Chapter 20 (I part)
Hanna is asleep in the suite and Ricardo is with her right now. I left them alone not because I wanted to but because big dark guy didn’t leave me room to complain. I don’t want to let Hanna out of my sight but I know Ricardo has more experience dealing with what all of us are facing now.
At the end, he has already been in this situation. Ricardo told me once he had lost count of how many times he had taken care of Hanna after that fucker beat her or raped her. I figure he knows what he’s dealing with here because honestly I don’t know what I’m doing.
I’ve been walking around the house, trying to keep my mind busy, but after a few minutes my steps drove me back to Hanna’s bedroom. The door is half open and from where I’m standing I have a perfect view of the entire room.
Hanna is in bed, the sheet wrapped around her torso and Ricardo is standing, looking through the window. I guess I’m not acting correctly, overhearing them, but I’m really worried about Hanna. So I stand quietly, watching them from the door.
“You didn’t kill him.” Hanna breathes in a hoarse voice. Ricardo chuckles, shrugging his shoulders.
“So what?” He replies, padding to the bed. “That doesn’t mean shit, princess.” He adds as he takes a chair, placing it at her side. Hanna rolls her eyes, grinning.
“Richie…that means you like Dom.” She says as she lifts her hand. Ricardo laughs out loud, shaking his head as he takes her hand in his.
“You sure ‘Mad Doc’ didn’t feed you some shit mixed with the serum?” He asks, knitting a brow. “‘Cause you’re saying a lot of nonsense shit, baby.” Hanna chuckles and then a soft hiss of pain escapes her lips. Ricardo squeezes her hand gently. “Come on, baby, time for me to play doctor.” He grins, winking at Hanna. In response, she closes her eyes as a shaky breath passes from her mouth.
Ricardo picks up the tube, squeezing out a big amount of gel. Then he looks at her. “Princess…do you prefer Dom doing this?” Ricardo asks, narrowing his eyes. In response Hanna closes her eyes tightly, shaking her head ‘no’. “You know what that means, right? I have to touch you, baby.” Ricardo says softly, staring at her eyes. Hanna tenses lightly and hesitantly she nods ‘yes’ but she’s shaking like a leaf. He narrows his eyes, holding Hanna’s gaze. Hanna breathes raggedly, shivering.
“Okay.” She whispers, shuddering again.
“Great. How about you roll to one side, so I start with your back, huh?”
Hanna takes a deep breath and swallowing hard she turns slightly to her right side, exposing her bare back to Ricardo. He winces lightly staring at it as a low growl escapes his lips. I close my hands in fists, clenching my jaw.
“That bad, huh?” Hanna breathes, closing her eyes, grabbing the pillow. Ricardo knit a brow.
“We’ve been here before, princess.” He replies and frowning lightly he spreads the gel with his hands.
I take a deep breath, letting out the air through my nose, watching Ricardo applying the gel to Hanna’s burns.
Hanna bit her lower lip as she shut her eyes tightly. I bet it hurts like a bitch but there she is, taking the pain one more time in silence. She’s still trembling and her hands are gripping the pillow so tightly her knuckles are white.
“I think I’m finally ahead of you, Richie,” Hanna whispers as a loud whimper escapes her lips as soon as she opens her mouth to speak. Ricardo chuckles.
“I don’t think so, princess.” He replies, grinning as he keeps applying the gel. Hanna snorts, hissing in pain.
“Fuck!” She mutters, taking a ragged breath. “I now have more scars than you, big guy.” Hanna whispers, clenching her teeth. In response, Ricardo laughs out loud, shaking his head.
“Sorry, baby. Last time I checked I was winning by far.” He says, chuckling. “Besides, one of those fuckers cut me.” Ricardo adds, frowning deeply. “I’ve got one more to add to my private and personal collection, princess.”
“Oh, shit!” Hanna replies through clenched teeth. “Does Elaine know it?” She asks, turning her head to look at him. Ricardo nods ‘yes’, screwing his face a little.
“Yeah, and she’s pissed as hell. I bet she’s going to give me shit for months.” Ricardo growls, chuckling at his own words. “You know the deal. One day per inch.” He says, grinning from ear to ear. Hanna laughs softly, shaking her head.
