Silence. That’s all that filled the stale air surrounding us. Deafening and somber silence.
His muscular arms were still holding my slouching body in a tight embrace. I hiked me knees up towards my chest, sitting in the fetal position and relaxing my head back against his shoulder. The side of his head pressed against mine as he cradled me into security and warmth.
No one knew what to do. No one knew how to process what had just happened. Everyone just stood like statues in place, staring at Adrian rocking me back and forth whispering shushes in my ear, repeating his words I’ve got you, over and over like he was a record stuck on one verse playing over and over again.
And then there was that look. The look I despised the most from people. The look of pity and sadness filled their eyes. Each of their pupils dilating, drilling holes into my body while they stood around us on the floor as I fell into a heaping mess melting into the crevasse of the hardwood floor beneath me. It was like a horror show to them; to gruesome to stomach, yet they couldn’t peel their eyes away from the trainwreck I was becoming. They never had to say a single word, their eyes spoke volumes.
I couldn’t blame them though. They had no idea what else to do besides look at me with hearts full of pity and sorrow. It only made my silent sobs turn outwards in wails, contorting my body as it doubled over.
She was the only family I had left. Sure we weren’t necessarily close, but she was blood. She was the only thing I had left of my parents. She took me in when I had no one. When I had nowhere to turn after their deaths. We griefed together, in our own ways. But we had each other. I may have lost my parents, but she had lost her sister. Now her head… her head lay distressed, ripped from her body and covered in blood sitting in a box on Adrian’s elaborately varnished desk.
I couldn’t tell which I was more upset about. My aunt being tortured, beaten and decapitated or the fact that they had Sofia. Sure she wasn’t legitimate family. Neither were the people standing in front of me. But nonetheless, she meant the world to me.
She was the only one who ever understood me. She brought me out of my shell. She knew my past and loved me all the same.
You know people think that soulmates are only meant to define those that you fall in love with; those that you love so deeply you can’t spend the rest of your life without them. To others in this world the word soulmate means their significant other. The one they start a family with, share life’s ups and downs with, struggle with, prosper with, grow with. And to many people that word symbolizes their spouse or significant other. But Sofia, she… she’s always been my soulmate. The one person I think about constantly. The one person I was ecstatic to come home to, or call every day just to talk about life’s little menial things because she always knew what to do. She knew how to make every situation better.
She was always so positive. She knows all the ins and outs of me. She knows how to react given each of my moods, even when I didn’t know I was in a mood. She knew my triggers, my emotions, my reactions. I would tell her everything. So the word soulmate to me, isn’t the man sitting behind me stroking my hair telling me things were going to be okay, when I know they aren’t. My soulmate is the girl in that picture; beaten and bruised, gagged and now missing a finger currently sitting next to the box wrapped delicately in a cream pocket square covered in splotches of blood. And all of that is because of me. All because of my past. All because I fell in love with a man in the Mafia. No, not just some man. Thee man. A king of his empire. All because I was played and set into this life without knowledge in a life-long scheme created by Dominic.
The tears stopped flowing in streams down my face abruptly. My heart rate escalated. The shattered pieces of my soul attempted to put themselves back together, if only for a moment. I could feel a primal growl in the back of my throat as the rage quickly surfaced replacing the grief.
Hatred. Its all I felt. Not towards the man sitting behind me. Not for Dominic. Not for Alex or Adam. Not even Amelia. Hatred towards myself. Rage in knowing I was naive for all those years. Rage for not connecting the dots sooner and seeing the whole picture. Not just want I wanted to see. Rage for the amount of time I said unbelievably stupid shit like he punishes me because he loves me. No Addi he punishes you because he’s an ass and he’s setting you up to run into Dominic’s trap.
I could be mad at myself all I wanted. But it wouldn’t solve the problem at hand. It wouldn’t solve the mess that was made. It wasn’t going to bring her back and it certainly wasn’t going to save Sofia. This started with me, it was going to end with me.
I forcefully pushed through Adrian’s embrace, swatting his hands away from my body. I could feel my face become stern and void of emotion. My eyelids narrowed, my fist instinctively balled into fist, and the corner of my pursed lips snarled up causing Alex to take a step back where he stood. As soon as my feet planted on the ground, they moved without a second thought, leading me up the stairs to the kitchen. I had one thought, one sentence cross my mind.
It’s time to fucking finish this.
