I heard heals clicking on the floor and I imagined that the girl was checking underneath the stalls now. That was it, she was going to look and see my feet.
I couldn’t even attempt to stand on the toilet because they would hear me, it was impossible to get out of this situation.
A commotion arose from outside after the gunshot went off, but no one was entering the bathroom. I looked around the stall for anything I could use to defend myself, but there was nothing. Nothing would save me from a gun.
“Push her out of the way so I can see under this stall,” Keela told her father.
The girl they had shot was currently laying across the stall I was hiding it and suddenly her body was pulled away just as the lights went out.
“What the fuck is going on?” The man roared angrily, it was pitch black and I couldn’t see anything.
Normally, I was afraid of the dark but I had never been so grateful before. I was hoping it was more than just a flicker of the lights and this was some purposely so I could get out of here.
There were sounds of gunshots in a distances coming from the area of the party along with screaming and then the bathroom door opening.
“Coilin, sir... Everyone is shooting out there. You need to get out of here,” A new voice said, seeming in a hurry, “Everyone heard the gunshot from in here and lost it.”
“Ngealt diabhal Dia!” The original man groaned.
[Translation: God damn lunatics]
I heard footsteps hurrying out of the bathroom, a lot of them together. They had to be gone, but what if they weren’t? They could have easily been waiting to make sure no one was left it the restroom stalls. If I ran out now there could easily be someone waiting with a gun to point at my head.
The silence in the bathroom was deafening. The only thing I could hear was screaming and gun shots from the main room. I was too afraid to move, too afraid to make a decision because it could quite possibly be the wrong one.
I felt a tear roll down my cheek, but I was smart enough to not make a sound. I knew that one wrong move could literally be the death of me and it was a terrifying thought.
I was standing in a pool of someone’s blood after hearing them being shot dead, now I felt forced to stand here until I felt safe enough to leave. When would that even be? It seemed like that would never come in all actuality.
“Elaina?!” The bathroom door opened quickly and Val’s voice echoed in the confined area.
A feeling of relief filled my body and although Val had terrified more than I’d like to admit, I felt safer having him here than being alone.
I quickly unlocked the bathroom stall and through the darkness of the bathroom I managed to see his tall silhouette near the sinks. My legs became weak, finally reacting to the fear I had felt this entire time and just before I fell he was there to catch me.
“Bambino... Shh.” He whispered and his strong arms held onto me securely, keeping me stable, “Are you okay?”
I nodded my head vigorously. I was fine, mostly I was just shaken up but I wasn’t physically hurt. I’ve been through worst, I could handle being traumatized, “Y-Yeah... I didn’t know what to do... I just...”
Val’s lips pressed against my head, pulling me close to him, “We need to go. Right now.”
Before I could respond he was pulling me out of the bathroom in a quick motion. I noticed that he had his gun in his free hand, ready in case he needed to use it.
He held it with such ease and not a care in the world. But then again, he’s been doing this his entire life so Val knew his way around a gun.
“Stefano!” He raised his voice suddenly and I noticed Stefano with Gianna across the hallway. Val began to ramble in Italian as they approached him, “C’è una figlia morta nel bagno. Ho trovato Elaina, andiamo.”
[Translation: There’s a dead girl in the bathroom. I’ve found Elaina, let’s go.]
Stefano nodded his head and I watched him putting his gun into his holster, “Tutti stanno andando, non so cosa sia successo, ma sono abbastanza sicuro che chiunque abbia causato questo scontro sia andato via.”
[Translation: Everyone is leaving, I don’t know what happened but I’m pretty sure whoever caused this riot is gone now.]
I wasn’t fond of not knowing what they were saying, even Gianna was clued in because she was Italian also. It was just me. The English girl with Russian blood married to the Italian who decides when to actually speak my language around me. It was frustrating and made me feel like they didn’t want me to hear what they were saying.
Val took my hand and guided me through the darkness of the building, it did seem like everyone was cleared out, it was becoming surprisingly quiet as the seconds went by.
“What happened to the ligh--”
Instantly, Val’s hand went to my mouth to keep me from talking and he pressed his lips to my ear, “Shhh... This could be an attack, Elaina. You need to be quiet.”
I only nodded, suddenly not feeling comfortable in the slightest. The people in the restroom did seem like they had a target put on Val and whoever their inside person was could have planned this entire evening. For all we knew the people from the bathroom could still be here.
My fear had gotten the best of me, I clung on to Val’s arm to feel any kind of protection possible.
It was Marco who had said how important family was the first night I met Val, they valued their family and the name that came with it, they also said that I would be protected. I had no idea how much they meant that but right now I was hoping it were true.
As soon as I seen the front door of the building, relief came over my and I had never felt so grateful for Val until this moment. If not for him I would still be hiding in the bathroom stall, terrified.
Although the feeling would go away tomorrow, that was something I was almost certain of, I was thankful for him now for helping me get out of here alive and for the first time holding me in a protective way.
