Content warning: This chapter contains violent visuals, descriptions of violence, and visible blood in a few pictures. Please tread with care.
The door to Enzo’s father’s study slammed shut with an ominous thud. Enzo breathed deeply, supressing the desire to run away. He had made his decision when he sent the painting to Ms. Antonini, but it didn’t mean he looked forward to this part. It took inhuman strength to turn around and face Fabrizio and his friends.
Fabrizio looked around the room at all the paintings, squinting as though any moment now, either of them would magically transform into the coveted van der Ast. Finally, he turned to Enzo.
“Well?” he said. “Where is it?”
Enzo took a deep breath. “You’ll find it at Leandra Antonini’s house.”
The silence in the room was so heavy, you could cut it with a knife. Apart from the faint sounds of conversations outside, Enzo’s laboured breathing was the only sound.
“I don’t think I understand,” Fabrizio said. “Why would I find it at her house?”
“Because I sent it to her.”
“I sent it to Ms. Antonini,” Enzo repeated. “Turns out she hired someone to get it first and I thought it was only right that she should have it.”
Moretti’s voice rose from the corner as he advanced on Enzo. He was truly frighteningly tall and there was something dangerous in his eyes.
“You mean because she hired the Mancini whore,” he growled.
Enzo set his jaw and glared at him.
“If by that you mean Ms. Mancini, yes. She had a deal with Ms. Antonini and I only helped her fulfil her promise to her client.”
The next moment, Moretti moved so quickly, Enzo barely had time to register what happened before he was pressed up against the door with a large hand wrapped around his throat. All courage he’d had fled him and the unsettling feeling that he had felt around Moretti grew stronger. He slowly realised that he had no clue who this man was. He had thought he knew what was going on, but now it felt like the ground was opening up under his feet.
“You hired the bitch, too,” Moretti growled.
“I-I… it doesn’t matter. She needs—”
“I don’t care!” he growled, obviously careful not to be so loud that anyone outside would hear. “You’re supposed to hand over that painting to me.”
Enzo closed his eyes as a torrent of spit hit his face. He could barely speak with the man’s hand pressed to his throat.
“P-please…” he tried, but anything else he would have said was cut off when he felt a hard punch to the stomach.
Moretti let go of his throat and he sank to the ground, shocked to his core. The room spun under his feet and he only barely stopped himself from emptying his stomach contents onto the floor.
He had never been hit like this before. Gina had elbowed him once when she still hated him and he’d thought that hurt, but she must have been holding back. This… this was like nothing else he had ever tried. His body curled around itself to protect his core, but it was all in vain as Moretti grabbed him by the collar and pulled him to his feet again.
“You’re going to go get the painting,” he said. “Now.”
“B-but how can I…?”
“Do I look like I care? You’re going to get it and you’re going to get it tonight or I’m going to go out there and pump your sister full of lead.”
He pushed Enzo hard against a wall again. Enzo stared in bewilderment at the two men from the ‘charity’, then at Fabrizio.
“B-but it was about the murder,” he said. “Y-you were g-going to go to the police and—”
“With what evidence?” Fabrizio asked, letting out a deep sigh. “I can’t exactly prove you killed Conti, but you agreed to get the painting. Just do as he says, Vinny. You wouldn’t want Lia to be hurt.”
“B-but…” Enzo said again. “You’re going to marry her. You can’t let them—”
Moretti punched him in the stomach again. And again.
“Are you slow?” Moretti asked. “Go get the fucking painting.”
When Enzo didn’t react right away, Moretti grabbed him around the throat once again and squeezed so hard stars danced in front of his eyes.
“Put him down.”
Moretti froze and his grasp suddenly loosened, while Enzo fell in a heap on the floor. He couldn’t feel anything, not even the fine rug under his hands and he thought for a second that he had actually died. That would explain the voice as well. It was familiar and it was probably the last voice he had expected… But he was still in pain, so he couldn’t be dead. He glanced up and saw the origin of the voice.
Marco Leoni, as poorly disguised as ever with a scraggly beard, pointed a gun at Moretti’s back. This should have been a good thing—Enzo should have felt like he was saved, but then he noticed Moretti’s friend had a gun as well and this one was aimed at Leoni.
“I fucking swear,” Leoni said, “that this is the last time I help that woman.”
Enzo used the corner of his father’s desk to pull himself up, blinking at the tableau. The three men, linked like a messed up chain by the guns. Fabrizio was in the corner, his bravado notably diminished now that guns were drawn.
“What…?” Enzo asked blankly of the art thief.
“Trying to keep your ass safe, blue-eyes,” Leoni replied. “But maybe we’ll talk later. I’m kind of busy.”
“Put it down or I’ll blow your fucking brains out,” Moretti’s friend snarled.
“My lady would probably kill me, so I’m afraid I can’t. Why don’t you lead by example?”
