F O R T Y - T H R E E
Lil: “I will meet you outside the gate. Give me five minutes.”
The message popped on the screen as I was nearing Lilliana’s place.
She was dead set on picking up a perfect dress for herself when she found out about Mia’s invitation to my place as a formal introduction into the ever-crazy Romano familia.
I never understood the need to impress my family because everything works pretty much in black and white. You either liked them or not. In case you didn’t, you couldn’t do anything about it, so you move the fuck on. How difficult was it to understand the structure?
Nevertheless, it was difficult to convince a woman not to shop for clothes when she has found a purpose.
But I wasn’t very keen on letting Lilliana wander around Chicago when she was shot at, thrice, in broad daylight. I was a possessive and paranoid bastard in that regard and had no intention of changing that. So if I had to dedicate an entire day for shopping, I was ready to do it.
When I pulled up in front of Lilliana’s place, there was no sign of her. Five minutes rolled into ten, and the moment I was about to dial her, the phone rang.
“Please don’t tell me that you need another five,” I said into the phone.
“Can you please come inside the house?” she whispered as if she was trying not to make a noise.
My heartbeats quickened. “Lilliana, what happened? What’s going on? Talk to me.” I was out of the car within n a second and darted towards the house.
“I am fine. Just come down to the basement and don’t make a sound. Please, Dominic,” she begged in a strained whispering-voice.
Fuck, this can’t be happening again. I pulled out my gun and slowly unlocked the front door. “Lilliana,” I whispered into the mouth-piece. “I have entered. You don’t have to talk, just stay on the phone.”
“Left turn, second door to the right,” she hissed.
Fuck. I slowly padded towards the direction, careful not to make a noise. Marco’s basement was enormous with a small gym and a couple of rooms. The instant I was about to break through the second door, someone dragged me down with the entire body weight.
“What the hell are you doing?” Lilliana whisper-yelled, pushing me against a wall.
“Are you hurt? What’s going on?” My eyes roamed over her body, looking for injuries.
“I told you that I am fine,” she glared and then pointed at a door left ajar. “Look in there.”
When I took a peek, I could finally breathe a sigh. Thank God, Lilliana was safe and there was no apparent danger lurking inside the house. However, the situation inside the room was definitely unsafe for someone else.
Marco has Aurora trussed up in ropes from the ceiling. A well-fitted gag was shoved into her mouth, allowing the slightest of mewls and whines she could emit. It seemed like some torture scenes from the medieval age. I have always known they were into rough kinky shit like this, except watching it was embarrassing and awkward as hell.
“Did you see that?” Lilliana tugged my shirt and brought me back to her.
“Let’s go!” I began to herd her out of the place as silently as possible but she wouldn’t budge.
Sharp brown eyes glared daggers at me. “Marco is beating her! They were fighting over something a while ago, but I didn’t interfere. But I didn’t think he would beat her like this.”
Crack! The sound of whip resonated, and I wanted to crawl and hide somewhere. You see, fucking your girlfriend in the dirtiest way was one thing, but explaining that her brother was into something kinky-rough sex was another story.
“Oh, my God! Did you hear that?” Lilliana gasped incredulously.
“I did,” I gritted through a clenched jaw and gripped her elbows. “Leave them alone. You and I can’t do anything about it.”
Lilliana jerked her arms away. “You can go inside and stop him!”
Was she fucking crazy? Maybe a little. “No, I can’t. Like I said, it’s their personal thing. Let’s get out from here. Now.” This time, I practically glowered at her and forcefully lead her out of the basement.
To her credit, and my luck, she didn’t scream but only banged her fists against my chest.
“I can’t believe you are such a chauvinist jerk!” Lilliana shoved me and marched away across the living room.
I naturally chased after her. “What the fuck did I do?”
Lilliana stopped abruptly and turned to me. A flash of doubt smeared all over her face, and I didn’t miss the hint of fear in her voice. “If we ever fight, Dominic—and we will one day or the other—are you going to beat me like that?”
“Then how could you ever be okay with a guy beating another girl? Isn’t she a friend to you?”
I pinched the bridge of my nose in frustration and exhaled. “Lilliana,” I said softly, begging for her attention and took a careful step towards her. “I am never going to hit you. You, of all people, have seen me at my worst and is the best judge of me. Do you really take me for a guy who beats his wife?”
She stared at me for a long moment before muttering, “Dante used to beat my mother.”
“I am not Dante!” I growled. “I am so much worse in comparison to him in everything else, but I am not a wife beater! For God’s sake, babe, this isn’t about us! Can you let it go?”
Lilliana slowly retreated until the wall hit her back, and just when she was about to speak her mind, someone else cut in.
“What are you guys doing here?”
Our eyes darted towards the voice. Marco stood there wearing the same attire he donned a while ago, minus the whip in hand and glanced between us. The kinky prick.
“Next time, can you fucking lock the basement before using it for your personal time?” I snarled, and instantly, the realization dawned on him.
“Er...right. Sorry.” He nodded and turned around to leave, and Lilliana did exactly I was dreading that she would.
She opened her big mouth. “I am going to tell Ralph what I saw in there,” she threatened, causing Marco to sneer back at me.
“Don’t give me the look, asshole. It’s your house and your sister. I am literally the collateral damage in this clusterfuck.”
How can someone get this unlucky in love? I swear my karma was catching up with me every other day when I managed to screw up around Lilliana. I was so desperate to spend some quality time with her that I agreed for a day dedicated to shopping. But even that had back-fired.
