Time was a funny thing.
She didn’t know what time it was. She didn’t know anything. Well. She had a pounding headache. She knew that. Why did she have a pounding headache?
Probably the six bottles of wine, but eh who knew?
Gabriella cracked her eyes open, the darkness of the room shielding everything from her sight. Fuck. It was still night. All the time.
She glanced down at her bare stomach, spotting Niccolo’s arm resting across it. She picked it up and moved it without ever waking him up. He was naked, passed out on his stomach, the cotton-but-felt-like-sandpaper sheet barely covering his ass.
A wave of nausea hit her as she sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. Gabriella looked down at her nakedness for a beat before grabbing a shirt from the ground. She slipped it on and got up on wobbly legs.
Once she reached the window, she sat on the sill and grabbed a cigarette from the table next to her. She lit it up and dragged out a puff before pressing the heated flesh of her face to the cold glass of the window.
It was a new habit. She had picked it up on Day Four. To not go insane.
Because all she wanted, the only dream she ever had… it was revenge. It was all she thought about.
Blood for blood.
But she didn’t want any of these fuckers to blow up. She wanted them to suffer. She wanted to hear their screams and feel their blood on her face. She wanted to drag out their deaths until they begged her for mercy.
But the world didn’t work like that.
After Niccolo had taken her away from the sight, her busted leg preventing her from walking, they had gone into hiding. She hadn’t known where. It had been humid, dark, and hell.
Gabriella had screamed until her voice had gone raw, demanding retribution. It took a few days for Niccolo’s words to sink in. They couldn’t simply go out there and find the Devil. Maybe her family. Yes.
But then what? She would come at them with a knife and they would shoot her down the second she came into view? A part of her had wanted to scream yes but…
Eventually, she had to agree with him. If she did whatever she would die and her brother and mother would be dead. For nothing. No one would pay the price. So she needed a plan, she needed contacts, she needed money.
When day four came around, the stress burning her out, her skin raw from the anxiety, she took her first puff of cigarettes. It did nothing for the pain clawing at her heart, drowning her from the inside, but - it took the edge off.
A couple more days after that, they got to escape the dark hole they had been shoved into… and they were brought to a shoddy motel. Then another. And another. They had been in this one for a week now - their longest stretch.
And who could forget the kind soul behind this little room? Francesco.
It didn’t come for free.
Niccolo was his lakey. Up all hours of the night, running errands… Most of the time, he came back covered in blood, his limbs shaking and the dark circles beneath his eyes even deeper than the time before. He was wrecked.
She couldn’t even leave this fucking place. Gabriella was too easy to recognize. They had a fucker posted nearby, keeping an eye on her when Niccolo wasn’t around. To make sure she stayed put.
There were times she wanted to run, but to go where? To do what? To be with who? Her husband was the only one left.
So, Gabriella drank. And she smoked. And when Niccolo was around they fucked. But none of that fixed anything and none of that made her feel anything. She was fucking numb.
Little Gabby, who had to wait. Little Gabby who wanted revenge but couldn’t. She couldn’t do anything.
She’d yell about it sometimes. Get into it with Nico. Asking when and how long she had to keep this up. But it would turn into a bitter fight… that usually ended in sex. So there was no point.
For a while, she cried. Not anymore. There were no tears left, no screams to be torn from her throat. There was just her need for vengeance, a need overwhelming her every thought, her every breath.
So it was her. The wanted girl who lost it all. Trusting Francesco out of all people. And stuck with Niccolo who had lost everything because of her. Back at the bottom.
Yet he was the only tool she had to get revenge. So she clung to him. It was that or a suicide mission that would end in failure.
Gabriella exhaled the air from her mouth, watching as the window fogged up from the heat. Fuck. She was starving. When was the last time she had food?
No. Okay. Today she had to get her shit together. Today she had to do better. Maybe she could make a list. Everything she knew. Everything she needed.
How many more days had to go by? How much more did she have to go on?
She had thought about it. She could lure the Devil. He would come to her. But how would she kill him? Sometimes, she thought about letting him have her, letting him fuck her - she could kill him then. But then she could never come up with a foolproof method to kill him during the act.
And she refused to be stuck as his little sex doll forever. So it was a no.
What else could she do?
Before her burnt-out brain could conjure up another failure of a plan, two fingers took hold of her cigarette, pulling it out of her mouth. Gabriella tilted her head up, watching as Niccolo brought it to his lips, taking a long breath.
He’d left the sheet behind, leaving him completely naked, his semi-soft cock right at her eye level. She focused her gaze upwards at his face as he pulled out the cigarette and slipped it back between her lips.
Niccolo lifted himself onto the table nearby, his legs swinging off the edge as he made eye contact. “Breakfast of champions I see.”
He’d never stopped the teasing, the bantering. He still tried to get a rise out of her, but it wasn’t the same. There was a dullness behind his blue eyes as if someone had turned off the light switch. And sometimes, when he came back from work she saw it: the mask slipping.
