Chapter 25 - Last Chance
Dinner was lovely and afterwards everyone stood together in the kitchen casually chatting as they busily helped Aunt Steph to clean the dishes and put the leftovers away. By now the sun had gone down and the air had become quite cold almost instantaneously. The nights were always cooler out there from what Scarlett could remember of her childhood. The farm was always cold at night. Not that she minded.
“Oh, by the way I forgot to mention I had some visitors here at the farm while you guys were out.” Aunt Steph suddenly announced, pulling her hands out of the warm soapy water and drying them off with the tea towel.
“Visitors, here?” Jake asked with a frown.
“Why would anyone come out here?” Haley added, equally confused.
Scarlett continued drying the dishes as she watched her Aunt make her way across to the fridge and carefully take a beige envelope out from underneath a large magnet as she continued to explain.
“Yeah, it was the weirdest thing. There were these two men, both dressed in fancy suits. They left this envelope behind…” she paused, turning to face her puzzled niece before adding, “I was instructed to give it to you directly Scarlett. They told me it was important and for your eyes only.”
Scarlett swallowed nervously, her hazel eyes widening to the size of saucers as she turned to meet her Aunt’s gaze, the strange envelope held out for her to take.
“For me?” her voice was timid, full of fear as her Aunt nodded and held out the envelope casually.
“Don’t worry, I haven’t read it.” she assured her niece with a playful wink.
But that was the least of Scarlett’s concerns as she reached out her shaking hand to grasp the envelope from her Aunt and pulled it in toward her chest. Struggling to gather up enough courage to open it, Scarlett held onto it for a moment, simply gazing down at the handwritten name scribed on the front.
It couldn’t be...
There was no way Dimitri could have found her all the way out here, right? She never mentioned having an Aunt or cousins to him, not once! Countless questions circulated within her panicked brain as she bit down on her bottom lip nervously, deciding whether she would open it or not.
Adam watched on from where he was seated at the other side of the kitchen counter, a keen interest apparent in his expression as he waited for her to make her decision.
“Go on Scarlett, open it!” Haley urged.
Before she knew what she was doing, Scarlett’s curiosity got the better of her as her hand suddenly flipped the envelope over and began working to open it. Her fingers seemed to tremble slightly as she slid out the singular piece of paper hidden away inside and unfolded it.
Her heart plummeted instantaneously.
It was a handwritten note, one with a short but very purposeful message; one that she understood loud and clear.
The entire world around her began to spin uncontrollably as she struggled to keep herself upright and conscious, her breathing rapidly increased dramatically causing her heart to thud loudly within her head. She could feel her legs losing their strength as her vision began to blur and it suddenly became hard for her to breathe.
“Scarlett darling, are you alright?” her Aunt queried, having noticed that her niece’s complexion had become quite pale after reading the note she was holding, “What is it, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing!” Scarlett replied almost immediately, a little too loud for her own liking. She couldn’t help the panic she was feeling.
This caught the attention of everyone in the room all at once as all eyes were suddenly on her. Adam’s expression showed his concern for her as he went to stand from the stool he had been sitting on.
“I’m sorry… I need to go.” was all she managed to mutter before she turned on her heel and disappeared down the hallway toward the guest room.
“What’s gotten into her?” Haley asked, glancing around at the others.
Several minutes later Scarlett was nervously pacing up and down the carpeted area beside her bed with the note still clutched in her trembling hand. A sudden knock at her bedroom door alerted her.
Before she could call out a preferred response the door opened inward. She turned around and see her Aunt standing in the open doorway with her hands resting on her hips. Her left brow was slightly higher than her right and her expression said it all. Scarlett swallowed nervously. It was time for some long overdue explaining.
“Hey.” she greeted her Aunt.
“Do you have a minute?”
Nodding her head Scarlett replied, “Sure, come in.”
Closing the door behind her Aunt Steph rounded the bed and took her niece’s hand, leading her across to the bed where they both sat beside one another. With a supportive smile her Aunt placed a loving hand on Scarlett’s as she looked into her terror-filled eyes.
“Spill it...” her Aunt got right to the point, ’…and don’t you dare lie to me.”
Scarlett glanced down to the floor, racked with guilt. Blinking slowly she contemplated her next words carefully. The truth was yes she could tell her Aunt everything, but that would only put her and the family in serious danger. The last thing Scarlett wanted was to have anything happen to her family. This had nothing to do with them and she wanted to keep it that way.
“Scarlett, honey… Who were those men? Be honest.”
“I can’t…” Scarlett closed her eyes as her brows furrowed with obvious discomfort.
“Honey, you can tell me anything. I’m here for you, you know that right?”
