Chapter 55 - Born a shooter [Republished]
I had one of my best sleep last night and woke up like half an hour ago, still lying lazily in my comfy bed, with my eyes closed and knitting thousands of thoughts in my head, mostly about how was I going to approach this constant obsession of Salvatore on me.
A knock at the bedroom door snaps me out of my thoughts and I groan, annoyed at being disturbed so early.
“Come in,” I said, and I see Mike showing up, in the glory of his height, and walked straight to my bed.
He grabbed the towel I used after showering the night before and which was now resting on the bed at my feet and threw it over me.
It was too fucking early in the morning for his tantrums and I turned towards him with an angry face, bound to give him nicely but before I had the chance to open my mouth and shout back at him he spoke, with a deep voice, meaning business.
“If you still want to learn how to shoot you better get that fat ass of yours off the bed and be ready in 10 minutes. Assassins don’t get to linger in bed like princesses. Wear something comfy,” he ordered, and no matter how tough he was trying to sound, he still had a softness in his eyes that only I could recognize. Besides, I knew he found my fat ass quite sexy.
I giggled with a totally changed mood and jumped off the bed, springing up and curling my arms around his neck, pressing a strong kiss on his cheek.
He smirked and shook his head, all stripped off of his toughness.
“Thank you,” I tell him while running to the bathroom, grabbing the towel on my way.
“Lucas is going to kill me,” he mumbled for himself, but loud enough so I can hear him, and I am sure he was hoping I will change my mind.
What? I didn’t even think about breathing a breath towards changing my mind, so I pretended I didn’t hear and rushed into the shower.
I was ready in exactly 10 minutes and ran downstairs.
The clock on the kitchen’s wall was showing 7:30 am. Fuck, that was early!
And still my mood is up and cheerful. I have never been a morning person, I never speak in the first half hour of the day or before I inject some coffee into my veins, but right now all those didn’t count.
“Have breakfast first,” he said, showing me the plates on the table, filled with a consistent breakfast.
I sat and started eating in a rush. I was so eager to learn to defend myself.
I wasn’t particularly fond of guns. I lived around them long enough to actually despise them, but the thought of being able to carry and use one was part of my getting stronger process, and it made me happy.
“You need to know that Lucas will have my head when he finds out,” he mumbled.
“I heard that from the first time you said it, Mike. And no, he will not. You work for me, not for him. I asked you to teach me and I find it only normal to be able to defend myself, given the situation.”
“You know damn well that’s not necessary, Rebecca. You have me and you have Lucas to protect you. But still,” he chuckled lightly. “I have to admit that I like this determination in you,” he smiled, stuffing his mouth with breakfast.
I lifted my eyes to him and I met his own.
“I knew you still loved me,” I say, smiling and scrunching up my nose.
Well, that was supposed to be a joke, one that Mike didn’t seem to have taken so well because his eyes remained gawking at me with a blunt look.
“Come on. We need to go,” he says in the middle of my breakfast, standing up and rushing towards the front door.
“But ...,” I try to protest, thinking about my unfinished breakfast and the coffee I haven’t had..
“No buts, Rebecca. Move your butt before I change my mind,” he yelled back at me, already opening the front door.
I run after him, gulping some more of my orange juice and getting out on the door. I jump in the car just in time to close the passenger’s door before he turns on the car and speeds out on the gates in the screech of the wheels.
“Cocky much?” I mumble while putting on my seat belt, not exactly expecting a reply.
“I heard that,” he says.
“That’s what I meant, Mike. Jeez, what’s with this attitude?”
“Rebecca, how long have you known me?” Mike asks and I turn my eyes towards him, wondering where his question will lead to.
Although concentrated on the road and holding the steering wheel tight, his eyes are much softer now.
“Just answer me the question, Rebecca,” he is insisting.
“Since you came into our house when I was six,” I answer, understanding he is damn serious about having this discussion.
“And what else do you remember about that time?”
I return my glare to the window, being not very comfortable with the memories of that time.
“My mom left the house for some... treatment in another state. And dad got crazy about it. And... Peter...,” I choke with the tears threatening to spring out.
The car pulls over on the side of the road and I snap my eyes to Mike, questioning his intentions.
