I heard movement in the room which caused me to stir. My head was aching and I was well aware that it was due to the amount of alcohol I consumed the previous night.
I placed my hand on my head as I groaned before opening my eyes just as Val was unbuttoning his pants. That, however, wasn’t what frightened me. The blood that covered his shirt was a startling sight. He didn’t seem phased in the slightest, but it was clear that he had just gotten back from murdering someone.
“Good morning, love. I see you look like hell,” He shot me a smirk while tugging his pants down.
My mouth just gaped open, too focused on all of the blood to be offended by his words. I was already nauseous enough, but this just pushed me over the edge.
Val snapped his fingers to gain my attention, “Are you mute, now? Perhaps saying good morning in return would be a good start.”
“Uh... Good morning,” I managed, slowly sitting up and looking towards the clock. It was extremely early. Earlier than I expected him to wake just to kill people.
He walked towards me and once he reached the side of the bed, he leaned down close to me but I instantly backed away, unwilling to let the blood on his clothes touch me.
“Don’t be like that,” He frowned, “It’s just a little blood, sweetheart. Consider it a victory. This was all for you.”
All for me? I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion and shook my head at him, “I don’t know what you mean.”
He rested his palm on my cheek and pressed his lips against my forehead, “No one will disrespect you like that bartender did and get away with it. You’re my wife, I won’t allow it.”
My body froze, realizing what he meant and I just stared at him as he pulled away, “You said... You said you wouldn’t hurt him.”
“I said no such thing. I left him alone for the time being, but I’ll have you know that nobody gets away with shit like that.”
I looked down, feeling disgusted and partly responsible for this, “You’re disgusting.”
“You weren’t saying that last night, love. You were saying quite the opposite,” He commented, standing up and taking his shirt off, “You actually showered me with many compliments. Why the sudden change of heart?”
I stood from the bed and walked away from Val. He disturbed me more than I could even explain. The fact that I was married to this monster was enough, but having to see blood regularly like it was normal was far too much.
I grabbed my birth control pills from the dresser, taking one from the pack and popping it in my mouth. The only control I had was to not get pregnant by him.
“How are those pills treating you?” Val asked, keeping his eyes on me.
I looked over my shoulder at him, “It serves the purpose.”
“That is does. However, let me be straight with you, Elaina,” He sat at the edge of the bed and took a deep breath, “Those pills aren’t going to keep you from giving me children.”
Quickly, I picked up the box and read the name clearly. It was definitely birth control. Perhaps Val was just attempting to frighten me, but it wouldn’t work.
“That’s what birth control is for, Valentino.”
“Yes, but those are not birth control pills,” He shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly and his lips curved into a devious smirk, “You think I would allow you to deprive me of continuing my legacy? Sweetheart, no. You’re taking vitamins that have been put in place of the birth control. For all we know, you could be carrying right now.”
I felt weak. He had to be kidding me. I had no say in anything which I had come to terms with, but my body was the one thing I felt the slightest control over and he even took that from me.
All this time I had assumed I was protected from giving him children and bringing kids into a terrible world, but I was fooled by his lying. I was unable to keep myself from placing my hand on my stomach. Val was right, I could already be pregnant.
“I was drinking last night. If I’m pregnant alcohol could hurt the baby but regardless, you have no right to put me on pills without my consent!” I raised my voice at him, completely infuriated.
His eyes turned dark as he stepped towards me, “I have every right to do whatever the hell I want to you. You will not tell me otherwise, are we clear? I’ll have the doctor get some tests if you’re curious about pregnancy.”
I looked away from him, vulnerability and sadness filling me as I thought of the possibilities. I never wanted a child with Val, no child should be forced into this lifestyle but he wouldn’t give me a choice.
Val’s hand rested on my face and he wiped a tear as it unknowingly fell from my eye, “Don’t be so sad. Children are a blessing, Elaina. Our son will be strong like his father.”
There’s nothing wrong with strength, but I never wanted any child of mine to be a murderer. Val was so set on having a son, apparently Acerbi’s always had boys. It was a lot of pressure for having a child, it was hard enough being a wife to him.
“You said that you weren’t rushing to have kids. I... I’m not ready to have a baby, Val. I’m only eig--”
“Eighteen. Yeah, yeah,” He rolled his eyes, “Plenty of women have kids at your age. You’re no exception.”
I looked away from him, disgusted at the thought of him using me just to have kids to pass his family name on to. Last night I felt like I had seen a better side of him but I recently learned that once I felt a little connection to Val, he only seemed to get worse the next day.
I would gladly take his verbal abuse over the physical abuse, any day, but it still hurt me emotionally. This lifestyle was hard to keep up with.
“I’m aware that you had fun last night,” He suddenly said while walking to his closet, “What are things you enjoy to do, Elaina? Other than dancing.”
This man was completely bipolar. He had a switch in his mood but he didn’t even seem to realize how strange it was to jump from one topic to another in a quick second.
