“So, you’re having trouble sleeping?” The doctor asked me.
Doctor Franklin has come to the house this afternoon and we were sitting in a room that I was unfamiliar with, I assumed it was the room that most medical examinations were done at the house, it was fairly bare.
I sat on a chair and nodded my head slightly, playing with my fingers, “Yes...”
“When did this begin?” He came towards me with a small flash light, checking my pupils, first my left eye and then my right.
“Actually, it’s due to nightmares... I uh, I had a traumatic experience,” I nodded my head slowly, settling back in my chair as he stepped away.
Doctor Franklin put the light back in his bag, taking out a prescription pad, “I’m going to try you with Temazepam. There’s various sleep medication, however, this one helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. Our goal is to help you get a full, uninterrupted night of sleep.”
He began to scribble the prescription down on the prescription pad and I nodded my head slowly, “Okay... Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome, Mrs. Acerbi,” Doctor Franklin told me, ripping the paper off and passing it to me.
When the doctor stood up, I took the opportunity to stop him, “One more thing.”
He looked back at me with furrowed eyebrows, “About the sleeping medication?”
“Actually, about something else... I was hoping you would be able to give me something for birth control,” I spoke more quietly, not wanting anyone to eaves drop on the last part. This part was private and this was the thing I so desperately needed.
“Is there a possibility that you could already be pregnant?” He asked me, and truthfully, the thought hadn’t fully crossed my mind until now.
I prayed that I wasn’t already too late to prevent bringing a child into a loveless, dangerous marriage and handing them over to a father who would only raise them to be hateful.
“I’m not sure...”
Dr. Franklin nodded his head, “Okay, I need to go through your medical history to make sure I prescribe the right medication and I’ll have them, along with the Temazepam delivered later today. In the mean time, I’m going to get you to take a urine test so we can rule out pregnancy.”
“Great, thank you so much,” I smiled appreciatively at the doctor and watched him leaving the small room.
As I stood from the chair I felt a sense of relief knowing that I had discussed this with him. Val wasn’t here and I had privacy to ask for birth control, for once I felt in control of my own fate which is something I needed more than I had realized.
As long as the urinalysis came back showing no signs of pregnancy, everything would be okay and we would be able to proceed as planned.
“How was Dr. Franklin?” Rafe asked me as I entered the living room.
I wondered what Rafe’s point in being here was if he didn’t actually do ‘mafia’ business. Looking after me wasn’t really sinister work, but whatever the boss says he must oblige.
“He seems nice,” I said honestly, “He’s sending my prescription by later today.”
Rafe simply nodded his head and looked back at the television. I turned my attention to the TV also and noticed that he was watching Breaking Bad, he seemed like the type to watch something like that - you know, shows about illegal businesses.
“So, is your family okay with your lifestyle?” I asked him before really thinking about how it may have sounded.
Rafe kept his eyes on the television but answered my question, “You mean the whole murdering and dismembering people? It doesn’t matter because I don’t have family.”
His tone was straight and he seemed unaffected by the discussion. Everyone had family somewhere, his parents had to care.
“What about your parents? Or...” I watched him closely, “Don’t you have a girlfriend or--”
“I had a wife and that lasted about twenty minutes,” Rafe’s eyes moved to mine, “She got shot in the neck on our way to the reception and the bullet hit her in an artery. She bled out in my arms, so no, I don’t have a wife and I barely did.”
Why did I speak? Ninty percent of the time I opened my mouth and put my foot in it. I reopened a wound for Rafe that I’m sure he didn’t want to relive.
“I’m sorry... I can’t imagine how difficult that was for you,” I spoke softly, looking down to avoid his gaze, “I shouldn’t have brought it up. I just don’t understand... You seem different than Val, so I just have trouble understanding why you’re here.”
Rafe surprised me by chuckling, “Different than Val? Everyone is different than Val. The only one you’ll see in this house with anger issues like his is his father and that’s when he comes to visit. I’m not saying that everyone is kind and lenient, Elaina, everyone has a temper, but the Acerbi blood is a completely different story.”
“Stefano and Gianna are happy,” I told him, feeling confident with the way their relationship is going. “People can be happy, Rafe. It isn’t impossible.”
“Yeah, but their story isn’t over yet, is it?” He spoke it a knowing tone as if something was bound to go wrong and the thought terrified me.
Something always went wrong and I didn’t want to be around when it did. Who was I to believe in happy endings? Especially now of all times, I should be pessimistic, but I still had the slightest bit of fate that would surely crumble in front of me.
I lifted my chin, attempting to keep my confidence even though it was gradually falling, “You’ll see it one day. We can’t all be here to suffer.”
Rafe hesitated. With a blank stare, silence filled the room for a few moments while his eyes searched my face as though he were looking for something, but what? I had no idea.
“You’re too good for this place,” Was all he said before standing up and walking out of the room.
Too good? I wanted to stop him but I didn’t. There was no point, it was his job to watch and follow me, not the other way around. But his words left me thinking. How did he see me so differently than Val have this entire time?
I jumped up from the couch where I had fallen asleep on when a door slammed. I was in the library, my legs tucked under my butt with a blanket over me. I noticed the book had fallen onto the floor when I fell asleep and I reached down to pick it up, it was late and I had no intentions on having fallen asleep.
The day was basically wasted by sleeping now.
My mind drifted back to the reason I woke up to begin with - the slamming of a door. Oh no.
“Welcome home, Valentino!” I heard Anita chirp eagerly in a distance and I felt nauseous instantly.
Why was he here already? It had only been two days! Not even.
