I woke the next morning completely naked in Cal’s arms. I looked up at him and watched as his lips moved as he breathed, his chest rising and falling slowly. He was as content as me, I was sure of it. I peeled myself away from the warmth of the bed and made my way to the bathroom. I stared at myself in the mirror and realised that my make up from last night was still on, probably most of it was on the pillow too! I ran the water in the shower and waited until the temperature was hot enough to step into. I walked into the steam, letting it cover my body. I ran my hands over my face and in my hair, humming to myself. I washed my hair, taking time to massage the conditioner in before rinsing it out. My hair is an absolute nightmare if it isn’t conditioned. I couldn’t believe what Cal had done for me last night, I felt like I was going to burst with happiness. I didn’t hear the footsteps come into the bathroom, and nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard a deep voice say,
‘Well, you must be the reason he isn’t answering any of my calls.’
I gasped, grabbing my towel from the top of the shower, turning it off as quickly as I could. Through the steam I saw a tall muscular man standing in the doorway watching me with a lazy grin on his face. I gulped, wrapping the towel around me in horror. Who the hell was this?! Why was he staring at me like I was breakfast?!
‘What the fuck are you doing in my house?’ I heard Cal growl.
The man didn’t even turn away from me as he ran his eyes down my body.
‘See. I was just telling this young lady here now I understand why you haven’t returned my calls.’
His voice was thick with a New York accent and I felt panic take over, my whole body shaking.
Cal pushed in front of him, standing in front of me angrily.
’What the fuck is this Andre?′
I hid behind Cal, my heart pounding. I knew nothing would happen to me whilst Cal was there, but I was still totally out of my depth and I was terrified.
The mans eyes reluctantly left me as Cal walked towards him, standing squarely in front of him. Andre spoke again.
‘Let’s go downstairs. Let the lady......get dressed.’
The man licked his lips and I shuddered. Cal didn’t move and the man stepped backwards out of the bathroom slowly as he made his way out of the room.
Cal moved then towards me quickly.
‘Get dressed Gretchen, do not worry. You are safe with me.’
He kissed my head and fixed his eyes on mine, before turning in the same direction the creepy Andre had gone. I quickly picked up a stray t shirt and some jeans that were going to be way too big for me. I wanted to cry, why didn’t I have any clothes! I should have left some here. I found a hoody and pulled that on, grateful for the large size. My hair was dripping wet, curls starting to form. I grabbed a towel and scrunched some of the moisture out, realising my hands were shaking. I tiptoed to the stairs and listened to the voices as best as I could. I heard them but I couldn’t make out what they were saying, and all I could think of was what I was going to do if something happened to Cal. I screamed inwardly as I tried to calm myself down. How could we have been dancing on a yacht last night and now I was hiding upstairs from a lecherous prick who had let himself into Cal’s house?! I gripped the handrail as the voices got louder and less muffled.
′‘If you had answered my calls I wouldn’t have had to make this trip especially Leo.’
Leo?! Who the fuck was Leo? My heart beat hard in my chest.
‘I told you. This is over now. What the fuck are you doing here?’ Cals voice said angrily.
‘You can’t ignore what happened. Does your pretty little girlfriend know?’ Andre sneered.
‘Don’t even mention her. Forget you ever saw her.’ Cal was furious.
‘It’s hard though, she is such a pretty little thing. Remember the last pretty little thing you had? I liked her alot too.’
He started to laugh and I heard deathly silence.
′Are you still getting the threats Leo?′
I heard Cal bang his fist on the counter.
‘You come to MY house, let yourself in and fucking stare at my girlfriend in the shower? Then ask me that? You are one sick fuck.’
‘But we are quite alike are we not Leo?’ His voice was softer then.
‘No we are not, we are NOTHING alike.’ Cal spat this out in anger. I wanted to go and hold him back, but I knew I needed to stay upstairs. ′ You deserve to die.′
My hand flew to my mouth. He clearly meant that, his voice was menacing. I had never heard him like that before, ever.
‘I may go and see your little girlfriend. I hope she hasn’t got dressed. I much preferred her naked.’
