Not complete freedom, but the most I could hope for in this life right now. Val was gone and I could walk around the house without the fear of him following in tow.
He left with the instructions that Raffaele was in charge, though I don’t know Raffaele that well my intentions were to stay out of his way and hopefully he would stay out of mine. Perhaps Gianna would be around and we could take this time to bond more, I needed to socialize more. I was beginning to feel more and more distant from the normal world, becoming desperate for any kind of normal human interaction.
The house was so much quieter than usual, it was relaxing and made me wish that Val got lost on his way home.
It was wishful thinking, but I couldn’t stop staring at the door. All I had to do was unlock it, right? But what would happen after that? Was I supposed to run away and go into hiding for the rest of my life? Absolutely not. Val would find me and the situation would be significantly worse when I returned. So even when there was a way out, I could never leave.
“Do you know the passcode?” A voice said from behind me.
I looked to see Raffaele standing a few feet away, wearing a dark suit like all of the men did in this house. It was like they had a uniform.
“Passcode? To...?” I raised an eyebrow at him, this was the first time I had seen him since Val left and I was hoping I wouldn’t have to see him at all.
Raffaele motioned his head towards the door, “Val has an electronic password on the inside, hence the keypad on the right hand side.”
My eyes narrowed to the keypad that I hadn’t paid attention to until now. Un-fucking-believable. A passcode to get out of the house? And please and thank you weren’t even options because the keypad was numbers.
“I’ll take that as a no,” Raffaele commented.
“Okay, Raffaele. Obviously I don’t know, and I don’t intend on leaving anyway.” I shrugged my shoulders casually, “I’ll stay out of your way and you stay out of mine.”
I furrowed my eyebrows, “I’m sorry?”
“Call me Rafe... I never was too fond of Raffaele,” He admitted.
It must be because of the Ninja Turtles, I thought to myself, because that’s what I thought of when I heard his name.
I nodded my head slowly, “Okay, Rafe. Excuse me please, I’m going to go look for Gianna.”
As I walked past him, he continued to speak to me, “Val told me you’re having sleeping issues. If you need the doctor to come by to prescribe sleeping pills, I’ve been given the okay.”
I took a deep breath, slightly annoyed that Val would bring up my personal business to his men like it was their business too. I was only have trouble sleeping because of him. The nightmares were because of the mortifying experience that he put me through.
Beginning to head up the stairs, I thought hard about Rafe’s words. He was willing to bring a doctor in for me so I could get sleeping pills if needed, but that wasn’t what I wanted. What I wanted was birth control and if I could get the doctor in the house to speak privately it would be the perfect opportunity to get birth control without Val finding out.
I’ve been spending weeks trying to think of ways to prevent myself from getting pregnant and this was the only way. Once Val came back and we continued to have sex, I could end up pregnant if I wasn’t already. Then I would be linked to him forever.
It was all too soon. I didn’t want a family with him, he wasn’t father material and my children deserved better.
When I reached the upstairs, I looked around for Gianna’s bedroom, hearing the sound of light classical music that helped me in the direction.
I reached her bedroom door and knocked gently, “Gianna?”
A moment later the music stopped and she responded, “Come on in.”
As I opened the room door I noticed Gianna sitting on a large bed in the center of the room. Her room was smaller than mine but brighter, but then again, it was Val’s room where I slept and he chose the dark color scheme.
Our bed spread was a dark gray, while the walls were a lighter gray. He always kept the drapes closed, but the rest of the house was bright and welcoming. I wasn’t sure why he wanted our room of all places to be dark, but it was and I hated it.
“I didn’t know you liked classical music,” I commented as I walked into her room.
Gianna was smiling, her legs crossed as she raised her eyebrow at me, “There’s a lot you don’t know about me.”
“Like what?” I asked, sitting at the edge of her bed.
“Like I actually hate classical music, I only listen to it because Stefano requested it,” She playfully rolled her eyes and when I gave her a confused look, she laughed softly, “Oh please. He isn’t like that... We recently found out that I’m pregnant and he heard that classical music enhances brain development.”
A smile formed on my lips as she told me about her pregnancy and I couldn’t help but feel so excited for her, “Gianna... Congratulations. I’m so happy for you.”
Gianna placed her hand on her currently flat stomach and smiled back at me, “Thanks... Stefano hasn’t said anything yet, but we’re thinking about breaking free from this house. Of course he would still be a part of the business, but I don’t want to raise a baby around this negativity.”
I couldn’t blame her for feeling this way, it was an extremely negative environment to be nervous and if I had a choice, I wouldn’t let my family be involved either - but I wasn’t given an option.
