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Chapter One: 1992

August 9th

Tuscan, Italy

She knew that the day would come. It was inevitable. Something that she could not escape no matter how hard she worked or how smart she was; she always knew that the day would come. Her father had sent the maid Marina to wake her about twenty minutes ago, told her (Marina) to tell her to come into his office after she was dressed.

She laid there for a few minutes, her brown eyes trained on the white ceiling fan that was in need of dire cleaning. Her fist clenched around the sheets as dread and anxiety, her most common emotions crawled around her brain. Giovanni Moretti was not known for spending quality time with his children, not even his sons, he never summoned them for a friendly chit chat over lemonade. No, when Giovanni summoned you, he meant business and only business.

She knew what nature of business this meeting would entail, she heard them discussing it two weeks ago. She only caught small snippets of the conversation but she knew what they were talking and who they were talking about.

Contessina Moretti rose from her four-post bed and knelt on her praying kneeler, she crossed herself and said a silent prayer. When she was finished she rose and proceeded to make herself appropriate for the eyes of the patriarch of the Moretti house. Denim ‘mom’ jeans, a white t-shirt tucked in, a white slip on and her black mane combed back with a white headband keeping it in place. Simple, modest and practical.

It was a Sunday, a bright Sunday in Tuscan Italy, the air smelt of citrus and pine, the ambiance was lively with the chatter of her siblings and relatives. The corridors were brightly lit from the beautiful glare of the sun that shone without shame and fear. It was a beautiful day but Contessina could not bring herself to enjoy it, she never could.

Giovanni Moretti was a tall man, forty years in age with hazel green eyes that could freeze the Atlantic ocean ten times over if it pleased him. Thick black hair, slightly wrinkled bronze skin with plump lips that were set in a frown half the time. He looked up at her and squinted his eyes like he always did before he motioned for her to sit. She sat, he stopped writing and they stared at each other.

“I’ve decided that it’s time I got you off my hands.” He said, his eyes never leaving her a minute. He was looking for a reaction, specifically one of horror. He wanted her to cringe and plead, he wanted her to give him a reason to punish her dearly. She knew better, she was a master at the masking games, this was not a life to where one could wear their feeling on their sleeves like fools. She understood this, she learned this.

She could not refuse, she was not in the position to refuse. Giovanni would not strike her, he had not the time to strike his children, he did not like to. He simply punished them in much worse ways. If she refused he would simply send her away and send for her sister, he would force the weaker and more vulnerable girls to marry whomever he chose and she would have to watch as they suffer in her place.

She was not that selfish, she loved her siblings too much to ever see them suffer. It was her responsibility as the eldest daughter to protect the younger ones especially in a world like this.

That was why she accepted without question. She accepted to protect the ones she loved and she accepted because she was naive and believed maybe, just maybe she would make a better life for herself.

How wrong was she!

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