Into the Darkness (Book 1)

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A New Threat

His body lay peacefully on the black padded OR table. A thin white sheet draped neatly up to his chest; his arms outside resting at his sides. The room was eerie.The only sound escaping through the walls was the hushed humming of the vents in the ceiling.

His skin was the color of ash, pale and lifeless. His fingertips had begun turning a light shade of blue from lack of circulation and the frigid temperatures of the OR.

I stood only a meer five foot two inches, three on a good day. Generally I was shorter than everyone around me. It was unusual that I received the chance to look down to someone, unless it was a child.But now as I stand looming over his still body there was no relief in finally feeling exactly my height. Instead it made me feel massive, like a skyscraper among the tiniest of buildings casting a growing shadow in its wake. His face receded those emotions to the back of my mind.

He really was gorgeous. His dark hair was disheveled, made into a rather sexy mess. My fingers shifted through the thick strands pushing it neatly to the side. I took in all his features while I still could. His eyelashes were long enough to make any girl jealous. Faint freckles were spaced across his cheeks and his nose, almost unnoticeable until you were close enough to see them. His lips- oh his lips. They looked soft, yet hardened in a line. The top lip parted just enough from the bottom to let any air escape. They had just the right about of volume to them, not too pouty but not too thin. It made him look irresistible. I couldn’t help myself. I placed my palm of my hand on his cheek, rubbing his face with the pad of my thumb.

“Oh, Dominic. What did a guy like you do to get into a mess like this?” I whispered.

I closed my eyes, keeping my hand on Dominic’s face. All I could do now was hope. Oh how I wished things were different. I wished my life were different. I wished I hadn’t gone through the things I had. I wished I hadn’t had a gun pointed at my face on more than one occasion in my life. What did I ever do to deserve any of this? I thought of myself as a genuinely good person. I tried to volunteer when I could. I wanted to be a nurse to help people who had been in situations like me, not for the paycheck. Where the hell did my life go so wrong?

A small tear escaped down my cheek at the every thought racing through my mind at lightning speeds. My eyes remained closed, picturing the life I strove for until an abrasive warmth washed over my ice-cold wrist causing me to jump from my skin.

“And… wha-what… did a guy like me do… to be so lucky… to have a beautiful girl be his nurse? “ a deep voice croaked out. It was hushed, yet authoritative. Quiet, yet spoke volumes. It commanded power with every word. His voice broke in all the right ways, yet remained strong to prove his point.

My eyes fluttered open to peer down at the striking face now staring back at me. His vivid green eyes were filled with medicated sleep. His lips and mouth dry from the intubation, little flakes hanging off the corner of his mouth. His touch was like fire against the ice that ran in my veins. Through his batting eyelashes his gaze melted my frozen soul. His hand tightened around my wrist for a second as a slight grimic rose from a flare of pain, but he quickly let go letting his eyes focus on me once more. It was like he was staring straight into my soul, looking at the very bottom of it; picking me apart piece by piece until there was nothing left of me.

“Dominic?” I had to force my voice to work and remind my lungs to breath. Time seemed to stand still the longer he stared at me.

“The one and only.” His lips turned up at the corners causing small wrinkles to form on the edge of his eyes before a small cough surfaced forcing him to squeeze his eyes shut and grimace at the pain once more.

After Dominic’s heart went into V-Tach Dr. Day and the surgical team did CPR for fifteen minutes, throwing everything they could into him. After some time and by some miracle his heart regained normal rhythm and Dominic regained his pulse. Someone somewhere heard my repetitive prayers, or so I could only have hoped.

Dr. Day finished the surgery easily after. All three bullets were retrieved, everything was sutured up and every organ was where it should be almost like nothing had ever happened.

For the sake of everyone else involved in the care of Dominic I had suggested that Dominc be held in the operation room for his remaining post-op care facilitated by myself. I refused to have anyone else dragged into this mess. If anyone of these men were going to pull a gun again, this time we would at least be behind closed doors and without anyone else’s blood on my hands.

