T H I R T Y
“Before embarking on a journey of revenge first dig two graves.” ~ Confucius
“If not for anything, do it for your blood. Don’t let them destroy your family, Lilliana,” Andrew had told me when it was confirmed that Dante was taken by the Romanos.
What family? Dante has never been a father to me all my life, but all he did was remind me that I was his blood.
“He dug his own grave, Andrew!” I seethed low over the phone.
“He’s your father, Lilliana. A bad father—but still a father,” he reminded harshly.
Dante wasn’t solely a bad father; he was a terrible man. He was power-hungry and ruthless—just like the Romanos. He couldn’t get to the men, so he picked up Samantha Romano. He staged the whole fucking thing and lied to my face.
“I asked him, and he fucking lied!” I hissed into the speaker. “He kidnapped the sister, attempted to murder Mia Romano, and God knows—maybe planned my death as well.”
Andrew wouldn’t see through Dante’s manipulation and kept persisting. When words began to lose its meaning, he pulled out the card that meant the most to me. “Your mother, Lilliana, and your infant brother. If not for Dante, do it for them. They were innocents, and Romanos killed them anyway. Does that mean nothing to you?” he calmly narrated.
I closed my eyes and took a sharp inhale, feeling powerless to be the collateral damage.
The truth was—I was hopelessly and irrevocably in love with Dominic. So there was no way I could un-love him. And I loved Dominic without a flare of guilt in my heart.
“Alright,” I agreed with a loud exhale like I was holding my breath all this while. “I will only help Dante to get out of Chicago and nothing more. If he stays even one more minute than necessary, I will not be responsible for his end.” I was dead serious about it. “And more thing,” I added. “I don’t want to be a part of the clusterfuck. I am done here.”
“Done? Are you in love with Dominic?” Andrew asked incredulously. “Are you in love with the people who assassinated your mother?”
“Dominic was an infant when my mother and brother were killed!” I defended fiercely.
“It was his fucking family, his fucking blood! He is responsible too!”
It was impossible to make Andrew understand anything about Dominic when I knew he wouldn’t believe anything I tell him. It was impossible to make him understand that the man opened his heart to me without knowing what would I would with it.
And, honestly, the worth of Dominic wasn’t for anyone to assimilate.
“And it has nothing to do with you then. Besides, it was rumored that Alessandro Romano had got someone else involved in this. So, I don’t know the details, and honestly, I don’t care right now,” I said with absoluteness.
His silence spoke volumes of his displeasure. Andrew has always seen me passionate about vengeance, to nurture the hatred for the people I had only heard through newspapers and tales of horrors. But he never saw me backing out.
And even though I had never truly admitted being in love with Dominic, it was apparent in the face of my denial.
“I will take what I can get,” Andrew said defeatedly. “Just get Dante out of the hellhole before they kill him.”
“I will try,” I said and hung up.
Two days later.
The deal with the Sauveterre brothers was made. Sammy was back home, surrounded by the people who loved her unequivocally. Dante was rotting in the basement, while Lorenzo’s days were numbered.
Everything was perfect in my world.
After I left abruptly, I didn’t inform Lilliana until two days of my return to Chicago. The business was a mess, and Viktor and I had to make up for the pending deals and commitments. When everything was finally under control, I decided to pay a visit to Lilliana.
So what if it was around 11 at night?
Reaching her apartment, I took out the key to unlock the door and entered without knocking, or even without a plink of noise to announce my arrival. Surprisingly, and in a first, the living room was dark while the bedroom was not emitting a dim flicker. The rest of the house was only illuminated through the street light, streaming through the windows. But that wasn’t all. It was bone-chilling cold too.
Has she gone to bed, and that early? It couldn’t be. Lilliana, if not anything, was a dedicated night owl.
Striding carefully into the bedroom with slow, padded steps, I saw Lilliana leaning over the table beside the bed. She was rummaging for something, that too in dim lighting, with her back to the door.
Slowly, I reached for her, with an arm snared around her waist, while the other arm instinctively clamped over her mouth before she could scream.
