“Put the gun away son.” Don says as his chuckle fades away. “I knew you were ruthless but damn. You really would have shot your father without a second thought. Ricco remind me not to piss off your son when he takes over.”
Takes over? Takes over what?
I look to my father. His face gives nothing away except he looks proud.
“What am I taking over?”
“No worries son. It won’t be for a few more years. We’ve got time to train you before the wedding.” He goes back to sitting behind his desk.
“Wedding?” Shit. Don’t tell me it’s what I think it is. “Who’s wedding?”
Don smiles proudly at me. Then gives a nod to my dad who stands and moves to stand next to me. “Yours son.”
Fuck, that’s what I thought they were going to say.
“What I am about to tell you stays in this room.” I nod to the Don. “Ravinia and I have been trying for another child since Milan was born. I need an heir. No number of treatments have helped. The latest round of IVF has failed. Again.”
Manners tells me to offer my condolences, though emotion is rarely seen within these walls. It is no secret that the Don needs a son. The Council requires the Don to have a direct blood connection to the family or a new family will take control. It has only happened three times among the families in America and each time it brought chaos and war. Leaving all cities weakened to our enemies. Before I can speak the Don continues.
“With no male heir, the position will go to my daughter’s husband as long as the Council approves. I’m sure you can understand the predicament that puts us in.” I nod. She will need a strong husband. One with good standing within the family. Someone close to the inner circle. “I have arranged a marriage for Milan. In ten years’ time, she will marry my chosen successor.”
The Don smiles as he puts his hand on my shoulder and gives a squeeze. Shit.
“You my boy. You will marry Milan and become the next Don.”
“Sir?” I can’t tell him no. I’ve never given thought to being Don. I knew my place would be Underboss and I have worked hard to prepare for the position. Regardless, I won’t turn it down. I can’t. It would be the biggest insult to him and Milan to do so.
He releases my shoulder and walks to the window. “You are the closest thing I have to a son. I trust you. I trust you to lead this family and I trust you will treat Milan with respect.”
“Of course sir.”
“Then it’s settled. The Council has already agreed. The contracts just need your signature.”
Santo places three stacks of paper on the desk. A copy for the Council, one for the Don, and one for me. I pick up the pen. My hand hesitating briefly. A moment of regret washes over me. I had not thought much of marrying. When I did, I assumed it would be with a woman I had chosen for myself. One I loved or lusted over and would be a good mother to my children like my mother was to me. If Milan remains her mother’s shadow I have no doubt I will neither love nor lust for her, and our children will be getting a team of nannies to raise them so as to minimize her influence over their upbringing. I will not allow my children to turn out like her. I need strong not spoiled heirs.
I am sure to keep my thoughts to myself. The Don need not know my true thoughts on his wife and daughter, though I suspect from whispered conversations between him and my father, that his views are the same as mine.
Another stab of remorse hits me as I sign the first copy. I am devout to all oaths I take. Marriage is to be for life. Forsaking all others. If I am to take the oath of marriage as seriously as I do all things in life, then once I am married the only woman in my bed will be Milan. My balls seem to shrivel at the thought. I make a promise to myself to avoid her until she turns eighteen. It’s already weird enough to know that I am thirteen years her senior and held my future wife the day she was born. I shudder at the memory.
Nope. If I am to ever perform my duties as a husband, I cannot interact with her while she is still a child. We will not wed until she is eighteen and we do not require to date or have a long engagement as this is an arranged marriage.
As for my needs in the meantime, as long as I keep things respectful to the Don and not be seen with a woman on my arm in public or sire any children until that time, I am free to sow my oats.
I scrawl my name on the remaining two contracts.
“Welcome to the family son.” Don pulls me into a quick hug before releasing me. “Let’s get started on your training.”
Ten years before I am a married man. To a girl that not an hour ago ran away from me crying.
Present Day - Elena