His phone was on his bedside table, the time showing on his home screen. It was 2.13 a.m., and Luca Falcone was nowhere to be found. The window was wide open. I peered out to where the roof plateaued before tapering off to a three-storey drop below. And there he was, right on the edge of the roof, his legs stretched out in front of him, his weight resting on his elbows as he looked at the sky.
Luca was watching the stars.
Seriously. This guy.
I clambered out of the window, my knees wobbling until my feet found purchase on the roof. I slipped and caught myself on the ledge, cursing under my breath.
Luca’s head snapped towards me. ‘Sophie?’ he said, bewildered. ‘What are you doing out here?’
I offered him an awkward half-wave as I crouched in front of the window to get my balance. ‘Um, star gazing?’ I said. ‘Mind if I join you?’
I couldn’t see his eyes in the darkness, but he tilted his head to one side. ‘Suit yourself.’
I scooted towards him, crab-walking with my hands and feet.
‘It’s really not hard,’ he pointed out. ‘You can walk, you know.’
‘What if I fall?’ I said, horrified.
‘I won’t let you fall.’
I finally reached him. He pulled his legs up, resting his forearms on his knees as he regarded me in the darkness.
I mirrored his pose. ‘Hi,’ I said, feeling a little breathless.
‘Hello.’ Luca tilted his head back, and I looked up, too. The sky was clear, and blanketed with thousands of stars. It was beautiful out here in the countryside where there were no street lamps to steal the natural light, no distractions to block it out. It was bright, and magical, and I had never noticed before. Because I never looked up.
‘There’s a meteor shower tonight,’ he said. ‘Have you ever seen one?’
‘I’ve never even seen a shooting star,’ I said, still watching the sky, hoping to catch a glimpse of something. When I looked at him again, I found he was looking at me too. We were right next to each other, his fingers so close to mine that if I moved an inch, we’d be touching. It was the closest we had been in weeks.
‘Are you mad at me?’ I asked.
‘Yes,’ he said without hesitation. ‘I am mad at you.’
A part of me wanted to ask why, but I already knew. I was a different person now. I wanted things he didn’t want me to have. I wanted revenge and he couldn’t stomach it. He couldn’t stomach who I was becoming.
‘I’m sorry,’ I said quietly. I didn’t dare look up at him. I could feel the heat of his gaze on my cheeks.
‘Are you sorry that you were prepared to go through with it tonight, or that in the end, you couldn’t?’
I looked at our fingers, almost entwined. ‘I’m sorry that I’m not good enough for this family. I’m sorry you had to fight so hard for me, and this is what you got.’ I hesitated, waiting for my voice to stop wavering. ‘I’m sorry I’m such a coward.’
Luca dipped his chin, the movement dragging my gaze back up.
He was frowning at me. ‘You think shooting someone makes you brave?’
‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘All I know is I couldn’t do it when the time came. All I know is I failed my test.’
‘I’m glad you failed,’ he said.
‘You had to lie for me. You made them all lie for me. You made them lie to their boss.’
‘I don’t care.’
‘But you never lie to Valentino.’
‘This is different.’
He looked at me, nonplussed. ‘It just is.’
‘I don’t understand why,’ I said, my voice just a whisper. ‘I don’t understand why you would do that for me.’
Luca’s lips flickered into a half-smile. ‘No,’ he said. ‘You don’t, do you?’
‘I wish I had just done it.’
‘I’m glad you couldn’t pull the trigger.’
‘You’re happy I’m a coward?’ I said.
‘You’re not a coward.’
‘I’m not a Falcone,’ I pointed out. ‘Not really.’
‘Good,’ he said, his expression turning fierce.
‘If I’m not a Marino and I’m not a Gracewell and I’m not a Falcone, then what am I?’
Luca leant closer to me, intensity burning in his eyes. ‘You’re free.’
I pulled away from him, from his heady scent and the hardness in his voice, and rested my elbows on my knees. ‘Then why am I so unhappy?’
Luca stayed where he was, his gaze prickling along the back of my neck. ‘You just lost your mother, Sophie. You need to give yourself time.’
‘I don’t have time.’ A familiar wave of frustration was rising inside me. ‘I want to make them pay, Luca. I know that’s the right thing, but tonight when I held that gun to Libero Marino’s head, and I listened to him cursing at me and taunting me, and calling me a traitor, I just froze.’
He stayed silent, and I don’t know why, but all the things I had been feeling started to tumble out. ‘I hate that I froze. I hate that I failed. I’m so embarrassed that I couldn’t do it, and then when I really think about it, I find myself feeling terrified that a part of me thought I could. That a part of me was ready to end a man’s life. That a part of me felt so powerful standing there with him shaking in front of me. I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what I’m capable of, but I know tonight was a failure for me.’