Chapter 10: Tearing Away Compromises
Ariella caught Nick’s fist, almost with superhuman reflexes. The truth was, she did not like Gisele-but she also did not want to see the woman hurt.
“Nicky, please-” Ariella begged, wrapping herself around Nick’s shoulders; trapping his arms to his sides, feeling his rage, all the anger that was pent up, being released in a wave of heat.
“We’re going Ariella-we’re leaving. Grab your things and we’ll go…just leave, me and you. Fuck your father, fuck this, this-this; cunt. Fuck everybody Ariella and let’s just go. I’m tired of washing the tears from your eyes, feeling your pain. You deserve a better life and I can give it to you.”
Gisele shook in fear as she got up after Ariella intervened-running from the room, screaming.
Jessie stood by the door, his eyes wide; but made no attempt to stop the proceedings. In his honest opinion Gisele deserved more than what Nick was going to give her. However, when Salvatore entered the room, his gun was drawn and his eyes showed a murderous rage.
“What did you do to my wife? Huh!?”
His words were pitched with pure hatred, while the safety of the mobster’s gun was cocked off safety in the few tense seconds it took to wager an answer.
Of course Salvatore’s retribution wasn’t just aimed at Ariella or Nick.
Before anyone could blink; the nan turned on his heels, his gun swung above shoulder length-bringing it across Jessie’s face.
The smack was force enough to knock the younger boy to the floor.
His voice broke out in an exclamation of both pain and surprise.
“And you! You did nothing to help your poor mother Jessie-standing there like an idiot! How dare you call yourself someone’s son! All for my daughter, who is nothing but a selfish little ingrate!”
During his rant, Sonny came in, his demeanor calm, going up to his friend and placing his hand to the man’s shoulders.
“Sal, let’s just rewind and get everyone’s account before you bring in unnecessary violence.” Sonny reasoned, guiding his friend to Ariella’s bed-making sure to get the situation under control before Salvatore could cause anymore damage.
“Ok, then what happened? Why did you try to punch my wife!?” Salvatore demanded, crossing his arms over his chest in an authorative manner.
“Because she was talking bad about Ariel. Ariella was crying-and no one deserves that. Just like I think Ariella should come to stay with me. You don’t even realize how special she is. I mean no disrespect but-”
Sonny lifted his hand, signaling for his son to be quiet.
“Sal, I think; if it’s not too much trouble to interject here- you have been far too strict with Ariella-you hurt her…and my son has been trying to help her the best he can. Look what you just did to your stepson-you did it without thinking…and you’re going to hurt her beyond repair someday if this keeps going the way it's been.” Sonny warned, reaching down to help Jessie from the floor-shooting him a look. “ Go down and comfort your mom. She needs someone right now.”
Jessie accepted the hand and got up, making a hurried motion towards the door before Salvatore could call him back.
“Ariella needs disciplined, I won’t have my orders disregarded. She needs to know that I am in charge, and that as long as she is under my roof-I am master, slave driver, mentor, father. Respect is a must-even if one has to take a few hits to get it across. In the end they are better for it.”
Sonny sighed, choosing his next words very carefully.
Nick however interjected.
“Ariella has tried to please you Mr. Calvino. She can never do anything right, at least not by your standards. That’s not being a father, that’s not being a mentor-that’s just being a fucking bully, and hypocrite. In the past ten years, I have never once saw you hug your daughter…or told her how much you loved her. I’ve had to take over that roll-and my feelings are not false. I love Ariella…and as soon as we turn eighteen, I’m going to ask her to marry me. I will give her all my heart and soul-show her exactly what it’s like to be loved.” Nick seethed as his mouth and mind took over his logical thinking.
Salvatore began to laugh then, Sonny remained quiet, knowing his son just put his foot in his mouth-and he had no intention on bailing him out. Nick had to learn that there were consequences to each reaction.
The kitten had scrambled under the bed in the midst of all the violence, meowing pathetically.
Ariella moved from Nick’s side, swallowing hard; going to sit beside her father-trying to see if maybe she could come to a compromise.
“I just want to know you love me, I want you to stop hitting me…and in exchange, I will compromise whatever you want. I just want to hear those words…I just want you to tell me that you care, and that you love me.”
Ariella sounded so young then. Her voice scared and desperate. She yearned to hold onto something that was familiar to her-and despite her hate for Salvatore…he was her father.
Salvatore thought on this a moment, the silence now looming in the air like a thick heavy smoke. It didn’t take long to get an idea; one that would take the foundation out from under Nick’s feet.
“I don’t want you to see Nicholas anymore. You will break all contact with him-as I’m afraid I have no choice but to do the same.” He looked at Sonny then, his eyes a loathing cloud of emotion.
“You chose to get involved, and I’m afraid I have no choice. Having a family, a wife-it changes who you are…who you become. I cannot have Nicholas interfering with that.”
Sonny couldn’t help the shocked look that came over him. He half suspected Salvatore would try to drive the wedge between Ariella and Nick by way of manipulation; only he never would have dreamed his friend would blatantly turn on him.
“So, after all we’ve been through-” Sonny began, but stopped when Salvatore reached over and hugged Ariella tightly to his chest.
“I do love you Ariella-and I want you to strive to be the best you can be-like your mother was. I’m just asking for this one thing…if you agree I will never hit you, I will never belittle you-but you have to promise me.”
Nick growled, pulling Ariella from the bed, away from the man who dared the name father.
“You’re asking her to choose-that’s not fair! If you truly loved her then; you wouldn’t as her to choose.” Nick argued as he hugged his best friend to him tightly, like a puppy that was about to be taken away.
Ariella took her hand and gently pushed Nick away, her eyes torn with emotion as it hovered above her like a storming cloud.
“Nick-he’s my father. I-I…can’t just-” She began but Nick wasn’t listening.
“Ariella, you were a little girl, he hurt you-now he knows your chances to be happy with me and he doesn’t want to see that happen. I love you, he doesn’t!” Nick yelled, his voice rising, trying to get Ariella to understand.
“Nick stop!” Sonny exclaimed, getting off the bed and going over to his son, separating his vice like grip on the frightened girl; and taking his arm. “You have to let things go. Whatever she decides will be for the good of her own reasons. Come, we’ve outdone our welcome here. I’m not wasting my breath…but-” He paused, looking back at Salvatore. “I only pray you figure out what’s important, because in a few months-when we become head of our families…I want to know neither parties will shed blood.”
Salvatore remained quiet, motioning Ariella closer; ignoring his friend completely.
Ariella went forward, sitting close to him on the bed, her body rigid with unease.
“What do you want most for your birthday, sweetheart?” Salvatore asked her gently, motioning the two other men that occupied the room out.
Nick growled, but left as his father stayed behind.
“I want your word Sal.” Sonny urged, his eyes now in a glare.
Salvatore got impatient and looked to his now former friend-well, as far as he was concerned.
“Fine, consider this a peace treaty-now get the fuck out before I get my guards to escort you.” He turned his attention back to Ariella, reaching forward again to preen a few loose strands of her hair back behind her ear. “I will make arrangements for this room to have a complete makeover, you know I wouldn’t deny you that…but what do you really want?” Salvatore encouraged.
Ariella’s heart ached. She just wanted to be loved-she needed comfort, confusion was racing through her.
“I just want someone to care, I just want you to say you love me!”
She broke then, sobbing weakly as Salvatore wrapped his arms around his daughter-fighting the urge to tell her to grow up. Instead he had to play the part of her father-at least for today.
“It’s alright Ella, I’m here-and I won’t hurt you again…I promise.”
Sonny shook his head and left, almost sick to his stomach. His friend was nothing but a manipulative bastard-that was evident now, and to play Ariella like that was…there were no words as far as he was concerned.
Sonny collected his wife and son, who stood ready by the door.
Nick couldn’t believe after everything he and Ariella went through that she would choose her father over him.
“Dad…what are we going to do?” Nick asked weakly as they headed out to their limo; he was thoroughly confused.
Sonny, upset at his best friend’s behavior turned sharply to his offspring.
“We do nothing, they made their choice; we stay out of it until something proves we should get involved.”
Nick knew his dad’s tone well, that meant to drop it-and he did.
With a quiet sigh, he got into the limo with his family-heading back towards the house.
Gisele watched the limo pull away from the window, smiling triumphantly. She had finally broken the bond between the two families. That meant no competition, no extra inconveniences…yes, Gisele Calvino had single handedly caused a rip in the foundation of the Durante family. She knew the youngest Durante brat had been listening at the door; and took great pleasure in not only making her stepdaughter cry, but finally proving to Ariella that making bets with an expert home wrecker was not something she should take lightly.
Now all she had to do was turn Salvatore against his own daughter. Once the mafia princess was out of the way-she would have it all. Of course, that day wasn’t the day…but sometime soon; she would bring the young girl’s world tumbling down around her. That was a promise she would keep.
Chapter 11: Worlds Apart At Different Ends
Ariella looked at the phone in her hands.
No new messages
That’s all it had been saying for the past four days. Ariella missed Nick, but she also made a promise to her father…one that was not easily broken.
Finally she decided to bite the bullet and text him, apologizing for her behavior.
Salvatore made good on his promise and equipped Ariella with a room fit for a teenager- even Gisele seemed to be jealous with envy.
I’m sorry for not sticking up for you Nicky-I really am. He’s my father and…I can’t just-ya know? I’m just sorry he turned on Sonny like that. I know you don’t believe me but, I think of Sonny like my own father to. The better version.
She waited, but after ten minuets, a response was beginning to look dull.
I really am sorry Angel Eyes-and…if it matters, I miss you.
Pepper happily jumped up into Ariella’s lap, purring loudly-content as ever.
In addition to a complete make over, Salvatore had also lined the room with a long catwalk, and toys for the furry legged animal. It seemed to make Ariella happy-and if she was happy…well, it didn’t matter one way or another.
A few moments later a knock sounded at the door.
“Hey Elly, it’s me-you’re favorite brother.” Jessie joked, opening her door; before swiftly entering.