“I gotta love a woman who knows how to use her female weapons.” Hanna teases him, causing Ricardo grunts deeply.
“Ok, princess, turn around, baby.” Hanna’s smile dies on her lips as she tenses all at once. Ricardo frowns deeply as he sighs hard. “Come on, Hanna, turn over, baby.” He says patiently. Hanna doesn’t move an inch. “Turn around, Hanna.” He says firmly.
Hanna takes a deep breath and turns around, looking down, silent tears rolling down her cheeks. Ricardo tightens his jaw, sighing hard. “You know the deal, Hanna.” He growls softly as he raises her head slowly. “You have to look at my eyes, princess, okay?” In response, Hanna breathes raggedly and swallowing hard, she locks eyes with him. “That’s my girl.” Ricardo says, grinning as he slid down the sheet, revealing her naked torso, never letting his gaze off hers.
I close my eyes, sighing hard and shaking my head I keep walking down to the kitchen.
Three days had passed and Hanna has been asleep for most of it, under the effects of strong sedatives and painkillers. She insisted on us letting her get out of bed and we did, but she was wincing, hissing and muttering obscenities under her breath all the time. Of course Hanna tried to hide the physical pain from us and she almost succeeded, but in spite of the fact that she’s a hell of a woman, she’s not a very good actress.
Ricardo and I have been taking turns watching her. Big dark guy didn’t allowed William near her. I felt a little sorry for the old man, but I shut my mouth. I’m not ready to forgive him yet and even though William looked at me, pleading with me to let him see Hanna, I just turned my back to him and walked away.
I may be acting like a cold heartless fucker, but I’m with Ricardo on this one. I think we have to be the only two men around Hanna for now and until she’s ready to deal with the world again.
Big dark guy removed the IV with the serum once Hanna was lodged in the big suite. He also changed the bandages, cleaning the cuts on her wrists and her belly. It didn’t pass unnoticed to me his almost imperceptible nod in satisfaction once he saw the result of Mad Doc’s masterpiece of art. Ricardo assured me that the scar left would be invisible in a few months. It didn’t pass unnoticed the way he was touching Hanna.
I shouldn’t be surprise at all because I know big dark guy loves her, but it did. And I found myself wondering how such a lethal man could show such affection and tenderness while taking care of Hanna’s injuries.
I’ve seen this fucker surrounded by kids but I also saw him killing with those shivs of his like they were extensions of his own fingers. So, watching him, using those same hands to gently spread that stuff on each and every single burn, almost made me cry.
Ricardo was all business; he was focused and concentrated on that painful task. His hands were moving over Hanna’s body with meticulous perfection; I would say even with devotion, applying the gel, making sure her skin was absorbing it completely. However, his gaze was as cold as ice itself and his eyes were sparkling with that familiar gleam.
I couldn’t help the shiver that ran up my spine looking at him. I swear death was flashing in those dark brown eyes. I know Ricardo has already planned how Snake is going to die and I bet he’s going to take his damn sweet time, making sure that fucker suffers endlessly. I’m not sorry for him; I only wish that Ricardo will let me be a witness to Snake’s death.
I can’t help it and each time Hanna hisses, winces or flinches my stomach clenches painfully and I find myself gritting my teeth, swallowing my rage back down to my core. And the worse thing is I know we are far from the end of this shit.
Ricardo made me phone Reynaldo, telling him about the news. I did and Reynaldo laughed out loud saying that he had always known that I had it in me. I swear if somebody else says those words to me I’m going to tear the fucker apart with my bare hands. Nevertheless, the Cuban seems to be having the time of his life in Cancun.
The Arellano – Felix brothers have him and Santos lodged in a mansion, surrounded by men from the Cartel, chicks, coke and tequila. I hope he’s enjoying the hell out of his last days alive because as soon as we join him in Baja California in a few days that fucker is going to regret the day he was born.
I asked how Sara and Crystal were and the sick fucker replied that Sara had killed herself, cutting her veins as soon as she could move from the bed. His voice sounded as cold as usual. I wasn’t expecting any other thing from him, but still it shocked me how he was referring to the redhead. It’s not that I cared that much about her, but still she didn’t deserve what Santos did to her or her fatal end. Anyway Crystal is fine but the little bitch, according to Reynaldo’s words, is doing line of coke after line of coke, partying harder than ever. Fuck!
