I'm Your Daddy Now


They were speaking loudly in Italian. I was sure Gabriele and his men thought I didn’t know what they were saying, but I was fluent. My mom had seen to that, putting me and my brother Leonardo—Leo—into private catholic schools and bringing us up in what she lovingly called “the old way.”

We’d spent summers in Italy with my maternal grandparents. I’d picked oranges from my Nonna’s tree, and she’d sliced them up and served them with olives, Coppa, and fresh bread.

Tears streamed down my face as I shifted my focus back to their conversation and away from the beautiful memories of what was sometimes a loving, happy childhood before my mother died. My neck felt bare and cold without the weight of my rosary. I ached to reach up and rub it between my thumb and forefinger, but even the slightest movement of my arms sent a rush of searing pain through my hands as the handcuffs shredded my skin.

Gabriele had me in his lap. I could smell cigar smoke and sweat even through the bag. I could do nothing but let him touch me, my skin crawling as I forced myself not to vomit because I’d likely suffocate in this bag if I did.

Shame flooded my body as his hands brushed over my skin. I couldn’t even see him. I couldn’t see if his guard had turned to watch him touch me. They’d confirmed in Italian that it had been Mattia who’d tried to stop us from leaving. That was the only comfort I had.

Too much time passed. I knew I’d been taken far, far from home when I’d been kidnapped. I suspected I’d been drugged and knocked out, especially since the act of getting kidnapped and what happened in the van was a blur. Either that or I’d disassociated. I’d heard that can happen sometimes during a traumatic event for survival reasons. I felt glad I couldn’t remember.

I thought of Jim, which caused my chest to convulse. Had he seen me get kidnapped? Did he know? Had he called the police? Had he called Emma? The thought made me cringe.

If Emma knew I was missing, she’d raise all kinds of hell, likely going to my dad, a man she knew very little about—and for good reason. She’d be woefully unaware of the danger even though her intentions were pure. I prayed to whoever was listening that neither of them sought me out, if only to save their own lives.

The car rolled to a stop. Someone yanked me out of it, my hip smacking the lock hinge. I winced but didn’t dare make a sound. A hand in the small of my back and another gripping the handcuffs around my wrist forced me forward. I tripped and Gabriele cursed, smacking me soundly on the back of the head. I kept moving. A set of doors clicked closed behind us. We descended down a set of loud, metal stairs that echoed with each step. The steps turned into wet, rough concrete as the descent ended and the air became chilled.

Would I ever breathe fresh air again? Would I ever feel sunshine on my skin? Had I just walked into the pit of no return? An invisible fist tightened around all of my organs and I almost pitched forward on my knees, paralyzed by the knowing that once a victim has been brought to the final location, their odds of survival are greatly reduced. My hands and feet began to go numb.

I heard a heavy door open, and I was shoved inside a room that smelled damp and stale. I sucked in a breath as the bag was ripped from over my head. I blinked, looking around.

There was nothing in the room but a stained mattress with a single sheet on it. A lightbulb over my head provided the only source of light. No windows. Just a single, metal door. Everything was cast in a greenish hue as Gabriele moved behind me, undoing my cuffs, but he held my bloodied wrists together with one hand as he pressed his chest against my back.

“You try anything stupid,” he said softly, “and I’ll make you wish you were dead.” His free hand moved across my belly, scrunching the silk fabric. “You behave yourself, and you get a reward.”

I tried to swallow but it was impossible. He pulled on the chemise until I heard the fabric rip a little, the stitches giving way like the grip I had on my fraying panic. “Do you want to know how you’ll be rewarded for being a good little slut?” His words were clipped. Excited.

Bile stung the back of my throat. I sucked in a sob as his hands slid over my body. There was no sense of pleasure in his touch at all. It was all pain.

“I’m your daddy now, bella,” he whispered into my neck. “I want to hear you say it.”

“No,” I whispered without meaning to say anything at all. His body tightened behind mine.

“I own you. I can do what I want to you, and I will. It’ll hurt more if you try to fight me, bella. I can promise you that. But I like it better when it hurts a little, don’t you?”

His teeth clamped down on my neck, and I screamed, trying to pull away from him. He laughed. The sound reverberated off all the concrete and hit me from every angle. I strained against the cuffs. If only I could cover my ears. His manic laughter taunted me as he  threw me down on the soiled mattress. I tried to make myself as small as possible, pulling my knees into my chest, but he grabbed my ankle and dragged me back toward him.

“Do I need to share you with my men, bella?” He reached for his belt buckle as he pinned one of my legs to the mattress and knelt. “Or are you going to behave for me? They won’t be as gentle as I am, and I am not a gentle man by any means.”

I whimpered as his hand crept up my leg.

“Open your legs for me. I want to see what I spent so much money on.”

I shook my head, tearing my leg out of his grasp and kicking him, mostly by accident, right in the face.

He grabbed me and pinned me to the bed, his arm pressing against my neck so hard my vision began to blur.

“Stupid slut,” he rasped, licking the tears from my cheek. “You’ll regret that.”

I closed my eyes, but that didn’t spare me hearing the sound of him unzipping his fly.

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