Neither of them budged, not until Moretti drew his gun and, predictably, pointed it at Enzo. Enzo backed up and hit the corner of the desk.
“After you,” Moretti whispered to Leoni.
The thief groaned and put his gun down mumbling something that sounded like never again.
Enzo’s stomach sank and he backed away, past the desk to the farthest wall. All he could do was stare in horror while the two of them forced Leoni on his knees and pointed a gun at his head. They were going shoot him, he realised. Just like that. He tried to open his mouth and say something, but his tongue refused to obey. They wouldn’t listen to him anyway.
Instead, like a coward, he closed his eyes and waited… for a gunshot that never came. But he heard a body drop to the floor and then—
“Back the fuck off, Moretti.”
Enzo’s eyes flew open as he yet again wondered if he was dead. There was no other explanation for how Gina’s voice could be here. Except… there she was, standing tall with eyes that radiated cold fury. She was flanked by Carlotta, a small flock of unfamiliar men with guns, and Leoni—very much alive. In contrast, Moretti’s partner was on the floor with blood seeping from a wound in his head. Judging by Carlotta’s position right next to him, she had hit him hard on the head and when he stirred, she stepped onto his back.
Meanwhile, she had her gun to Moretti’s head. He was on his knees and despite this, he was almost as tall as Gina when she stood in her full height.
“So good to finally meet you,” she said, smirking. “I’ve been looking all over for you. Keep him there, will you, Lotta?”
Lotta nodded mutely and Gina turned away from the kneeling man and walked over to Enzo.
“Are you okay?” she asked, her voice soft.
He wanted to say yes, to put her at ease, but there was a man bleeding in his father’s study and he still felt the brutal punches like a throbbing in his midsection, not to mention the ghost of a hand wrapped around his throat. His voice didn’t work properly, so he only nodded. She studied his face carefully, then the rest of his body. He must look a state.
“I walked in on the asshole choking him,” Leoni said.
With more power than he thought he possessed, Enzo croaked. “I’m fine.”
Gina put a hand on the side of his face and, despite himself, he closed his eyes and leaned into her touch. To his horror, he felt tears escaping and making their way down his cheeks.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m so…”
She quietened him with a finger to his lips. “Please, don’t apologise, love.”
“Not now. I’ve got something to attend to and then I’ll take care of you. Sit down.”
Gina moved his father’s office chair and he took a seat as ordered. Then she kissed his forehead tenderly and stalked around the desk to look at Moretti.
“Now then,” she said. “Let’s talk.”
“I’ve got nothing to talk to you about, whore.”
Gina snorted. “Oh no, I’m so insulted,” she said blankly, then her face screwed up in a snarl. “I was trying to be polite, Moretti, it’s more like I’m going to talk and you’re going to listen. See, I made the silly mistake of believing that since I’ve got a presence here, that means nobody would be stupid enough to move in on my territory.”
“This place isn’t yours any longer.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” she whispered. “I know about your little fledging gang and I’ve spent the past few days liberating you from the responsibility. It’ll be a little hard to keep your territory without a fucking gang.”
Enzo let out a sound of surprise. A gang. That explained… a lot. His eyes met Gina’s across the room and she nodded, explaining what had been going on. The gang that slowly formed behind her back with Fabrizio’s help.
For the first time since Enzo had seen the man, Moretti looked shocked, but then he steeled himself and snorted.
“So you’ve taken my whole gang? Somehow I doubt it.”
“Oh, but it’s very true. One half of your little gang were wise enough to join me and the other half…” She smiled in a way that gave Enzo chills. “Let’s just say they weren’t as wise.”
Enzo couldn’t help but glance down at the unconscious man on the floor, then back up at Gina. He noticed that Moretti must have had the same thought, because Enzo refocused on him just in time to see his gaze return to Gina. He looked oddly resigned.
“So I’m next is what you’re saying.”
Gina snorted. “Nah, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m not like you. I don’t hurt people to show off how big and strong I am. It was unfortunate that your buddies had to die and I’m not one to cause more bloodshed when there’s no need.”
She turned to a couple of her men and at a snap of her fingers, they grabbed Moretti.
“Take his gun and drive as far away as you can, preferably over the border. If he tries anything, you have my permission to take him out, but otherwise I want you to leave him and his partner in the middle of nowhere. If they ever come back here, I’ll kill them myself.”
Moretti glared at her. “You’ll regret that, whore. I’ll be back for you.”
“Can’t wait,” she said disinterestedly.
She waved a hand and her men dragged him out of there. A snap of her fingers and another man took his partner away, leaving behind a small pool of blood. At last, only Gina, Carlotta, and Leoni was left—apart from one figure who cowered in the corner. He had been forgotten until now. Gina put her hands on her hips and made a show of looking around.
“I feel like I forgot something,” she said and then her eyes landed on Fabrizio and she smiled wickedly. “Oh, right, Mr. Fabrizio Aiello.”
