F I F T Y - F O U R
Taking my eyes off the road, I glanced at her a few times and then focused ahead. Beside me, Aurora was sitting calm, collected, and awfully quiet. A stark contradiction of her regular personality. Absently and quite often, she would reach out and touch the rose gold band around her throat: a benevolent, but sexiest nonetheless, collar, gifted by none other than Marco.
It was so evident that she was missing him, and so annoying that she stubbornly disagreed. On top of that, some poor man’s Linkin Park rock music was blasting from my speakers. When did my choice in music get so terrible? On the next red light, I turned it off and tried to be conversational.
“So, are we going to pretend that you are not being weird again?” I asked.
“Shut up, look ahead and drive, Dominic,” she deadpanned, pointing at the green signal.
“Your lack of emotions is fascinating, Aurora,” I said, flooring the gas pedal. “Some days, I even find it sexy. And some days, I want to kick you out of a moving car.”
“I’d like to see you try.” Her voice was flat, and there was no spark in her threat—as if back in her mind, she was trying to drown out the entire world.
“For fuck’s sake, Aurora, snap out of it!” I barked because this has gone long enough now. Marco was recovered—although far too slow, and she had her vengeance. “If you—”
A knife to my throat has cut off the rest of the words. It wouldn’t be the first time that she worked like a motherfucking ninja, but I still haven’t got over it. “You don’t know when to shut up,” she said, as void as ever.
I shot her a side-glance and stomped the brakes so hard, her body jerked forward. Aurora lost her balance, and it took me less than a second to turn the table. This time the knife was in my hand and poised around her throat.
“You should always buckle your seatbelt, you know.” I smirked and pulled back while Aurora glared as she recovered. The rest of the ride was easy.
She was pissed as hell, and finally, there was a reaction.
Marco, you created a bloody monster.
I pulled the car in front of Sophia’s place and marched straight into her bedroom. Aurora fell behind me, her expensive heels clicking against the floor.
The intentional and loud banging of the door announced our arrival at Sophia’s room, and as expected, her reaction was worth millions. If only someone wanted to buy trash.
“Sophia, miss me?”
Her eyes bulged as she leaped up on the bed. “What are you doing here?”
“That’s rude,” I frowned mid-stride and turned to Aurora. “Don’t you think so?”
As if on cue, Aurora stomped ahead, dragging her out of bed by the hair and then dropped near my feet. She would have scrambled away, had it not for Aurora’s grasp.
“Please. I did what you asked and...”
“Shh.” Couching down on one knee, I told her. “You did what you are told, and for that, you are alive. Now comes the best part.” Throwing the shopping bag in her lap, I pointed. “Here, put it on.”
Puzzled, she eyed the bag like it was a grenade and didn’t touch it for a long second. Sparing points for her intelligence, I urged, “Go on, open it.”
Gingerly, she did and pulled out the crumpled fabric. Immediately, the inner-bitch inside her gained prominence. “What is this?” she snarled, her wounded pride swollen and bleeding.
“Dress,” I scoffed. “No fucking duh.”
“It’s actually a gown,” Aurora added.
Patting her shoulder, I brightly grinned and stood on my feet. “Look excited, Sophia, you are getting married,” I announced, savoring the horror that exploded over her face. She was struck in disbelief.
Aurora threw me a condescending sneer as she released Sophia but only to grasp her by the elbow.
“What?” Sophia was shocked and shivered in equal measure. “What kind of a joke is this?”
I pinched her chin tightly between my fingertips and forced her gaze on mine. “The kind of joke you tried to pull with me except you failed. And unlike you, I won’t.” Releasing her, my hands found its way into my pockets as I gestured at the closet. “Now, stop wasting my time and put it on. Aurora will go with you.”
“I am not doing this!” She obstinately threw the bag, snarling in rage and something almost in fear.
Behind her, Aurora was about to move when I stopped her. It took every ounce of control to not snap when all I wanted was to crush her head against the nearest wall. But her death would be as satisfying as her endless suffering.
Pinching the bridge of my nose, I slowly stalked closer to Sophia and stood toe to toe towering over her.
“Please, don’t do this,” she begged. “I promise I’ll never come in your way again. You have to believe me; I—”
“Pick it up,” I said, cutting her off. “PICK IT UP!”
Sophia jumped, before quickly bending down and fetching the bag like an obedient dog.
