The Choice

House of Sin, Book Six

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Luc barely spoke on the flight back to Italy.

He was a rumbling volcano of stress I was afraid might blow at any time. And I was the reason for every moment of his physical and mental anguish.

Marco and Felicity had still been in Scotland on holiday when Luc called them. I wasn’t sure how Marco had reacted to Luc’s call, but he and Felicity had rushed right back to the estate, and Marco had arranged for the jet to be fueled up and waiting for us within hours.

I was pretty sure he’d covered for my lie with Luc, but I hadn’t had a chance to speak to Marco alone to get the details. And at the moment, I was too worried about Luc to leave him to find out what was going to happen when we reached Italy.

I squeezed Luc’s hand where it rested on the armrest between us on the fancy private jet. His fingers curled around mine, but he didn’t look back at me. Just continued to stare out the window at the view far below as he’d done for the last hour.

I wasn’t sure how to read that. I didn’t have a clue what I could do to make him feel better. I only knew that he did not want to go back to Italy.

And it was the last place in the world I wanted to be as well.

“I love you,” I whispered. “And I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you about Gio earlier, but I didn’t want to upset you. I do—”

“It’s okay.” He squeezed my hand again but still didn’t look away from the window. “It’s not your fault.”

It was, though.

Tears burned my eyes. Tears I was not going to be able to hold back much longer. I looked away from him.

“Natalie?” Felicity called from the galley. “Do you want a drink?”

“Yeah.” I let go of Luc and swiped at my cheek, desperate to keep from crying in front of him. I pushed to my feet. “I’ll help you.” To Luc, I said, “Do you want anything?”

“Nothing.”

He still didn’t turn toward me, didn’t look my way. Didn’t do anything but continue to stare out that window. And unable to stand the guilt any longer, I walked away from him.

As soon as I stepped into the galley, Felicity shoved a glass of clear liquid into my hand. “Drink this.”

I sniffed. “What is it?”

“Vodka. You need it. Drink all of it.”

I didn’t even try to protest. I felt like I was about to crack into a thousand pieces from the stress and guilt. I downed the shot with a grimace and held the glass out to her. “Another.”

Felicity refilled my glass and watched me as I downed the second shot. “For the time being, you two are staying with us. I called ahead and had the cottage made up for you.”

I nodded and set the glass on the counter in front of me.

“You’re safe on and off the property now, but Marco and I figured you’d feel more comfortable there.”

“Thanks. I will.”

She glanced into the main cabin, where Luc was still staring out the window, oblivious to us. “Marco picked up on your lie right away. He didn’t give anything away to Luc.”

I nodded again, but that sickness was swirling inside once more.

“That was a smart way to get him to go back, but Luc’s going to figure out pretty quickly that Dante’s still missing.”

“I know.” I raked my hand through my hair, dreading that moment. “I don’t know what I’m going to tell him when he realizes I lied to him.”

“Don’t say a word. With any luck, he’ll think Gio’s the one who lied.”

I glanced her way. “That won’t help matters. If he goes after Gio, shit’s going to hit the fan.”

“Marco and I don’t think he’ll go after Gio. Regardless of how much he hates Gio, he won’t do anything to put you in danger. Everything he did was to keep you safe, Natalie. He won’t risk that just because he thinks Gio lied.”

I closed my eyes and swallowed back the bile pushing up my throat. He would if he knew what Gio had done to me. Or what Gio had threatened to do to me.

Felicity’s hand squeezed my shoulder. “It’ll be okay so long as you hold it together. You kept Luc centered before. It’s imperative you do that again. He’s going to need you now more than ever.”

I forced my eyes open and glanced back toward Luc, still staring out the window with that unreadable expression. I could do that. I would do anything for him.

I was just deathly afraid once he found out the truth of how I’d betrayed him, he’d never want me anywhere near him again.

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