POISONOUS GREED

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Chapter 3 - Garden Of Eden


"The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse." ~ Edmund Burke.


Tranquility.

... anything but that.

Alessio awkwardly has my wrist in his hand, gently pulling me down a narrow concrete walkway that has a variety of flowers flourishing on both sides of it.

The way my hand is held limp in his hold makes me frown, it's as if he's handling me like a child instead of his fiancée. I suppose I shouldn't care, caring too much is what causes disappointment to begin with.

This doesn't surprise me.

"Why bring us here?" Our surrounding is extravagant. The remarkable design landscape garden path consists of tall side walls that drape in beautiful red roses and other miscellaneous plant species. It looks grand, feels fresh, a peaceful setting that I could easily get lost in.

"It's quiet." His response catches me off guard considering that he's been speechless for the past few hours.

"Sit down," commanding as if I'm anyone else in his life. Letting go, he motions to a fading white cast stone bench that slightly curves in.

Folding my hands in front of me I do as he says and find the courage to look up at him. This whole situation is confusing to me. Does this have anything to do with what happened at the restaurant earlier? Or are we here for other reasons?

Alessio is staring down at me, his thumb running over his bottom lip as his dark eyes trail lower and lower, taking in everything I am. When his gaze reaches a certain part of my body and stays there;

I unconsciously clench my thighs. Mortification engulfs me from the boldness of his action.

I don't have to even feel my skin to know I'm becoming red.

Crossing my legs is what grabs his attention.

Those green eye flicker back up to my face as he drops his hand and shoves it into the pocket of his black slacks.

"What do you want, Cherry?" his question hits hard because of how rough it comes out.

"What?" replying back with genuine confusion as he takes a few steps back, taking in the sight of me from a further extent.

Alessio's once loose stance all of a sudden becomes rigid, a cold demeanor casting outward for me to feel.

"Do you want this marriage or not?" Alessio reiterates himself with better clarification of the context. "I need to know." The fine line of his jaw ticks as if this is irritating for him to ask.

"It's my duty-",

Alessio scrunches his face in disgust and mines falls with hurt.

What did I do now?

"Do you think I fucken care about what your father is telling you to do? I don't." He scoffs and runs a hand through his dark hair, ruining the clean sharp appearance. "Tell me what you want." Narrowing his eyes, demanding to know selfish desires I've never given much thought to.

I look down at the fabric of the dress, smoothing it out to distract myself. It's been awhile since someone has asked me what I want.

It's always been what others want.

"Why?" whispering out, feeling small and vulnerable in his presence.

"I need to know where you stand in this," Alessio says this with suspicion, untrusting as if my intentions are anything but honest.

"I'll do whatever is good for the business — for the families." This is always the answer my father tells me and my mother, it's the only one I can give, the only one I've been taught. Sacrifices must be made for the greater good.

Alessio takes a step towards me, closing in the distance. "But you don't need to." His facial features drop, completely void of emotion.

"What do you mean?" Asking while standing at the same time. There's something about the way he's eyeing me that makes me nervous enough to want to move away.

His look mauls me.

"I don't need the dead weight you'll bring into my life. So I need to know, what do you want — and don't lie to me." Articulate words come out in a much deeper tone that intimidates me.

His approach scares me.

Moving around the bench, walking backwards, my back hits the flowery hedge.

"I-I want this marriage." What I really want to say is why is he doing this? There's no secret he'll find out, the purpose of this is useless.

Dusk is shining the last of her light.

"You know," he steps into my vicinity with arms flying out to rest on either side of my head, "you're not as stupid as I thought you'd be considering you're a Valentino." The insult makes me flinch back, whimpering out at how he says my last name.

The need to cry builds in my waterline.

What did my family do to deserve the disrespectful words he's spitting out? Especially at me. My father has everyone's best interest at heart, my mother is the kindest. Valentino holds no shame for me.

"I thought you would've been because of who your father is." A single tear escapes my eyes because of how low he's regarding my loved one's.

A weakness showing that I'm trying to contain.

"Why are you saying this?" Inhaling, forcing myself to calm down.

"I don't need you to take over anything," he continues his verbal blows. "I could take your father's business in a heartbeat. All I'd have to do is put a bullet between his eyes."

My stomach clenches and brows furrow. For a second I feel as if my breathing will become more erratic as I look at stoic face that's darkening from the shadow of the night.

Composure Cherry, telling myself, Composure.

"What would you do?"

A magnitude of answers race in my mind.

"What would you do if I did just that?"

He's taunting.

As if it's a game.

Alessio is looking over my face, his full lips part when leaning closer, hovering over mines just a few centimeters apart. The cologne he's wearing fills my senses, enticing strange things inside me to stir.

Confliction.

Distraction.

Fear.

"If I let you go, would you run back to daddy and tell him what I've told you?" softly speaking, his breath tickling my lips.

My eyes drag from his mouth to meet his gaze.

"Why did you really bring me here?" purposely deflecting his questions.

I need to gather myself before answering.

A hand grazes the mesh of my dress, holding the material between his fingers. He's gentle with his touch, careful when twirling it in his hands before dropping it completely.

When he places both hands on my hips I gasp lightly. "Answer my question first." At this point, it's too dark to see much, the light of the moon is hiding behind the height of the wall.

"My loyalty will always be to my family." Honesty is the vow I hold.

Alessio's forehead touches mine, chest pressing into my chest.

My head is spinning.

It's too hot all of a sudden.

"And if we marry... I'll be your family then." Nose nudging nose.

He's right.

"Then I guess you'll know who it'll shift to when we become that," quietly saying back, head feeling dizzy from the closeness.

There's something that's awakening inside me, something that makes me shift uncomfortably from one trembling leg to another.

Fluster overtakes the threats he made just moments ago.

"Sei spaventato? Non ti farò mai del male." Alessio places a hand to my cheek. "The cherry blossoms here remind me of you." He draws away just a bit, hand moving to rest on my neck.

"What?" Muddle thoughts scatter like unorganized puzzle pieces.

His thumb runs over the vein carrying my heart beat. "You asked why I brought you here."

Brown eyes try to find Green.

A breeze passes and I shiver.

"You're cold," stating as he moves to take off his jacket, placing it over my shoulders. The suit jacket submerging my upper body completely.

Before we can exchange any more words a loud ring comes from the pocket of his pants. Taking out his cellphone immediately he's back to his cold demeanor when answering the other person on the line harshly, "Cosa vuoi!"

Though he can fall back in line with no trouble, I'm finding it harder to recover the emotions I was just drowning in.

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