“Izabella was seven when it first started. Her parents had run into financial problems because they wasted all the money they earned on gambling and alcohol. They were major alcoholics and they used to hit her whenever they got drunk, but it only got worse when they began facing major problems.” Mr. Knight gave Enrico a sad smile when he noticed the young man tense.
“The father had lost a bet and he was pissed. He came home and took out all his anger on his wife who in turn took hers out on Izabella. Izabella was too young to actually understand anything and she often begged her mum to stop, but they both were too far gone. Eventually, the wife somehow made the husband believe that their financial problems were because of Izabella and it only got worse. Izabella’s father beat her like a punching bag, she was barely breathing when the police arrived. Almost all her ribs were broken and she had a fractured sku-” Enrico sprung up from his chair, his fists clenching and unclenching at his sides as he breathed heavily.
The chair he was sitting on flew back with the sudden movement and everyone stared at him in shock, everyone except Carter and Austin.
Carter and Austin were used to Enrico’s untimely outbursts, but the rest weren't and it took them by surprise.
“I need some air.” He spoke, the anger in his voice was clearly heard as he spoke gruffly.
Enrico stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him and heading to his car.
He yanked the door open and it was a wonder the door didn’t come off its hinges with the amount of force he used.
He leaned his head against the steering-wheel and breathed out, his shoulders rising and falling with the action.
He couldn’t imagine the amount of pain his fiore had felt and he don’t want to because at that moment, he just wanted to find her parents and hurt them even more than what was humanly possible, that was if they weren’t already dead.
Enrico wasn’t astonished by the fact that she was so little because he too had first-hand experience of child abuse, but was enraged by the fact that they had hurt his fiore.
She had done nothing but be their daughter and they abused her because of that. Parents like those were monsters and to him, they don’t deserve children, they didn’t even deserve life.
Resorting to abusing their seven year old daughter because of their financial struggle they themselves had brought upon themselves?
It was sick.
Images of a battered and bruised Izabella flashed in his mind and he growled, his fists squeezing the wheel almost to the point of bending it.
“Izabella.” He mumbled as he shut his eyes, the images intensifying and he could feel his anger pulling through.
He shot up and reaching for the pills in the compartment at the passenger seat just as he caught sight of the picture of his fiore he always kept in his car.
She was dressed in a white pencil skirt and a navy blue blouse , over that, she wore a white blazer and her signature cross bag was on her boulder, the only difference was that that one was black and smaller.
Her brown hair was flowing in loose curls around her, splaying onto her thin shoulders. The afternoon sun shone down on her and made the locks shine, her honey eyes shining and twinkling.
Enrico instantly forgot what he was doing and grabbed the picture, bringing it closer to his face to admire his fiore.
All his anger went away just at the sight of her and though he was still angry with her parents, his love for her outshone every other emotion.
“Thank you.” He whispered affectionately to the picture, sighing and placing it back in its place before getting out of the car and locking it.
Enrico briskly walked back into the building and entered the same room he had stormed out off.
Everyone’s head snapped up to look at him and Mr. Knight sent him a warm smile.
“You okay, son?” He asked and Enrico nodded, picking up his chair and taking a seat, clapping his hands on his thighs and letting his gaze wonder the room.
“Please continue.” He said and Mr. Knight nodded.
“She had multiple bruises and cuts when they had washed all the blood off of her.” Mr. Knight’s eyes flitted to Enrico who was once again tense.
Instead of storming out like the last time, Enrico closed his eyes and breathed in, allowing his mind to display images of a laughing and happy Izabella.
She was fine now. She wasn’t injured and bruised, but she had the scars to show it and he hated the fact that she saw herself as ugly and a freak because of those pathetic excuses of parents.
Izabella was and would have always been the most beautiful woman in his eyes and he knew nothing would have ever made him change his mind. He needed to let her be aware of how beautiful she was and he was going to do just that.
“How did you find her?” Austin spoke from a corner of the room and Mr. Knight pursed his lips.
“I was in the hospital at the time because Sean had tried to end his life and I saw them wheeling her in.” His eyes fogged over as if he was picturing everything as he spoke.
“Her entire body was soaked in blood and she was groaning loudly. The sheet she laid on was covered in blood too. Many people were staring as he passed and I didn’t even realize I was crying until I felt a tear on my arm. When I got the word that Sean was stable, I enquired about her because I found it weird that no one followed after the doctors and nurse. Usually, they family of the person would be trailing them, but no one was there for her and I wanted to know why. When I found out, I decided to adopt her because I just had a feeling that she would help Sean. They both were troubled kid and Jacob would've been there to help them through it.” The man chuckled sadly, the tears in his eyes giving a glossy sheen to his brown eyes.
“I didn’t know then that she was going to help both herself and Sean. Jacob never knew what to do other than hugging them whenever they cried and I tried my best to help. I took them to child therapists, but Sean never wanted to stay. He always insisted on sticking to Izabella until eventually, I allowed him, but he still never answered the questions or participated in the activities.” He finished and sighed out loud, wiping his tears and briefly glancing t his sons who were quietly doing the same.
“She always seems so bright. I’m proud of her.” Carter gave Izabella’s father a small smile and a nod.
“È una donna forte.” (She’s a strong woman.)
Carter nodded along to Austin’s statement, turning to Mr knight and his two sons.
“He said she’s strong.” He translated and Mr. Knight laughed, giving Austin a pleased smile.
“She really is.” All the while, Enrico remained silent, his mind reeling and trying to connect the dots.
“Let me see that note again.” He collected the piece of paper from Austin and read it aloud.
“You took something from me and now, I’ll take something from you right where it all began.”
“We all know he wants Izabella, but who could this person be?” Sean asked, his face contorted into one of worry and distress.
“I’ve done many things in life, but I’ve never wronged anyone. I never kill without a purpose or reason so I’m not lying when I say I don’t know who this person is.” Enrico was bitter and infuriated with the fact that his fiore was in danger and he couldn't do anything about it.
He felt helpless and that was a feeling he hated with his entire being.
“What do you think ‘where it all began’ means?” Carter enquired.
“I don’t know, but I know this person isn’t working alone.” There was an urgent knock on the door and Enrico growled lowly, leaving Carter to say it was okay to enter.
The door opened and Antonio entered. The young boy scanned the room, his eyes observing each intimidating man in the room.
He didn't have much muscle and felt very small and weak in their presence.
He greeted Enrico, nodding at the other men.
“Che cos’è?” (What is it?)
Enrico questioned with the most plain face he could have ever made. He was irritated that the boy had interrupted them.
“I-I just got back the reports from the lab and they said that the eyeballs were preserved in some chemical only doctors have access to.” Everyone perked up at that and Enrico stretched his hand forward, reaching for the envelope in Antonio’s hand.
“Esci.” (Get out.)
He spat at the boy who immediately scrambled out the door, willing to get out of the room flooded with testosterone.