Nicoletta Ch. 04byjesstoyou©
"Who are you?"
I posed my question while gripping the door handle with all my strength. As I waited for a response my skin began to crawl, I just knew this woman was scrutinizing me even though the darkness. I could feel her gaze stabbing at me like ice cold jagged daggers. Still, I stood my ground. I pulled the door open more than I already had in an attempt to see something, but all I could see of her were the glowing embers of her cigarette floating in the darkness. The room was silent for a long while before she spoke again.
"But Caro, should you stay, and behave yourself, my Alessandro will see that you want for nothing. Yours would be the life of a Princess, a life several women in the past years have been attempting to wrangle literally for centuries. They have plied him with lavish gifts and impossible deeds ... those silly women flocked after my son like lap dogs at their master's heels, but in all this time you Nicolette are the only woman who captured his heart."
A light illuminated her corner of the room as she finished speaking. I had not heard the click. I did not want to hear anything but her enchanting voice, now more warm and inviting than it had been just moments before. Now that the light was on, I heard nothing. I could only look at her in awe as my eyes travelled from the top of her flame read hair, to her swan's neck ... I had never seen a more perfect bosom, admittedly, though my own breasts were nothing to sneeze at, I was more than envious of hers. My eyes followed every perfect line her body made right down to her bone white pumps which seemed to glitter in the light. I had never had any tendencies towards women before, but looking at this woman, I was utterly enamored.
"P-please ... tell me who you are Signora ..."
"Nicolette, my name is Paola Andalina Rossi, but Amore, you may call me Mother."
I stood staring at her for a bit before I opened the door wider. I took a step out into the hallway. She said nothing, nor did she move from her seat. Paola simply took another long drag on her cigarette as she watched me through narrowed eyes. My heart slammed into my rib cage as I made the decision to run. I stole a quick glance down each end of the hall. Finding it empty I turned my back to Paola ...
"Nicolette, this is your life now, this family ... you cannot run from us ..."
Her voice had gone cold again. I could hear her emotion get the best of her as she strained to keep her composure. I turned my head to look at her; I was not sure if I was attempting to see if she was coming after me or if I was regretting the fact that I would not be able to look at her longer. Her jade eyes burned into my not nearly as spectacular chocolate eyes.
"Thanks for the advice Signora Rossi, but I am afraid I really must go ... give my regards to your son per favor ..."
With that I broke into a full run as I exited the room. I heard her call after me, but I did not hear any indication that she was giving chase. The house was huge ... more like a castle than a family home. Its décor was beautiful and belied that I was even in the same century much less the same country I had been stolen from. I twisted and turned down the wide hallways, past closed doors never running into anyone along the way. But in the event that I did, I was prepared; I grabbed a huge gilded candle stick before I set out to find the entrance to the palatial home.
Soon I began to smell something sweet, I could not place the fragrance right away, but as I drew closer I recognized the smell as roses, but there was something else, something I did not remember ever smelling. As I turned the corner I found myself standing in the largest foyer I had ever seen. The lights were turned down low in the area and there was no noise at all save the ticking of a clock somewhere in the room. A huge antiquated marble table stood in the center of the vestibule which held a large vase full of at least two dozen of the reddest roses I had ever seen, surrounded by an unbroken circle of pristine calla lilies. It had been the calla lilies I smelled before. I wanted so much to stop and delight in the fragrance of each one, but there was little time. I heard the click of heels on the stone floor. They were not close, but I knew the longer I lingered the more danger I put myself in.
The massive wooden front doors stared back at me like the tops to treasure chests. A thick wooden plank barred the doors against intrusion. I knew the primitive locking agent did its job all too well when I tried to lift it. It would not budge. The sounds of her footsteps drew closer still ... soon they became muffled as she entered the carpet lined hallway leading to the foyer, leading to me. I knew she was there with me before I saw her. She said nothing as I tried desperately to move the huge post preventing my escape. After about five minutes of trying to force it up and away from the doors I pounded the door with my fists as I cried, finally giving up slumping to the floor in defeat.
"Nicolette, the locking mechanism is automated. There is a code that raises and lowers the bar." She said kneeling in front of me. My hair spilled down over my eyes as I sobbed. She moved it back behind my ear as if we were the best of friends.