“Come here,” he says, unbuckling his seatbelt and turning me around to face him straight. “Rebecca, there are things in your mother’s and father’s past that you don’t know about. They are not pretty, but I believe it is time you know about it.”
I look at him with gauging eyes and gaping at him, lips trembling on the verge of crying.
“That time your mother ran away from home, with another man. She has never been treated well by your father and when she found someone to hold her and love her the way she deserved she ran away thinking that later on she would be able to take you and Peter and live with her.”
My tears were rolling streams on my cheeks by now, and I was sobbing lightly from time to time, listening to the things Mike was telling me.
It felt like someone else’s life, although the memories of the beatings I got from my father were very much mine, and very much alive in my mind.
Mike cups my cheeks in his large hands and wipes the tears with his thumbs.
“It didn’t last long. Your father managed to break into their house one night and took her back. By force. I know because I was there. Soon after, a war started between your father and that man, and it was bringing great loss on both sides. And when he was not fighting, your father was taking the war on your mother, beating her almost every day. A few of those times I would sneak her out of the house and take her to hospital to be treated. Broken arms, broken jaws, things that a woman should never ever live,” he continues and by now I am a crying mess, covering my mouth with my hands to stop my sobs.
Mike bends his head, squeezing his eyes as if those things hurt him just as much as they hurt me.
“Oh, my God, mom...,” I whisper between sobs and sniffs.
“One day your mother decided to take the matters in her own hands and asked me to take her to that man’s house. I don’t know everything they have spoken about, but I know she has told him to stop fighting for her. She told him she didn’t want him anymore. He was angry like shit. I was waiting outside the room and could hear him shouting and begging her to stay. I heard sounds of things thrown on the walls, glasses being broken. At some point I couldn’t wait outside anymore, so I pushed the door opened. I was afraid he was doing to her what your father was doing. When I got inside, the entire room was a mess, almost everything was crashed and broken, but I didn’t see any sign of physical abused on your mother. On contrary, she was standing next to the window and the man was crouched in front of her, his arms wrapped around her waist and his forehead pressed on her womb. She was crying silently while he was clenched around her. When she saw me, she quickly unwrapped his arms and walked out with me. I took her back home that day and I never heard another word about that man or the events of that time, but your father had already built so much hate towards your mother and women and she never had a week in her life without being beaten. And that hate increased every day and grew towards you as well. I was happy that it was all reduced to your brother beating you, because I could easily keep you away from him, but if it was to be your father... I would have probably killed him.”
The horror of the things I hear sends cold shivers down my spine and my hands are trembling.
I grabbed my head with my hands, crying out loud, fisting my fingers in my hair, pulling it and hoping the pain will subside the pain of my broken heart.
I have always believed my mother being a snob, weak woman, but now I feel she is the strongest woman I know. I never knew the life my mother had. I felt guilty, so guilty. I never looked at her long enough to understand why she was so much isolated, so much quiet, like living in another world.
Mike’s arms wrap around me and he takes me in warm hug, whispering soothing words in my ear while my sobs seem too strong to be controlled.
“That broken man bowed in front of your mother… was Marciano Benito,” he hits the last strike.
“What?” I pull myself out of his hug and stare at him with horror.
“Your mother and Marciano Benito had an affair. She decided to take the war between your father and Marciano in her own hands and sacrificed her happiness, thinking the decision she took was the right one. Until it wasn’t. Because your father promised he would never speak about it and never touch her again, or you. But he never kept his promise. He did the opposite and he also inflicted that hate towards you and your mother in Peter’s mind.”
My mother. The woman I used to believe was stupid enough to keep staying the wife of an awful man was actually the wisest, stopping blood spilling and saving lives by giving up hers.
Now I understand why he is so much against teaching me to shoot, and why he is telling me these things. It is not the fact that I will learn to use a gun, but the reason why I want to learn to use one. He thinks I am doing my mother’s mistake, trying to take the war between Lucas and Salvatore in my own hands.
But I am my mother’s daughter and I can’t let people I love to take the blame or consequences.
The air in the car becomes heavy all of a sudden, and I know I’m having a panic attack coming.
