03 | a new bound
And he had not.
The fathers in the Giordano Mafia were not stupid. They knew how women got tormented after marriage so they tried to keep it a secret. After marriage, the woman was purely the husband's responsibility. She was his puppet. She was his thing to torture and keep alive.
Mother was restless. She had a big scar on the right side of her forehead and I knew that it would leave a mark. She didn't seem to care though. She had lost hope long ago that her beauty would make a difference. Father would never change. She even had multiple bruises on her face and neck which she tried to cover up as well. It hardly worked when she could barely walk. Her limp was quite obvious and Father had no doubt discharged her before her actual date.
"Francesca," Mother called out as she covered my face with the long white veil. "It'll hurt a lot." She paused. I could feel her shaking as she held my shoulders. She was that weak. "Don't fight it. It'll be bloody. A mess. And then...it'll get better. You are lucky the Giordano Family no longer follows the bloody sheets tradition. During my time—." She stopped herself.
The bloody sheets tradition was nasty. In the Nostra Vita, only the Giordano Family stopped following it. Our crime family had the highest rate of rapes. It got so bad that the bloody sheets tradition slowly got removed as many women started faking it.
"Mother, how was your first time?" Her eyes widened in pain at the memory and I immediately regretted asking.
"It was horrible, Franci. I resisted and he wasn't a patient man. He, uh, he tied my..." she choked on her words. "...it's better if you don't hear it right now. Especially right before your wedding."
To be honest, I didn't want to hear it either. I didn't want to imagine it. Even just for few moments of my life, I wanted to feel like I was happy and marrying the love of my life. But I knew that was close to impossible. Yet still, I imagined. I hoped.
Hope was really a deadly thing.
Arianna was not here to tell me it would all be okay. She was not here to give me a smile of comfort when I would leave with a total, brutal stranger. My sister was not here because she was surviving in the hospital, fighting for her life because of the injuries Father had laid upon her. It was not her fault and neither was it mine but we still had to endure it because we were the women of this Family. It was our duty. Or so, that was what we were taught. It was what was inscribed into our souls the moment we saw a glimpse of light. Our first word was not Father but omertà and our understanding of silence.
Time flew by and before I knew it Father was walking me down the aisle. The soft music playing in the background did little to soothe the rapid thumping of my heart. My family, distant and close, were all here. Even the other mob bosses made an appearance for this moment. It was historical. But I did not look at any of them for more than a mere second. I looked ahead because I knew that if anyone stared into my eyes longer they'd know how weak I was. They would know how much I wanted to escape this bond. They would know everything inside me.
Father placed my hand onto the cold ones of the Don. I knew he was tall, strong and olive-skinned; a true Italian man as they would like to say.
The priest said the prayers. When it was time to say our consents, I stilled. My throat suddenly felt dry as his hand holding mine felt like iron shackles, pulling me into the dark depths of abyss with him and his deadly crimes. I did not want to go there. I did not ask for this.
"I do," he said, his voice deep and husky.
"Do you, Francesca Lastra, take him, Antonio Giordano, to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you apart?" the priest asked, looking deep into my eyes as if he was questioning my soul. I could see the sympathy that he tried to mask and if I saw it, then so did the Don. I prayed for the priest's good fate but I knew the Don was not merciful.
"Yes," I whispered. "I do take him as my husband." My voice echoed in the silent hall.
And then my fate was sealed.
Would I be able to love him? Would I be able to give him my complete loyalty without any question? Would I be able to make him my priority? I had no answers to these.
"You have declared your consent before the Church."
My cousin, who was my bridesmaid, walked forward with trembling hands holding a tray filled with two small crimson boxes.
My hand tightened around his as the priest blessed the rings. "You may say your vows, if you have any," he said.
He did not when he slipped the ring on my finger, but I wanted to say a vow. His trust was important.
I glanced up at him. He was already watching me, analyzing me as he titled his head when I didn't make a move to grab the ring. I knew he was wary. He did not trust me but he also knew I could do him no harm. He was not afraid but he was silent.
I bit my lower lip before grabbing the diamond jewelry. There was no point in delaying. Placing my hand under his left hand, I held it stable before I slipped the ring around his finger. Words flew from my lips—a promise I vowed to never break despite the intention was to gain his confidence. "I give you this ring in God's name, as a constant symbol of my promise to be faithfully yours as long as I live."
As his ring shackled my freedom even more, I knew I was not the woman to find love outside the loophole I was now bounded to. This was a promise I knew I'd keep. It was just him now. It was always just him.
"In the name of the Holy Spirit, I now solemnly declare you husband and wife. Let no one put asunder those that have been joined together today in the presence of almighty God. You may now kiss your bride."
I had to look up when he lifted my veil. Fear clouded my judgment. He was not bad looking and rather handsome now that I could see him more clearly, but I had seen better. His piercing dark eyes captured my attention the most. They were not anything different but they felt different; they felt darker than any other. They looked like the mirror of death.
I did not want to live with death.
"I now declare you Mr. and Mrs. Giordano." The words felt like a whisper in the background, repeating itself multiple times as if to mock me of what was to come. His lips touched mine soon in a short, aggressive kiss as the ceremony ended and soon it was over.
My loyalties now laid with the Don. Father and Mother were no more than the ones who had given me birth, prepared me for him. I met Mother's sullen eyes as I was leaving. She just gave me a curt nod. She was parting ways, just like her mother had done with her, and realization hit hard. I lost the woman I had grown to trust. I lost my mentor because now I was married and my world was supposed to revolve around the Don solely. It was just him now.
