The alarm clock read 2:32am and I had yet to fall asleep. I’d been laying in bed, just thinking about all of the possible ways this plan of Val’s could go wrong. It just seemed extremely reckless of him which was unlike anything I’ve seen him do before. He always appeared to be cautious which made me believe this wasn’t his idea to throw me into the fire, he said multiple times before that I wouldn’t be involved but now I would be a huge part of the mess.
My mind drifted to Marco and I couldn’t help but feel like he was responsible. Even if he did suggest it, I wasn’t sure why Val would give in so easily.
It made me restless to think of what was to come. Facing the Irish on my own, wires wouldn’t protect me - they had no idea what kind of dangers they were facing.
“Are you not the slightest bit tired?” Val mumbled, his eyes still closed.
His voice started me and I flinched slightly, whispering, “You’re awake?”
“I can’t sleep knowing you’re awake and possibly thinking of ways to murder me in my sleep... So, yes. I’m awake,” He commented, his tone not joking in the slightest.
I held the blankets over my naked body as I turned to face him, looking at him and wondering if talking to him about this would make a difference, “I have some concerns.”
After a moment, Val’s eyes opened and he looked less than enthused, “Elaina, I wouldn’t throw you into the fire if I had no intentions on protecting you. I don’t even have a child yet.”
I frowned, falling onto my back and feeling completely defeated, “Is that all this is to you? Use me to get children and then what? I’m disposable?”
He only groaned in frustration and I could feel him moving on the bed. The next thing I knew he was hovering over me, “It’s much more than just children. Of course having kids is an important part of this family, you know that, but you also know how seriously I take marriage. You’re stubborn and a handful, but you’re my wife and I’m going to take care of you.”
“I’m just not sure this is a good idea,” I admitted to him, looking directly at him while I spoke, “It seems unlike you to be reckless with a decision like this, Val.”
I noticed his jaw tighten and he didn’t respond right away, but when he did I realized that once again I overstepped, “You have no right to question me. Do you even understand how serious this is? The only option we have is to get someone trustworthy on the inside to find out who’s going behind our back.”
I opened my mouth to speak but instead turned my head again from him. It was impossible to sway him when he already had his mind made up.
“Go to sleep, we’ll discuss plans further in the morning,” Was all he said before climbing off of me and laying on his side.
I could see only the shadows of scars on his back from the darkness that surrounded us, but it reminded me of the cautious person that he is. He knows better because he’s been through all of this before.
Somewhere inside of me I needed to find confidence in him, but this was all terrifying.
I couldn’t just fall asleep, not with all of the thoughts going around my head. Nothing would settle down until Val found out who was the rat in the house but until then everything was all over the place.
I sat with Gianna in the backyard. After not sleeping much the previous night, it had taken a physical toll on me and I was exhausted.
“I don’t think you should do it,” Gianna commented after I told her what Val’s intentions were. She understood why I was uncomfortable and unlike Val, she was on my side which was nice. “It’s dangerous to be near those people, Elaina. He’s an idiot for suggesting it.”
I could only shrug my shoulders and look down, “I don’t have a choice. I’m his wife.”
“Is that the excuse he’s using on you?” She spat, “What the fuck does that even mean? You’re his wife so you’re supposed to bow down and do whatever he says? Bullshit. The Irish are dangerous.”
I shuttered at the memory of Coilin, “We had a run in with Coilin and he definitely freaks me out.”
“Wait until you meet Keela. I swear she’s like Chucky on crack,” Gianna rolled her eyes and leaned back against the bench, “I’ll talk to Stefano. They need a better plan, this is too much for you.”
“No... Don’t do that. It’ll make Val so angry,” I told her quickly. I gave her a gentle smile and let out a slight sigh of relaxation, “Let’s not talk about this. It’s too stressful and to be honest, I’ve thought enough about it last night.”
Gianna gave me a sympathetic smile before resting her hand on my shoulder and nodding in agreement to let the conversation go, thankfully. I was lucky to have at least one friend here that I could talk to and not just criminal men who only cared about sex and murder.
“So, how’s the baby?” I asked, eager to hear the latest progress on Gianna’s pregnancy.
She laughed softly and gave her shoulder a slight shrug, “Hungry, all the time. Stefano is adamant that it’s a boy, but I’m not so sure yet. Something is telling me that we have a girl coming our way.”
I wondered how Stefano felt about having a daughter, I knew that Val was very clear about wanting a son because he needed a boy to pass on the family name because he’s the oldest boy. Stefano didn’t have that kind of pressure, but it didn’t necessarily mean that he didn’t want a boy more than a girl or vice versa.
“How does Stefano feel about having a girl?” I asked openly.
“He’s thrilled either way,” Gianna answered with a big smile on her face. I wasn’t sure I had ever seen her so happy before, I’m sure that a good relationship had something to do with that.
The back door to the house opened and we were greeted by the not so kind Acerbi, my husband. He walked over to us and furrowed his eyebrows at Gianna before looking over towards me, “It doesn’t make sense how you can like her, but not me.”