I shut my eyes tightly, cursing silently. Now that I know the reasons why Hanna is so attached to Crystal, I’m sure she’s going to be mad as hell as soon as she knows about that shit regarding Crystal’s behavior. Damnit!
I know the Cuban cares for that little blonde but I also know that as soon as Crystal becomes useless for that sick bastard, he’s going to get rid of her in a second flat and without so much as a second thought. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I don’t want history repeating itself. I don’t want Crystal going through the same fucking shit Magdalena went through. Shit! That will kill Hanna.
Damn! I know I have to tell Hanna the truth about her past and Magdalena but I can’t seem to find the right occasion to do it. I’m sure I’m not going to be able to live with those lies, neither is Hanna. I know she would be disappointed with me if I knew about her sister and I didn’t tell her. I suspect Hanna would never forgive me if I try to hide that from her. And those damn lies are starting to feel like the Damocles’ fucking sword, hanging over our heads, threatening to fall upon us at any time.
I don’t want to repeat the same mistake twice and I already know we’re still living on borrowed time, not to mention the fact that Hanna already asked in one occasion where Reynaldo was and that she has been murmuring Crystal’s name in her dreams.
She asked Ricardo and big dark guy eluded answering her directly. Sure it helped that Hanna was under the effects of strong sedatives, so her mind was slightly clouded and when she spoke, she was slurring the words. However, Hanna is damn stubborn and this morning she said she wasn’t going to take any more shit from us.
I couldn’t help it and laughed out loud, hearing her cursing like a sailor. It seems that bastard didn’t break her completely. She may be wounded and in pain, but her determination is still standing. Hanna is a hell of a woman and stronger than I already suspected.
However, Ricardo told me not to start bouncing up and down with excitement because Hanna’s behavior is just a damn mirage. She’s more than just far from healing and I know big dark guy is right.
Sometimes Hanna fixes her gaze on a spot only she could see and her eyes fills with tears that run silently along her cheeks. I feel like dying inside each time she unconsciously flinches when I touch her to take care of those burns or when I move closer to her.
Ricardo warned me about that reaction too. Hanna’s mind is playing tricks with her and sometimes she’s not sure who is around her. So consequently her natural born survival instinct goes on guard, causing her to shut me out to protect herself.
I know it has nothing to do with me but it hurts like a bitch. It hurts to know Hanna is scared about me touching her body. For her I’m the enemy just because I’m a man. And it doesn’t really matter if I love her. Hanna already knows that I’m not going to hurt her but still it seems that her mind and her heart and soul are not sharing the same opinion regarding me or even Ricardo.
The first couple of times we took care of her wounds, Hanna fought us with the little strength she had, pleading with us to not hurt her that she was going to be a good little girl. I swear to God that hearing her almost made me break completely, but I managed to stand my ground one more time.
Her body was here with us but her mind was lost in a chaotic mix of horrible memories that were clouding her sanity. It literally broke my heart in a million pieces when she started to sob, curled like a ball in a corner of the bed, trembling like a leaf. Her beautiful eyes were flashing us with panic and she started to shake violently scared to death until she passed out from fear.
Ricardo told me Hanna always had a hard time letting him touch her to treat her wounds when she was younger. Hanna even fought him on more than one occasion, pleading with him to not hurt her, trembling terrified, exactly the way she was now. Ricardo also told me I have to be firm with Hanna and that I can’t let her shut me out otherwise we both end up in hell. Even if she starts to shake with fear, I have to make her look at my eyes so she knows all the time who is touching her. Hanna has to know that it’s me and that I’m not gonna hurt her.
Ricardo knows what he’s talking about and at the end he has more experience dealing with Hanna while she’s in a state of, in his own words, post-traumatic fucking shock. She has gone through too damn much and those are some of the after effects. Big dark guy even told me if I was sure I was going to be able to go through the living hell that was waiting for me, adding that I wasn’t going to be able to have sex with Hanna any time soon because just the thought of a man between her legs was going to make her throw up, not to mention the irreparable mental damage I might cause with my behavior. I would destroy her forever if I tried to force her to have sex with me.