“What brings you to my part of the mansion?”
Jessie shrugged non saliently.
“I dunno, wanted to see how things were going- and wondering if you’ve heard anything from Crazy Eyes yet.”
Crazy Eyes was Jessie’s name for Nick after the stunt with Gisele.
Ariella glared, though playfully-luckily for him.
“Angel Eyes, and no…he’s mad at me. I think I really blew it this time Jessie.” Ariella sighed, tossing her phone back under the pillow.
“Let the hothead cool off, try again in a few days.” He encouraged his stepsister, before walking and sitting at the edge of the bed-roughing the kitten’s fur when it came by him.
“I suppose you’re right…” Ariella trailed off, laying back on the bed; her eyes gazing to the ceiling in deep thought.
The quietness of the room was peaceful. She trusted Jessie, and Jessie liked her well enough. It was only when he walked in on her sending a text message did they really get to talking.
“Thank you for keeping my phone a secret Jessie-it means a lot.” Ariella told him for about the hundredth time.
“Ariella, it’s not a problem-stop mentioning it.”
The younger girl nodded, jumping suddenly as the phone behind her vibrated to life.
Nick hadn’t had a decent nights sleep for almost a week. He was so caught up in his own misery that when his phone vibrated to life-it was no short of a surprise to say the least.
He saw it was Ariella, but choose to ignore it.
Nick just didn’t want to deal with her right at that moment. To see her name pained him more than she’d ever know. He felt betrayed, and Angel Eyes was not about to let her off the hook that easily.
However, when the second message popped up Nick opened them both-his eyes clouding over with contempt.
“Yeah well, if you loved me Ella, you wouldn’t of chosen your father so easily. I really wish you could see how special you are Ariella-everyone can see it but you.”
In fact Nick typed just that- before adding a small friendly gesture to the text.
I feel we are worlds apart, and it kills me to know that I can no longer hold you and tell you everything will be alright. I’m so tired of fighting for you Ariella; I don’t know what else to say except that I love you, and I always will.
Nick got up from his bed, glancing at the clock-knowing if he wasn’t careful he would miss another collections appointment from Joe the butcher.
Sonny had begun to train him in collections, in just a few short weeks Nick’s childhood was packed away and stored in the depths of his mind.
If he was to become trained in the family business-then he would need to remain focused. Especially when in that small amount of time; his best friend would become a 9MM handgun…and it did indeed happen.
Nick’s innocence slowly disappear. Not even a week later he took the life of another boy-one that was younger than himself.
The kid got in between a collection and his attended victim-the gun went off in a loud burst of smoke. During that second the kid intervened the bullet, saving the original victim. It wasn’t easy to see the life leave that boy’s eyes-in fact, there were days that he couldn’t get it out of his mind-and for that, his soul slowly started the descend into nothingness.
Nick needed to hold onto something familiar-and Ariella was still his stability.
Begrudgingly he picked out his phone and texted her.
Ella, I have to see you. Meet me down by our secret place in an hour. I’ll be waiting-please don’t be late.
It was a minuet later before he received a reply back.
Ok, be right there.
Nick just needed to know she was holding up. Despite everything, one thing was for certain; he loved Ariella and even his lost innocence couldn’t change that…at least, that’s what he believed.
Chapter 12: Pretending For One More Dream
Ariella had a hard time sneaking out of the mansion-well, without her stepbrother Jessie-who had strict orders to keep their precious little daughter safe…and of course out of trouble.
When Ariella left, she was more perturbed than normal.
“I’m sixteen-and unless they don’t trust me to stop by the church and pray…” Ariella started but stopped abruptly.
Jessie snorted, reaching over and pushing her shoulder.
“Don’t give me that bullshit. I know you’re going to see Nick, and sis; I have no intentions of stopping you. In fact, I’m gonna go to the cemetery across from the church-”
Ariella stopped, grabbing his arm.
“My mom’s buried there-and I haven’t seen her in awhile. Maybe you should go into the church and Nick could meet me by my mom’s grave. He knows where it is.”
Jessie nodded, but felt better knowing where she would be incase something happened.
“Alright, but at least let me walk you there. God help if something happened to you. Your father would-” Jessie started before Ariella ‘haa’ed’
“He would hug you, probably even give you an Italian kiss; say well done son and promote you next of kin to the family business. My father cares about me as much as Gisele…and that doesn’t give me much hope.”
Jessie sighed then.
“Your dad does care-perhaps at times a little too much. He spoke highly of you during the meeting with his prospects.” He defended.
“Good actor when needing to be. I know he loves me but I don’t think he expresses it as other fathers would do with their children.” Ariella responded as they began across the street to the cemetery.
A black iron gate hung open. Beautiful and undisturbed brush scattered the ground-meaning the groundskeeper hadn‘t gotten a chance to rake. The air around them was light, silent as the dead should be; with an overcast of dark clouds above them.
Everything was still.
The two stepsiblings walked the long gravel path up to hill; where a lone headstone sat beside a tree. An angels face carved the dark marble stone top with Ariel’s first and last name imbedded with golden handwriting; but no other information was given.
The grass was covered with brightly covered leaves, she took the liberty of clearing them away from her mother’s grave-Ariella didn’t know why, but it felt right.
“This is my mom, her name was Ariel; she was the best thing in my life-in Nick’s life. An angel. That’s the best way I can describe mom.” Ariella introduced, feigning a small smile.
She knelt in front of the stoned marble and traced the fancy handwriting with a delicate finger.
Jessie didn’t really know what to do, so he knelt down beside his sister-placing a hand over her shoulder. The moment he did however there were footsteps coming up the path.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Calvino. You raised a great daughter.” Jessie smiled, greeting the dark colored stone with a sincere and light greeting.
“Indeed she had. Of course it’s hard to think what she would say about you-knowing your mother is a no good fucking cun-”
Nick started to rant before Ariella whirled around to meet her best friend’s fierce gaze.
“Nicholas AngelEyes Durante! That is enough! Jessie is my stepbrother, and like it or not Gisele is my stepmother-we have to coexist, so be nice!” She snapped, taking her hand and gently squeezing Jessie’s should-signaling it was time for him to leave.
Jessie took that as his queue and stood up.
“I’ll be at the church. Take as long as you two need. If father calls I’ll tell him we are still at the church.” He reassured, squeezing Ariella’s hand back before standing up to leave.
“Take care Nick-no offense taken. I happen to agree with some of your point of views. Sadly when I was born, God’s sense of humor seemed to pair me with a high heeled go-go stripper. Imagine that on parents day when she came into my second grade class.”
Nick snorted, somewhat amused-though curiosity did peek.
“She was escorted out by police and I was taken from her care for a few months until she could come up with a front to get me back. Perhaps it was the fact she was drunk to…who knows. Anyhow man, peace and salutations. I’m going to go and pray.”
With that Jessie walked away, smiling at the distant memory of his mother.
Nick watched him leave before turning back to Ariella, kneeling down beside her-a bouquet of roses in hand. He gently reached out and set the flowers down next to the grave.
“Those are beautiful Nick-thank you.” Ariella said, watching her friend’s actions; his eyes cold and unreadable.
“Wasn’t a problem” He said, his tone dead; and distancing.
“Don’t start acting like my father. I’m so tired of the bullshit. I want you to start acting like my friend and not-” Ariella paused, trying to think of the word to match his demeanor.
“For weeks Ariella, I was heartbroken that you wouldn’t leave-let me take care of you. It hurt every time I closed my eyes, every time I saw your picture-and hearing your laughter in my dreams. Then you text me…I thought you changed your mind.”
“I can’t leave Jessie, I can’t just leave!” Ariella cried, just as thunder cracked through the dark skies.
“You can’t or you won’t? Do you have any idea the hell I’m living with-not being able to touch you, to tell you everything’s alright?”
Ariella was quiet then, feeling the teardrops of rain start to decent down from the Heavens.
“No…but you can’t always reassure me Nicky. You can’t wrap your arms around me-kiss my cheek; smile and whisper words that will never be ok. If my father catches us-do you have any idea what will happen?”
Her voice was panicked, scared-if Salvatore caught them she was as good as dead.
“No worse than what you’re doing to yourself. He may not be physically hurting you, but look at how unhappy you are. Look in the mirror and ask the reflection that stares back at you- ‘am I really this unhappy and pathetic girl that can’t let go of daddy’s pants leg?’.”
Ariella flinched before standing up, turning to leave.
Nick realized the words that left his mouth-and honestly; it shocked even him. He had no idea about the person that was surfacing-but he didn’t like him one bit.
In a flash Nick was on his feet and running after the girl he had hurt.
“Ariella wait, I’m sorry!” He pleaded, his feet crunching down on the gravel-the rain cascading down harder-soaking down into their clothes, seeping off their hair.
Nick had to yell over the falling tears.
He finally caught up to her, wrapping his strong protective arms around the girl’s waist-stopping Ariella from walking any further.
Nick turned her away, feeling the heavy heaving of her chest. When he came face to face with her quilt began to slip through his hard exterior.
“Ariella I’m so sorry. I am so sorry. I’ve had a bad week. I’ve done some pretty bad things…” He trailed off, feeling his chest tighten. It was quilt-and now if Ariella found out…God know’s what she would think.
“Ariella please, I’m sorry.” Nick continued; his voice trailing off as his warm breath blew gently next to her ear.
“I want my mom.” She sobbed-breaking down again.
Anytime things got bad she always wanted her mom.
Nick didn’t say anything at first, but tightened his embrace.
“I know you do, I want your mom to. I want to stop hurting you, hurting myself…I’m sorry Ariella-I’m sorry.” Nick begged out desperately.
“I’m sorry to.” Ariella whispered.
She wanted so much to be strong-to hold onto something that was there for her. Nick was there…despite everything, he came back and was by her side-even if he was mean.
“Let’s just enjoy this moment, and pretend like we did all those years ago.”
Nick slowly reached into his pocket-smiling.
He pulled out two ring pops, chuckling at Ariella’s surprise.
