The Great Love of My LifebyLoveBird1929©
This is a brief standalone story. My goal here is to take a look at the inner workings of why some people stay in relationships which are inarguably unhealthy for them. I hope I've accurately captured the essence of Falcon as being charismatic and loving Devin in his own way, while not necessarily writing him as a very likable person. And my goal for Devin was to capture her strong will caged as it is by her circumstances.
Let me know what you think! Hope you enjoy!
Have you ever had the good fortune, or misfortune depending upon your perspective, of crossing paths with the one?
The one your heart loves and hungers for so deeply you find yourself willingly staying in a situation your brain, your friends and your family all scream at you to get out of. The one you can't make yourself leave for remembrance of the soaring highs you've experienced together to rival the wondrous peaks of Mt. Olympus...in spite of the fact you've also experienced lows together equivalent to the murky bottom of the River Styx. The one better known as your salvation, your curse, the creator of the most exultant moments of your life, the architect of your darkness days.
Yeah, you know the one I'm taking about...him. The man you've laughed with, laughed at, cried on, cried over and given yourself to so completely you know he has a part of you you'll never, ever be able to recapture. A part of you you're thankful you've trusted to him when cherishing him for loving you for no other reason than because you're you; that same part of you you later hate yourself for foolishly giving to him while sobbing over his latest uncovered infidelity.
I've had the pleasure, fortunately, of meeting and marrying the one ordained by God himself for me. Or unfortunately, depending on when you ask me. My answer varies in accordance with the time of the year, the time of the month, the day of the week, or, sometimes, even with the hour of the day. The great love of my life is Falcon Delano Bianchi.
And regardless of how convinced I am of my love for Falcon (regardless of how much effort I've expended trying to convince the doubting Toms of the justness of my love for him and the validity of his for me), right about now, between him trying to wake me at this ungodly hour and his actions over the past few months, he is dangerously close to making me detest him, an edge I've been teetering on for quite some time now.
With a mumbled prayer to God to strike Falcon on the spot with a crippling case of arthritis, I pull the sheet over my head for the third time, rolling onto my side and presenting my obtuse husband with my back, hoping the idiotic man will take the hint and let me alone. So of course he yanks the sheet out of my hands, even going so far this time as to rip it completely off the bed.
"Up, Devin," he says calmly.
"What the fuck is your problem?" is my prompt fiery response. Sitting up, I force my eyes to focus on the cable box located on an alcove of the chrome and black tv stand beneath Falcon's pride and glory sixty-five inch flat screen (his pride and glory I've found myself tempted way too often lately to punch a hole through). They nearly bug out of my head when the blurriness recedes and I'm able to read the time. I'd suspected it was early, but not- "It's four in the morning!" early.
"We need to talk." He lowers himself to sit on the bed next to me, laying a hand on the upper portion of my lower leg. With the pads of his fingers, he draws a slow, tantalizing path upwards to my thigh, stopping when he reaches the hem of my t-shirt.
My body, finely tuned willing instrument of his that it is, thrums in anticipation. Irritated at how easily he elicits the response, I remove his hand. After spending an appropriate amount of time sputtering in disbelief, I choke out a second, "It's four in the morning!"
"Something important has come up." Ignoring my silent rebuke, he moves his hand to my thigh again, using the tips of his fingers to make whisper light, lazy circles on my skin. "That needs to be addressed now."
"Damn it, stop that." I slap his hand away, hating my traitorous desire of him. His skin against my skin, his heady aroma of expensive cologne and masculine musk in my nose, the heat radiating off of his huge form and his very nearness have always served as the ultimate combination I've never been able to resist. "And in case you're not understanding me...it's four o-fucking-clock in the morning."
"Yes, tesoro, I'm aware of the time. You've established it quite firmly for me," he replies wryly. He flicks on the light located on the nightstand next to the bed. "But we still need to talk."
"Falcon, I can assure you there is nothing, and I do mean nothing, I want to hear you say at-"
"Four in the morning," he interrupts. "Whether you want to hear what I have to say matters not, Devin." He exhales deeply, leaning back against the black microfiber headboard and folding his hands behind his head. "Because you're going to hear it regardless. I'm going to speak my piece."
