It was a complication he hadn't expected. "You told-a the Pavi to make sure she wasn't-a lonely!" he protested.
Pavi had seen Amber angry plenty of times during her life. "It's not fair!" had been her rallying cry for many years, and he'd seen it carry her through many fights. She wasn't a yeller, though. She whined, she sulked, she pouted, she cried. She tossed her head and crossed her arms. She stamped her feet. Little Carmela had thrown full-blown floor-pounding temper tantrums until she was eight or nine.
He'd never seen her like this. She was standing perfectly still, breathing sharply through her nose. A stolen glance downward proved that her hands were curved into trembling fists. She looked rather like their brother trying to control his temper. "I asked you to keep an eye on her," she snarled, voice raising with every word, "not to get her drunk and steal her virginity! For fuck's sake, Pavi!"
"The Pavi did-a not-a steal it, mia sorella! She said-a yes!"
The volume dropped again. "Pavi. She was drunk."
"You got a seventeen-year-old girl drunk and had sex with her! And you knew I wouldn't approve of it, or you wouldn't have waited until I was out of the house! Don't you fucking well play innocent with me, Paviche Largo." The room rang with the force of her cry. "Do you not have enough GENterns to fuck, that you have to go after Shilo?"
"You're actually angry," he marveled.
"Of course I am, you idiot!"
"But-a... why? You have never-a cared about my - liaisons-a before."
"I promised her when she came to live with us that she would be safe, that she would be under my protection and that no one would hurt her. I trusted you to abide by that - and you betrayed me and made a liar out of me at the first opportunity!"
"The Pavi did-a not-a hurt her! He was-a very gentle."
She smacked him across the back of the head. "You arrogant asshole! Are you listening to a single fucking word I'm saying to you?"
"Cara mia. Listen-a to the Pavi, hm? When-a have you known-a me to be a raper of-a women? Never. If-a the Pavi says-a that-a Shilo says yes, you do not-a believe him why?"
"Because she came to me crying, Pavi. Because you fucking took advantage of her and you know it."
Pavi was honestly surprised. Of course, he'd used a little liquid persuasion to get the girl out of her clothes and into his bed. She was a virgin; they took special care and consideration. But she wasn't resistant; he'd seen her watching him before. Perhaps she was having virgin's remorse? "Let-a the Pavi speak-a to her, sì? We will-a sort-a this out."
"No. Absolutely not. If you go within ten feet of her, I will cut it off, capisci?"
"It will not-a happen again, sorella. Io prometto."
"Grazie." Just like that, the anger was gone, leaving his sister soft and still and - sad?
"Now, sorellina, you tell the Pavi why it-a makes you so upset."
She sighed. "No girl should lose her innocence to a scheming older man who should know better, okay? Your first time should be - well - special."
"Never has-a the Pavi heard you say this, cara mia."
"Yeah, well, that's because it lost the chance to be special a long time ago. But I wanted to give Shilo something I didn't get. That's what you're supposed to want for younger people, isn't it? A chance to do things better than you did?"
"You're very protective of her."
Amber shrugged. "None of this was her fault, at least. Dad's scheming, Nathan's fucking drugs, none of it had a damned thing to do with her. And if Marni hadn't been such a whore, she would have been our sister. I told you that when I said I was going to help her. It hasn't changed."
"To be honest, cara, I never expected you to stay interested in-a the girl for so long."
"Well. People change." She gave him a dark, serious look. "Tell me I haven't changed, Pavi."
"Sì, you've changed."
"For the better, I hope."
He lay a long-fingered hand on her cheek. "Papi would-a be proud, il mio cuore."
Her smile was soft and slow. "Thanks, Pavi." She turned to go. "I'll let you get back to sleep."
"Buonanotte, Pavi. Oh, and Pavi?" She paused in the doorway.
"You touch her again, you get to find out how good artificial penile implants really are."