‘Is what true, Luca?’ Leo asked.

That I will beat my wife, that the cruel streak of the D’Amato men is my inevitable fate—or Emma’s? This was what he wanted to say, but instead he downed his drink.

‘I should never have started this.’ Luca stood up. ‘I should get back to the house.’

‘Sit, Luca.’ Leo gestured to the waiter to fill his glass, but Luca remained standing. ‘There are things we need to discuss, and it will be better for you, for Emma too perhaps, to know the truth.’

‘I don’t want to discuss it any more,’ Luca said, because even if he had started it, he didn’t want to go there, didn’t want to face the inevitable, but it was coming at him now.