For a split second my mind jumps to NorthamNeptune123. Then I realize it can only be one man—the only man whose gaze is so piercing I can feel it from halfway across the marble atrium. I look past the sea of masked attendees and pick him out of the crowd.
Salvatore, watching me. He’s off to the side as expected, a proud loner in the crowded room. My body temperature heats up at the sight of him. He steals the breath from my lungs without even touching me. With the mere knowledge of his presence and the power of his watchful, almost dutiful gaze.
As though he wants me to know he sees me. He’s watching every moment.
I’m never letting you go.
My moan from that night replays in my ear, the sound as fresh as the erotic memory itself. I almost shudder, unable to break our eye contact by looking away. I stand and I let Salvatore stake his claim from halfway across the room full of dozens of unsuspecting people.
If they had any idea what’s causing the tension that’s thickening in the air…
He’s never looked sexier. Trouble and temptation in a well-tailored all-black suit. His dark hair slicked back, he wears a hardened black and gold mask that vaguely resembles what I imagine the face of a demon would look like.
The devil calling to me. Tempting me to the dark side.
I find my heels moving, about to give in and go to him.
You want me as much as I want you.
We didn’t discuss the masquerade. He knew I’d be in attendance. He never confirmed if he’d be. We left things off that afternoon in my apartment, locked in some kind of limbo, where we weren’t on bad terms.
But we weren’t necessarily on the best terms either.
So, instead, tonight we’re playing the usual forbidden song and dance. I can feel it laced in the air as I drift toward him and he leans against the wall and shoves his hands in his pockets, waiting for me.
I admit a truth to myself.
I’ve worn this dress for him. I told myself it was for NorthamNeptune123—my potential attacker—I could lure him if we meet face-to-face. Settle what’s been going on these past few weeks.
At face value, that’s what made sense.
Subconsciously, I was hoping Salvatore would show up. I was craving him and searching for another means to have him.
Salvatore understands me better than anyone. Hence why he’s here, among the rich and powerful members of society, those he detests most.
He’s here for me.
Before I can maneuver my way through the rest of the crowd, I’m captured.
Dad and Chadwick appear, in the middle of a spirited conversation. They might as well be twins, identical builds and suits. Even the masks covering half their face are similar—sleek, silver disguises that possess a polished yet masculine quality.
Since his birthday dinner, Dad and I have made up, though things have still been strained. I’ve been avoiding him.
“Delphi sweetheart, there you are,” Dad says. He pauses, noticing my dress.
It’s fleeting, but I don’t miss it—the tightening of his lips and jaw.
Dad is as obsessed with Salvatore as Salvatore is with him. He suddenly glances around, searching for him.
Salvatore’s a step ahead. When I chance a peek in his direction, he’s already gone.
Nowhere to be found.
Chadwick’s clueless to the unspoken tension and suspicion. He smiles broadly and tells me I look beautiful.
I pretend I haven’t noticed Dad’s shift in behavior. I return Chadwick’s compliment, playing the moment as if I’m as clueless as he is.
“Are you two each other’s dates?” I tease with a soft laugh.