4 The captor


I wake in an unfamiliar room and squint. My head weighs a ton and I want nothing but to go back to sleep. I only entertain that thought for half a second until I remember I should be on my way to work. Instead, I'm…where exactly?

The room I'm in looks like it belongs in a five-star hotel of some sort. I'm on an Italian-styled queen sized bed with a canopy made of real silk. I'm pretty sure nothing in this luxurious room could be counterfeit.

The sheets feel more comfortable than anything I've ever slept in. I look around and barely manage to hold back a gasp. I've seen pictures of luxurious bedrooms in magazines and ads but nothing could come close to this. The ornate furniture doesn't look like it's part of a set but everything fits so perfectly together.

It looks like the kind of room an actual queen would sleep in, so much so that I almost expect a servant or two to pop out of nowhere and ask how my night has been.

When I realize this is not a dream, I jolt up, making my head pound as I try to remember how I ended up here.

The last thing I remember is something hitting the back of my head, and a prick in my neck. And that scent…the same one from last night.

The stranger who rear-ended me.

Shit. I knew there was something about that man that didn't sit well with me. Why the hell did I ignore my gut feeling? Well, not that I would have done anything about it. The man looked like he had the world at his fingertips for simply existing.

I scan the room for an escape route. The window is my first choice, until I peek out through a gap in the curtains. I'm only one floor up but I'm not sure I can make it down there without breaking my bones, considering how horrible I feel. My captor is no idiot.

I try the door next. Of course it's locked, but since when did that ever stop me? I feel my hair for one of the bobby pins I use to pin it up and only now do I realize my hair has been freed from its bun. I wonder if I can break the door off its hinges if I kick it from inside but considering how solid it looks, the only thing I'll be breaking is my leg.

But I don't have to. Surprisingly, it only takes a quick scan in the room to find a metallic hairclip in the vanity drawer.

My captor is playing a game. I'll be glad to entertain him right before I stab this clip through his arrogant face.

Though getting out of here would be a much better use of my time. I pick the lock, then I peek out into the hallway to assess it. There is no guard outside the door like I thought there would be.

That, and the fact that I was not tied to the bed I slept in, makes me wonder whether my captor is no good at holding someone hostage, or he just miscalulated how long I would stay wiped out by whatever fucked up drug he injected into me. Maybe he thinks I'll sleep the entire day away. Is it even the same day? The sun is shining bright through the humongous windows but for all I know, I could have slept for days.

Pushing that thought aside, I venture down the hallway, using my experience from working at Henry's to glide down the marble floors without making any noise. The seventy-year-old owner of the restaurant I work at is an oddball. He expects waitresses to wear six-inch heels and not make the slightest sound when they walk—even at lunch hour when we have to juggle serving at least three tables at the same time. But now that I think about it, maybe he's onto something. I'm not making any sounds as I walk and I don't even need to try hard.

I ignore the elevator for obvious reasons. I'm not trying to bring attention to myself, so I venture further. I finally find a humongous mezzanine with a slighly curved staircase on either side. This house looks like a castle. Or at least I imagine this is what a castle would look like on the inside. I've never been to one. If I wasn't here against my will, I would stop to admire it.

I don't want to risk going out through the front door. I find a back door instead and oddly, it's unlocked. It leads me right into a garden and I'm considering scaling the fence I'm certain has to be ten feet high when a voice stops me in my tracks.

"Three minutes, twelve seconds."

I place a hand over my chest and exhale. I hadn't noticed the man sitting on the ornate swing. The hot stranger. Apparently, my captor as well.

How fast can I scale the wall before he catches up to me?

He stands and pockets the stopwatch I'm just now noticing. "A little slower than I expected of a Romano, but you'll do."

Once the shock from seeing him again fades, I realize what he just said. "A Romano?"

It's clear he's talking about me. I snort out a laugh. "You got the wrong person. My surname is not Romano." I don't follow that up with my actual surname.

He belts out a laugh and I feel it down my bones.

I don't know who this man is but I have a pretty good idea what he is.

A mafioso. It explains everything.

Oh crap. I always knew this day was coming.

When I was thirteen, I walked into one of my parents' frequent arguments. This one sounded more intense than all the others and the bits and pieces I caught told me it was about me. Dad yelled something about not wanting the mafia coming at his door to ask for their princess. I didn't get what he meant but now it was starting to make sense.

I am the so-called mafia princess.

I have always known Angelo Rossi was not my biological dad, and I knew my father was a sore subject for my mom. I never asked questions. Angelo may have hated me ever since that argument I walked into, and he may have stopped treating me like his little girl, but I never tried to find out where I came from.

Still, I have always known at the back of my mind that he's not an upstanding citizen. My mother's past had her mingling with the kind of people any sane person wants to steer away from.

But, mafia?

I certainly wasn't expecting this.

My captor is staring at me this whole time so I ask, "Who are you? And who are the Romanos?"

"That's none of your business." He barks.

Uh…sir, you just abducted me. It's my business.

I get the feeling this man hates me. I see it from the way he looks at me. A million possibilities swirl through my brain. Is he my brother, the son of my biological father who hates the discovery that his father has an illegitimate daughter? Does he work for my father? Or is he a distant relative? No matter which case this is, he didn't bring me here because he wanted to. I am here because I have to be.

But he hasn't killed me yet, I realize. I also recall what he said about my speed. Of course he was testing how fast I can try to escape like the damn asshole he is. Though it proves he needs me alive. I may be crazy for even thinking it but it gives me a little sense of comfort. I have some time before he's done with me and puts a bullet in my skull. I don't know how long I have to plan my escape but I'll use every second to my advantage. Starting now.

"Well, can I have something to eat, at least? I'd rate you five stars for the room but there was no chocolate on my pillow, no indoor slippers for me and the staff are impolite. So I'm going to go with…" I trail off and study his expression. His brow raises so slightly that I almost miss it, as if he actually wants me to tell him my rating. "Three and a half."

He closes the distance between us in one huge step and looks me up and down. I feel a chill from his gaze for more reasons than I want to admit.

When he finally speaks, he's looking right into my eyes. "I'm reconsidering keeping you alive, kitten."

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