I gritted my teeth, muttering through clenched teeth that I loved Hanna with all my heart and soul and that I wasn’t going to break my woman just to ease my fucking physical needs. In response, Ricardo chuckled sadly, replying that it was a very praiseworthy intention but that the damn daily routine was a whole complete different thing.
Sex is an essential part of a couple’s life and not all men are ready to renounce that easily. It takes a pair of balls to deal with the fact I won’t be able touch my woman because each time I will be close to her, she will freak, having a panic attack, remembering those who hurt her before, forcing themselves into her.
Any other time I would have chickened out, running away as far as I was able, but that’s not this time. Any other woman and I would leave without a second thought. However this is not that time and Hanna is not any woman. She’s my woman.
Do I have the guts to face this challenge? Am I going to be able to deal with an unstable woman full of conflicted feelings and internal turmoil? A tortured woman with a past stained with dirty actions and an uncertain emotional future?
Well, that’s a hell of a question, and honestly I’m not sure about the answer, but if I’m sure about anything it’s that I have discovered I’m the kind of man who would waste his time with a woman like that; with a woman like Hanna.
Chapter 20 (II part)
I’m not sure how much time I’ve been here, inside the shower, staring at the tiled wall. Actually it must have been several minutes because the water is starting to run cold. However it seems as if somehow my brains just cut the connection with my body and I find myself unable to make my muscles move at all.
I’m paralyzed, watching this damn wall, but I’m not even seeing the tiles anymore; my brain is replaying the events that took place since I left Lompoc. Visions of all the places I’ve been, all the people I’ve met, all the things I’ve seen and that I’ve done are superimposing ones upon others in an endless bizarre succession of events.
From the minute those two assholes told me Mia had been kidnapped until Hanna’s terrified eyes, staring at me, begging me to not hurt her. Those images are slowly but leisurely dragging me down as helplessly; I keep reliving those moments in a heartbreaking sequence.
I’m shuddering under the stream of cold water but my trembles have nothing to do with the temperature of the water. My muscles are twitching without control under my skin. My heart is racing wildly inside my chest and a painful buzz is resounding in my ears. Hanna.
I shut my eyes, shaking violently as I drop to my knees, gritting my teeth so tightly my jaw hurts. I raise my hand closed in a fist and biting hard I fight for control. I’m panting hard, so I take a ragged breath, forcing the air through my lungs. Hanna.
I’m breaking down. That’s it. This is the moment I’ve feared. I can’t hold back my rage and pain anymore. I’m unable to keep myself under control, and before I realize it silent tears are rolling down my cheeks. Hanna.
My hands are trembling badly and my body feels numb. My chest hurts like a bitch and I’m trying to breathe but the air is almost burning my lungs. I feel my blood running through my veins and my heartbeats are painfully echoing inside my brain. Hanna.
Hanna’s fine; I’m fine. We’re together. She’s back with me. My woman is back at home where she belongs. We’ll be fine. We can do this. We’ve been here before. We have each other. Hanna is strong enough. She won’t fall. I won’t let her fall. I won’t let her fall.
Tears keep rolling down unrestrained but at least I manage to breathe past that knot in my throat and I feel like I’m falling so damn fast I’m going to lose my sanity in seconds if I don’t let myself go.
Hanna is the only one that matters. She needs me now and I can’t fail her again. I can do this. I failed her too many times and now I’m not gonna do it. I healed her before and I’ll do it again. I will heal Hanna. I love her and she loves me and that’s the only thing that counts right now.
I’m panting hard, focusing all the energy left in breathing in and then out. That’s it. Keep breathing, Dominic.
Hanna is back and she’s alive and I’ll protect her. I’ll protect my woman. We’ll be fine. We only need time. That’s all. Time to deal with this. We will make it. Together. We’re going to survive this shit together. That’s it. We love each other and that’s what going to help us to survive. That’s all we need; each other. That’s all.
Ok, enough of this shit, man. Come on, Dominic. You can do it. I can do it. I can take this. I can do it. I’m strong enough to deal with this.
