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Chapter 48 : Madelyn

Chapter 48 : Madelyn
Monday, August 9th, 2021

The mafia.

My boyfriends are in the fucking mafia, and I didn’t know.

Ever since I really began to grow comfortable with them, I had joked around and called it their side business, but I don’t think I could’ve been more wrong.

I’m no stranger to weapons, bruised fists, and even death, but the mafia is some next level shit.

Throughout my childhood, one of my first lessons was you either grew a backbone in the town I lived in or you didn’t get very far in life.

But I remember my father used to tell me stories growing up about the mafia— ones that kept me awake at night, hoping to never have to face a darkness like that.

His words are currently echoing in my head, information about what kind of people those soldiers became and the morals they lacked.

Drug and human trafficking, prostitution, robberies, murder.

That’s what those people stand for, and I can’t stomach for a single second that the men I’ve grown so close to are involved in it—support it.

I feel my fists grip tighter around the steering wheel, my foot pressing harder on the gas pedal and allowing the wind to whip my hair behind me.

I know I’m going dangerously over the speed limit, but this is all I can think to do right now.

No matter what thoughts travel through my mind, I can’t stop the tears from spilling down my face in anger, fear, and sadness as I try to piece everything together.

I know I shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but how the hell am I supposed to interpret this?

Does Hailey know?

Would I put her in danger by telling her?

I don’t know what to do, but I know I need to calm myself down before anything else.

It’s just so hard when countless memories flash through my head.

The first true day I met them; the gun in Xavier’s hand; the splatter of blood that flew from that man’s head as not a single person there showed an inch of remorse.

I think about the guns that my men carried everywhere, the training and knowledge they had that was not required of nightclub owners.

The signs were always there, but never once had my theories traveled to this.

I could only blink as more tears flowed, trying to keep my focus on the road, even when the truly painful memories flooded in.

That night at the club when they first touched me in their office.

How for the first time in years, I was able to look at myself—scars and all– and feel true beauty and appreciation.

That’s what made this so damn hard.

The fact that I can’t hate them even if I wanted to, because they were quickly becoming my everything.

The rushing emotions were relentless as they continued to hit me in waves, the same motions happening again and again until I found myself parked on the street outside of Hailey’s house.

No cars had followed me here and with my phone and purse still with Caleb, Alec and Xavier, the drive had been utterly silent with the exception of my sniffles and the hum of the engine.

It was only me and each of my accompanying footsteps as I strode up the steps to the house, wiping away the tears from my eyes as I walked.

I didn’t even have to search for the spare keys hidden in the flowerpot before Hailey opened the door, a worried look painted across her face.

“Madelyn.” She said, her warm eyes flicking over my features, no doubt seeing the redness from my crying.

And that single look, it made me want to break all over again.

“You knew?” I said, disbelief circling me.

I was well aware of their years of friendship, but I hoped... as awful as it is, I hoped I wasn’t the only one who felt betrayed.

Jolene’s a part of it, Hailey’s a part of it, the three men who finally helped me learn what it felt like to be happy again were a part of it.

But the reality is that Hailey should have been at work, but she must have known I was coming here and turned up to greet me—to try and feed me the truths I wasn’t ready to hear yet.

My words were laced with so much unintentional venom, Hailey physically flinched at my tone.

I couldn’t bring myself to feel too badly about it, though.

Not when it turns out everyone who promised me friendship had lies of their own.

I didn’t bother to say anything else before I placed Caleb’s keys into Hailey’s hands.

I knew they would come here, and I planned to be long gone before that happened.

“It’s—” Hailey began, but I didn’t allow myself to listen to whatever she said.

It’s like my brain didn’t physically let me, my only thought being to get the hell away from here.

I could distantly hear Hailey calling out my name, but I had moved into my bedroom too quickly for her hand to reach out to my arm.

Grabbing my keys from the drawer, I side stepped my friend standing at my doorway before walking down the driveway and into my parked car.

This time, Hailey didn’t bother running after me, my eyes catching her figure on the porch for a few seconds before backing out and turning onto the street.