But hey. At least he got to leave this room.
Meanwhile, she was fully dependent on everybody else. So much for revenge.
“If you find something better, I’m all ears.”
“Trust me, princess, I can easily find a better use of your mouth rather than smoking.”
He could. He had.
Snap out of it, Gabby.
“Sun’s about to be up. He’s gonna call ya.”
Niccolo filled her with familiarity, something she could hold on to if she needed it. He knew her mother, she could talk about her. About her brother. He tried to save them. He had warned her, so many times. Telling her this world was more than she could handle.
Gabriella had pushed back, she had thought he didn’t really know how much she could take. Oh, she’d been wrong, so wrong. If she had known this would have been the price from the start, she would have willingly stayed with the Devil when he kidnapped her.
To keep her family from this fate? Shit, she would have done anything.
But it was too late now. Her selfishness had cost them everything and she was all that was left behind.
Had this been how her grandfather had felt? He had lost his wife and his son. All of it. To get out. Had it been worth it? Had he even enjoyed his life? She didn’t know. She never got to ask. Because he was also gone. Everything he’d stashed away - done.
Gabriella tilted her head, coming face to face with Niccolo. “We both know I can have you screaming in less than five.”
It was easier now. She’d turn off her mind. Because this - whatever it was they were, they did… It was the only thing that still made her feel. So she did it. Plus, what if he decided he had enough? What if he decided he should save his skin?
If he gave her to the Devil - that fucker might spare him. He could trade his life for hers. He hadn’t. She shouldn’t think like that, she shouldn’t let that spiral of darkness continue. But sometimes, at night, palming at her chest, feeling the air leaving her lungs and never entering back… During those panics? She thought about it. A lot.
It was fucking dumb to think if they fucked, he’d stay loyal.
But he hadn’t put her life at risk yet.
Gabriella. Who had been driven to beat out the Devil, trying to free herself from the Mancini family… Was nothing now. Pathetic was a good word for her. She couldn’t - she wanted to take a gun, go to where the Devil was and shoot up everything and everyone until he was the only one left.
But she couldn’t.
Because she had no gun and didn’t know where to go.
Because her revenge, the only fire burning within - was out of her grasp.
She was nothing.
She had nothing.
And she didn’t know how to fix it.
Niccolo put his lips on her neck, kissing his way down her throat. She threw her head back, the cigarette barely hanging from her fingers, threatening to fall on the window sill. Fuck it. As he shuffled his body, pressing up to her, she could feel he was already hard.
One of his hands sneaked up under the shirt, palming at the flesh of her stomach. She was so cold, always so cold, but he felt like he was made out of warmth. She didn’t think twice about it before leaning into his touch.
It wouldn’t fix anything else. It wouldn’t help her do anything regarding her goal.
But it would help her forget.
So why the fuck not?
Shoving a body in a woodchipper? Check.
Cutting some guy up to pieces, feeding him to the fishes? Check.
It wasn’t like Niccolo hadn’t done any of this shit before. He had. Years ago. When he had been at the bottom of the fucking ladder. He had always enjoyed taking care of his prey himself, fucking a guy up… but this wasn’t the same.
He wasn’t doing it because he wanted to do it. He had to do it.
Because there was nothing else for him and Francesco was all he had left. And he didn’t even know if he could trust the fucker. Because at the end of the day, someone had figured out where her family was. But, they didn’t have a lot of options.
He didn’t anyways.
She had a couple of options that wouldn’t lead to her death but he knew she would rather die than live any of those lives. Then again. Whatever the fuck she was doing now, wasn’t much living. She hung on by a thread - the need for blood.
He knew that feeling. He had lived with it for a long time. Even when he had gotten everything he had set out to get; it never went away. Niccolo had always felt like someone could take everything from him and… it turned out… he had been right.
Fucking Francesco’s lackey.
Was there something more fucking humiliating than that?
Every day he heard the whispers - though they were hardly whispers at this point. How the mighty had fallen. But he had to take it. Because though Gabriella’s life options were very shitty ones, she could live.
He had nothing, but he knew things. Plus, he got in the Devil’s way a lot by now. He wouldn’t let him walk away unscattered. If he went out there with no form of protection, he was dead. Head on a fucking spike.
Could he rebuild himself?
If he killed the fucking Devil. But he needed a plan for that - she needed a plan. But Niccolo didn’t have one. He’d lost all his bearings. He knew how to draw him out, but he knew nothing else. They would have to find something, a trump card if they were going to pull this shit off.
Because Niccolo didn’t know how long he could hold her off.
She was broken right now, drunk, not herself. He could keep her down, keep her safe, but for how long? She might snap, she might agree to something she shouldn’t… Maybe Francesco was waiting for her to be vulnerable.
Shit, maybe that fucker planned on getting rid of Niccolo when the time was right.
