Entice:Eagle Elite Book 3By: Rachel Van Dyken
I watched each of the couples slowly walk down the aisle. The entire church was lit with candles. It was meant to be beautiful — special, but all I felt was sick to my stomach and trapped — as if I was screaming and drowning, yet no one was able to offer help. No life raft. No savior. Just… nothingness.
“Ready?” Luca Nicolasi held out his elbow. I wanted to shake my head. I wanted to yell no and run screaming out of the church — but I couldn’t be that girl. That choice was made for me. My dreams of a normal life? Stolen, just like my childhood. I pushed back the dark memories and regained control of my emotions. I was going to be okay. Everything was going to be fine.
“I’m ready,” I said, more confident than I felt, taking Luca’s arm with mine. Never would I have imagined that I’d be getting married at twenty, or that Luca, basically the most hated boss known to all the American mafia families, would be walking me down the aisle.
Well, at least I had evil on my side; that had to be good, right? Nobody would try to shoot me as I made my way toward Chase.
I took one step then another. People stood. Everyone was wearing black. Funny, because it really fit my mood. Forced smiles, undying loyalty, suspicion, riches — this was my life.
Every girl imagined marrying someone she loved — a prince or a knight in shining armor. Not the villain who has an A-plus in torturing information out of people, and not the one person who was the equivalent to the final nail-in-the-coffin called life. By marrying him, I was solidifying myself within the family. The only escape for me would be death — and I had a choking feeling it would be sooner rather than later. After all, it was only a matter of time before the truth about my family was discovered.
In that moment, I realized I wasn’t a bride on her wedding day — I was a prisoner on death row, and they’d just unlocked my cell. By saying yes I was securing my fate. The way I saw it, marrying Chase just prolonged the inevitable. Funny, because death wasn’t something brides usually contemplated while taking those final steps to the altar — but hell if I didn’t reek of it.
I stopped directly in front of Chase and licked my lips. His clear green eyes looked about two seconds away from bursting into flames. Either he was really pissed or — nah, I couldn’t even entertain the thought of him being attracted to me. At least I knew with Chase my heart was safe — because his had been spoken for a long time ago, and I knew it would take a lot more than a desperate girl in a wedding dress to put the mess that was Chase Winter back together again.
“Who gives this woman?” the priest asked.
“I do,” Luca said with a menacing grin. “I give her.” As he bent over to kiss my cheek, he whispered in my ear. “I give, I take, I steal, I destroy — never forget who truly pulls the strings, my dear. I will be watching.” He pulled back and sighed as if he hadn’t just threatened my life, and took a seat in the front row. I couldn’t shaking as I put my hand in Chase’s grasp.
His eyes darted down to our hands. Quickly, he pulled me closer to his side and whispered so his lips were touching my ear. “I’ve got this. I’ve got you, Mil.”
It was the first time in months I’d actually felt safe.
She was shaking like a damn leaf. Had it really been necessary for Luca to scare her half to death on her wedding day? Didn’t she, of all people, deserve a break? I tried to focus on keeping myself calm as we recited our vows. What seemed like seconds passed, and then the announcement was made.
“I present to you Mr. And Mrs. Chase Abandonato.” They had to use my legal name, rather than Winter. Damn, if it didn’t feel weird hearing it out loud.
The audience, mostly filled with family who weren’t currently serving prison time — and those who visited from Sicily — clapped and stood.
I raised Mil’s hand into the air and forced a smile, just as my gaze fell on Trace. And just like that, I was done. No longer was I the one comforting Mil. I needed comfort. Damn, I needed something, because I was ready to put a gun to my head. Breathing suddenly became overrated as I watched Trace’s teary smile.
Her. I’d always wanted it to be her.
Life wasn’t merely unfair; it was unjust, uncontrollably bleak, and dark — because the only thing I’d ever wanted had been her, and I’d lost her, lost everything dear to me and gained another full responsibility. How shitty of a husband could I be? I mean, less than two minutes after saying I’d love and protect Mil with my life, and I wanted to end it — all because Trace had smiled at me.
“Let’s go.” Mil tugged my hand, pulling my gaze away from Trace’s and back to all the smiling faces around me. No one knew the reason Mil and I were getting married. Nixon had fabricated such a ridiculously good story that even I would have believed it, had I not been living my own personal hell these past few months.
According to every person present at the wedding, Mil and I had reconnected at Phoenix’s funeral, and the rest was history. Love at first sight and all that.