22. Like a Grand-Daughter
Gianna had been furious when I had told her how I came to be here. At first I thought she was angry with me. I figured that she thought that I was lying. But as she dragged me along a passage way I hadn’t seen before, muttering in Italian, I realised it wasn’t me she was angry with.
The next thing I knew she had charged through a door, yelling at Vincent and Christian in Italian.
Vincent looked furious, and I froze. Maybe this was it. The moment I had been dreading. Instead he stormed out of the room.
I didn’t move at first when Armando called me over. I glanced at the door, half expecting Vincent to come charging back in and finish what the man in the cells had started.
I hesitated as Armando beckoned me with his finger. Then Gianna’s words echoed in my mind.
He doesn’t like it when people don’t do as he says.
I walked towards him. Maybe he would be the one to end it. I’d become too much of a problem. A loose end.
I swallowed hard and walked slowly towards him My heart thundering in my chest.
“A...Are you going to... kill me?” I stuttered.
He took my hand gently in his.
“No piccolina. We just need to talk,” he soothed.
He gently lead me over to a large leather sofa.
It was a command more than a suggestion, even if it was gently said.
I sat immediately, staring at the floor wondering what was about to happen.
He sat down too, still holding my hand, but leaving space between us.
“Your mother was like a daughter to me, it saddens me to hear of her death,” he began.
“But it saddens me more that you have found yourself in your current situation. It seems you are a victim of others poor choices.”
I wondered if he was referring to Vincent and Christian, or perhaps he was referring to my dad. I suddenly felt a surge of hope. I glanced up.
“Does that mean I can go home?” I asked excitedly.
Armando shook his head slowly, “I’m sorry Rosie, but that’s not going to be possible.”
Tears pooled in my eyes. I had thought for one minute that Vincent’s father might have been my saviour, but I was wrong.
“Why?” I wailed, “I haven’t done anything wrong?”
A tear escaped my eye, and trickled down my cheek.
Armando gently brushed his thumb across the top of my hand.
“I know, piccolina, But there is no one left for you. Your father is in prison, the state has seized his property. You have no other family. As I said your mother was like a daughter to me. So you are like a grand-daughter to me. Let me look after you. We’ll find you a school. Once you’ve graduated you can decide what you want to do, perhaps college?” He suggested.
I stared at him, dumbstruck. I opened my mouth and closed it again like some stranded fish.
He clasped my small hand in between his two large ones and gently patted the top of it.
“Don’t worry, we’ll sort something out. For now you should have your own room, and Roberto has arranged some new clothes which should arrive tomorrow. I don’t want you to worry about anything, Rosie.”
It was easy for him to say. My stomach was doing somersaults.
“I don’t feel too well,” I mumbled.
He looked at me and frowned.
“You do look a little pale, piccolina,” he concluded.
I watched as he pulled a phone from his pocket.
“Perhaps an early night is in order,” he added.
Armando dialled a number on his phone.
“Roberto? Per favore, puoi fare in modo che qualcuno porti Rosie nella sua cabina, se possibile di sesso femminile. Forse un po ’di latte caldo per aiutarla a dormire?” [Roberto? Please can you arrange for someone to take Rosie to her cabin, female if possible. Perhaps some warm milk to help her sleep?]
I watched him as he waited for a response, then he nodded.
“Grazie Roberto.” [Thank you Roberto]
He ended the call and placed the phone in his pocket.
“Someone will take you back to your cabin. You should rest. I know this isn’t easy for you Rosie, but it will get better, I promise you that.”
Before I had a chance to say anything, there was a knock on the door.
“Venire,” Armando instructed. [Come]
A girl, probably about the same age as me, slowly entered the door.
Armando smiled at her, in an attempt to put her at her ease. It didn’t seem to work. Then he looked at me and smiled.
“Lily will take you to your cabin, I’ve asked Roberto to bring you some warm milk. It should help you sleep.”
I nodded, and he released my hand.
I walked over to where the girl, Lily was standing.