“Hey.” I kept my hushed tone. I attempted to remove my hand from his face but his grip tugged my arm back towards him. “Careful, you’ll tear your sutures if you make the wrong move.” His cheek pushed harder against my the palm of my hand, like a cat waiting to be pet. My voice paused just to take one last look at him. “I thought you were going to sleep the whole night away. Let me go grab your brothers. They have been waiting so very impatiently.” At the thought of returning to reality to the two harsh men who held my fate in their hands a small laugh left my lips. It wasn’t out of humor. No, it was out of pure fear that had now built a permanent residence lodged in my throat.

I attempted once more to pull my hand from Dominic’s grasp, he obliged this time, releasing his heated grip from around my hand. I slowly back peddled away from the table, away from Dominic, in no rush to welcome back the life I knew was waiting only moments away. My eyes still lingered on his face, mesmerized and enticed by the deep hallucinating hue of green staring back at me.

They were soft, and kind but there was also a darkness that clung to the edge of his iris’s pulling his pupils wider until nothing but a pitch black hole was left, swallowing everything in its path. His penetrating stare forcing the artery in my neck to pulsate up to my ears; my instinct telling me to run; telling me that between the two of us he was the predator, and I was the prey.

There was no doubt that he was attractive. His chiseled jaw, perfectly sculpted body, his sinnister emerald eyes, his midnight black, bed head-tousled hair creating a seemingly perfect human. I wanted to believe he was a good man. I wanted to believe that he was near perfect, that whatever the other men did to me thus far did not make him a terrible person. Subconsciously however, I knew better.

I wanted to suppress the little voice nagging at me, to give him the benefit of the doubt. But that little voice was doing more than just nagging. It was screaming; screaming to run and run as fast as I could and never look back. Screaming that despite how soft and caring his eyes seemed to be that looks can be deceiving. I knew that behind the lie of the warmth and vibrant facade held a vile and unimaginable evil human. My skin crawled thinking of his calloused hands that had caressed my skin so gently just moments ago. My subconscious screaming at me that those same hands had not been so soft and caring with others. I knew. I just knew that those hands had ended other’s lives.

He was like a terrible car accident, the truth and the true scene in front of you so horrific you wanted to divert your eyes but everything kept drawing your attention to it. It took strength I didn’t know I had or would need to tear my eyes from his. It took me another moment to realize that I had taken a breath in minutes and that my pale face had turned a faint pinkish blue from lack of oxygen. My chest hurt, my head throbbed, my heartbeat pounding thumps against my eardrum. I swallowed my nerve one last time before opening the door to the hallway.

Both men were right where I had left them. Their back’s seamlessly pressed against the tiled wall. Lorenzo back slightly more rounded than Marcello’s as his head bowed down to peer at this hands while the nails of one finger impatiently picked under the nails of another. The back of Marcello’s head and his left foot resting against the wall. His eyes were closed and yet he released clip from his glock like he had done it a million times. He subsequently jammed the clip back into place and started the repetitive motion of releasing the clip all over again. Only when he felt the faint breeze of cold air rushing from the now open door did his eyes open.

It was an instantaneous reaction. Both men stood up straight. Emotions crossed over their face one after another like rolodex cards; both of them unsure which emotion they needed to be processing. Marcello’s face quickly grew cold, colder than I had already seen it become. Whatever emotion was once there a half a second prior had now been drained completely. His eyes were blank. The tiny muscles on the side of his jaw near his ear twitched with anticipation of what was going to be said. One eyebrow raised higher than the other stating I needed to tell them the outcome of their brother’s surgery quickly or his contemplation of whether or not he wanted to use the very weapon clutched between his finger was going to become quite evident. .

C’mon Addi, give ’em your best customer service voice. The voice in my head rang in my ears

As a nurse, there had been many times I had thought something similar. This job, this career, is about making people comfortable and it many cases it means taking irate people and making them happy. However, this time was the first to include a loaded weapon and a true risk to my life.

