“No thank you,” I said, stepping away from Val as he attempted to get me to go into the elevator that led to the top of the sky deck, “I prefer to stay away from heights.”
“So you’re afraid of heights,” He stated, not questioning me though he seemed intrigued.
“No. I just prefer to not be in a high area,” I explained further.
“That’s fear, having fear isn’t a good quality,” Val shook his head and reached for my hand, “We need to fix that.”
I rejected his hand and stepped back further, “You can’t just fix people’s fears... or preferences.”
A low chuckle rumbled from his throat and he began to walk over to me, placing his hands on my hips and staring down at me with those dark, captivating eyes, “You can, actually. You force it into someone until they get used to it and are no longer afraid of trivial things.”
“That’s terrifying...” I looked towards the exit and cleared my throat, “Let’s go see the Bean thing.”
He grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the elevator, pressing the button, “The view of the city is beautiful up here. You’ll appreciate it.”
I attempted to shake my head but Val wasn’t taking no for an answer as usual. The elevator door opened and I was pulled inside against my will.
This wasn’t good. Heights were never my thing and I couldn’t handle being on a high surface. Val could try to my high and mighty, but facing fears didn’t work with everyone. He was using his training tactics on me and I wasn’t raised this way, I had nothing to train for.
When the elevator doors closed, Val looked over at me with his hands held behind his back, “Things are going to change, Elaina. You need to be tough now so we’re going to push all of those fears out of the way, okay?”
“I... It’s not that simple,” I tried.
“Sure it is, but attitude like that won’t get you anywhere.” His brows raised at me, “Now tell me, if someone is waiting outside that door for us and they shoot me in the head. I’m dead so you’re instantly on your own, what would you do?”
I froze, unsure what I would do in that situation. I hadn’t exactly thought about it. I had no self defense training so there wasn’t anything I could do.
“I don’t know. I would try to get away, I guess.”
“Now, that’s just stupid. They have a gun, Elaina. They would shoot you, do you think you can run that fast?” He shook his head and chuckled in disbelief, “Like I said, things are changing.”
The doors opened and we made our way to the sky deck. From the distance I was standing I could see how high we were and began to feel nauseous.
“I can’t,” I shook my head.
Val pulled me by the wrist and past the employee, “I prefer if we do this the simple way. There’s a floor and walls, Elaina. It’s the first step, don’t be a child.”
I heard someone clear their throat and I looked to see security approaching us, “Sir, we do not permit people to enter upon force. If the lady doesn’t want to enter, then I suggest you let go.”
Val’s entire posture changed and I could see him become less patient and more angry instantly. He had his gun on him, he always had his gun on him. The last thing I wanted was another dead body on my hands.
“It’s okay,” I assured the man with a fake smile, “He’s just giving me a pep talk. I’m really fine.”
“Are you sure?”
I nodded my head, “Yes. Absolutely.”
The man simply nodded and we proceeded towards the sky deck. Val was now clearly annoyed which was only going to add to the horrible day.
Once we reached the deck, Val stood behind me so I couldn’t back away. His hot breath could be felt down my neck and I closed my eyes as he whispered, “Step out...”
I had no other choice. He was relentless. Maybe if I kept my eyes closed the entire time, it wouldn’t feel so bad.
Keeping my eyes closed, I carefully stepped forward and onto the glass floor. I imagined something more pleasant, like I was walking through central park or something not above a city.
“Look at me,” Val stated in a rough tone but once I turned to face him, my plan was officially gone to garbage. “Open your damn eyes. You want an experience? It’s right in front of you.”
I didn’t want him to take things into his own hands again, so I opened my eyes and nearly fell to the glass floor as my legs became weak beneath me. The city could be seen around me and beneath me. I wasn’t sure how high up I was, but I knew that it was too high.
Val’s hands held onto my hips and supported me, keeping me on my feet. He led me over to the furthest glass wall and spoke to me while we looked out at the city, “Enemies feed on your fears, Elaina. They find out things about you and they use it against you.”
My heart was pounding in my chest, sure that I was going to pass out before he finished explaining. Surely there was a better way of doing this or than forcing me into this situation.
“If you were my enemy and I discovered this fear of heights, I would bring you to a warehouse and hang you upside down by your feet about 100 feet in the air,” He said in my ear, his tone low and bone chilling.
“By my feet?” I shuttered.
He nodded his head, “Yes... So the blood would rush to your head and cause pressure.”
My eyes grew wide. Holy fuck.
“Come on, I’d rather get you out of here before you vomit on my shoes,” He said casually before leading me out of the sky deck.
It was true. I was damn well near vomiting, but I didn’t. Now, I was too focused on being hung upside down by my feet. The thoughts that went through his head was too much for a normal person to understand.
