BEYOND REDEMPTION

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Chapter 3 - Carpe Diem

ALISON

After forcing myself off the bed and out of those thoughts, I jumped in the shower, hoping the warm water could both soothe my muscles and wash away this new unwelcome feeling of emptiness. It did neither to be honest, even as I insisted, standing there long after my fingers had pruned. Jackson was just fun, right? Why was I feeling like I wanted him to stay for longer? Was I really looking for something else? Something more?

My sex life was kind of a late bloomer since I had the grace of a newborn baby giraffe until way past my nineteenth birthday. Besides that being a total turn-off, I had two other huge ones. They even had names! Liam and Matteo Battaglia. Exactly! My beloved brothers used to threaten each guy that even dared to come close to me, making them ultimately choose to keep their head on their shoulders over risking the chance of hurting me and be tortured to a gruesome death as they had been so believably promised. They treated me like a little girl. Fuck, they still even called me princess! It took me some time to find and be interested in someone who didn’t know them, and that only happened in college, meaning I lost my virginity at twenty-two. TWENTY-FREAKING-TWO! That’s only four years ago. I was practically a nun if it weren’t for my high sexual appetite. Needless to say that Sir Shakesalot, a purple vibrator I owned since I was eighteen, was a very intimate friend of mine until I had a taste of the real deal. Now he’s just here for emergencies. He’s been replaced a couple of times, but his soul remains.

So I can’t say I’m super experienced, I’ve only had a few partners, and none of them were serious relationships, so I’m left wondering if that’s what I’m lacking! If this emptiness I’m feeling now is a need for a deeper connection. That won’t be happening with Jackson that’s for sure. And with the ridiculous amount of time I’ve been spending at AD, I really couldn’t see myself having any left for more than just occasional sex. The thought didn’t bring me much comfort. I wasn’t ready to have my heart out there, vulnerable for some guy to just step all over it. How do I even do that when I have yet to meet someone that can, even remotely, whisper my heart into a lovestruck enchantment?

I shook my head, symbolically ridding myself of the heavy negativity I had let seep into my mind. I got out of the shower, wrapping myself in a towel before wiping the condensation off the mirror, just enough to see a semblance of my reflection looking right back at me, waiting for the pep talk that was growing in my gut, impatient to come out, and too eager to slap me hard across the face. Get a freaking grip, Alison! It’s not like it’s the first time in your life you’re feeling lonely. Life is good right now, so just Carpe fucking Diem, and stop being a wuss!

It wasn’t like I was an abandoned puppy with no love. I could always count on my family, but I didn’t want to burden them with such an insignificant issue when they had so many bigger things on their plates already. My oldest brother Matt, well, he always had business to attend to, since besides all the mafia ordeals he was still trying to build a couple of other more legit businesses. Liam was in the middle of planning his wedding to the love of his life, Jamie, and dealing with my mother who had just returned from Italy to help with the wedding arrangements. Above that, was all the stress that taking over AD brought, only adding to an already demanding situation. No, no! I don’t mean the wedding. Dealing with my mother!

My father, let’s just say has been acting weird lately and didn’t have much time to spare to make an appearance at work, never mind deal with my micro meltdown.

I have gotten used to it, I guess I might just be a little sensitive. Maybe I’m just dealing with some early PMS symptoms. I was never one to have many friends, because of who I was and who I was related to. Besides, most of the people that got close to me, almost always, revealed having ulterior motives, like getting close to my hot brothers, or taking advantage of my family’s, almost too comfortable, economic status. Or maybe I was just a bad friend.

With that thought, I decided to call Francesca, as Max had asked me to. I was sure she was in need of a friendly shoulder, much more than I was.

Francesca Amato was Matt’s ex-wife, but I loved her like a sister. She had married my brother to appease a war between our family and the Amato’s, from Detroit, and we had grown closer during the year they were married. Needless to say, that as the strong independent woman that she was, she didn’t make his life easy, but they ultimately fell in love with each other. But my thick and arrogant big brother made sure he fucked that up. The poor guy thinks he knows best. He ended up licking his wounds while she’s waiting for a decision from The Commission to become the next Donna of the Amato family. It was painful to watch how they both loved each other and were still breaking because of nothing more than stupidity. I would do anything to see those two idiots happy again.

The dumbhead divorced her, to give her the dream of a lifetime. But things change, dreams change, as do aspirations. Hers had changed too because now she loved him back.