Somehow, I managed to hold back my sob as I drove away for the second time today.

______

It had been just under four hours since everything happened, but no one found or bothered me as I continued to sit on the rocky beach off the highway.

Maybe driving to the place where Xavier kissed me for the first time wasn’t the smartest idea for my emotions, but I didn’t know where else to go.

I still don’t.

However, these hours have allowed me to breathe and actually think about everything I’ve learned today.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do or how I can ever trust them again if I don’t have all the answers.

The only problem is that in order to get the answers I’m looking for, I’d have to see them again. I fear that encounter not because of what they represent, but because I worry all I’ll want to do is go straight back into their arms.

But I let myself be pushed around and manipulated for years with Noah and I know I deserve better than to relive that again.

I deserve better than that.

But yet, I’m now struggling to imagine how I could live a life without them in it.

The worst part is that I wouldn’t just be losing my men, or Hailey and Jolene. No, I would be losing a part of myself as well, the part that has only grown brighter with every second I’m with them.

A deep sigh falls from my nose, my body shifting under the hard pebbles beneath me.

I have to admit, the sound and smell of the waves hitting the rocks was calming, and as I looked out to the seemingly endless body of water, I couldn’t help but think of my father.

What would he do if he were me?

I already know, and I can practically hear his voice telling me to hold my ground.

If my father were here, he’d go to that stupid dinner Vincent invited me to looking like the best dressed person in the room just to spite them.

My dad wouldn’t falter as he’d hold his head high, taking a seat like he fucking owned the place and demand the answers he was more than entitled to.

A small smile crosses my face at the image, knowing he’d do exactly that and nothing less.

Is it insanely suicidal to challenge who I’m assuming to be the leader of whatever mafia they’re a part of?

Yes.

Am I going to do it anyways?

...

Using my hands to help me stand, I brush off the small rocks and dust that had clung to the black material of my leggings.

I was insanely hot from the sun combined with my hoodie, but the only thing on my mind right now was giving myself the courage to do what I’m about to do.

I was going to get the answers I deserved and then... Well, I’ll figure out that part later.

For now, my attention was set on getting into my car, pulling back onto the roadway and heading for Hailey’s house.

I still didn’t really want to talk to her, but I know I’ll have to eventually.

I guess I just didn’t expect to see her sitting on the couch nervously, as if waiting for me as I opened the door, walked in, and placed my keys on the kitchen counter.

“I’m sorry.” She says, looking up at me with a small smudge of mascara under her eyes, “I’m not an associate or anything, but I do know what they do.”

That’s the only explanation Hailey gives me, probably knowing just by looking at me that I didn’t want to talk.

With a small nod of my head, I leave her where she is as I enter my room.

While I’m more relieved than I thought I’d be that Hailey wasn’t in the Mafia, I can’t help but wonder how she could know what they do and still want to be friends with them.

My father’s a murderer—I’ve seen him kill first hand even—, but I can accept that.

I accepted them even though our first encounter was with a bullet shot into another by their own hand.

What I can’t accept, however, are things like human trafficking and all the other countless atrocities the mafia is associated with.

I’m disgusted to even think of the possibility of them being involved in that, yet another reason that I need to do this.

I need answers, and I need Xavier’s prick of a father to know that I’m neither a pet nor some little girl he can walk all over.

It took everything in me to not lunge for him when he called me that, but it seemed I wasn’t the only one either.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard Xavier’s voice go so dark, his eyes following suit.

I had gotten goosebumps from his tone then, and even just thinking about it now threatens for them to return.

They don’t, though.

Instead, my skin warms as the doors to my closet open and I go to unzip the clear vinyl garment bag tucked neatly in the back.

Keeping the hanger but discarding the plastic cover, my fingers brush over the silky material of the floor length dress, the same one Hailey got for me when we went shopping together.

It was the fanciest piece I owned, and I had a nagging suspicion that nothing about this dinner with Vincent would be anything less than over the top.

My heart raced at the thought of actually wearing this anywhere, but I didn’t have much to lose at this point anyways.

