I inhale a shaky breath just thinking about it.
There’s only two things I’m certain of—I’m in love with Salvatore, and my life plan I’ve worked toward for so many years is wrong. For the first time in my life, I don’t know what the future holds. I have no clue what I want out of it. I just know that I no longer want what I’ve always thought I did.
To be district attorney. To follow in Dad’s footsteps. To represent law and order in the community and bring pride to the Adams name.
None of it matters anymore.
Certainly not the idyllic, picture-perfect existence I had set myself up for. The type of life that was essentially a replica of Dad’s. Marriage to a prominent man in society, a couple of equally as perfect kids, a remarkable career and enviable public image. In reality, I was groomed from birth to believe that’s what my life had to be.
Sitting across Salvatore now, my heart pounding in my chest, I see so many other possibilities.
“I don’t know,” I answer after my pause. I break our eye contact to pretend-study my wine glass. “So much has changed in the past year. I really never expected any of this.”
He locks my hand with his from where he sits across from me. Whereas I’ve broken our gaze, his remains on me.
Intense and unblinking.
The same overpowering stare that brought me fluttering nerves that night so long ago when we were teenagers. Brett Gannon had been about to throw me in the pool when Salvatore stalked on the scene, his piercing eyes right on me.
You’d think after so many years it would lose its effect on me. Yet my nerves flutter away inside my stomach.
“You’ve been through a lot this past year,” he says simply. “As smart as you are, as capable as you are, Phi, you can do whatever the hell you set your mind to.”
My heart flips at his compliment. The sheer earnestness of it. Salvatore’s always believed in me.
“Thank you,” I answer, squeezing his hand. “What do you think about…”
His left brow raises in wait and my breath runs short. The nerves intensify, a fast flurry of invisible butterflies inside me.
Do it. Say it. Tell him.
“What do you think about us giving it a real try?” I ask, a slight tremor to my voice that I wish I could hide. “We’ve never been a real relationship. We’ve always had to be a secret.”
An extremely rare smile comes to Salvatore’s normally detached and composed face. It looks wonderful on him—his eyes brighten and his masculine features become even more handsome and attractive than they already are.
He squeezes my hand back. “I think I like the idea of finally getting a chance to take you out in public with your hand in mine.”
His reply is so unexpected and sweet, blood rushes to my cheeks and heats up my face. I can feel it on the tip of my tongue—those three special words we’ve never said to each other.
We’re so engrossed in the moment, we don’t notice the waiter returning with our meal. He appears in our periphery at first, neither of us bothering to look up. I finally do, still with heat flushing my cheeks and the happiness curled in my expression.
And then it vanishes.
It dawns on me in the same moment it does Salvatore.
The man approaching us wears the same neat white and black uniform as our waiter… with splatters of blood streaked across the front. But his face is not the same, shining with sweat, his skin pale and waxy. He walks toward us carrying a domed silver platter in one hand and a gun in the other. Aloadedgun he points right at me.
“Dinner is served.”
I don’t hesitate.I’m still holding onto Delphine’s hand when our new guest appears. I wrench her down so hard by her hand, she tips over in her chair and smacks sideways into the carpet. At the same time, I throw myself out of mine, and into the waiter’s line of fire. My expression clenches with murderous fury.
“You going to shoot me?” I challenge, cocking my head to the side. I test him by stepping toward him. “Then pull the fucking trigger—”
He stumbles back. “Don’t come any closer!”