Sweet heart

A soft knock shattered the silence in the bedroom I had been assigned around ten thirty the next morning. Instead of speaking up, I stayed silent, hoping whoever was behind the door would leave me alone. It was so nice to be alone, so nice to be able to sit on the floor and look out of these beautiful full length windows onto the city. I had been admiring the way the sunrays bathed the city for nearly three straight hours. I had dreamt about this sight for years. I would day dream about looking out at the city skyline, losing myself in its geometry, losing who I was, what I’d become.

The knock sounded again, harder and quicker than the previous. It sounded hurried, like whoever was on the other side was worried. He wouldn’t be worried about me.

Little mouse, like I’m some sad little rodent.

I huffed at the thought off his deep voice. The way he said it, the way it rolled off of his tongue with a mild accent like the one my father and grandfathers used to have. Just enough Italian and New York mixed together.

Before my dad had passed, he had soley called me sweetheart ever since I could remember. It was so generic, so over used, but in all of the time I spent with my father, he never called anyone else the same name. To me, sweetheart was special.

When I had finally asked him, around age 15, why he always called me sweetheart, he gave me a cheeky smile and pulled me into his side, kissing the top of my head.

Because you have a sweet heart, piccola.

Tears threatened to fall. Memories of my father and I started to rush back to me. It had been five years since I held his hand as he passed away in the hospital. Five whole years without him, but it hurt all the same. It was like a part of me died with him, the part of me that kept me motivated, kept me striving for more in life.

A loud thud split the silence in the room as the door swung open and then slammed shut. Heavy footsteps grew near as I stayed still, feeling the burn of emotions run up my throat and through my sinuses.

I was tired of crying.

“You didn’t hear me knocking?” Luca’s voice was stern. I could feel his presence, feel his stare, but I couldn’t find it in me to look up at him. I didn’t want him to see me like this. I looked dirty, my limbs were bruised, and my eyes were filled to the brim with tears.

I was tired of looking so pathetic in front of everyone.

When I didn’t respond, the man carefully lowered himself down to the floor and moved his body until he was right next to me. As the fabric of his long sleeved shirt rubbed against my bear arms, I shivered and felt my arms involuntarily tighten around my shins. Setting my chin down on my knees, I blinked hard and felt my eyes burn as fresh tears leaked from the corners of my eyes.

“I’m sorry I-”

“My dad passed away five years ago, I still get upset when I think about him.” I whispered, my eyes never leaving the sight outside of the window. I wanted to lose myself in the rectangles. I didn’t want to keep thinking about him. I didn’t want to keep thinking of how disappointed he would be in me. How he would look at me with his big blue eyes and shake his head.

I had spiraled into depression. I was desperate to find happiness. I was determined to make everyone happy to fill the void.

Luca placed his hand on my hip and gently pulled me against him. As he tilted my head to rest against his shoulder, I let out a small sob and felt my muscles start to relax. The soft scent of his cologne and shampoo filled my head and quieted my thoughts. As we sat there, he moved his hand and gently rubbed my back, his large hand leaving a circle of fire.

“I’m sorry, topolina

“Andrea,” I whispered, “You can call me Andy, either or.” I looked over at him and watched as his eyes quickly darted from the window to me. As his eyes scanned mine, a small smile appeared on his lips.

“Care to give me your last name?”

“Ricci.” I replied, watching his eyes light up at the sound of my all-too generic Italian last name. With a nod, he ran a hand through his hair and looked back over at me.

“I should have known with that mouth of yours.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle as I watched the Luca’s big green eyes sparkle in the sunlight. “I get it from my mom.”

“Your dad, he was-”

“Second generation,” I whispered as the smile fell from my lips. “I learned all of my Italian from him and his father.” Luca was staring at me, his big green eyes pierced through my skin like lasers. “I know you don’t care about any of this, I just… I haven’t talked about them in a while. It makes me feel better.”

Luca stayed silent for a while. I wasn’t sure if I had offended him or he actually wanted to end the conversation. Whatever the reason, I welcomed the quiet. I had enjoyed watching the city move below me so much, I could have sat here until I withered away. I liked to daydream. I liked to look out at people and put a story to their life. A good story, one I wanted to be in.