I gasped then, running to the bathroom and locking the door. My heart pounded and I felt like I was going to be sick from pure fear. Tears started streaming down my face as I heard footsteps running up the stairs. I heard scuffling and shouting, and I felt the terror running through my veins.
‘You are a weak little boy. Maybe she needs a man? When I have finished with you I will make sure she knows what a man feels like.’
His vile words made me retch and I racked my brain thinking of what I could possibly do. My phone wasn’t in the bathroom, and if I went out there then I will be at risk. I couldn’t leave him there though. That man was bigger than Cal and clearly fought dirty. I glanced around the bathroom, desperately searching for anything I could use as a weapon. FUCK! All I could see was bottles of shampoo and shower gel. I could hear banging outside the door and then a thud. I started to panic. Fuck this. I opened the door slowly, peeking through the crack in the door. I couldn’t see anything. I opened the door more, slowly peeking around the door. I could see legs sprawled next to the bedroom door and I started to weep as I walked towards them. They weren’t moving. I walked forward, my hand over my mouth as I saw what once was the face of Andre. Blood covered his face and Cal was leaning against the wall, his eyes wide and his face swollen.
’Baby,′ I whispered. He didn’t look at me, he didn’t even blink.
’Baby I need to call an ambulance ok?′ I looked around for my phone, desperately. I saw it on the stand next to my bed and I ran over.
I heard Cals voice order harshly. I stared at him, stunned.
′No. He needs to die ok? I will explain. But he needs to.′
He sounded almost calm. He nodded towards his phone which was on the floor near the bed.
′Can you pass me that please? I am not sure I can move just yet.′
He made an attempt at laughing and winced. My mind raced as I handed him his phone. What was going on? I knew the man was bad, but did he deserve to die? I slumped onto the floor against the bed as I closed my eyes. Suddenly Andre started to gurgle and cough, and Cals eyes widened as he jumped up, crying out in pain as he did, to put his hand over Andres mouth and nose. I gasped, covering my eyes as I saw Andre trying to fight Cal pointlessly. Andres eyes were wide as he tried to speak, Cal stared at him as he leant close to his ear.
‘This is for Lucia you sick fucker.’ he spat in his face as the light died from Andres eyes. Cal didn’t remove his hands, pushing down repeatedly until he was sure he was dead.
I started to sob then, and Cal glanced at me, as though he had just remembered I was there. He leant back and reached for his phone, indicating for me to come to his side. I shook my head. No. Cal made a call, his hands on his head.
‘Can I speak to Verno? It’s Leo.’
I stared at him, a million questions going around in my head. LEO CAPE? Was this his name? His real name? I closed my eyes and tried to breathe. I was sitting in a room with a corpse, who moments before was most certainly going to try to kill my boyfriend then do awful things to me. Cal didn’t have much choice. Well, Leo didn’t. I had zero grip on reality right now.
I listened as Cal explained to whoever Verno was that Andre was dead, and that he needed someone to remove him. REMOVE HIM? I felt like I was going to be sick and the room started to spin, was I now an accessory to MURDER? Cal hung up the phone and crawled over to me, holding my hands in his blood stained ones.
‘I will tell you everything. Right now. Just please listen to me.’
My hands shook but I nodded, desperate for some light on what the hell had just happened.
′Ok,′ Cal took a deep breath. ′First, we need to get out of here. Let me clean myself up.′
He managed to stand, grimacing as he did. I stood and helped him into the shower. He washed away the blood and I saw he had deep black bruises covering his ribs and chest. He winced as he washed but he soon was out drying himself. He dressed with my help, and we stepped over the body of Andre, Cal pulling me close to him as we did. We made our way downstairs and outside to his car.
′You are leaving him there?!′ I stare at him aghast. He nods and reverses down the drive and onto the road before speeding away.
′Text your parents. We have to talk.′ He commanded and I quickly shot off a text to my mom. Luckily I had texted her last night to gush about my evening before falling to sleep. I realised my hands were shaking as we pulled into a diner not far from the house. We walked in and I was relieved to see it was mostly empty, so we chose a booth towards the back as a waiter came over and took our orders.