I find it difficult to breathe, and I need to get out of this tight space. I grab the door and open it fast, almost jumping out.
“Rebecca!” Mike shouts and in seconds he is out as well, trying to stop me pacing around along the car’s length, back and forth, doing the best I can to take in all this information that came from fucking nowhere.
I ran nervously my fingers through my hair, rubbing my palms on my face as if washing away everything I heard from his mouth.
“Rebecca, stop!” he said and grabs my arms, forcing me to remain still.
I can’t stop the tears running down my face and I stare into his eyes, hoping it is just a dream. A bad dream, and I will soon wake up and it will all go away.
But no, he is standing in front of me, his face hard and eyes a shade darker than usual.
“Take me to the shooting plot,” I said, and my voice was so stern and emotionless that it made it impossible for Mike to say something more.
He pulls me into his arms in and holds me in a hearty hug for a few moments more, and I surrender to his sincere concern.
I needed that warm hug as much as he probably did, because I saw in his eyes it hadn’t been easy for him to tell me all those things.
“Come on. Let’s go,” he says and opens the door for me to get in.
Half an hour later we arrive at an open field where stands only one white building. We both get down as soon as Mike parks the car and we walk in.
As we get inside, I hear fire guns and the sound gets stronger as we walk along a dim corridor. Soon we arrive in a vast room with cubicles where I can see three man shooting targets.
A woman walks to us and elegantly curls her arms around Mike’s neck, pressing her lips in a long, passionate kiss.
She looks young, tall and thin, wearing black tights and a black sleeveless top.
Her hair is fixed in a ponytail, falling straight on her back. She is almost as tall as Mike, who seems quite happy to see her judging by the rubs of his hands on her back.
“Hey, babe,” she says when their kiss is over.
“Hi, love,” he replies, placing one more quick kiss on her lips. “Rebecca, this is Tea, my girlfriend,” he introduces her to me. “Tea, this is Rebecca.”
Her eyes widen in awe. She seems to know who I am and quite surprised to see me in front of her.
“Ms. Tate,” she says, reaching her hand to me, shaking mine with sincere joy.
“It’s Downhill. And please, call me Rebecca,” I reply with a small smile, glaring at Mike and scolding him for keeping her girlfriends a secret.
Why he has never mentioned his girlfriend?
“Rebecca wants to learn how to shoot a gun. And I know you are the best for this job,” Mike says and turns towards me. “Tea works for me, which means she works for you now.”
“I see,” I tell him.
“Ever shoot a gun before, Rebecca?” she asked me while Mike steps aside.
She smiles at me encouragingly.
“Then we will start with something light, shall we?”
She walks to the rack with guns and takes a pistol, explaining to me how it works.
She is a pleasant woman, in a very natural self and soft at the same time. She gives me the gun and I feel the cold metal against the skin of my palms.
She shows me the right posture after handing me a pair of ears protectors.
The first shot shakes my entire body, but soon enough my legs get stronger and I manage to learn the correct position of my legs and the angle of my arms.
My aim seems quite good, and Tea is pleased. I become more confident the better I shoot, and I know this is going to be one thing I’ll be damn good at.
We spent around three hours there before Mike suggests we should get back home.
Before leaving, I gave Tea a warm hug and thanked her. I felt a very good vibe coming from her. We connected well right from the beginning.
Mike and I drove in complete silence for about ten minutes, none of us feeling to speak, but it soon became awkward.
“So, how did you like it?” Mike asks.
“She is really pretty. And kind. I like her,” I reply, knowing very well what he asked, but I took advantage to open the subject about this particular detail of his life that he never spoke about.
Mike laughed loudly at my reply.
“She is assassin, Rebecca. Assassins are not kind,” he chuckles.
I smile back at him, and I am happy that awkwardness is gone.
“Well, this one is,” I said, not feeling strange at all at the yet another information that until recently would have sent cold shivers along my back.
I was surprised at how comfortable I felt with Tea and not changing my feelings about her, knowing now who she was, and even more comfortable holding a gun in my hands.
The things I have just learned about my mother’s love story and suffering made me feel sorry I didn’t kill before.
Well, I must be born to be a shooter.
"It is okay not to feel okay."