The brunette placed a hand on the back of my head. A flash of worry ran through me until he slowly moved it down and then the next time, laced his fingers into it. As he repeated the motion, I felt a soft hum leave my mouth. Eyes fluttering shut, I welcomed the comforting notion.

“I’m going to make eggs, how do you like them?”

“Scrambled.” I replied.

“Are you five?” I could hear the smile in his voice.


“I’m twenty-eight.” He countered.

“I would have guessed just eight.”

Luca let out a low growl, but when I looked over a wide smile was playing on his lips. Smiling up at him, I watched as his eyes caught mine. My heart start to pound in my chest. Every part of him that was touching me started to burn. I couldn’t help myself as I got lost in him. He was so different than the man I had seen last night.

But was he really?

He could have killed me. He could have had the other man shoot me in the back of the head and toss me in the garbage. I could have been tossed in the trunk of their luxury sedan. I could be sleeping in the basement, tied up like a dog. I could have been used, used in every way possible.

And instead, I was taken care of. I was gently put into the backseat. I was checked on when I broke down into sobs. I was questioned about my bruises. I was offered food. I had a pick of how I wanted it.

I had a luxury bedroom with a bathroom the size of my old apartment.

“Espresso?” Luca asked as he slowly stood up and extended his hand to me. Blinking hard, I put my hand in his and felt the last bit of my body and mind erupt into flames. Eyes tracing over the tattoos that stuck out from his sleeve, I felt my head start to feel like it was floating.

Gasping, I felt my body sway as the edges of my vision started to darken. Before I could stumble, the man's arms were wrapped around me, holding me tightly against his chest. Shutting my eyes, I placed my forehead against the mans chest and let the wave of dizziness fade away.

“I stood up too fast, I think.”

“You need food and water, Andrea.” The sound of my name rolling off of his tongue made my heart flutter. It was so smooth, so deep and intimidating. But the look in his eyes when I had finally stepped away, it was so caring.

What was I thinking?

What is going on?

Luca guided me out of the bedroom and down a long hallway. At the end was a large kitchen that spilled into a spacious living room. I wanted to take it in, I wanted to admire the expensive furniture and marble countertops, but all I could do was think about his hands on my skin and the way he said my name.

It hasn’t even been twenty-four hours, does Stockholm Syndrome really set in that quickly?

“I spoke with Antonio,” Luca’s voice was back to business as he walked me to the large island in the middle of the kitchen and pulled out a stool for me. Sitting down, I watched as he walked to the other side and turned the knob of the stove on under the pan he had already set. “He’s not telling anyone you’re here.”

Nodding, I shrugged a shoulder and then glanced up at him. Drumming my fingers on the marble. “So, am I confined to my room or-”

“You have free roam of the house.” Luca gave me a quick glance as he turned to the fridge and started rummaging around and pulling ingredients out. “My sister leaves clothes here, should be around the same size.”

My head bobbed on my shoulders as I watched the brunette swiftly crack a few eggs into a bowl and toss the shells into the garbage. Grabbing a fork, he quickly beat the eggs and then grabbed the salt and pepper. Adding gracious amounts, he turned from me and poured the mixture into the pan that he had heating on the stove.

“You want toast? My Nonna makes fresh sourdough bread.” Luca gestured over to the other side of the counter. “I usually dip it in olive oil and garlic, but I have butter.”

“Can I help?”

Luca turned to me, his eyes wide as he stared at me. Looking up at him, I tried to read the emotions swimming through his big green eyes, but before I could come to a conclusion, he turned from me and started to move the eggs around in the pan.

Without an answer, I pulled myself off of the stool and headed over to the section of the counter that had a few fresh loaves of bread on it. Grabbing the sourdough, I turned and scanned the kitchen until I found the block that held all of the kitchen knives. Walking over to it, I pulled a few halfway out until I found the bread knife.

Pulling it out, I turned and watched as the brunette looked at me from the corner of his eye. Every muscle in his body was tense. For a split second, I had thought about it. I thought about stabbing him, I thought about running from him and heading home.

But what was I heading home to?

What was I missing?