As I reached the door, I looked back at Armando. He was staring at me intently. A look of curiousity on his face.
“Thank you,” I mumbled.
He smiled, “Think nothing of it, Piccolina. It is the least I can do.”
Lily showed me back to the cabin. She didnt speak. I wondered if she spoke English, or if she was just shy. She’d looked terrified of Armando.
She held the door open for me, as I walked into the cabin.
I felt kind of awkward, I wasn’t used to people doing things for me. If I wanted a door open, I would have to open it myself.
I smiled at her.
“Thank you,” I whispered.
She nodded, and closed the door, leaving me by myself.
I looked on the bed, and there were a set of pyjamas laid out. They were much to big for me, so I decided to just put on the top, which was a little like an oversized shirt. It made me think of Vincent.
A glass cup containing milk was on the side table. Steam still coming from it. I sniffed it, before taking a sip. I was cautious as it seemed everything I had been given in the past had been drugged. Except of course for dinner. Come to think of it nothing on this boat had.
It tasted like regular milk, and didnt smell off at all so I drank it. Then pulled the covers back and climbed into bed.
It felt a little strange, knowing that I didnt have to worry about Vincent joining me at some point. Didn’t have to worry about any unwanted advances.
I thought about the times he had kissed me. On the deck earlier. In the bed at the villa. Had I really wanted him to? Or had I just accepted it.I closed my eyes. It seemed my life these days was filled with stress and trauma.
Armando had been right though, I soon felt myself drifting to sleep, unsure if it was natural or if the warm milk had been laced with something.
When I woke the following morning, it was to the sound of someone knocking on the door. It surprised me slightly. Not only that they were knocking, but because I’d slept through the night without waking or having any nightmares.
“Come in,” I croaked, still not quite awake.
I sat up, bringing my knees to my chest, and pulled the duvet up so it covered my chest. I gripped onto it like some sort of security blanket.
When the door opened I was surprised to see Roberto standing there.
I felt disappointment surge through me. Was I hoping it would be Vincent? Why? He was my kidnapper after all. Was this some sort of Stockholm syndrome. Had I grown an attachment to my kidnapper, or was this something else.
I buried the feeling and looked at Roberto.
“Miss Rosie,” he began, “I’m sorry if I woke you but Signor Marchesi would like you to join him for breakfast. I have also brought you a selection of clothes.”
“What time is it?” I asked, glancing round the room in search of a clock.
There wasn’t one.
“It’s 9.30,” he stated.
I widened my eyes, “9.30!”
I never usually slept this late. I glanced at the empty glass which had contained the milk, still wondering if it had been drugged.
I jumped as Roberto clapped his hands. Then a parade of people all dressed in uniforms brought in numerous bags and boxes. They left after depositing them in various places around the room.
“I will return in twenty minutes to escort you to the dining room. Please select something to wear. I will arrange for the rest of your clothes to be brought in and put away.
I blinked. There were so many bags and boxes here already.
“What do you mean, the rest? And I can put these away.”
Roberto looked at me a blank expression on his face.
“Signor Marchesi insisted on providing you with a full wardrobe. You are his guest, so you will not be required to put away your clothes. Is twenty minutes sufficient time?”
I nodded, “Yes...thank you.”
He nodded and left the room.
I wasn’t sure why, but he felt more intimidating than Armando. He reminded me of the butler from the movie Arthur, albeit a younger version.
I quickly jumped out of bed and headed for the bathroom. If he came back in twenty minutes and I wasn’t ready, I’m sure there would be hell to pay.
Once I finished in the bathroom, I started to rummage through the bags. Most of the clothes had designer labels. I shuddered at how much this little lot must have cost, let alone ‘the rest’.
I wasn’t entirely sure what I should wear, not sure what the weather would be like. In the end I decided on a pair of ripped skinny jeans, and a short sleeved cropped top. I tied a sweatshirt around my waist that I could put on, if it was chilly. Finally I found a pair of Dior converse trainers.
I decided to leave my hair loose. Then I sat on the bed, waiting for Roberto to collect me.