“Ring…pops?” She questioned, her pained red eyes sparkling, forgetting momentarily of her anguish-and even where she was.
Without warning she grabbed a blueberry ring and broke free of Nick’s grasp-chuckling at his surprised look as she ran down the gravel path-the teardrops of cascading rain drowning them from head to toe.
Nick’s feet and Ariella’s laughter echoed in the cemetery; playful cries intermixed back into silence.
Chapter 13:Cold Blood, Hot Blood
Ariella was soaked to the core, mud and grass stained her skin, her clothes, her body.
“That was fun.” She smiled to Jessie who looked bewildered as to what explanation his sister was going to use to get herself out of that particular situation.
“They’re never going to believe you sat in church like a good little Catholic girl with your hands folded in prayer. I’m dry-you’re wet and…mucky.” Jessie sighed, his eyes bemused-knowing Ariella was setting herself up for trouble.
Ariella smirked, stopping short.
Jessie noticed the mistake he made and began to protest.
“No, nuh-uh; don’t you d-AAH!” His voice rose to a frantic yell as Ariella pushed into him; causing the slightly older boy to lose his balance-tumbling over a mud bank and down a deep slope. Landing with a loud thud/
Ariella giggled, looking over.
“You fell over a muddy hill and I grabbed you, but wasn’t strong enough so we both fell over and there’s our cover story.” Ariella smirked, but the look of surprise was quickly replaced as Jessie began up the hill again-right after her.
“You better run little girl…you better run!” Jessie growled.
Ariella laughed again and ran away-Jessie chasing her right behind.
Nick had been following behind them in return to his own home. He was somber again, knowing he had a job to get back to.
His voice was so soft that even Nick wasn’t sure if he heard it.
Jessie chased Ariella all the way to the front door, into the house and up the long hallway to their bedrooms.
When she got to hers she barged in and slammed the door.
Jessie, who now stood out of breath; pounded hard on Ariella’s door.
“Come on Ariella, open up!” Jessie pleaded.
“No way!” Ariella yelled back-struggling to shed her clothes quickly and jumping into the shower.
Jessie groaned and headed towards his own room to shower-hell bent on getting his stepsister later.
Amongst their haste they didn’t notice the footprints they left on the expensive carpet-ut Gisele sure did-and she made it clear so the whole house could hear. In fact, the neighbors across from them had looked out the window to the shrill scream that erupted.
“My house! My floor! Ariella, Jessie-get your assess down here NOW!”
Jessie, who was still in the shower cringed; but continued with what he was doing. She would just have to wait.
That only lasted a few minuets before the door to his room opened-Salvatore entered into the bathroom a few moments later standing there with a stern look.
“Get out, get dressed-your mom is very upset; and I’m truly disappointed in both of you.”
With that quick speech he left.
Jessie groaned but got up and out before meeting his mom downstairs, who was in tears.
The young boy wanted to roll his eyes. His mother was laying it on thick.
“My floor! Oh God my floor.” She sobbed, looking at Jessie who then snorted.
“Mom, Salvatore’s not here, cut the dramatics. He’s upstairs talking to Ariella-and it wasn’t her who stained the floor it was me. Ariella tried to grab my hand to stop me from falling down the small hill by the church. You know how klutzy I am. So she grabbed a hold of me but couldn’t keep her balance.”
Gisele wiped the crocodile tears from her face and just stared at her only child.
“I don’t know why I didn’t just keep Ayden and abort you instead. You always have to ruin everything nice I have.”
Now she was wining.
Jessie shrugged uncaringly.
“Love you to mom-I honestly don’t know why either. But God has a sense of humor doesn’t he? You get pregnant at sixteen and then abort that child, get pregnant again, abort him-get pregnant…do you not see a pattern developing?”
“I had you, didn’t I? That’s not fair you would hold something like that over my head.”
Jessie walked away, sick to his stomach.
“Then quit being a bitch, I’m going to tell Sal it was my fault-Ariella’s already been through enough.”
It was Gisele’s next words that stopped him dead in his tracks.
“You can’t protect her. Ariella is not part of this family…and she will have to learn that eventually.”
Jessie stopped, turning to face his mother.
“She may not be part of your pathetic family mother; but she is my sister and I love her. Regardless of what you think.”
With that he made his way out of the room and up to Ariella’s room.
Upon reaching Ariella’s room he saw her father towering over the young girl, his hands raised high. Before Salvatore could turn his violent nature on Ariella, Jessie took the courage and stepped up.
“Dad, stop! Ariella didn’t track dirt inside the house. I did. Mom will tell you I lose my balance a lot. Ariella tried to hold me steady and we ended up over the embankment. Relax, I’ll have it washed out by dinner.”
Ariella trembled on the floor-her naked body shaking with vigorous emotion, which surprised Jessie. He had never seen Salvatore act so rash over something so simple.
“I don’t care Jessie. She must learn to do as she is told, now leave!” Sal growled; bringing his open palm across the girl’s mouth.
Ariella screamed in surprise-holding her face.
Jessie ignored the older man’s order and rushed to Ariella, wrapping his arms around the poor girl.
His hands brushed over her bare skin, but he wasn’t concerned-not about that at least. Jessie’s problem was Salvatore Calvino.
Looking up he saw the annoyance in the elder man’s eyes. His demeanor suggested he was heavily intoxicated. Which meant the younger man could get away with the next thought that came to mind.
With one swift motion he was standing up, towering over Salvatore.
Jessie balled his hand into a tight fist, right before punching the old mobster across the jaw-knocking him out cold in the process.
Without hesitation Jessie grabbed a hold of Ariella’s hand, pulling her from the ground before walking swiftly to the unused white towel.
“Here, we have to go.”
Jessie spoke urgently-knowing he had just made a grave mistake.
“He’s going to kill us-” Ariella started but never got to finish-Jessie’s hand over her mouth.
“No, he’s won‘t. Now come on.”
With no room for arguments, Jessie began to lead Ariella from the room, only for her to halt and run towards the bed, where her cat Pepper was snuggled comfortably.
“We can go to Nick’s-his father has always been welcoming…” Ariella suggested as the two stepsiblings escaped from the hell that surrounded them.
Jessie just didn’t want to be there when Salvatore woke up-he knew the outcome would not be pretty.
Before they left though, they saw Gisele in the living room-scrubbing the carpet with Windex, which was only ruining the expensive fabric.
With no emotion, Jessie spoke.
“Mom, were heading out. Go upstairs and check on dad-I knocked him out. May have punched him a little too hard.”
Leaving no time for Gisele to react he and Ariella left, but not before hearing Gisele’s high pitched scream.
With no other place to turn, they both began to run in the direction of the Durante mansion.
Chapter 14: Dark Secrets
Nick stood over a woman-a woman who looked no older than twenty-one.
A steel knife was held tightly in his clenched fist as the dark surroundings of the soundproof metal basement encased the three lone figures.
A little bit away sat a man, a little older than Jessie’s age-but younger than the woman. His body was strapped to a metal chair-which was easier to clean up after…at least according to his father.
The woman was restrained down to a surgical table, her voice echoing for mercy into the rag over her mouth-muffling them into distressed inaudible sounds.
“Relax darling. This should be quick.”
Nick’s voice was void of any emotion. His stare bore into the girl’s soul-but even through his malice act, his eyes were as light and untouched by corruption as the day he was born.
Of course, looks can be deceiving.
“Don’t!” The young man pleaded, his eyes wide in fright-as if he were watching a very realistic and intense scene in a horror movie…although that wasn’t far from the truth.
“No, you had a chance to give me what was mine-now she’s going to pay. This is not a bank, this is not preschool where we‘re made to share. This is the fucking mafia dude-and you just fucked over the wrong family. Now it’s my turn.” He stated matter-a-fact.
The steel blade in Nick’s hand made its way up slowly to the girl’s top. It’s teeth slowly passing down over the sheer white fabric-it’s stitching separating the material in half.
“Please man, she’s my sister! I was directed under my father’s orders. You know how that goes, she’s innocent in all of this. Please-I can get your money, just spare her and I will do whatever you want!”
The boy’s voice was frantic; watching as Nick unblinkingly parted his sister’s shirt, revealing a black lacey bra underneath.
This caused Nick to smirk, his eyes wandering over the older girl’s body like one would a detailed painting.
“She is quite beautiful-maybe we can come to some sort of agreement. Your sister for the debt. I’d say it would be a pretty fair trade. Ten thousand debt owed…of course I could always kill her.” Nick offered thoughtfully. The very tone of his voice was chillingly calm. It was void of what anyone would call human.
“No!” The boy yelled, jerking his body against the straps.
Nick nodded, understanding of the young lad’s distress.
“Very well, then I’m taking out ten thousand worth of cosmetic surgery she’s gonna need to repair the damage I’m going to inflict.”
It was final, Nick gave him a choice; and not one with very much slack.
“I can get you the money! Give me twenty-four hours! That’s all I’ll need!” The boy pleaded, now looking at his sister.
Nick pretended to think about it. In fact, the quiet air that surrounded them was more terrifying then the sound of pain-because at least then you knew what was happening.
Durante was unpredictable. He could say yes, no…or end your life in the blink of an eye.
That was the only choice now-besides the excruciating death that followed.
“No.” Nick finally decided, jerking the blade under the girl’s bra-snapping her breasts from the cups that confined them.
“What’s your name beautiful?” Nick asked, while reaching to the back of her head and undoing the gag.
“Please, I’ll do anything! Please don‘t hurt me!” The woman pleaded as Nick’s head slowly dropped to the side, smirking.
“An awfully long name darling-let’s try again. What. Is. Your. Name?”
He spaced out each word like one would a two year old; drawing it out slow so she would understand his question through her racing mind.
“Lucy! Lucy Evaclee!”
Nick chuckled, his other hand going to Lucy’s face, preening her golden strands behind perfect ears.
“A beautiful name, and your brother goes by hawk-but what is his real name?”
The young mobsters voice turned thoughtful, keeping false calmness; but friendly at the same time as if not to upset the angel that got caught in his web.
