Into the Darkness (Book 1)

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Who Are You

It was still dark in the room when I opened my eyes. The sun had yet to rise and I was thankful for that, hoping I could get a few more hours of sleep in. The weight of his chin on my head and his arms around me was comforting. His heartbeat was steady and my head fit perfectly into the dip between his chest muscles. My hands laid on top of his chest feeling his chest rise and fall with each peaceful breath he took.

Most of the night was fuzzy. But I remember asking him to stay with me. As soon as he rushed in and just held me I felt... I don't know. Safe? It wasn't an emotion that I had felt in a long time but it made the butterflies in my stomach start fluttering their wings again. It was definitely something that I could get used to, this feeling.

I sobbed into his chest a few hours prior to falling asleep in his arms. I remember that much. His smell, his clean masculine sent warmed my nose. It wasn't too strong but it wasn't terribly subtle either. His heartbeat all of a sudden became rapid as I lay awake on his chest but it still somehow slowed mine down relaxing me. And then he grabbed my face and tilted it towards his. All I wanted to do in that moment was kiss his lips. Our faces were just inches from each other. I could feel the heat of his breath on my cheek. His eyes looked at me with such intensity. I wanted him to hold me and never let go. I wanted to stay in his arms for as long as I could.

Ever since everything happened with Daniel I haven't been able to trust anyone besides Sofia. I haven't opened up with anyone about my life. I haven't gotten close...Hell I haven't even let people besides my patients are work touch me. It was an automatic reaction at this point whenever I was touched to flinch away. My mind was trigger to think that each touch was a life or death experience. But last night all I wanted was his touch. I wanted to feel him, his skin, his lips. The minute he touched me electricity shot through my veins making all my hair stand on end. What was happening to me?

As I started to drift back to sleep on his chest listening to his heavy heartbeat he started to shift under me. Please just be changing positions I thought to myself. I didn't want to lose his warmth around me. But he wasn't just changing positions. His arms quickly unwrapped around me as he began to try to shift towards the edge of the bed thinking I was still asleep.

"Please, don't leave."

"You're awake?" he said looking down at me, almost causing him to look like he had a double chin from the angel he had to force his face down at, it made me giggle a little. I could wake up to that face every day.

"Yeah, I just woke up. I was listening to your heartbeat and just thinking. Sorry." He had stopped shifting towards the edge of the bed. Instead he reached over to the bedside table switching the light on to the lamp on the nightstand.

"Why are you saying sorry?" He gingerly put his hands under my chin pointing my face just inches from his again. Damn it now I wanted to kiss him again. Stop. Just stop making me feel like that.

"For everything. For the nightmares. For you having to rescue me. For being a burden. Just- just for all of it." I say with a heavy sigh.

"Oh Bella. Don't ever say sorry for any of that." For a second in his deep eyes, pity crossed them.

"You don't have to stay if you don't want to. I just... I just feel safe with you here." My eyes bounced back and forth between his two chocolate orbs.

"I can stay Bella. I told you, always." I could sense the hesitancy however. But he stay wrapping me up in his embrace once more.

A comfortable silence fell between us. We barely knew each other yet, being in his arms made me feel like we had known each other for years. His touch was so gentle and kind, rubbing his hands up and down my back while resting his chin on my head. My lips were curves into a percent smirk at this point. All because of him.

"Will you tell me about it?" he whispered finally breaking the silence after a few minutes.

"Tell you about what?" I played dumb. I knew exactly what he wanted to know. He wanted to know about my nightmares. He wanted to know what they were about, and who they were about. I hesitated. I don't know why I hesitated. I guess I didn't want him to pity me more than he already did. And that is exactly what I told him.

"You're going to pity me more than you already do if I told you."

"You think I pity you?" He bent his face down towards me as his sweet words flowed through his mouth effortlessly. "No Addi. I don't pity you. I think you are the strongest woman I know. Stronger than Amelia and I've watched her kick a grown man's ass." A chuckle rose from both of us at the thought of Amelia beating up another guy. "I've seen the videos from the basement Addi. Anyone who had gone through that would have given up a long time ago. You've kept fighting, even when your body gave up on you. So no Bella, I don't pity you. I look up to you. I think it makes you even more beautiful. It makes you a survivor and more so, a god damn strong ass warrior. "

I blushed at his words. No one had ever said something like that to me. Not even Sofia. She always encouraged me and told me I was strong. But she had never said those words, warrior. And better yet no one had ever called me beautiful.

"You... you think I'm beautiful?"

"More than you know Addi."

I just looked up at him in admiration. If I wasn't sure of my feelings before I was now. I wanted to grab his face with my hands and show him how I felt. But I couldn't. I knew I was still broken. How could he ever want to be with someone as broken as me?

