Chapter 15 - My Heart
A/N: Levi’s name is supposed to be spelled Levii but I haven’t had time to change it. Sorry in advance.
My eyes sting, they water up but I try to stop them from leaking out. I bite my bottom lip, stopping the small whimper that tries to creep out. I don’t want to draw any attention to myself. I need to be brave, strong.
But it’s hard, everything is so vividly fresh.
The last thing I saw before my mother dragged me out of the hallway and into my parent’s room was Harry Giordano and another boy, who I didn’t recognize by face, being carried into the foyer by Alessio and my cousin Levi.
I never thought I’d see the day where any of my cousins would be so physically close to any of the Romanos’, especially Levi.
The last time Levi was in the same room as a Romano ended badly and the other boy in the hospital. My cousin is the quiet type, he keeps to himself, and well... the Romanos’ don’t. They antagonize, but no one can do that with Levi.
He takes challenges with all seriousness.
To me, it’s overwhelmingly sad to see when someone gets hurt.
I wish we could all just be kind.
As my tears subside, I ask myself “why are they here?”
The men usually don’t come into the house like this, it was rare and never anyone who wasn’t family unless my mother and I knew about it ahead of time.
Their intrusion is unsettling, the sight even more so.
Blood sits uneasily with me. I can’t even watch a horror movie because of how intense the violence and gore is, not that I’m allowed to anyways, but that’s my secret. Father thinks he can protect me from everything, even the monsters inside the screen.
It’s a sweet gesture, he’s always been keen on my wellbeing.
Raising a hand to my chest, I clutch the fabric and slightly twist it. My chest hurt from all my worrying. Those poor men who are downstairs, I can still hear them groaning, struggling, begging for someone to stop the pain. The walls of my home does nothing to drown out their cries of sorrow.
Does Reece know about this? Will Harry be alright? “Mama, what’s happening?” I finally ask, not able to stay silent when I probably should.
“I don’t know baby,” she whispers, snuggling me up in a tight hug as we sit at the edge of my parents bed and stare at the locked door. “Your father will take care of everything, he always does.” Her persistence reassures me.
My eyes cast to the floor, looking at nothing in particular. “We never know what’s going on,” saying with a soft tone. I feel safe telling my mother my true feelings, knowing that she probably feels the same.
Her chin rests on my head. Being close like this I can feel how she exhales gently. “It’s just how it works.”
In some aspects we are the same, but not exact. My mind randomly wanders while hers is tame. “Do you ever want to know what’s happening?” I can hear her heartbeat over the groans, she hugs me tightly to her chest once more before loosening up completely.
Pulling back she looks at me with kind eyes. “Sometimes I do, but I know that not all questions aren’t meant to be asked, or answered.”
Her responses aren’t unintentionally harsh, with all my questions she’s always has an answer unlike others.
“Is that dad tells you?” Probing for more.
“It’s what I’ve learned, mija.” The back of her hand goes to her closed eyelid, rubbing it while simultaneously letting out a small yawn. My mother seems so tired but looks like an angel with her loose brown curls and white flowy nightgown. “I was just as curious as you when I was younger.”
“Are you not anymore?” Asking as her brown eyes blink at me, the skin of her brows furrowing before relaxing.
“I try to be, but I have to be careful now that I have more to lose,” tenderly admitting.
My mother’s fingers curl around her nightgown, a small smile slowly stretching across her face as she silently thinks to herself, her eyes moving away from me.
I wonder what’s on her mind.
“Will it be like this when I marry Alessio?” My question has her turning my way, her smile never faltering.
“From what I hear, It’s usually all the same.”
She’s referring to chisme of course, that’s what we all call it. The women in my family do have their moments when they find a time and place to gather so they can catch up and gossip about... well anything really. My aunts and cousins aren’t rude people, just nosy and can be overbearing with their presence. Just like how they acted towards me at the engagement announcement.
Alessio creeps in my mind with that thought and my cheeks go warm, the giddiness of earlier returning to my stomach.
“I know that look,” mom says as her delicate hands grab both of mines. “You wore it every time Bianchi came over with his son, about eleven years ago if I remember correctly.” My eyes bulge with her next words, feeling completely embarrassed. “You were absolutely smitten with Alessio.”
“Mom!” Lowly squealing, trying to tug away but she doesn’t let go, instead she giggles and shakes her head.
“It’s okay to admit it. You were always so shy around him, hiding behind me whenever he came around.”
“Please stop,” mumbling with a pout, not wanting to bring up a childhood crush.
“Oh fine,” sighing out. “Just remember to protect your heart.” Her advice is something I’m glad to take. I trust her to help guide me through this.
Sometimes I feel so alone.
Maybe I should ask Reece how she handled it? Then again Harry might be doing some questionable things. I suppose I shouldn’t bear her with all my questions. Perhaps I’ll have to figure it out all on my own.
“Do you think he’ll break it, my heart?” A hint of fear is edges out.
“Not if he doesn’t have it.” Winking at me, she raises her arms above her head to stretch. It’s late and I to want to go to bed just as bad as she does.
Worrying and crying really does wear you down.
“When should I give him my heart then?” Asking as I watch her crawl back to the head of the bed and lift the blankets over herself, settling comfortably underneath. Tapping the spot next to her she waves at me to come and like a child I follow after. Laying on our sides we face each other and she tells me, “when he gives you his first. Men in this business, well they can afford to lose a lot, we can’t. We have to protect our hearts and who we give it to.”
Her blinks are slow, heavy eyelids weighing down to shut for a while. “Is that what you did with dad?”
“That’s exactly what I did,” hushly speaking.
“But you both love each other now, right?” They have to love each other, and I know they do but I have to know for sure that even if I don’t get a happily ever after and all the extravagant things like in the movies, that I’ll at least get something decent from a marriage.
Just simply love.
“Yes, your father has earned it. Just as Alessio will have to.” My mother’s eyes droop until they finally close. When a few minutes pass by her mouth parts and a little whistle of a snore begins to fill the air.
Taking the edge of the blanket on that’s on her shoulder, I lift it higher to her neck and tuck her in like she used to do to me.
Now it’s my turn to take care of her.
Slowly slipping out of the bed, I tiptoe to open the door and inconspicuously slip out but not before turning off the light and locking the door for her. It’s a safety precaution that I always take.
Like a mouse, I quietly hurry to my room but see that my door is slightly open and the light to my room is on.
However, I didn’t leave it that way.
Peeking into my room, my hand pushes the door wide open and I see Alessio standing by my dresser holding up my worn down teddy bear that I forgot to put away.
Oh my, why did he have to see that!
I may treasure it with all my heart but it wasn’t anything I wanted him to see just yet.
Alessio’s back is facing me, in his hands he lifts up the beat bear closer to his face then looks over his left shoulder at me. “Cute,” saying with no smile on his face but there’s mirth dancing in his eyes. He just waves the bear at me before putting it back down.
My throat feels dry. I don’t know what to say so I just awkwardly stand at the entrance of the door. I must look all red-faced, it’s what happens when I’m feeling self-conscious.
And in this moment I do.
“I was wondering where you ran off to,” Alessio continues and when he completely turns his body in my direction there’s fresh blood splattered all over his top half.
My breath hitches, coming out shakily while worry coils my insides all over again.