“Christopher.” The girl relented without so much as a blink.
“Aaah, so the truth finally comes out. Wonderful. Thanks darling, you have been most helpful.”
Without so much as batting an eye, Nick walked over to the chair-the knife still gripped into his fist.
“Christopher-” Nick addressed, letting the name roll off his tongue like a bad word. “It seems I have a decision to make.”
“Quit playing games with us Nick-just fucking do what I know you’re going to. Kill me!”
Christopher’s vocals were absorbed into the soundproof padding; the material not allowing the sound to bounce off and rivet back.
Nick shrugged, looking back to Lucy. His cold blue eyes feigning their innocents.
“I guess you’ll have to relay to your father as to why you no longer have a brother.”
His voice was still calm.
Suddenly, almost like a snake striking- the knife Nick held was plunged deep into Christopher’s neck.
The sickening sound of metal against flesh and bone made a sickening sound, like plunging the knife through a melon. It was then followed by the forced breath of a dying boy.
It shocked his system so much that Christopher didn’t last much longer than a few minuets. By that time his main artery had finished relinquishing the precious life force that had kept him alive down onto his body, dripping onto the floor.
Nick didn’t even blink when he looked at the dead boy. With almost a disregard nature-he dipped a few fingers into the black thick blood.
Approaching Lucy he didn’t say anything; not even as she screamed her voice raw. It was almost as if he didn’t hear her at all.
“It’s something that had to be done-I‘m sorry. Now, I have a choice to make. I can let you go or you could join your brother.” He became thoughtful, his voice as dead as he felt. Humanity was always something Nick had…what had happened?
“Please, I promise I won’t say anything, let me go. I want to go home to my mommy.” She sobbed, begging loudly to the heavens.
Nick didn’t react, he let his blood soaked fingers linger softly over the girl’s lips; causing a taste of copper to stain her tongue.
Something odd struck him about the girl’s pleas. In fact, it may of just saved her life.
“Alright, then I’ll let you go. But if your father doesn’t pay me my money in the next two days-I’ll come back for you and finish the job. Am I understood?”
Lucy nodded, her body shaking violently.
“Yes, yes he will I promise!” She sobbed.
Nick gave a slight nod before taking the gag off the table again, placing it back over the girl’s mouth-tighter than he had before.
“I don’t go back on my promises-I am still taking out that ten thousand that your family owes me.”
Lucy’s voice came out in a half surprised scream, escalating louder when she saw him go over to a small steel cabinet, pulling out a small blowtorch type device.
Nick reproached the girl, his footstep calm. In fact, that was the last thing the girl heard, and the closeness of the flame was the last thing she saw and felt before her vision was lost to the world forever.
Ariella swallowed hard; wrapping the towel around her body tightly.
She was self-conscious of her nakedness, and even more uneasy that she was going over to Nick’s place-breaking her father’s one and only rule.
Sensing this, Jessie wrapped his arm around Ariella, as Pepper sat curled on her shoulder, looking around in bewilderment, making no attempt to run-she knew when she had it good.
“My feet hurt so bad.” Ariella complained, looking at the welts that were forming from walking on jagged rock.
Jessie sighed; stopping her where she stood.
He gently reached down and picked her up in the back of the knees, lifting her body from the ground, right into his arms.
Ariella balanced herself by placing her arm around his neck and leaning into his chest, while adjusting the cat so it was then sitting on her chest-allowing her brother to carry her towards the Durante mansion. Which was visible from the road just up ahead.
“Thanks Jessie. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be such a pain.”
Jessie smiles reassuringly.
“Don’t mention it sis, that’s what I’m here for-besides, who else is gonna protect you?”
Ariella thought sadly, closing her eyes, wondering if Nick still cared. His demeanor grew so cold and distant that she wasn’t even sure anymore.
They finally reached the mansion, as the guard let them in Ariella felt a tightness in her throat that she couldn’t seem to get rid of.
It worsened even more, choking her as she shakingly reached up and rang the doorbell.
When Sonny answered -her voice caught completely. Although his smile was pleasant, there was no mistaken the cold blooded look that adorned his handsome aging features.
Chapter 15: Goodbye Nick
“Come on in sweetheart.” Sonny greeted, moving aside to let the young girl through.
Though it was weak, Ariella managed a small smile-subconsciously wrapping the towel tighter around her body.
“Thank You Mr. Durante.” She nodded in appreciation, walking into the large spacious mansion.
“I may regret asking my dear but-why are you in a towel? Is it the latest fashion sense?”
The way Sonny asked made Ariella think he was not all that happy to see her. With the display of drama with Salvatore-it wasn’t a wonder the elder man didn’t just shoot her where she stood.
“No sir. My father caught me unexpectedly and I hadn’t gotten a chance to dress. You‘ve seen it a thousand times before.”
Sonny nodded, his look now solemn.
“Yes. But we are not responsible for how another man raises his own children. That card was burned when he betrayed me.”
Ariella nodded, turning to leave again-but Sonny stopped her.
“You can’t go out dressed like that my dear. Come, you can borrow some of Nick’s things.”
Ariella stopped, swallowing.
“And Jessie?” She questioned, backing up into her brother who just stared bewildered. Mobsters aren’t as they first appear in the movies-that’s for fucking a sure.
At least that’s the thought that passed Jessie’s mind-right before being jarred out of his daydream.
“He can stay for all I care. This will only take but a few minuets. Stay right there and I will go and get some of Nick’s clothes. They maybe a bit big on you but there’s not much I can do about that.”
“Thank you sir.”
The distress that filled the girl’s tone was unmistakable…one Sonny detected almost right away.
He stopped, the same unfeeling smirk pressed on his lips.
“Unless of course you wish to stay here for tonight?”
Ariella nodded, now somewhat relieved. But the uneasy feeling was far from gone. There was something masked in the older man’s tone that the younger girl didn’t trust-not one iota.
“That would be kind of you Mr. Durante.”
It was best to keep minimal with words as possible.
“Very well. You know where the guestroom is-I’m going to retrieve you some garments and call your father. He should know where his daughter is. I bare no responsibility to you or your brother there should Salvatore get worried.”
Ariella gasped, taking hold of Sonny’s wrist-which was jerked from her grasp in equal surprise.
“I want no arguments from you Miss. Calvino. You are sixteen. Salvatore is still very much responsible for your wellbeing, I am not. Which could get me into a load of trouble.” Sonny warned, turning to walk out.
Ariella sighed, taking Pepper from her shoulder and putting the cat on the floor.
“Dad is going to be furious at me for coming here. I broke a promise…God, what a huge mess this all is.”
Jessie nodded in agreement, placing his arms around Ariella-knowing their father would reek some kind of hell. He just didn’t know what.
“It will be ok.” He told Ariella softly, leading her over to the couch.
She fell heavily into it-waiting for Sonny to come back with some actual clothes.
When the older man did come back-he looked very solemn. In fact, one could say he even looked regretful.
Trailing behind him was Nick, his cold blue eyes seemed to be frozen in a permanent distaste-almost as if life had left them.
When light hit his iris though, his eyes sparkled artificially-which is what made Nick so dangerous…everything reflected in his soul-right before being snuffed out.
“Your father is coming to get you, I’m afraid this will be the last time you a Nick will see each other. Salvatore has now made it quite clear that he wants you to have nothing to do with my son. At which point I must agree. Nicholas needs to keep with his job, and if Salvatore spots you and him together-he will not hesitate to kill. Regretfully, and know this Ariella - If something should happen to my son-and I found out it was your father, revenge will not be bittersweet on my part. I will take everything that truly matters to him.”
The dark warning in his voice made Ariella shutter.
In fact, it made Jessie grab a hold of the younger girl protectively.
“That won’t be necessary Mr. Durante. We will not darken your doorstep again. You have my word.” The boy promised, trying to protect his sister.
“She doesn’t need you to promise things for her.” Nick snapped, seeing Pepper laying comfortably on the soft carpet next to Ariella‘s feet.
A little bit of emotion passed through Nick’s eyes before he looked to Ariella.
“And why are you giving me the cat back?”
His tone was dead, disinterested by excuses, and separated from caring.
“Gisele has tried to hurt her multiple times. Anything from sticking her in the oven, to putting poison in her food. I thought she maybe safer here with you Nick. I love her, but ’mom’ don’t like animals.”
Nick nodded, turning away from his friend; momentarily leaving the room.
Sonny watched with subtle emotions, knowing already that the course in front of the young kids that was about to be played out.
He knew his son would not just agree to quit seeing Ariella, as she would not be able to stay away. The two kids were destined to be together-just as Ariel and Salvatore were meant to die that night in the limo. His work was not done with Salvatore Calvino…not by a long shot.
“Where’s Mrs. Durante? I want a chance to say goodbye to her before my father comes to get me.” Ariella asked, getting up slowly from the couch-the towel tucked tightly around her.
Sonny smiled then, looking to Nick who had come back into the room.
“I’m afraid Destiny isn’t with us anymore-” He paused and looked at Nick, his smirk growing in a knowing manner.
Nick remained stoic, looking to the ground.
“My wife was caught doing…some extra circular activities. She signed the divorce papers and then I sent her on a permanent vacation. I assure you Destiny is living comfortably.” Sonny promised, looking suddenly to the door as it rang.
“Nicholas, kindly show Ariella and Jessie to the door. I have matters to attend to with our guest downstairs.”
Nick did as he was told, taking hold of Ariella’s arm and leading her to the front-delivering her into the hands of Salvatore.
He didn’t even look at the sobbing girl when Salvatore brutally grabbed her, he just turned and watched Jessie follow.
“Nick I’m sorry, whatever I’ve done-I am so sorry.”
Those words echoed in his head for days, and even as Ariella was being hauled off-her quiet voice still penetrated his ears with silent suffering.
Those were the last words the boy would hear as they parted.
Chapter 16: Ridding Hope
Ariella and Jessie sat quietly on one side of the limo while Salvatore sat in front of them on the opposite seats.