But his voice boomed behind me causing my body to momentarily flinch and stop halfway in my path.
“Where the hell do you think you’re going?”
My feet turned my body a few inches to the left, my hand keeping still on the railing on the wall to find the source of the voice standing at the bottom of the steps with scolding eyes.
“Where the fuck do you think?” I rolled my eyes as I turned my body back forward once more to continue my ascent up the stairs.
“And what exactly is your plan Addi? Walk in fucking blind with your head up your ass and demand for Dominc to let her go?”
This time my body shifted completely on the stairs now facing him. My tongue caught between my morals attempting to bite the bitter words sitting on my tongue needing to run off like water out of a faucet.
“No. Simple. Me for her. Then this all ends.” I take a few steps down towards him. His arms now crossed over his chest. I kept inching my way down the stairs as his head just shook back and forth letting out small, unamused chuckles. “Then you go back to your life. You forget about me. You fall in love with someone else. You rebuild your empire. While I sit in his home, enduring his torture. And when he least expects it… I slit his throat.” I stood in front of him now, lowering my voice to a dull whisper. “I… kill… every… last… fucker… under him. And then I walk away like it never fucking happened. She’s free. You’re free. And if I die in the process, so fucking be it. But I’m done. Done with this bullshit.”
His eyes became demonic, his lips snarled at me as the bottom muscle of his chiseled jaw began twitching with anger. His massive hand lifted to my jaw, forcing my face to lift upwards, making direct eye contact with him. The pressure of his fingers causing a slight bit of pain to radiate down my neck.
“Over… my… dead… fucking… body Addi.” The words came out precise and articulate, with emphasis on ever word. His eyes bounced back and forth between mine but never broke contact. His moist breath cascaded over my cheekbones. Even when he spoke to the rest standing idle behind him, his gaze never left me. “Amelia, Alex… go pack. Adam, get one of the guards to appropriately dispose of our… mail. Then if you wouldn’t mind taking over at work for me for today. Seems Addi and I need to have a short conversation on how things are fucking handled around here.”
He took a small pause to catch his breath as each of them filed in the stairwell, shifting their bodies around ours. His eyes shooting beams of anger and rage towards me the entire time, never taking even a millisecond to look at the rest as they escaped the tension filled atmosphere.
“Adam, Alex… when you’re done, I’d like to speak with you before we leave.”
“Sí Signore” both replied in unison
We were alone. Part of me was terrified of the man in front of me. The other part could care less, knowing his bark was always going to be worse than his bite towards me. But his eyes, the rage in his eyes was something I had never seen towards me before. And that is what terrified me. I could see the wheels spinning in his eyes of everything he wanted to do; everything he wanted to say to me.
Instead of acting on whatever had crossed his mind he gave one last snarl with his lips while quickly ripping his hands away from my jaw, causing my head to turn to the side. With a defeated sigh from his mouth he turned his back to me, placing his one hand on his hip while the other reached for his low hanging head, processing what he wanted to say to me.
“You don’t even know where he’s keeping her Addi. You have no clue to where Dominic is.” His voice had lowered a few levels and with decrease in volume came a decrease in emotion.
“I’m sure you fucking do, don’t you Adrian?”
“Do you really have that little trust in me?” his voice was hushed almost as if he was saddened for a moment.
“Excuse me?” I was genuinely confused. I had no idea how we had gone from him being pissed from me attempting to leave to… this. This conversation, this question.
He turned around to face me once more on the stairs, my feet glued to their place forcing me to stay in place, no matter how hard I wanted to run.
“Do you really have so little faith in me to think that if I had any idea where he was, where he was keeping her that I wouldn’t tell you. Do you have such little faith in me that you feel like you would have to do something like that, fight this on your own? Do you really think that’s what I want? For you to walk out of here, give yourself up to what… maybe get the chance to kill him when he’s done using you, beating you, raping you, torturing you, selling you like a piece of meat because to him you’re just another body. Do you honestly fucking think I would ever let you do that? That what I want is a life without you next to me, rebuilding this fucking empire that he’s trying to strip away from us?” With every sentence, every word, his voice rose back up in volume. They left his tongue like embers sparking off from a fire. He continued.
