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Act 1: Queen's Rook - Chapter 4

Sienna

With bodyguards on either side of us, I watch as Christian walks ahead hand in hand with a bundled up Daniella. She’s taken such a shine to him already; I suppose that it will happen since he’s been a constant in her life over the last two years. She still asks about her real father; and I can’t do much but tell her that he’s gone forever. I contemplated telling Christian to leave my side last night and knowing it would not only break Daniella’s heart, but mine as well; I relented.

Besides, who would wait around for a woman they haven’t even kissed yet?

“Mama! Come!” Daniella calls as they walk through the market on the Pavillion. This was her favourite thing to do with Christian; buying sweets at the market even if the weather was chilly. He treats her to everything her heart desires, and she feels like a right princess.

Breathing out a content sigh, I walk over to them and see that Daniella has a plate piled high with pizzelles and gelato. “Woah, are you eating for all three of us?” I ask and only get a pulled out tongue in response. Shaking my head, I look at Christian with a raised eyebrow, but he only shrugs. “Whatever the Principessa wants…”

“You spoil her too much, Christian,” I say, pinching the bridge of my nose and he winks at me. “I can spoil you too if that is what you want? Would you like some gelato? I can think of the perfect place on your body to eat it off of-”

I slap his arm and look at Daniella, who was too engrossed in her dessert to notice Christian’s dirty words. Shooting him a glare, I shake my head and walk towards the vendor to get myself some gelato as well.

Today I am forcing myself to unwind - no meetings, no family feuds, no angry brother in-laws. Just the three of us lost in the Pavillion market without a care in the world.

I wrap my coat even tighter around my body and breathe in the cold air. End November weather always seemed to match my mood and I know why; my birthday is coming up and so is my wedding anniversary. This should be an auspicious time, a joyous time spent with family and friends but I can never bring myself to enjoy this time of year.

An arm snakes around my middle and a chin rest on my shoulder. “You always look like this during Winter,” he murmurs and lets out a sigh. “I am sure one day you will tell me why, but for now allow me to be the one to put that smile back on your face.”

I turn to look at him as he says this and frown. “What do you mean?” I ask, not understanding him fully. Yes, I know he wants to be with me, but I don’t think anything or anyone can change my mood this time of the year. Not even him.

“Come to Greece with me over Christmastime; I promise you I can switch your temperament to a happier one,” he says and smiles when he sees the sceptical look on my face. “It is Winter back home as well, but it isn’t as miserable as this. The views are magnificent and everything goes peaceful, especially with all the tourists gone.”

“I don’t know, Christian…” I trail off, crossing my arms and biting my bottom lip. As if he can sense the uncertainty, he places his hands on my shoulders. “I won’t ask you to answer me now. Think it over and let me know. Also, I don’t want you to do it just because I am asking it of you.” He smiles as he says this, then leans forward and kisses my hair before walking over to Daniella again.

Go to Greece over December? I wonder if this would help me to forget for a little while; to just be away from my responsibilities and heartache. It has been ten years; I keep telling myself that my mourning period is over and that I can move on now, but my heart just won’t waver. This is part of the reason I have become so cold; I have killed more men than I can count and feel nothing as I watch the life slip out of their eyes.

“Let’s go to the tiramisu counter next!” Daniella exclaims, dragging Christian along. The fact that he just allows her to play decision-maker makes me smile. Daniella is already displaying an alpha personality like her father, she rules and whatever she says is the law. I’ve noticed that she leads her cousins and they all follow her no matter what she does.

To be honest, I cannot tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

It was late afternoon when Christian said that he had a few things to take care of in town, so Daniella and I headed home and called it a day. I dragged her upstairs and told her to go sleep off the food coma before dinner time. I doubt that she will wake up again until at least tomorrow morning, though.

When I approach my office, I see Serena pacing the corridor. Last night she mentioned she had something to talk to me about, and I am not sure if I want to know what it is. “Sienna,” she greets me with an embrace when she sees me.

“I hope you haven’t been waiting long?”

“No, not at all,” she replies, shaking her head, and we walk into the office. When we take a seat at my oak desk, I notice the grimace and frown on her face; this news must be more worrisome than she led on.

“Serena,” I start, lacing my fingers together on the desk, and her eyes meet mine. “Even if it will hurt me, even if the betrayal is close to home, you need to tell me your suspicions.”

She sighs and nods, and I see her eyes glistening with unshed tears. “I have been following everyone around for the last three months. Everyone, including our own kin... And what I have discovered makes little sense..." She trails off, shaking her head. "Sienna, we have seen Sylvana having secret meetings with an unknown woman. When I looked into who she was, I noticed that she had a connection to…”

Serena sits forward with her head in her hands and shakes her head. “She wouldn’t deceive us like this, would she, Sienna? She wouldn’t, right? We’re her family!” Serena’s tears are flowing nonstop and the dread I have been feeling grips my heart like a vice. Sylvana is like a sister to me, a person I have confided my deepest hopes and fears to.

Now she would turn traitor?

“We cannot jump to conclusions as yet, Serena. I am sure Sylvana has a good reason for-”

“For meeting up with someone connected to my father?!” Serena exclaims and jumps up from her seat. Her tears have stopped, just like my heart, at the mention of her father’s name.

“Allesio? She has met with someone connected to him?” I ask with my heart sitting in my throat and Serena sobs. “That… that is what I am told.” She murmurs, removing a tissue from my desk and blowing her nose.

I shake my head. “But this doesn’t make sense at all! Why would she willingly be involved with the ‘Ndrangheta after all this time?” I ask, mainly to myself, because nothing made sense right now. “We need to know who this woman is and why Sylvana has met with her more than once. It makes little sense for her to pledge her loyalty to me, only to turn back to the people who ripped our family apart and want her dead.”

Serena breathes out a sigh and looks towards the ceiling. “I hope my fears are wrong, Sienna,” she says, wiping away the last of her tears. I can do nothing to comfort her because the same thought is running through my head as well.

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