The car was plunged into deadly silence, which meant that Salvatore was thinking - and that would not end well for either of the children involved. In fact, it was about ten minuets later that Salvatore spoke.
“As you’ve probably noticed darling, we are not going back to the mansion.” Salvatore paused, waiting to see if she would notice.
Indeed Ariella had noticed-that’s what scared her.
Instead of answering though she waiting for her father to continue.
Salvatore smiled, leaning back casually against the seat, his arms folded to his chest.
“I’ve committed you to the Calming Hope Psychiatric Hospital. Your counselor was selected personally by me.” He announced, almost proudly as he watched Jessie’s mouth drop and Ariella’s eyes widen.
“You sick fuck!” Jessie yelled once he got his composure, attempting to lunge at the sadistic son of a bitch.
Of course having learned from the first attack, Salvatore quickly withdrew his gun and clicked it off safety-pointing it at the young man.
“Don’t think your punishment will be any less harsh. I may not be able to commit you, but I’ve got other plans that will suffice just as well.” He warned, eyeing them both with caution.
“And what is she being committed for? Surely the staff will know something’s up when Ariella doesn’t exhibit the bullshit symptoms you falsified.” Jessie glared, gritting his teeth in controlled rage.
“Oh but my son, she will. Dr. Fouler is being paid handsomely to counsel her. Ariella’s case will not go well when she is being walked in, in a towel no less.”
Ariella was aware for the first time since being pushed into the limo that she had not received anything that was promised from Sonny.
“You’re the one who needs committed! Putting your own daughter in the loony tunes asylum for what? Not being the perfect submissive bitch? How long do you plan on keeping her there?” Jessie seethed, shaking in rage as his grip tightened around Ariella-almost protectively.
“Until Ariella appreciates what I’ve done for her. A few weeks…months. Depends when Mr. Fouler decides she is ready. When she gets back, she will start acting like my daughter, and you like my son. Or I’ll simply wash my hands of both of you.”
Salvatore explained this so calmly-it was almost as if he was speaking by monotone. Rehearsing his lines over and over until they sounded believable.
“And what have you done for her to thank you? Beat, bruised, maimed; physically and mentally abused? Should I list off more?”
Salvatore remained smiling, the limo coming to a stop in front of the mental health facility.
Ariella was too stunned to speak, watching as they pulled up to a barbed wire fence.
Behind it a tall facility of buildings sat. Hiding the sun behind it’s sturdy brick structure.
The glow of it outlining the building while the front was covered in shadow. From afar it was beautiful, but up close-the very sight of it was frightening beyond words. Nothing but misery resided there-and soon it was going to be her prison. The very reality of it became too much and at that moment Ariella Calvino choose to snap from her shocked state.
Screaming at the top of her lungs she broke from Jessie’s grip and lunged at the door with fierce and vigor motion that not even Salvatore expected.
“Ariella!” Jessie yelled over the girl’s desperate pleas as he knew that was exactly what the elder man wanted.
She didn’t listen though- her instincts told her to get away, and she damn well was trying. Clawing at the door in desperation.
Salvatore had expected his daughter to snap-it was so easy to push her over the edge-that before he came and got her from Sonny’s, he took the liberty of adding child proof locks to the backseat where they were sitting.
Salvatore calmly picked his cell phone out from his inside pocket and speed dialed a number. After a few moments the other person picked up.
“Bring staff, I’m afraid she’s gone in to another episode.” It sounded regretful, but under his mask laid a monster-and that creature was laughing with sadistic delight.
“I’m not crazy! My father’s the crazy bastard!” She screamed, now finding her voice instead of screeching in frantic cries.
“Ariella, please! He wants you to react this way, you have to calm down!” Jessie pleaded, trying to get at the frantic sixteen year old.
Ariella kicked him away, betrayal in her eyes as she felt the limo pull up into the dark privacy of the entrance.
A handful of nurses and male orderlies stood waiting-along with Dr. Fouler. He was an older man around Salvatore’s age, with glasses and a slimming figure. He was dressed in a sharp brown suit. With a boyish haircut that made him seem younger.
The limo’s door was completely surrounded, the workers outside were waiting; their eyes looking to the doctor.
Jessie scowled at Salvatore silently, right before the door was jarred open.
“I’m not crazy!” Ariella screamed, pleading for someone to listen-but everything she said fell on deaf ears as hands grasped and took hold of the young helpless girl.
“Of course you’re not sweetness. Now come on and be a good little girl.” One of the male orderlies chastised gently-feeling her twist in his grip. “We’re here to get you better.” He continued to soothe.
Ariella screamed out again in rage; letting the whole world know of her presence. How she was wrongfully being placed in an asylum for the criminally insane.
“NICK!” She pleaded, just maybe hoping he was around. “Nick I’m sorry! Please, I’m sorry!”
Deep sobs broke from the frightened girl as she was all but restrained to the asphalt.
“Give Miss. Calvino a hundred Cs of Cottrell, then take her to her room to rest. Bed restraints for tonight, and then we’ll see how she fairs tomorrow. Mr. Fouler ordered, yelling over Ariella’s pathetic screams.
Salvatore watched on, seeming unaffected.
Beside him Jessie watched as they brutally sedated his sister and held her down.
Ariella’s pleas finally quieted, the liquid straightjacket took a hold of her system and didn’t let go.
Her consciousness slowly started to slip away; taking Ariella’s troubles and the reality she couldn‘t deal.
The last thing she heard before falling victim to forced sleep was the same orderlies voice, calm but cold.
“Welcome to Calming Hope.”
Jessie watched helplessly as Ariella was subdued and taken into the large facility of crazy.
“Calming Hope? That was anything but calm!” Jessie said, his voice rising as the door was shut again.
Salvatore ignored his stepson for the moment, watching until he no longer saw Ariella in sight.
When he was sure his daughter was safely inside, he turned to Jessie-his steel lifeless eyes falling upon the eighteen year old boy.
“You have yourself to worry about, Ariella will be the least of your concerns when I’m through with you boy.”
Jessie folded his arms across his chest and just glared. His silence was enough for Salvatore as both men fell into a quiet staring match.
In the end, Jessie lost. He never got to see the limo pulling up to the mansion; or the gun Salvatore viciously clocked over his head.
All he saw was Salvatore’s gun and then the darkness.
Chapter 17: The Girl Who Could See Ghosts
Ariella saw light - beautiful shining blues and whites, intermixing with a calm peace. She couldn’t believe how relaxed and carefree she felt.
In her mind she was free from everything that was wrong; everything that bothered her…everything that was her life.
The downside of things, the colors eventually left; and the dread of consciousness slowly stirred; bringing in human shadows, which hovered above Ariella like descending vultures.
Her beautiful eyes opened, looking up to the dirty cracked ceiling that was now her prison.
Remembered the fallbacks of yesterday’s events, she remained quiet - figuring it was her best route.
The trouble came when Ariella tried to sit up, something soft was preventing her from fully straightening her back. When her eyes glanced over to the bed straps she was adorning, fear began too make it’s way through her system.
“Good morning Ariella.” Dr. Fouler greeted; smiling down at the young girl who looked on curiously- apprehension and stress clearly visible on her forehead.
Fouler waited patiently but just continued on when the young girl didn’t answer.
“Anyhow, your first night here was less than satisfactory…why with that display out front I have half a mind to lock you in solitary-but I won’t. No, I want to help you despite what you are thinking.”
Ariella continued with her silent stare; which seemed to annoy the doctor slightly.
“Do you understand?”
Ariella’s stare turned cold before turning her head away from the crack job Salvatore hired. If her father had anything to do with all of this, it certainly wasn’t for her to ‘get better’. She half expected he was trying to drive her mad.
“Ok…I can live with the silence-but the question is…can you? I’d imagine it can get quite lonely in that head of yours.” He instigated with malice-smirking.
Ariella clenched her hands into fists, jerking her wrists back, the glare deepening to an almost murderous rage.
Dr. Fouler chuckled, sitting at the edge of her bed; his hand reaching over to move the hair from Ariella’s eyes.
That’s when the silence broke.
“Don’t touch me!” She screamed, her voice shrill with anger-and even went as far as to try to bite his protruding fingers.
Ariella should of expected it, but when his hand went back and slapped forward to her cheek, it shocked her into complete silence.
The sting wasn’t bad - nothing hurt like her fathers.
Ariella knew she should of stopped, but the anger that grew inside her was released and if it got her in initial trouble - so be it.
“Tell me doctor, how much is my old man paying you to abuse and mistreat me? I bet if you told him how difficult I’m being you can get a ton more…because I will never cooperate ! Do you hear me you fucking freak in a bag!? NEVER!”
It was then a small whimper was heard from across the room.
That’s when Ariella saw her - a girl, no older than herself who sat huddled into the corner of the room; rocking back and forth- her head hitting off the painted bricks like a rubber ball with each thrust of her body.
“Stop that Rachel or I’ll put you back in the solitary room!” Dr Fouler threatened.
The girl stopped, a small smile spreading over her lips.
“Little Billy can’t go out to play today-he’s been a very bad boy.”
The way she said it was mocking…somehow different.
Then she cackled, before whimpering and continuing with her rocking, but this time keeping her head away from the wall.
Dr. Fouler looked unnerved, but didn’t say anything.
“That’s Rachel-you’re new roommate. I suggest getting acquainted with her as with your current attitude I don’t know when I’ll feel like letting you go. Now if you‘ll excuse me, I must attend to a new patient. Vincent will let you out of your restraints and take you to the dining area for breakfast. I expect no trouble from you.” He warned, his voice remaining uncaring and passive.
“Go fuck yourself.” Ariella replied simply, letting the still brewing anger out in a bout of frustration.
“I’m writing you up for your mouth. Three strikes and you go in the timeout room. I’m not going to be disrespected; especially from a sixteen year old girl.”
“I’d say kiss my ass but you probably would, you sick fucking freak.”
Ariella was pushing it. She knew it, but the deep veins in Fouler’s forehead began to strain out. He was angry - and Ariella took great pleasure in it.