I gave both of them my most sincere customer service smile before speaking. “Well boys, guess who finally decided to return to the land of the living. You can step in to to see him if you’d like.”

The words couldn’t have left my mouth fast enough for the two men. A look of relief flooded Lorenzo’s face. Without having to think much further both Marcello and Lorenzo flew through the doors past me forcing me to stabilize my hand against the wall to keep from falling over.

I don’t know what possessed me to stay. I don’t know why all rational thought left my head. I should have run. I know that now. Instead I leaned my shoulder against the metal trim of the door, folding my arms across my chest watching the reunion. It was almost sweet watching two utterly terrifying men fight the smiles that reached their ears. I thought I even saw Lorenzo fighting off a few tears in relief. As for Marcello…

“Is that a smile I see Marcello? I didn’t think that was humanly possible, given everything you’ve done to an innocent bystander thus far.”

“What the fuck is she talking about Marcello? You did you do to her?” Dominic said attempting to raise his voice and sit up. His hand rushed to his stomach, splinting the pain. His teeth seering as it flared out in every direction. However, he managed to accomplish the task, sitting on the edge of the table his feet now planted firmly on the ground.

“Well ah, Boss, someone had to make sure you lived and I didn’t contain the necessary medical skills for that job. That’s where our lovely little nurse here came into play.” Marcello made sure to say while shooting me a look that said ’Really I will still use my gun on your ass’. His Italian accent become thicker the more he spoke to his Boss, or brother or whatever he really was. “Speaking of our little nurse, Addi would you do us a favor and step out for a second? The big boys need to have an adult conversation.” Every word of that sentence was meant to sound patronizing but all it made me do was roll my eyes.

“Ah yeah, sure.”

Dominic attempted to make up for his brother’s behavior by throwing a devilishly delicious smile in my direction.

I turned on my heels away from the three of them, my fingers encircling the handle of the door to pull it open me when his rich voice swirled around my ears causing me to turn in his direction again.

“Addi?” His eyes almost pouted at me, looking slightly saddened. I couldn’t fathom as to why. He kept his back hunched over, his knuckles pressed into the table next to his sides. He never lifted his face to look up at me. Rather, he looked at me through the length of his eyelashes, as they slowly fluttered in my direction. “Do you think you could be so kind and grab me another blanket and maybe something to drink? Oh and definitely some pain meds.” His voice was sweet, and innocent in an attempt to hide the amount of pain he was truly in. After the amount of patient’s I had dealt with on a daily basis you learn every single poker face there is. You know when someone is trying to be stoic about their pain, when they are overexaggerating, and what their pain truly is off of their actions.

“Ah, Sure.”

I smile and nodded at the three men and stepped outside the door. I needed a second to breath. I needed a second to regain an adequate thought process. Something was off but I justI couldn’t place my finger on it… This whole night was...odd? My gut and the blood that ran through my veins knew that this was bigger than some random night at work taking care of a man with over protective brothers.

I had two options. Option one- run and don’t look back. Option two- get answers. Even if I got away I knew that they would find me. Whatever was going on, whatever I had to do with them, this night was not going to end once the clock reached a new day.

I weighed the two options in my head, before turning my ear to the door. Answers, I want answers.

“Boss, they’re on our tail. We need to leave here as soon as we can.”

“I know they are dumbass. I figured they would be. You practically left them a fucking trail of blood to follow.”

“You didn’t leave me much of a damn choice getting fucking shot by one of them. It was either risking taking you home or bringing you here and we both knew she would be here.”

“Did you see who shot you boss?”

“No, dickhead. Don’t you think I would have already fucking told you?”

“So what do you want to do now.”

“We need to get the hell out of here. I’ll be fine, just grab some extra bandages and help me to the car. But I want her. She’s coming with us.”

“She probably already ran off by now.”

“Does it look like I fucking care. I WANT THE GOD DAMN GIRL. She’s useful to us whether you think she is or not.”

“Yes, sir.”