“Get her changed and make it fast,” I said, looking at Aurora.
“And you want me to change in front of her?”
Aurora was already dragging her away. “Why, do you have any plastic parts that I don’t know of?”
In less than ten minutes, the door to the closet flung open, and Sophia walked out, more like pushed forward, in one of the ugliest frilly dresses I have ever laid my eyes on. It was actually a sorry excuse for a wedding dress, but perfectly apt for what I had in mind.
Tears streaming, she tried in vain to free herself from Aurora’s grip. “Do you really want me to parade me out of here in this?” To prove her point, she tugged at the droopy bell sleeves and feather-like things around the waist.
I have to agree, it was hideous. But that was the whole point.
“Would you like to go out of here in a body bag then?”
“Please, Dominic. I have done exactly what you told me. My father is in jail, my family is ruined...what else do you want?” she screamed, wiping a hand across her eyes.
Sighing, I slowly shook my head. “Sophia, I hate cryers, but more than that, I despise people who shed crocodile tears. Now, despise is a big word for your little brain, so I’d simplify it for you—if you piss me off one more time, I’d bury you alive.”
Being the dumb bitch that she was, Sophia did open her mouth, but before she could get a word out, Aurora stuffed a wad of socks into her mouth. Next came the cuffs, snapped over her wrists at the front.
“You owe me a big one for this,” was all Aurora said before dragging her whiny ass out of the house and into the car.
The place where we drove next couldn’t exactly be termed as a church even though the rusty board read, ‘Christ Lutheran Church’. The place was draped in thick cobwebs on every surface with heavily cracked and stained glass windows. It was more of a safe haven for homeless junkies.
A few of them were scampering around, snorting or injecting the substance and paid no heed as Aurora and I dragged a woman, cuffed and gagged, towards the attic. As expected, the two men I had assigned earlier were already there and waiting.
Taking the gagging out, I yanked her closer. “Sophia, meet your husband, Frank.” I pointed at the man donned in a leather jacket and faded jeans. Like every player with an ace card, Frank has been mine.
The man hated crowds or people in general, and coincidentally, I found him in a homeless shelter I had once volunteered for the charity. Why, don’t ask. Anyway, a fight broke out, and the unenthusiastic way he dismantled the three rowdies around him told me that this guy was more than what meets the eye. Turned out, he was an ex-marine and a damn good marksman. The way he still fought looked like the soldier in him never really died, but the patriotism definitely did - all thanks to White House two-faced politics.
Ever since, he was one of the most loyal men I have, and I could truly count on. So when I needed someone to rein in Sophia, he was my man.
Rubbing my palms in excitement, I nodded at the officiant and then at Sophia. “Now, let’s get you married, and you will officially be someone else’s problem.”
“No, no fucking way!” She got back to her bitch-form. “You...you can’t do this to me!”
I flashed a smile, crossing my arms. “You still have a misguided notion that I actually care about you.”
“I will scream,” she threatened, frantically looking around in cuffs. “I will tell everyone that you forced me to marry him.” When nobody responded, she turned to the officiant. “Please, please, help me. He is–”
“You are wasting your breath,” Aurora cut her in with a bored expression. “He is a fake priest. Dominic just wanted to be…dramatic. You know, just for our laughs.”
“I’d rather die than marry this...idiot,” she sneered, venom dripping from her words.
“That can be arranged,” Aurora prompted. I could tell she was teetering on her last nerves. “Would you prefer a bullet or a knife? Actually, don’t answer that. I’d use a knife. It would be fun pulling out your guts while you are still breathing, no?”
Wide-eyed, Sophia immediately jumped back and crashed against Frank’s body. But her scream was quickly silenced by a loud interruption.
“I hate Chicago traffic and the rain,” Lilliana grumbled as she walked in with her flawless form. From those messy brown waves draped over shoulders to the perfect pair of jeans that hugged her curves, this woman could wear rags and still make me hard. “Did I miss all the fun?”
“Not much.” I grinned, slipping an arm around her. “It’s getting better and better.”
“You. It’s all because of you!” Sophia erupted, screaming and flailing against Frank’s hold.
Lilliana returned a brilliant smile. “For once, I’d agree with you. It is me, and it will always be me. There won’t be any other woman with him as long as I am alive, and I have no plans to die sooner.”
Lilliana was damn sexy when she threatened anyone other than me.