I was hesitant to go anywhere with him for the rest of the day but we walked to the Cloud Gate which was where I originally wanted to go, no heights necessary.
“It’s amazing,” I looked at the Bean, seeing the reflection of the buildings in the most gorgeous way I could even imagine. It was indescribable.
Val was completely uninterested, only shrugging his shoulders, “A piece of metal thrown in the center of the city.”
I looked over at him and sighed, “When was the last time you actually have a good time?”
He answered instantly, “This morning.”
“Doing normal things,” I restated my question, “What you do isn’t normal.”
“It’s my normal and it’s also what keeps you safe, so instead of complaining I suggest you appreciate it,” He snapped at me.
I turned my head away and looked towards the cloud gate. People were smiling and taking photos with their loved ones, it seemed like such a happy place to be and I was here with the most hateful person I had ever met in my life.
My life would never be like the people that currently surrounded me. No genuine laughter or joy, I had to follow a schedule and rules.
When my eyes met Val’s again, I had already decided that I was ready to go, “Can we go home? I’m getting tired.”
His brows raised, “You don’t want to grab lunch first?”
I shook my head, “I’ll just get something from the kitchen at home.”
“Suit yourself,” Val responded before taking my hand and guiding me away from the crowd, “Henrik is waiting a few blocks away. I’ve texted him.”
I only nodded and followed him. Val’s eyes looked around while we walked, his arm pulling me closer to him. He seemed to be more shady than he usually was which I didn’t even know was possible.
“What’s gotten into yo--”
“Shhh.” He hushed me instantly and continued walking, keeping me against him. He spoke low, “Don’t look, someone is following us. We need to get to Henrik.”
I looked over my shoulder and Val’s fingers gripped into my side, “Ow!”
“I said, don’t look. Jesus.”
“I’m sorry...” I felt rushed as Val walked quickly down the sidewalk. I had no idea if someone was going to pull a gun on us or attack, Val didn’t say much other than someone was following us.
It felt like we were going much further than just a few blocks away, my feet began to hurt and suddenly Val turned into an empty street that had a dead end. Henrik wasn’t waiting but Val stopped and let me go, taking his gun out of his holster.
“Stay against the wall,” He told me in a hushed tone, “I swear to god, Elaina. Don’t move.”
My mouth was gaped open but I managed a nod as he turned to the corner of the street with his gun held, ready to shoot at whoever came around the corner after us.
“Put the gun down, Valentino,” A familiar voice said as a man rounded the corner.
I recognized the voice but I hadn’t seen the face until now. It was the man from the bathroom, the man plotting against Val.
Val stiffened, clearly unhappy to see the man standing before us, “Coilin. I suggest you take a few steps back.”
“Ah, still tempered, I see,” Coilin smirked, unphased by Val. There wasn’t many people that Val couldn’t frighten which made me all the more intimidated by this man, “I just wanted to meet your darling wife. Elaina, is it?”
His eyes met mine and I could see the coldness that filled him. I looked at Val and he was now filled with hatred, I remember Gianna telling me about Val’s past with the Irish. He was supposed to marry Coilin’s daughter but they were working against the Acerbi’s.
“She is stunning, Valentino. If only Vadim would have made an offer with me instead,” Coilin sighed, taking a step towards me but Val intervened by pressing the gun against Coilin’s chest.
“Away from my wife,” He said in a surprisingly calm voice.
This man seemed to be a professional taunter, he only chuckled and Val didn’t like taking shit from people, “Claiming what’s yours, I see. That’s fair. If she was my bitch, I would too.”
I could see his eyes exploring my body, his tongue slowly moving over his filthy lips and I felt so uncomfortable.
“The offer still stands if you can see past our differences, Valentino.” Coilin smirked at Val before glancing back at me, “If you ever feel like giving this gem up, I’ll gladly give you a deal and Keela’s hand in marriage.”
“That’s highly unlikely,” Val answered, “Now, my wife and I are going to leave now. I suggest you let us, with no complaints. No need for anyone to get hurt.”
Coilin simply raised his hands in defense, “No harm intended. However, I would like to have a meeting sometime in regards to business.”
“You’ll have to talk to my father about that.”
“I’d like to talk to the future Capo,” Coilin responded, it seemed as though he were taunting Val but Val didn’t budge.
“My father is the current Capo, until the role is given to me all decision are gone through him,” I assumed everything Val said should have already been known to Coilin but perhaps other mafia’s had their own rules because he seemed far more careless.
Val took no time in pulling me with him and away from Coilin as we left the quiet street.
It was clear that the man could cause trouble and knowing that someone close to Val was working with him behind Val’s back made the situation a whole lot more frightening to me. Coilin knew things about us that he shouldn’t and I was willing to be that he knew where we were tonight because someone told him.