"So. You see why I'm so concerned? You're such a strong woman Addi. You've been fighting this entire time. If someone like you is having nightmares Addi I know something terrible is haunting you. I've been there Bella, I know. I told you Addi, I will always protect you, and that even means from the demons that find you in the night."

"Okay" I whispered. My intuition told me to trust him. I haven't trusted anyone besides Sofia with my past. Not even Amelia and I had grown relatively close to her within the last few days. I sighed heavily one last time and shut my eyes. "But it's going to be a long story."

"Okay Bella." a small kiss fell onto my forehead at his words. My cheeks instantly flushed not wanting him to stop.

"My parents passed away when I was in high school. I was pretty lost. I went to live with a relative of mine, but I was in that weird spot in my life where I was trying to figure out who I was and were I belonged. I was naive and gullible. I was 16 or 17 when I met him."

"Daniel?"

"Yeah... God, he was perfect. He treated me well, stood by me through every up and down. He lifted me up when I was down and always encouraged me. I thought everything was perfect. He was my first boyfriend. I guess I didn't really know how relationships worked and my aunt kind of left me to fend for myself.

As soon as we graduated high school we ended up getting a place together. Everything started to change. First it was just little things like always having to call him when I was out and reassure him of who I was with and what I was doing. But then he got more obsessive and possessive of me. Soon enough I was barely allowed out of the house and when I would leave to go do something, literally anything, an argument would always result. But I would makes excuses for him like he picked arguments and wanted me to stay in because he cared about me and my well being, he is trying to keep my safe, he's a caring boyfriend. I never saw it as him being possessive over me though. That's not even the worst of it.

I was still a virgin when we had moved in together. I always wanted to wait as long as I could, and I wanted to try to wait until marriage. But I thought that he was the one who I was going to spend my life with, so why not just get it done and over with. He used to scream at me that I didn't love him because I wouldn't give myself to him wholey, which wasn't true but at the time I thought he was right. He was pressuring me to have sex with him for months. Eventually I just gave into him. One night I had decided that tonight was going to be the night I gave myself over to him. Until I changed my mind right before it happened. I wasn't ready. I didn't feel ready. I tried to tell him that. He didn't care. He saw it as an act rebellion and treated it like I didn't love him. So he took what he wanted from me anyway. He pinned me down, and took away my innocence. He took it whenever he wanted it over the four years I was with him. I lost my virginity by domestic rape. I cried. I had never cried so much in my life. I was ashamed of myself. I'm still ashamed of myself.

Just when I thought it couldn't get much worse than that, it did. Black eyes, bruises all over, cuts, punishments, isolation, verbal abuse. He finally let me go to school, he knew I was going for nursing but I wasn't allowed to talk to another male or I would get beat. If i didn't cover up the bruises he gave me before I left, he'd give me another one in an inconspicuous place.

I was to cook and clean for him. I was to be his perfect trophy wife. I tried leaving so many times Adrian. And every time I did I was caught and punished worse than the time previously. The last time I tried to run he brought me back and tried getting me knocked up so I had no choice but to stay with him because we would have a child together. Luckily over the next month all my test came back negative. He eventually forgot about that plan and went back to using me as a punching bag instead. Until I had finally had enough of the bullshit.

He had came home one night from work at his normal time is his vile mood as always. He wanted his normal drink, scotch, neat, on the rocks. But what he didn't know that I was able to lace it with a medication that a friend from school had given me when she had started noticing the bruises all over. And this time I ran, and I ran like my life depended on it. Because it did. I ran like hell and I never looked back. I hopped from city to city. I had finally gotten my nursing license and I was able to make my own money to start my own life. But everywhere I went he found me. I've been on the run since. I've been to multiple states and too many cities to count. He always finds me. Eventually he will kill me. I've seen it in his eyes. I he can't have me than no one can is the mindset he has.

So, that is what my dreams are. Memories of the constant beatings, of the rape, the bruises, the torture, the terror. I dream about him killing me. To me there's no one more evil and sadistic as him.

"Oh-Addi. I-I... I don't even know what to say." His face was mortified.

"Please don't. Don't look at me like that" His hand brushed through my hair and eventually found its place on my head as his other arm pulled me in tighter to his chest. I didn't even feel the tears welling at the rim of my eyelid. As my head nestled into his chest the tears just came and there was no stopping them. It felt like a weight had been lifted off my chest. I no longer had to keep all of this to myself. I found comfort in spilling all my secrets (well not all my secrets) to Adrian. There was so much more to the story and to the abuse but that could have taken a lifetime to explain. But I trusted him. Without doubt, I trusted him with my life, with my stories. I didn't know him but my head, my heart and my gut all told me he was okay. My voice fell into a whisper before I could stop anymore words from spilling out. "You're the only person I've told beside Sofia."

