Deadly Vows

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Chapter 2

Two Years Later

I sit in the practice room of my home, playing to my heart’s content. The only thing that can drag me from this hell I call life and give me some peace is playing my violin. It gives me sanctuary. Two years have come and gone so quickly, and my wedding is less than a week away.

I still have yet to meet the man I am soon to marry. The only indication that he is aware of our union is the fact that he sends me gifts on birthdays and holidays and flowers before recitals. Other than that, he keeps his distance, never once looking to meet me. It makes me feel uneasy but a little happy at the same time. With him not being around, I can pretend I am destined for something greater.

The engagement party is being held this weekend at our home. I am nervous, because this means I have to meet him now. No more hiding and pretending. I have hoped secretly that maybe he won’t be so bad. I’ve been wishing that his reputation will be different, but it has only gotten worse. Scarily worse. He doesn’t just kill because he has to; he does for sport. And the fact that they believe he needs a wife is beyond me. But apparently, his father is close to retirement, so Luca will be next in line to be the head of the North Mob, which means a wife and children aren’t a bad idea, since a target will constantly be on his back.

I flip the page of my music sheet and let the melody I’m playing pour out of my fingers. I close my eyes, already having memorized the music, and play and play, feeling the rhythm and beat deep within me. I can’t help the smile that creeps onto my face. When I play, I lose myself. I’m in a place that no one can ever find me and ruin. It is my sanctuary.

I finally finish the melody and set my violin on my lap. I’m startled by the clapping that echoes throughout the room from one person. I turn in my chair, and my heart drops. Luca Pasquino is standing in the doorway of the room. He is dressed in dark jeans and a dark dress shirt. I can’t help but stare as I take in his features. The pictures doesn’t do him justice. Handsome is an understatement. He is perfection at its finest.

His hair is a pitch-black that is a mass of big curls that fall gently on his face, barely touching his forehead. His face is cleanly shaven, and his jaw is sharply accentuated. His lips are nice and full, put on his face to commit all kinds of sinful acts. And those eyes. Bright steel-gray eyes watch me with such an intensity that I almost squirm. This is the man that will be my husband. And he is looking my body up and down without shame.

“So you are my future bride. You are quite the beauty.”

I can feel the blush creeping up my neck, and I look away. At five foot four, I am no model. I am tiny. My hair is black and falls to my waist, and my eyes are a bright brown on my face.

“Thank you.”

How can this be the man that all those stories come from? If I hadn’t seen his true nature before, I wouldn’t have believed it. Part of me is shaking in fear from him being so close. He reaches out, and I close my eyes in fear, but then I open them when nothing happens. He only pushes some stray hair back behind my ears.

“So you play.” His voice sounds so hypnotic and entrancing it takes me a moment to realize he is speaking to me.

“Uh, yes.” My voice comes out a small whisper.

He walks closer to me and touches my instrument lightly. “That was a beautiful melody you were playing.”

I look up and he is smiling at me. His teeth are perfectly straight and brilliantly white.

“Thank you,” I say.

“What is it called?” I gesture to the music sheet. “Yamagasumi.”

He laughs, and the sound is earth-shattering. “Sounds very interesting. Do you have a recital coming up?”

“Yes. My last one, you know, before ...” I trail off awkwardly, not knowing what to say or how to finish my sentence. We both know why. We know why he is even here in the first place.

He lightly traces the top of my hand in a small circular pattern.

“Boss, it’s time.” A man I have never seen before is standing in the doorway of the room.

Luca stands, and his whole demeanor changes. He is cold and cruel and the man I have read about. He walks to the door and turned right before he reaches it, winking at me. Then he exits the room quietly.


Later that night, my maid, Sylvia, fixes me up for the engagement party. I’m wearing a nice sundress that shows off my legs and clings to my body. My heart is hammering against my chest, and I am terrified. I have met my soon-to-be husband earlier that day, and he has done nothing but intimidate me. Now I will have to go the whole night by his side and pretend that I am excited about marrying this monster when I am anything but.

I walk into the corridor that leads out to the party area. I am to wait for Luca there. I turn to look into the mirror that hangs delicately on the wall. My hair is curled into large rings that fall gently down my back, and the way my makeup is done makes me look innocent. But if you look into my eyes, you can see the blatant fear that resides there.

“Hello.”

I jump and squeal in shock. Luca is standing right behind me with an unreadable expression on his face. I squirm under his glare, unable to move. His eyes roam shamelessly up and down my body, lingering on my most intimate parts. I can’t help but look away, a heavy blush crawling its way up my neck.

He seems to enjoy my unease. He walks closer to me and pulls the hem of my dress so that I am forced to be flushed against him. A small noise escapes my lips, and I try to pull away, but he has a firm grip on my dress.

His hands roam around my body, and he holds me against himself. Even in my heels, I still come right below his chin. He leans close into my ear, and I can feel his smile as he speaks.

“I can’t wait to bury myself in between your sweet little thighs.”

I gasp, and he finally lets go of me as I stumble back, blushing furiously. The door to the party area opens, and my father and a man I have never seen before step into the hallway.

“Are you two ready?” he asks.

Luca only puts his elbow out for me to hold on to as we make our way into the crowd.

The night drags on for what seems like forever. People come up to us, expressing their congratulations. So many people. And smiles. I don’t even remember any of their names. But Luca seems to have everything under control. He never falters as he expresses his thanks and “excitement.” I just stand next to him and smile when the moment arises that I need to.

