After a long and lonely month, the day is almost here. In just forty-eight hours, my sisters will be traveling back to the States from Greece. I sit on the bed, waiting for their video call. Instead, I receive an incoming voice call. Guess they can’t get through for a video chat. Swiping the screen, I answer. “Complaints department. How can I assist you?” Failing to hide my amusement, I tease my eldest sister, Natasha.
“Well, my complaint is premature, but my sister has probably worn most of my clothes and not done the laundry!” Hearing Nat’s cheerful voice, I smile as she plays along with my silly game and takes a jab at me. Her comment also a hint: ensure the laundry is done!
Giggling, I think to myself the joke’s on her. I took all our dirty clothes to the dry cleaners yesterday, but I’ll let her think otherwise. “Ah, I see! Apologies, I’m not qualified to provide any advice on insolent siblings.”
We burst into laughter, which dies down a few moments later. “How are you, Mina? How have things been? I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I miss telling you off,” Nat confesses.
“Aw, thanks, I guess!” Wanting to get the formalities out of the way, I keep it relatively short. I’m eager to dive straight into the juicy details of their holiday. “Everything is good. Same shit, different day. Nothing exciting.” A smile curls on my lips. “So, did we have fun? And with that, I mean Asimina kind of fun. Not Nat, boring kind of fun,” I tease a hobby I thoroughly enjoy.
I earn a giggle in return. “Maybe I reached deep, and I mean deep down and channeled my inner Asimina. But for now, that’s all you’re getting.”
She holds back, knowing very well how impatient I am. My curiosity always gets the better of me. Groaning with frustration at her unsatisfying response, I huff, “I hate you! You’re back the day after tomorrow. I expect all the dirty details. Let’s see if you can avoid me then!”
“I’ll keep you hanging for as long as I can.” Sighing, she questions with caution, “Now, I know I keep asking, but the John situation?”
I knew it was coming. I know she worries, but every time his name is mentioned, my anger spikes. That man is no longer in my life, and the answer doesn’t change. While rolling my eyes and with a hint of frustration in my voice, I blurt, “He’s left me alone. I haven’t heard anything.” I just want to forget about him, and it’s not helpful when she keeps bringing him up.
“I’m glad! I was worried about leaving you.” She sighs in relief.
“Your trip was booked a year ago. There was no way I was letting you cancel. Now, moving on. Before you even ask, I have the itinerary, and I will be at the airport at six p.m. sharp just as your plane is landing. I will not be late this time.”
“I’m so proud. You’re growing up!” She laughs. “Seriously, though, I can’t wait to see you.”
“Same. How’s Lia? Can I talk to her? I’m eager to hear her voice.”
“She’s out with Thia-aunt Helen picking up a few more things. Her suitcase is well over the weight limit.” An annoyance for our younger sister swims in her voice.
“I hope those suitcases have something for me in them?” I leave it as a question making sure I’m receiving gifts.
“Yes, but I might need a few days or a week to unpack.”
There she goes again! “I’ll toss everything out on your bedroom floor, take what’s for me, and then take your time putting everything else away,” I throw back at her.
She rewards me with a loud laugh, not surprised by how meteorically I fire up. “Okay, okay. I won’t torment you anymore. I’ll make sure you get your gift first.”
“That’s better!” I smile, pleased I’m getting my way. “I’ll let you go, Nat. I have dinner plans with Petro.”
“Cool! Say hi to him for me. I’ll see you both soon. Love you!”
“I will. Love you, too,” I proclaim. Hanging up the phone, I walk over to the dresser and pick up a photo of my sisters and me. God, I’ve missed them! We’ve always been inseparable, sharing everything. Well, almost!
Nat is the oldest. She just hit her dirty thirties, which explains the sudden wish to travel to the Greek islands. She’s the most sensible one, always keeping me grounded. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t want to think about what stupid shit I would’ve gotten into. Just the idea of her nagging voice keeps me in line most of the time.
Lia, our baby sister, is twenty-three. Always so reserved, shy, and cautious, Nat believed this trip would help her spread her wings a little.
I’m soon to hit my mid-twenties, and I’m the unpredictable one. I like to shake things up, follow my heart, and worry about the consequences later. I’m a lot like our mother in more ways than one, but I hold many of my father’s traits as well.
Gulping down the lump in my throat, my mother’s memory brings on my tears like always. She was so strong and beautiful. I wish she was still here; guilt and regret fill my heart at the thought of her.
It’s been two long years since her passing. She wasn’t feeling herself and asked me to stay home that night. Immaturity had me going out instead. When I came back, I found her peacefully laying on the couch. She wasn’t asleep. She wasn’t breathing. Despite all my efforts, she was already gone. The autopsy concluded a heart attack as the cause of death. Not a day goes by where I don’t wish I could turn back the clock and stay home that night. Maybe she’d still be here if I did.
Wiping away my fallen tears, I look up at the time. I haven’t seen Petro in six months, and he’s the sole person who knows all my secrets. A small smile makes its way to my lips.
