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Chapter 33 - Forward

”Let me hear!” I harshly whisper, wrestling with Alessio to get ahold of his cellphone. He’s talking with my father, trying to be discreet as he explains last night’s event.

But when my father started yelling over the phone, Alessio switched his dialect, just as equally mad and accusing.

There’s no way I can catch on, he’s speaking too fast in Italian for me to even understand one word that he’s saying.

Desperately, I want to be apart of this conversation, but instead they’re just going at it with each other.

“Alessio put him on speaker now!” My arms wrap around his bicep, tugging his heavy arm down so that his phone pulls away from his ear.

Trying to snatch it with one of my hands, he purposely stands at up higher height, picking me up along with him. Squealing rather loudly, my legs begin to kick the air, trying to find the ground but refusing to let go.

I’m not letting him get away with this easily.

“Alessio you jerk!” I keep my voice to a minimum so that my father doesn’t have another thing to worry about. “Let me hear what he has to say!”

“She’s safe,” Alessio sternly says.

I should be able to tell him that on my own, not him.

Though I am safe, I’m still waiting for the shock to set in, the outrage, the fear, everything that’s supposed to be a natural reaction when almost dying ... hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know that means or is something is wrong with me.

Is it because it’s so normal in my family that I’ve become numb?

The first night, I did cry a bit in Alessio’s arms, falling asleep as he held me in bed, but since then I haven’t shed anymore tears.

Why am I unresponsive? What’s happening to me?

“Ouch,” Alessio mumbles as I lift up my knee to hit his rib.

He stumbles a bit, trying to regain his balance without dropping me. My legs snake around his torso as I hold myself closer to him. “Put him on speaker now,” still trying not to raise my voice but being forceful.

Alessio looks at me with disapproval and I flash him my own face of irritation.

Does he think that I want to climb him like a tree? All he has to do is include me in the conversation and I’ll stop.

Alessio still has the mindset that keeping me away the information that he leanered from the man who tried to murder me will keep me safe. But did he forget about the conversation we had when I first landed in Sicily?

That the less I know, is clearly not the better.

Alessio whispers back, “Cherry, that’s enough!” Pulling me off of his with one hand, he carefully throws me onto the bed where I gently land.

Alessio turns to walk out of the door but I quickly scramble off the bed and scurry over to him, diving for his legs. “Cherry this is childish,” scolding me as I coil myself around one of his legs, tightly holding on so that he can’t pull me off again. “No you’re childish!” Countering as I look up at him angrily.

Alessio lifts the leg that I’m holding as if I weigh nothing. Rolling his eyes he puts his leg down and continues limping out the door with me refusing to let go. “You can’t just walk away from this.” I hit his leg as he continues the conversation with my father.

Breaking my silence, I shout, “Alessio!” My hand hits higher up his leg, mad that he’s continuously ignoring my valid demands. Out of frustration to get him to stop moving and take me seriously, I raise my hand higher and hit it down roughly on his upper thigh... near his appendage.

He stops in his tracts, his eyes wide.

Looking down at me with shock, Alessio’s mouth drops open, his hand gripping the phone tighter.

I don’t care, I’ll do it again but aim better this time. “Let. Me. Hear.” I reiterate, emphasizing every word.

His eyes close, breathing low.

The phone pulls away from his ear as he goes to press the speaker button. “Dad?” I shout out to him as I jump up from my position, yanking the phone from his hand.

Too quick on my feet, I run away from Alessio and down the hall aiming for the staircase. “Cherry?” My dad sounds surprised to suddenly hear me. “Cherry, you’re coming back to New York right away until I find out who’s behind this.”

This is what they were arguing about?

Alessio’s heavy footsteps interrupt my thoughts as he chases after me, getting closer. I’m definitely in trouble with him now.

“I’ll call you back,” I mumble into the phone, ending the call.

Alessio wraps his arms around my waist when we reach the bottom of the staircase, keeping me from slipping away. “Cherry, why did you hang up?!”

“Let me go!” I demand as I twist in his arms, now facing him. “You’re hiding things from me again. Did you not learn anything from when you did that last time.” Exasperated, I bring up the situation of when I felt so vulnerable and miserable coming to Sicily. Saddened and overwhelmed that I had no clue what was going.

I don’t want to feel that type of loneliness again.

With the phone in my hand, I roughly slam it into his chest and push away from his hold. “We already talked about this. Stop trying to say that what you’re doing is keeping me safe. I want to know Alessio. I almost died because of these stupid secrets. I just want to know, that’s it.” My face is becoming warmer as my palms start to shake.

“Cherry, i'm not hiding anything.” Alessio is adamant, refusing to keep a distance between us. “I honestly don’t know who’s behind all of this.” His face looks almost desperate when telling me this.

Full of honesty.

“But you do know something!” My bottom lip wobbles, a tear of frustration falling down my cheek as I turn away. My hands fold over each other as I rest them on the top of my head, exhaling heavily. “You were gone all day yesterday, and I know what that means,” I upsetly tell him.

I’m not oblivious to their tactics, how they pull their information from those who try to keep their lips sealed.

My father tried so hard to keep the violence away from his family, wanting me to remain innocent minded ... but I already knew all along what his methods were. He wasn’t as discreet as he wanted to be.

Alessio sighs, taking a moment to decide what he’s going to say. “Okay, fine. You’re right, I should have told you. I should have told you what I found out... but I didn’t.”

When I look at him, his hand is rubbing at the back of his neck. His eyebrows are pulled inwards as he stares at the ground, his lips turned down.

He’s thinking too hard.

“I’m just…” he pauses, trying to find the right words. “I’m so used to control that I don’t even know what I’m doing with our own relationship.” Crouching down, Alessio places both hands on the crown of his head. Another shaky breath leaves him as he squeezes his eyes shut, but not before I see the shine in his eyes.

There were so many times where I wanted to cry from frustration, I wonder is this is one of those times where he feels the same.

Alessio looks just as tired as I am; I pity the both of us.

I shouldn’t have to feel this way, neither should he. I wish he could see that just because I’m disappointed doesn’t mean that I’m ungrateful for what he’s doing for my safety. The sacrifices he makes for me doesn’t go unappreciated.

With small steps, I make my way over back to him, watching as he stresses over his decisions, harshly scrutinizing himself.

I don’t want him to blame himself for the things that are out of his control. It’s detrimental.

“My favorite thing about you is your smile,” quietly confessing, kneeling down onto the floor and taking his hands from his head. “It’s different, you know, nothing like I’ve ever seen.” The sadness is hard to keep away as I say these words to him. It’s so evident that we’re at our lowest point right now. Feeling exposed and confused as what steps to take next.

More tears start to lazily slide down my cheeks, thinking of how difficult this all is, it’s going to ruin our relationship if we keep going back and forth the way we are. “It’s like you haven’t smiled in a long time....and you don’t deserve that, to feel unsafe or unhappy.”

When he holds me, I feel safe. I want to do the same for him so that he knows that it’s going to be okay. “You deserve to smile more.”

His knees touch the ground as he slumps forward. My arms wrap around his neck as I pull him into my embrace. “Let me in, please just let me in.”

It takes time for walls to be let down completely. Emotional healing doesn’t happen overnight.

When I feel my shoulder becoming wet, I hold him tighter. “I love you,” he softly tells me.

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