You never know what your day will be like when you first wake up in the morning. I mean, you can hope for the best but it could be the worst day of your life or the very last. The moment your eyes open you have no idea what the day has in store for you.
I had no idea that when I woke up this morning what would be waiting for me or how my day would go. After the past few days seemed to go so smoothly, my dreams had gotten the best of me and I was caught up in my own hopes that maybe life inside this prison wasn’t so bad.
It was all false. Life was terrible and it always would be. Today, I was reminded of that.
Gianna was gone for the day, she wasn’t forbidden to leave the home like I was was. Stefano appreciated her and respected her, even though he did disgusting things just as Val did, he cared for the woman in his life but he wasn’t forced to wed her like Val was to me.
I hadn’t realized how much Gianna’s company had meant to me until she wasn’t here. Anita was so kind but also extremely focused on working, based on her age it seemed like that was all she knew based on what Val said.
“So you also worked for Val’s parents?” I asked Anita as she worked on making an apple pie.
She nodded her head, smiling at the memory, “Oh, yes. Valentino wasn’t even born when I began working for his parents, I seen him grown up.”
It must have been discouraging for her to see his turn out this way.
Anita was older than the rest of the people in the house, I guessed around 60 or not far over. Her friendly personality made me wonder why she had gotten involved with these people to begin with.
“What about your family? Where are they?” I asked her, taking a bite of the sandwich she had made me.
She simply shook her head, “I don’t have one, honey. I couldn’t afford to take care of a child so I certainly wasn’t going to bring one into the world. I did get pregnant at a young age but the baby was sent to be raised elsewhere, somewhere she could have a good life.”
It was so sad that she never got to experience anything like that, my heart broke for her but her logic was understandable. She was so sweet and gentle with everything she did.
My eyes wandered around the kitchen, anyone who walked in here would assume that it was a normal home, “Were you forced into working for Mr. Acerbi? Uh... Marco?”
Anita lifted her head and looked over at me, frowning slightly. She seemed different now, “Elaina, asking too many questions is never a good thing.”
I nodded my head slowly. Even Anita didn’t want me to ask questions but there was so many things I had yet to figure out.
Footsteps sounded from the hallway and Raffaele, whom us apparently called by Rafe, emerged from the hallway, “Elaina, excuse me for interrupting but Valentino is looking for you.”
“Okay,” I answered and stood up, giving Anita a smile, “It was nice talking to you, Anita.”
As I walked out of the kitchen with Rafe, I thought about how something seemed off. Val had said himself that Valentino was his business name, everyone calls him Val unless they’re doing business. I’m not conniving and calculated like they are, but I’ve heard his men speak to him and it’s always been Val.
“So, do you know what he needs?” I asked Rafe nervously but attempting to be casual.
He shook his head and kept his gaze forward, “No, Valentino just asked that I escort you to the basement.”
I stopped in my tracks, “The basement? No way. I’m not allowed down there.”
Rafe instantly turned to face me, sighing heavily and my objection, “Elaina, he ordered me to bring you there. It was his direction, so let’s not do this the hard way.”
It isn’t happening now, but it will... Eventually.
Val’s words lingered in my head, it had been days since he threatened to punish me for interfering with his business and I assumed he had let it go, but that was exactly what he wanted. He wanted me to let my guard down so this would come so easily to him.
“Fuck you!” I spat before turning away and running towards the stairs as fast as I could.
The basement was somewhere I didn’t want to go, God only knows what goes on down there and surely I would pay for this later but in the moment all I could do was run.
I heard Rafe calling out something in Italian as I rushed up the stairs but I couldn’t stop to think about any consequences, all I could think about was protecting myself from whatever Val had planned at this time.
When I reached the hallway on the upper level of the house, I ran to the last door, unsure what was behind the door. It was cracked open to I took the opportunity to run in and attempt to hide. He would find me, but maybe I would have some luck and escape the window. Everyone would be so focused on getting through the door that no one could possibly be focusing on the front lawn.
Val’s house didn’t have bars on the window like Vadim’s did, so all I had to do was break it.
As I locked the door behind me, I looked around to see a room that seemed to be a guest bedroom. It was large but not nearly as large as mine and Val’s. I walked to the window, seeing the front lawn and wanting desperately to run out of this place.
I can do this. If I don’t try now I never will.
I attempted to pull up on the window but it didn’t budge, “God damn it!”
My eyes landed on a desk in the corner of the room, the chair in front of it was relatively small and I could easily pick it up. So I did. I picked up the chair and tossed it at the window, it wasn’t the best toss, but it should have been enough to break the window, but it didn’t even make a crack.
My chest was heaving, I heard footsteps in the hallway and I knew he was coming for me. I slammed my fists onto the window, desperate for the glass to break and nothing happened.
“I’m so stupid...” I whispered to myself.
I had two choices, I could have went downstairs and allowed him to hurt me in a way I could only imagine, I could have attempted to run and defend myself. I took the latter and potentially made the situation worse.
The sound of a key unlocking the door made my stomach turn. When the door opened, Val stood there alone, gun in hand. He walked into the room silently and closed the door behind him, leaning against the wall without saying a word.
The silence he held terrified me more, his calm exterior was something I would never get used to when he had my stomach in knots.
“What was your plan, Elaina?” He asked me. I stared at him quietly, I didn’t have an answer because I didn’t have a plan. “Let me see, you thought you could break a window and jump to your freedom?”
I looked down at my feet, feeling my eyes burning as a lump rose to my throat, “Why do you care?”
Val chuckled at me, “I don’t. I just find it amusing, love.”
He raised his gun and before I had a chance to react or beg him not to shoot, he pulled the trigger.