I had been sitting at the edge of out bed for nearly an hour, staring at the bottom of my dress that was drenched with blood from the girl who was shot in the bathroom. The sound of her pleading echoed through my head and I just wanted it to stop.
Why did I have to be there? Of all times to go to the restroom, why did I have to go at that very moment?
“You should change, sweetheart.” Val pulled me from my thoughts and I looked up at him.
I was having a difficult time moving. When we got home, everyone else just went about their evening. Stefano and Gianna went to bed, Marco and Paloma had went to their home, everyone else went about their evening as well. Val had following me into our room as soon as I sat at the edge of the bed I couldn’t seem to stand up again.
This was my first time having an encounter like this and it took a lot out of me. I reminded myself that I was fine but in the back of my head I kept telling myself that I was so close to danger.
The thought alone was startling.
“Elaina...” Val repeated, “Take the dress off. The blood is just making you overthink...”
“I can’t get her cries out of my head,” I told him in a quiet tone, reaching behind my back as I stood up. I unhooked the necklace I was wearing.
“Be grateful that it wasn’t you,” Val’s tone was cold, his response was proof that he didn’t care at all nor did he have any remorse for the girl who was in the middle of this. She just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
“It could have been...”
I couldn’t help but notice Val tugging off his tie, he pulled it off completely and began to unbutton his shirt while standing directly in front of me.
Oh, no. Not now. Of all times, I can’t handle him forcing himself on me right now...
I closed my eyes tightly, imagining myself being anywhere but here. I had experienced something horrible and all I wanted to do was sit here and weep, but I had to deal with this man.
I heard his pants fall to the floor and when I opened my eyes, Val cupped my face in his hands, “We need to talk... I need you to be comfortable and at ease, okay? Take the dress off, change, we’ll sit down and talk about it.”
My eyes moved down his body. He was in his black boxer briefs, his torso bare which gave me a nice view of the muscles he had - muscles that I hadn’t paid attention to before. Yet, he wanted to talk. This was the last thing I expected from him.
I nodded my head slowly and turned my back to him, “Can you unzip me, please?”
“Mhm,” I heard him answer before feeling him hands on my back and the zipper move down my back.
As soon as my dress was unzipped, it pooled around my feet and without realizing, I stopped moving. My body froze and I wasn’t sure how long I was standing there before I felt a thin fabric wrap around me.
I looked over my shoulder to see the Val was putting his dress shirt on me and I slowly put my hands through the arm holes, “Thank you.”
His shirt fell just below my butt and I buttoned a few buttons at the bottom, leaving a few open at the top so I didn’t feel claustrophobic. Recently, I had been feeling so easily overwhelmed.
Val’s hand rested on my lower back and he led me to the bed, pulling the blankets down so I could sit with my legs under the blankets.
As I sat down, I felt the mattress sink indicating that he sat down also, “Do you remember much of what happened in there?”
I looked at Val, remembering everything clearly, “There was a man and a woman... I-I don’t know if they were in your business, but--”
“Did you hear any names?” He instantly questioned me again.
I leaned my head back, trying desperately to remember the names that were said in the restroom. “I... The girl, she responded to Keela... but I can’t a remember that man’s name.”
Val looked away and rubbed his hand over his face, groaning in frustration, “Fucking Irish!”
Oh my goodness... That’s where the name sounded familiar. Gianna told me about her, Keela was the one who Val was supposed to marry before me. It hadn’t happened, but it was her.
“Val... There’s more,” I thought about what was said in the restroom, trying to decide where to start. There was so much information but now that I was facing Val it seemed so hard, “They’re coming after you...”
“Of course they are,” He responded knowingly, “They’ve made that abundantly clear, Elaina. That’s no secret, fortunately for us.”
The next part was what I was afraid of. If the information they were saying was false and I repeated it to Val, it could possibly cause hell in the household. But if I didn’t warn him and he found out, I would be as good as dead.
“There’s more...” I began, playing with my fingers on my lap. I went over everything again in my head and there was absolutely no way I could be mistaking what I heard, there was no way I could have taken it wrong, “They said there’s someone on the inside giving them information about you.”
That got Val’s attention. For the first time since I met Val, his attention was grabbed by what I had said and the concern he was giving me was gone in a flash. His eyes turned to the same dark eyes he usually wore when he was focused and in his business mode.
This was serious to him and learning that someone in his own metaphorical family could be betraying him infuriated him before he could even find out the truth.
“Did they say a name?” He spoke through his teeth, anger was radiating off of him at this point.
I shook my head quickly, “No... No names. I have no idea.”
“We may just have a rat here, sweetheart. But no one fucks with me and gets away with it.”
And it was true, I learned that when Val murdered the three men in front of me. This was now a man hunt and Val was out for blood. He didn’t care who it was, he was going to find out who was contacting the Irish and he would kill them.