Authors: Ashley Jade
“No!” I screamed. “Babbo, please. I learned my lesson. I'll be you. I swear. I'll do it. I'll live up to my legacy. Just don't kill her.”
He proceeded to tie two tourniquets around both my mother's arms while I screamed.
I tried to get out of his guard's hold, but I was too weak.
He positioned one of the needles above her vein and I felt the entire world stop.
Then he turned to look at me. With a big smile, he plunged it into her vein.
Tears welled in my eyes and I screamed even louder for my mother.
He plunged the second needle in her arm just as I managed to break free.
I ran over to him but I wasn't fast enough. Her head was already dipping under the water and her limbs were lifeless.
I reached out to grab her, but DeLuca slapped my face hard before wrapping a hand around my throat. “Shed one more tear, Ricardo. One more tear and I swear, I'll kill that little girl.” He lowered his voice. “And I'll do it right in front of you.”
Something in me snapped at that moment―I knew I would never defeat him.
He was too strong and powerful for me to beat.
I wiped my eyes and cleared my throat. “Yes, sir.”
“I have a proposition for you,” my father declared two weeks later.
Since I knew that his propositions were nothing more than him forcing people to bend to his will, I just shrugged. “What do you need?”
I felt like I was on autopilot, just going through the motions of living.
Doing whatever it took to make him happy.
“You haven't been to the gym in the last two weeks.”
“My mother's dead,” was my only response.
His expression changed to one of annoyance before he said, “I'm aware. I was there, remember?”
“I fear I might have made the wrong choice by taking her life in front of you. I think I made you weaker instead of stronger. So, I have something else I would like to do instead.”
I stayed silent. It didn't matter what he wanted of me, I would have to do it anyway.
“I'm opening up an underground fight club.”
“Figured as much.”
It really was no surprise to me, I knew he always wanted to open one and given that he was on his way to being the biggest mob boss that ever lived, he was in the position to make it happen.
Frankly, I was shocked he hadn’t opened one sooner.
“You need me to man the door or something? Collect the bets?”
“I want you to fight,” he said.
That got my attention. “What do you mean?”
He folded his hands in front of him and had that look in his eyes. That look that said he was excited about his new business endeavor.
“I want the best of the best fighting in my cage.”
“Cage? That's MMA fighting.”
He pinched the bridge of his nose. “I'm aware, but I like the idea of the cage. It's more brutal and savage that way. Now, let me finish. Any style of fighting goes, Boxing, MMA, hell even street fighting.”
“What's the catch?”
He tapped his fingers together and smirked. “I'll be offering deals for my fighters. Something that will get them out of jail.”
“I don't understand.”
“You're not supposed to, son. Your deal will be slightly different than theirs.” He paused and looked at me. “Although, you'll agree for the same reason they will.”
He leaned forward. “What's the one thing you want more than anything?”
“Freedom,” I answered without a second thought.
“Exactly. If you make it through the next 10 years in my underground fight club―you're a free man. You'll never have to live up to the DeLuca name again.”
“Yeah, right. Besides, I still have the rest of my senior year of high school to complete.”
He looked me in the eyes and held out his hand. “You're dropping out. I'm many things, son...but I'm a man of my word. You make it through these next 10 years...
. And you're free.”
I didn't even hesitate. If there was a chance I could be free, I had to take it.
I'd be out at 28. That was still plenty of time to live a good life, the way that I wanted. And if I didn't make it out alive, that wouldn't be so bad anyway. I had nothing to live for.
For the first time in my life, I matched my father's stare and a combination of determination and hatred filled me.
I wanted nothing more than to make it out alive.
I had to make it.
If for nothing else than to prove to him that I could.
I wanted to see the look on his face when I reclaimed my own identity and proved him wrong.
But even more than that, I wanted my freedom.
I shook his hand “Okay. Deal.”
I shook under my covers when I saw the doorknob begin to turn.
Even at 15 I was still so scared of that fucking doorknob.
was on the other side of it.
I knew I locked it before I went to bed.
But I also knew it was only a matter of minutes before my father picked the lock and opened it anyway.
Just like I knew he had finished making a pinata out of my mother for the night, and now he was here to 'calm himself down.'
Vomit worked up my throat. I fought him off for so many years, always managing to stop him right before he took the only good thing I had left to give.
God, I hated John Travine.
The man wasn't my father.
He was a
The doorknob jiggled and I held my breath as I reached for my bat under the bed.
“Open up, Lucianna. It's Daddy.”