Placing the photo back down on the dresser, I pick the one of Petro and I up. I missed him so much. I’m even looking forward to his awful jokes. That man is a brother to me. Well, not technically. He’s my cousin. Our mothers were sisters. I see him as nothing less though. Tragedy struck both our families the day we lost our fathers; two best friends who had fallen in love with two sisters.
I still have the newspaper article from eight years ago with the headline reading, “Freak Accident in Rally Racing History Claims the Lives of Champion Driver and Co-driver.” Petro always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps racing cars or anything with a motor.
Most parts of the funeral were a blur, with so many unknown faces, and so much noise happening around us. The image remains clear and still very vivid is one of the four of us. My sisters, Petro, and I standing there holding two red roses each, watching as their caskets got lowered and our fathers were put to rest: buried side by side.
Petro’s passions changed the day our fathers lost their lives. He focused on his studies and graduated with honors becoming a doctor, before pursuing a career in general surgery. He received an internship at one of the best hospitals in Italy. And since then, he travels back and forth, working in both countries. His father would be proud.
Gathering my thoughts, I pick up my bag, keys, and phone. Rushing out the front door, I jump into the car and speed off.
My phone vibrates ten minutes into the drive. I ignore it as the restaurant comes into view. Parking, I dig into my bag and pull out my phone, reading Petro’s message. “Had an emergency. I’m running a little late. Wait for me there.”
Scrunching my face up in annoyance, I text back “Okay. Don’t be too long. I’m starving!”
Stepping out into the warm breeze, I notice three suited men exiting the restaurant. Observing the man in the middle, with the brightest blue eyes I’ve ever come across. They look like sapphires sparkling bright in the night. He turns his head towards me, I forfend, not desiring to draw unwanted attention.
Noticing a café across the street, I decide I would rather wait there for Petro. I walk over and enter the small but cozy café. The yellow painted walls with streaks of orange give it a warm feeling, along with the soft wooden tables covered with white, crisp, and freshly pressed tablecloths. It takes me back to the Greek Islands for a split second.
A waitress welcomes me with a sweet smile, “Welcome, dear. What can I get for you?” She appears to be in her late forties, yet she looks like she could run rings around the younger waitress behind the counter.
Thinking it won’t be long before my cousin joins me, I politely order, “A large, strong cappuccino to go, please.”
“Sure thing. Won’t be a minute,” she replies with a smile and turns, heading towards the counter. I take a seat at one of the tables and wait.
The sound of the bell from the café door opening has me looking up, and as I do, I find myself locking eyes with the same captivating blue ones from the God-like man outside on the street moments ago.
His eyes are mesmerizing and stunning, as I bet the rest of him would be, yet I’m getting an edgy vibe. Let’s just say he could gain a role as a charming serial killer in a Hollywood movie. Veering my eyes back to my vibrating device, I read another text from Petro. “I’m not going to make it!”
The nerve he has! “Really?”
“Sorry, Mina. Go home. I’ll come by in a couple of hours.”
Still fired up I’m quick with a response, “You have been back for two weeks, Petro! This is the third time you’re standing me up! A couple of hours and you better be at my house!!!”
“I know! I have an emergency at the hospital. Sorry. I’ll bring burgers for dinner and sit through Rocky. Again. I promise,” He pleads.
I giggle with annoyance at his message. You bet you are! I mutter softly to myself and text him back. “Fine, but you better not fall asleep on me.”
The love I have for him doesn’t allow me to stay angry for long.
The sound of a chair being pulled back and scraping the floor breaks my thoughts. Sweeping my eyes away from the screen, they lock with the man’s sapphire ones. He takes a seat directly across from me. I stare back, stunned with my mouth agape.
“The name is Alonzo,” he announces with a cold glint in his eyes.
“Nice to meet you?” It comes out as more of a question than a statement.
Noticing the waitress making her way over to me with my coffee, I stand from my seat. Taking hold of the takeaway cup, I thank her. Her smile drops instantly as she glances at the man across from me. Her distorted features are a sign. It’s time to leave!
Turning to make my way out, he seizes my arm, halting my footsteps. Honestly, I’m dumbstruck. Who the fuck does he think he is? Mr. Greek God or the Devil himself? The audacity!
Standing from his seat, he closes the space between us as his hold tightens. Inches from my face, he starts to inhale slowly. Is he smelling me?
An uneasy feeling creeps up through me as I listen to him whisper, “Baby, you will get to know me up close and very personal,” he emphasizes.
A sickening feeling of pure disgust washes over me. Freeing myself from his hold, I respond in a cold, firm tone, pausing between each word, “I. Don’t. Think. So.”
With a sinister smile, he lets his eyes travel down, scanning my figure, he utters something in Italian. “Le cose che ho pianificato per te. - The things I have planned for you.”
Swallowing the bile back down that floods my mouth, I respond, “I don’t understand Italian. If you have something to say, use your English.”