"See, Caro, the key pad is just there ..." She said, pointing up to a gilded square on the wall next to the door.
For the first time I noticed that it was not just a piece of art, but it was a housing unit for, like she said, a key pad. I looked at her through teary eyes, but even my tears did not mar her beauty. She took me by the arms as she pulled me up in front of the key pad. Her dainty fingers flipped open the little gold door revealing a pad not unlike the number pad on a phone.
"You are intent on escaping your life Nicolette ... I cannot stop you. We all must make our own mistakes in order to learn. The code is *667543*. But Darling, do not forget if you do this, like I said before, there will be consequences. Few have crossed my son without incurring his wrath. Alessandro can be relentless and ever creative when it comes to discipline."
My fingers flew across the key pad as she admonished me to stay. I scarcely heard a word she had spoken after she gave me the code to unlock the door. I was free, that is all that mattered. When you are in a bustling metropolis, Europe is fairly easy to circumvent. One can always find a helpful person more than willing to assist a lost American find the train station or airport. And in this city even easier so as it was situated on the coast, so I thought. Once I was off the Rossi property, past their massive iron gates, all I had to do is make my way to the beach and follow it until I reached the top of what I hoped to be the entrance to the city center.
It was a cool night. The Mediterranean breeze chilled me to the bone as I hugged myself to try to retain some heat. But my attempts were useless. When Alessandro brought me to Italy I was dressed for September in Texas. The night time highs were no less than 75. But in Cagliari it had to be in the low 50's and I was painfully underdressed. I must have been walking for quite a while as my joints had begun to stiffen by the time I walked up on a group of people sitting around a beach fire playing music. I gestured to them to allow me to sit by the fire for a while, and was welcomed with open arms and a large glass of wine. It was just what I needed to get me started again, but about an hour into my break I was buzzed and enjoying the music too much to move on.
"So, Amore, will you be introducing me to your friends?"
Alessandro's voice snaked between me and a gorgeous Italian guy I had become quite friendly with as we sat chatting in broken Italian and English. I took another drink of wine as I cursed under my breath. I was too buzzed to panic, but not drunk enough not to try to formulate a plan b.
"Federico ... wanna get out of here?" My new friend looked at me blankly for a second ...
"Um Jessica ... Sono I spiacente ... I do not understand ..."
"A car Federico ... possedete un'automobile, I grow wary of this company, I wish to leave ..."
He looked over my shoulder at Alessandro and then back to me, his unease evident in his apprehensively cordial smile.
"Who is he Jessica ... l'uomo ... the man, behind ..?"
"He is no one Federico ... just a bad dream ... un incubo."
I turned to look at Alessandro for the first time, and in my drunken haze I openly defied him as I slid my hand casually up Federico's thigh and gave it a little squeeze. Federico lay one trembling hand on his thigh atop mine, and extended his other hand to Alessandro in greeting.
"Signore, di buona sera ... Sono, Federico Salinni"
"Ciao, Federico, my name is Alessandro Rossi; I am your lady friend's husband. I am afraid, Nicolette has been a naughty naughty girl tonight"
Alessandro's gaze burned into me as he shook his head like a disappointed father would at his disobedient daughter. Federico ripped his hand from mine and struggled to get up and away from me. I could tell he knew who and how dangerous Alessandro was, and I could feel the terror welling up in him as Alessandro explained who he was to me.
"Be still Federico, I have no husband ... questo uomo e insano ... he is crazy" I said pointing at Alessandro.
"Enough! Nicolette, get up! You are coming home with me right now. I suggest you not make this worse for our friendly Federico here, he is in a sufficient amount trouble as it is."
My new friends had ceased their music upon hearing the commotion between Alessandro and me.
"What! Why, he has nothing to do with me at all!" I took a step backward towards Federico, and as I did, Alessandro matched my step, only moving forward, closer to me. It was like we danced a dark waltz to the crashing of suddenly furious waves against the shore.
