There are times I wonder if I chose the right path in life. Did I really make the right decisions? Was this really what I wanted? My dad tells me it’s in my blood. I was born to become this—to work and become a lethal predator within the city, to hunt and extort government officials, to work under the table with loans. I am a tainted woman; one who could very well kill you in your sleep because I was trained to do at a young age. Now hitting twenty-six, I have climbed the ladder and become a right hand man to my older brother Jeremiah was next heir to take over our business.
“Gia?” My dad snapped me out of my thoughts.
I looked up at him--the man who raised me, the one who kissed my forehead at night before bed, and the one man who will do everything in his power to protect me. Others will think why he was forcing me into an arranged marriage when he loved me this much. They don’t know how this world works. It is do or die in my world.
You don’t take the first shot; you will die before you could blink.
Trust doesn’t come easily and it is earned not given. Taking this arranged marriage offer will solidified the union within this city. It will give the city and our people a piece of mind as we won’t be at each other’s throat all the time.
“Gia, if you say no, we can stop this. I won’t force your hand into this.” My dad asked me for the fifth time today.
We were already driving passed enemy line toward the Mikhailov’s humongous mansion. I wish I can say no but I knew how important this was to him. I can’t disappoint him or my family. I needed to this for them.
“I’m fine.” I said and didn’t even recognize my own voice. It came out with no emotions. I turned and glanced back at the window. The sun was shining down brightly upon this city. It was beautiful but inside of me I was screaming.
My dad decided to accept my answer for now and turned back to look in the front seat where Anthony who was one of my dad’s brigadier and Jeremiah were sitting. Jeremiah was five years older than me. Like me, he was also trained to deal with all the family business. In my opinion, he has it harder. My father focused more on him as he will be the one taking over the business one day. I, on the other hand, was once a brigadier just like Anthony; a captain who ruled over a small group of people who worked under us.
Thinking back to the man that I had to marry, I have only met him once in a well established underground club. The encounter was brief and I doubt he caught sight of me. The well established underground club was a neutral ground for all of us. No one stirred up trouble or at least try not to in this area.
I remember the confident air he extruded around him. The way he sat in his booth almost as if he was relaxed but the confident tapping of his pointer finger told me he was anything but relaxed. It was hard to judge by the way he was sitting down but if he was to stand, I was almost confident the man stood six feet tall in comparison to my five feet eight inches.
He had glasses on at that time but I can make out the strong structure of his cheek bones, the straight jaw line and the carefully even lips. The suit choice he chose was a pretty expensive one but nonetheless the black jacket accentuated his broad shoulders perfectly and the white dress shirt underneath had a few buttons unbuttoned at the top, leaving him in almost a casual and inviting air but I knew better.
“Gianna?” Jeremiah’s voice pierced through my mind again and I glanced toward where I heard it. He was standing by my door, waiting for me to step out. My eyes roamed the place and realized that we were already here.
“Sorry.” I murmured a replied and stepped out, smoothing the wrinkles on my black trousers and adjusting my white blouse. I’m not a very big fan of dresses. They tend to get in the way. I needed room to move without worrying that my goods will be revealed to the world.
“Are you nervous? You have been quiet the whole ride.” Jeremiah asked.
I shrugged nonchalantly. “Does it matter?”
Jeremiah sighed. “You don’t have to do this, Gia. We can just-”
“I know. You and dad have told me over and over again. I get it. I don’t care. Let’s just get this over with.” I interrupted, feeling slightly irritated. Jeremiah gave me one last careful look before walking alongside me inside the large mansion.
The mansion was beautiful and like every other mansion the ceiling was almost as high as the sky. A nice beautiful European chandelier hung from the ceiling. Two beautiful white staircases that led up to the second floor. To my left and right, there were two arched entryways that led to two private sitting rooms. Straight ahead and between the two spiral staircases was a hallway that led deeper into the mansion.
This was where I will be living in.
I don’t know how I felt about this, honestly.
It was as if my mind continued to shut off the part that was screaming in my head. A tall burly man who wore a neat suit greeted us. Several guards stood around the house. Jeremiah, my dad, Anthony, and I were led straight ahead, down the marble hallway to a set of double doors.
The man knocked and the door opened. Inside was a man who was about my father’s age. I knew him immediately.
Michael--the boss of the Romano’s.
A small movement in my peripheral vision had me turning to see that my groom to be was standing before me; his eyes were also closely examining me. I felt like he was burning holes through my head and down my body. His intense gaze was unnerving but I refused to let it show. Gritting my teeth, I ignored his gaze and turned back to Michael.
His gaze was warm but underneath it was a certain kind of wisdom that told me he was showing only what he wanted us to see.
“It’s good that you arrived on time. I was beginning you were going to back out of the deal.” Michael spoke finally after they exchanged stiff formalities.
“I follow through with every deal. I leave no loose ends.” My father retorted. “However, my daughter is not a deal. This is as you offered an arranged marriage that I have agreed upon.”
I saw Vincent’s lip curled slightly before it quickly disappeared. Michael laughed but there was no warmth in it.
“You’re right. Pardon my wordings. Of course, your daughter is not a deal. This is an arranged marriage that my son has agreed upon as well. I am guessing that because your daughter is here, that she has also willingly agreed upon this marriage.” Michael apologized.
I clenched my teeth and inhaled slowly before I spoke. “Yes, I have agreed to marry your son.”
I risked a glance at Vincent who, again, revealed no emotions. His face remained stone cold. I can say he looked like a statue. I wondered if he was even breathing. If it wasn’t for those light blue eyes that were drilling holes into my head I would say he wasn’t.
Michael smiled then. His eyes glistening with an emotion I couldn’t decipher but I didn’t find it threatening. Almost as if he was looking at me like I was someone he had known for a long time.
“This is good.” He turned to Vincent. “Vincent, how about you take Gianna on a tour of our mansion. Familiarize the place with her while I talk to Mr. Ivanov.”
Vincent nodded and I glanced at my family to see what their opinions were. They nodded for me to go and I stood up. Vincent walked up to me and god he was tall--a towering man that I only reached to his lips. He put a hand out and I stared at it for a minute before looking up at him.
“I am fine. You can lead the way.” I refused to touch his hand. A scowl appeared on his face for the first time and I almost smirked.
So he wasn’t a statue...good to know.
He walked ahead of me, the smell of his cologne was addicting even I have to admit. I loved his choice, it was not too sweet not too spicy.
After a second, I followed him out of the office and on a tour of my new home.