“Strike two.” Fouler gritted, grinding his teeth.
“Little Billy is being punished.” Rachel laughed before continuing. “Wearing a frilly dress. Billy, Billy, what a freak.”
This time she chanted; more cruel…more darker, almost like a growl; before the same cackle erupted.
This time Dr. Fouler was freaked as he seemed to be pushing a far distant memory away, one that seemed to anger him.
“Shut up you stupid crazy bitch!”
Ariella was confused but remained quiet, watching the girl. Seeing what she would do next.
“Run, run Billy Billy, run as fast as you can; because mama’s gonna gitcha!”
Dr. Fouler walked hurriedly from the room, actual fear in his eyes apparent. That’s when the girl stopped completely.
It was quiet for a few tense moments as Rachel seemed to be shaking her head, clearing a memory it looked like.
“God, I hate when they do that.”
She sounded completely normal then…sane. Well-as sane as one can be in a place like this.
Rachel noticed Ariella and smiled, getting up from the floor and walking over to the trapped girl on the bed.
“I saw you being brought in yesterday. I like your angel - he’s funny…and the woman is beautiful.”
The girl trailed off.
Ariella tried to move away from Rachel - the very thought of this girl near her; scared reasoning out the window.
“Please stay away from me.”
Rachel stopped, but slowly sat at the edge of the bed.
“I’m not going to hurt you Ariella. Your mom wouldn’t like that.” Her eyes started to dilate, a soft smile washing over her peaceful features.
“Nicky, who is he?”
Now Ariella became skeptical.
“My best friend…is my dad putting you up to this? If not, this isn’t funny!” She snapped, now becoming upset.
Rachel shushed her, the calm look still washed over her face.
“She promised you she would be there when you woke up…and she was. Your dad came in -”
Rachel became quiet, not saying anything else; her eyes closing momentarily; a single tear escaping.
“She’s sorry, but I can’t say anymore.” Her voice hoarse as she tried to gather herself back together.
Ariella watched as Rachel got up and went to her own bed-sitting down heavily onto it.
“You’re nuts.” Ariella concluded, turning to the door suddenly; her breath momentarily leaving her at the sight of the orderly that had entered.
“Hello Ariella.” He greeted pleasantly, walking over to the bed; before grabbing the chair next to him-sitting down into it.
“My name is Vincent, and I’ve been assigned to take you to breakfast. I’m going to undo the restraints but let me go over the rules real quick. Ok?”
Ariella nodded, looking into the cold blue eyes of his soul.
“Don’t try to hurt me, don’t try to run, don’t swear or get violent, and do not try to bite me. Are we clear?”
Ariella nodded again, watching as his hand encircled around her wrist; unbuckling the straps-allowing the poor girl to finally sit up.
“Vincent, Vincent quite the contractor; Vincent, Vincent, with the gun in his hands; Vincent, Vincent with the blood soaked past…never gonna tell.” Rachel chanted, laughing - before a shrill scream escaped her lips.
“Knock it off Rachel.” Vincent warned, before smiling warmly at Ariella. “I’m afraid she suffers from a special needs case of schizophrenia…a very rare kind. Dr. Fouler hasn’t been able to figure it out. Nothing seems to match her symptoms.”
Ariella watched Rachel rant, pleading in a language all her own, as she suddenly got up, a murderous look on her face.
“Vincent, Vincent, with blood soaked hands, laughing, laughing while his victims scream.” Her voice darkening.
“CODE 22, REPEAT - CODE 22!” Vincent yelled, backing away from Ariella’s bed as Rachel stalked forward - her eyes shadowed in dark.
Ariella watched in fright as a mountain of orderlies rushed in to subdue the crazy girl. Vincent watched with no effect; not even when she was hauled out screaming; her voice echoing down the hall.
“I’m not crazy! The ghosts, I can talk to ghosts!”
When her voice got far away Ariella was relieved…but she was curious to…a girl that could talk to ghosts? Not possible…was it?
Vincent continued to unstrap Ariella from the bed until releasing the final strap-helping the girl stand up.
“They injected you with some pretty powerful stuff last night - you may have some problems walking, most do.” He smiled, holding on to Ariella and helping her from the room.
“Thank you…for being so kind to me.” Ariella said quietly, attempting a small smile.
“I’m here to help.” Vincent returned, the same friendly demeanor shining in his beautiful eyes…but just below them laid something more devious.
Chapter 18: Jessie, Nick, Ariella
Jessie woke up to pain - like his head was being bashed in with a baseball bat…of course that was only the agony of being hit unconscious with a gun.
When he opened his eyes he was met with bars, with a hard rubber mattress underneath him, raised up by a cot.
“What?…” He croaked, his voice hoarse, trailing off in the darkness.
Jessie waited a moment to see if there was someone listening. When all he was met with was silence, he slowly began to ascend upright-very slowly.
He groaned, the vertigo forcing him to lay back down.
“It serves you right Jessie; hurting your poor father like that!” Came his mother’s voice - which was like nails across a chalkboard.
“Where am I?” Jessie asked weakly, feeling like his head was about to explode.
“In the basement. Salvatore requested my approval of training you - you being eighteen, there’s not much I can do to enforce it…however, I will let your father deal with enticing your decision. I’m simply the house wife.”
Jessie half snorted, half groaned.
“You’re worth less mother. The only thing you are good at is spreading your legs for two cents. Even then I think they’re paying too much.”
His tone was sarcastic, but Jessie was in far too much pain in caring about thinking before speaking.
“If your father was here-” Gisele began before Jessie cut her off.
“He’d run away screaming from the pure sight of your face. Just like he did before.”
“You are impossible!” Gisele screeched, slamming her heel onto the ground in aggravation.
“Go away mother, your voice is making me sick.” Jessie gagged, finally managing to sit up on the uncomfortable mattress.
“Ariella will be moving into the attic when she gets back, if you don’t shape up-you’ll be joining her.” Giselle informed him, turning her back and leaving the basement with a slam of the door.
The area Jessie occupied was a small cell, a standard size like one would see in a prison. Only this one was only fit to hold a single person.
No running water, but a small bucket sat in the corner, parallel to the bars.
“This is insane.” Jessie muttered, looking outside of the bars; somewhat shocked but not entirely…if Salvatore Calvino was involved then…what extents would the man go to?
Jessie sat there, not entirely sure what to do. This whole concept was new to him; especially if the mob was involved.
He was pissed, and that was never a good thing for anyone.
‘I found her phone, she is not to ever contact you again Nicholas. I will kill her if she does. However, you may gladly look her up at her Calming Hope. Her…temporary residence.’
“Son, this is none of our concern.” Sonny said, watching the deep distress wash over his son’s emotions-not something that was wise.
“He put Ariella in an ASYLUM. For the criminally INSANE! How the fuck can you tell me that’s not my business? She’s my best fucking friend!” Nick yelled, his anger rising to a dangerous level.
Sonny frowned, his son wasn’t being smart. Too much emotion and personal attachment to someone was a weakness, and enemies would play on weakness.
“Son…there is nothing we can do. She’s in Calming Hope…a maximum security psychological facility…with people who work under Salvatore’s orders. Not even my best men, let alone my best lawyers could get anything on Salvatore considering both our hands are equally just as dirty. We just have to see the outcome. Initially it’s up to Ariella, what her decision is after all of this.”
Nick gritted his teeth before turning suddenly from his father - right towards the front door.
“Bullshit, I’m going to go see her. She needs to know I still fucking care-though as apparent as it maybe from your perspective dad-she is nothing like her Salvatore. I want her to still know she has a best friend.”
Sonny watched, a hard gaze in his eyes; but he said nothing as Nick left toward Calming Hope. As the door shut however, a small smile made it’s way through.
As much as his son could be how he wanted him to be-Nick held on to a memory, and that memory was Ariella. She was his innocence, and Sonny knew that Nicholas was trying desperately to hold on to that last bit-but he also knew that eventually his innocence would slip away completely.
Ariella sat, a small tube of play dough in front of her; Dr. Fouler on the opposite side.
“This exercise is pretty simple. Take the play dough and mold me the thing you hate the most. Express what is going through your mind, what is creating your anger. Then we can work on why it’s making you feel like this.”
Ariella looked down at her clothes, pretending not to listen. She felt like a prisoner in the two piece sleep garments they forced her to wear.
“Are you even listening to me Ariella? Or do I have to repeat myself? Because you know I hate when you force me to repeat everything.” Dr. Fouler warned, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Ok, then let me borrow your face for a minuet, I want to mold it…sadly I don’t think just one tube would really catch all the hideous details, need a few for that.” Ariella retorted, mimicking Fouler’s motions.
Dr. Fouler sighed.
“Ariella, come now; is the reason you’re lashing out at me because your father thought it would be best for you to get better, or your mother dying and leaving you at such a young age?”
His tone was mocking, vicious; uncaring…and cold.
That got a rise out of Ariella.
“Don’t you dare talk about my mother like that, you-you…” She glared, clenching her hands into tight fists.
Dr. Fouler shrugged, reaching over to a plain black journal that had been sitting on the coffee table in front of the two couches.
“Perhaps I can shed some light on this then about your mother. This was her journal, and if you wish to see-her handwriting. Pictures…all that sentimental bullshit.” He continued, ignoring Ariella’s warning.
When Fouler didn’t get any acknowledgment, he opened up a page and began to read.
I don’t know what to do with Ariella. She is a spirited child, but she is making Salvatore mad. Yesterday, she finger painted on his report for Hager Miracho…the Godfather. Luckily Miracho has a sense of humor when it comes to kids-so thankfully nothing happened. I love my daughter but I sometimes wish I did not have her. No kid should be born into this life. I know Salvatore was disappointed when I gave birth to a girl…how sad we learned when I couldn’t have anymore children due to the scaring Ariella caused me during birth. Salvatore blames her…and me. But I love her, and someday-I believe, Nick and Ariella will be married. I’ve never seen a little boy so eager to please…or protective.”
Dr. Fouler paused, smiling at the tears that slipped down Ariella’s cheek.
