I heard a crescendo of waves pound the shoreline. It was an opus I had not heard in years. The delicious taste of briny sea breeze floating over my parted lips beckoned me to open my eyes to the day. But I refused to end such a peaceful dream only to return to my hustle and bustle life in the stifling sour air of Down Town Dallas. Besides, if I woke, all I had to look forward to was a massive hangover. The night before I had a one woman party in my living room, my only guest was a rather large bottle of Grey Goose I managed to half drain.
I remember passing out on the couch with the bottle neck still in my hand. After several martinis I decided to forgo the glass so that the bottle and I could become more acquainted. No, waking was not an option. Instead, I was content to lie there dreaming, feasting on the air as I listened to the symphony of the day.
My voice rang in my head as my eyes popped open and darted about the strange sunlit room. I had never seen this place before. It was the most elegant room I had ever been in. It could swallow my small apartment whole. Sitting up slowly I could see I was in the center of the room on a huge mahogany canopy bed draped with translucent voile pouring onto the floor below. The room was decorated in a sort of avant-garde Victorian style. Its trappings giving way to an old world ensnared in modern day aesthetic. Everything in the room was colored a different shade of white, except for two blood red velveteen chaises sitting in what seemed to be a reading nook next to an open set of glass double doors looking out on an impossibly beautiful ocean.
"There is no coastline in Dallas ..."
As my sleep heavy voice croaked out of my mouth I knew it was going to be a very bad day. I crept off of the bed through a slit in the voile and made to go out the room door when I heard a silky Italian accented voice slide from the direction of the balcony.
"You are awake ..."
It was not a question, and though it sounded like a simple statement, I heard a warning in it. I stopped in my tracks not turning around, not speaking a word. My heart pounded in my chest as the pain of excessive drink clouded my mind so that I could not think clearly enough to formulate a plan much less words.
"How do you feel Sweet Heart? I have sent for some medication for your head, should you need it."
"Who are you?" My voice shook as I tried to sound unafraid.
"You were ... quite drunk last night Love. I think we ought to keep breakfast light this morning ..."
"Where am I?"
I began to inch towards the door again as I posed my question. I did not hear him move to stop me. Not really interested in his answer, I continued to move while I waited for him to speak.
He paused as did I at hearing my name on his lips. Terrified I rounded on him. I had to see who this man is. A man who removed me from my home and knew my name ... yet I had no recollection about his identity.
"Come away from the door Dove. You cannot leave this room, not now."
"Bullshit!" I spat with too much enthusiasm for my condition. My head reeled with pain, but I didn't care. I had to get away from this man ... this strange man who knew too much. I went for the door handle, pressed the leaver and it gave. I wondered why he was still by the balcony for a second, why he had not come at me when all of the sudden I felt hot breath on the back of my neck.
"Close the door Nicoletta ... Now."
When I did not move to open the door further, or to push it closed, he placed a well manicured, large hand on the door with grace I had only seen while people moved underwater. Then without exerting much force, from what I could tell, he slammed it ripping the handle out of my grip. We were both still for what seemed like an eternity. My breath came fast and hard as my head pounded. At this point I could not be sure how much fear to attribute to the pain, and how much of it was just my hangover. He had me caged between his arms now with both of his palms pressed to the door. I turned to him, but I could not look at his face.
"What do you want with me?
"Your perfume of vodka assaults my senses Nicoletta ... I want you to go into the washroom and shower."
I could feel him staring at me from above. He was frighteningly tall. I trembled like a lap dog ready to pee himself in the face of utter terror. He dropped his right arm to allow me to pass him, but I could not move. Fear kept my feet anchored to the floor. As I looked down I noticed that he had navy silk pajamas on. His feet did not even twitch as we stood there ... him waiting for me ... and me counting each precious second. As each passed I could not help but to wonder if it would be my last.
I jumped as he put two of his fingers under my chin to lift my eyes to his. I was taken aback by their golden amber color. Looking deeper I saw shards of coal streaking throughout his irises. I stared at him dazzled by his penetrating gaze into my own muddy brown eyes.
"My patience runs only so deep Nicoletta ... now please, do as you are told."
He spoke in almost a whisper with a sinister tenderness. His breath smelled of cloves, sage, and something metallic, hard to place ... almost like pennies. It was not a disagreeable scent. On the contrary, I found myself wanting him to speak more just so that I could revel in his bouquet. He inclined his head a bit in the direction of the bathroom as I looked at him, lost.
Moving slowly, I dragged my bare feet across the plushest carpet I have ever felt. I was surprised I had not noticed it when I got out of bed. I got to the washroom door and stopped. I realized that I was going into the washroom empty handed. I turned to the man who was now leaning against the bedroom door with his arms crossed over his broad naked chest watching my every move.
"I-I have no towels or clean clothes.
"I will have fresh things brought up before you are finished, now scoot."
Pleased with my compliance, he pushed himself from the door and sauntered over to the chaise, pulled out a laptop. Before I closed the washroom door I heard him typing away.
The washroom was even lovelier than the bedroom. Frescos divided by gilded borders lined the top half of the walls. Each scene seemed to be from a different time in history than the next. Some were peaceful ... most were gruesome, and a few were down right risqué. They seemed to tell a story, but I was too frightened to try to figure it out.
