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Luca felt the angry rush of blood leave his face as he forced himself to act composed as he reentered the reception hall. He grabbed a flute of champagne off a tray of a nearby waiter and knocked it back in two sips. Looking around, it was apparent that none of the guests had any idea that the groom had just been in a brawl outside his own party. He watched as men flung their girls up in the air in time to the music. There was laughter and cigarette smoke everywhere. It was loud and it was intoxicating.  Luca found another waiter and exchanged his empty glass for a full one. He felt the rage wane and enjoyed as the alcohol ran through his blood, numbing his nerves.

A hand clasped his shoulder in a firm grip. Luca turned to see his father standing beside him, cigar hanging from between his teeth.

“Everything taken care of, son?”

“Yeah, it was Grace’s father. I thought you said he was a respectable man.” Valentino gave a hearty chuckle. “He was once upon a time ago, then he chose to cross me. That, and, he probably misses his little girl."

 Luca saw red.

“Well after tonight, he sure as hell is never going to see her again.

Valentino let a puff of smoke from between his lips.

“I’ll tell Russo to see to it that Dr. Hanson is taken care of. He won’t be bothering us again.”

“I’d be fine with that. Just tell Russo not to do anything stupid."

“When has your brother ever listened to anything we say?”

“Never. Its part of his charm.

There was a loud bout of feminine laughter followed by a chorus of oohs and ahhs. Luca perused the room before his eyes settled on his beautiful wife, opening wedding gifts surrounded by every young woman at the party.   

He felt his mouth go dry at the sight of her glowing smile as she pulled a bowl from a box. He watched her dress and how it seemed to fall perfectly from her slender hips and how it accentuated her small, pert breasts. He wanted to put his hands on those hips and his mouth on those breasts.

His trousers didn’t seem to fit as well anymore.

Valentino cleared his throat, pulling Luca from his daze.

“You should go to her. If you wait much longer, guests will begin to wonder what happened to the groom. I’ll go have a car pulled around front for you,” he added knowingly.                

Luca muttered a thank you and shoved his hands in his jacket pockets, heading in the direction of Grace. 

“…it’s imported, from Europe!” he heard a girl squeal. Luca came up behind Grace and slid his arms around her waist till they rested on her stomach and his chin was on her shoulder. At first, he felt her tense, but she relaxed into his embrace seconds later.

“Of course it is. I only purchase the best.” Luca would know that voice anywhere. It sounded like an alluring slither of a snake. Lola.

“Luca, darling, so glad you could join us.”

Luca pulled Grace tighter against him before responding. “Lola, thank you for coming to the wedding,” he said with an air of distant politeness.

“Well you know I wouldn’t miss a party for anything in the world. Why its almost as grand as the Governor’s Winter Ball.”

Luca had to bite his tongue to keep from commenting on her backhanded comments. Luckily, Grace tried to ease the tension.

“Lola had a crystal vase imported from Europe for us.” She looked up at him with those big eyes of hers. He felt his pants tighten again. He needed to get them both out of there and soon.

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