That's the point I start to worry. Although nothing he's said or done indicates anything is out of the norm, I can just feel something isn't right. After seven years of marriage, preceded by 2 years of dating, I am far beyond the point of just being able to merely read my husband...I can decipher him. And his somberness indicates something heavy is weighing on his mind.
My gaze rushes over his entire form from top to bottom, bottom to top, satisfying myself all is as it is supposed to be. Both gunmetal gray eyes ringed by the thickest, dark lashes are still in their sockets, both ears are unharmed, his proud, straight nose is unbroken, and neither his top lip nor the deliciously fuller bottom one are split violently open. Since his cupped together, threaded fingers are the current resting place for his head of short, wavy, slicked back dark brown hair, I assume one must not be missing. No dark stains indicative of blood mar the crisp whiteness of his shirt and his tie appears unstained and none the worse for wear besides being undone, one end dangling casually over each shoulder. My heart lodges in my throat as another possibility occurs...
Scooting to the end of the bed, I grab his pinstripe dress pants covered legs and haul them up next to me. Yanking off his socks, I count his toes.
"What's the deal, Falcon?" My question comes only after I've reassured myself with a second count nothing is amiss with his huge feet. Although his chosen profession keeps us in the nicest clothes, the most fashionable rides and a beautiful house right on the lake, it also keeps me awake most nights, wondering if that night will finally be the night he doesn't make it back home to me. Checking his person for damage has sadly become somewhat of a ritual for me, performed for the sanity of my mind two to three times a month. Only half jokingly, I add, "Is that nasty thing called a conscience troubling you?"
Instead of answering, Falcon counters with a query of his own when he tries to massage my back and I move to the far side of the bed, out of his reach. "Why can't I touch you?"
I almost suffocate on a snort of disdain. Does he truly want to play this game with me right now? He knows well the barely legal, twenty-one year old reason I won't let him near me intimately anymore.
Ava Romano. The pure blooded, imported straight from the heart of Florence, able to trace her ancestry to the esteemed De Medici family, Italian bitch gleefully introduced to him by his mother, a full blooded, right from the scariest, most nightmarish pits of Hades, hellbitch.
"What's the matter, Falcon?" My tone is deliberately mocking, a mask. I stare straight ahead, eyes locking onto the white sheet lying in a far corner of the room, using it as an anchor. "Sweet, little Ava not so hot for your touch anymore? She banish you home to me?"
"You're the female who carries my last name, Devin, not her."
"Ohhh," I chortle, "now you remember. How convenient it must be to be able to forget whenever the mood strikes you." I want to add, wish I could do the same, but I know better than to give voice to that truth.
"I never forget," he declares fiercely. "Never."
The hurt of thinking about his ongoing conquest makes me rub my chest with a grimace. It's a dull ache which has been my constant companion for three whole months. It's never worsened since his hateful mother told me all about Falcon and Ava, never lessened, simply maintained its consistency.
That, I think to myself, is what makes it that much more painful.
It's like comparing the one time occurrence of the stab of a knife to the constant, pricking of a needle. The first, while worse on face value, has time to heal after it's occurred. Like Falcon's one-time indiscretion with an old female friend he hadn't seen in ten years or the one-time he'd slept with some chick from a club whose name he couldn't even remember afterwards. It happened, I found out as he is so sure I'll never escape to a place he can't follow he never undertakes any huge efforts to hide his betrayals, we moved on.
But the second never has the opportunity to heal. It stays open, making the wound prone to infections. And that's exactly what is happening to me. The hurt is festering in my heart, driving me almost to the point of hating him.
Almost...but not quite.
I flop onto my back as I wonder why it is I find it so hard to loathe the man. Everything about him is loathsome, really. From his unabashed involvement in organized crime, allegedly ranging from prostitution to drug dealing according to the near weekly reports on the news about him, to the matter of fact way he dishes out violence (and, yes, taken a life or ten I'm sure), he is a despicable creature through and through.
Relinquishing his spot against the headboard, Falcon lies down on the bed, facing me, and stretches out his right arm. He reaches that portion of my hip exposed by the scrunching up of my t-shirt. He rests his hand there lightly, fingering the thin, red strap of my thong.
