I eye the sleek black jet in front of me before throwing my leg over the motorcycle.
It has been fifteen minutes since we left Freddy and his team at the decoy flight site. Jasper had taken us across the city and I’m sure he broke some major speed limits on his way here.
“Come vanno i preparativi?” Jasper asks as a man in casual clothing walks towards us on the dimly lit strip. “Siamo pronti per la partenza?”
“Sì, l’esca è stata espulsa, dobbiamo spostare no,” he replies before looking towards me and bowing his head, ’Capa” leaving his lips.
“Hello and you don’t have to do that,” I say eying the two men.
“It is courtesy to treat the Capo’s woman with respect,” he says in fluent English, his Italian accent almost impossible to pick up. He has been in the states for a while.
He is a dirty blonde with honey brown eyes and looks years younger than me, maybe 20 or late teens. Just how young were these men recruited into this business?
I nod acknowledging his explanation and he nods before turning to Jasper, speaking in fluent Italian.
Based on their discussion, they have deployed the decoy and it is time for us to leave. They speak of Adonis checking in a few minutes ago and that we are behind schedule. Jasper then instructs Tomas, the young man, to tell the pilot to get ready and that we need to be in the air as soon as possible.
“Capa we need to leave now. Will you please follow me?” he asks and I nod, following him as he leads us towards the jet.
I don’t think I should give away the fact that I understand Italian yet, I still feel iffy about all this. Sure, I did reply to his code in Italian but as far as he knows, I might not fluent in it.
“Is everything okay?” I ask as we reach the stairs leading to the jet’s door.
“The decoy is up so we need to leave soon,” is his response before gesturing for me to go up the ramp. “I will be with you in a moment.”
I nod, walking up the ramp mindful of the gun on my thigh. If anything goes wrong, I won’t hesitate to use it. Stepping into the jet, I am greeted by a chic, cream interior with a nap area, comfy-looking seats and a mini-fridge to the left side.
I make my way to the closest seat watching through the window as Jasper speaks with a group of men and I furrow my brows. I nearly jump from my seat when the phone strapped to my thigh vibrates and I grab it quickly.
I need to put it on silent. Lord knows if someone had heard it, I’d lose the upper hand.
I don’t recognize the number that pops up on the screen but I accept the call, listening for the person to make themselves known.
“Miss Blake? I heard you have successfully reached the flight site, unharmed.”
“Adonis?” I scrunch my nose in confusion. “Why are you calling me on a different nu–”
“I was being monitored,” he explains, cutting me off. “They had tapped into my phone and I had to stage the decoy so we could get you out safely. I didn’t count on you calling me to confirm the switch so I had to hang up before you gave away the plan. The call to Jasper was to ensure they thought you went ahead with the plan and also for your reassurance.”
“Okay, so this is not a trap and we are going to land in Italy, safe and sound and I will be able to see Dy-Cristiano?” I ask, my fear easing a bit.
“Yes, you are in good hands. Just sit back and relax. You have a long flight ahead of you. I will see you in Palermo in a few hours,” he reassures and I sigh.
“See you in a few hours,” I reply before hanging up and looking outside my window. They are still talking.
I look down waiting to call my parents but they must be in the air now, trying to reach Diana before daybreak. Instead, I opt to call the compound; Georgie may still be awake.
“Georgie?” I call as soon as someone answers the phone.
“Indie,” she breathes out a sigh of relief. “Are you okay? Freddy had called a few minutes to check if you had made it to th-”
“I’m fine,” …I think. “Is everything okay there? Has Diana gone back to bed?”
“She just went to the bathroom; she refuses to go to bed until you called to say you’re okay.”
Oh, my baby… My sweet girl.
“Could you put her on?” I ask, watching as the men move about outside in the dimmed lights, hiding the motorcycle we came here on, while others seem to be making a pile throwing gasoline on it.
“Momma!” Diana’s voice startles me from my observing and I jump a little.
“Hey baby,” I greet relishing in the sound of her voice.
She starts to question me, asking if I am okay and if I am close to her daddy and I answer all her questions the best I can.
“I am okay, Ki-Ki and I’ll be where Daddy is soon…Don’t worry,” I say reassuring her and trying to speak things into being. “Mama and Papa will be coming to stay with you until I return so please, get some sleep.”
“Okay, Momma,” she says with a loud yawn and I find myself yawning also. “I love you Momma…”
“And I love you too…”
My eyes pick up movement and I notice five of the men are ascending the ramp, led by Jasper.
“I gotta go… say bye to Georgie for me, baby,” I say before hanging up and placing the phone in the holster.
Jasper enters the jet with a smile before allowing the men to walk past him and stand before me.
“Tobias, Ruel, Tomas, Gavini and Francesco will be joining us on this flight as added protection,” Jasper says and each man bows their head at me before taking a seat behind me.
I hear the Jet’s door closing and Jasper turns to look at a woman and man before indicating they should come forward.
“Our pilot, Ms. Guriella and Co-pilot, Mr. Morelli,” he says and the two well-dressed pilots bow in respect before turning on their heel.
