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Vengeance. It's something I've been taught as the son of a cruel mafia don; something I've comforted myself with for years. When the one thing that kept me grounded is yanked away so ruthlessly, it's only in my nature to strike out in the only way I know; revenge. Giselle Fanelli, the woman who ruined it all. She hides behind a sweet mask, but I am not fooled by it. I will get my revenge even if it means getting stuck with her forever. *** Book 1 in the New York Mafia Chronicles. *** CONTENT WARNING: This book may include scenes or depictions of violence, sexual assault, addiction/substance abuse, child abuse, kidnapping. Proceed with caution.
Tears slid down my eyes as I stared at my reflection in the mirror. Why, you might ask.
I was getting married today, and no. These weren't 'oh, my god I can't believe this is happening' tears. These were 'my life has been ruined' tears.
The one thing I wanted the most was getting yanked out of my grasp in a few hours. I was getting married to my dead sister's high school boyfriend; Nicholas Rossi, a man I had no feelings for.
The only reason he was getting married to me was because he wanted revenge. Yes, revenge. Just like everyone else, he thought I was responsible for my sister's death, and he wanted to punish me for that.
Of course, no one questioned his motive for marrying me. I wasn't their precious dead daughter.
"You need to stop crying, Giselle," the make-up artist said, puffing out a breath in annoyance. "You can't keep ruining the make-up. We still haven't gotten you into your dress, and the event begins in two hours."
I said nothing in reply as she began wiping the tears off my face, none too gently. I was motionless as they went through the motion of getting me ready.
"Perfect!" I heard my mother say from the dressing room doorway.
I looked at myself in the mirror, unable to hold back a gasp while staring at my reflection. I looked like one of those princesses from a Disney movie.
The dress was shaped like a ball gown, the bulky, silky material hanging off my waist. The dress was completely covered in crystals, dipping low at the front to show off some of my cleavage. My fire engine red hair was pulled away from my face, and some decorative pins were stuck in my hair.
"Now for the veil," the stylist said, holding up a glittery veil, which she also pinned into my hair.
"She looks so breathtaking, doesn't she?" The stylist asked Mother, whose eyes had filled with tears. "Aw."
Mother said, "I can't help but wonder what Gianna would have looked like getting married to Nicholas."
My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. Of course, she just had to say that. It was always Gianna this, Gianna that for her. She never acknowledged me.
Sometimes, it left me wondering if she was my mother, but one quick look in the mirror crushed that thought. I looked exactly like her.
She also just had to mention Gianna's and Nicholas's past relationship. It was like she didn't care about my feelings.
"Excuse us, ladies," Mother said, holding her hand up to the women who had assisted me in getting dressed for the wedding.
"You can't help but wonder what Gianna would have looked like getting married to Nicholas? You seem to forget Nicholas' reason for marrying me." Not that she cared, anyway. "He's no son-in-law you should wish for."
"Quiet down. He agreed to a lot during this wedding, and you should be grateful to him."
"I'm supposed to be glad he's trapping me in a loveless marriage?"
Mother tsked in disapproval. "There is no love in a world like this, Giselle. Get yourself together, and slap on a smile while we're out there."
"Why should I?"
"Why shouldn't you?" She shot back. "It seems you've stopped caring about Cara."
The horror that came over my face was instant. She was the only reason I was agreeing to this wedding in the first case.
Anger consumed my body. "She's a child, you sick, twisted bitch."
"I don't think Eduardo would care."
I had to bite my lip to hold back the bile that threatened to spill out of my mouth. This was all fucked up.
"Are you ready for the ceremony now?"
I nodded, the motion almost mechanical. This was how the Family worked. Your family decided for you, and there was no outrunning them. They'd always find you. I knew that firsthand.
"Good girl. Let's get you married."
An hour later, we were pulling up in front of a church. The nerves in my stomach spread throughout my entire body, paralyzing me for more than a minute.
A man yanked my door open. "Ms. Fanelli, everyone awaits you."
I swallowed when I caught sight of the gun tucked in the waistband of his pants.
This was a part of my life I had been lucky to escape when I'd left to complete my education. Having a father who was deep into the criminal lifestyle left a constant fear in your heart.
You always had to look behind you to make sure armed men would not take you off the streets and saw off your body parts. I took the guard's hand, following him up the stairs that led into the church.
My mouth dried up when I walked into the church. Different men dressed in suits sat on either side of the aisle, but that wasn't what drew my attention.
No. The man standing in front of the church did. His face was devoid of any emotion as he appraised me. I was still lost in his dark gaze when I felt a hand clamp around my arm.
I snapped my head to the side to find my father standing next to me, a grim look on his face.
"Why are you doing this?" I asked, swallowing back my fear.
Why did they feel the need to get me married to my sister's boyfriend? Growing up, I knew I'd end up in an arranged marriage that brought in money for Father. It was the way of the Family, but I never imagined it would be my dead sister's boyfriend.
"You're getting married," Father said like that was enough explanation.
"I don't want to get married."
His face changed from grim to stern. "Don't piss me off, Giselle. You're getting married to Nicholas and that's final. I don't think he would appreciate you mouthing off. Lord knows you need someone to tame that mouth of yours."
