POISONOUS GREED

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Chapter 5 - Red

"Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back."


Water lighty sloshes back and forth in its glass cup as I make my way up the staircase. My legs feel heavy when placing one foot in front of the other until finally reaching the top step and continuing down the hall into my room.

Heat still consumes my body from earlier. Embarrassment lingering over my thoughts, clouding with harsh self judgement. The feeling to stop beating myself up over it isn't as great as I want it to be.

I can't believe someone called while I was doing... that. There untimely interruption was quite the coincidence considering the situation.

Oh gosh.

"Stop it Cherry," I groan to myself. This overthinking is doing nothing for my sanity. I shouldn't even be giving it much attention, it's not like they knew what I was doing, right?

Maybe.... maybe they just accidentally butt dialed me?

Yeah! Yeah, that happens all the time. People always mistakenly call others. That would explain why they didn't answer back on the other line. Perhaps they just saw the call and hung up immediately.

A sigh escapes from the part of my lips, shoulders sagging with relief as a small smile stretches across my face after convincing myself that it's not that big of a deal, that I'm just worrying for nothing.

I'm in the clear.

After I take a sip of water from the cup, I place it on the nightstand and walk over to one of the bay windows of my room and sit down at an angle on the plush cushion sofa.

I feel far from sleepy now.

Pulling the curtains of my window open, I lean forward and cross my arms over each other on the headrest of the couch and lay my cheek flat against my stacked hands.

My room overlooks our backyard. It's a beautiful scenery that brings peace to my mind when I see it. Spanning over the huge acre of land are thousands of plants; ranging from tulips and roses to fruit trees of apples and peaches. It all belongs to my mother, a gift from my father.

He can be intensely brooding to most but deep down he has a soft spot, especially towards my mother. I think he genuinely likes her, possibly even love. He just shows it differently. Given that their marriage was a business transaction and far from traditional, it seems as if they found a type of love that blossoms in a way that only they can understand.

At times I'll see my mother smile so broadly that the smooth skin around her eyes will softly wrinkle.

And other times I'll see my father blush when she enters a room, and though it's only faint, it gives hope for the dilemma I'm in.

That I could find love with Alessio despite the situation.

However, now I'm not so sure. With Alessio's teasing and threats, I don't know what to think anymore.

My eyes wander over the landscape design. It's a cross basilica floor plan layout that also uses cartesian graphing, a coordinate systems that structures the garden in a way that reminds me of the renaissance era. An art lover is how I would define my mother, appreciating timeless beauty that my father is well aware about.

This is his way of showing her just how much she means to him.

Scanning the moonlit garden my attention suddenly turns to one of the outside sheds that sits at the end of the yard. The surrounding trees and darkness makes it hard to see but I know my eyes aren't playing tricks on me.

I can see it...

Something's moving in the shadows.

Eyes hone in, squinting to get a better look. Nothing seems out of the ordinary now but a second ago I did see something move from the shadow of tree to another in a quick motion.

Weird, could it be an animal?

Maybe I'm psyching myself out, like when watching a scary movie alone at night and freaking out when you have to go the bathroom.

Leaning away from the window — I see it again. The shadow enlarging before sizing down.

Slowly getting up from the couch, moving towards my balcony, I open up the french double doors and walk out barefoot onto the terrace that's connected to my room.

It's cool out, refreshing. The soft breeze dances along my skin, caressing then leaving all too soon. The subtle light from the moon pours down, dimly lighting some areas of the garden. However there's still a darkness that casts over the edge of our land, glooming the mood.

Fingertips smooth over the steel railing. Narrowing my eyes to get a better look, the leaves on a sycamore tree some yards away begins softly sway then shake unnaturally, the force causing quite a few cherry blossoms to fall to the floor.

My vision tunnels when the shifting of the shadow descends from behind a tree and scurries across to another one, shielding itself behind the thick trunk.

Darkness Falls.

