56 | pain and numbness
I felt so numb with terror that it was almost painful, despite the lack of wound. I opened my eyes slowly and looked down. There was nothing. No blood. No scratches. Nothing. I patted my stomach to make sure. Tears welled in my eyes. "Y-You...?" I couldn't even bring myself to look at him.
"It was a test," he said slowly as if to not scare me. "The gun was never even loaded."
"A test? A bloody test!" My eyes snapped up to his in fury. I couldn't handle it anymore. All my attempts to pacify him were in vain, because he knew what he was going to do. He knew it all along.
He looked back at me very calmly. "It was necessary."
"No!" I yelled. "No, it was not!"
I cut him off. "Don't bambola me, Antonio or should I say Ace—the mighty Don! I'm your goddam wife! I deserve some respect! I don't deserve this!"
He licked his lips as he sighed. He tucked the gun behind him and walked toward me, but I instantly stepped back.
"Stay away from me! I can't deal with this now. I can't deal with you! I-I can't. Not anymore."
Soft whimpers left my lips as he moved closer. I backed away till I was touching the bonnet of his car. He pulled me toward him but I resisted, trying to push him away when he wrapped his arms around me. I didn't want him near. I didn't want his warmth anymore. Not right now. Not so soon.
"Bambola, this had to be done," he cooed in my ear. I would have even fallen for it if I didn't know better.
"No. You did it just to get back at me," I accused as I hit his chest frantically. He let me do it. "Let me go!"
But he didn't let me go. It just showed me how much more power he held.
He gripped my arms tightly before turning me around swiftly and placing a hand on my throat. He grabbed my wrists with one hand to stop my frantic movements. His grip wasn't tight but it was enough to have me lean against him. "I don't care for or like petty things, Francesca. You know me better than that."
But did I really?
I stilled. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I stared forward and at the clear roads that looked so vast and free. I wanted that freedom more than anything right now. I wanted to disappear.
"I was falling for you," I finally breathed out.
He stilled. His grip loosened and I slowly turned around.
"I was falling for you, Antonio!" I yelled and pushed him back. My voice came out shrilled and choatic. The rapid thudding in my heart didn't cease.
He stumbled back in surprise.
"And you just had to ruin it all because of your insecurities and your paranoias," I hissed, pushing him even further, aggravating him just like I was even when I no longer had the energy to fight him. "I was never disloyal to you even when I knew that you could be, and you want to know why?"
He didn't answer. He just watched me, a serious and confused expression on his face.
"Because I wanted something with you, and you gave me unnecessary hope. You played me like a puppet and I stupidly let you." I wiped my tears with the back of my palm as another sob left my body. "I want to go home, Don."
He didn't say anything and I didn't wait for him to as I walked around and sat on the passenger seat. It felt like hours when he rounded the car and started driving. There was an awkward silence in the air that I made no move to fix. Nothing could fix this. This would always be a broken relationship. There was no family. There was no love. Everything was just so cold, just like his heart.
I stared out the window. I wouldn't cry. No. Not in front of this man. My throat clogged up but I was stronger than this. I wouldn't give him the pleasure of seeing me so broken down and so defeated.
When we reached the mansion, I immediately ran out of the car and ran inside. I didn't care if someone saw me right now because I was in no mood for small chitchats. I'd scratch their eyes out if they said anything.
I passed by Nonna who sat on the couch with her afternoon women. I didn't bother to great her. I was in no mood. My tears were still fresh and I wasn't going to appear weak. If I couldn't find love in my relationship then I needed to make myself stronger outside.
I locked the bedroom door behind me and leaned against it. It was hard to hold onto my whimpers and tears.
It was all a game.
"Shut up. Shut up. Shut up!" the words kept spilling out as I slid down.
And then the dam broke. A sob left me and my body shook as I found it difficult to breathe. In. Out. In. Out.
It wasn't working. Why wasn't it working? Why wouldn't I let go of my breath?
No, no, no. I'm dreaming.
My body worked remotely. I didn't even know what I was doing. The throbbing in my lungs made me realize that I was on the verge of passing out. It was a weird way to harm myself but I wanted some relief. I needed to know this wasn't a dream. I hoped it was. I really did.
You may be pregnant, a voice in my head yelled and I instantly released my breath.
In. Out. In. Out.
But it just made things worse. The water trailed down my skin and my body trembled. Was it because of the cold or him?
'Do you think this could work?' His voice rang in my head.
"Leave me alone!" I screamed in the shower. "Leave me alone! Leave me the fuck alone! Get out of my head!"
'I'm sorry, bambola,' he had said. Did he really mean the apology? Was he even being sincere this whole time?
I stifled in a scream as I realized what he had actually meant. Do you think I could easily manipulate you? And I, being the foolish idiot that I was, thought he was talking about our relationship. He even told me he was talking about us. But how could I have believed him? He was a liar!
Maybe he didn't lie. Maybe he actually likes you.
No. No. No. Not again.
He played me. He was always playing me. Because if he wasn't then he wouldn't have pulled this stunt. He would've cared about our relationship. There would've been other ways to have checked my loyalty. I warmed his bed every night for lord's sake. He could've at least respected me for that.
I remembered the way he took me in the shower and the way I had walked in like a desperate whore. Had he told his friends? Was he laughing about it right now? Did he even care?
I didn't know and I would never know. I was tired of it all. I was tired of his games and manipulation. Making me feel loved and wanted, and then disposing of me like some call girl. He insulted me and he didn't care. He didn't come storming in, demanding me to open the door. He didn't do anything. But I certainly expected him to and somewhere deep down I wanted him to. I wanted him to tell me he was sorry. I wanted him to hug me. I wanted him to tell me everything was going to be fine. I wanted him to love me.
But he didn't. He wasn't there when I came out of the shower and he wasn't there when I walked into the bedroom. But wasn't this how it should've went? Wasn't this how I was raised? I should've expected it. I was just the woman to birth him heirs while he had a lavish lifestyle with his mistresses.
But he had told me different. He told me he was sorry. He told me.
But did I ever ask him if there was someone else? Had I ever asked him if I meant something more to him than just a woman who waited for him to come home?
My hands shook with tremors as I slid in bed. Everything reminded me of him. His smell. His touch. Everything. The pain in my heart increased. I felt betrayed.
My body shook until I could no longer handle the tremors. My clothes stuck to me like a glove. I hadn't bothered wiping myself. I didn't need to.
He wasn't coming back. He wasn't mine. He had been a ploy—my ruination. He provided me with an illusion of choice but in the end it was always going to be his word, and now that the illusion had cracked I could finally see again.