“Nmmphhhh…” The muffled high pitch sound rang out as Lilliana tried her best to thrash in my hold.
“Shh…” I brought my lips to her ears, whispering, “Calm down, sweetheart, it’s me.”
Her struggles ceased immediately, as I pressed her body further into mine. The gush of warm exhale over my fingers fanned while Lilliana’s clattering heartbeats kept drumming harder. But seeing her body relax, I gently removed my hand from her mouth, dragging it down to settle under her breasts.
“Dominic,” Lilliana breathed. The shocked melted into relief. “You…what—are you crazy?”
I chuckled and spun her around to face me without releasing the hold. “I have only sneaked up on you a couple of times to be qualified as crazy. So, no—not crazy.”
Her searching gaze roamed over my face like she wouldn’t believe that I was standing in her presence. “You came back,” she said unbelievingly. “When—when did you get back?”
“A couple of days,” I answered. “I had to take care of a few things before I could meet you.”
“What about your sister? She…uh…was—”
I nodded solemnly. “Sammy is safe and home,” I told her. The official news would start making rounds from tomorrow morning anyway. The PR team we have would take care of the story. “It’s a long story, and I will tell you about it later.”
“Okay, that’s good news. Your sister is back home,” Lilliana said softly, but her mind was floating somewhere else.
“Everything alright with you?” I inquired, rubbing my palms up and down her arms. “And why is it so cold inside the apartment?”
“I have missed you, Dominic.” The words rolled out of her so effortlessly, and so smoothly, like water flowing down the streams that it took some time for me to come out of reverence.
And when I did, I smiled bright and full, holding the girl who was rapidly becoming a part of me. However, my lack of words delivered a completely wrong message.
“Shit, I am sorry, I didn’t—”
“Stop.” I cut her off, pressing a finger to her lips. “Don’t take back those words, Lilliana. They are special—and they are only for me.”
“They are,” she admitted softly.
“Now, would you please tell me why your apartment feels like the North Pole?” I asked. I swear, if I had not been holding her close, my balls would have been frozen off.
“The heater stopped working. I would tell the landlord if he would have been kind enough to pick up the call.”
“He’s a drunken bastard.” I scowled. “How have you been sleeping like this?”
Lilliana scratched the back of her neck, trying to come up with a lie as she habitually did that. “Uh—it’s not much of an issue. Woolen socks and double blankets do the trick.” She smiled dazzlingly.
My entire life was in Chicago, and thus, I have lived long enough to know how unforgiving Chicago winter could be. But I was too happy to argue with her right now. “C’mon,” I urged, tugging her arm. “Let’s go to my place.”
“Why? I am fine, here. Really, Dominic, it’s—”
“Lilliana,” I told her seriously. “It’s either my place or your landlord’s, where you can stand by and watch while I beat the shit out of him. And if we go to my house, we can slip under the blanket, snuggle up against each other, and sleep comfortably in a bed fit for two normal-sized people.
She frowned defeatedly. “My bed is fit for two normal-sized people, except you are not normal-sized.” I didn’t argue, but the grin slicing through my face said it all.
I watched her as she mutely pursed her lips, and a telling scowl painted all over her face. With a final exhale, Lilliana nodded in agreement. “Give me some time to change and grab my handbag.”
I shook my head impatiently. “Grab the bag, and skip the change of clothes. It wouldn’t matter anyway,” I told her.
Lilliana understood what I was trying so hard to imply but failed to bring out the right words to craft the exact meaning of it. As quick as she could be, she snagged a heavy handheld bag from her bedside and followed me out of that apartment.
It took me mere seconds to take Lilliana up in my room on the third floor after reaching my place. The servants were quite used to the routine of my late arrival at home, Viktor and Mia were probably having a blissful martial night after everything our family had suffered through, and Aurora was determined not to leave Sammy alone for even a second after her return.
All in all, we were not interrupted.
“Thank you,” she murmured, taking the glass of whiskey from mine when I offered.