I fought the tears stinging my eyes. I knew I had to get away.
There was nothing keeping me here in the first place.
My mother knew what he did but never stopped him, most likely because he beat her senseless a few nights a week and she was happy the heat was off her when he was in here with me.
The doorknob jiggled again, he was only a few short maneuvers away from breaking in my room.
It was now or never.
I flung the covers off my bed and reached for my small knapsack that I’d prepared for the moment I finally worked up the nerve.
My bedroom window was on the second floor, but a twisted ankle was nothing compared to my freedom.
I threw my knapsack out the window first and slipped on a pair of chucks before throwing my sweatshirt on.
I heard the latch on the door open. My time was running out.
I dangled one leg over my window, then the other one.
My stomach dropped when I looked down at the hard surface of the porch directly below me, but I didn't have a choice any longer.
I mustered up some more strength and slowly slid the rest of my small body out of the window.
That's when a hand grabbed my sweatshirt and tried pulling me back.
I let my body go limp, he wasn't strong enough to stop the natural flow of gravity.
He clasped onto my sweatshirt tighter and I heard the material begin to tear as he momentarily suspended me in mid-air. “Lucianna,” he ground out. “When I get my hands on you, you're going to regret it.”
single time he put his hands on me. Did the asshole actually think I liked it?
Did he think my cries were those of pleasure? Did he think that
meant, please continue?
I heard one final ripping sound before my sweatshirt gave way and I landed on the hard patio floor. My left side taking most of the damage.
“Jesus, what the fuck is
shit?” some deep scratchy voice growled in the distance.
Not my father's voice.
“I have no idea, boss. I'm just as baffled as you are. I thought we were here to see John, not some little girl jumping out of a window.”
I rolled over, the pain from the fall radiating all throughout me. I tried to drag myself across the wooden surface of the porch until I could stand and finally start running.
I knew it wouldn't be long before John came running outside after me.
Finding purchase on the large chair, I hauled myself up and looked around for my bag.
I couldn't find it anywhere.
A large shadow loomed over me. The first thing I noticed were metal-tipped shoes. I looked up to face a huge man wearing a suit. His eyes were the darkest I'd ever seen and he had a scar that stretched from his ear to his jaw.
He was truly a frightening sight to behold.
He held my bag out to me. “I believe this is yours.”
I gulped and nodded.
It was a bad idea to leave tonight after all.
were these men doing right in front of my house?
I took the bag from him and his lips quirked up in amusement. “Mistress, burglar, or sneaking out to see your boyfriend?”
I shook my head. “What?” My eyes darted around the front yard hoping to spot a direct line to escape. “I'm none of those things.”
The other guy came into view. “Then why are you jumping out of a window at 1am in the morning?”
I opened my mouth to give a smart ass retort but the first man's voice cut me off. “Luke, call John and tell him to meet us out front for our meeting.”
“N-No. Please,” I begged. “I'll do anything. Just don't let him find me.”
He stepped forward. “What's your name?”
He looked down his nose at me. “That's a lovely name. Italian, no?”
I pressed my lips together refusing to respond. I needed to leave and he was holding me up.
I lifted my chin and glared at him. “I have no freaking idea. What does it matter anyway?”
He smiled and rubbed his jaw. “You've got some spunk in you. How old are you?”
“15. Almost 16.”
“You look younger.”
“I'm small for my age,” I bit back.
It was true. Besides being skinny and underdeveloped compared to all the other girls my age, I was barely even 5ft tall. The doctor said I'd be lucky if I even grew to that height at all.
“Why are you running away?”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Why do
think? Why else does a girl run away from her piece of shit father in the middle of the night?”
His eyes widened. “He hurts you?”
“Let's just say it certainly doesn't tickle.” I hiked my bag up my shoulder. “Now, if you'll
me. I'll just be on my way.”
I’d barely moved an inch when he pulled me by my elbow and I instinctively flinched. “Worse than I thought,” the man said. “He doesn't just beat you, does he?”
I looked down at the ground. “No.”
“And yet, you've
got some sass in you. You're strong. Much stronger than my son ever was at your age. That's admirable.”
I heard the front door open and two sets of voices echoed in the distance. “That's great and all, mister. But I really have to go.”
I charged forward but his hand wrapped around my arm.
“No. You'll be staying with me.”
Dread filled me as I watched my father and the other man walk toward us.
My father's face hardened when he looked at me. “Go back inside, Lucianna. I'll deal with you later.”