“I believe your mother had some regrets. How does that make you feel?” He asked, seeing Ariella stand up and walk over to a small shelf - a shelf of Dr. Fouler’s lifetime achievements.
Without a word she picked up a pen, with the base attached on the outside of it; chucking it in the direction of where the older man was sitting.
Upon the contact of the pen, numerous items followed. Her anger coming out in full force.
Ariella barely heard Dr. Fouler’s yelling, or felt the rough hands on her shoulders as they brought her down onto the ground; or even the prick above the crook of her elbow.
She just knew that consciousness was slipping from her again, and she never had been more thankful.
Chapter 19: Rage And Touch
Ariella awoke, the darkness was thick and unfeeling.
Her vision was blurry, at first, but the more she became conscious; the feeling started to return to her body.
A hand was gently resting on top of Ariella’s. It’s touch soft…familiar.
“Nick?” She asked; her voice hoarse and dry.
The hand left suddenly, leaving a ghost feeling of a once loving friend.
Ariella didn’t think about it, she tried reaching for something she remembered-but stopped, realizing the restraints on her wrist snapped tightly, her hand straining to feel his touch again; yearning to remember something familiar.
“Nick, please..please Nicky, please, please.” She sobbed, trying to sit up; becoming upset that he didn’t answer her.
Nick watched his best friend wither and struggle against the hospital restraints-and if he could, Nick would have released them the second he saw Ariella.
Anger for Dr. Fouler was strong…and his protective instinct took over-which often times left him in silence…which meant trouble.
He swallowed the lump in his throat, speaking calm and steadily.
Nick hated himself for the cold distance he was placing between him and Ariella; but he was doing it for her protection-and his families. Salvatore was not fair at war; and Nick was already well aware of the consequences should he not listen.
“Salvatore granted me one free pass…to come see you-but after-” Nicks voice broke.
He didn’t cry, but the hurt he felt; just seeing his best friend was more heartbreaking than he could ever express into words.
“Please Nicky-just hold me, I just need you to tell me everything’s going to be alright. Tell me that I can go home soon…that I can go home with you.” She started to break then; her jerking of the restraints increased; the webbing of her fingers outstretched; trying to reach him.
Nick broke. Hearing Ariella’s plea for help was too much-he had to get her out of here…and with Dr. Fouler out of the way…
“It’s ok sweetheart-I won’t let them hurt you anymore-it’s all going to be alright baby. I’ll make this right.” He soothed, his voice calming and gentle. The same Nick he use to be surfaced momentarily, resting his hand back over the frightened girls; his body leaning over to face her; his breath blowing on her cheek like a kiss.
“I miss you so much…so much.” He breathed, leaning closer, until his lips were pressed gently on her cheek.
Ariella sobbed, her chest heaving; all she needed was to touch his face-to know Nick was really there…her Nicky-the same one that smiled; the same one who would shush her when things with her father got bad-the Nicky that comforted her when she felt as if she was breaking. Now it seemed it was all she had…and even that was being taken away.
“Dr Fouler, he let you see me so he could hurt me. They want to drive me insane Nicky; and it’s working. I want to die…I want to go with mom.” Ariella ranted, crying harder; her whole body convulsing violently.
Nick shushed her.
“None of that talk Ella, because you can’t leave me.”
“But you’re leaving me!” She screamed; feeling Nick’s hand slap across her mouth.
“No…I’m not. I just have to find a way for us to meet, I don’t know when but I won’t just leave you Ella…not when you need me. I will never abandon you.” Nick asserted roughly, but lessened his hand, sliding it towards the wrist strap - knowing his friend needed this…knowing he needed it.
Ariella could feel the straps on her left wrist loosen, before coming off all together.
She didn’t move then, shocked into silence-feeling for one moment that Nick could get her out of this hell hole.
Nick’s hand wrapped gently around hers, guiding it gently to his face-allowing her to feel him; to let her know that he was there.
“I want to go home with you, can you take me home?” Ariella pleaded, pushing gently into his cheek; her thumb running over his lips, feeling as they parted.
“I’m afraid I can’t. Vincent is right at the door-I don’t think he would believe you were sane enough to leave-just hang on a little longer, and you’ll be out.”
Ariella grabbed Nick’s arm pleadingly.
“Don’t leave me! Please…”
Nick didn’t know what to do. He had to leave soon as visiting hours were over-but the sight of Ariella restrained to that bed set something raging in Nick that not even he could control.
He sat upon the bed carefully, his knees kneeling on the edge as he hovered back over Ariella-their hands still joined.
Nick used his other to wipe a stray hair from the young girl’s face, his baby blue eyes sparking with so much emotion; it was amazing the could look so innocent.
With a slight hesitation he bent down and kissed her softly.
As their lips touched, there was a spark that ignited; a permanent reminder of just how strong love can be.
Ariella froze, looking deep into Nick’s eyes. They somehow appeared older than they actually were…a lost innocents.
“Nicky…you’re hiding something from me.” Ariella said, before disengaging her hand from his and touching his cheek.
“I love you Ariella-I always will, but there are some things you aren’t meant to know.” Nick replied solemnly before taking her hand and placing it back down to her side-know his time with her was short.
He put her hand back in the cuff, strapping it fitly to her arm, but enough slack to slip her hand out if she needed.
Nick leaned forward again, his lips to her ear.
“Wait until checks are done, then slip out of them. Don’t do anything stupid Ariella. You understand?”
Ariella nodded, in fear-Nick’s demeanor changed on a whim.
“I’m going to get you out…Dr. Fouler will not be in charge of your case anymore-not when I get done with him.”
It was at that time Vincent entered through the door.
“I’m afraid visiting hours are over. Please-come with me, I’ll show you the way out.”
Vincent was friendly, his tone light…but Nick picked up on the subtly nervousness in the man’s voice-and knew he was up to something.
“Alright.” Nick agreed, knowing this wasn’t going to be pretty…not for him anyway.
Vincent shut the door again, casing Ariella in the darkness. She hated the dark-it gave her too much time to think. But the chill that ran down her back told her that something was wrong. Marjorly wrong.
“Nick…NICKY! Nick! No! Nick!, NIIICK!”
Her screams echoed around the room, passing faintly out into the hall; falling short on deaf’s ear. Nick Durante was nowhere to be seen…and neither was Vincent.
Chapter 20: Contractor
Vincent lead Nick to the front entrance of the building-the walk seemed long as the corridors were never-ending.
“I know what you did…” Vincent trailed off, stopping Nick so he could face him.
Nick took a moment to gaze into the others eyes, before a smirk subsequently appeared on his face-almost like the Cheshire cat.
“And I know what you are…the question is, why are you here-not normally a job a contractor would do.”
“The problem with many people is assumption. Ignorance. We go where we are told. A buddy of mine is staged working at a nursing home. He got the shitty end of the deal…this job has it’s benefits.” Vincent chuckled, walking to the wall and leaning against it; knowing Nick would have questions.
Indeed he did.
“Who are you working for, and why exactly are you here? What’s this got to do with Ella?”
Vincent still had that subtle smirk on his face, but it was more of a friendly pass.
“I’m working for Salvatore…we’re all working for Calvino. I’m here to make sure she stays sane enough to deal with being here. Fouler is to drive her insane; Rachel is here to scare her enough where she doubts her own sanity and in conjunction with Ariella it will be the perfect balance where Salvatore can make her compliant. Personally I don’t think it’s very nice to mind fuck your own daughter-but hell, who says the world is fair?”
Vincent explained this so casually that Nick was surprised at his calm demeanor.
“And if Fouler is out of the picture?” Nick asked, crossing his hands across his chest.
Vincent frowned then.
“Then they would get Jerkins. The shrinks are expendable. If Fouler goes, the next one to come along would be Jerkins; and he’s about a hundred times worse than Fouler. He’s got a rap sheet of rape and murder out the wazoo. At least Fouler won’t touch them. So if you want to take him out-be my guest…but each one will be worse than the last.”
Nick’s hand went subtly to the back of his jeans pocket.
Vincent sensed something was amiss and quickly did the same.
“I wouldn’t do that Nicholas. I don’t have any qualms with you, but if you pull what I think you’re about to; it doesn’t give me any incentive to play nice.”
Nick brought his hand away from the handle of the gun.
“Salvatore gave me a free visit; why?” Nick glared. He really hated this contractor.
“He wanted you to say your final goodbye. I’m supposed to shoot you in the back of the head as you’re leaving. However, and lucky for you; I have somewhat of a soul. I don’t kill kids. He explained calmly, his voice calm and cool.
Nick growled, his stance tense.
“If that’s the case, then it really doesn’t give me an incentive to play nice either. If Ariella is hurt, I will come back; and I will finish off all of you. Every single last one.” Nick promised, going for his gun-only Vincent was a little quicker.
With almost vampire like movement he was able to take a hold of Nick and restrain his body against the wall with his own, making his hands immobile with one hand while he got the gun with his other.
“I don’t like being threatened. I don’t like promises being made against my life Nicholas. Now, I’m going to walk you to the door; and you’re going to turn around to leave. Should you turn around I’m going to take that as a sign of hostility, and then I’m going to shoot you. I don’t want to do that, I don’t like killing kids. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Now, you’re going to calm down and do as I tell you.”
Nick remained quiet, listening. In truth he was scared of the man, but outside he remained emotionless…compliant.
“I’ll do as you ask…but I want you to do me a favor in return.” Nick challenged, feeling his body being released from the wall.
“I’m letting you live, I think that’s favor enough.” Vincent responded, backing away from Nick to let him turn around.
“I want you to look after Ariella. Find it in whatever humanity you have left to protect her. Not just pretend to be her friend…if you got to know her; you’d be surprised. She’s an incredible person. The nicest one you’d ever have the pleasure of meeting. I’m not saying that because she’s my best friend. I’m saying that because I love her and I know her inside and out. Not many people do. Salvatore is the devil in carnage, he’s always hated her.”