Jasper crashes in the seat beside me and I eyes him warily. The seatbelt sign comes on and we strap up. The aircraft starts to move, the vibrations of the engine surrounding us and I take a deep breath.
“The flight will be a long one,” Jasper pipes up and before I know it, the jet is picking up speed.
I grip the armrest and my soul seems to levitate as we leave the ground. Lift-off is smooth and soon we are soaring through the air, heading towards Italy.
Heading towards Dylan.
A nudge to my shoulder shakes me from my light slumber and I open my eyes to, my vision blurry.
I release a little yawn before blinking rapidly to clear away the blurriness. The last eleven hours have been tedious.
I didn’t get to sleep a wink. I mean my eyes were closed and I was drifting off but it was as if I was stuck between consciousness and unconsciousness and let me tell you sleeping in a bulletproof vest is not comfortable.
Every move made, every word said and every turbulence hit, I can account for them and my body feels like it has been run over by a truck, but I am still pushing on. I haven’t eaten anything in hours and it will soon catch up with me but I’m just so worried about Dylan and not to mention, I still am wary of this group.
“We are preparing to land, Capa,” Jasper informs as I raise my head from his shoulder that I note I have been lying on.
I blush before nodding and turning to open the window to my right. The bright rays of the sun blind me and I have to squint my eyes to see what is out there.
The first thing I notice is that majority of the settlements are close to the shore, The streets are busy, vehicles congested in the streets and I see clusters of tiny dots moving about, people. The next thing I take note of is the vast vegetation located away from the shore. Huge mountains occupy the middle portion of the land, the clouds dusting their peaks and the sun dancing across the luscious, bountiful flora.
“Wow,” I say, relishing in the beauty that is Palermo.
“Yes, beautiful isn’t it?” Jasper pipes up from behind me and I nod, entranced by the sight. “Welcome to Palermo, Sicily.”
After that the conversation died down and as we begin to descend. The landing is bumpy but after a while, we touch down smoothly. The strip, I notice, is another private site as the asphalt runway sticks out like a sore thumb in the forested area.
It takes a few minutes for us to exit the plane and my heart has been thudding against my chest violently. There is a black jeep waiting near the ramp for us but the occupants have yet to make themselves known.
The gun strapped to my thigh burns against my skin and my hands become sweaty. I pray this isn’t a trap and that I don’t have to kill anyone because no force in this world will hold me back from escaping if it is.
The door opens and two of the men walk towards the door before Jasper stands gesturing for me to leave my seat and stand in front of me. Once I shakily make my way in front of him, he barks orders to his men in Italian.
“Ensure you are alert and Capa is surrounded and well protected. We take no chances.”
They all reply with an ‘understood’ before Jasper urges me forward, his hand on the small of my back. Gavini, Tomas and Francesso are in front of my guns cocked and ready for anything.
They descend the ramp alert, eyes scanning the area. Once I step into the cool mountain air, the doors to the jeep open and I tense up, my heart beating a mile a minute. I didn’t notice I had stopped until Jasper gently pushes me forward. I continue down the ramp, watching as men in suits step out of the vehicle and I have yet to recognize one of them.
My hand starts to shake and instinctively moves towards the gun strapped to my thigh but I fight the urge. I am outnumbered; I have to think about this logically.
As my feet touch the asphalt, I release a breath I hadn’t realize I have been holding. Another man vacates the jeep and his face I recognize. Adonis.
The sun gently kisses his tan skin, glistening on the curls of his inky black hair. He is in a crisp white shirt and sleek, grey pants. A gun is clutched in his hand and his black, obsidian eyes watch me as we move closer to him and his men.
“Ms. Blake,” he says once we stop and the men break way, allowing him to walk closer to me.
“Adonis,” I greet back.
“Welcome to Palermo. I’m hoping your flight wasn’t too tiring,” he speaks with a thick Italian accent.
“It was fine,” I reply curtly and he nods before looking behind me.
“Ottimo lavoro portandola qui in sicurezza. Ora conosci il trapano,” he says to the men behind him and they retreat as Adonis’ team steps up surrounding us. Good job getting her here safely. Now you know the drill.
“We leave now,” Adonis says to me before holding the jeep door and gesturing for me to step in.
I nod before making my way towards the jeep and he steps back, allowing me space to slip in.
“Capa,” the sound of Jasper’s voice causes me to stop and look at him. “It was an honour.”
His eyes are locked on me and I smile before nodding in acknowledgment and thanks, which causes him to smile.
Slipping into the jeep, I scoot to the centre as Adonis and one of his men lock me in. The other two take the two front seats.
The driver wastes no time pulling away from the strip. I watch the Jasper and his men re-enter the jet from the tinted windows before my view is blocked as a black jeep pulls up behind us from out of nowhere.
I start to panic thinking it’s the enemy but when I look at Adonis he doesn’t look the least on edge. I look forward, noticing another jeep has appeared in front of ours.
“They are decoys,” Adonis states probably noticing my scrunched up face. “In the chance, we are attacked. You won’t be so easily pinpointed.”
Understanding falls on me and I nod before sitting back, gazing over Adonis to get a glimpse of the view outside his window.