She wagged a finger at him. When he remained as he were, frozen in the corner, Lotta grabbed him by the arm and dragged him closer to Gina.
“I hear you’re joining my business,” she said. “Blackmailing and supporting a gang—you’re a busy boy. Of course you have to stop now, since you’re on my territory.”
Fabrizio’s eyes grew wide with panic. “Please don’t…” He glanced at the blood on the floor. “Don’t kill me.”
“Oh, but I wouldn’t dream of it, so long as you do exactly as I say,” Gina said in a low, dangerous voice. “What do you say?”
He nodded. “Y-yes.”
“Okay then, here’s what you’ll do: You’re going to go to the airport and catch the first flight to your daddy’s holiday home. I don’t care if it’s in France or Austria or Germany or whatever, so long as it’s in another country. Once you get there, you’re going to call off the engagement to Rosalia Cavalcante and then you stay there. For good. If you ever contact Rosalia or any of her family again or if you set foot in this country, I’ll personally hunt you down and tear you to pieces. If I hear that you’ve told anyone about Conti’s murder, you’re dead as well. Are we clear?”
Fabrizio nodded, but Gina waved for Lotta to push her gun in his face and she said:
“I want you to say that you understand my instructions and that you’re leaving. Go on.”
“I u-understand and… I-I’m leaving.”
Gina’s red lips curled into a vicious smile and she took a step back. “Good, then we’re done. Carlotta, Leoni, accompany Mr. Aiello to the airport.”
Carlotta and Leoni led Fabrizio out and that left just Enzo and Gina. Until now, she had been full of fury, but now her shoulders dropped and she turned to him, her gaze soft with concern. His heart skipped a beat.
“Seriously, Enzo, are you okay?” she asked.
She came over and knelt by the chair and took his hands in hers to kiss the knuckles. She looked up at him.
“What the fuck were you thinking, sending that painting away?” she asked, but then she shook her head. “No, never mind, I know what you were thinking. But you’re still an idiot.”
He sank. “I had to make it up to you. I know what you did to Doriano, and if it weren’t for me—”
“No,” she said, cutting him off. “That was on me, okay? I’ve always had a shitty temper and I knew what the consequences would be. As soon as I punched him, I regretted it. If you’d been there, you would have stopped me, so don’t tell me that it was your fault. It wasn’t.”
For once, Enzo didn’t argue. Not because he thought she was right, but because he was exhausted. The adrenaline that had flooded his system while he was in danger had left and now he was so drained that none of the emotions he should be feeling would register. He had been beaten up, he’d been threatened, there was blood on the floor… And there was his father and all the guests outside who somehow hadn’t heard the commotion. Gina noticed that he was glancing to the door and stroked his arm.
“I’m afraid they’ll probably notice something’s awry. Any moment now,” she said.
Enzo lowered his head and despair flooded his entire body. His head swam with it and he yet again felt a stray tear make its way down his cheek. Gina wiped it away.
“I can’t bear it,” he whispered. “I can’t even imagine the consequences…”
She tipped his head so that their eyes met.
“I just took this whole fucking town for you, Enzo, and I swear I’ll take the next town over and the next one past that. I’m willing to go to the most boring, ridiculous functions and suck up to all the rich gossips and if that’s not enough, I will threaten and blackmail and bribe anyone who dares so much as say a word against you.”
He let out a shaky breath and followed the curve of her jaw with a finger as even more tears ran down his cheeks. All these years when he had held them back and now it seemed like they all came at once. Gina dried them and whispered that she was there.
“It’s really important for you to remember this: I’ll do anything for you and I will be there no matter what happens,” she whispered. “Now… steel yourself, honey. Here they come.”
And the door opened to admit his father and sister.
Author’s note: Hi guyssss and welcome back to another exciting episode of the Enzo’s Life Is Shit and Then There’s a Cliffhanger-show. Ha, ha, haaaa. 😀 Damn, we’re getting close to the end at this point. The next chapter is the last one of chapter four and past that there are just 4-5 chapters left. I can’t believe it’s already coming. It’s going to be really hard to let go of these two, even if I am starting to like their daughters. Another thing I’m starting to like quite a bit is making custom objects for the game. If you follow me on Tumblr, you may have seen, but basically I’m slowly improving my 3D meshing skills and making different things that I may need for gen 3. This is my most recent creation:
It’s not something I need for my story per se, but I wanted to see if I could manage it and since it turned out decent, I might put it up for download here. If I’m kind of quiet on the blog and with writing, it’s probably because I’m making CC or just because I’m relaxing and reading a ton of books. We bought a Kindle and I’ve already filled it up with smutty romance and I am living. 11/10 recommend that.
Besides that, I don’t have much to say. I hope everyone’s having a great time and I’ll see you dudes in the next post. 🙂
PSA: No cute rich boys were hurt during the making of this chapter, nor would I ever endorse violence against cute rich boys. Cute rich boys should be wrapped in blankets and protected.