It hurts like a bitch but finally I get to my feet, standing on shaky legs and blinking fast I close the tap, stepping out the shower. I grab a towel in my trembling hands, wrapping it around my waist and padding to the counter I look at myself in the big mirror. Damn! I look like shit.
My eyes are red from crying. I swallow hard, taking a deep breath to calm myself down. Its okay, man. You can do this. I can do this. Damnit!
Slowly I lift my hand, rubbing my stubbly head. I have to shave; I promised Hanna. Hanna. I chuckle at my own thoughts, recalling her joke. I can’t believe she was joking after what she went through. Hanna told me I looked like shit and made me promise her when she awaked I was going to be shaved.
Shit! I glance at my hands and they are still shaking lightly but what the hell! I’m going to please her no matter what. So taking a ragged breath, I pick up the shaving gel and rubbing it between my hands I spread it all over my head, face and neck. If I’m gonna do this, might as well to do a hell of a job, right? Yeah!
I pick the razor and taking a deep breath I start shaving. When I’m done I wash the rest of gel and start dressing. I don’t even know how I managed but I finally get dressed in black jeans and a white tee shirt. I know Hanna likes this look.
I head toward the suite and slowly I open the door. Hanna is still deeply asleep on the covers and she’s holding a big pillow against her chest. I can’t stop the small grin that graces my lips, staring at her. She’s wearing one of my tee-shirts and short cotton pants. Hanna whimpers softly and a heavy sigh left my lips.
We have a living hell ahead of us but we’re gonna make it through. I swear to God. This situation is not going to destroy us. I swear to God.
I turn around and I notice Ricardo is nowhere to be found, so frowning deeply I walk to the large terrace, looking down at the big solarium close to the swimming-pool. My eyes widen completely as soon as I spot him. What the hell…?
Ricardo is doing tai-chi, wearing only black cotton pants. He seems oblivious to the world around him as he moves slowly, his muscles tensing under the skin. I fix my gaze on his broad bare back. Holy Mother of God!!
At least twenty large scars are marring his skin, crossing his back in all directions. They seem old and I swear they look like someone flogged him with a whip. Fuck! Whoever caused those wounds did a number on him. His shoulders also show several cuts and burns similar to Hanna’s. Damn, man. I wince unconsciously, staring at those scars.
What the fuck have you been doing all these years, Ricardo? Which kind of fuckers have you been pissing off to end up having such scars all over your body, man?
“When we were kids, we used to play a sick game.” Hanna whispers behind me. I turn around at the sound of her hoarse voice, finding Hanna leaned up against the door frame of the sliding glass door. She smiled sadly at me. “We used to bet who had more scars.” Hanna chuckles, a single tear rolling down her cheek. “He always won by far.”
My heart clenches painfully, staring at her eyes. There’s an overwhelming sadness sparkling in them. Swallowing that damn invisible knot I clear my throat.
“Who did that to him?” I ask her, moving forward just a step. Hanna tenses slightly but she didn’t move backward.
“My father.” She breathes, blinking fresh tears. “He bought a whip. I guess he was thinking about using it on me.” Hanna pauses for a second, wiping her tears and clearing her throat, she goes on talking. “One evening, Richie was helping me with my homework. He’s great with math, you know? In fact he’s a damn genius with math and computers. No wonder they wanted him that bad…” she trails off, frowning deeply.
They? I can’t help it and my mind goes back to Ricardo’s words about the NSA and his extended knowledge about the agency bureaucracy.
“Anyway, we were at the kitchen and he came home early. I wasn’t expecting him to show up until midnight.” Hanna pauses anew, moving forward, closing the distance between us.
I swallow hard as I froze, motionless; waiting for her to give me a sign that tells me it’s okay if I hold her. Hanna smiled shyly at me, nodding ‘yes’ and in a second and as gentle as I can, I pull her to me, holding her against my body.
Hanna whimpers softly as she presses her cheek against my shoulder, encircling my waist, and I let out the air I’ve been holding, sighing hard.