And for that reason, whenever he was right her, he was on her. He didn’t discourage her destructive habits, he didn’t try to help her make sense of them. It was for her sake. The moment she didn’t need him anymore, she might decide to need the wrong person.
He wasn’t fucking perfect.
But he sure as fuck had protected her life more than any of these fuckers would.
They’d use her and toss her.
She might do everything right, help them get everything, and end up dead or the Devil’s toy anyway.
He couldn’t talk to her. Not properly.
He didn’t know what it was like to mourn family - a family you liked. He had lost his mother, but even then, their relationship hadn’t been like the one she had with her mother. He didn’t know what it felt like to lose your whole world.
He never had anything to lose.
He had her.
She was all he had at this point.
He wouldn’t think like this - he couldn’t afford to think like this.
Gabriella was no longer a fixed point. She was a variable, one he couldn’t predict and if he wanted to survive long enough to see the Devil pay the price for what he did, he couldn’t afford to be distracted and make a mistake.
“Niccolo. Long day.”
He knew that voice. He had never liked it, but lately, he had grown to hate it. “Francesco,” he spoke, turning around.
Niccolo had wanted to go back to the room, take a warm shower, and wash off the blood coating his skin. There was so much of it. It was thick, crusting on his flesh and he wanted it off. There was no victory, no joy coming from this.
“Am I bothering you? I was hoping you had time for a chat?”
He always did this. On purpose.
Francesco was having a blast reminding Niccolo he no longer held any power, and that he was at the bottom of the food chain. As if he could deny him anything he asked. If he did, he’d put himself and Gabriella at risk.
“What do you want?” he asked through gritted teeth.
“Always so happy,” Francesco said, clapping his hands together. “I’m afraid you and your wife will have to move.”
Again. “Can’t keep him off our tracks?” He wasn’t doing this shit for free. Francesco was supposed to hold his end of the bargain.
Francesco smiled at him, but his lips were tightly stretched. “Your wife is such a popular and in-demand commodity. Leaves a lot of eyes wandering. Costs a lot of money to buy silence.” He waved him off. “What am I talking about, you know all this. Don’t you?”
“When do we move?”
The less he engaged him, the less he was setting himself up for a slip-up. Because if he listened to himself, Francesco would be meeting his fist.
“Tomorrow. Enjoy your wife tonight. Like you do all the time. Impressive stamina. Considering what you are tasked to do all day.”
His bones could be broken and he’d still fuck her.
“Wouldn’t want your little spy to get bored.”
“Now, he’s not a spy, you are positively breaking my heart. He is there to watch over your safety and your wife’s.”
Niccolo hated the way he always said wife. As if to bring up the fact it was a shame marriage. As if to constantly remind him none of it was real. Was it to taunt him? To make fun of him? To remind him of all he lost since she came along?
He didn’t need the reminder.
“Sure he is. I guess jerking off helps him stay alert?”
He wasn’t sure. But he heard the grunts. Gabriella was wild when she was unchained. And wild meant loud. He fucking loved it because it was the only way to tune out all the fucking voices in his head.
“I am pleased our little Gabby finally understood. The best weapon she has is the one between her legs.”
Son of a bitch.
“If only she learned to use it on the right target. Now, that would be peachy. But there is still hope for her yet. She might grow.”
Yeah, he was hoping she would drop him, then Francesco would do the same. But there had to be another angle since he could have gotten rid of Niccolo a long time ago. So what fucking game was he playing and what would he gain in the end?
He had to figure it out.
Which was hard.
Because… he had vowed to never be this hopeless again. He didn’t want to be the same little boy who had nothing, and no one. The boy getting beatings, the boy who was never enough. The boy who had to bite his tongue and submit to everyone’s laws.
He didn’t know how to be that anymore.
“I don’t know. She hasn’t gone stupid yet.”
Francesco chuckled. “We’ll see I guess. At least she has her bottle of tequila and your cock to keep her warm at night. Maybe it’ll be enough.”
“Want me to show you how enough it is?” The words slipped before he could swallow them back. Fuck.
Francesco walked near him, one pointed finger jamming itself into his chest. “If I blink twice right now, someone’s gonna shoot your pretty boy head off. So don’t get cute. How about you go wash off the blood, go fuck your girl, and wake up bright and early tomorrow when I whistle for you, huh?”
Niccolo’s hand crisped, shaking, trembling, his whole body ready to snap. He wanted to beat him to an inch of his life, he wanted to watch the blood pour from his eye sockets as he jammed his fucking thumbs into them.
“Enjoy her. While it lasts.”
It wasn’t a promise.
It wasn’t empty words.
It was a threat.
Time was ticking and he had to do something.
He had to figure it out - all by himself.
How long did he have until Gabriella figured out… he couldn’t do it?
A/N: Welcome back everyone! Book 3, the last one! Bit of a depressing mess huh? LETS GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD :)