T H I R T Y - O N E
I kissed you before I killed you. Now, killing myself, I’m dying while I kiss you again. ~ Othello to Desdemona. Act V, Scene II
There are times in your life when you have to shut down your conscience and only act - because either of the consequences of such actions is perilous.
Without Dominic, I was doomed, and with him, both of us would be doomed.
Better I than him.
The bomb went off precisely at the strike of the clock in the eastern wing of the mansion as I had planned, while Dante was held in the basement of the western division. I needed the guards distracted long enough to reach out to Dante and escape.
And leave Chicago. Forever.
Screams echoed around the mansion, servants scurrying frantically as I stealthily ran down the basement corridor. Of all the steel doors, only one of them was still guarded, but it didn’t take me a long time to disarm the man.
When I burst through the door, I was right.
Dante was bound, chained, bleeding, but alive.
“We have less than three minutes,” I informed him, trying the break the cuffs around his wrists. “Andrew would be waiting outside the exit of the basement for you.”
“You...came...” Dante wheezed, shivering from the cold.
Fuck these damn chains. I yanked at it. “You will leave Chicago and never come back.”
I glared. “You will leave Chicago, Dante,” I gritted out. “Now, let’s go.”
This clusterfuck, this bloodbath, the age-old family feud, ends here and now.
With an arm draped over my shoulder for support, Dante limped out of the hellhole with me following the fucking maze of the basement.
I had already hacked and retrieved the blueprints of the mansion with the help of Dominic’s phone and found the escape route. It was additionally built for their safety but remained unused for years.
“Where’s the fucking door?” I mumbled, palming the iron separator at the front. There has to be a door, according to the blueprint.
“You useless girl...I knew...”
Ignoring him, I began to look for the hinges. The iron separator has to have links between them.
“The blueprints you have stolen from me were two years old.”
The voice paralyzed my muscles instantly.
From the corner of my eyes, I saw a gun was pressed against Dante’s head. It was from Marco. When I slowly spun around to face Dominic, his gaze pinned me on the spot.
Infernal fury clouded his expressions, so much so, he looked more of a monster than a man.
His finger was still wrapped around the trigger of the gun, but he didn’t raise the weapon at me.
“Let him go,” I told Marco, with the weapon leveled at him. At the same time, Dominic’s gun raised and unflinchingly, pointed at me.
“Let him go,” I repeated. “It is me, you all want and not Dante.”
Behind Dominic, in rushed Viktor and Alessandro Romano. Not only was I outnumbered but also outwitted.
“Who the hell is she, Dante?” Alessandro Romano charged at him.
“I am Sophia Moretti’s daughter,” I seethed. “The innocent woman you murdered, along with her infant son, just because you were bloody hungry for revenge!”
Throttling his temper, the ex-mafia boss shook his head. “Sophia Moretti didn’t have a child. In fact, she was never pregnant,” he said confidently.
“Put the gun down if you know what’s good for you,” Dominic low bass voice almost made me drop the gun from my nerveless fingers. His unblinking gaze trained on me like a hawk focused on prey.
“It’s too late now,” I mumbled, biting back the tears.
Taking advantage of the situation, Dante lurched forward for the gun in my hand, except Viktor’s bullet went right through his left knee. And before I could grab the fallen weapon, Dominic kicked it away and twisted my arm at the back.
Angry masculine strength immobilized me painfully.
“Take the fucker away!” Viktor ordered Marco, who promptly stalked forward to execute the command.
“Alessandro...Alessandro...” Dante laughed like a madman as Marco began to drag him away. “I wonder where your friend, Ralph, is. Shouldn’t you have heard from the wife-fucker by now?”
Marco froze, and so was Alessandro Romano. And everyone else.
Dante continued, drunken in madness. “You managed to save your son and your daughter. What about your dear old friend?”
Marco’s punch hit him squarely in the ribs, making him doubled over. “What have you done with Ralph?” he snarled viciously. He pulled him up, punching him over and over again until someone separated the two of them.
“Fuck...you...all,” Dante grinned with blood-stained teeth.
“I will deal with him,” Viktor stepped forward, grabbing him off the floor by the hair.
“He has my father!”
“And we will bring him home,” Dominic promised behind me, his fingers bruising into my skin punishingly. “Even if I have to cross every line.”
I had no doubt.
The men shared a look among themselves before dragging him out of there. Viktor then turned to Dominic that clearly expressed his displeasure but didn’t say a word.
I knew my end would be horrible, except I never pondered over the attributes. But when death hangs before your eyes, you have every reason to contemplate the end. How long could I hold back until they will make me howl?