“Recently, I like to be alone.” I responded, taking the opportunity to let him know that any time he takes away from me is appreciated.
“Well, unfortunately for you, I’m free today and we’re doing something together.”
“Don’t ask questions, just do. Get ready, we’ll go golfing,” Val stated from the closet, where I was unable to see him.
I walked over to my dresser and tried to decide on something to wear, not wanting to go anywhere with him, “I don’t want to golf. Please let me stay home.”
“Elaina, listen to me.” I heard footsteps emerging before he stepped out of the closet and into my view again, wearing his pants now. He was shirtless, showing off his ripped chest and muscles, “We need bonding time as a couple. You need to put your best foot forward and make an effort here.”
Maybe this was his attempt at making me seem like I wasn’t trying, but he couldn’t actually believe that I could just forget about his actions towards me. The abuse, both physical and verbal. Now that he had lied to me about birth control, nothing he did was true or genuine, so bonding with Val or getting to know him was all fake.
I learned that everything he did had a motive, I just wasn’t sure what the motive behind this was yet.
“Just you and me?” I asked him, wanting clarification as to what I was getting myself into.
He nodded once, “Yes.”
“Well, since we’re in Chicago, how about site seeing? I’ve never travelled before,” It was the only thing I could think of on short notice considering Val seemed like he wasn’t planning on backing down. I might as well get some enjoyment out of it.
“Site seeing?” He raised an eyebrow at me, “There isn’t much to see.”
“There’s the thing that reflects the city,” I wasn’t sure of the name, but I remember seeing it in movies like The Vow, “It’s really cool looking.”
“You mean the Cloud Gate? I assure you, love. It isn’t very interesting. It’s basically a mirror, if I knew you were that easy to satisfy I could just buy you a mirror, you know,” He offered.
“I haven’t seen another city before. I was never allowed to leave, I would enjoy this much more than golfing,” I told him, hoping I could sway his mind at all.
Though he didn’t seem interested in going around Chicago for the day, he only rolled his eyes and motioned me towards the bathroom, “Go get ready then.”
I had taken a shower and changed into weather appropriate clothing, eager to do something enjoyable. The entire time I was waiting for Val to change his mind but he didn’t.
There had to be a catch here, he wouldn’t just do something nice for no reason, it didn’t make sense to me. Val wasn’t a ‘do nice’ kind of guy.
Henrik drove us today because apparently Val was taking this bonding time very seriously. He sat in the back of the SUV with me, his hand on my thigh the entire time we were heading towards our destination.
“When did you come up with this idea to bond?” I asked him, it still seemed like a sudden decision on his part and if I could get answers I would at least try.
“This morning,” He answered instantly, “It’s clear that we haven’t connected properly. It’s important that we’re strong. I know everything about you, aside from the small things, but what do you know about me other than the obvious?”
He was right, of course. But Val wouldn’t tell me anything that he didn’t want me to know, either. It was clever, a manipulation really.
“I suppose you’re right,” I answered quietly.
Knowing Val wouldn’t be as simple as he made it seem. I worried about what I would learn and just how much worse he could be, I could potentially learn things that I won’t want to know about him.
Henrik stopped the car and Val stepped out first, taking my hand and guiding me out. As I stepped outside, I felt happiness. Being able to see other people walking around and in the daylight, at that.
It was beautiful. Chicago was a beautiful city.
Val spoke to Henrik before parting ways and his arm snaked around my waist again before directing me down the street, “So you’ve never travelled, I assume that’s because your mother didn’t want you out of her sight?”
I nodded slowly, but I myself wasn’t too sure of the answer, “I suppose. It’s something I always wanted to do, however.”
“And what’s your thoughts on Chicago?”
“Stunning,” I smiled a little.
He only nodded, keeping quiet while we crossed the street but speaking again a moment later, “Do you know much about the city, Elaina?”
I shook my head. I only knew of some sites, but nothing about the history. I was eager to see around the city because anything was better than the house or golfing, but when it came to general knowledge, I knew nothing.
“Well, Chicago is a highly popular city for crime,” He whispered in my ear, “As early as the 1900s, to the present of course. Oddly enough, a lot of people think that mafias disappeared long ago. Except police, they’re very much aware but have no proof.”
I looked over at him, feeling like he was trying to intimidate me, “Have you lived here your entire life?”
Val nodded his head, “I have.”
“Have you ever had a run in with police?”
“Many,” He smirked at me, “Law enforcement know who I am, sweetheart. But they can’t do anything if they can’t find evidence.”
Evidence. Wouldn’t his basement or the torture room in his backyard be enough proof to them that he’s a monster? Have they even tried to get a warrant for his house?
My mind seemed to be all over the place, but this could be an opportunity. If I could only get on Val’s good side to get evidence, then somehow get the evidence to the police, I could get the hell away from him.
The idea was crazy and it seemed impossible, it was so stupid that I was even thinking that I shouldn’t do it. But at least now I had an idea just in case.
It was win or lose. If I get caught, he would kill me.