I feel numb. Everyone here knows this union is arranged. They know we feel nothing for each other. They know we are only getting married because our fathers have arranged for it. Yet they smile for us and tell us how happy they are and how we will make a fine couple. I can almost laugh. Everyone here knows who Luca Pasquino is. They aren’t fools. Yet they act as though they are best friends with him. But we all know it is fear. Fear of the monster that lurks beneath that cruel exterior.

Luca finally lets me go when I see my cousin Arianna standing in the corner. She smiles at me once she sees me and embraces me in a big hug, squeezing me tight.

“You look beautiful, Elise.”

She is smiling at me, but I can see the sadness that lurks deep in her eyes. She knows what this is signifying. My eyes travel across the room to the man I am soon to marry. He is watching me with such an intensity that I feel as though I am going to explode from his gaze. Someone is speaking to him, but he keeps his eyes trained on me.

I finally look back at Arianna, who is watching me worriedly. I take a deep breath.

“I’m scared, Ari,” I say to her, finally revealing my inner thoughts. And I am scared. He barely knows me, and he is already expressing his sexual fantasies with me. The way he watches me and speaks to me, it is as if I am a possession of his.

“You’re going to be fine, Elise. Once all the marriage hype is over, he’ll be submerged into his work and may not even have the time to see you.”

Deep down I’m hoping what she has said is true. Deep down I hope he will find someone else to focus his attention on. Because deep down I know what type of man he is. He owns things. And I am no different from another possession.

Ari’s eyes suddenly grow wide, and I feel his dark presence behind me.

“Excuse me, but may I steal my fiancée back?”

I turn to see Luca’s face in an intoxicating smile. Ari frantically nods and hurriedly runs away, fear obvious in her demeanor. I can almost scream for her abandoning me so readily.

I feel a tug on my arm and realize that Luca is dragging me to the dance floor. He pulls me closer against his body, and we begin spinning across the floor. Luca’s movements are graceful and calculated.

“What are you thinking about?” he asks me suddenly.

I look at his face and gasp. His intense gray eyes are focused on me. “I ... I’m just nervous. This is all so sudden.”

I hear his deep laugh. “That is to be expected. Tell me, Elise, are you on birth control?” He asks the question so nonchalantly, as if he were asking my opinion on whether or not it will rain tomorrow.

My cheeks heat up in embarrassment. He doesn’t waste any time, does he?

“No.” My voice comes out in a hushed whisper.

“We’ll have to remedy that. Don’t worry, I’ll have something sent for you to take.”

I don’t respond to him, but he doesn’t notice or seem to care. He leans down and begins nuzzling my neck.

“I want to have you to myself for a while.”

I still don’t respond. I look around the room to see everyone’s faces smiling at us with happy and dreamy expressions. The fools.

“So the violin?” His voice breaks through my thoughts, and I look at him, confused. “Why did you decide to play?” he clarifies.

I only shrug. “It was my father’s choice, not mine.”

“As was our union, I presume.”

I don’t respond.

We dance until the music finally ends, and I walk out of his grasp immediately, not daring to look back.

The rest of the night goes by in a blur, with people smiling and congratulating us. My cheeks are beginning to hurt from all the smiling I have to do. Luca never falters. Never lets on his true feelings. He is a hard book that I can’t read. I don’t know if he is just being polite to make me feel better or if he doesn’t want this union as much as I don’t want it.

I eventually end up alone and look around to see where Luca has disappeared to, but I don’t see his face anywhere. I see my cousin Ari standing with her husband in the corner. She is laughing, and he is holding her close to him. It is obvious they are in love. The way he holds her and smiles at her. The way he watches her when she is doing something else.

My heart is aching. I honestly just wish that somewhere deep down, Luca will find it in himself to love me and be kind to me.

I walk toward the table that has champagne bottles on it and hear a sound that makes me want to run come from the hall near the table. I follow the sound of the whimper and almost gasp at what I see before me.

There is a blonde. A really pretty blonde. She is up against the wall, and Luca’s hand is around her throat. The look on his face is terrifying. “You can’t just do this to me—”

Her voice is violently cut off. “I told you, we are finished. How dare you show up here to my engagement party!” His voice is coming out like venom, making me want to shiver in fear.

The girl doesn’t make any more sounds barely, and there are tears falling down her face. Luca finally drops her, and she begins to gasp for air, coughing and moaning. Luca reaches in his behind him and pulls out a gun, aiming it at the top of her head. Hate is clear in his expression. My legs move before I do.

“Oh my god, Luca, stop!” I shout from the shadows.

He turns his emotionless expression my way, and when he sees it is me, he only gets angrier. If that is even possible. My steps immediately falter.

“Elise, go back to the party.” His voice comes out like a whip, with no room for argument.

But I can’t just leave a poor, defenseless girl here on her own to die.

“I ...” I start but cut myself off as soon as Luca glares at me. I don’t know what to do. I can’t let him kill her. “Luca, please don’t kill her.”

He glares at me for a long moment before sighing and putting his gun away. He stands over her body and squats, yanking her hair up so she can stare at him.

“Do not come near me or my wife again, or I will kill you.” He lets go of her and walks from the hallway, snatching me as he walks away.

I try to keep up and open my mouth to say something, but he cuts me off by slamming me against the nearest wall.

“Interfere with my affairs ever again, and I will break your pretty little jaw. Understood?” His gray eyes pierce through me like a knife. I can only nod slightly, with a newfound fear for the man I am going to marry.

We walk out of the hallway as if nothing has happened, and people are looking at us, smiling and continuing their excitement. Luca smiles back as if nothing just happened. I can’t help but wonder, What would the rest of my life with this man be like?

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