"Thank you Bella."

"Why are you thanking me" My head changing positions leaving the warmth of his chest to look back up at his eyes. His hand that was wrapped around my head found a new place on the warmth of the reddened cheek, cupping it. My eyes gazed straight into his, darting back and forth between his two. His intense stare made my hairs stand on end again as shivers passed through my spine. I leaned into his palm and rested my hand over his closing my eyes to soak in all the emotions he made sweep over me. Nothing had ever felt so right, nothing in this lifetime. His touch lite up every nerve in my body. I felt... safe. I felt alive. For the first time in my life, I felt safe and alive. I felt like I could do anything, that I could conquer any obstacle in my way as long as he were by my side. I never wanted him to let go. I never wanted to get out of this bed. I wanted to stay here like this forever.

It felt like hours nestled up to the palm of his hand but in reality it was only minutes, maybe even seconds. My eyes flashed open as I felt the warmth of his hand withdraw from my face. I craved to have it back the instant it was gone. My face shifted so I could look up at him once more. Our lips were merely inches apart. My vision moved from his gorgeous eyes, to his lips. I hadn't even realized I was inching towards them out of instinct. I wanted to feel his lips on mine. No, I needed to have them on my lips. I needed them on every inch of my body. I needed to feel them trail down my neck as he shifts my body underneath him. I needed his hands on me, on every part of me that I never wanted a man to touch before. I needed him. I needed him like I needed the oxygen in the air. These feelings were knew to me, and I wasn't about to turn them away. I was falling in love with this man and I didn't even know him.

As I inched closer he did that same until his forehead rested upon mine and his nose millimeters away from mine. His lip, his perfect lips, were parted just slightly letting the hot air escape from his mouth and resting on my cheeks. His eyes closed tightly, squinting.

"Addi, we can't...:"

"Wh-what, why?"

"Addi- damn it Addi you drive me crazy. This can't happen Addi. I can't drag you in any further into this mess than you already are?"

I pulled back instantly, confused at what Adrian was trying to get at. "What are you talking about Adrian?"

"I need to be honest with you. And you aren't going to like what I'm about to tell you."

I didn't even have words for him. I was so close damn it. I just stayed quiet hoping the quicker he got this out the quicker I could kiss him.

"Addi, we can't do this. I'm not a good person Bella."

"What-what are you tal-" I started but I immediately got cut off.

"Don't Addi. Let me finish. I'm not a good person. I've done things that I'm not proud of. I've hurt a lot of people. I've tortured just as many. I've killed people Addi. It's part of my work. There's no way out of it. It's why I can't get close to you Addi as much as I want to, believe me that's all I want. The closer I get to you Addi, the further you get dragged into my life, into my the business. I promised I would keep you safe and you getting involved in my work complicates that. Dominic is still after you. I may have done immoral things, illegal things. But Dominic, he is merciless, shameless, and ruthless murderer. He's been killing whoever he can get his hands on whether they are innocent or not just to get to your information about you. "

"I -I don't understand Adrian. Your life, your work, you've murdered people?" I was confused. This sweet guy just admitted that he had killed people, tortured people. He had done what Franco did to me in that basement. I backed off of him sliding to the ends of the bed and began pacing back and forth at the base of the bed.

"I have never hurt of killed anyone innocent Addi. Please sit down. Just talk to me." he was now sitting on the edge of the bed pleading to me with not only his words but his face, those eyes. He didn't want to lose me and it was written all over his face.

"Wa-Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why have you killed people. Why is Dominic killing so many people to get to me? What the hell is going on? Who the hell are you Adrian? Who the fuck is Dominic?" My voice had begun to raise towards him. My hand came up to my forehead pushing my hair out of my face while I still continued to pace running a track into the white rug under my feet.

"Killing is part of the job Addi..."

"What the hell kind of job makes you fucking kill and torture people Adrian?"

He stood up from the bed, striding towards me, reaching his hands out to grab me by the forearms to stop me from pacing back and forth.

"DON'T fucking touch me Adrian." The words came out harshly like fire. But that was the last thing I needed. Another male in my life with no remorse for his past actions. I'm going to ask one more time. Who.The.FUCK.are.You?" I enunciated each word of the sentence placing a hand on my hip while I stood directly in front of him staring deep into his eyes. I didn't care that there were full of sorrow. I put my trust into this man. I had just told him things about me that no one else knew just minutes prior and now he's telling me that he's killed people. What the actually FUCK?

"Addi..." I diverted my eye contact away from him crossing my arms over my chest and continued pacing since he still won't answer my previous question.

It all came out like word vomit. "Fucking answer me Adrian."

"We're the mafia Addi..."

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