"Why?" I ask him.
"Because I put this ring-" his hand moves to grasp my left one, bringing the object in question into my line of sight "-on your finger for a reason. This ring means I love you, care for you and adore you, Dev. It means I can't live without you. It means a life without you isn't worth living."
"But why can't I make myself hate you?" I rage. "I should. I really, truly should."
"You're absolutely right, you probably should," he agrees quietly. He falls silent for several long seconds. "But you know why you can't."
And I do. Just as he loves me, I love him. And I know it's not possible to hate someone you love with every fiber of your being, every ounce of your soul. Lord, how I know it's not possible. Know it probably better than any other person on this planet.
I want to hate him, I do, but I've loved Falcon since the very first day I set eyes on him walking into the mall as I walked out. Right from the very start, right from that brief moment our eyes collided together explosively, I sensed the undercurrent of dangerousness surrounding him, knew everything about him was the antithesis of what I was trying to accomplish in my life. But the peril he presented to my carefully sheltered, organized existence excited me and I gladly provided his stoic faced friend with each and every number for Falcon to use to contact me when Falcon had him follow me to my car with a simple message: "Dinner. Tonight. Charlie Trotter's."
For just a moment my goal of keeping him away is waylaid as I admire the complementing beauty of the tan of his skin against the smooth cocoa brown of mine. The contrast represents the essence of us: we complement one another, complete each other and when it's good between us, it's not just good it's fucking exceptional.
Conversely, when it's bad, it tends to be horridly atrocious.
"Don't touch me," I snap, grinding each word between tightly gritted teeth. I fling his hand away from mine, immediately aware of how my skin burns at the loss of a touch I've deprived myself of for so long.
He pushes up on an elbow and stares down at me from his vantage point. Deathly calm, he questions, "You been allowing someone else to touch what belongs to me?"
"No." I refuse to meet his gaze, but a shiver courses through my body nonetheless. I may have prevented myself from seeing the unspoken threat, but there isn't a damn thing wrong with my hearing and the warning came through loud and clear. The ruthlessness which resides just beneath his calm façade chills me to the core.
Grasping my chin between thumb and forefinger he attempts to turn my face in his direction, but I resist. "Look at me, Devin. Now." The order is unmistakable. Incontrovertible. He waits until I obey to speak again. "No one is to ever touch what's mine. Capiche?"
Apparently I don't respond as quickly as he would like. He invades my space, placing his heartbreakingly handsome, tanned countenance inches from my own face. "You are mine, Devin."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, Falcon. I get it. Capiche. Yo comprendo. I fucking understand. I am yours." Unable to abstain a second time from the temptation of saying something I shouldn't, I add, "Unlike you, I honor my vows, husband."
It hadn't always been that way, however. Despite the close guard Falcon keeps on me (and because of it), I'd managed to cheat on him before. Once.
Months after it had occurred, I'd found out about his very first infidelity; surely not his first since we'd been together, but the first to come to my attention. He'd fucked the stripper hired to work his bachelor party the night before we'd pledged ourselves to one another in front of God, our families and our closest friends. I'd been hurt beyond belief which ultimately set the path to my indiscretion.
To this day, I don't know how he discovered so quickly what I'd done, but he'd taken me out to dinner the very next night to the restaurant where we'd had our first date. He'd sat across from me, big suit covered form sprawled comfortably in his chair, smiling and joking with me, acting the consummate gentleman. All evening, unbeknownst to him so I'd thought, an internal war waged within me, one which my guilty conscience was slowly but surely winning.
I'd just taken a bite of my food, cover to stop myself from blurting a confession, when he uttered, "You'll be happy to know he'll live this time."
"What?" I questioned, confused. I knew he had to be talking about someone close to me as Falcon never discussed anything pertaining to business in my presence. If the Feds ever succeeded in their relentless pursuit to demolish his family's criminal empire he wanted to make sure no matter what happened to the rest of the Bianchis, no matter what happened to him, I walked away from the ruins free and clear. No questions asked.