Across the basement cell from where I had retrieved Dante earlier, they chained him back to the hooks on the wall this time. For me, Marco took his time securing me against the chair with my arms, legs, and shoulders restrained. And all this while, Dominic watched impassively. Beside him, was Viktor who was positively crowing.
“I am ready,” Marco told Viktor, grabbing an iron hammer and approached Dante.
“Here’s the simple deal. Whoever gives me the location of Ralph gets to live.” Viktor glanced between Dante and me, but when neither of us spoke a word, he nodded at Marco.
Within a flash, the hammer in his hand raised and stuck Dante between his legs as he howled for divine mercy.
“Your turn now,” Viktor reminded Dominic, who nodded and menacingly stalked my way.
“Please...please...” My voice was barely a whisper, but I knew Dominic heard me and then ignored. Like a monster he was, he was feasting on the fear in my eyes.
I closed my eyes momentarily, steeling my spine to endure whatever was coming for me - whatever pain Dominic chose for me. I wondered if it would soothe anything within him, to watch me writhe, scream, and howl.
Speculations paused abruptly as his hand delve into my hair, fisted a bunch, and yanked it back. I opened my mouth to speak, but a piece of cloth was shoved over my nose and mouth, cutting off the air supply.
“Remember this, Lilliana, you made me do this,” Dominic’s low tone reached my ears while the blue of his eyes was glistening like cold shards of ice.
We were the children of cruel fate, ruthless ambitions, and vicious men - I wanted to tell him. We did everything for the family. We killed people for our blood, he and I; we pissed off the Gods in heaven and hell alike without a second thought.
I wanted to tell him all that; if he were in my position, he would have done the same or maybe more. But, right now, it didn’t matter anymore.
The hand clamped tighter, and before I could even begin to struggle, Viktor poured icy water over my face that started to burn down my lungs.
Drop by drop - it began to consume the life out of me.
Survival instincts kicked in as I thrashed, flailed, and writhed against the binds. The biting ropes and chains, agonizingly cutting into my flesh, were no longer a grave concern.
Blackness inched closer to my senses. I knew the time to be brave was long gone.
The moment I gave in to death, the downpour stopped.
“Ready to talk?” Viktor demanded while I coughed and panted for air.
Unable to speak, I shook my head. It was pointless to tell him at this point that I had no idea of his demands.
“Suit yourself.” He tilted his head at Marco.
“No...wait...please,” I begged. I looked over at Dante. “Please, end this while you still can. You can’t bring Mama back. Please...end this!” I croaked out.
Dante spared me a glimpse before closing his eyes, gritting his teeth.
“You should listen to her,” Dominic said to him in a casual tone. “And give us Ralph. Otherwise, we have all day to torture your so-called daughter and make her scream while we make you watch.”
This time, Dante smirked. “You wouldn’t hurt her, boy, because she has got you by the balls!”
Was he trying to provoke him into hurting me? Clearly, it has worked.
Viktor clucked his tongue. “You underestimated my brother.”
When Dominic had tipped back my head forcibly, our gazes clashed briefly, letting me a flash of the eerily vacant look in his eyes. Brokenness was so vivid that it sliced my soul like a razor through silk.
Enraged by the comment on his masculinity, Dominic operated on blind prejudice. The dripping cloth was forced over my nose and mouth, followed by the onslaught of water.
While my mind was ready to welcome the darkness indefinitely, my body struggled on its own. Dying at the hands of the very man I have loved...
Dominic and I, we were a tragedy on our own. The epitome of collateral damage.
“Fuck, fuck. Stop!”
I didn’t know who said those words, but the assault ceased, and my neck bounced forward, gasping for air.
“What the fuck is this?” I blinked hard and saw Marco tugging at the sleeve of my left forearm. The wrist was already abraded and bleeding in places, but his fingers mostly rubbed over a mark I had since childhood.
“It’s a bloody old scar, Marco,” Viktor muttered irritably. “What are you trying to do?”
“It’s not a fucking scar. It is a birthmark,” Marco muttered. How the hell did he know?
He gripped my chin roughly, tilting up my face and watched me with a baffled expression.
“Can we get on with this now?” Dominic exasperated irritably.
Marco let go of my face and shook his head. “We have been doing this all wrong. This fucker—” he pointed at Dante, “He played us. She’s Ralph’s blood.”
HAPPY NEW YEAR, you guys! As I look back, 2019 was a phenomenal year and gave me all the more reasons to look forward to 2020.
How was your year in a nutshell?
P.S. The updates can be a little erratic. I am recovering from a cystectomy and hence, can’t sit up for hours. Hopefully, I will be on my feet within two weeks. Till then, bear with me, darlings!