“Do you have such little fucking faith in me Addi, to honestly think I haven’t had a plan forming for days now, for fucking weeks? Since our first failed attempt at taking him out at the club. And that this… this fucking situation with your aunt and Sofia, and my fucking brother getting shot, laying helplessly close to death on my kitchen table didn’t fucking push me over the edge and solidify everything I crave to do to that motherfucker? You are apart of this family. And anyone… ANYONE… who is close to you matters. You are not alone, you are not fucking doing this alone. I won’t let you do this alone.”
“And how the fuck am I supposed to know any of that Adrian? You leave me in the goddamn dark. You shut yourself off. When you aren’t trying to stick your dick in me, you’re off at work. You come home late, you leave early. You leave me out of the fucking loop. I was thrown into this life unknowingly from Daniel, and then again when Franco took me and I fell in love with you. Am I supposed to walk right into this life and know fucking everything? How the mob works, what’s ticking in that mind of yours, or how the fuck to survive? And half the time I don’t even really know how you feel about me, how I fit in to this family, what the fuck I’m actually supposed to do, how I’m supposed to make all of this work. So news flash asshole, I’m not a fucking mind reader. Nor was I brought up in this world. But I do know I won’t fucking sit by idly, twiddling my goddamn thumbs, doing nothing while he has her and you sit on your ass. So excuse me for having little faith right now.” Every bit of fury and fire that I had previously restrained came forth.
I stopped, taking a pause. “All I fucking know is this. If you won’t fucking hurry up and do something, I will regardless of my faith in you. I can’t let someone else go through what I did. I can’t let someone go through that torture only to end up as fucked up in the head as I am. I wasn’t strong. I’m still not strong. And if you were around long enough to do more than fuck me you would know how fucking much I struggle every damn fucking day. I wanted death Adrain. Death. I wanted Daniel, or Franco to slip up for just one fucking second giving me the chance to end it all. Fuck, I wanted them to kill me. Because I knew that the only thing that would fucking save me, was death. I know I don’t always know about this life but I do know that with her, that type of torture will tear her the fuck apart.”
I took a step closer to his face, my nose practically touching his. I took one more breath in before I continued. “So listen to me and listen good. If you don’t get your damn head out of your ass soon, I will take things into my own hands. I will walk away from you, from this family from everything, for her. I’ll do what it fucking takes to save her, because I can’t save myself anymore and I’m starting to think neither can you. You say over your dead body, I can make that arranged. You want me to have faith in you? Than find your damn balls, and stop being a pussy. You have a fucking plan? Then start acting on it. But until then, I’m doing as I damn well please when I damn well please, and with who I damn well please. So talk to me again when you decide that you’re done being a damn pussy.”
I turned to walk away, but the pads of his fingers dug into my forearm pulling me backwards.
Livid was the only way to describe his face. His golden brown eyes turned black; the arteries in his neck bulging from the skin, attempting to burst. The tips of his ears had turned a deep maroon, like his body was trying to physically blow off the heat it was producing. His teeth had become clenched together making every muscle in his cheek twitch.
“Watch your fucking tongue.” The words came out clear, but he never physically relaxed his jaw to speak.
“Or what? There’ll be consequences? Fucking please Adrian.”
“Addi...so fucking help me….Let me fucking remind your small mind who the fuck is in charge here. Oh and newsflash…” he used my words against me. “it’s not fucking you. So get your unbelievably stubborn head out of your ass and listen goddamn it. I make the fucking rules, I fabricate each and every plan. My men, my family does not move, until I fucking tell them too. My men and my family do not ‘do as they please, when the please and with who they please’. If you want to be part of this world, as more than just my woman than you need to fucking remember that. You- you don’t call the fucking shots, I do. You fucking follow the ones I make. I create each and every agenda we have, I lay out each step. You are only to do as you’re fucking told. If I tell you to be good little girl and stay put, you listen. If I tell you to jump, you, yes sir say how high. If I tell you what you are allowed to do and not do in an interigation, you FUCKING FOLLOW IT. I don’t care how fucked up you feel or how fucking badly you want to save Sofia. There’s one way we do this and that’s my way. DO...I...MAKE...MYSELF...CLEAR?” His voice boomed through the room vibrating off the walls.
“Crystal, sir.” I rolled my eyes. To him I’m nothing more than another soldier in his army.
Another sign left his mouth as his respirations attempted to slow for his rant. His finger pinched the bridge of his nose. “Go fucking pack Addi. We leave in an hour.” His words had become short, concise.
