“There you all are. I've been looking for you.” Jordan swiveled around just as Kate Moreland approached, her cheeks flushed, her charcoal silk blouse slightly disheveled.
“Oh honey, how’s your headache? I thought you were going to lie down for a while.”
“I did, Mother, and I’m much better.” She kissed Natalie then turned her attention to Emilio. “I need to talk to you later about the shipment from New Jersey. It still hasn’t arrived, and I’m getting a little concerned.”
“Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it,” Emilio said, patting her hand. “My guys are on top of the liquor situation. I guarantee it’ll be here in plenty of time.”
Apparently satisfied with the answer, Kate turned back to Jordan and motioned for the gang to come over. “These must be the friends I've heard so much about. I hope you all have a great time tonight and at the festi—” She stopped when an older gentleman tapped her shoulder, and after a brief exchange with the man, she excused herself and stepped away from the group with him.
“She’s not going to have much time to party tonight, I’m afraid,” Alex explained. “Everyone seems to need her for one thing or another. She’s—” He stopped when the sound of breaking glass was heard from inside.
“Looks like a lovers’ quarrel,” Emilio said, after glancing into the living room. “You know how passionate we Italians are about love and war.” Although his response was flippant, the serious look on his face was not.
Jordan followed his gaze and focused on one of the most gorgeous men she’d ever seen. Standing about six two and dressed in a charcoal suit that had to be pure silk, the man was visibly upset. He was frantically trying to calm a woman who was screaming obscenities and waving her arms in the air with each new outburst.
Studying them from a distance, Jordan couldn’t help thinking that if ever there was a mismatch it was the two of them. The woman stood around five three with black hair cut short and framing her round, olive face in a very unflattering style. Slightly overweight with a large nose, she wasn't what Jordan would expect to see on the arm of someone as debonair as the man she was arguing with. She was about to say something to Alex when the good-looking man grabbed the woman’s arm and marched toward them, stopping directly in front of Emilio and Natalie.
“Maybe you can talk some sense into her,” he said, his voice dripping with anger.
“Marco? What's going on?” Kate asked, turning away from the man she’d been conversing with and stepping around her mother to face the new arrival.
Surprise covered his face. “Kate! You said you weren't staying for the party. I thought you’d left.”
“Is this the whore, Marco?” the short woman asked, tears now beginning to form in her eyes.
Kate's face flamed, and before Alex could stop her, she lunged at Marco and gave his face a stinging slap, leaving a bright red imprint of her hand. Without another word, she turned on her heels and stomped out.
“What are you talking about, Tina?” Emilio asked, his eyes nailing Marco with an icy stare as he cradled his daughter in his arms.
Tina sniffed and pulled away, swiping at the tears running freely down her cheeks with the sleeve of her pale pink silk blouse. “I heard him talking to someone on the phone a little while ago, Daddy. He told her he couldn’t quit thinking about her body against his, his mouth on hers.”
Emilio turned to Marco, a stern look on his face. “Is this true?”
Marco shook his head. “She misunderstood me, Emilio, I swear. I love Tina and I’d never cheat on her.”
Emilio studied Marco’s face for a few minutes before he bent down and whispered something in his daughter's ear. Straightening up he gave her a nudge toward the living room. “Get yourself cleaned up, baby girl. The party’s just getting started.”
She stole a final look in Marco’s direction, and then walked back into the hotel, still sniffing.
When she was gone, Emilio wrapped his arm around the man’s shoulder and pulled him close.
“This is my future son-in-law, Marco Petrone.”
Without warning, Natalie Moreland reached out and slapped the other side of Marco’s face. “You're a lying bastard.”
The silence following that statement was finally broken when a stunned Marco recovered enough to confront Natalie.
“And who exactly are you?”
Her eyes flashed anger. “The whore’s mother.”