“Are you really going to give me the silent treatment for something your brother did?” I finally broke the silence as Lilliana fixated her eyes on the blurring streets of Chicago as I drove us to the Fashion Outlet.
“I don’t understand Aurora. I have seen her in a fighting ring, and she’s practically a beast,” Lilliana murmured, more to herself, without sparing me a glance.
A corner of my mouth lifted in recognition. She was finally getting there, but not quite.
Marco and Aurora’s lifestyle wasn’t perceived as normal to most of the people. And when they separated, it was a conscious effort to keep it discreet unless they indulged in some scenes in the club itself.
Of course, it was no secret to us as a family, save aside our fathers and Mia. The last thing Viktor wanted to explain his wife about bondage and pain for sex when she herself was recovering from the horrors of sex trafficking.
For my part, I didn’t exactly know how to detail my woman about the sexual preferences of her brother. If it was going to cost my relationship, well, the fuck with it.
“Lilliana.” I urged, placing a hand on her knee. “Trust me, sweetheart, Marco wasn’t doing anything Aurora didn’t like.”
She gave me a scathing look. “Are you trying to tell me that she loves being tied and beaten with a whip?”
“Once in a while...yes.” I shrugged. “Of course, every day would be overkill.”
“Should I ask her? Hey, Aurora, do you like being whipped?”
Chuckling, I dared, “If you want to embarrass her, then, go ahead.”
From my peripheral vision, I watched her snort. “This is the dumbest conversation I have ever had with you, Dom.”
Ah, the nickname. I couldn’t tell anyone how uncharacteristically juvenile it was for me to love the sound of it, but—screw the world—it felt so good.
“I don’t understand why are we fighting over their fetish and kink? Let them do whatever the hell they want!”
“Wait, what did you just say?” Lilliana’s head swiveled so fast I was afraid she would break her neck. “Are you saying that Marco and Aurora are into that...that...”
She gaped and gasped. “Marco likes to do that...to her?”
I pulled into the reserved parking lot at the Fashion Outlet. “Are you fishing for the details of your brother’s sex life? I have plenty where that came from, but I have no intention to discuss with you, Lilliana.”
“No, thank you very much,” she muttered with a pinched expression and unbuckled her seatbelt. “What I have seen was gross enough. And, yeah, I am sorry for grilling you.”
A simple sorry for ruining my effort? What the fucking fuck?
She got out of the car, and I followed the suit—royally pissed now. “Woman, you owe me for this,” I called out after her.
“Do I now?” She turned around with a sassy brow lift.
I caught up with her, grabbed her waist and kissed her lips. Hard.
“Is it compensated now?” she teased, breaking the kiss.
I scoffed. “Babe, that wasn’t even one-tenth of the price I’d settle for.”
“How about a lap dance, followed by a happy ending?” Lilliana taunted.
I squinted and played along. “Hmm…let me think. A striptease, a naked lap dance followed by a happy ending.”
“That was rhetorical, you jerk!” She smacked my shoulder and pushed me away, making her way to the store.
I always knew that Dominic Romano would be the death of me—quite literally and figuratively. Except, sex, meeting his family, and marriage wasn’t on my list. Ever.
But I have never considered myself to be a jealous murderer.
The moment we walked into the store, at least three women flocked to us—smiling, and drooling over the man I was going to marry. Initially, I thought it was this Romano charm and power, but later I realized it was all him—and him alone.
I couldn’t stand one more second of the woman who handed him the glass of champagne and brushed her fingers over his. Even though Dom didn’t bother to spare a look at her, while his hand was roaming over my back, I still felt the acute sense of jealousy.
A while later, I so nauseated with the women around, I decided to hunt a few clothing pieces for yourself. I picked a couple of dresses while sipping from the glass of red I chose over champagne. I was completely clueless as to why I was trying so hard to get everything perfect for a casual family dinner, but I was. Afraid and a little bit scared as well, to be honest.
Since when did I get this worse? Dammit, Dom. You’re really the death of my confidence too.
“Do you need any help, Miss?” I looked up from the dresses to stare at the guy, who was, for no reason whatsoever, smiling.
“Let me see.” He took it upon himself and reached for a Dolce and Gabbana piece. “This is perfect for you. I think the gold and red will compliment your brown eyes beautifully, and that skin of—”
“Let’s try out the black and gold one, babe.” I felt Dominic appear out of nowhere and banded one of his arms tightly around my hips.
“Sir, I think that one—”
“If we need your help, we’ll let you know.” He glared at him, instantly shutting him up, and shoved the glass of champagne into his hands.
“That was rude,” I chided him as we made our way towards the trial room.
“He was lucky I was only rude, and that he didn’t lose his job or his life,” he grumbled.
“What about those women who were flocking around you?” I taunted.
Dominic shook his head with a smug smile. “Nah, I am done. I have had my fill of boutique girls for years.”
I rolled my eyes and snickered. “You’re a pig. Is there anywhere you haven’t done a woman?”
“Not that I can remember.” He winked.
Sighing, I went into retrospection. “If five years ago anyone would have told me that I am going to marry Dominic Romano, I would have kicked the person between the legs.”
Dom pulled me in for a kiss and smiled into my mouth. “Believe it, sweetheart, because I plan on loving you for the rest of my life and beyond.”
Well, from a guy who knew only one-night stand to marriage, Dom sure as hell have come a long way.
What do you all think?