Nick desperately wanted to get Vincent to understand, he needed him to see Ariella as a person, not just another assignment.
“It’s not my job to get involved in those matters-” Vincent began; but Nick cut him off.
“Just put your guard down a little lower. See her as a person; not an object, not a job. See Ariella for who she is, you’ll see that I’m right.”
Vincent sighed. He was going to regret this, he had a gut feeling he was.
Nick nodded, knowing that was the best he was going to get.
“Alright, then I suppose I’ll just have to accept that.” Nick resigned, beginning to walk in front of the older man.
Vincent didn’t say anything else, simply followed Nick to the entrance. With the vacant hallway, and muffler on his gun, it would have been easy to shoot this kid in the back of the head. Vincent, who knew from experience as the younger one grew; he would become dangerous…his innocence would be gone completely.
Almost as if sensing Vincent’s thoughts, Nick spoke.
“I’m not dangerous. I’m simply concerned for Ariella. When you’re in love-and at my age it doesn’t mean shit; but when you’ve spent your whole life with one girl…you just know that that’s the girl you will end up marrying. I love her, and nothing is going to change that.” Nick said, stopping to turn around; right before they got to the entrance of the building.
“As I’ve promised, I’m not going to shoot you. I have standards. No women, no kids. Now, I need you to turn around. I’m going to give you your gun back. You reach for it, I blow your brains out. That’s the deal.” Vincent delivered the ultimatum, watching Nick nod. For Vincent’s reassurance he also raised his hands up in surrender.
“Alright, we have a deal.” Nick relented, feeling the gun being slipped back into the hem of his jeans.
Vincent smiled. He liked the kid, his heart seemed to be in the right place.
“Good. I don’t want to shoot you. You seem like a good kid. Just stay that way huh?”
Nick nodded, slowly placing his hands down but in front so Vincent didn’t think he was trying anything.
They finally reached the entrance.
Vincent unlocked the door and opened it, motioning for Nick to head out.
Nick didn’t wait for anymore of an invitation before breaking out in a run; his long legs sprinting to get away-almost as if he were afraid Vincent would change his mind.
Vincent watched, a frown deeply planted on his face.
He liked the kid, but he knew Nick’s type. Vincent saw it many times before. Eventually, the humanity would be drained from him and he would revert to a cold blooded killer.
With a sigh he turned back inside, knowing that would not be the last time he and Nick would meet.
“See ya soon kid,”
Ariella screamed as loud as she could, ignored by everyone around.
Eventually her voice gave, forcing her to lay in silence.
The tears fell silently, pained and in agony. She wanted Nick, more than she ever wanted anyone.
Remembering Nick had left her cuff loose; she wiggled out of it-laying there for a few moments before releasing the other one, but not bothering to unhook anything else.
Her mother’s journal had been set beside her bed on a table tray.
She reached for it, holding it gently to her body. Ariella never knew her mother felt like that-she never gave any indication that she hadn’t wanted her. She felt hurt, but knew her mom must have had her reasons.
Eventually the door opened, Vincent entered quietly, slipping in before turning on the lights. That was the first time Ariella really got a good look at the room; and herself.
She didn’t say anything.
“I came to check on you.” Vincent told her, coming to the bed, smiling slightly. “But I see Nick already did me the favor of releasing your hands. Lets say we get the rest of those restraints off? You seem calm, and I don’t think it’s really necessary. Fouler can be a real jack off when it comes to unlawful restraint.”
Ariella nodded quietly, agreeing with her caretaker.
“Good.” Vincent smiled, releasing her from the straps.
When Ariella was free, she sat up and looked down at her mother’s journal, opening it to a page and reading the entry to herself.
With each line she became upset before throwing the book to the ground and turning away from Vincent so he wouldn’t have to see her cry.
Vincent frowned and picked the journal up, flipping it to the entry Ariella had been reading.
His heart stung, it had been awhile that anything had made him react like that; but he truly felt for the child.
“Oh hun, I’m sorry.”
It’s all Vincent could think to say. He never experienced anything like this-victim or friend. So he wasn’t shy to admit ignorance.
“I’m not sure which hurts worse. Not being loved by my dad; or my mom cheating on him with Sonny Durante…my best friend’s father. I never knew…Nick never knew.”
Vincent remained quiet, the only comfort he could offer was gently rubbing the girl’s back.
Chapter 21: Adrian Liotta
Adrian Liotta was fourteen years old-a young kid…a young serial killer.
He had murdered over seventy people in the last year, and he loved it. In fact; it was a favorite pastime of his.
Adrian got the idea from Goodfellas at the age of six, murdering the family pets had just been a start. From stabbing the poor creatures to death with knives to poisoning. His imagination was never out of ideas.
He currently stood in front of Sonny Durante. Blood soaked his shirt and pants, staining them a dark crimson.
Sonny seemed concerned, more troubled that the lad had brutally murdered his parents in cold blood, then his history. But given the background of the boy’s past he could use that to his advantage.
“Explain this to me again.” Sonny demanded, his arms crossed firmly across his chest as Nick stood beside him silently-apprehensive. If not a bit fearful of the younger kid.
“Old man was beating mama, mama was a witness. I stabbed them both and then burned away any remains. Ya gotta tie up loose ends, no witnesses and all the bull shit. Christ, you’re the fucken Godfather, ain’t ya supposed to know this stuff?” Adrian mouthed off cocky, his New York accent coming out thick.
Sonny felt the corner of his mouth twitch, but it wasn’t in amusement.
“Yes, I am. Which means I can get my son here, to take you down to the basement and cut out your tongue, cook it and then make you eat it. Which is precisely what I’ll do if you don’t get that know it all attitude put back in check where it belongs.” Sonny warned.
Adrian strained his hands against the leather ties he had been tied up with. Killing your elders was punishable by death in the Italian culture-if not for a good reason.
Sonny gave the kid a once over before nodding to his men.
Adrian felt the ties cut, which left him with a crooked sadistic grin beaming up through the roots of his darkened soul.
“You’re going to live, and work for me. Perhaps teach my son here some of your ropes. But should you try to harm him, or me-my men will put you out of existence. Or you can save me the trouble and pull something now so we can skip a step. Hm?”
The younger kid fell quiet for a moment. Thinking it over.
“Nah, nah man; consider my attitude in check…as for your kid-sure; I can teach him some ropes-if he willin’ to learn em.”
Sonny looked at Nick.
“It would do good for your training son. Give it some time-and see what you feel comfortable falling in to.” Sonny encouraged.
Nick nodded, but said nothing. Adrian Liotta, scared the absolute piss out of him. ‘The boy without a soul’ is what Nick would eventually call him.
Nick had one, as hidden as it may be at times. But it was crucial and important that his caring side never came out too often.
In fact…Nick half suspected that’s why his father brought it Liotta - to straighten the humanity out of him.
“Father, I have an appointment at three o’clock I cannot miss. It’s been a few days and I really need to go see Ariella.”
“After Vincent Villas threatened to shoot you?” His voice rose as he popped his son upside the head. “The hell is wrong with you son?”
Nick flinched, knowing he had said the wrong thing.
“No. I’m taking out Fouler. I’m gonna take out every mother fucken shrink that comes into Calming Hope.” Nick answered, his tone flat as he reached in the back of his jeans pocket and armed his gun.
Adrian stepped up then, his eyes clearly on the prized possession in the older boy’s hand…but also something gleamed…a memory.
“Fouler. Eh? He was my shrink back in the day at Calming Hope. Parents sent me there when all their cats would spontaneously end up dead. Hated the mother fucker, been wanting to take cool eyed, and cocky out for a bit - I’m in. Now when do I get me a piece?” He nodded toward the gun.
“You don’t.” Nick spoke, replacing his gun back where it belonged.
Adrian was disappointed, but still held a smirk on his face.
“So, can I help ya bring down Fouler, or you gonna be stupido; and do this alone? Hey, ain’t I the one supposed to be showing ya the ropes?”
Nick gritted his teeth. He didn’t want to learn a damn thing from this boy-but what choice did he have?
“Alright, fair enough. Get cleaned up-we’ll head out in a bit…follow him, see where he lives and take it from there.” Nick gave; looking at his father who smiled.
“Alright. Have fun.”
He watched his son leave, knowing Nick taking out Fouler, would set a different kind of event for Ariella.
Fouler was bad-Jerkins would be even worse.
It was late that night when Dr. Fouler left Ariella’s room. The girl had been sedated again - which had become the usual normal for her standard. But at least she was breaking; and that showed progress. Salvatore Calvino would be very pleased with a compliant daughter.
His footsteps echoed along the hallway; the corridor vacant as usual. It was a never-ending process of steps and procedures. So when the day turned to night, Dr. Fouler was not sad to see the tall building disappear in the back of his rearview mirror.
Unfortunately for him - his every night arrangements were going to be a little different that particular evening.
Getting to his car, he unlocked the door - never bothering to check the backseat…when you’ve parked in a maximum security parking lot - what really was the need?
A mistake that would cost him dearly.
Fouler got into his car and reached for his folders, taking a few of them and making notes.
“Stupid girl…” Fouler trailed off, finishing his notes in the report.
It was then he threw the folder back onto the passenger side seat and started up his car - heading out the gate of Calming Hope.
As he watched the building fade into the background, a figure suddenly entered his line of vision, after that-everything went black.
Vincent stared out the window, almost longley into the distance. He had saw Nick and another young kid getting into Fouler’s car. At first he was going to say something…but after what Fouler did to Ariella - Nick could do whatever the fuck he wanted to the man for all Vincent cared.
Turning back he saw Ariella’s deep breaths, rising and falling gently. She was at least asleep. Something Vincent had not been able to get her to do willingly.
Humming softly to himself, Vincent sat down beside her bed - picking up the journal Ariella had desperately held onto. Obsessing herself in the mystery that surrounded her mother and Sonny Durante.
He picked it up then, and quietly read it aloud to the sleeping girl. It was how he spent his nights, and in a sense; he forgot his job almost completely. Which was a dangerous thing to do when the Italian Mafia was concerned.