My hand felt cold and clammy in his as he dragged me out. We were not staying for the reception or for the after wedding rituals. I realized that the moment he pushed me into a sleek black SUV. I was not going to get a chance to say goodbye to my family. It was odd but I did not question it. I was glad to leave the scrutinizing gazes of my relatives and supposed allies.
I knew our married women knew the pain of sex. They had endured it themselves. I was a fool to think that maybe I could be happy, but just from the look in his eyes I knew that he was not going to wait. He was going to take me and I would have to let him. It was my duty as a wife. That was what I was always told; irrelevant to whether it was true or not in the real world.
"Drive," his cold and daunting voice ordered, making shivers of fear scorch through my body. I tried to be as small as possible even though the middle seat was in between us. He made no move to touch me either.
I did not want what was to come next and neither did I want his touch but I knew that the only man I would ever have in my life was him. There was no going back. There never was any going back in the first place then should it matter when we did it?
Everyone did it so you won't be any different. Don't think too much, Mother's words rang in my head and it answered my question. It would not make a difference.
Five years ago, Father had willingly agreed to the Godfather's orders of giving me to the Don in exchange for money. How could not he agree? Men were meant to be warriors and carry the legacy but daughters were meant to be sold off and used as things. That was the custom in the Giordano Family. But in reality, daughters were the ones who joined them all together. It was so messed up, twisted, and a blind set of rules.
• • •
I had not slept a blink throughout the whole car ride and neither had I dared to look at the Don. I did not even question him when he brought us inside a well-guarded mansion. I did not question him when he dragged me upstairs and into a richly decorated room. I did not need to. I knew what was bound to happen. I knew everything. I was not oblivious.
The scene was wholly set for a wedding night with rose petals on the bed and the lights dimmed down to make a romantic atmosphere. The place was even scented. I looked at the white sheets. It would be the place where my blood would be spilled. I was lucky that the tradition of the sheets was now demolished because if it weren't I knew I would not have been able to handle it. The embarrassment was too much. It was supposed to be my honour and his pride, but I only felt dishonoured about it. It was the only thing I respected the Don for—taking out the tradition, irrespective of his reasoning.
The room was filled with black curtains and beige walls. A large, black and white bed sat in the middle with curtains surrounding it. The cherry floors were covered with a few black rugs. It looked so dominating and scary. The room looked like royalty. The walls even had carvings on them. There was a beige chandelier hanging on the top and a balcony located at the side with elegant couches. To me, it felt like a king's room.
I felt his presence behind me. His hands crept onto my hips as I felt every inch of his body through my dress. My heart raced and I titled my head to the side, the blood rushing to my ears.
A mirror stood in front of us. I could see my flushed face and him behind me, watching me like a hawk and gauging my every reaction. He bent down and his cheeks touched my face softly. I did not stop him when his hands crept up my waist, his eyes never leaving mine through the mirror.
His black suit fit him snuggly, outlining his muscles. It was not hard to believe that he was the Don. He had that dominating aura around him. He was obviously a dominant.
His head dipped down and I felt his lips down on my neck sucking rather harshly. He started getting rougher. I did not resist. I listened to Mother's advice. I did not want it any more painful. I just wanted it over.
He moved my hair to the side as his lips wandered down to my back where it was a bit bare. The dress was an off-shoulder and made with lace long sleeves. I suddenly regretted pulling my veil off in the car.
His hands grabbed my arms before turning me around and dragging me to the bed. I bounced on it before he came on top grasping my hands above my head, his breathing slightly ragged.
I felt disgusted. This was the first time I had been touched and I knew it was not going to be the last. I had hoped for some small talk even those it was baseless. A gasp left my lips when I felt pressure on my breast. He squeezed it while his other hand held him up.
"Francesca?" I looked at him as he looked down at me, his olive cheeks slightly flushed red.
"Yes, Don?" I answered, making sure to not meet his eyes. It was disrespectful.
I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion before I realized that he was telling me his name. My lips parted in the realization that I had not known his name until the alter. I was not paying attention to it. But I was not guilty of it. Not many people knew his name. They all knew him either as the Don or as the Ace.
"Yes." I gulped. "Antonio." It felt odd calling him that.
"You now belong to me, Francesca," he spoke, his voice calculating. He was baiting me, seeing whether I would fight or submit. What I said next would decide on how I would get treated by him.
"I know, Antonio," I responded. It was exactly what he wanted to hear.
"Then explain to me..." He brought his hand up to my throat in a threatening manner. "...why you thought it would leave you unscratched if you went out half naked?"
I stilled and did my best not to cower back even though I knew he could feel my fear from the slight tremble my body gave away. He did not want an answer though, he wanted submission from me.
"I did not mean to," I whispered. It was so weak that I wanted to disappear, but was not I always this defenceless?
He chuckled harshly before applying a little more pressure on my throat. It was not enough to stop my breathing but enough to make it difficult. "I know, otherwise you would not be here—trembling under me with fear," he said.
I shivered at his words. The Don never lied. He meant it. He would have actually killed me, and I was not surprised.
^THIS IS TOXIC!! This is molestation and no one is obliged to let anyone touch them because of whatever their relationship is. I just want to confirm that what Antonio is doing right now is NOT right and what he will do further on is also NOT right. Francesca has been brainwashed to believe that as a wife it is her 'duty' to let him touch her but honestly it is not as long as she is not comfortable. The same goes for you. MAN OR WOMAN, CONSENT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT IN A RELATIONSHIP!