I won’t lie. His words stung. I felt utterly out of my own control. Like my emotions weren’t my own, my actions were no longer my own. My brain was thinking irrationally. Like this part of me was ingrained into me without my knowledge. I didn’t know how to control it. There was no happy-medium. It either came out full force causing me to act shortsighted like it just had. Or I cowered like the small girl I once felt like; becoming meek, tiny and irrelevant.
I hadn’t realized until this point how terribly messed up I had become. I had become short fuzed, with a bad attitude and a bad temper. I knew my behavior was caused by the shit ton of trauma I had gone through. I never coped. I never allowed myself the time to. Instead I threw myself into another mess. I sought out revenge, not self-actualization. I pushed everything down into the dark depths of my personal hell, ignoring it like it was nothing. And now it had surfaced into a wound that was only starting to fester.
I knew it was wrong- my behavior, my temper, my need for revenge and blood. But damn it did if feel so god damn fucking right. I mean- you know what they say… revenge is best served fucking cold… and hopefully bloody as hell.
I slumped in my chair, my fingers still pinching the bridge of my nose. My head throbbed causing the pressure in my eyes to build forcing me to shut them. My blood had boiled over with rage, and I knew that half the things we both had said we didn’t mean.
I was petrified, thinking about losing her, thinking about her turning herself over to Dominic. But in reality, I had already begun to lose her.
This attitude of hers… damn it. At first it was enlightening, even refreshing to see her grow stronger and more independent. The strength caused a glow about her. At first her new found personality would only show I would only in little snippets here and there. But now, more often than not, it stuck. She was thinking irrationally, letting the need for revenge take over her mind. She found herself to be brave, when in reality she was becoming reckless.
I felt like I had already lost her, when she began to lose who she was, who I had gotten to know her as. I still loved her. God only knows how much I loved her... And I still loved how much she had grown, her flourishing personality. It made me believe that maybe she could fit in with this life- a life she had been dragged into without her knowing. But one small decision to learn how to defend herself lead to the feeling of a gun in her hand. After today, downstairs with Franco, that only lead to the beginning of an addiction.
I saw it in her eyes when she took the gun from my hand, trying to stop me from killing the bastard where he sat. There was a flash behind her eyes, if only for a moment, when faced with all the power that gun held. It held the decision to take someone’s life or walk away. It was never a feeling I wanted her to experience. I knew what that power could do to people. It ruins them.
Initially I knew she was doing this because she no longer wanted to feel weak and overpowered and partially due to the need to fit in with this life. But in only one second, one misley little fucking second, the effortless pull of a trigger, the kickback and the echoing sounds of a gun shot ricosheying off the cement walls left her feeling enraged and engulfed with a blood thirst. I never imagined I would see that behind her eyes, but there it was taking over her like a virus. Now, not only was I at risk of losing who she was, but this life- my life, was inevitably going to take hers the deeper she pulled herself into it.
My head pressed to the back of my hands, resting against the stacks of papers that lay scattered in piles on my desk. Footsteps pounded through the floor could overhead in the kitchen, making wide strides towards the stairwell. It was only a matter of seconds before the faces of both Alex and Adam stood in front of me, flat and void of all emotion. I wasn’t a fool, I had known that they had heard the whole argument between Addi and I. Their faces may have been lacking emotion, but their eyes weren’t. I knew exactly what was going on in their brains. Luckily enough, they were smart enough to leave it be.
“Volevi vederci, Capo?” (you wanted to see us, boss?)
It wasn’t often that we spoke in Italian but it came out effortlessly, like a second skin. It was usually meant for private conversations, or around others that we didn’t trust. In common conversation Adam’s accent was usually dormant. It usually only came out when he was livid, which was a rarity in itself seeing as he was generally flat and stoic. But the more he spoke in our native tongue the more his accent made itself evident.
“Sí.” My head shot up from its position to glance at them for only a second before my right hand began reaching down to one of the drawers to my desk.
It was an older desk. One that had been passed down from my Nonno to my father and then to me when the time came. It was exquisite woodwork with small intricate detailed patterns in the shapes of swirls and flowers along the sides and down to the claw legs. My Nonno had procured it in Italy back during his reign over 80 years prior. This desk was a symbol of stability, wealth and power. It would take more strength than one man could emit to break this desk.
My fingers fiddled through a few manila files that were stacked on edge, until I found the correct one. I slapped it down on the desk, pointing at the two men to take it.
“Cos’è questo?” (what is this) Alex quickly responded to my action.