"I said, he'll live this time," he repeated with a wink which wasn't charming or attractive in the least.
Quite the opposite, it was downright scary. He'd truly given meaning to the phrase "in the blink of an eye" because with that wink he'd transformed from laughing and playful to glacial.
"Who?" I asked, dread growing. I had a suspicion who he was talking about, but still...
"Mauricio." Falcon dashed my hopes immediately. "He's with Lucky and Bruno right now. Matter fact-" he glanced at his diamond encrusted watch "-they should be finishing up with him in about another ten minutes or so."
I lurched to my feet, a scream stuck in my throat as I was confronted with the consequences of my actions. I suffered no disillusions: I'd brought this down on Mauricio. Whatever punishment being meted out to him was because of me and my persistence. He'd denied my advances, several times and quite forcefully at that, because he didn't want to be disloyal to Falcon.
But the man ordered to protect his boss's wife could only be expected to resist for so long. The outcome was a foregone conclusion when the wife, consumed with pain and grief, sought comfort from a man who just seemed to be a very nice guy overall. And he was in the right place at the right time. Once alcohol was mixed into the equation, and inhibitions wiped clean, one thing had led to another and the recipe for a deadly disaster had been born.
"Sit down, Devin," Falcon ordered coldly. "People are looking at you."
"I don't care, let them fucking look," I whispered hoarsely. "If you don't call Lucky right now and tell him to release Mauricio, I'll-I'll-"
"You'll what?" His innate cruelty was reflected in the harsh lines of his handsome face and the cool steel gray of his eyes.
Suddenly I realized the futility of my protestations. I was not having a confrontation with my husband. I was having a confrontation with Falcon Delano Bianchi, Capo of the most violent faction, the most rapidly rising, Bianchi crime family.
I'd stood there for a few moments more, desperately trying to think of anything I could say to save Mauricio from further harm. It wasn't that my undying love for Mauricio demanded I save him, or anything quite that drastic, but the horror of someone else suffering because of something I'd orchestrated dismayed me and demanded I interfere. Especially since I wasn't suffering anywhere near the same gruesome fate as Mauricio.
As Mauricio was being pummeled to a bloody, broken pulp, possibly on his way to taking a swim with the fish, I was sitting in one of the most expensive, posh restaurants in Chicago eating salmon. The irony was washed away in a wave of nausea which forced me to take my seat.
"Finish your meal," Falcon encouraged, as if nothing was wrong. "You've barely eaten."
I pushed the food around the plate, my appetite that had been lacking to begin with now completely gone. "Why are you doing this to him?" I hissed. "For god's sake, he's your friend, Falcon."
"He's not my friend. He's just an associate." He took a slow sip of the white wine he'd purchased at the waiter's suggestion. "And he owes me a considerable amount of money."
"Then why tell me about it?"
"Just thought you might be concerned when Mauricio isn't present to keep you company tomorrow. It's come to my attention you and him have become rather...chummy lately."
But that wasn't all of it. Wasn't even the half of it. And I wanted Falcon to admit the real reason. "And?"
"And what? Do you know of some other reason I should be upset with Mauricio, amore mio?" Falcon met my gaze full on and I could read the challenge written in his. Just as I was daring him to confess, so to was he daring me. "Is there something you'd care to share with me?"
"I don't know anything." The best help I could provide for Mauricio was to keep my mouth shut. My admission would be as good as the signature on his death certificate if Falcon didn't already know how out of hand things had truly gotten between us. I dropped my eyes to the pristine white cloth covering the table. "Will he...will he be okay? Will he survive?"
With a growl, Falcon shouted for the waiter to bring the check. It wasn't until our bill was paid, the car retrieved by the valet, and we on our way home that Falcon deigned to give me an answer. "I like Mauricio, that's why he'll live, Devin. Next time he won't. Fuck that, the next man won't. Remember that."
That night haunted me for years. I couldn't figure out why Falcon had punished Mauricio but not me and that scared me shitless. I lived my life half worried one day my husband would remember my slight and take his revenge. And then it hit me.
Falcon had already had his revenge. For Mauricio, it had been expressed in bodily injury.
For me, it had all been mental.