“Ahhhhh!” I scream, immediately swinging my body into an upright position. My body is in a deep sweat and still shaking from the vivid dream. It doesn’t even matter what memory it is anymore, they’re all just as bad. Or that’s what I thought. But this one, this one terrifies me right to my gore. It laid dormant, shoved far at the back of my mind where I hoped no one would reach. But current events have brought them to surface. Hearing a name in a meeting. Seeing a name on paper. Saying the name in my translations.
From what I gather in Enzo’s meetings, he’s building a rapport with different powerful men not just from New York but other city hubs. Boston, Chicago, San Diego even, Montreal... Readying himself for a war. With the name I didn’t want to hear. Moretti...
His carelessness can finally be my saviour. No one is coming to rescue me. There is no prince in my story, no knight in shining armor. There’s just me, alone, no one to help me. If I can save myself, I should. This is my chance.
His gun is left on the counter, thrown down on a newspaper covered in a little blood. I couldn’t help but think in my mind, ‘soon with a lot of blood’. Maybe this life has turned me sick, like all of them. Maybe the darkness has caught up with me, and I’ve finally drowned. But the darkness is a part of me, it always will be whatever happens. It’s in my genes.
I take the gun in my trembling hands. I’ve never held one before; it feels much heavier than I thought. I know I need to be quick, I don’t have a lot of time, I never do. I tense my body, hoping that would stop the shaking and confidently wrap my finger around the trigger, my left hand supporting my right as I aim. Right in the back of his head. I need to get this shot. One shot to end it.
I fire. As I imagined, blood splattered around the room, even into my mouth, leaving this metallic taste. I want to throw up, but I push that feeling deep inside, knowing what I had done needed to be done. I tuck the gun into my back pocket, terrified of fingerprints and the police and the blood.
I hear the door slam, the eyes in the back of my head, boring into me.
“What the fuck?!” the voice yells. “Christian!” Alfonso is back, and I know I have to get out, far away from here...
I realize piercing dark eyes are drilling into the side of my head as I recover from my nightmare. I killed a man. I killed Christian Moretti. And it wasn't by accident. I wanted to murder him. I'm as psychotic as all of these men, enjoying the kill, enjoying seeing the light die from their eyes.
"What were you dreaming about?" he asks in a low but cold voice. My head slowly turns his way, eyes wide at the sight of him. I hide my attraction to him by biting my lip but here in front of me, a bare chested Enzo with only sweatpants hanging dangerously low. Every ab distinctly defined on his torso, every muscle in his arms bulging. One sleeve is covered in tattoos, adding to his dark look.
He stalks closer to me, settling on the very edge of my bed next to me. He grips my jaw and pulls me closer to him, searching my eyes.
"What were you dreaming about, gattina?" he whispers, his hot breath hitting my face. For some reason, it turns me on even more, maybe because I'm afraid of him, and that fear heightens every time he's close to me, making me wet.
"It was just a nightmare," I tell him innocently.
"Hmm, gattina, I asked what it was about," he says, squeezing my jaw more and digging his fingers in. I'm used to it now, but it still pains me. "You woke me up, neonata, so you're gonna tell me why."
"Steve. It was about my neighbor," I lie, hoping to prove convincing. He watches my face, every single movement or tremble.
"You're a good liar, I'll give you that. But you do not want to lie to me, Belle," he seethes, tugging my body with his other arm. "Tell me the truth."
"You," I blurt out, again hoping to be convincing. "I was dreaming about you."
"What about me?"
"I don't know. I was just dreaming," I appeal, but he brings his face even closer to mine, his lips brushing my own gently.
"Tell me," he demands.
"You were killing Steve. Torturing him," I mutter.
"That bothers you? What you think I did?" he questions, staring intensely. I nod slowly in his hand, furrowing my eyebrows at his unreadable expression. "It's early. Come with me." He lets go of my jaw and instead replaces it for my hand, dragging m out of my bed and into the adjacent room, his room.
It's much different to mine, with walls painted grey, the whole room themed grey, black and white. When he leads me to his bed, I begin to grow wary of his intentions. He senses my tenseness but he chooses to carry on whatever path he is taking me down. He opens the covers and gestures for me to get in. I hesitate, standing wide-eyed in front of him.
"Get into the bed, gattina," he orders in a warning tone.
"Why?" I ask meekly. He then just shoves me onto the bed and gets in next to me.
"I'm getting tired of you questioning me, bambina," he whispers in my ear. "You're asking for punishment." A whimper escapes me as I hear his words and feel his hands on my body. But those hands comfort me, relax me. "Are you?"
"No," I mutter. We lay there with him spooning me, hugging at my waist to keep me there. His chin sits just above my head, his size still trapping me.
"You'll sleep here from now on," he states in a firm tone. I can sense he's daring me to refute him. So I stay quiet.
"Why?" Until I decide to blurt out another question, again talking back to him. It's not so much his words, but his tone that tells me I shouldn't keep questioning him. Why can I not stop myself? I hear him chuckle humorlessly behind me, against my neck, his chest vibrating. His hands travel up from my waist to my breasts and he begins to fondle them over my clothing. I fight the urge to moan, but I don't want him to take his hands away. My breath quickens as my nipples harden at his touch. I can feel his smirk on my neck. He removes his hands and snake lower, under my tank top and back up to my breasts. This time, I moan a little, unable to hold it back.
"Go to sleep," he commands, his hands resting in the same place, squeezing every so often as he falls into a slumber. I do too, listening to his breathing and heartbeat...
"Where are you, you little slut?!" Alfonso screams as he searches the entire house. He knows. He must have seen me escaping from my crime. He'll never stop until I'm dead too, with Christian, his beloved brother.
I must leave here, and go into hiding. I'll change my name, live in the shadows. I wanted a life, but I knew it would always be a dream, even then. But now, at least, I could be free.
I make a run for it, hurtling out the door but my waist is grasped, arms wrapping around me roughly and slamming me back against his chest.
"Little girl, we've been looking for you," Adriano hisses in my ear, pulling me back towards the house. He's Alfonso's most trusted man.
"Please, let me go," I beg, dragging my feet, digging my heels into the gravel. "Please!" I squirm in his grip, trying to break from his hold. But I knew it was futile when I started. I knew this whole thing would be futile. Why did I do this? "Please, Adriano. I'm begging you, let me go. He'll kill me."
"Maybe you shouldn't have killed daddy then," he grits but he does stop, holding me up. Why has he stopped? Is he going to kill me now? "Isabella..." His grip on me weakens, and I sprint away. Why did he let me go? I don't know. We were on good terms. He did tried to help me before, stitch me up after my father's beatings. But he was very loyal still, and I thought he would be loyal until the end. But he let me go.
I flee from the house, from anywhere near it. I run. I run as far as I can. I don't have anything. I don't have any money, any good clothes, any food or shelter. I'm alone.
In amidst the running for hours, my pace slows as I try to figure out where I am. I hurtle into a man, a man no older than early twenties. He steadies me and smiles, holding me at my waist.
"Sorry," I mutter, but smiling back at him, making it seem like everything is normal.
"Hi, I'm Jeremy. People call me J. Are you okay?"
"Yes, I am. My name's I-Belle. My name's Belle. I'm just... a little lost."
"That's okay. I can help." J finds me my first apartment, and gives me a job at his diner, claiming they were looking for another waitress.
I thought my life was looking upwards, but after going through several apartments, being this type of free, just away from my father, was the best it would ever get for me.
The death of my father has always weighed heavily on me, always will. I killed him. I changed my name to Belle Rose from Isabella Moretti.