Chapter 40 - Ready or Not
After the stitches had been sewn and her dressings applied, Scarlett was briskly led into the walk-in-robe to begin dressing for her dinner date. One that if given the chance she would have skipped altogether.
The entire priming and pruning process seemed one big blur to her as she watched Jessica move about and fawn over her. But after around forty-five minutes or so Jessica had managed to dress both herself and Scarlett, including hair, make-up, jewellery and of course their gowns.
Jessica herself wore a floor-length black sequined gown with a provocatively low cut at the front; obviously showing off both of her greatest assets in this instance.
Scarlett on the other hand was dressed in a designer cherry red halter-neck satin gown, one that Dimitri had ordered specially for her. The gown was well-complimented with a pair of matching shiny red heels, each adorned with a simple golden buckle filled with diamantes just above each of her well-manicured toes.
Scarlett’s dangly earrings had been chosen by Jessica and were made of solid gold, with several shimmering diamonds and rubies encrusted at the bottoms of each. Her necklace of course was beyond beautiful. When Scarlett first got a glimpse of it her eyes widened with utter shock at just how gorgeous it was.
The choker was made of weighted gold, shimmering diamonds and encrusted with what had to be at least 10 carat rubies which followed all the way around the length of her neck!
At the centre of the choker dangled an even larger ruby, pear cut and resting just down past her collarbone against her soft olive skin.
In any other situation Scarlett may have actually liked the choker, maybe even loved it. But she knew what this object sitting around her neck was; most likely something bought from blood money and just another way for Dimitri to keep control over her.
Jessica’s hair was pulled back neatly with a sweeping frontline over her forehead. Her long brown hair had been twisted into a neat little design at the back of her head, while she had also managed to style Scarlett’s trademark long golden locks in a loose up-style with some of her length down and off to the side. Scarlett’s pouting lips were painted ruby red.
Even pouting she looked incredible.
But Scarlett didn’t feel incredible on the inside… she felt terrible. Like someone completely different. Like someone he wanted her to be.
As he had warned earlier on before storming out, Gabrielle arrived at the master bedroom door promptly and poked his head inside to instantly lay his eyes on the stunning masterpiece Scarlett had now been transformed into. Even without being dressed up she was a stunner, but now… He didn’t even think to take a glance at Jessica, who stood with her hands on her hips beside Scarlett, tapping her Italian black heels against the ground angrily.
He was in a trance. Not even realising it Gabrielle had completely forgotten to blink or breathe as he continued to stare at Scarlett in a spellbinding daze, half of his body tucked in behind the door which he still had a hold of with his large hand.
After Jessica had purposely cleared her throat he shook his head and averted his gaze, clearing his own throat and licking his now dry lips as he opened the door even further for both Jessica and Scarlett to exit the room with him.
“Ladies, I’m here to escort you down to drinks before dinner.” he announced as smoothly as he could muster up in his current daze.
“Excellent, come on dear.” Jessica began strutting across the room and stopped just in front of the doorway upon realising that she wasn’t being followed after all. She turned to give Scarlett a puzzled expression.
“Aren't you coming Scarlett?”
“I…” Scarlett froze up, filled with a mix of feelings she hadn’t yet managed to process as her manicured fingers twisted about nervously in front of her.
“What is it dear?” Jessica asked, taking a step back in her direction.
“I don’t want to go…” Scarlett crossed her arms in front of her chest defiantly and stood her ground, “I’m not going and that’s final. If Dimitri has a problem with it than he can come up here himself and tell me.”
Both Jessica and Gabrielle shared a look of concern at what Scarlett had just announced. They both looked nervous, even worried for Scarlett’s choice.
“Scarlett… honey, I understand you’re a little shaken up at the moment, but this really isn't the time-"
“NO! I’m staying here.”
Gabrielle decided to take a stab at it instead.
“I need to warn you Scarlett, Dimitri has given me strict instructions to bring you down now…” he paused, lifting his jacket out of the way and revealing the black glock holstered against his fancy black belt, “…one way or another. And honestly, I’d prefer if you just came along willingly.”
But Scarlett had reached her boiling point. Not only had she been chased, kidnapped, drugged, forced into oral sex and then to watch her close friend be gunned down by her ex- fiancé, but now she was being ordered around like some sort of pet!
This was not the woman she was deep down inside; the woman she truly believed herself to be was a strong-willed, smart and fiery woman who took charge of her own life.
And perhaps it was time they all saw that, whether they liked it or not!
“I don’t care what any of you think… Dimitri does NOT control my life!” Scarlett now shouted her words, fuelled with trapped anger desperately needing to be released.
Closing his eyes and lowering his head, Gabrielle was mentally preparing himself for what he would need to do next when Jessica placed her hand onto his sleeve and caused him to turn to glance at her for a second as she spoke.
“Just give us a minute, will you.”