Moving close to him, I leaned close to him and set the knife down on the counter. “Afraid of a topolina, Luca?” I hummed in a low tone as I looked up at him, a devilish smirk playing on my lips. As he looked down at me, his features hard as stone, he put his eyes in mine.

Examining the fire and intimidation in them, I rolled my eyes and grabbed the knife from the counter. Walking over to the bread, I cut off a piece and then turned to him. “One piece or two?”

“You’re real fucking lucky I-”

“Two?” I asked, ignoring the words he has spit out as he turned off the stove and grabbed the frying pan full of eggs. “I’ll cut two.”

Shaking his head, Luca set the pan down on the island and then walked over to me. Pulling the knife from my hand, he slammed it down against the counter and then gingerly grabbed my shoulder and spun me around. Pressing his hips into me, he lightly grabbed my chin and directed my eyes into his.

The forest green was fringed with fire. He was angry with me, the same kind of anger that he expressed last night on two different occasions. Staring at him, I could almost smell the smoke.

“Do you know who I am, what I can do?” Luca growled through a clenched jaw. His breath beat down against my lips, causing my internal temperature to rise significantly. I wanted to ball up my fist and punch him. I hated how he turned so quickly. I hated how his temper was over the stupidest things.

“I don’t care.” I matched his low growl with my own as I kept my eye contact with him. When he stayed silent for more than a minute, I blinked slowly and reconnected the gaze, “how many slices of toast do you want, the eggs are going to be cold.”

Luca’s eyes widened for a moment before he moved his hand from under my chin to the back of my head. Lacing his fingers in with my hair, he tilted my head back a little and moved his face closer to mine. I could feel his hot breath on my neck. I could feel his eyes running over every inch of skin.

Once he was done, he lowered his head, lightly brushing his lips against mine. As he pressed his hips into me more, I felt him against me. Gasping, my eyes fluttered shut as his lips set a soft kiss down on my neck, right below my jawline.

Pressing my hips back into his, he let out a hungry growl and then bit down on the spot he had kissed. Shivering from the contact, I put my hand down on the edge of the counter and bit down roughly on my lip.

“You drive me fucking crazy.” Luca whispered into my ear as he lightly bit down on my earlobe and pulled. Once he had released the skin from his teeth, he left a trail of soft kisses down the side of my neck until he reached my collar bone. Once he reached the bruise, he paused.

Looking down at him, I watched as his eyes traced over the dark purple pattern. Lightly pressing his lips to it, he pulled away and looked at me. “What happened?”

“Can we eat, please?” I breathed as the embarrassment of the situation started to sink in my stomach.

I was just letting this man who threatened my life do this to me? What was I going to do, give into him like I gave into every other man that treated me like garbage?

Was he going to be the new person I let feed off of me?

“Nevermind, I’m not hungry.” I felt my limbs start to shake as every drop of blood in my body rushed to my cheeks. Before Luca could respond, I pushed off the counter and quickly walked across the kitchen and into the hallway. Keeping my eyes on the floor, I headed back into the room he had placed me in.

Shutting the door, I hit the lock on the doorknob. I waited a few moments to hear if he had followed me. I knew the sound of his footsteps, but after a few minutes with no sound, I let out a deep sigh and turned away from the door.

I tried to blink the thoughts from my head as I mindlessly walked over to the dresser in the room and pulled open the draws. Running my eyes over the clothes, I grabbed a loose white v-neck, a pair of underwear, a bralette, and a pair of black leggings.

Turning to the bathroom, I paused again. Holding my breath, I heard a low mumble and then a loud thud followed by an aggravated scream. For a second, as I pictured the brunette throwing his plate of eggs against the perfect light grey walls. I wanted to leave the room and apologize. I wanted to explain myself to him.

Grabbing the knob to the bathroom, I pulled the door open and set my feet down against the marble tiles. Setting my clothes down on the counter, I pressed my shaking hands onto my face and let out a deep breath, letting the hot air arm my features.

My brain was reeling as I turned on the hot water and sat on the edge of the tub.

He doesn’t care about you, he’s ashamed of you.

You’re his failure.

You don’t mean anything to anyone.