A sadistic laugh erupts from his throat, sending a shiver down my spine. Seizing my jaw, he taunts, “Baby doll, I’ll be seeing you soon. Let’s see if you can talk back when my cock is buried deep down your throat.”
Slapping his hand away, I put some distance between us. Letting out the only words I can form in my state of horror, “You’re disgusting!”
With that being said, I turn and start running out of the café, instantly heading towards my car. Getting into the vehicle and locking the doors, I waste no time starting up the engine and speeding off. What the fuck was that? Who approaches a stranger and makes vile comments like that? What kind of twisted, psychotic lowlife did I just encounter? He’s definitely the Devil!
Pulling up to my house and alacritous rushing inside, needing to feel safe in my home. Slamming the door shut, I lean up against it and take a moment to breathe while throwing my bag to the side and flinging my keys on the table in the hallway.
I’m agitated and my pulse is racing, I head to the bathroom with the need to throw some cold water on my face. It helps somewhat settle my frenzied nerves. Staring into the mirror, I pat my face dry. What the hell was that tonight? Who the fuck was that? Sucking in a breath defrays me enough. My immediate attention falls to the front door. I’m positive I closed that door.
My heart drops to the pit of my stomach as realization kicks in. They followed me home. How could I be so fucking stupid? Leaning against the wall, I’m utterly petrified. Sealing my eyes for a moment, I speak to myself. “Think quick! Don’t let fear consume you now. They will have an advantage.” Panic starts to take over, as my breathing increases rapidly. Shaking my head, I snap my eyes open.
I need a weapon. I need a knife. “Don’t go down without a fight,” I keep repeating to myself.
Sliding against the wall, I take a few steps down into the lounge room. My wobbly legs carry me into the kitchen. My eyes fall on the knife set. My relief short-lived when I hear a man’s voice from behind me.
“Hello, baby doll.”
Spinning around abruptly, I face the man. Recognizing him from earlier tonight, I observe, “You were with that man, Alonzo.” I acknowledge him as I continue to take a step backward.
“Yes, I was. He’s left an impression on you.” The malice in his voice torments me.
“What do you want? Why are you here?” I continue taking more steps backward.
“I’m the delivery boy tonight. Al is having a party, and you, baby doll, are the main entertainment,” he states while licking his lips.
“What exactly has he got planned-” I start to ask. Regretting my question, I pause. “You know what? I don’t care. I’m not interested either way,” I rebuke.
“It’s not optional, baby doll. This is how it normally goes. Alonzo gets the first taste while stripping you naked. A trusted handful of us will be there watching as he pounds into you,” he explains, smiling while taking a step closer to me. I take another one back.
“Don’t worry! We will be on full display for you too, stripped naked with our cocks out stroking them to the sound of your screams. Once he’s done, it’s our turn. You’ll be on all fours, one shoving his cock down your throat, a second pounding that sweet pussy of yours again, while another is tearing that tight ass apart.” He pauses.
I’m struggling to keep down the vomit, flooding my mouth. Fear creeps in, consuming me. Closing his eyes, he pictures every disgusting detail and licks his lip again. “Fuck, baby doll. I’m so fucking hard just thinking about it. Maybe a small taste before the main event.”
He lunges at me, pinning my body against the wall, which connects to the end of the kitchen bench. Grabbing my hair and pushing his body onto mine, he runs his filthy hands up my shirt to my breasts, squeezing.
My mind is in shambles, as I don’t want to believe this is real. Shutting my eyes, I hear my thoughts screaming at me, “Fight! Don’t let this happen! You’re no one’s victim!”
And with that thought, I snap my eyes open as a surge of adrenaline heats my body. I’m shaking with anger, connecting my knee to his manhood with all my strength. My little stunt frees me from his hold, buying me just enough time to spin around to my left. Leaning slightly over, I pull the knife out of the knife block.
Stumbling to his feet, he slams my head on the corner of the wall, before turning me and pushing my back against it. Wrapping his hands around my throat, he has me struggling for air.
This is it! Do something! I scream in my head. He’s going to kill you!
My vision blurs, and black dots form. With my last remaining energy, I muster, gripping the knife tight in my right hand. I bring it down with force, lodging it into the side of his neck, twisting as I push it further.
His grip loosens. Taking a painful breath in, I push his hand away and pull the knife out only to bury it in his chest. I keep my eyes steady on him, wanting to see his fear as I deliver one last and final blow. I drive the knife through his left eye; the blood splatters on my face before his limp body drops to the floor. Letting out a long-held breath, my relief is short-lived. Hurried footsteps heading in my direction has me dropping to my knees, patting down the dead man’s body. Finding a gun tucked in the back of his trousers, and clicking the safety off, I stand tall. I grip the weapon and my arms shoot forward as I squeeze the trigger. At the thundering sound of a body slumping to the floor, my eyes widen, and I’m left with a sharp ringing echoing in my ears.