I was counting on a week or even a few. I hadn’t realized how much my heart was pounding until my fingertips touched the pulse on my neck. He was back and after only two short days, I would return to misery.
The talking was muffled and I closed my eyes tightly. Maybe, somehow, I could drift off to sleep again do I wouldn’t have to face him right away.
As soon as I closed my eyes, the door to the library creaked open and I heard footsteps nearing the couch where I was laying, “And here I thought you’d miss me.”
His voice caused me to react by opening my eyes, reminding me that he knew whenever I was pretending to sleep, “Surely you’re mistaken.”
“Watch that pretty little mouth of yours, love.” Val said with a straight face and he reached the couch and sat next to me, “How was Rafe? Did he treat you nicely?”
Ha! What a tool. Like he has a right to ask that about anyone.
I simply nodded my head, “Extremely nice. I’m not used to being so respected.”
Val’s jaw visibly clenched and when I looked at his hand it was rolled tightly into a fist, but he surprisingly didn’t move, “You’re a tricky girl, I’m being patient with you and you’re asking for a punishment.”
“Asking? I’m asking for a punishment? I’m stating a fact, I shouldn’t be terrified the moment you arrive home,” I point out, sitting up straight and shifting away a safe distance.
He kept his dark eyes on me, “You have a ridiculous way of showing fear, Elaina.”
Maybe I had a burst of fearlessness that came over me and hadn’t realized what I was saying, but Val was right and I was stupid to talk to him the way I had been. I was surprised he hadn’t slapped me yet.
“Why aren’t you angry?” I asked him, “I agree, I was stupid to think that talking to you that way was a good idea, but somehow you didn’t hurt me.”
“I’ve let enough rage out in the past two days, enough violence to let you get a few things off your chest,” He told me, keeping his gaze across the room, “But that’s all, don’t expect more free passes. I don’t give free passes, Elaina.”
How lucky am I? All I can do is simply nod my head and go about my day. That’s what life with Valentino was like, his house, his rules, right?
I slowly stood from the couch, keeping the blanket wrapped around me, “I think I’m going to call it a night... I’m obviously very tired. We can catch up tomorrow.”
“Of course,” Val nodded his head and I began to walk to the door but the sound of his voice stopped me, “Elaina, one last thing.”
I stopped in my tracks and turned to face him, “Yes?”
“How was your meeting with Dr. Franklin?”
His question made me freeze on the spot and I opened my mouth to speak but couldn’t find the right words. Was it possible that he knew I had spoke about more than just the sleeping pills?
“Uh... Dr. Franklin?” Was all I could manage to say.
Val nodded his head, “Yes. Raffaele told me that you met him about the sleeping pills. I assume everything was worked out?”
“Oh, yes... He said he will have them delivered later today, I guess he meant nighttime,” I managed a little smile, feeling more on edge each second that I spoke about this.
He knows something. He has to know.
I waited for him to say something. Anything. But he didn’t, instead he just nodded his head, “Okay, I’m glad things worked out. Get some rest, we’re going out tomorrow.”
“To the backyard?” I asked instantly, not assuming he would take me anywhere else.
The chuckle that followed seemed genuine, “No, not the backyard. I’m classy when I want to be, sweetheart. There’s a large dinner being held, my wife will be on my arm for the evening. It’s an extremely fancy affair, so you will need to dress for the occasion, your usual sweatpants will not cut it, as flattering as they are.”
I hadn’t heard a word that Val said after he announce that he was taking me out of the house. We were actually going somewhere off of the property and we would be interacting with people. Regardless of how the situation wasn’t ideal, if things had a brighter note; this was it.
After weeks of captivity I was beginning to earn my way to some kind of freedom, even though Val would still be at my side.
“That sounds like fun,” I admitted, honestly. Anything was better than sitting here all day.
“If you find that kind of thing fun, then sure,” He didn’t seem nearly as interested as I was but he also didn’t have to fight for freedom like me, “Get some rest. Anita will bring you the laptop so you can check online for a dress. I’ll have Henrik pick it up.”
“Okay... Goodnight,” I was about to step away from him but his hand grasped my wrist and pulled me back. Val’s eyes locked onto mine and as soon as we were close enough, he kissed me.
I was so close to escaping without his saliva being on me, but of course he had to mark his territory.
Our lips moved together slowly while I counted the second for him to pull away and when he finally did, his words shocked me, “Don’t try to hide things from me ever again, okay? Because I always find out... Your little scheme to get birth control? You didn’t think I would find out, did you?”
“I don’t appreciate you going behind my back, especially when I’m not around to keep an eye on things. The fact that you think I’m idiotic enough to not find out is rather amusing.”
I looked away from Val’s gaze, it was cold and hard. Shockingly enough, I felt like he read me like a book, he knew me better than I wanted to admit and I hated that.
“Perhaps it was my mother who scared you into thinking that children were in the near future, but I’ll have you know that I have no intentions on procreating yet...” His index finger lifted my chin, forcing me to look at him, “Excuse me for being old fashion but I believe that both the husband and the wife should have a say in that.”
How was it possible for someone so cruel and heartless to make me sound like the bad guy in this situation?
I stayed silent and waited for him to speak again, “Go to bed, Elaina. Both of your medications are at the bedside waiting for you.”
Son of a bitch. This entire time he had control of the medication, knowing it was in the bedroom and he was testing me to see if I would confess to him.
I was stupid to think that I could get away with ever having a private conversation. Of course Dr. Franklin would tell Valentino what we discussed, surely he would have to run it by him first.
When I left the library, I walked to the bedroom and opened the door. As I flicked on the light switch my eyes landed on the nightstand and sure enough the two medications were set there side by side, waiting for me.