I stood still, my feet were frozen in place as I avoided eye contact with the three men kneeling in front of me. There were tears welling up into my eyes and the unimaginable ran through my head.
I’m not a murderer - but Val was trying to make me one.
He planned to break me down until every piece of my identity was gone and I was as damaged as he is. He wanted me to become as ruthless and cold as him, but the moment I pulled the trigger and took someone’s life I’m not sure if I would be able to get through another day living with myself.
Val stood next to me, the same devious smirk planted on his lips as he admired his gun, “Beginners aren’t always a good shot.”
I closed my eyes tightly, a warm tear sliding down my cheek at what I had in store for me. I was aware that I couldn’t say no to him, I was living in a world where I was held on strings and he was the puppeteer. Murder wasn’t something I was expecting, nor did I want.
“Elaina, look...” His voice sent a chill down my spine and as I opened my eyes again, he moved behind me and place the gun in my hands, “I’ll direct you, sweetheart. Don’t worry...”
His disgusting lips planted a kiss on my cheek as I loosely held onto the gun, trying to keep myself from crying, “Val, plea--”
“Shhh...” He stopped me and pressed his index finger against my lips, slowly moving it down to my neck, “You only beg when we’re in the bedroom, okay?”
His voice was low enough that only I could hear his words but he couldn’t hear me screaming for help on the inside. He didn’t understand the tears or what they meant, and he certainly didn’t care.
Val’s hands moved to mine, steadying the gun and lifting in. My body was shaking and I took a deep breath, feeling a lump rising in my throat, “Time to take your pick, sweetheart.”
No. No, I can’t do this. I struggled with my inner self, wanting to vomit and cry, at the same time I could feel my knees becoming weak, yet Val somehow kept my body steady so I wouldn’t fall. Three men knelt in front of us and he demanded that I choose which one would die; and I be the one to kill them.
How long had I even been married to Val and he already made me wish that I was dead. Anything could be better than this. Anything.
“If you can’t choose, I sometimes play eenie, meenie, minie, moe. The decision is all yours,” He said it like it was some kind of honor, “Put your finger on the trigger...”
I could feel my chest tightening as I obeyed Val’s words, placing my index finger on the trigger and looking at the men. The married man with two young children, the newly wed with no kids, and the man with the dying grandmother who adores him.
In one last attempt, I looked over my shoulder at Val, my lips quivering as I spoke, “I’ll do anything... Just please, don’t make me kill someone.”
“Don’t make me kill them all, Elaina.” He lowered his tone threateningly, “Pull the trigger.”
My eyes darted from each of the men, from the first, to the second, then the third. I went back and forth, contemplating as tears streamed down my face, unable to decide - it was an impossible decision to make.
“Elaina...” Val’s tone was warning me, but no matter how much I looked at each of the men I couldn’t decide whose life I was going to steal. It was unfair and inhumane, “Pull the trigger, Elaina.”
His voice echoed in my ear and I tried to wrap my brain around the details he had given me earlier. Kids. No kids. Dying grandmother. Wife. Newlywed. But none of it mattered, they’re all human regardless.
“Now!” Val raised his voice impatiently and I reacted from the fear.
I pointed the gun at the man who only had his grandparents and I closed my eyes tightly, pulling the trigger.
I screamed loudly and my scream changed to a cry as I fell to the floor in despair. There was no bang from the gun, only the sound of it hitting the ground as I dropped it from my hands.
But there was definitely no shot fired.
I sobbed uncontrollably, gasping for air at the thought of what I had just done and when I opened my eyes to see all three men kneeling and alive, it didn’t changed the fact that I was about to kill someone.
The pain I felt on the inside was far too much to bare, the game that Val was playing was a mental game and he was destroying me.
He leaned down to pick up the gun and chuckled to himself, “Well, it’s a good thing this gun isn’t loaded or my wife would have killed you.”
He said that to the man who I had aimed at and guilt ran through my body, if that gun had been loaded I would have been a murderer right now.
“I’m sorry... I’m s-so sorry,” I stared at the man, but my eyes quickly averted to Val who had walked around his desk and opened the drawer, he seemed far more serious now.
I wanted to ask him if I could leave, I wanted to cry in private but at the same time I never wanted to speak to him again. When Val stood straight again, he had a new gun in his hand.
“The thing is, my wife has no training with guns... I’m not quite ready to welcome her into the family business just yet,” He said to the men, rounding the desk for the second time, “And that little show was all for fun, I mean, come on men, let two of you go free? That’s not happening... If someone fucks me over, it’s the end of the road for them.”
What did he mean? He said that only one person had to die... Before I could react or think at all, a gunshot went off and one of the men fell limp and lifeless to the floor.
“No!” I covered my ears as the final two men began to whimper. I closed my eyes again but I could still hear the final two bangs from Val’s gun.
And it was the that day that I had nightmares of regularly for weeks on end. The worst day of my life...
I laid on the bed, staring at the ceiling. It was around 4:30 in the morning and two weeks since the day in Val’s office. Each day for the past fourteen days I had woke up in the middle of the night from the sound of a gunshot only to discover that it was my mind bringing me back to the horrible day.