"Doesn't he Nicolette? Tesora, he was just sitting here in this spot, holding you as if he were your lover. You have been away from the house for how long now Cara Mio, almost four hours at best? So I am guessing you have been sitting here fiddling with each other for about two hours, wouldn't you say? And in those two hours, I am sure, with the aid of the wine in your glass, you have gotten to know our fair Federico Salinni quite well, and he you."
I felt an intense heat at my back ... Federico had drawn closer to me again. His arm snaked around my waist, and pulled me back behind him. As he did I saw several people emerge from somewhere in the darkness to surround our party, and like a flash of lightning I saw Paola's green eyes blaze as she looked at me from the other side of the fire, Alessandro's mother had come out with him to retrieve me.
"The Lady say she has no husband Signore Rossi ... s-she say she want to go ... we go." He said shrugging.
"Viene l'amore ... stiamo andando." Federico said to me gesturing towards his car.
Federico took my hand and as we were about to turn I heard Paola's voice resonate in my head, I looked over at her, but her lips were not moving ...
"Take one step Nicolette and Alessandro will kill that boy..."
"He is going to kill him anyways so what does it matter?" I spoke back at her, not actually saying a word.
I had begun to cry as I realized the futility of my situation, and knowing the danger I had put everyone I had just befriended in.
"Nicolette, Sweet, come quietly with us now, and we will not harm anyone here, you have my word ..." Alessandro's words had a sinister edge to them as he spoke.
His dark coat tails flew behind him in the wind as if they too wanted to get as far away from him as possible, but like me, it would take a bit more effort for them to escape is hold. He held his hand out for me to take as I gripped Federico's hand tighter willing my feet to turn and run.
"If you choose to run Nicolette, my family has not fed yet tonight, and it looks like there is plenty here ... I will need no help catching you after all, and when I do catch you, well, let us just say, it would be in everyone's best interest if you come with us now."
This time I felt Federico's grip tighten on my hand. I looked up to him to see what he saw that caused him to tense further, but there was nothing. He just stood staring at Alessandro with a new level of fear. It was not until one of the human girls in the party realized along with Federico, but unlike him she announced to the rest the nature of the beasts stalking me ...
"Il mio Dio! Mio Dio!! Sono vampiri! Federico La lascia! Che li ucciderannno tutti! Il mio Dio-il mio dio-il mio dio..."
As she admonished Federico to leave me to Alessandro and his family I could feel my panic rise as I realized that I held the fate of every man and woman in the vicinity in my hands. She was right, if Federico did not leave me in the lions den, they would all be killed. As I took in the entire situation I heard a commotion come from where the hysterical woman was. She had tried to run, but immediately a male in Alessandro's group fell on her.
As he covered her body with his, he looked up at me flashing a dangerous smile full of murderous intent. I had never seen teeth like his on a human except in movies. All of his teeth seemed sharper than they should have been on a normal man, but the canines on top and bottom were slightly elongated and noticeably sharper than his other teeth. This man had fangs, and he was going to put them to good use as he made ready to rip the terrified woman's throat out.
Stop this now, Alessandro, and I will come with you! My voice was weak, but carried on the breeze as I sealed my fate. The tears on my face were like ice as the sea breeze kissed me. Alessandro sauntered over closing the gap between him, me, and Federico. When Alessandro was inches away he glared at Federico before he forced his lips to mine. I heard Federico cry out when Alessandro gripped Federico's wrist and half tossed him in Paola's direction.
"No!" I screamed as my knees gave and I fell into the sand. Paola grabbed Federico and subdued him with an ease that belied her svelte frame.
"Alessandro no, you promised they would live if I cooperated ..." I sobbed as I knelt in the sand at his feet. His strong hands gripped my shoulders as he lifted me up into his arms. I was beaten; I could not fight him any longer.
"And they shall live Dulce, but for coming between us, they will be punished. His voice was casual; it was as if we were having a morning discussion over bagels and coffee.
"Take the woman and Federico, leave the others" He said releasing his hold on me, but never breaking our gaze. I heard the woman who had been hysterical being dragged away as Alessandro's brother grumbled about having to forgo a perfectly good meal. Soon, I would come to understand that what 'leave the others' really meant was, keep an eye on them, and when they start talking too much about the nature of the Rossi family, they are fair game.