My eyes grew with realization. This wasn’t right. They didn’t come here by accident. It dawned on me that I never told Dominic my name and yet he recited it off his lips when were were alone like he had rehearsed it a million times. It was effortless to him.

He knew who I was.

My eyes spaced out in horror, my brain temporarily shutting down in fear. Luckily my feet had the opposite effect. Before I regained full control of my body my feet had already began to move down the hall. They knew I had no other choice.

Yes I wanted answers. And yes whatever I had just heard left me with more questions than answers. But the realization that they’ve known me all along put me in an unfathomable shock, one that I needed to run from.

My pace started off slowly until my brain finally registered the need to flee. The light walk quickly turned into a jog, which in no time turned into a full blown sprint to the stairway. I wanted a significant amount of distance between the brothers and myself, more than what I currently had. I needed to find an exit or a place to hide but my instinct told me that as long as I remained in the hospital that they would find me. I couldn’t stop running.

And not just running away from them here. Running. If they knew my name, I could only assume they knew where I lived. Whatever place I called home, was no longer a safe haven. I had to run once again from the life I built. I was never going to be safe, from him, and now them.

I quickly found the stairs and continued my pace down each step, fast enough to work up a sweat but slow enough so I didn’t face plant it by tripping over my own two feet. I halted for split second when I heard voices.

My first thought was that they knew, they knew I ran from them. However, the closer I listened the voices seemed to be vibrating off the walls from below me. My mind started racing of who it could be.

Staff? It’s only three in the morning. It sounded like men, maybe three by the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs. I started to panic. Did I go back up and risk going with Dominic, or did I continue my descent down?

Before I even had the chance to make a decision, they stood right in front of me. Three men, one middle aged maybe in his early 40’s, along with two others that were younger than the first man standing slightly behind him.

I was a deer in the headlights; unable to move, unable to process anything.

“Hey, you, girl. Where’s Dominic?” The middle aged one shouted towards me. His hand rested on his hip, his jacket concealing something bulky just underneath it.

Play stupid Ads, play… stupid. I quickly though trying to regain control over my own body again for the fifth time tonight.

“I’m sorry who? I don’t have any patients by that name. So, sorry. If you’ll excuse me gentlemen I have patients to attend to down stairs.” I sheepishly responded trying to pass around the men.

Just when I thought I was in the clear the eldest man grabbed my wrist and pulled me back towards the corner of the stairwell. I could feel his grip bruising my fragile wrist already. Once he backed me in the corner completely, he spoke again.

“I’ll play nice one more time girl. Where the fuck is Dominic?”

“I’m sorry Sir, I don’t know-“

Before I could even finish my sentence the grey haired blue-eyed man seized my throat with his massive hands slamming me against the cold concrete wall placing his body just inches from mine. His crystal blue eyes seemingly going black as if he were possessed by something. The muscles of his jaw tensed. I could see them twitching in rage.

“See...what’s your name…” His voice was condescending a brutal. “I don’t like liars. I can tell when people are lying to me. You, my sweet child have a fucking terrible poker face. Now I’m going to ask you this one more goddamn time. If you answer wrong, then it’s lights out, permanently. Fucking got it?”

I nodded as slightly as I could with his hands gripped around my throat while choking back tears from the fear. “It would be such a shame though, if I had to kill you. You’re a fucking stunning girl, it would be a waste of that body.” His eyes drifted from the top of my head to my feet and back. I wanted to vomit at his words. Or maybe it was from the fear. Or both? “Now, TELL ME WHERE THE FUCK DOMINIC IS.”

I tried to speak, but the words wouldn’t come out. His grip tightened around my throat as I struggled. My breaths struggled to make it down to my lungs. I grabbed onto his wrist trying to pry his grip away from my throat. It was no use he was stronger than I was. Black spots formed in my vision as my eyelids began to feel heavy. They started to close even though I was trying my hardest to fight to stay awake. Staying awake meant staying alive. All I could do was weakly point with my trembling hand up the stairs.

