Do not cry. Do not cry.
Turning, I march woodenly from the office, slamming the door behind me. I walk right across the lobby, to where Franco is waiting for me.
“Is he in there?” Franco asks, hurrying to follow me as I rush at the elevators. I’m holding it together, but just by a thread, and when he sees my face, he visibly recoils.
“Oh, he’s in there, all right. And he’s very, very busy.” I barely choke back a sob as the elevator doors open, and I stumble into the lift. Franco follows me, his expression concerned.
I feel so full, I can barely contain it. The ride down seems interminably long.
Just long enough that, by the time I reach the bottom, a though has wormed its way through everything I’m feeling.
When I first met Matteo... he didn’t hesitate to be cruel. His tongue was a whip, one that he wielded at every opportunity.
The man I just saw in the office? He was wearing a mask. One that Matteo uses when he doesn’t want anyone to know what he feels.
Just like I thought, something’s not right. But it’s not that Matteo is cheating on me.
The elevator doors open to the front desk in the lobby. Beyond it I can see the empty security station, twenty monitors flickering through shots of empty offices.
“Franco...” slowly I step from the elevator, then turn to Matteo’s massive driver and body guard. “Are there security cameras in Matteo’s office?”
He eyes me curiously, but doesn’t accuse me of anything, and for that I’ll be forever grateful. But he shakes his head, and I feel my spirits plummet.
“Damn it. Okay.” I’m probably crazy anyway.
“There’s a microphone, though. Used to be his daddy’s office. Carmine was paranoid of being blackmailed, recorded everything.”
“Can we access that from down here?” Adrenaline surges through my veins, hot and potent.
Franco does look at me strangely that time, but nods. “I don’t know what you’re doing, Signora Benenati, but I like you.” Gesturing, he leads me over to the security monitors. There he taps a few buttons, and smiles when a monitor crackles to life.
“Ah, Matteo got a camera installed after all. Smart boy.” He taps more buttons, and the camera zooms in.
Matteo is again leaning back against the desk. Emilia has her hands wrapped around his erection, and I feel sick at the sight.
But... it doesn’t seem right. He’s not moving. I know firsthand that that’s not how he makes love.
“Can we turn up the volume?” My throat is dry, scratchy. Surely I’m not seeing what I think I’m seeing.
Matteo turns his face toward the camera, and, contrary to the lack of expression that he had while I was in the room, now his features are painted in anger and fear. Franco turns up the volume; the sound isn’t totally clear, but I can make out Emilia’s maniacal laugh... and can distinctly hear Matteo say no.
“No, Emilia. Please don’t do this.” A full body tremor wracks him, and she just smiles and continues to work on his cock. “You know I’ll do this for Riley... I’ll do anything... but can’t you see you’re not getting what you really want? I don’t want this.”
She backhands him. His entire body clenches, and I can see his need to pry her off of him bodily. But physical force isn’t the only thing that can keep a person in place.
Oh my God.
That crazy bitch is about to rape my husband.
I sprint toward the elevator. “Make a copy of that and hide it!” I shout back over my shoulder at Franco.
“Come on, come on!” I jam my finger on the elevator buttons. Instinct tells me to run for the stairs, but a tiny voice of reason reminds me that I can’t run up thirty flights of stairs faster than I can go in the elevator.
Cold sweat is running down my back by the time the elevator reaches the top floor again. I haven’t thought this through, but I just know that I can’t allow Matteo to let this happen to him, just for me.
I burst through the doors of his office, chest heaving. Matteo’s face floods with relief when he sees me, before he wrestles the passive mask back in place.
“Get off of him.” I’ve never been in a bitch fight in my life, and I don’t know what has come over me, but before I can even think, I’m wrestling my way in between them, shoving Emilia off of Matteo.
Off of my husband.
“Sorry kitten, but I only do ménage a trois with women that I’m attracted to.” Emilia simpers at me then, with a forceful move that makes me sick, reaches for Matteo’s cock again.
I swallow thickly. “Get the hell away from my husband.”
I press back, feel Matteo’s reassuring weight behind me. But then his hands are on my shoulders, pushing me away. “Cara mia, I have no choice.”
“You do now that I have a recording of Emilia attempting to rape you.” I flinch at my own use of the word.
Emilia whirls on me, wild eyed. “You don’t know what you’re talking about! I’m not forcing myself on anyone. We’re meant to be together.”
“You have a recording?” Matteo murmurs in my ear, his hands clutching my hips like a lifeline. I nod, my heart in my throat.
He pushes forward off the desk, tucks me behind him protectively. And as he stands tall, facing down his crazy-ass stepsister, I feel relief wash over me.
“Get out.” His voice belongs to the strong, alpha male that I know. “We may not get you thrown in jail for this like you tried to do with Riley, but I think this will cast enough doubt on anything that you’ve tried to set up.”
Emilia looks at him, dumbfounded. “What are you saying?”
Matteo shakes his head in disgust. “I’m saying, get the hell out of our lives. Before I mess with you the way you’ve messed with us.”
Emilia screams, a sound full of pure rage and not a little bit crazy. “We belong together! He promised!”
“Emilia, go.” She doesn’t listen, dropping to the floor in a ball and continuing to hurl obscenities.
Matteo sighs, the sound heavy. “Emilia, please.”
She doesn’t appear to even hear him. I watch him hesitate, and I understand. For all that he projects that he cares for noone but himself, I know Matteo Benenati better than that.
This is his sister. And she is beyond help.
We stand there for one more long moment. Then, finally, Matteo straightens his clothes, wraps his arms around me, lifts me. I feel like I should be the one carrying him, but I understand that I need to let him take this piece of his dignity back.