Chapter 20

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Italy was beautiful. And when I say beautiful I mean beautiful. My grandfather's house-mansion-was built on top of a grassy hill, overlooking a town of all-white houses somewhere in southern Sicily. I say "somewhere" because I'm on what my grandfather keeps referring to as a "lock down," but I think the word he's looking for is "grounded."

To be honest, I didn't even know he could speak English at all, so I'm pretty impressed with his progress so far.

I don't know the name of the small town we're in. I don't even think this mansion is his main mansion. They won't tell me anything at all. They're afraid I'm going to send out some S.O.S letter to my "friends" back in the states and have them come rescue me.

Yeah, right. They don't even have Wifi out here. Or if they do, they weren't going to tell me the password anyway. Not that I even had anything to connect to it with.

I looked out the bay window in what was now "my room." There wasn't much else to do, yet. They had told me that they'd relax the rules a bit in time, but for now I was still considered a 'risk' and they expected me to try and run off.

I had no money. No cell phone. Nothing. I may have run off before, but at least I was in my own country, my own city.

Here I had no idea how to even get a cheeseburger if I wanted one. They brought me all of my meals, three times a day, at the exact same time. The only time they let me out of my room was for a bathroom break or for a quick walk in the courtyard. I wasn't even allowed the courtyard walk unless Salvatore or one of my grandfather's goons was escorting me. I was never truly alone here. My door was guarded 24/7. My room was so high up that sneaking out was not an option. Trust me, it was one of the first things I had checked when I had gotten here.

Even the goons here were different, like a whole new breed of obedient, dangerous guard dogs. They seemed more sophisticated somehow, unlike many of the Italian-Americans my father managed to recruit off of the street back home. The men here that worked for my grandfather were full-blooded Italians and spoke with a heavy Italian accent, if they spoke to me at all. They were much much scarier, more serious.

Let's just say, that if my grandfather told them to break my legs, they wouldn't have spent 10 minutes trying to figure out where or how like my father's dumb goons, they would've just done it with cold, calculated precision, not hesitating for even a second.

"Valeria," Salvatore called from the doorway.

I glanced over at him. "Hey," I said, before returning my gaze to the ocean view, the high cliffs, and the clear sky.

Better view, same tower.

I heard Salvatore walk across my room and then drop himself onto my bed. He had been carrying books with him, and a red envelope that he dropped unceremoniously onto my pillow. "Pronto?" He asked, holding up an English to Italian textbook.

I frowned at him. "No, not pronto."

Screw learning Italian. I was American, damn it.

He sighed and patted the spot next to him.

"Like hell," I deadpanned. I hadn't been nice to him since finding out that he and my father plotted to fake my death in order to get me away from Alex.

They knew Alex would never stop searching for me if they just moved me somewhere, so the next best thing was making her think I had died, apparently, so that's exactly what they did.

Oh, still stuck on the "faked my death" thing? Yeah, me too.

I remembered the last time I was happy, lying half-asleep with Alex in my bed.

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