“What are we celebrating?” I lean against the rails and watch as he picks up one of the glasses to bring it to me.
“Life,” he murmurs. “Together.”
“Together?” I accept the glass but keep my eyes on his.
“Yes.” He looks me over thoroughly before picking up his wine. “I want to trust you, Gianna. I want you as my partner. The woman I come home to after a long day.” I don’t speak but I know he’s expecting me to. Instead, he continues. “I know I did things to you—things you didn’t approve of. I know you want to get past that just as much as I do, but I can’t regret it.”
I frown when he says that and then look away.
“I won’t regret making you into a better woman. A stronger woman. I won’t regret bringing the Nicotera out of you.”
I pick my head back up, locking on his hard brown eyes again. He comes closer, using his free hand to slide it under my hair and cup the back of my neck. “Do you still hate me?”
“No,” I respond.
“But you don’t trust me.”
“Not completely,” I answer honestly.
“How can I get you to trust me?” he rasps against my lips.
I think on it for a second, my fingers tightening around my glass, glossed lips pushing together. “I need proof. Pictures of you and Daddy. Or even your father and mine. My mother. Anything that proves you aren’t just making this all up—me being promised to you. I need to know he cared about you the way you say he did.”
“Proof,” he repeats, as if he’s thinking. “Fine. I’ll show you after the party. But for now,” he sighs, pulling away, “let’s drink to a good night.”
I smile. “Sounds good.”
He holds his glass in the air and I do the same. When he brings the rim to his lips and sips, I follow his lead, holding his eyes, tasting the tart wine on my tongue.
He takes a few more swigs before placing the glass back down on the table. “There is something else,” I proclaim. “About Ronaldo. Where is he?”
Before he turns back around, I see his shoulders tense up, one of his fists clenching. He turns gradually, straightening his back. “I already told you his name isn’t Ronaldo.”
“Well, Henry—whatever.” I hold the glass tighter, preparing for his wrath. “What did you do with him? When we went to the shed he wasn’t there.” I wince, just thinking about the shed that was full of blood when we left.
“Why do you even fucking care, Gianna?”
“Because he was my friend in there. He was the only reason I pushed forward and wanted to get out, even when it seemed all hope was lost.”
His jaw clenches, nostrils flaring up. “And why do you think that is?”
I shrug. “He’s a good person.”
“No. He’s a fucking weasel and he knows exactly what he needs to do to survive. He knows exactly who you are, Gianna. He’s not a fucking idiot. He knew his only chance of getting out was through you.”
“You keep saying he knew like he’s not here anymore . . .”
Draco cocks a brow, not backing down.
“Did you kill him?” I whisper.
He blinks, still not responding. Instead, he turns his back to me and pours himself another glass. After guzzling it all down, he releases a loud sigh. “Don’t worry about him anymore, do you understand? He isn’t your problem and whatever you feel for him is out of guilt. Whatever you told him, forget it. Whatever you remember of him, fucking erase it from your memories. He is worthless and he cannot be saved. Any kin of Toni’s is fucking worthless to me.”
He marches for the doors, shoulders still hiked up. “You won’t speak of him to me anymore, Gianna. And I mean it.” He glares hard at me and as badly as I want to back down, I don’t. I hold his gaze because I know he’s wrong about him. I know good people when I meet them. Daddy knows good people too. He hired Ronaldo for a reason.
Instead of protesting, though, I shrug. I don’t know where he is anyway. I can’t save him. For all I know, the rest of him has been chopped up and he’s been fed to the sharks.
If I want to move forward, I can’t dwell on my past anymore. I wanted to help, I really did, but if he’s not here, how can I?
“Fine, Draco.” I place my glass down on the table and walk his way. “I won’t speak of him anymore.” His hunched shoulders relax a bit and he lifts a hand, clasping my chin between his forefinger and thumb.
“That’s a good niñita.”
The purple and blue color scheme didn’t turn out to be so bad once the flashing gold lights I bought from the market were added. They’re Christmas lights, but they work and Mrs. Molina loves the feel they give the room—a bright, cheerful atmosphere that pushes out the fear and darkness, if only for now.