De La Fuente #2
Forgive me father for I have sinned . . .
Dante De La Fuente, the oldest of his siblings, is a man of the cloth—bound by honor and sacred vows to serve the church. But untold truths and misconceptions are what led him down his religious path. After the death of his mother, his trust in his father was quickly shattered. Decades later, Dante finds himself in turmoil, questioning his faith, and possibly his sanity.
And lead us not into temptation . . .
Emelia, and her twin brother, Diego, are the youngest of the De La Fuente siblings. For years, Emelia’s been carrying the burden of knowing the truth surrounding her and Diego’s birth. Exposing the long held secret could break their family apart; keeping it to herself could destroy her and Dante both. She holds the key to setting Dante free of his torment…and getting what her heart desires most.
. . . and the truth will set you free
Image Copyright ~ Michael Stokes Photography
Fitness Model ~ Diego Arnary
Cover Design ~ Robin Harper, Wicked by Design
Thanksgiving day was supposed to be a family affair with lots of laughter and happiness, but it wasn’t…at least, not this year. Instead of happiness, all Emelia felt was heartache and longing. She wanted to see him smile at her…wanted to see him laugh at something she said, but she saw nothing but his anger and turmoil when he looked at her. She was alone in a crowded room because of her love for Dante, her brother—or so everyone thought. She hated that she was the only one of the seven siblings to know the truth about their family, and it destroyed her to keep it secret.
Emelia managed to hide her heartache until she’d snuck into the sunroom and away from the family. Then, the tears flowed from her eyes as she made her way to one of the sofas her mother liked to keep in the bright room.
Her mind was full of Dante. There was an air of isolation about his tall figure that kept him just out of her reach. She wanted to run her hands through his black hair, which was silky straight and always gleamed in the light. His handsome face was bronzed from his love of the outdoors, and his smile would light up his face when she caught him off guard. However, it would soon dim when he realized it was her.
As Emelia tried to mop her tears up, she heard the creak of the door opening. She didn’t want to deal with anyone but, if she had someone to talk to, she wouldn’t feel so upset. It wouldn’t change anything though, because her heart would still be broken over Dante.
“Hey, it’s okay,” Sylvia, her brother Eric’s girlfriend, said as she entered, and sat beside her. “What has you so upset? Or should I ask whom?”
Emelia looked up and sighed as she moved back into a corner of the sofa when realization hit, and she froze. “You know? How?”
Sylvia shook her head. “Guessed.”
“And doesn’t it bother you that two siblings are in love with the other and not in a sibling way?” Emelia asked while tears continued to run down her face.
Emelia often wondered how she’d gotten to this place. The only answer that she ever received was that it was her own fault for kissing him.
“I don’t know what to think to be honest. I’ve seen you and Dante together and it’s obvious that you’re both hurting.”
Emelia nodded. “If Dante would listen, then we wouldn’t need to hurt.” Her Dante was damn stubborn.
Sylvia frowned. “What do you mean?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Emelia hiccupped, and wiped at her tears, which wouldn’t stop flowing.
Reaching forward, Sylvia tried to sooth Emelia as she rubbed her arm. “It obviously does.”
Emelia grabbed Sylvia’s wrist as she wrestled with her decision. On one hand, she desperately needed to talk…to tell someone, but on the other, it was hard to let go of the secret for fear of what it would do to her family. “You can’t tell anyone, not even Eric.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, Emelia knew she shouldn’t have asked Sylvia to keep something from Eric, especially since Sylvia looked uneasy. Emelia just wished she knew the right thing to do without causing so much chaos.
“I don’t want to start keeping secrets from Eric. It would hurt him deeply if he knew I was holding something back that concerned you and Dante.”
Emelia snapped her eyes to Sylvia and could see it clearly written on her face…no… “He knows?” she whispered, and hoped she was wrong.
“Oh, God! He hasn’t said anything to me. What did he say?” She could feel her throat closing, and it was getting harder to breathe.
“Calm down, Emelia. He hasn’t said anything because he doesn’t know what to say. He loves you both and feels torn.”
Emelia wanted to curl up and hide for the rest of her life. She wished that Eric had talked to her. Perhaps she wouldn’t feel so torn up inside if he had, but maybe, it would have made things worse. “What a mess.”