While Val slept soundly beside me, I slept restlessly and had the same nightmare every night. Though tonight specifically was different.
Val’s arm was around my waist, holding my against his bare chest. After having the same nightmare, I jolted but instead of jumping up, it was Val’s arms that kept me down onto the bed.
“Where are you going?” He asked me, his voice was clear and there was no hint of sleep in his voice.
I shook my head slowly, “Nowhere.”
“Don’t lie to me,” Val continued, “I don’t mean physically, I mean mentally. Your head is somewhere else.”
I furrowed my eyebrows, “I... don’t understand the question.”
“You’ve been jumping up in the middle of the night for two weeks,” He stated, surprising me that he had noticed when I thought he was asleep all of those nights.
Had he heard me crying?
I didn’t dare to move, his arm was still around my waist and it wasn’t until he sat up that I was forced to turn over to look at him. The scars that covered his back weren’t as clear in the dark room but I could see his back muscles. There was not doubt that he was a strong man which was just another thing to add to my long list of fears.
“I... Have nightmares,” I admitted to him but having no intentions on telling him what my nightmares were about. Placing blame on him would only make this worse.
His eyes met mine and he raised a dark eyebrow, remaining silent. Without a word, Val leaned over to get his phone from the side table and began to search the web.
He remained silent for a few minutes before speaking again, “Perhaps we can get you an appointment with a sleep apnea clinic.”
I shook my head vigorously, “Oh god, no. It’ll stop... I don’t want to become some kind of experiment.”
He was hesitant, tapping his fingers on the now black screen of his phone. His jaw was clenched tightly which showed his jaw structure perfectly, but his body was tense.
“If this keeps up, I won’t let the choice be yours, Elaina. I’ll be making the appointment anyway,” He said to me.
I nodded slowly, unsure how I could prevent myself from having nightmares. He would know as long as he was sleeping next to me every night.
Val laid back onto the mattress and he looked at me before deciding to speak again, “I’ll be away for a while for business. Possibly a few days, it could be a week or maybe more, it’s never for certain. Raffaele will be looking after you, I want you to listen to him. Don’t be stubborn like you always are.”
“When are you leaving?” It seemed like a blessing to have time away from Val, I hoped his business trip extended for as long as possible, truthfully.
“Tomorrow afternoon,” He answered, “There won’t be any contact, so when I get home I expect to hear that you’ve been on your best behavior.”
Because obviously I would disobey his rules after what happened the last time, right? I refrained from rolling my eyes at him but responded simply, “Who’s going with you?”
“Stefano, Gustavo and Diego,” He ran his hand over his face and groaned, suddenly pulling me close to him, “This is our last night together for a while, tesoro.”
I knew what was coming next. I didn’t need to ask, nor was I surprised when he pulled my body on top of him. My legs straddled him, his filthy hands moved up my legs slowly and stopped below my pajama shorts. I could see his tongue sliding across his lips while his eyes undressed me.
Being under his gaze made me feel dirty, like I was an unpaid prostitute. Of course I didn’t want to get paid for sex, I didn’t want to have sex with him at all, he mauled me like the horny animal that he is.
“I’m going to miss fucking you,” He muttered as his hands slid under my tank top, “You’re getting much better, you know...”
What a compliment. The guy steals my virginity then has the nerve to tell me that I’m getting better from him constantly forcing me to have sex with him.
“Uh... Thank you,” Was all I could muster up.
Surprisingly, a smirk tugged at his lips, “Your innocence amazes me, Elaina. Unlike anyone I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing; aside from my mother. Everyone is so conniving and calculated, but you are an entirely different type of woman...”
I was unsure if that was meant to be a compliment but as Val proceeded to take my tank top off, it was clear that he had one thing in mind. He always had that one thing in mind.
He leaned up and pressed hungry kisses along my chest. I could feel his erections already growing against me and as he rolled on top of me, he leaned down and roughly pushed our lips together.
His lips always tasted fresh, not like tobacco like anyone would expect by looking at a man of his kind. Val didn’t smoke and he rarely drank alcohol. I asked him why once and he responded by saying, “I like to be in control of my body at all times, alcohol enables you.”
He was intelligent in his own way, he knew exactly what to do to keep his ‘business’ running smoothly and to keep himself safe. That’s one of the many things Val was good at.
A man of many talents, though the one things he fails terribly at is marriage.
I’ve learned to kiss him back, only because I know that I have to. Our intimacy is never a two sided street and I never go to him for sexual favors, but when he comes to me I’m unable to deny him of ‘what’s his.’ He says that I’m learning to understand the rules but there’s a difference between understanding and not having a choice in listening.
Tomorrow would be different. Tomorrow Val would leave and I would be free of him for a few days, thankfully. I would take advantage of every second that I had away from him, any minute would be worth it.
A Val free home would be practically heaven, and I couldn’t wait until tomorrow afternoon so I could get a break from this nightmare.