“Please, I can’t…” Scarlett pleaded with her now tear-filled eyes, “I don’t want you to get hurt. I couldn’t bare it-”
Scarlett shook her head as several tears rolled down her cheeks.
“He’s dangerous Aunt Steph. You don’t understand-“
“-Then help me to understand, Scarlett. Tell me what’s going on, maybe I can help you get through this.”
Scarlett shook her head, more vigorously this time.
“No, no one can help me.” she muttered to herself, “He knows where I am now…” she held up the note in her hand, alerting her Aunt to it as she added, “…he’ll come for me soon enough. Maybe if I give myself up willingly he’ll spare you and the others...”
Grasping Scarlett by both of her shoulders firmly, her Aunt forced Scarlett to face her as she spoke sternly to her terrified niece.
“Scarlett, tell me what’s going on this instant! Who’s coming for you?”
The tone of authority in her Aunt’s voice seemed to work with provoking a response from her niece as Scarlett met her eyes and swallowed before replying.
“H... his name is Dimitri Mancini... He was my fiancé. But he’s not the man I thought he was.” she began.
“They never are honey.” Aunt Steph smirked unknowingly.
“No you don’t understand, Aunt Steph he’s dangerous. I saw him… He…” she couldn’t seem to finish her sentence and this had her Aunt highly concerned. Something was eating away at her.
“What is it Scarlett?” she pressured her niece with a comforting squeeze to her shoulders, “What did you see?”
“He… killed someone...”
Her Aunt’s expression immediately faded upon hearing Scarlett’s unexpected confession. Did she just say that her fiancé had ’killed’ someone?
“Uh... Are you serious? When did this happen?”
“I wasn’t meant to see it, I was meant to be asleep in his room. But I did! I saw these men being dragged inside with hoods over their heads. I wanted to run but instead I hid... and then he caught me and...”
She paused, seemingly unable to continue until her Aunt gestured for her to with a nod of her head. That’s all it took.
“He showed me this room hidden down in the basement of his house. It’s like some crazy torture chamber out of a movie or something. There were these men in there being beaten... and I watched… I watched him kill one of the men Aunt Steph! He shot him in the head point blank.”
She sniffed, shaking her head and glancing down towards her knees, “I was so scared, scared that he would kill me next... so I ran, but they caught me… and then they drugged me with something that made me pass out.”
By now Scarlett was beginning to sob as her eyes were filled with tears and the realisation began to flood over her Aunt that this may in fact be the truth. A horrible truth of course, but the truth nevertheless!
“Oh my god, you poor thing.” was all she could manage as she struggled to process what she had just been told for a moment.
Scarlett took a deep breath and then continued.
“I must have been asleep for hours because when I woke up I was back in his bed and he was fast asleep beside me. Sleeping like a baby. The bastard just killed someone and then had the balls to sleep in the same bed as me, as if nothing had happened...” her tone showed her anger, “So I snuck out, stole one of his cars and got the hell out of there. I’ve been on the run from him since it happened... but now he’s found me again. He knows where I am and that puts all of you in danger too, don’t you understand?”
“Hey, what makes you think he’s found you?” her Aunt queried softly, placing a supportive hand on the side of Scarlett’s shoulder.
Glancing down, Scarlett lifted the letter up for her Aunt to take as she spoke.
“Those were his men Aunt Steph. The men dressed in suits who visited you while we were away. They work for Dimitri, they’re his henchmen. They were here sending me a message, a warning. If I don’t go back to him who knows what he’ll do!”
After hearing her niece’s words and reading the letter she had just been handed, Aunt Steph knew this was a serious situation and more importantly that they were all in extreme danger.
“What about contacting the Police? Have you at least tried that?”
Scarlett was already shaking her head as she replied.
“No, that wouldn’t help. Men like Dimitri, they own the Police Aunt Steph. He’s a Mafia Boss for Christ sake!”
Her Aunt’s mouth gaped open as she froze at the realisation.
“He’s in the Mafia!” her words came out as more of a statement rather than a question as she struggled with the idea of it, “Oh dear god Scarlett, what have you gotten yourself into?”
“I’m so sorry, I never should have come out here.” she began to cry now as her Aunt pulled her in against her chest and held onto her tightly, “I just... I had nowhere else to go...”
The highly conflicted Aunt sat holding onto her distraught niece for a moment as she let out a large sigh. She had no idea of whether Scarlett’s confession was in fact true or not, but the unbelievable fear that she was now witnessing from her clearly terrified niece told her all she needed to know.
Scarlett was a part of her family and that meant she would do whatever was necessary to ensure her niece was protected from these dangerous men.
But how on earth would she go about doing it?