It was actually... frightening? Not that I felt physically afraid, I’d place my money on myself any day against anyone. It was more the emotional shock of watching that.
The bug starts to pull back and forth as I move between the gears. “Shit, not here!” I look around at the expansion of wilderness that surrounds me. The mansion was deep into its own land and I’d come to think of this place as a dead zone, I couldn’t even get phone signal in some spots.
A chugging follows as I beg the old girl to keep going but with a barrel of black smoke flooding from the engine she comes to a halt. My god, could my day get any worse?
Stepping out I pull open the hood but am attacked by the hot fog that springs free the moment it can, spewing out into the air like a signal to the gods that I’m here, having a nervous breakdown.
I grab my phone but there’s no signal here. Fuck! I’m already so late because I was trying to take it easy on her so didn’t speed away, I’m gonna be so late to class. Connor is going to kill me.
Shit. I can feel my heels sinking into the dirt road already so I know I need to get moving. Grabbing my bag I get ready to walk until I get signal, I bet Cole or Tara will come get me. I don’t want Al driving out here on her own in her condition.
I only get a few feet from my car when I hear another approaching. I felt relieved, until I saw it was a red sports car. Nope.
Turning I start to hurry down the road, sticking to the edge. I seriously contemplate jumping the fence and hiding in the field but I think it’s a bit late for that. Antonio pulls up next to me as I hold my phone up in the air like I’m in a bad nineties horror movie looking for signal.
“Amore? Get in, I’ll give you a lift.”
I’m just going to pretend I’m invisible, outside of work hours this guy isn’t my client so I don’t owe him shit.
I carry on walking but he just travels slowly beside me, chuckling to himself. I’m about ready to snap when I feel a drop of rain hit my cheek, what did I ever do to you God? Is this for all the premarital sex? Because if you didn’t want me to do it you shouldn’t have made it feel so fucking good!
I cut him off quickly. “Does your phone work here? If you let me borrow it I’ll just wait in my car until I can get a lift from someone.”
The water starts to pour down from the heavens and I can just imagine Chad loving life up there as he drops bucket after bucket directly onto my head. I miss you, you annoying little twat.
“It doesn’t here amore, at least let me take you to where there is signal? You’re getting wet Brianna...”
Don’t say a single word about you being wet Brie, it’s exactly what he wants.
For fucks sake. I jump into the passengers seat as soon as I feel the water leak through to my underwear, convincing myself I can bare to be in the same car with him if I just pretend he’s someone else.
We drive in silence for ten minutes, me refusing to acknowledge his presence and staring at the dying battery of my phone, waiting for signal.
The moment I see bars my phone is already ringing. Sonya’s screams fill the car and I don’t miss the smirk on Antonio’s face.
“BRIANNA! YOU’RE DEAD! NO YOU’RE WORSE THAN DEAD! IF YOU’RE NOT IN THIS OFFICE IN THE NEXT THIRTY SECONDS I’M GOING TO SHOVE MY HAND DOWN YOUR THROAT AND TURN YOU INSIDE OUT!”
I don’t get a chance to respond, Antonio rips the phone from hand and places it to his ear. “Sonya, Antonio Romero. I’m very sorry that Ms Parker is not with you, unfortunately Clarisse has taken her prisoner in a discussion about the guest list, I believe she will not be free for the rest of the evening. I can always tell Clarisse you felt your needs are more important than hers and have Brianna returned to you? Although I believe we both know how she’d react to such a gesture.”
Sonya knows she’s fucked here, she can’t exactly have me taken away from a top client that wants me. She completely changes her tone as she talks with Antonio and I block it all out as I watch the fields around us turn to the town I’m most familiar with. Antonio hangs up and passes me my phone back just in time for me to watch it die. “Fuck!”
He chuckles. “For such a beautiful woman, you use terrible language.”
“Bite me Mario.”
“As I remember, you quite like that amore.”
Oh fuck off. We are not doing this. “Pull over here and let me use your phone.”
He looks out at the rain that is still pouring down. “Don’t be ridiculous Brianna, I shall take you home and will have my personal mechanic pick up your car. I will not leave you on the street corner like some kind of common-”
“Whore? No, wouldn’t ever want you to treat me like one of those would we.” I hate this, it’s like he’s got control again and there’s nothing I can do about it. I glance at the clock and realise I’m never going to make it to class if he takes me home first. “Just drop me at the night school. Don’t have your mechanic get the car, I don’t want to owe you shit. I’ll sort it.”
“Either that or leave me here because if you try to get that car fixed I will seriously lose my shit. Do you understand?”
He smirks. “Your stubbornness knows no bounds does it?”
