Chapter 7: Trust is a fool's game
"What do you mean?" I exclaim, yanking my hand from his grasp. This isn’t real, am I dreaming? Is he really letting me escape?
"Belle, you want to leave. So leave," Ranger tells me. "I'm giving you a chance here. What are you waiting for?” What is happening?
"Trust is very important for people in my profession, baby. People who you think can stab you in the back, you don't give them any trust," he says, stroking my cheek with his rough hand and pulling my waist into his body as we lay in his bed.
"Why don't you just not trust those who could stab you in the back?" I ask. He chuckles at my curiosity and stares at me.
"Because then I wouldn't have anyone. Everyone has the ability to betray you. Knowing who is loyal, that comes with time, observing what they do for you, what they sacrifice. Time, there's not much of it," he explains.
"So, what do you do?"
"I test them. There are many tests, catered to test different types of loyalty." He gazes into my eyes, then presses his lips to mine and draping his leg over mine. "I like talking to you, baby."
"How do you know you can trust me?"
"I can't," he whispers, kissing me again. "I don't tell you anything about my business. I'm just giving you advice. It's not just people like me who do it. Everyone wants to test someone's loyalty. We don't trust."
"You paid to have sex with me, yet you haven't done anything."
"You want me to fuck you, baby?" he asks with a sly smirk. I shake my head, my nose brushing his from how close we are. "I'm not like that. I don't kick a beaten horse."
"I'm the horse?"
"Hmm. A beautiful horse. A pony maybe." His fingers trail up my half-naked body, only underwear on me. They brush my scars on my back, the harsh ones from my father's belt. "I can't hurt you, baby. Would you let me fuck you if I wanted it?"
"I don't have to let you. Men just take." His eyes soften as he hears my words.
"Not all men are the same."
"Maybe," I mutter. "But trust comes with time. Time, there's not much of it," I echo and he smiles at me, placing his lips on mine once more...
"I'm giving you a chance, Belle. You can go," he says, pointing towards the door. I follow his hand, staring at my inevitable capture. I thought I could trust Ranger a little more. But in the end, he works for the mafia. He's cold, and calculating, just like all of them. He was only pretending to be nice, to test me. He convinces me that he likes me, that he has a certain fondness towards me. He answers my questions, tries to help me, acts concerned. He pretends he doesn't like that I'm here, that he likes me too much to subject me to it all. He tells me I can escape. Only so I'll be caught by the other men, waiting in this trap. And then I'll be punished and deemed untrustworthy. I told Enzo I am his, and then I try to escape. This is what tests are for. Isn’t it a little early? Maybe he wants me to fail, so that he can get rid of me with a reason. I’ve come so far. I can’t die now.
"No," I utter, much to his surprise. People fail this test. I can tell. I know he's done this before. He's practiced.
"No? I'm giving you a chance to leave. And you're refusing?"
"Yes. I'm not leaving." I brush past him and back down the hall to the kitchen, resuming my work with Sofia to Marissa's content and shock.
I know that people can act kind and generous and selfless, but it's all in their own interests. They all have ulterior motives. They act like they don't but they do. No one is ever truly what they say they are...
"What are you doing?" I ask him, confused to why he's sliding my panties down. I thought he didn't want this.
"You want this too. I know you can feel our connection," he tells me, pulling down his boxers. He strokes himself under the sheets.
"I don't want to," I breathe out. I'm a fool for trusting him, trusting that men could be different.
"Look, baby, you're beautiful, and I've tried to make it easy for you. I'm a good guy. I don't want to hurt you. You don't have to hate it."
"You were just pretending?"
"No, no, baby. I want you to like it, and liking me, that's how you'll like it," he explains. Without anymore warning, he plunges into me and I cry out, tears gushing down my face at the pain and betrayal. No one is what they say they are...
After we finish prepping for lunch and dinner, I am tasked with giving Enzo his dinner in his office. I knock with confidence this time once I reach his office and enter once he says, "enter." I set his food down in front of him and move to leave when he grabs my wrist and tugs me into his lap. "You, you are interesting." He grips my jaw into his palm to lock his eyes with mine. I pout at him as his hold tightens, digging into my skin. "You knew."
"Knew what?" I mutter, unable to speak louder from the way he's crushing my jaw.
"That it was a test," he tells me, bringing my face closer to his.
"What was a test?" I ask, acting oblivious. He cocks his head to the side and then shakes his head.
"I know you knew, piccola. Tell me how?" I shake my head a little in his grip but he holds me tighter, his other hand squeezing my ass. "You're mine, right? So you're gonna answer me. Answer me!" he growls in my face and I whimper at his tone. His hot breath fans my face, his cold dark eyes bore into me.
"I b-belong to y-you. I-I'm yours," I answer. He shakes his head, squeezing tighter.
"Don't fucking lie to me!" he roars.
"M-men are l-liars," I stutter and he narrows his eyes, clutching to me a little more.
"That doesn't answer me," he says.
"R-ranger, h-he was being nice. N-no one is nice, not if they d-don't want something," I brokenly explain and his grip softens slightly as he searches my face. I don't know what he's looking for but his hand on my jaw then moves down to my ass, both hands pulling my body closer to him.
"You didn't escape because you don't trust men?" he questions. He brings my head into his chest and begins to play with my hair, twirling it in his fingers. I don't know why I suddenly feel safer at this moment but he holds me close to him like he cares. I don't know how I can feel him caring, but I do. "You're smart, and interesting, gattina." He stands up and puts me on the ground. He sits back down in his chair and leans back, still with his eyes on me. "Go," he commands but not in a harsh voice. I walk away, closing his door swiftly behind me and breathe. The air between us is intoxicating but there's something about it that makes me want it. I hate that.
"Belle," Ranger's voice says from behind me as I head back towards the kitchen. I turn around slowly, looking up to the grizzly bear of a man. "What did he say?"
"Do you care?" I ask a little bitterly. I revise my tone and fiddle with my fingers, looking into them. "I should go."
"Why did you stay?" he questions, holding onto my hands.
"I belong to him," I mutter, snatching my hands away from him and turning away. There is only one kind of person worse than a monster: a monster in disguise.
"Belle," I hear him call out behind me but I continue walking into the kitchen.
"You're back," Sofia comments with wide eyes as she stares at my face.
"Your jaw is bruised," she mutters as she folds some laundry. He bruised my jaw. He's exactly like the rest. "Are you okay?"
"Yes," I breathe out, holding my anxiety and tears back. I'm fine. This was all just a test. To prove I'm his. But a test isn't a test if the person taking it knows the answers. He knows I knew. He knows I knew I wouldn't get away if I tried to escape. It's not like I stayed because I believed I'm his. I stayed because I knew it was a trap. He still doesn't trust me. He shouldn't. I've done what needed to be done before to get away, I can do it again.
Trust is a fool's game. People always want to stab you in the back. Because that's just what they do.