Bound By Love

By: Cora Reilly


Love.

A weakness.

A weakness I would no longer allow myself.





chapter 1




Before, ARIA





My shoulder still occasionally hurt when I moved my arm too fast, but the Doc had pulled the stitches out yesterday and told me the pain would soon fade altogether. I touched the red scar below my collarbone. It was still tender. My first scar.

Luca came up behind me, towering more than a head above me, and rested his hands lightly on my shoulders, gray eyes dark with anger as they settled on the scar. He was completely naked like me after our shower, but his body was covered with countless scars. I searched his face, wondering if perhaps it bothered him that I was no longer perfect. Made Men carried their scars as testament to their bravery—and there was no braver man than Luca. But I was a woman; a woman handed over for her beauty. “The Doc said it’ll fade,” I whispered.

Luca raised his eyes to meet mine in the mirror, dark brows drawing together. He turned me around and tipped my chin up. “Aria, I don’t give a fuck if it fades or not. The only reason your scar bothers me is because it reminds me that you risked your life for an asshole like me, and that’s really the last thing you should ever consider doing.”

“I’d do it again,” I said without hesitation.

Luca grabbed my waist and hoisted me up on the washbasin. “No,” he growled, bringing his face close. His eyes burnt with anger, and others would have cowered under the force of it. “No, do you hear me? That’s a fucking order.”

“You can’t give me an order like that,” I said softly.

He released a harsh breath. “I can and I am. As your Capo and as your husband. You won’t risk your life for me ever again, Aria. Swear it.”

I stared up at him. Perhaps he thought it was as easy as that. Luca was used to controlling everyone around him, used to having his men obey his every command, but even he had to realize that some things were out of his control, that even his power had limits.

“Aria, swear it.” He spoke in his Capo voice, the voice that made his men follow him and had his enemies cowering in fear.

I curled my hand around his neck, playing with his black hair, and brushed my lips across his. “No.”

His eyes tightened. “No?”

“No. Have you never heard the word before?” I teased him as I repeated the words I’d said to him on our wedding night.

“Oh, I hear it often,” he said, playing his part.

My face broke into a smile, but his remained dark. “Aria, I’m serious.”

“So am I, Luca. I protect the people I love. You’ll have to accept that.”

He shook his head. “I can’t because you act without thinking whenever you act out of love.”

I shrugged. “That’s how I am.”

He rested his forehead against mine. “I won’t lose you because of it.”

“You won’t lose me,” I whispered, my palm pressed against his Famiglia tattoo over his chest.

Born in Blood. Sworn in Blood.

Maybe I hadn’t made a blood oath, but what bound me to him was stronger than any oath. I was bound by love. “I’ll always be at your side.”

His eyes softened. “Let’s go on our honeymoon next week.”

Surprise washed over me. “Really?” I asked, excitement bubbling up. We’d been married for two months and there had never been talk about a honeymoon, in the beginning because our marriage hadn’t been one of love but of convenience, and later because I thought Luca was too busy.

“What about the Bratva? Won’t they attack again?” Their attack on the Vitiello mansion in the Hamptons two weeks ago cost several of Luca’s men their lives, and almost cost me mine. I’d lost my childhood bodyguard Umberto, had seen him get shot in the head, and writing the letter to his widow and children had broken my heart.

“They will attack again, but not soon. They’ll have to recuperate after losing Vitali. I can’t be gone for long, but my men can handle things without me for a week. Matteo holds almost as much respect as I do. He can take over for a while.”

I couldn’t stop smiling. “Where will we go?”

Luca kissed me before he straightened with a smile of his own. It was an expression he reserved for me, and it made my heart swell with love. “My father had a yacht in the harbor of Palermo and now it’s mine. We could spend a week yachting along the Mediterranean Sea.”

I searched his face to see if his father’s death bothered him, but even though the man had died only a few weeks ago, Luca didn’t show a hint of sadness. Salvatore Vitiello had been a man who’d instilled fear but not admiration or fondness in others. I didn’t know him well enough to be sad about his death, and if I had known him I definitely wouldn’t have been either.

“That would be amazing,” I said eventually. I’d never been to Sicily, and I would love to see where Luca’s family came from.

“You were in Italy before?” he asked.

“Only once,” I said with regret. “Father took us to Bologna for his uncle’s funeral, but we only spent a day there before we visited Turin and Milano. It was beautiful. I always wanted to return, but Father was too busy being Consigliere and he didn’t allow us to go without him.”