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Chapter 5- THE PAST

I was in the orphanage since I could remember. The Lucchese family took me in when I was 11 years of age. They were kind people. Gentle and loving. They had wanted to change my name, but I refused. Giving me home was enough for me. Using their name to change mine would be too much. Besides, I wanted to keep my identity and they respected my simple wish. I was the same as Alina Faye Taylor.

Andrea Lucchese. The youngest. She was sweet but fiery. She was a dear friend and a sister to me. Certainly, we had our fair share of clashes of views, quarrels but we were best of friends.

And there, Alessandro Lucchese. The eldest son. Grey eyes. Hair as black as the night. At my age, I knew he was good-looking. I wanted to be as friendly with him as I was with Andrea, but the first year of living with him was not smooth. He hated me. I was 11 back then and he was 15. The animosity around him was so clear it was poking me right into my nose every time his eyes landed on me. Never did I ever hear my name spoken out of his mouth. Never did I ever hear him call for me...until the unexpected horrible accident happened—his parents’ car crashed onto a truck, instantly killing them.

I had cried my heart out, staying up all night at the funeral home. I couldn’t eat. I was heartbroken. Andrea and I helped each other out to overcome the grief. Alessandro was impenetrable. I saw him cry but not very long. The black shades covered his eyes, his emotions.

Aunt Marieta and Uncle Sandro were the best parents one would ever wish to have. Notwithstanding the very short time I got to spend with them, they had shown me the love of the parents I had longed for. They didn’t show indifference towards me nor neglect my needs.

The week after we sent them to their final resting place, Alessandro finally uttered my name. My surprise was genuine. I was unprepared. Before, I was “You” to him. He’d use his cold tone, ”You, get in the car,” “You. You. You.”

I thought I heard him wrong, but he did call me by my given name. I didn’t know what changed. Andrea couldn’t tell either. Still and all, the change in him made me happier than I was before.

Nana Mena became our legal guardian when all of us refused to be taken into a foster home. Nana Mena fought for us and finally, the court gave her the responsibility to look over us.

Alessandro was still very young to take over the company, he couldn’t legally own the company until he came of age. The closest kin who was his father’s brother—Alfredo Lucchese—officiated the TREASURES CANOE. The Lucchese family ran commercial fisheries in California.

I was 16 and he was 20 when he became more demanding. Andrea and I were strictly watched by him. Andrea was 17 at that time. He’d ask where I went, what I did, and who did I go with. He was a jealous man, and Andrea would roll her eyes at his overprotectiveness. She once told me that he behaved that way because of me. Confused, I just shrugged off the spark of a romantic feeling it brought me. Funny but I never saw him as a brother nor a guardian who should watch over me. At 21, he brought the first woman in, she was beautiful. I couldn’t help but feel jealous. I was angry. I felt it was taboo to harbor such feelings toward him for we were living in the same household. We were not blood-related, but we were supposed to be family because I was adopted.

But the jealousy in the pit of my stomach when I saw them kissing at the balcony griped my chest it was hard to breathe. Right at that moment, I knew I felt something for him. He confused me at times, and I was even more perplexed when he got so mad to see me with someone outside the school. We fell out for a day, ignoring each other.

A week later, I woke up in the middle of the night. I couldn’t understand what awoke me, and he was there by the window, staring at me in the dark. I knew it was him: his height, his movement, his silhouette in dim light; all of them I knew in my heart that it was him.

“No man is going to have you. You’re mine. And mine only. You’re mine, Cara.” Were his shocking words before storming out of the room. I was left speechless.

The next morning, I felt dizzy from lack of sleep. Who would be able to sleep with that again? I tossed and turned until morning. I thought it was a dream but it wasn’t and I didn’t want it to be a dream. My heart was beaming with joy despite the zombie-like-eyebags I had under my eyes, I was happy. So happy.

And just when turned 18, he was uncontrollable. He was fast, spontaneous, and naughty. Very naughty. We were head over heels for each other. We tried to hide but we just couldn’t. Andrea got angry, but it wasn’t that long before she accepted. Four years of being together made my life colorful. He made me so happy.

But the accident...

Five months ago, Andrea and his boyfriend’s car crashed onto a truck that beat the red light at the crossing. She was only 23 years old. Greg was 30, and Alessandro disliked the man for his sister. He was strongly against the relationship, but Andrea loved him. She confided in me. She hated her brother for forbidding her from seeing Greg. They were hiding from him and I was always there to cover for her. That day, when Greg invited her to his hometown to meet his parents, I saw how excited Andrea became, however, when Alessandro came to know the news, he was upset. I talked to him, trying to convince him but he wouldn’t listen.

Greg was a conniving man Andrea shouldn’t trust, he said. I couldn’t understand because Andrea and Greg had been together for a year— a year without his approval because of his hostility towards Greg. How could he trust the man when he wouldn’t even let him in.

In order to trust someone, you have to give your trust. And he couldn’t give Greg that.

And that very night we argued was the night I let Andrea go to come with Greg, lying to Alessandro that she was in her room, which was also the night of the nightmarish accident happened.

He was right to hate me for what happened. He was right to condemn me for lying. For betraying his trust. For the loss of his sister.

Two months after Andrea’s death, we never talked. Many nights he’d get home late and intoxicated. He was out drinking. And it hurt me, even more, when every time I tried to talk to him he’d give me cold shoulders.

I was grieving too, I loved Andrea as much as he loved her. I needed him when he thought he didn’t need me. I was hurting when he thought he was more in pain. I lost Andrea but I also lost him.

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