I looked up at him and tilted my head. He had to be kidding if he couldn’t see the significant difference between himself and Gianna, “Well, for one, she’s nice to me. Two, --”
Val held his hand up to stop me from continuing which proved my first point perfectly, “I don’t need reasons, Elaina. Maybe the fact that you’re both spoiled brats comes into account here.”
“That’a not a nice thing to say about you niece or nephew’s mom,” Gianna purposely taunted Val, placing her hands on her currently flat stomach.
It seemed to work because he was quick to grab my arm, “We have things to do.”
His grip on my arm was tight as he pulled me back towards the house and I knew the direction we were going was his office. He meant business. I attempted to tug m y arm away various times but he just wouldn’t let go, not until we were in his office and the door was closed.
Once he let go I immediately brought my wrist to my chest and rubbed it gently, noticing the fingerprints that were visible from his tight hold, “What is wrong with you? I was following, you didn’t have to be so rough...”
“I don’t like your relationship with Gianna, honestly,” He began but before I could respond he was turning to me and his jaw tightened, “I’ve told you multiple times about respecting me, that was not respect out there.”
Instantly, my mind went to punishment. He was going to hurt me again and I didn’t have the strength to handle it now. I had been broken down so much already that if he punished me again, I wasn’t sure what I would do to cope.
My eyes moved to his hands that were tightening to fists but loosening and continuing the same motion for various times in a row. It was almost as though he was contemplating his own thoughts for a moment.
“What do you want, Elaina?” He suddenly asked me.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m trying here. What I want to do is pin you against the wall and yell the rules in your face, but apparently that doesn’t work for you,” He stated in a clear but harsh tone, “I’ve punished you for two weeks, poured hot wax on you, slapped you and it only made you scared for about a few days. What is it that you want that will make you respect me?”
Respect? This was about respect? He really expected abuse to earn respect from me, but he was far off. That was the last thing that was going to earn respect from me, that and that fact that he took my virtue without permission but that isn’t something that could be given back to me.
I wasn’t even sure if I could ever have respect for Val, he’s done so much and went so far with things that I couldn’t imagine having respect for someone like him.
“It isn’t that simple,” I managed to say, keeping my eyes anywhere else but on him.
“Of course it is!” His voice became louder as he stepped closer to me and lifted my chin, forcing me to look at him, “You don’t like that I kill people, but that isn’t changing, love. I’m a murderer and that keeps a roof over your head and your heart beating. There are other things that I can do to make you happy, however, you just need to tell me what you want.”
I blinked rapidly to try and keep my eyes from exposing all of the nerves that I was feeling but it seemed that it was impossible. My heart was racing and I was worried that he would hear it because somehow Val knew everything, “I just... I want my old life. I want to be home and I want companionship. I don’t want to be scared all of the time.”
“Why are you scared? I told you I would protect you. Do you see this?” He lifted his suit jacket to show me his gun and I felt my breath get caught in my throat, “I haven’t missed a shot since I was twelve. Believe me when I tell you, I will protect you. There’s hundreds of guns in this house that you have no idea about.”
Although he was trying to be reassuring, it didn’t seem to help. He didn’t realize that the weapons and the violence was one of the big problems here, it was a huge issue with why I was frightened.
“I’m not sure if this was the way you were raised, but...”
“Elaina, it’s time that you realize that Vadim fucked you over. He did not prepare you for this, instead he and your mother left you to believe that your life was normal for eighteen years instead of letting you know what was going to happen,” He was cruel and straight to the point with his words but it was exactly what I needed to hear - the truth, “This life has been waiting for you the entire time and now look at you. You like a fucking scared puppy, it’s ridiculous and to be honest, I shouldn’t have to train you but now you’re my responsibility because Vadim abandoned his when he fucked your mother.”
I was frozen in place up until the moment he began to speak so terribly about my mother, regardless of what she had done, she was still my mom and she loved me. My entire life it was her who provided for me, “Don’t talk about her like that.”
“You do not tell me what to say,” He snapped, pointing his finger at me while his eyes narrowed, “Another issue we have, learn when to keep your mouth shut.”
“This control you have, this isn’t normal! You can’t expect me to never speak up to you. Couples discuss things,” I attempted to get through to him.
“You don’t speak up to me. That’s just how it is.”
Feeling bold, I shook my head and quietly responded to him, “You don’t get to decide that.”
I could tell my the look on his face that he wasn’t expecting the response that he received from me, be he handle it in a very Val way.
I gave him a puzzled look, unsure if I actually heard him correctly. What I heard and what I expected were two very different things, “I’m sorry, what?”
“Get the fuck out before I do something I’ll regret.”
I took that as a warning and he didn’t have to tell me again, I only nodded and turned away from him, heading towards the office door. As I opened the door, I stepped out into the hallway and the last thing I expected happened.
A loud banging sound that resulted in excruciating pain.
That’s when I realized that he had shot me.