Enrico was stunned.
She was perfect.
There was no other word to describe her, but there was something that made him confused.
She had a scar just above her belly button and one on her waist. They looked like cuts and seemed pretty painful.
Obviously, they were not from lately because they were already healed and he had acquired way too many scars in his lifetime to be inexperienced when it came to them.
Did someone hurt her?
He didn’t know because there was no evidence of it when he did a background check on her. The only medical injury was from a decade ago when she had passed out due to malnutrition. Perhaps her father knew something about them.
Whatever it was, Enrico was determined to find out.
He stayed standing at the door for several moments before becoming alarmed when he heard quiet sobs coming from the bathroom.
“Fiore?” His voice took on a gentle tone, one he didn’t know he had and the sobbing stopped.
When she didn’t reply, he continued.
“I didn’t see anything.” That was the biggest lie and Izabella knew it just as much as he did.
A wobbly scoff was heard, followed by a humourless laugh.
“Don’t lie to m-me. I k-know you did.” Her voice was raspy and anyone could’ve heard she had been crying.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered, feeling deflated at her words. He didn’t have any experience when it came to consoling someone, that was always his sister’s job and she was not there anymore.
“What d-do you want m-me to say? That I-I’m a freak? I’m not n-normal, I know.” Enrico’s heart was breaking for her with every word she spoke and he just wanted to engulf her in his arms and show her just how beautiful and perfect she was to him, but he refrained.
He knew she was still half-naked and he respected her enough to not intrude on her privacy.
“You’re not a freak. You’re very normal, more normal than I could ever be.” His voice held a hint of darkness and Izabella didn’t fail to notice it, but chose not to comment.
“You don’t have to lie, Enrico. Say it. I am a freak!” She raised her voice, angry at him for lying to her.
She knew the truth and was fed up of hearing one thing over and over again.
Her family always told her she was beautiful, flaws and all. Though she never believed it, it lifted her spirits, but she was fed up of lies.
Enrico didn’t have to lie to her, he was free to state his opinion and she didn’t understand why he wasn’t.
On the other side of the door, Enrico clenched his fists in anger, dropping the bottle of body wash to the floor as he willed himself not to barge in there and take her up in his arms.
“I’m not ly-”
“Don’t! You don’t have to lie. I know I’m ugly-” The words were barely out of her mouth before the door slammed open and she screamed, the handle slamming against the wall and denting.
Enrico’s large, tense build stepped in the bathroom and his eyes locked with hers, never allowing them to stray, no matter how badly he wanted to admire her.
Grabbing a towel from the towel rack beside him, he approached her and wrapped it around her half-naked body.
Izabella was at a loss of words.
She hadn’t even realized the door was unlocked.
“I’m not lying. You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen and I have to hold myself back from grabbing you and ravishing you whenever I see you.” Enrico spoke as Izabella watched him with widened eyes, his voice low and seductive.
“You have no idea how much you affect me and your innocence and obliviousness is so cute. I don’t care what flaws you have because to me, you’re perfect and nothing can change that for me, not even your scars.” All the while he spoke, he stared into her eyes, refusing to break eye contact and have her think for one more second that he was lying.
It both baffled and saddened him how she could not have seen what he saw in her. Izabella deserved the world and he couldn’t provide her with that, but he could always try.
“B-but, I’m nothing like those models with smooth, unblemished s-skin.” She mumbled as she gripped the towel around her. Her words were barely audible, but he heard.
Enrico’s eyes searched hers before he sighed.
“You’re right.” Izabella’s heart fell at his words. She wasn’t expecting it to hurt that much.
“You’re nothing like them and you don’t have to be. You’re way more beautiful. Yes, you have scars, but they reflect how strong you are, each one representing your battles won. The world sees scars as ugly, but they’re wrong. People with scars shouldn’t be hated or stigmatized because having scars show that you know what pain is and most of the time, the people with scars are the most loving because they know what it feels like to be unloved.” Izabella didn’t even realize she was crying until he swiped under her eyes with his thumbs.
“All those models that you see on television and in magazines many of them don’t know what hardships are because they’ve never had to experience it. There are a few who have, but they choose to conceal it. That’s deception. It’s because of people like them that people despise scars. You’re beautiful just the way you are and I wouldn’t want you to change who you are just to fit in this crucial, shallow world. Everyone has scars, whether they are mentally or physically, they are still scars and the world needs to realize this.” Enrico leaned down and kissed her cheekbones, her salty tears wetting his plump lips.
“What about you? D-do you have scars?” Izabella was curious to know. His speech had opened her eyes, but she still couldn’t accept the fact that he thought she was beautiful.
It was hard to wrap her head around that thought.
Enrico let go of her and unbuttoned the first button of his shirt, smirking when he heard Izabella shriek in surprise.
“W-what are you doing?” She questioned, her face red from all the crying and blushing she was doing.
Enrico didn’t answer her, instead, he unbuttoned the remaining buttons of his shirt and discarded it on the floor, standing in just his pants.
“It’s okay, fiore. You can look. Everything here is yours.” Izabella shook her head, refusing to look and Enrico sighed, stepping forward and easily prying her hands from her face to reveal her tightly shut eyes.
To anyone else, it would seem like she was overreacting, but Izabella had never seen a random male half-naked, only her brothers and father at the beach.
“Fiore.” He breathed, stepping forward and pressing his lips against the shell of her ear, smirking to himself when she tensed up.
“Please open those lovely eyes of yours. You need to see me. Please?” He whispered into her ear and she nodded after a few seconds, slowly opening her eyes and staring into his.
“Thank you.” He smiled, moving away and letting his hands find hers, intertwining his fingers with hers.
“I won’t tell you everything, but, I had a childhood the world would call abnormal. My father often threatened to harm my mother and I usually tried to save her and would end up on the floor in a pile of blood nearly every night.” He swallowed and Izabella felt her heart ache from his one sentence.
“How old were you?” He looked to the mirror on the wall adjacent to him, his grey-green eyes scanning himself.
“I was six when it first happened.” Izabella gasped, her eyes welling up with tears at the haunted look on his face.
“He used her against me and everything just spiraled from there.” He looked back to her and shot her a pained smile.
“I’m sorry.” She said and he chuckled.
“It’s not your fault, fiore. My father was the lowest of scum.” Enrico grabbed her wrist and placed it on his lower stomach, smiling at her already red face.
“These are my scars. Of course, you can’t see my mental ones, but they’re still there.” He smiled encouragingly, wanting her to look at his scars.
He was willingly showing her that he too was human and that he wasn’t at all like what all those ridiculous people told her.
Eventually, Izabella let her gaze drop and she couldn’t believe what she saw.
Many scars littered Enrico’s lower torso, ranging from smallest to largest the further down it went.
There was one scar in particular that caught her eye, it was the longest one he had. It ran from the middle of his lower abdomen to just above his left waist.
It was a long incision with jagged edges and it seemed quite painful.
Izabella winced at the thought, trying to imagine herself in his place, but failing miserably.
“What about this one?” She asked, pointing to it and Enrico looked down, resting her hand on it.
It gave him enough willpower to continue speaking.
“I was fourteen. He broke a glass bottle on the ground and dragged me around in the shards because I attempted to stop him from having his way with a little girl.” The thought that she thought her life was tough made her feel weak and stupid. Sure, she had her fair share of abuse, but it was nothing in comparison to what the man standing before her endured.
His was torture.