“You think marrying me off is your revenge?”
“This is not a marriage,” I clarified, butting in. “This is your only chance at life. You sign these papers and hold your silence forever. Or you die. Either way, we win. So go ahead, Sophia, give me an excuse to kill you, and I would gladly show you my version of a payback.”
Torn apart, Sophia took one sweeping look across the room for help, except there wasn’t. It was either her stupidity or stubbornness that she didn’t know when to back down.
“Let’s get this over with,” I nodded at the officiant while Frank dragged her towards the dusty wooden bench scattered with papers.
With every bit of twisted satisfaction, I watched her sign away her life, her freedom, and whatever little dignity she had left.
I thought so hard of all the ways I could exact my revenge on her. Off the top of my head, I could come up with a hundred ways to make her bleed, suffer, and kill, but it would be so generic.
What could be more ironic and horrible than to condemn her to married life in hell?
She tried to ruin mine; I ruined hers.
Frank signed next to hers, with his left hand still cinched over her arm. When all the formalities were out of the way, he walked over to me, with Sophia in his wake, and handed back the papers.
“It’s done, sir.”
“Thanks, Frank. Just one last thing,” I said, grasping Sophia’s cuffs and pulled her in front of Lilliana. “Apologise to her. Say you are truly sorry for being an annoying whore who wanted to steal a taken man.”
If Sophia was wounded before, she was outraged now.
“Do what he says,” Frank ordered in his hardened voice.
The flare of her nose got bigger. “Sorry,” she bit out, glaring at Lilliana.
Some people just never learn.
Sighing, I heaved a loud breath. “Frank.”
Before Sophia could even turn her head, his fingers buried into her bleached locks and yanked to the point of pain. Her cuffed hands were a useless defense, but she still made grabby motions to free her scalp and neck.
“Ah! Please, please. It hurts!” Another stretched second. “I will say it, I will say it!”
Frank released her at once as she faced Lilliana with a less stubborn countenance. “I am sorry...I–”
“And?” I glared.
“I am sorry…” Her eyes closed, and jaw tightened. “I was being an annoying whore...who wanted to steal a taken man.”
“Sweetheart,” I turned to Lilliana, whose eyes were already fixed on her. “Good enough for you, huh?
“Not exactly.” She shook her head. “But I’ll settle for it now.”
“Sir. Ma’am,” Frank graced before whisking away his petulant bride and left as we watched Sophia being dragged away, and hopefully, out of our life for good. Aurora paid away from the fake officiant and sent him off, leaving just the three of us in this god-forbidden eerie place.
“I still don’t understand how this is better than torturing her?” Aurora frowned, straddling down one of the broken pews. “Saves us so much time and trouble.”
I snorted. “For all your half-ass church visits, you take the Passion of Christ way too seriously.”
“This is even better,” Lilliana praised. “Sophia is going to hate her life every second of every day. Not only she is reduced from riches to rags, but her pride has also been taken away as well. From here on, it’s up to her. She can accept this life and start living or, she can choose to kill herself. Either way, she won’t be our problem anymore.”
A ringtone interrupted, as Aurora pulled out her phone. “I need to take this.”
It was just Lilliana and me and this awful site.
“One less enemy against us,” I sighed, pulled her closer, and buried her nose into her brown tresses.
Lilliana’s hand cloaked over my shoulders. “For all we know, there might be an army at our door tomorrow.”
My head snapped up, needing to look, really look, into her eyes for the dreaded uncertainty. I have been told and taught that it wasn’t easy to love men like us. But accepting the life we led was another story altogether.
“Are you afraid?” I asked.
Lilliana was deadpan before I noticed the small lift at the corner of her lips. “I am afraid their death won’t be easy, and we have to spare our precious time to deal with their shit.”
I pressed my forehead against hers. “Have I ever told you how much I love you?”
“Yes. But I am demanding, so I’d still like to hear it again and again.”
“Then I’ll tell you every morning and every night.” I kissed her then, gentle at first, and then hard and hungry.
Lilliana broke the kiss, heaving to catch a breath, and glowered at me. “In words, not in sex.”
Well, I grinned.
That’s Ch. 54, and hopefully you all enjoyed reading. Once again, apologies for all the delay. And thank you for being such amazing and supportive readers. Love you, guys, and enjoy your weekend. 😘❤️