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And to be fair, I could use his strength. As least until I get some of my own back.

Chapter Fifteen

RILEY

MATTEO IS SILENT on the way home, but I don’t mind. We’re both edgy, on overload, and I’m content to just curl against him.

I want to ask him if he’s okay, if there’s anything I can do for him. But those are typical female responses. With Matteo...

He’ll be affected by what almost happened at some point, I’m sure. But I think I need to let him come to me.

When we fiRst sat down, Matteo pulled out his phone and sent off a flurry of e-mails. I didn’t ask what he was doing. But as the car pulls up in front of the house and I see that there are several distinctly feminine bags on the front steps, I sit straight up, dread sinking into my heart.

“What are you doing?” Matteo just shakes his head, exiting the car when Franco opens the door. I scramble after him, temper flaring bright.

“I asked you a question!” Catching up to him as he strides toward the house, I catch his arm. He whirls, and the anguish in his eyes stops me cold.

“My world isn’t for you.” He sounds like he’s choking, reaching for air, and I know the sensation exactly. “Since you met me you’ve been stabbed, nearly arrested, and splashed across the headlines. No more. You’re going home.”

I’d thought my heart had broken earlier, when I saw Matteo with Emilia. But that was nothing, nothing, compared to what I feel right now.

“You’re... divorcing me?” I whisper. I almost choke on the words.

“You deserve better.” He laughs humorlessly, smiles sadly.

“Don’t I get a say?” I’m furious, heartbroken, terrified. He can’t do this. He just can’t.

Matteo runs his fingers through my hair, kisses me sweetly on the mouth. “No.”

“Franco just had to fill up the car. He’ll be back to get you in just a moment.” He presses one last kiss to the top of my head. “Goodbye, Riley.”

And then he’s gone. Leaving me all alone. I stand there, numb, until the car pulls back in front of the house. I think it’s strange that Franco doesn’t get out to grab my bags, the way he normally would. Then again, I don’t want them. I’ll never be able to use anything from here... it’s too painful.

Leaving the bags on the step, I slide into the car. I don’t say a word, knowing that Matteo will have given Franco full instructions. I assume I’m being taken to the airport, the place where this all started.

The promise of tears steals my breath as the car travels down the long drive. I hold them back, but the ache in my chest is real, and it hurts enough that I want to die.

As soon as the car passes through the first copse of trees, Franco stops the car. I frown, pressing the button to lower the privacy window, wanting to ask him where we’re going.

And terror strikes my head when I see that the driver isn’t Franco at all, but a wild eyed Emilia.

“Hello, Riley.”

EMILIA

Riley Tremaine ruined my life.

Matteo was supposed to be my prince. He was supposed to save me. He promised me, with his words, his kisses, back when we were just kids. He was the only one who understood—Carmine touched him too, but with fists instead of hungry caresses.

He was supposed to save me from his father, from the unwanted touches in the dark.

He never did.

But that was okay. Carmine had always told me what a good girl I was. Had promised me that as long as I did what he wanted, someday I’d rule the company.

And I’d known then that Matteo would come to me with the company, and we would be together then. So I’d let Carmine do what he wanted.

I love Matteo so much. We are meant to be together. Two halves of one whole. And I could have gotten him to give in... the Matteo I knew would have seen the reason behind our marriage.

But then she came along. She ruined everything, turned him against me.

The idea of them together makes me sick. He’s mine. Mine.

The gun that now sits on the seat beside me is one that I’ve carried for years. It’s the one that Carmine held to my head the first time he came to my room, before I understood what a gift he was giving me.

There’s poetic justice in that.

Matteo hurt me terribly today, accusing me of trying to rape him. I did no such thing. He wanted me. He’s always wanted me.

And no matter how much he hurts me, I will always love him. I will do anything for him

It’s all Riley’s fault.

And so she has to die.

MATTEO

I look down at the estate from the window of my office. It’s the same as it’s always been... beautiful. Rich.

It’s never seemed so empty.

Raking a hand through my hair, I crane my neck, trying to see if Riley is gone. A flash of pink on the front steps catches my eye... did she leave her bags behind? Why would she do that?

A light flashes in the first cluster of trees that line the long drive. Squinting, I can just barely see through the leafy green.

I can make out something soft blue... Riley’s sundress. And something blood red...

The dress that Emilia was wearing today.

“Oh, fuck!” My heart stops in my throat as my brain begins to whirl, trying to process what I’m seeing. And that’s the thing... I can’t see.

But if Emilia followed us back here after all of that... Riley is in danger.

I sprint down the stairs, out the door, and across the great expanse of land. My lungs burn, and for the first time, I curse the long drive that was installed for privacy.

I hear them before I round the corner, Riley’s low murmur, Emilia’s hysterical tone. And then there are, splashes of red and blue.

Riley is pressed against the car, her hands held out before her.

Emilia is pointing a gun at my wife’s heart.

“No!” I’m just steps away from Riley, just steps, when Emilia sees me.

“Stop right there, or I’ll shoot her.” I can hear that hysterical edge in her voice, but with it is a deathly calm.

It nearly stops my heart. In her mind, only one of them is leaving alive.

“I’ll go with you,” I say calmly, ignoring Riley’s protest. “I’m the one you want. Let her go.”

“You don’t understand!” Emilia whirls on me, and adrenaline surges as she levels the gun at me before returning it to Riley. Her face is set in an expression that tweaks something in my memory, and I realize that I’ve seen it on her face many times before.

I just don’t know what it means.

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