Claiming His Queen
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*His eyes scanned my bruised face, searching for answers. A careful, gentle hand caressed my cheek, intensifying the turmoil in his gaze. "He did this to you." It wasn't a question; it was a statement. But I couldn't find my voice, trapped in frozen silence. Fear gnawed at my skin as I stood amidst cold-blooded killers, surrounded by chaos and lifeless bodies. And as he held the gun, I knew more bodies would soon drop.* *** To everyone else, she was a nobody. A vessel for their perverse desires, a desperate pawn willing to fulfill their every whim. A nearsighted girl, finding solace only within the pages of her books, a portal to escape reality. But what they failed to grasp was that behind those innocent blue eyes lurked a devil, dependent on her happiness, hiding in the shadows and watching over her. And that devil was prepared to sacrifice everything for her. The scariest part? She had no clue. *"Why do you act like you're in love with me?" "Jesus, Lily," he growled, "I TATTOOED YOUR NAME ON MY FUCKING CHEST!"*
"...I’ve always been his, and he’s always been mine."
I shut the book I had been reading aloud to a couple of senior citizens, my relief and sadness of leaving another fictional world to face my harsh reality.
Catching myself in time before I slipped into my daily dose of sadness, I looked at my listeners, all sitting on the same settee, attention still on me, and I knew they shared my sadness about it ending.
"Finn reminds me of my late husband," Clare, one of my patients under me, whispers as if she was telling me a dirty little secret.
I chuckled, standing on my feet, knowing there was about to be trouble. Counting mentally, I was at three when another voice of a grey-haired woman grumbled, "Enough of your fictional husband."
I saw Sarah rolling her eyes at Clare, her hand curling around her walking frame as she struggled to stand up.
It didn't stop Clare from staring at her ring and smiling fondly at memories she had made up from my constant reading to them of my romance books, for Clare and Sarah had never been married.
But they were friends for many years.
I looked up at the clock, seeing it was four already; Shit! I cursed, hurrying up. I untied my apron, hanging it on the stand, before grabbing my bag.
"hmm, hmm," Sarah cleared her throat, watching me pack my brown hair into a ponytail, "Please tell us it's a date."
Clare, leaning forward, whispered to her, "A date dressed like that, " she shook her head, disappointed, "Lily is not going to get her Finn being this careless with herself."
"It's not a date," I laughed as I arranged my button-down shirt over blue jeans. If seeing a cousin you swore you didn't want anything to do with after a terrible incident was one, well, let's call it that. "And I'm not looking for a Finn" I shook my head.
"You're not getting any younger." We all said at the same time as I wore my hoodie.
"She got us good this time" Clare relaxed back on her wheelchair, "Next time, you won't."
Waving them a quick goodbye, I ran out of the game room, and as I passed my boss's office, my heart tightened when I remembered I had collected an advance from him the week before.
Hopefully, Greg had some positive feedback for me; I thought as I left my place of work into the chilly Calabria air; wrapping my arms around myself, I hurried to the side of the road, flagging down a taxi.
Getting into the taxi, I called out to the driver, "Palazzo cremisi," and soon, the car was revving down the empty road.
Covering my hair with my hoodie when we stopped at the two-storied glassed building, I dropped, paid, and began to walk through the door of the building, hoping I wasn't seized by the gatekeeper and kicked out.
I spotted him, Greg Silvianno, in the VIP section; thankfully, he spotted me too, and when he pointed at me to a waitress, who nodded and came to collect me.
The place smelled so much of Luxury, and I was battling with my inner demons of overthinking, praying I didn't fall flat on my face right here.
Finally standing in front of Greg Silvianno, my finger gripping my bag, hoping to create enough distance between us, he briefly looked up at me before pointing to a seat opposite him, "Sit, Lily."
And I did, drawing my chair back, holding my hands before me, watching him study the menu; his eyes squinted behind his golden-rimmed glasses
Greg, my cousin, was dressed in a three-piece ash suit, his slicked-back ancestral brown hair we all inherited giving him the aura of a responsible businessman.
But I knew it was very far from that, for the only reason I was here was because I was in dire need of help.
And he knew it too.
"Anything you want me to order for you," Greg asks in his gravelly voice, eyes now on me, "You look malnourished."