“There, that wasn’t so fucking hard was it?” He asked. His voice had become eerily calm before his teeth sneered from under his lips. His grip tightened once more pulling me off the wall for a short second before he slammed my body backwards slamming my head against the wall.

Whatever black spots had floated across my vision from lack of oxygen had only gotten worse with the excruciating headache I just received. My lungs attempted to inhale as much oxygen as I had been starved in the long minutes I was left gasping for the precious gas. The room started to fade in and out. The black fuzzy spots growing, blinding most of my field of vision causing my body to feel unsteady. I wanted to vomit. I wanted my neck to not feel soaking wet. Wet?

Tenderly my hand lifted to the back of my head and neck brushing the origin of the pain. My hand shifted back into view and from what I could see through my partial vision it was covered in blood. It covered my fingers and dripped swiftly down the palm of my hand.

Vomit, I want to vomit.

“Now, my dear sweet child. Show us where he is.” His smile was sinisterly, enough it would scare the devil. It was sick and twisted, like he enjoyed the pain he was causing.

My hands dropped back to my side, wiping the blood onto my scrub pants. I looked down at my feet trying not to cry and trying to focus my sight. My heartbeat which once filled my ears earlier in the night now shifted to the back of my head pounding with pain.

When I remained non compliant with his instructions to move I felt a familiar, cold cylinder push aside the collar of the scrub top to lay at rest pressed into my skin just under my clavicle.

“Sweetheart, when I ask you to do something it doesn’t mean when you want to, it doesn’t mean tomorrow, or five minutes from now. It fucking means NOW!” With each word his voice grew to a booming, frigid tone.

He grabbed my shoulder with his free hand and turned me to face up the stairs moving his gun from my chest to my spine. I needed a second to remember how to move. My feet, my body seemed to forget how to function. My head throbbed, my lungs gasped for every ounce of oxygen it could get, my feet seemed to be glued to place and my vision had yet to clear from the momentary partial blindness. And yet I needed to climb two flights of stairs.

I don’t remember starting the ascent. I don’t remember anything really until we stood outside of the room I had run from what seems like a lifetime ago but realistically was only a few minutes prior.

“He’s in that room” I pointed sheepishly still looking at my feet.

“Thank you my dear child. Now stay outside while the big boys play. Kay? Don’t move until I’ve said otherwise.” He said looking down at me with a demeaning tone like I was some little girl and not a grown woman.

The men rushed to the door parking themselves on either side of the frame. All three men withdrew a handgun from their belt lines holding it near their chest in preparation. I could hear one of them silently counted to three before one of the younger men kicked the door open. All I could hear besides the door slamming against the wall was the eldest guy yell with furry.

“WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK? WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK IS THIS. WHERE THE HELL IS HE?”

I moved. I had to. I had to see what they were screaming about. And then I saw it. Empty. Dominic, Marcello, Lorenzo, all gone. All they left behind was disheveled blankets that lie on the table and bloody bandages that lay scattered on the cold floor.

The eldest man turned to face the door, seeing me. His jaw clenched once more. I could feel the rage radiating off of him in waves of steam. His face a bright red while his knuckles were bright white as he dug his fingernails into the palm of his hand attempting to settle his rage.

“WHERE. THE. FUCK. IS HE.?” He took brief pauses in between each word making sure he enunciated each word drilling into my head the anger he felt.

“I-I- he- he was here, all three of them. They were here I swear.”

The gun was now directed right at my face. Tears began pouring out of my eyes causing whatever vision I had left to go completely blurry. This was it. I knew it. My sorry, pathetic excuse of a life was going to be over before it truly began. I begged God. I prayed. Never in my life have I prayed as much as I have tonight. I looked up to see the man furious with rage. His eyes were piercing holes through me, his jaw clenched even tighter than before, baring his teeth like a wild dog. His knuckles turned white as he balled his free hand into a fist while the other clutched the handgun tightly deciding when to take my life. Before I had the chance to say another plea to save my life, the side of my head erupted in unimaginable pain. I was first consumed by it, than by the darkness that surrounded me. And then there was nothing.

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