Emelia dropped her head back against the sofa, turned to face Sylvia, and held her gaze. “It all started with a kiss,” Emelia admitted. “There was a party, here at the house, for my twenty-first birthday. Dante had always been mysterious and never around as I was growing up. I didn’t really think much of it, and he wasn’t really a part of the family. In fact, he missed a lot of family holidays when I was younger. He was the unknown brother, but then, just before my eighteenth birthday, I overheard something that I shouldn’t have. A week later, Dante showed up, and it was like I was meeting him for the first time. I fell in love with him and didn’t know what to do.”
She sighed and stared out the window as the tears pricked her eyes. “My young heart knew who and what it wanted, but I was stupid. I thought if I went for it, showed him how I felt, he’d fall in love with me. I thought,” she felt a lump in her throat as the memory burned painfully bright in her mind, “that everything would be happily ever after, which is why, on my twenty-first birthday, I kissed him. My heart had pounded so hard in my chest as we kissed. He was shocked at first, but then he’d returned my kiss. It went on for a while, and I felt his need…I thought that was the start of something beautiful, but then he shoved me away.
“I’d never seen him so furious in my life before that night.” She swiped at the tears…his rejection still hurt, even after all these years. “After that, things changed for me…for him…for the whole family. There will never be a chance of going back to before it happened. I’m not even sure I’d want to if given the opportunity.”
They fell into silence, which was finally broken with Sylvia’s question, “What did you overhear?”
“God,” Emelia wailed, “I need to tell someone because it’s a hell of a burden to carry.” And that was the truth. She’d spent years keeping everything to herself, but she couldn’t do it anymore. Maybe it all needed to be out in the open.
“I’d gone looking for Mom after a squabble with Diego. She was arguing with Dad. I waited in the hallway as they argued, and I’m not even sure what started it, but, as they calmed down, they talked about the past. Dad told Mom how much he’d grown to love her even though they’d married at the bequest of Francesca, my father’s first wife. Mom had sighed and said it hadn’t been a bequest because Francesca had begged them both to marry.”
Emelia hiccupped through her tears, and continued, “Then they started talking about another man and how they were both relieved he was no longer a threat because he’d died.”
She shook her head. It had felt like a betrayal, to know that her entire life…who she thought she was, was a lie. She’d wanted to storm into the room and scream at them, but she’d been stuck, frozen to the spot. She swallowed back the hurt and continued, “It turned out that my father had never slept with my mother until long after she’d given birth to Diego and me. And when I say long after, I mean six years after. It was after they’d renewed their wedding vows…after they’d finally fallen in love with each other.
”So you see, all this time, I’ve been raised as a true daughter to Emiliano, when, in fact, I have no blood relation to him or his own children. I could be with Dante, but, even though my heart breaks all the time for him, I have no idea how to tell him the truth without causing heartbreak for the entire family.”
Shock, horror, sympathy and finally, support crossed Sylvia’s face as she listened. Emelia hadn’t realized how much she’d needed the latter.
She couldn’t stop now that she’d started, and the relief she felt that someone else finally knew helped. “He’s a priest now and I know he loves his church…and his congregation, but I want him to be selfish. I want him to love me—to be with me. I need that with him badly that being away from him is a physical pain.” Emelia sat up and gripped both of Sylvia’s arms. “Please tell me what to do because I don’t know anymore.”
Sylvia looked surprised, and she opened her mouth to answer before she closed it again. She looked as confused as Emelia felt. Finally, she asked, “Does anyone know? Diego?”
“No.” Emelia shook her head. “I haven’t told anyone. Only you.”
“You haven’t asked your mom about it?”
“I’ve tried so many times but I always chicken out. Part of me is afraid that I misheard what was said, and another part hopes to God that I heard correctly. I will always love Emiliano as my father because he raised me from birth as his own, but I need what I heard to be true because of my feelings for Dante. Does any of this make sense to you?”
Sylvia smiled. “You make perfect sense, and I think we need to tell Eric. He loves you and, trust me, although it will be a shock to him, it will ease his mind over you both.”
“He worries,” she smiled, “I know. I always used to go to Eric when I was small. He would tell me a story or keep me away from Kasey who used to steal my things to make me mad.”
“Emelia?”They turned at the sound of Eric’s voice.