Although my stomach grumbled, I still shook my head, "I just had something to eat, don't worry about me,"
He sized me with his eyes before looking at the menu and speaking to a waitress waiting to get his order.
With that opportunity, I took my time studying the paradise I was in, a little water fountain right in the middle, with ceilings so high, and even with that, the atmosphere was cosy.
We were few in the VIP section, three seats were occupied, and one occupied table was just behind Greg.
My eyes accidentally locked with the occupant, and I felt my heartbeat skip; it was the pale green eyes, looking soulless, that caught my attention, and when he looked at me, it felt like he was staring into my soul.
Then he gave me a lopsided grin, raised a brow, and his glass in a mock toast.
I tore my eyes away from him immediately, my cheeks turning red, confusion enveloping me on what the hell had just happened.
Greg arranged his tie and, placing his elbow on the table, began to speak, "I got your message Lily, but you should know a million euro is a lot to pay for a woman who abandoned her family years ago."
I stared at him, my chest becoming heavy, "When we spoke on the phone, Greg, you told me you would help with the fees of my mother's heart surgery."
He raised a bored brow at me, "Fine, I said that, and I'm here, right? Constance is my aunty, and as a family, I have to care even if I don't want to," he began to pull off his jacket, "But your mother is not worth a million Euro."
It might be a figment of my imagination, but I thought I saw a smile appearing on his lips, and then I knew Greg had asked me to come so he could help me; he invited me to gloat at my dilemma.
Despite the cosy space, I suddenly felt hot, swallowing my anger as I watched him stare into the waitress's shirt serving him his order.
Unable to hold it in, I burst out, "If you don't help her, she's going to die in two weeks" I tried hard to blink back my tears; I couldn't let this monster see me break.
He looked like I had just disturbed him, but in his eyes, I could see his pleasure from watching me at his mercy again, "And it would be your fault; I told you I'll get back at you, didn't I?"
I knew this was coming.
Seven years ago, When my mum and I still stayed under the roof of Claudio Silvianno, Greg's father, Greg had tried to take advantage of me; fighting him off was brave and stupid, but I did.
But his father never believed me and sent me, My Sis, and my mum away, with nowhere to go, without caring that my father had died working under him.
A year ago, Claudio Silvianno died, leaving everything he owned to his only child, Greg.
I wondered how much he had yearned for this moment.
"You molested me, Greg," I whispered, a tear falling to the table; immediately, I brushed it off with the sleeve of my hoodie, "You know what," I began to stand up, "I don't even know why I'm here in the first place."
As I reached to pick my bag from the ground, he suddenly took hold of my wrist, and I gasped, looking into his face, "What is this?"
He yanked me back into the seat before taking his and announcing, "I got a proposal for you, spitfire."
I massaged my wrist from his assault, looking up at him puzzled, ignoring the alarm in my head for me to flee; I asked, "What proposal."
He crossed his legs, "Before you decide, listen, this proposal will get you the money you need for Aunt's surgery, and maybe if you are lucky, have a large chunk left to take care of the three of you."
I was in dire need. I was ready to do anything, even if it meant getting on with the heartless monster; seeing he wasn't saying anything, I pleaded, "Please do tell."
The sparkle in his eyes was supposed to be concerning, but I, for once, ignored it.
And bringing up his phone, he scrolled through it and then pushed it towards me.
I looked in to see a picture of a man walking confidently before a group of black-suited men with dark shades on, but somehow he stood out.
There was this pride radiating from that face.
"You need money to treat Aunt Constance Lily, " he tapped the picture, "you have to get married to him."
"...you have to get married to him, Lily."
I watched him raise his glass and sipped from his wine, looking unaffected by the death sentence he just spilled on me.
My throat suddenly went dry as my fingers began to dig into my skin; I fidgeted and stared at the familiar face in the portrait, the angry dark eyes, the raised chin, and the hollowed cheekbone.
Enzo Dimitri, best friends with Greg, wasn't the kind of guy I liked to be around, and you guessed it, he wasn't the type of guy that wanted ordinary people around him.
He wasn't the kind of man with marriage in mind; what happened?
Greg saw the question in my eyes and answered them, "Dimitri needs one of his sons to fill in his position back in Russia, and the only way Enzo is getting in is if he gets married."
With a shaky breath, I demanded, "And you thought I was going to be perfect for a devil-like Enzo, Greg? You know who he is! You know what he can d
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