I stared at Cal waiting. He met my gaze and nodded.
′What the fuck just happened?′ I whispered.
‘So, New York. The house we broke into? It was my girlfriends.’
He had the grace to stare down then, as he continued.
‘Lucia. No one knew we were seeing each other. She wasn’t meant to be in.’
He closed his eyes, clearly remembering that night.
′We were almost done. She came in, saw us all.′
I didn’t know what to say, so I just remained quiet.
The waiter came over, placing our milkshakes in front of us, which we both left untouched.
‘You could do with the sugar, for shock.’
He nodded at mine. I folded my arms and stared at him.
He looked at me through those dark eye lashes.
‘I told her to run. She didn’t. They dragged her upstairs. I ran towards her and tried to stop them. They were men, Gretchen. She was a young girl. I lied to you before. I didn’t run...But they weren’t about to let me stop them. They punched me hard enough to knock me out. When I came to there was police everywhere.’
I realised I had tears running down my face. He was struggling now, his face creased with emotion.
′She never told them we were seeing each other. The police guessed I had a part in it.′
I swallowed, barely able to breathe imagining a young Cal going through this.
‘I had a good lawyer. Lucia survived, but only just. She can never have children and she doesn’t leave her house. She has no life, not really.’
His voice was full of sadness.
‘I admitted to taking part in the robbery but not that. Not that, ever.’ His voice was full of disgust.
‘So yeah, Verno was Lucia’s pops. He wanted me dead. In his eyes even if I didn’t touch her, I didn’t help her either.’
I reached out and held his hand and he looked at me in surprise.
′Go on.′ My voice was broken but I wanted him to tell me everything,
’I got a fine and a caution. I was the youngest. Four of the men went to prison for what they did. They got 5 years. It was a mockery of the justice system. So Verno created his own justice system. They died in there.′ He said this with no emotion.
′So Andre?′ I asked, ′What did he do?′
Cals face changed to that of pure anger.
‘He was vile Raven, really fucking bad. Like, to the core. He went on the run. I never heard from him or saw him until today. He was the worst of them all- what he did to her-’
He shook his head violently as if trying to erase the memory.
‘It was just me and him left and Verno wanted us both dead.’
I stared at him, trying to process everything he had just told me. I reached forward and drank my milkshake in a few gulps. I wished it were wine. Cal watched me carefully.
‘He must’ve found out she was my...girlfriend.’
He looked like he was in psychical pain. I couldn’t even begin to comprehend what he was telling me. We sat in silence as we absorbed what had been said.
‘So that’s why you killed him today.’ I said softly, my voice lower than a whisper.
He didn’t confirm this verbally, but he didn’t need to. His face said it all.
‘He would have really hurt you Gretchen. I could not let that happen again, no way. I just couldn’t. What he is capable of-’
He closed his eyes and his hand tightened around mine. He killed a man. For me? For Lucia too, I realised. He killed an awful man, who would have probably killed us given the choice.
‘So the body-’ I started before Cal placed a finger to his lips to silence me.
′Will be gone shortly. I have to go back to meet with Verno. I have to end this baby.′
WHAT? Is he actually fucking insane? Verno will kill him surely?
‘No Cal. No. I am going with you.’ I stammered, wondering why I was saying this. Love really is blind, and fucking stupid too.
His eyes met mine blazing and I sat back in fear.
‘No Gretchen, you are not. This is NOT up for debate. I will not have you at risk. But I need you to be safe. I can’t leave you alone. I need you to know how much I love you, ok? No matter what.’
His eyes burned into mine as he grabbed my hand and squeezed it.
‘I can’t believe what you had to see today. I am so, so sorry. So fucking sorry. I swear I think you need time to process-’
This time I snapped.
‘No. No I don’t. Because unfortunately for me, you don’t get to choose who you fall in love with. I fucking love you. You saved me.’
His eyes shone with love as he gazed at me.
’So I killed a man and you still want to be with me? Wow. You are marriage material indeed.′
He attempted a smile.
‘I am going to get you home. I have to be back at mine shortly.’