The shape of the shadow suddenly grows, as if reaching full height when it peeks out from behind the tree. My eyes widen with disbelief. The thought that the figure could've been an animal is now long forgotten.

Now this — this looks like a person...

... am I seeing things right, do my eyes deceive me?

Pushing higher on the tips of my toes, getting a closer look, I bend a little bit more forward.

Searching,

Studying,

Inclining,

Tilting at an angle so much that it makes me regret the decision simultaneously. A loud gasp emits when my toes leave the floor and the grip that I have on the railing slips because of how far I'm leaning.

Toppling over the edge.

However the feeling of something strong wrapping around my waist silences the scream that almost tears throughout the night sky when pulling me back to the safety of the terrace. Shaky feet balance themselves on the floor, trying to regain some type of footing but failing to do so because of how hard I'm trembling.

Petrification takes over my frame, sinking into the marrow of my bones, devouring the action of mobility.

My mind goes blank. The naïve curiosity leaving as quickly as it came. The only thing I can concentrate on now is holding onto the thing that saved me from plummeting down to the concrete below.

"Ragazza stupida!" There's a familiar harshness to the words that are spoken into my ear. I'm lost in a daze, unable to focus because of the scatter emotions are.

Adrenaline is pumping through my veins, my head feels dizzy.

I almost died... and with that thought my breathing starts to come out in smaller pants, ears ringing as if gunshots went off.

"What the fuck were you thinking!" Alessio says louder and I flinch away, cringing. He sounds angry enough to hurt someone. Fuming with irritation. "Fucking answer me, Cherry!" Hissing with a gruff snap of his voice. His hands tighten around my torso, flexing — he's furious.

My heart is pumping so hard, so fast that I can feel the pulse in my throat.

Fingers grip my chin and jerk my head up to meet his stormy green eyes that are glaring down at me. My back presses against his chest, arms still encasing my waist before he turns me around to face him head on.

When he sees my face, his face slightly falls before morphing into an unreadable expression.

I can't stop the whimper that finds its way out.

My chest is tight.

Standing uneasily, my head lowers, feeling a magnitude of negative emotions that are pushing heavily down on my shoulders.

"Cherry," Alessio's tone suddenly changing into a rarity that I'm unfamiliar with. Instead of his scary normal self he seems to be... soft. "What happened?"

It's his voice that dulls the ringing inside my head.

"I d-don't know," stuttering out. My sight flickers back to the sycamore tree, but I don't see the shadow anymore. "I thought I saw s-someone in the yard...", there's nothing else I can say because I've said it all.

It was just a stupid move on my end, now my stomach hurts from fright and embarrassment.

"I'm sorry." Tears burn the rim of my eyes before I'm unexpectedly pulled into Alessio's body. He's stiff and his arms lay awkwardly across my back, but I pay no attention to that. "Thank you for not letting me fall," muttering against his chest, looking up at him.

Alessio looks uncomfortable, it's as if he's trying to keep a straight face, one that's emotionless and hard.

Warm large hands cup my face and my eyes go wide when his thumbs rubs circle over my cheekbones in a soothing way. His concerning expression surprises me, but all that washes away as soon when he pulls back and fixes his shirt, looking away.

Red.

The splats of red stains on his shirt catch my attention.

Rubbing the tears away with the back of my hand, I open my mouth to ask the question at hand but he's quick to ask one of his own.

"Where was this person you thought you saw? Show me." Alessio's serious demeanor is back, appearing to be on high alert.

"By the sycamore tree," saying while pointing my finger to a specific row.

His hands jut into his pockets, pulling out a cellphone and tapping the screen then putting it up to his ear.

It's quiet between us and I can hear the ringing of his phone call.

Alessio watches me intently now, his stare roaming down my body as he waits for the other person on the line to answer.

Down,

Down,

Down his eyes travel until they stop at the edge of the robe. His eyes snapback up to mines with dilating pupils. A hard swallow passes my throat when his mouth opens. "Marco, ho bisogno che tu," he says when the line connects.

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