Etchings in the stunning coffered glass ceiling caused light to flood the room in shards of blue, lavender, red and orange ... the intensity of the colors depended on the position of the sun. A huge round tub with fawn colored marble steps leading to its edge sat on gold claws in the center of the room. Four small spouts opened into the tub to allow water to flow. Fascinated by the small swimming pool I found the tap and watched four smooth springs of water spill into their waiting basin.
The hot water surrounding my naked body forced thoughts of the man with the amber eyes to the back of my mind as I sank into the water up to my neck allowing my head to rest just on the edge of the tub. I closed my eyes and allowed the heat to encase me in its heavy grip. After about five minutes I heard a tear drop into the water. I had not realized I was crying. I sat myself up on a built in seat, hugged my knees and let loose tears I wanted to drown in.
"Nicoletta, you have been in there long enough ..."
His voice was soft as it came through the door ripping me from thoughts of escape from this nightmare. I still had no idea where I was. I assumed by the electrical sockets and the small ecru radiator in the corner of the room, I was in Europe. I traveled quite a bit as a child with my parents, so I remembered bits and pieces of the structures we were able to visit. But where I was in Europe, I had no clue. I lingered in the water a bit longer before draining the massive tub.
"My towel!" I yelled at the door.
He entered just as I was about to push up out of the now empty tub. I scrambled back down on the still warm marble in an effort to shield my body from his sight. He raised an eyebrow at me as he dropped the towel on a near by bench. Once I heard the door click closed again, and his footsteps became fainter I rushed out of the tub over to the towel. As I wrapped the luxuriant pristine towel around my body I locked the door. Suddenly I heard his footsteps again ... coming closer to the door. A wave of panic struck me hard in the gut as he tried the door handle.
"Nicoletta! Unlock this door!"
I jumped at hearing the new tenor in his voice. He had been so soft spoken up to now. I said nothing at first, but as he shook the handle I moved further back. I was not sure what I was going to do ... I was not sure what he was going to do. I could not figure why he was so angry all of the sudden. I saw no back door or window I could slip through so it was not as if I could escape ... but then I saw the bait of his angst sitting on a side table next to the marble shower.
"A Phone!" My mind swirled at the possibilities as I whispered to myself. I ran over to the phone and picked up the receiver. All I had to do was try to get an operator. If I could do that, maybe I could get some help.
"Nicoletta do not make me come through this door!"
"Just a second, I am drying myself!"
"No Nicoletta Now!"
He was furious. But in all of his fury I knew he could not break the heavy wood door down. It took some force for me to get it closed to begin with. As I finagled with the phone I blocked out his yelling. I punched in every European emergency number I could remember. All of the sudden I hit 113 and an Italian voice came over the line.
"Scusi per favore, Inglese per favore!"
I yelled into the phone using my best Italian to get an English speaker on the line. But before I could I heard what sounded like an explosion behind me. I dropped the phone and ran to a far corner to duck and cover. I looked up through a fog of dust to find the man standing in the doorway. His chest heaved as he scanned the room to find me. Once spotted he stalked over to me grabbed my arm and pulled me up. Like a rag doll.
"Hey! My towel! Ugghhh you are hurting my arm! Please wait!"
As we passed by the phone he picked up the receiver. The Police on the end of the line were yelling franticly trying to get me to say if I was ok.
"Everything is fine Signor ... this is Alessandro Rossi. I am sitting with my niece and nephew ... you know how mischievous children can be. I apologize for getting you upset, it will not happen again."
As he spoke the last sentence he squeezed my arm in warning. When I winced in pain he loosed his grip a little, but did not let me go as he turned me to face him.
"No phone Nicoletta."
"Let-Me-Go." I said through gritted teeth.
I tried to wrench my arm out of his grasp. But he held fast and tightened his grip on my delicate wrist.
"Little one you will soon come to find that your resistance is fruitless. You are in this place because I would have it so ... here with me, you shall remain. Submit to my will and things will be so much easier for you, fight me and accept the consequences. It is your choice."
He dragged me back to the bed and all but threw me onto it. I righted myself on the bed pulling my towel tighter about my body as he stopped pacing and with the gaze of an eagle stalking its prey he watched me. I pulled and tucked the towel, smoothing it underneath me ensuring that it covered my body all the way around and as far down as I could get it to go. I worked at a feverish pace to try to shield as much of my body from his scrutinizing gaze.
"If I want that towel, I will have it ..." His austere tone was filled with unabated conviction.
I sat on the bed staring at him with hard eyes that belied the terror raging inside of me.
"Where are we?"
"Why what Sweet?"
"Why have you brought me here?"
"I have brought you home Love." He said with a raised eyebrow. As the tears welled up behind my already swollen eyes I shook my head in protest. He advanced on me and all I could muster was a weak whispered 'no' before he grabbed at my towel.
"Never hide yourself from my sight Nicoletta!"
He began to press me back into the bed when my fight or flight mode switched on. As his head snapped to the right I thought I had fractured my hand when I hit him. Seeing that my attempt had no effect I brought one of my knees up hard aiming for his groin when the only contact I made was my own knee cracking off of his own knee causing me to howl out in pain.
"So you choose to fight Amore?" In between kisses to my tear stained face he spoke to me with a tenderness I had never heard before I passed out beneath him.