“Things weren’t adding up. Why Addi? Why not take someone else, anyone else? What was so special about her? It was like they targeted her, some poor girl that got ripped from her family by an unfortunate accident. Dominic, Franco… something was just rubbing me the wrong way. Then the mention of this plan being in motion for years. It was all a little too... fuck I don’t know… odd? There was no fucking way that they were telling the whole truth. So I did a little digging myself.”
As I finished my words Adam picked up the file, combing through the few crisp papers that lay between the two ends. His left eyebrow lifted with curiosity, and moments later this eyes grew wide.
“You aren’t proposing what I think you are, are you?” He was in such a state of shock, but had put the pieces together instantly with one glance and the information.
In his hands lay classified information only a few men had ever laid their eyes on. A small thumbnail photo paper clipped to two pieces of paper kept his attention. The mysterious man in the photo stood about 5 foot 10, maybe just under 6 foot; dark brown hair, with pitch black eyes. His face was clean shaven stern and ominos. His cheekbones were prominent, causing his chin to look even more chiseled than it really was. He was about 45 year old in the picture but physically didn’t look like he was over 30. On the subsequent page listed his contacts, his number successfully accomplished assignments, his MO and any other pertinent information.
After some time Adam had become so focused on my face at the realization that he couldn’t feel the folder being ripped away by Alex with a small mutter let me see that.
“I’m not proposing anything Adam. All the papers are sealed, and legal.” I folded my hands in my lap, leaning my back against the backrest of the chair.
“Wait, I’m confused…” Alex’s eyes shot up to me before glancing back at the papers before him. “Who the fuck is Evandro Cristello?”
“Addi’s Father.” I responded with a matter of fact tone.
“What’s the big deal with Addi’s father? I don’t get it?” He was confused. His mind was spinning trying to catch up, but for him there was nothing to catch up on. He was too young to remember, and hadn’t been involved with any of this business yet. Not like Adam and I. Adam’s eyes were still wide at the realization. The only one that needed the explanation now was Alex.
“You were young Alex, and Adam and I had only just begun training in the business. There was one man, one of the best damn assassins this industry had ever seen. He went by the name Mietitore.”
“Yeah I know about him. Everyone knows about him. He hasn’t been seen or heard of in over ten years. Ruthless, extremely skilled in combat and a precision sniper. No one had seen an assassin like him in years. He’s been presumed dead for at least five years now. So what the hell is the point of him, and what does he have to do with Addi’s father?” His response was condescending and full of attitude acting as if he knew everything; his head stuck in the folder, flipping through the papers.
“Look at page two, Alex.” I took a second to pause, waiting for the puzzle pieces to start clicking together. I continued while he processed the information.
“Mietitore was freelanced. He did as he pleased, for who he wanted, when he wanted. He worked for many famiglias in the industry. But Father and him had become relatively close as he hired him for numerous assignments on more than one occasion. There was only one other family that hired Mietitore as often as Father.”
“Let me take a wild fucking guess, The Russo’s?” Alex muttered under his breath still reading through the pages.
“SÍ. And then I found this-” I slapped another folder down on the desk. Adam reached first, seeing as Alex was preoccupied with the first folder. “A contract signed between Father and Mietitore saying he would work exclusively for us. He was part of our famiglia the minute he signed that damn contract. But shortly after he disappeared. And weeks later… Dad- his murder. It was always assumed that the Russo’s, out of jealousy or rage, but shortly after Father’s death, Don Russo was found shot and killed. And when Dominic admitted to killing Father and his own Father it all started to click. He’s been trying to rip this empire to shreds for years.”
“Wait.” Alex’s voice raised an octave as things started to click into place. “This page… is all statistics. Number of hits, hits accomplished, death ratio, MO, skill levels, skill sets, deceased targets and current targets. These statistics…Evandro’s date of death, Mietitore’s approximate date of disappearance... is this what I think it is? Is he- is Addi’s father Mie-”
“Yes. The world knew him by Mietitore. Every other famiglia knew him by that name. Only the DeLucas and the Russos knew him by his legal name. Evandro Cristello. Addi’s Father.”
A/N: sorry for taking so long to get an update out to you guys
What do you think?
The power couple just had their first huge fight. Do you think they’ll recover?
What do you think is in store for them?
And where do you think Adrian has them going to?
Thanks for all the love, votes, comments and reviews. Keep ’em comin.