I wrapped my hand around her middle and pressed myself to her back, sitting behind her on the bed. The way she relaxed into my hold, leaned back, exhaling a wishful breath—it made me realize what I have been missing all my life.
I understood how the stability of love works in a relationship. It was like two people locked in an orbit with a magnificent pull working between them.
“Dominic?” Lilliana queried softly, as I hummed low in response, resting my head on her shoulder. “Will you miss me–if I leave Chicago?”
The words struck something so deep within me that I immediately sat up straighter and turned her around to face me. “You are not leaving Chicago,” I said with finality.
I didn’t even want to know the fucking reason she would be away from me.
Lilliana smiled sadly, looking down at her hands. “I have to, Dominic. I can’t stay in this city forever.”
I have no idea how she failed to see the gravity in my eyes, but I was determined to make her understand. If she doubted, even for a second, of the million ways I wanted her by my side—in my fucking life—she’d be severely mistaken.
I grasped her by the shoulder, hooking her gaze to mine so she couldn’t escape—even mentally. “I am serious about this, Lilliana, about us,” I told her.
“You want to be serious about a girl with the most distorted past and a disoriented future?” Lilliana shook her head defiantly. “Eventually, you’d realize what a big mistake it has been, Dominic. But I am afraid that I’d be too consumed by then to leave on my own accord.”
“You won’t leave without my saying so,” I decreed. To love someone, you needed a heart; and I wasn’t sure if I was born with one, and if at all, it was capable of love or not. But I knew one thing more than the truth of the sun and the moon that I wanted Lilliana to be mine.
My solemn voice lowered, the intensity deepened as I told Lilliana, “You are mine. And you are not leaving. Did you understand?”
Her eyes glassed as she watched me with a dreamy gaze and a serene smile. Her voice was something between thick and raspy when she mumbled, “Yours, Dominic—yours.”
With no need for a further invitation, my lips snagged hers, with my tongue exploring the delicious mouth I have been craving for so long. Lilliana lost her control to me as her soft lips easily molded to my manipulations. Reaching for the buttons of her jeans, I bared her in record time, with her clothes strewn around the bed.
“I had plans for us tonight,” I said, climbing over her and positioning her between my legs. “To spend the time doing something sweet. Sweet for both of us.” I gripped her knees firmly, spreading her wide for convenience while my engorged length teased the wet, warm opening of her sex. “But, instead, I have to show you how much I want you.”
A keening wail tore out of her throat, gushing with erotic frustration. “Dominic, please…”
“Maybe I am slightly wrong,” I admitted, pressing a thumb over her throbbing clit, gently rolling the pleasure point to build the silky ribbons of sensations. “I have to show you how much you want me.”
Lilliana elevated her waist, digging her heels into the mattress, begging for more. “Isn’t this evident enough?” Like a sweet temptation, she reached for my cock, playing with the nerves beneath the length.
Fucking hell. “You could kill the patience of a bloody monk,” I grunted, as I rammed into her channel.
“Good thing, you are not a monk.” Lilliana smiled before losing herself to a spectacular orgasm, one of the many that followed through the length of the night.
Lilliana was sore and tender by the time my lust satiated in full measure. Unable to move on her own, I tucked her in and slid under the same blanket and fell asleep like the whole world was an unimportant haze that was banished into the far recesses of my mind.
That night, I slept like a man who was high on happiness, only to wake up and lose everything in a moment’s blur.
When the night gave away to the morning, I wasn’t ready.
I didn’t wake up due to the emptiness around me, or with the loss of Lilliana’s warmth. I woke up with the sensation that rocked my entire world—both physically and emotionally.
It was a bomb.
The explosion shook and vibrated through every brick of the mansion, leaving me disoriented only for a couple of minutes. When my senses returned and palpating terror kicked in, I reached for my gun and froze.
The GLOCK was dismantled, the mag was missing, and the bullets were strewn around.
And a small note was stuck beside the weapon, that read, ”I am sorry.”