Though, I still had to force myself to get out of my head as I stripped off my current clothes, replacing them with the red layers of expensive fabric.

I never thought I’d ever have an excuse to wear this anywhere, but combined with the cut and the strings of crisscrosses holding the back together, I knew it looked good and I would not show up under dressed.

My makeup took me practically no time and the waves in my hair already looked mostly consistent and pretty, so even though it was already five past seven, I was now ready to go.

A small frown appeared on my face at the sight of my reflection in the bathroom mirror, though, not from insecurities, but because of the reason I was wearing this beautiful dress.

I guess I just wish I could have worn it under other circumstances.

With a sigh and a final glance in the mirror, I didn’t give myself the chance to back out before I exited my room.

My heels clicked against the floor with each step, but I noticed I seemed to be the only one here now.

Hailey was no longer in the living room as I moved past it, though a voice spoke just as I reached to grab my keys from the counter.

“Madelyn?” Hailey said, my head turning to find her leaning her arms on the hallway balcony from upstairs.

My eyes on her were my only response, waiting for what she had to say.

“They came looking for you, you know?” She said, but I figured as such at the sight of their car being gone when I got back, “You have every right to be mad, I was too, but give them a chance to explain.”

I simply nod my head, forcing myself not to cry again.

I see Hailey’s eyes flick over my outfit, realization of where I’m going passing through her mind.

“Vincent is as mean as they get and knows how to manipulate people better than anyone I’ve ever met.” She says, shocking me slightly by the change in topic, “He probably knows things about you he shouldn’t be able to know, and he’ll use it against you if he gets the opportunity. Don’t let him see your surprise or really any emotion whatsoever. Though, as powerful as he is, Xavier won’t let him hurt you. Use that to your advantage.”

I listened to her every word carefully, blinking as I took in this information.

This wasn’t what I’d expected at all from her, but I was thankful for it, even if I was still more than upset.

“Also... you look beautiful.”

I swallowed, slipping my finger through the ring of my car keys as I took a step away from the counters.

“Thank you.” I nod, not just for her compliment but for her warning as well.

Despite what I was about to do, I wasn’t an idiot. I knew Vincent was a power hungry asshole, but nothing was going to stop me now short of a car crash.

I had made up my mind, and sane or not, Vincent Alcazar was going to lose a finger or two the next time he called me someone’s pet.

_______

Don’t overthink it.

My car was parked in the driveway of their mansion-like house, my heart racing and mind spinning.

The familiar black gates that lined their property loomed over me, the same number of people guarding the entrance as the last few times I’ve come through this way.

As I stepped out of my very much contrasting vehicle, I forced my back to straighten and my head to remain high as I walked up to the barred metal gates.

As awful as it is, the person who I’ve come to know as the scary lady flicks her eyes down to my ring, the thing that’s gained me entrance here countless times now.

Without a word, the doors silently open before me, nothing more than a slight nod coming from one of the people there.

I took a quiet deep breath as I moved to walk, and while I might have been seeing things, I could have sworn a small smile appeared on the female guard’s face as I passed.

Though it was likely just a figment of my imagination, it gave me the courage to not back out as I lifted the flowy skirt of my dress and carefully made my way up the stone steps.

I couldn’t help but be a little surprised when it was an old woman who answered my soft knock on the door, but I suppose my presence had been expected in previous times so my men were always the ones waiting for me.

I thanked the lady as she took my purse for me and hurried off without another word.

For a moment I fiddled with my hands, not knowing where everyone was, but I soon heard an angry shout come from the dining room to my left.

It was Xavier’s voice.

I followed the sound of people all the way until I reached the small stretch of wall that kept the table mostly closed off from the living room and kitchen.

Of course, this also hid my presence from everyone there, but I didn’t come here to snoop, I came for demands.

Taking one final moment of preparing myself, I righted my posture as I slipped around the corner, revealing myself to the four men at the table.

It took no more than a second before all talk went silent at the sight of me walking into the dining room, my head held high and indeed looking like the best dressed person there.


- End of Chapter 48 -

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