“How far long are you?”
“About six weeks,” Gianna told me. She seemed genuinely happy, her and Stefano were actually in love unlike Val and I.
I tilted my head to the side slightly and bit my lip gently, “Are we close enough now for you to tell me how you and Stefano met?”
I wanted to hear a happy love story, not a tragic one like the one I was living. There was something better, there was always something better.
Gianna laid on her back and looked at me as she began to grin like a little girl talking about her crush, “It’s not nearly as romantic as you’re expecting, Elaina.”
Doubtful. She blushed at only the mention of Stefano’s name and I could only with to feel something like that.
“Oh, stop. I’m sure it’s amazing...” I assured her.
She sniffled a laugh, “Well, the Acerbi’s and my family are rivals. So Stefano was supposed to kill me... As you can see, he didn’t.”
My smiled slowly faded at her words, she was serious? How in the world did she feel comfortable with someone who was supposed to kill her, “You’re kidding...”
“Like I would kid about something like that. Why do you think Val hates me so much? Even our families made amends but your husband is such a salty asshole,” She rolled her eyes, “Right before Val pulled the trigger of the gun that he had pressed against my head, Stefano told him not to...”
This wasn’t the love story I had expected from Gianna but in their own twisted way it was romantic, Stefano had saved her from death and now they were going to start a family together. It was strange how things happened but she seemed happy and not like she feared him at all.
She genuinely loved Stefano. And he loved her.
“I don’t know why Val is so bitter,” I commented, “It isn’t like he stopped being a murderer all together.”
Gianna let out a soft sigh, looking at the ceiling as she pursed her lips together, “There were casualties in our families rivalry... Apparently my father killed their cousin, someone Val was very close with. Love is forgiving with Stefano, not so much with Val.”
“I’m sorry that you went through all of that...” I looked down at my hands, not understanding how I had gotten dragged into such a terrible situation but being grateful that my first eighteen years were at least normal.
Gianna hadn’t had that opportunity so I was fortunate enough to escape this lifestyle for the length of time that I did. Now, I was faced head on with it and there was no getting out.
I stood up from Gianna’s bed, deciding to give her some fave after the bombshell she just dropped on me, “I’ll see you later, okay? If you need anything, you know where you find me.”
I felt for her, she always seemed so confident and bubbly until she spoke about her family. It was clear that they damaged her and possibly affected her relationship with Stefano. I wondered if the tough act she showed Val was simply that - an act.
I decided to go speak to Raffaele after leaving Gianna’s room. After thinking about my options earlier in regards to having a doctor come to the house, I figured that this was my best option and I would be stupid to pass it up. Though the nerves still ran through my body, I didn’t see any other option at this point.
I found him in the kitchen, where I seemed to find everyone in the house. He was focused on his phone and seemed to be wearing a comfortable set of clothes that consisted of a navy blue t-shirt and sweat pants.
Rafe’s eyes lifted from his phone screen when he heard my footsteps, “Elaina Acerbi, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
Should I act genuinely concerned about my nightmares or casual? I didn’t want to overplay the situation but underplaying it could ruin my chances.
“I uh... I was wondering if I could ask you some questions about what you mentioned earlier, about a doctor coming in to prescribe me sleeping pills...” I mentioned subtly.
Rafe set his phone down, suddenly seeming interested in the conversation, “You want the sleeping pills now?”
“Maybe... I’m not sure...” I shrugged my shoulders, “I think it would be good to weigh out my options. I’m just nervous with doctors and stuff, you know?”
He looked at the clock the was hanging on the wall of the kitchen, “Well, it’s too late for him to come by now, but I can make a call and try to get him to see you tomorrow. Do you think you can manage one more night?”
“That will be fine... Thank you, Rafe.”
It would be better to get this done while Val was out of town, if he were here, I know that he wouldn’t leave me in the room alone which meant I couldn’t ask about birth control medication.
Rafe on the other hand would be in another room while I had the privacy to talk to the doctor alone, which was what I needed.
Talking to Val about this wasn’t an option, if he didn’t intend to get me pregnant, he would have been using protection up until now, but he hasn’t been which leads me to believe that he wanted to get me pregnant.
As I walked up the stairs and made my way to the bedroom, I felt a sense of relief. For the first time in over a month, I would be sleeping alone and without Val’s prying hands on my body. I could sleep in peace until I woke up from the usual nightmare, but it was better than I’ve been tolerating for the past few weeks. I was alone and that was all I wanted. I wouldn’t wake up with Val by my side, and for once I didn’t have to fear tomorrow.