Nope. We drive further and the scene from earlier runs around and around in my head, the way he flipped on a man that’s supposed to be his brother. It wasn’t normal... he could’ve killed him... has he killed anyone? I know I shouldn’t ask but I’d regret it everyday for the rest of my life if I didn’t.
“Are you in the Mafia?”
He laughs immediately, almost too quickly. Like he’s rehearsed for this moment. “Amore, because I’m Italian you assume I’m in the Mafia? I believe that’s racism.”
Oh bitch do not pull the racism card with me. I’m a black woman in America, I own that shit. “No, the fact your brother is in the Mafia and it’s kind of a family business leads me to that belief.”
There’s a slight twist in his lips, I have a feeling he’s happy I know something. “And what leads you to believe my baby brother is associated with such a business?”
I smirk. “I have a source.”
Am I in one of those spy films now? Because I’d make a fuck-tastic undercover agent, I should be the next James Bond.
“Ah.” Antonio’s grip on the wheel increases and I see the frustration of my words in his eyes. “Would this source happen to have a fresh stab mark in his side?”
Fuck, he knows about Steve. “I- I um..” Use your words Brianna!
Antonio’s face grows harder. “I was at the fight Amore, I saw you there. I apologise for my brothers actions that night, he has always been hot headed.”
He’s kidding. “Hot headed?! He stabbed Steve! He stabbed him for beating him, that’s more than a temper. The boys a fucking nut-job.”
A chuckle leaves his lips, a genuine laugh that I haven’t ever heard from Antonio before. Why doesn’t he do that more often? His laugh is... angelic.
“He feels the need to live up to a reputation that has been thrust upon him unfortunately, a trap we have all fallen into with our father... The man in the fight, you’re important to him, yes?”
Like fuck are we having this conversation.
“My friends are all important to me, I hope the feeling is mutual with them towards myself in return.”
His knuckles are white, I don’t know what I’m doing to piss him off but I still wouldn’t stop it if I did.
He takes a deep breath. “He did not look at you like a friend Brianna, I believe you’re trying to hide this fact from me. This man, he is the one you spoke of the other day? The one who you have something special with?”
He’s not that one, but he definitely is special. “No, it’s not him. Why didn’t you say anything to me? If you were at the fight that night, why didn’t you say something to me?”
I want to ask him so many questions but I know I’ll never get the answers I want, so I’ll start small and build my way up.
His grip loosens slightly and the car slows down from the lightening pace we’ve been travelling at for the last few minutes. “I could not amore, I was not supposed to be there myself. My family is... difficult. I walked away from them for a long time and have recently returned to their good graces. My brother has suffered more than most, the fight was my idea; a way for him to blow off steam. My father was very specific about the fact he was to enter it without me present. He believes I care too deeply for the boy.”
Cares too deeply? He almost killed him earlier! Fuck easing into it, time for the big questions. “Is your Dad the leader of the Mafia then?”
He chuckles again. “Even if such a thing were true, I could not tell you without it being the last thing you ever heard. I will tell you that not everything is as it seems, and not all beasts are the monsters we make them out to be.”
His eyes lock on mine, the car stopping but I cannot draw myself away from his gaze. A beast, is that how he sees himself? A man in a big castle, surrounded by servants, broken and alone as he hides his true face away from the world.
He once told me I was innocent to him, unbroken. In his mind, am I supposed to be his Belle? His beauty? In his world of destruction, does he see me as his escape?
The world is never black and white, it’s a whole mess of grey. Antonio is the darkest of those greys, a grey so deep you could mistake it for something else.
He breathes deeply, the compact car leaving little room for me to escape as the air hits my lips. His scent, it surrounds me. I know who this man is, what he is, and yet I still stepped straight in here with him.
I can see why people fear him, yet in his presence I feel the furthest thing from afraid. I know he would never hurt me.
He leans in closer to me, his hand meeting my cheek as he grazes over it softly. I can’t even blink, his magnetic hold pulling me to his eyes... his lips. “Amore, if I were to kiss you right now. If I were to pull you here into my lap and kiss you like you’re desperate to be kissed, would you stop me? Would you even want to?”
I glance down at his lips, the lips that have done things to me I cannot describe. Would I? Do I want to?
His hand stays placed against my cheek but he doesn’t move, he leaves this choice to me.
For a brief moment, a brief fleeting moment, I want to. I want to feel him take my lips, to dominate my tongue, to rip me from this seat and ravage my body the way only he knows how... but it was only for a moment.
“You’re not a beast Antonio, and I am not your beauty.”
I take his hand from my face, kissing the knuckles gently the way he has so many times before, then step out of the car.
I feel good, I feel strong and powerful.
Then it all comes crashing down as I see the person standing directly in front of me, his green eyes looking at me with nothing but pain.