Unsure of how this would pan out, Gabrielle shook his head and stepped back out of the room, making his way down the dimly-lit hallway to inform the Boss of the delay in Scarlett’s arrival.
He knew what it would mean; the shit was about to hit the fan!
As soon as Gabrielle had left the two girls alone to talk Jessica came over to the bed and sat down, patting the spot beside her with a smile. Scarlett sighed and walked across, sitting beside the only other woman she could talk to in her current situation. But what Jessica was about to admit next would completely shock and surprise her beyond belief.
“Look, Scarlett… I know what you’re going through.”
Scarlett turned to glare daggers at Jessica.
“How on Earth would you know what I’m going through?”
Jessica’s brows both lifted as she replied, “Let’s just say, you’re not the only woman in this room who has a past with Dimitri Mancini.”
The expression on Scarlett’s face said it all; wide eyed and stunned.
“Wait… you and Dimitri? You were… together?”
“Many years ago now. It almost seems like a life-time ago actually.” she waved her hand dismissively; something she did quite a lot Scarlett had started to notice.
“Well, one thing led to another… I guess I wasn’t his flavour of the month anymore and… well, he ended things between us.”
As much as she hated Dimitri, Scarlett couldn’t help but feel a little sympathy for this woman.
“That must have sucked...” she admitted bluntly, “But if you think about it, you actually kinda dodged a bullet in that department.”
Jessica suddenly chuckled, almost a solid laugh and it caused Scarlett to smile also.
“I suppose he can be rather difficult at times. Very domineering and over protective.”
“You’re telling me!” Scarlett countered.
“Scarlett, what I’m trying to say here is to be careful, hmm? Men like Dimitri Mancini tend to think they own the entire world and everyone in it. And once a man like that puts his hooks into you…” she paused, shaking her head slowly, “…there’s really no escaping it. Do you understand what I'm saying?”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying… Dimitri is dangerous, Scarlett. Honestly, I don’t know how he’s managed to fool you for so long into thinking he’s someone he’s truly not. But he is the entire meaning of the word ‘monster’ dear. You’ve already seen just how far he’ll go to get what he wants…”
Scarlett knew exactly what Jessica was referring to; Kate’s senseless captivity, beatings and eventual murder.
“I need to get the hell out of here Jessica.” she turned to her now, taking both of her hands in hers and looking her dead in the eye, “Please, you need to find out if Adam is alright. If he’s even still alive… I need to know, something... anything!”
Jessica narrowed her eyes.
“Who is this… Adam you continue to speak of dear?”
“His name is Adam Cunningham and he’s… well he’s…” she paused, almost hesitating to finish her admitted sentence, “…he’s someone I care very much for.”
Jessica smiled at Scarlett’s dazed expression. She knew that look all too well.
“Oh, you’re in love with this Adam character, aren’t you?”
Scarlett looked up at Jessica with a gasp, as if only just realising it for the first time herself. Did she really feel that way about Adam? She barely even knew him after all. Why was he the only man she continued to think about and want to be around?
Was it… love?
“Listen, how about I make you a deal?” Jessica suddenly suggested, breaking the silence.
Scarlett remained still as she listened intently to what her companion had to say.
“You come down with me now, run through the motions to get through the night in one piece and alive… and I might be able to see what I can do about locating this Adam fellow of yours for you… hmm?”
Scarlett’s eyes lit up with excitement as she suddenly lunged forward and wrapped both of her arms around a rather surprised Jessica. It was clear that Jessica was not a touchy-feely kind of girl, but Scarlett couldn’t help it. She was beyond thankful to have someone in her corner.
"Thank you." was all she managed to whisper into Jessica's hair.
By the time Gabrielle had descended the large pearl staircase and entered the main foyer where the gathering was taking place, the place was in full swing. Instrumental music played softly in the background while finely-dressed guests stood around chatting and sipping at expensive champagne and scotch.
Manoeuvring his way through the many guests he finally made his way to where Dimitri was in the middle of a conversation with several other well-dressed men, each holding a chilled glass of scotch in their hands. Some carried Cuban cigars in the other, but not Dimitri. He instead stood swirling his expensive scotch in the glass, while listening to the others busily converse.
Gabrielle quickly leaned in from behind and began to whisper something into Dimitri’s ear; something that clearly caused him to tense up with frustration.
“If you’ll excuse me, gentlemen…” he nodded his head with a fake smile pastered across his face, “It appears that I have an urgent matter to attend to.”
“Of course Dimitri, you go on ahead lad.” replied one of the older men standing around.
As Dimitri turned around his entire demeanour changed instantly as his eyes narrowed and his lip twitched with held-back rage. He walked along beside Gabrielle, through the crowd and on his way to the large staircase leading up to the next floor.
"Who the fuck does she think she is?" he spat quietly enough so that no one but Gabrielle would hear.
It appeared that his loving fiancé would need a little more convincing to be in attendance after all.
Convincing that Dimitri would gladly give her...