My ears were ringing.
It was the loudest noise I’ve heard in my entire life and I fell to the floor, holding my ears and from the weakness my body felt from this entire situation.
He had aimed at the window and it didn’t shattered, the sound stayed in the room and the glass didn’t budge.
“Bulletproof, love.” He pointed out, “Do you really think I would be that stupid?”
No, but I would be.
Val knelt down to me and lifted my chin so I was looking at him, “I’m going to ask you a question and this time I expect an answer. I’ve been patient and allowed you to avoid questions but this one, you’re going to answer.”
I nodded my head reluctantly, unsure what I was expecting to come from his mouth next.
He moved closer to me until finally his words were nothing but a whisper, “Do you think that I wanted to marry you?”
The question took me off guard, this entire time he seemed so focused on this union and us that the thought hadn’t crossed my mind until now. He was expecting an answer but I wasn’t sure what response to give.
I opened my mouth to speak and I told him how I felt instead, “No...”
Val raised his eyebrows and smirked at me, “You’ve got that right. But here we are, so I suggest you swallow your pride and serve as my wife the proper way. I’d rather not have you embarrassing me constantly and forcing me to punish you for your outrageous behavior.”
“You’re responsible for your own actions, you don’t have to punish me if you don’t wa--”
“Stop right there.” His tone was sharp and I stopped speaking instantly, “After what you just did, running up here and locking yourself in the room while throwing chairs at the window, I should have put you in your place already. One thing I won’t stand for is you talking back to me.”
I wasn’t exactly sure how we could have a conversation without me responding which he considered as ‘talking back,’ Val was impossible to deal with.
“My parents will be arriving soon, you have yet to meet my mother so dress nicely.” His jaw was clenched as he stood back up and straightened his jacket.
He surprised me when he left the room and I was untouched. There was no beating, no grabbing or hairpulling. He raised his voice but other than the controlling words and verbal abuse, I was left unharmed.
What had been waiting for me in that basement? I wasn’t sure at the time but I’ve learned that every moment is a snowball effect. The ball keeps rolling until it gets bigger and I knew that this wouldn’t be the end. Perhaps I had escaped his wrath for now, but I would face to sooner or later and potentially worse after how I reacted today.
I hadn’t met Val’s mom at the wedding. She didn’t attend for some reason which was odd considering her son had gotten married but Val said that she was unwell at the time. Maybe it was lies but I was in no position to question him.
His father was someone I was already aware of and not extremely thrilled to see again, the man terrified me. It was clear that he made Val the way he is.
I sat at the edge of the fountain in the backyard, trying to waste as much time as possible and hoping that the Acerbi’s wouldn’t want to see me, but since I am their son’s wife I knew it was wishful thinking. Most newlyweds enjoyed the little things while I dreaded every moment, even down to waking up every morning.
“Elaina,” I heard Val say as the back doors open and I looked towards the house to see him walking out with his father.
A beautiful woman followed behind them and I knew it was his mother. She had black hair and a more welcoming posture than her husband or son.
As they reached the fountain, I stood up and Val instantly introduced me to his mother, “Elaina, this is my mother, Paloma Acerbi. Mama, this is my wife, Elaina.”
“It’s very nice to meet you, Mrs. Acerbi. We wish you could have attended the wedding,” I smiled at her, extending my hand forward.
Paloma shook my hand gently and returning the smile, “Elaina, my dear. You are so beautiful.”
Her expression changed suddenly and Val looked at her with furrowed eyebrows, “Mama, stai bene?”
[Translation: Mama, are you okay?]
Paloma looked at Val and shook her head, seeming distressed suddenly and I became worried that I had done something to upset her, “Perché c’è un livido sul viso?”
[Translation: Why is there a bruise on her face?]
Val glanced at me and I was afraid that my worries had been confirmed. I thought things had been going so well but I always seem to mess up with him and his family somehow.
“Paloma, my love. Ciò avvenne mentre era con i Vadim.” Marco took over, resting his hands on Paloma’s shoulders.
[Translation: That occurred while she was with Vadim]
It was strange to see Marco, Val’s father, being gentle and compassionate towards another human being while Val was completely incapable. Though I had no idea what conversation had unraveled before me, I did know that it was mentioned about Vadim. Marco was patient and he wasn’t angry that Paloma had spoke her mind, whatever she had said.
Val cleared his throat and held his arm around my waist, causing me to flinch slightly, “She’s safe here, mama. I assure you.”
I looked at Val, lying through his teeth. I’m not safe here; far from it. I wondered what his mother was saying to make him even say that.
Paloma looked at me and placed her hand on my cheek, “How old are you, honey?”
“Eighteen.” I answered her.
She looked devastated and I didn’t know why. As he hand dropped to her side, she looked at Marco and forced a smile, “Shall we eat? I’d love to get to know my new daughter in law better.”
“Of course, sweetheart.” Marco walked into the house with Paloma and before I could follow them Val stopped me.
His hand grabbed mind, pulling me against him as his lips moved to my ear, “Be on your best behavior.”
“I know,” I told him, nodding my head, “Your mom seems tense.”
“She’s fine,” He snapped at me, “Know your place, Elaina. My mother is very important to me, I don’t want her involved in any of this mess.”
I furrowed my eyebrows, this marriage certainly was a mess and I wouldn’t want to drag anyone else into it. Marco had orchestrated this with Vadim, perhaps Paloma wasn’t okay with this or had no idea.
Many thoughts ran through my head but I would never be sure of which one was exactly true.
I would now have to sit through dinner with Val’s parents and watch every word I said, hoping that I don’t say anything wrong.