In two days she would be back in New York, attending the meeting that would ultimately change her life forever, or so we hoped.

I dried myself off and put on some underwear and a large t-shirt before I dialed her number, hoping she would pick up. The last time I had spoken to her was two weeks ago, and to say she was a shell of a person was an understatement. I shot her a text every day, most of them wouldn’t get a reply, but her uncle was kind enough to keep me updated, letting me and Jamie know just how she was doing.

“Hey, girl. How are you doing?” I chimed into the phone as soon as Francesca picked up my call.

“Surviving. How are you?” She replied in a low strained tone. I could feel the pain in her voice, even after almost a month had gone past the dreadful day when Matt gave her the divorce papers. I’m sure that coming back to New York, and having to face him again was taking its toll on her.

“Fine, I guess. I heard you were arriving in New York in two days? Will you have any time to spare for a girl’s night out? I’m sure we can at least help lift your spirits.”

“I always have time for you and Jamie. That will surely be the highlight of this miserable trip.” She released a heavy, pained sigh, that made my heart ache for her even further. “I am so not looking forward to this, Alison.”

“I know! I still can’t believe everything that happened. But you know I’m here for you, right?” I tried to reassure her. I could only imagine the hell that was going through her head and the storm that was going through her heart.

“I know, thank you. But I don’t think I can do this. I’m not ready to face him yet. I still love him, Alison, and I’m scared I’m going to break all over again once I set eyes on him. I’ve just managed to get back on my feet even if just barely. I… I just can’t do this.”

“Francesca, you are the strongest woman I know. No man can take that strength away from you. Besides, both Jamie and I are here to help you through this. This is your life-long dream, and you are just a step away from making it come true. Don’t let it all be in vain.”

“I… I don’t know, Alison. It’s just too soon.”

“This is your chance to show my brother just exactly what he’s missing out on. Just exactly the incredible woman he set free into a world dominated by hungry lions.” I was trying as hard as I could to bring even the faintest smile to her face, without trashing Matt, but I honestly felt like bashing him hard and telling her everything I knew. But I couldn’t. I owed it to both of them to shut the hell up as long as I possibly could. “Don’t let him off easy, Fran. I mean, it’s been hard on him too, I’ve hardly seen him lately and the only time I have, he was not in a good mood. He brought it upon himself, I know. But don’t let go of your dream just because Matt will be there. Don’t let your pain take this away from you too, Fran!” I couldn’t let her lose both Matt and her dream. I heard her sigh on the other side, still not quite convinced it was worth the heartbreak she knew was coming. “Look, let’s just take it one step at a time, and try not to predict the future. We can cross all those worrisome bridges when we come to them. So for now, just forget about my brother and focus on achieving what you’ve always thought was out of your reach. You will become the first Donna in the mafia, Francesca! Think about all the other women that can one day be in your position. The undeniable precedent that will be set once you make it, paving the path to all the others that one day can even dare to dream as high as you have. Do it for them. Do it for yourself! The rest we will deal with when it comes, deal?” I decided to give her the same advice I had given myself as I looked into that mirror. “Let’s just seize the day. Carpe Diem, baby.”

“Maybe.”

“Don’t maybe me, madam. I want to hear you say aye aye Captain!” I tried to mimic a pirate’s voice, badly may I add, but it managed to pull a chuckle out of her, so I would take it.

“Have you lost an eye or grown a wooden leg also?” she lightly laughed and I felt a small relief from finally doing my job as a friend.

“Sorry, I’m not fluent in mobster. All I have is the small lexicon ingrained in my brain from rewatching Pirates of the Caribbean more times than I can count.” I laughed, following her now louder chuckles. “What? I mean… Jack Sparrow is hot!”

“He’s strange.” She continued giggling.

“So am I. It’s meant to be!” I faked a serious tone. “I’m still waiting, sailor!”

“Aye aye Captain!” she cooed into the speaker.

“That’s more like it. So I’ll see you at dinner. I’ll text you the restaurant details. And Fran… We got this.”

She sighed and bid her goodbyes leaving me a little lighter than before, and anxious to see her again.

Fuck dinner, I’ll have coffee in the morning. I let my body fall back on the bed, closing my now heavy lids, hoping that this night will be restful and restoring because tomorrow will be another busy day.

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