The scenery changes from beautiful flora and fauna to Arabic and Norman influenced architecture as we move from the mountains to the town. It is said that when The Normans ousted the Saracen forces from Palermo, rather than destroy all things Arabic they embraced it, being impressed by what they saw.
I am also in awe of the architecture I see through the window as we drive through the town. Adonis takes it upon himself to answer my many questions about the structure we pass, even though I can see he prefers to remain quiet.
It’s something I can’t help. My grandmother, mother and father dabble in the Interior Design and Architecture business. Even though it’s not my calling, I still have that fascination.
I watch as the people fill the streets, commuting from one place to the next. The traffic is congested, since it is near to rush hour but our driver drives circles around the crowded streets, avoiding any real traffic.
“We are also known for our fruit, vegetables and fish markets at the heart of Palermo but we will not be passing there,” Adonis answers half-heartedly and I pout a little, knowing I won’t be seeing one of Palermo’s biggest attractions but I remind myself that’s not what I came here for.
Minutes later, we pull out of the town, the road meandering up a mountain face. The sun disappears as we pull onto an unmarked road, the towering trees filtering its rays.
We stop at a set of large rusty gates, the driver lowering his window before reaching out and the sound of a dial pad greets my ears. The gates open seconds later and he rises the window once more before driving forward. We pass two more gates, the driver repeating the process and before I know it, we pull up the enormous golden gates with men with guns patrolling the parameter.
The vehicle stops and all the windows lowered as the men run a routine check. The men speak to Adonis in Italian, informing him that no abnormal activity was picked up around the parameter.
We are allowed to past minutes later, my mouth dropping as we round the large Virgin Mary statue/fountain surrounded by groomed trees and flower bushes and my eyes land on the masterpiece these men call home.
The Arabic influence is not hard to miss with the domed shaped roof and pointed arches. The Norman architecture sticks out with a few rounded arches, the massive square towers and minimalistic design on the exterior. The structure is huge and made up of multiple buildings interconnecting. The walls were made of large, intermittently shaped stone, A Norman feature, which gives it a bulky look. Large, arched windows with opaque mosaic designs catch my attention and my mouth drops.
It is spectacular.
I don’t even notice we have stopped until Adonis calls my name and I spot him impatiently waiting on me to exit the jeep.
I make my way out of the vehicle to stand at his side before I am led by Adonis through two large French doors. I could literally cum from the sight before me…This is a designer’s wet dream…
The entrance hall is covered with muqarnas and arabesque designs on the walls and domed ceiling. This is truly beautiful; it is as if I took a step into the past of architecture. My eyes drift across the room noticing bifurcated stairs leading to the other floor and the sided multifoil arches stand out, providing access to the many parts of his castle.
“This way,” Adonis says leading me up the stairs and his men, I notice stay back.
We pass numerous persons as he navigates the halls of this masterpiece. Men in tailored suits, maids and butlers glance at me eyes questioning but with a look from Adonis averts their gaze.
My heart starts to hammer in my chest as I think about seeing Dylan. I am both excited and scared. He’s injured, just how bad? My heart can’t handle seeing him hurt. Images of him unconscious from that spider bite flicker in my head and I shiver, remembering the emotions that drowned me then.
“We are here,” Adonis says stopping in front of a wooden door, pulling me from my thoughts. “Go in.”
I hesitate and after a solid minute, he gestures with his head or me to get going.
I glance at his less than patient look before slowly making my way towards the door. One hand turns the knob while the other pulls the tom off my head, smoothing down my hair.
I don’t need to see him looking like a boy… more than I already do.
I step into the room, my heart in my throat before closing the door behind me and the tapping of footsteps tell me Adonis has left.
Light filter into the room from a large bay window across the room. My eyes glide over the room taking in the bookcase on the wall, a large flat-screen mounted on the wall and an antique-looking wardrobe, which by no means can be classified as small.
The walls are stone rendered and the floor is carpeted. My eyes drift to the large poster bed resting against the wall and my brows scrunch as I notice no one there.
Where is Dylan?
I stop accessing the room and make my way towards the bed, frantically looking for my fiancé. Shouldn’t he be in here? They said he was shot, wouldn’t he be on bed rest?
No! this couldn’t be a trap… they haven’t tried anything… Adonis is here… he wouldn’t…
I spin on my heels heading towards the door to check if this is indeed a trap and they have locked me in here. Imprisoned me.
I almost make it there when a door to my left opens and I freeze when I see who steps out.
“Dylan…” I breathe out, my heart rejoicing.
This isn’t a trap
He steps out groaning while massaging his temple but his head snaps up as he hears my voice. His eyes widen in disbelief, in denial before really zeroing in on me.
“Indiana?” he asks, confused.
“Dylan,” I say moving towards him, wrapping my arms around him only for him to hiss.
I pull back with a gasp, looking down at the bandage across his torso and I apologize repeatedly.
He was shot, Indie and you just through yourself at him. What if you just made it worse?
“How did you get here?” Dylan asks staring at me in confusion.
He didn’t know?
“Adonis-” I start to say but as the name leaves my lips Dylan’s eyes darken and his eye starts to twitch. He’s angry.