A pounding headache was the very first thing I felt when I opened my eyes. I was in a dark room, lying on a bed. As my sight got clearer and adjusted to the darkness, I noticed I was in Cara’s room. I groaned as I sat up and closed my eyes as I put my aching head in my hands, wondering what happened. My eyes immediately snapped open when everything came rushing back to me.
Blood. So much blood.
A stream of light came in as the door opened and Cara entered the room.
“You’re awake.” She handed me a bottle of water and I took it gratefully.
“Are you okay?” She sat next to me on the bed, looking worried but I just shrugged. Cara sighed.
“He deserved it. He should have known better than to talk to like that.” She sounded unbothered by the fact that her own father just got his tongue cut off. That man was in no way a saint, and he totally deserved to be treated the way he had been treating Cara. But seeing the actions unfold in front of me was an entirely different story. It was a friendly reminder of what kind of world I had stepped into and what kind of people I was surrounded by.
I felt sick and my head was still hammering like crazy. I got up from the bed and made my way to the door.
“Where are you going?”
“My head is killing me. I need some painkillers.” I came to the end of the staircase with Cara following behind, and it was impossible not to notice how the place was suddenly packed with men.
“What’s going on…?” I wondered out loud. I caught the sight of Michael making his way towards us, his face stern and on guard.
“Althaia, are you okay?” He wasted no time and embraced me tightly into his arms.
“I’m fine.” My voice muffled against his shirt. He pulled back to look at me and I probably looked like a mess.
“What’s going on? Why are there so many men here?” The entire floor was filled with men, on guard and ready to do whatever they had to do. I pressed myself into Michael, feeling a little uneasy.
“I’ll explain later. Right now, I need to take both you and Cara back to the hotel.” He wasted no time, and we were ushered outside. Several cars were parked out in the front and there were even more men standing outside. Michael was in a hurry, trying to get us out of there as fast as he could.
I was about to get inside the car when someone caught my attention. Damiano walked out with a bunch of men following him but had two men on either side closer to him, almost as if they were his bodyguards. The most frightening thing about Damiano was that no matter what, he looked calm and composed. Like nothing had happened.
I noticed he had changed into a new shirt and a jacket, and it
was like he could feel I was watching him when his eyes immediately snapped to mine while he walked down the stairs. He said something to the four men, and they all looked at me as he made his way toward me. Michael quickly stood in front of me to prevent Damiano from approaching me.
“Don’t even think about it.” Michael said threatening but Damiano just stepped closer to him with his blank expression.
“Move.” He simply said with a low tone.
“It’s okay, Michael.” I put my hand on his shoulder to have him step back. Damiano had just cut the tongue off someone who was in a much higher position than he was. I wouldn’t dare to think about what he could do to Michael. But he just ignored me and continued to stare at Damiano. ‘
“Michael, please … ” I tried to pull him away, not wanting anything to happen to him. He finally listened and stepped back to stand beside me. But he put a protective arm around my waist. I felt awkward considering what I had been doing with him earlier, and it didn’t help that he glanced at Michael’s arm around me before looking at me. But I couldn’t tell what he was thinking as he continued to have this blank expression.
“Can you give us a minute, please? I’ll be fine.” I said to Michael, and he frowned at me. He looked at me for a while before he turned aside and walked to the car, keeping his -gaze fixed on us. I rolled my eyes at him and walked to the
opposite side to give us a bit of privacy.
I looked around as we just stood there in silence. I played around with my necklace, not knowing what to say to him after what I had just witnessed him do.
“Are you okay?” Damiano broke the silence, and I just shrugged and looked anywhere but at him. I didn’t know if I was okay. I wasn’t really feeling anything at this point, and I felt like my body was still in shock.
“Look at me.” I stared at the ground for a bit longer before meeting his eyes. He glanced around my face as if to see if I was hurt. He took his time looking around at my face before his eyes met mine. My breath hitched slightly, and once again I felt like I was drowning in the depths of his golden-brown eyes.
“I’m okay.” I breathed out. A shiver ran down my spine as I looked at him. It didn’t go unnoticed by him, and he took off his jacket and wrapped it around my shoulders.
“Goodnight, Althaia.” Still, he managed to have my body tingle, especially when he said my name in his deep, rich voice. Damiano turned around and made his way to his car. I felt someone looking at me and saw Michael, who had observed everything, was burning holes in the jacket I was wearing. I tightened it around me even more, grateful for the warmth it offered.
We went to my hotel room, and after I came out of my state of being shocked, I asked questions about what would happen now.
“Does that mean the wedding is off?” I was sitting on the bed in my bathrobe after taking a much-needed shower. Cara was lying down, half asleep already and Michael stood at the end of the bed with his hands in his pockets. He had been quiet the entire ride to the hotel.
“No, the wedding has been moved up.” Cara explained. I raised my brows in surprise.
“How come? I thought that since…. well, that happened, they would break off the engagement and some kind of war would break out?” I tilted my head in confusion.
“It’s strictly for business…” Cara failed to keep her eyes open and dozed off. I looked to Michael for him to explain.
“Their products are the most sought after on the streets, and we are, whether they like to admit it or not, the fastest in moving products. We can move twice as fast as they can, which means we make a shit ton of money… That’s why there will be no war between the families.”
“That still doesn’t make sense… Why would my father still work with a man who just cut off the tongue of his brother?” It all seemed too unreal and ridiculous to me.
“Because there is more to it.” I looked at him, waiting for him to elaborate but he looked hesitant. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair.
“Look, I’m not supposed to say anything, but your father wants to gain access to their weaponry. They have currently taken over all types of weapon trafficking, everything goes through them. Every type of lethal weapon you can think of, they have it, and only them. And, with Cara marrying, not just any man from the family, but Lorenzo, he hopes to get access sooner rather than later.” He finished explaining and I dropped my jaw in surprise.
When they claimed it was all business, they truly meant it. It was a strange world and a couple of weeks ago I had lived a pretty protected life yet knowing about the mafia, and what
went on beneath the surface was terrifying. But so intriguing, too. I absorbed every new piece of information I had just been given, and I couldn’t help but be captivated by it all. I felt alive in a whole different way, and for some reason, I wanted to know more. See more.
“That’s… so cool! I mean, it still sucks for Cara, but wow! It’s like I’m living in a movie!” I said in fascination. Michael looked at me with his mouth agape and then burst out laughing.
“God, Althaia. You surprise me in every way.”