My eyes flickered open and I gazed at the ornate ceiling above me, suddenly aware I was laying on a soft bed. I lifted my head up slightly, the feeling of nausea rippling through my body. I laid back down, wondering what had happened. Where was I? Did I go out? I was sure I didn’t go out, where was my phone? I rolled my head to the side, glancing at the bedside table, only seeing a lamp on the glossy surface.
I groaned as I tried to sit up again, before hearing a voice from the corner of the dark room, soft and low as it said,
‘Hello, Gretchen. Did you sleep well?’
I did not know who was speaking to me, and I panicked, sitting up straight, my head swimming as though liquid was sloshing around in my skull, my brain a mere ice cube.
‘Where am I?’ I whispered as I tried to focus.
‘I wondered which question would come first. I had thought you would ask who I was, so let me answer both for you.’
A woman stepped out from the darkness, her beauty captivating me. She wore no makeup, but didn’t need to- her amber green eyes contrasted with her honey tan skin, her dark tresses pulled into a loose ponytail which swished as she moved. She wore jeans and a high neck shirt, showing off her flawless figure perfectly. She gazed at me then, her eyes searching my face as she smiled sadly.
‘I see why he is so smitten.’
Suddenly I stood up, causing her eyes to widen.
‘Please, sit. You have had quite an eventful evening and I would hate for you to fall and hurt yourself.’
‘An eventful evening? Please can you explain where I am, and what I am doing here.’ I breathed, confusion dominating my brain, making it hard for me to think.
‘Oh, of course,’ She waved her hand in the air as she tapped the side of her head playfully.
‘Ma certo, sono così smemorata.’
I blinked, unsure what she had just said but recognising the accent as Italian.
‘You are here because I wanted you to be. This is my home.’ She smiled sweetly, yet I sensed danger lurked behind her words. Why was I in a strange womans house? Why couldn’t I recall getting here? .My head ached as I sank back down on the bed.
‘This is just a game really.’ She said in a low voice as she sat beside me on the bed, her fingers running through my hair as she gazed at me in adoration. My instincts told me to move away, but her touch held me still.
‘What game? I don’t understand. I don’t even know you.’ I was aware my voice was giving away the fear I was beginning to feel, my stomach churning as I she nodded sympathetically.
’No, that is true, bella. You don’t know me. But your boyfriend does.′
My eyes met hers then and I felt bile rise in my throat. How did she know my Cal? Was he here?
‘My name is Lucia. I am not sure if he has ever mentioned me to you-’
I felt my mouth drop open as I realised sitting before me was the reason Cal was so damaged. The attack on Lucia all those years ago had left him scarred mentally, put him in witness protection and to cause him to eventually kill a man before my very eyes. She was beyond stunning, and my heart ached as I remembered what had happened to her. She nodded slowly, removing her fingers from my hair, and I was thankful she didn’t rip it out of my head.
‘So he did tell you. You must be very special indeed. Because he didn’t tell anyone else about it. He just ran.’ She spoke coolly, anger in her voice. ‘Do you know he was my boyfriend first?’ She turned to me then, and a feeling of outrageous jealousy filled my chest. ’I mean, we were young, but he was my first everything, if you know what I mean. We were besotted with each other. See, one of the things that is so attractive about Leo is how fiercely he loves. You know what I mean, I can see it in your eyes.′
I stared at the floor, wishing if she was going to just kill me she would get it over with, rather than listen to her stories as Cal’s girlfriend.
‘I am the daughter of a Don, Gretchen. I know how it feels to be protected. All my life I have been told where to go, where not to go, who to speak to, you get the picture. So Leo was my world, I fell in love with him so quickly I couldn’t be without him. I knew he was a bad boy, but who doesn’t find that attractive? I was used to that lifestyle anyway, I figured it would get him a higher favour with my father if he became a successful criminal.’ She shrugged then as her eyes glassed over, the memories of her attack now surfacing. I tried to remember my training, how to talk to someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as I remained quiet, listening patiently.
‘I’m not going to give you the details, but apparently I should feel lucky to be alive. I don’t.’ She turned to gaze at me then, and my heart beat so fast all I could hear was the blood rushing in my ears.
‘I wish I were dead.’
I gulped then, not sure what to say. She stood up abruptly as I heard footsteps coming down the hall, her name being called. Her eyes darted around the room as the door swung open, revealing a devilishly handsome man, his dark hair slicked back as he caught sight of me on the bed, a frown forming on his face.
‘Lucia..’ He muttered, his eyes meeting hers as she let out a giggle.
‘I know, it’s naughty. But I had to, Michael.’
Michael. I hadn’t heard of his name before, and I felt my cheeks flush as he moved forward, inspecting me closely. His cologne was strong and delicious, as I moved further back on the bed, not wanting to be in a close proximity to this man.
‘Sssh, it’s ok. My sister and I are just going to leave the room to talk for a moment, ok?’ His voice was soft and quiet as he gazed at me, his dark eyes piercing into mine. I felt myself nodding as they left, hearing the rapid exchange of words outside of the door. I stood quickly, searching the room quickly for a weapon of any kind. I knew I was in a mafia house, and didn’t know when I would need to fight for my life. There was nothing, absolutely nothing to use. I ripped open the heavy drapes that blocked the sunlight, gasping when I saw my view. The window could open outwards to a balcony, complete with a small iron table and chairs, overlooking the most beautiful garden I had ever seen. Was I still in New York? I couldn’t be, I hadn’t seen space like this in any real estate there. The door opened behind me and I heard someone walk in, the door clicking shut softly behind them.
‘You will have to forgive my sister, Miss Red. She is not entirely well.’ My skin prickled at his voice as I turned to see him leaning against the bed frame, his face etched in annoyance as he glanced around the room.
‘Your boyfriend was here earlier, looking for you. Had I known you were here, I would have reunited you immediately. Alas, I did not. So here we are.’
I watched him, my arms crossed over my chest, aware I was wearing my stupid pyjamas and that I hadn’t even brushed my teeth that morning. The inconveniences of being kidnapped.
He seemed to register my discomfort as he stood, walking over to me slowly.
‘I am so sorry. I understand if you wish to press charges.’ He stared at the floor as he rubbed his neck with one hand and I felt myself shaking my head.
‘I won’t. I just want to go home.’
His eyes met mine as I felt his fingers capture my hand, raising it to his full lips, before kissing it softly.
‘Then you are owed a debt, from me personally.’
Our eyes met and I felt fear as he dropped my hand slowly, his smile dangerous yet seductive.
‘If you need anything, ever, you just call me. Do you understand? Just call me.’ His words sunk in and I found myself nodding as he turned his gaze to the view behind me.
‘Care for a walk around the gardens before you leave? It would be a shame to waste an opportunity to explore something so beautiful.’ He didn’t blink as he gazed at me, a deep blush developing on my cheeks.
‘I really would rather go home.’
‘To Leo.’ He stated coolly.
‘Yes.’ I murmured, terrified to meet his eyes.
‘I shall get your things, and I will call him for you. I assume he will arrive very quickly, but please, take a shower and put on some fresh clothes. I will have a maid bring you something in. We have clothes in all sizes, do not look so alarmed. I can guess yours.’ His eyes raked down my body slowly as he nodded.
‘Please.’ He indicated the bathroom and turned to leave the room, his cologne lingering behind.
You couldn’t make this shit up.