I shook my head vehemently. "I am not getting married to him."
Nicholas was not the same boy from high school. This Nicholas was cruel, and I knew he wouldn't hesitate to hurt me. He'd made a name for himself after killing his father to become the don of the Rossi family. Everyone feared him.
"Giselle!" Father hissed, squeezing my arm tighter. We'd begun to draw the attention of everyone else in the church.
I yanked my arm out of his grip. "No!" I raised my voice. "I am not getting married to anyone."
Right in front of everyone, Father backhanded me, my ears ringing from the sharp slap.
"Get your shit together, you murderer," he hissed, his teeth clenched together. "Consider this as your payment for taking Gianna away from us."
"I didn't kill her," I said, tears streaming down my eyes. My mascara was probably running down my face, but I didn't care about that right now.
Father decided he was done talking by pulling me down the aisle, ignoring my pleas.
I couldn't get married to him. I didn't want to get married to him. He was my sister's boyfriend before she died. Did they forget about that?! Most importantly, I didn't love him.
Father pushed me in front of Nicholas, whose eyes were filled with hatred. For me. The man I was getting married to hated me.
God, what was happening to me? This wasn't the future I wanted for myself. Tears blurred my vision as the ceremony began.
Everything passed in a blur from the vows to exchanging the rings. My entire movement was mechanic, almost like my body wasn't present at the ceremony.
"I don't need to seal this with a kiss before you know I own you now," he said when the priest said we could kiss.
"I'll make you pay for taking her away, Giselle," he hissed, his voice filled with contempt. "Watch how I ruin your life like you did hers."
With that and nothing else, he turned on his heels, walking down the aisle. I stood rooted to my spot as I watched him disappear out of the church, his men following behind him.
The priest gave me a sympathetic look before leaving himself. Soon, the church was empty save for my parents.
"Hurry on out or you're going to walk to your new husband's house," Mother said with a sneer. "That would be utterly shameful."
New husband. I looked down at the enormous diamond ring around my finger, its representation mocking me. I belonged to someone else now.
"You're off the market, eh? Why don't we have a toast to that?" My cousin, Matteo, said, holding a glass of whiskey out to me.
I scoffed, disgusted that he'd even refer to Giselle as my wife. She was a murderer; the reason I didn't have Gianna here with me today.
I ignored the drink he held out to me. "Stop fucking drinking, Matteo. It's mid-day."
He shrugged. "We just witnessed you get married. That is no small feat. Though, I'm a bit pissed there was no reception."
I chuckled bitterly. "You think I married Giselle because I wanted to? I fucking loathe her."
"Then why did you marry me?" A husky, feminine voice called from the doorway.
My gaze snapped to my office's door where Giselle stood, her face filled with sorrow.
"Why did you marry me, Nicholas?" She asked like she needed to hear it again. I'd told her before, after all.
"Why not?" I shot back. "Get the fuck out of my sight, Giselle ."
"Why did you ruin my life?"
I rose from my chair, stomping over to her. I had to give it to her; not once did she flinch. Not even when I stopped in front of her.
"Because you do not deserve to be happy. You deserve to be miserable. You wanted to marry a man who loved you as much as you did him, right? I guess not all dreams come true," I said with a smirk.
More tears streamed down her face. "Why are you doing this to me? I've done nothing wrong."
She had the guts to look like she was utterly confused. After everything she did, she still tried to make herself look like the victim.
"I know you killed her," I sneered, my anger shooting through the roof. "Everyone knows you killed her. You were always jealous of her, no?"
"No. I loved her." Tears were streaming down her face now. Fuck, she was an excellent actor.
"You disgust me, Giselle. Don't for once mistake this for a real marriage. This is your punishment for everything you've done. You're never getting your happily ever after. Not while I'm alive."
"This is wrong. I didn't-"
I walked away before she could get out whatever lie she was ready to cook. Matteo didn't skip a beat, following me out of the house as well.
"Are you sure you're doing the right thing?" Matteo asked. "That girl looks innocent."
"Shut the fuck up, Matteo. This is my life, not Family business. You don't have a say in it," I growled.
Even though he was my cousin, he knew there would always be a separation between us. I was Capo, and that meant he had to respect me.
"I'm sorry. I overstepped a line," he grumbled.
I said nothing in reply; instead, getting into the backseat of my car that was parked out front. I needed to get the fuck out of the house, or I might do something I'd later on regret.
The plan wasn't to kill her. The plan was to make her pay for her sins.
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I watched as my husband of six hours slammed his lips down on another woman's.
I felt like a creep watching them from my bedroom window, but I found myself unable to move.
That should have been me, I thought bitterly, the hurt piercing my heart.
Who was I kidding? Nicholas didn't see me as his wife. I was just his prisoner, and we certainly weren't ever going to be a couple.
My gaze once again drifted to the scene to find the woman gone. Nicholas's eyes fixated on me. I jerked back from the window, mortified at being caught by him.
I slowly crept to the window, pushing my curtains aside to take another peek at him, my curiosity far from sated. This time around, he was doing laps around the pool, his muscular, tattooed body gliding effortlessly through the water.
The full sleeve of tattoos on his left arm looked like they were dancing under the light.
He was breathtakingly handsome with his long, bla
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