“He went mad and started hitting me. Richie tried to stop him but the fucker punched him so hard he almost knocked him out.” Hanna sighs as she presses herself against me, whimpering. “I was thirteen years old and Richie was eighteen years old. That fucker pulls the whip out and he was going to hit me when Richie grabbed his arm, telling him to use it on him instead of me.” Hanna’s voice is almost an inaudible whisper that cuts my breath in a second.
I stroke her hair slowly, holding her tenderly so as not to hurt her. Hanna takes a shaky breath as she keeps explaining to me what happened.
“That sick bastard retorted he had a better idea. He said he was going to make me look while he was using that damn whip on him and then when he was done he was going to make Richie watch as he raped me.”
A strong shiver makes her shudder violently as I lift my hand, stroking her back, tracing slow circles upon the fabric of my tee shirt. Hanna whimpers loudly as she buries her face in my neck.
“Richie was staring at me, our eyes locked as he started to whip him with all his strength.” Hanna breathes, sobbing in my arms. “He didn’t shed a single tear. He gritted his teeth and took the punishment in my place.”
I shut my eyes tightly, swallowing back down my nausea. No wonder Ricardo is a cold tough fucker. It was the only way he might be able to survive that hell. Any other guy would have let that fucker hurt her, letting his own survival instinct grab a hold of his guts, but Ricardo sacrificed himself in her place. Fuck! I don’t even know if I’d have acted in that way when I was his age. Big dark guy is a lot more than a tough fucker; he’s a damn good man.
“When he was done, he went to the room in search of a set of handcuffs. Richie got to his feet stumbling. His back was bleeding and I was so terrified I couldn’t move at all. I don’t know how he managed, but Richie grabbed me and we ran as fast as we could.”
Hanna is gripping my shirt in her fists as she lets herself go, crying soundly. After what seems an eternity, she manages to regain some control and taking shorts breaths, she calms herself down.
“Richie found a place for us to live. A few weeks later I knew that fucker has been arrested. It seems someone had pressed charges against him. Then Richie fucked up and he was arrested too. Next thing I knew my father had died in prison.” Hanna pauses, swallowing hard. “My dark knight in shining armor took justice into his own hands, avenging my honor.” She chuckles sadly. “I bet whatever shit he did to land in prison was just to make sure that fucker was going to die. Richie thinks I don’t know it, but I know he was the one who killed him.”
Probably this is not the best moment to tell her that fucker wasn’t her real father, but I’m starting to suspect that there won’t be any perfect occasion to reveal the truth about her past to Hanna. There’s no way to be able to know in advance the consequences of what I’m about to tell her, but I know Hanna will understand my motivations.
“Isn’t it damn ironic?” Hanna whispers absently. “I mean that Lena and I used to pretend we were sisters while we were hanging around.” She breathes, chuckling at her own words. I squeeze her hand gently, sighing hard.
I already knew Hanna was strong, but she still shocked me beyond reality. Hanna listened in complete silence to each and every single word I said about her biological father, her grandfather, her mother and about her older sister Magdalena.
She paid attention to everything, never taking her gaze off me, focusing all her five senses on my voice. Not even a tear fell from her eyes as I kept talking about how William had known about all of this since the beginning and how he had been living a double life, hiding that fact from all of us. However, I’m not sure if all I said already sunk in and I’m expecting her to break down any time.
“Lena was damn sweet, you know?” Hanna says, looking up at me, smiling sadly.
“I bet she was as sweet as her sister.” I whisper, stroking her hair.
A tiny grin graces her lips as Hanna pulls her legs up to her chest, making herself comfortable at my side. I hold my breath for a couple of seconds and slowly I bend my head, nuzzling her hair.
This is as far as I allow myself to go. Hanna sighs heavily as she rests her head against my chest, unconsciously snuggling closer. I know she’s partially lost in her memories and she’s not even realizing she’s this close to me. Our fingers are interlaced and we are sitting on a big plush couch on the terrace.
“She was always collecting those romantic novels, you know? She even started to write one… Lena was constantly day dreaming about a man who would come to rescue her, not caring if she was a… and then they both would run away together…” Hanna’s voice is hoarse and thick and filled with so much sadness that it’s breaking my heart. I know it’s coming now. She’s staring to realize what I said.
“She was so damn young…Lena was only seventeen years old and…and those bastards dumped her body in a bin. Damn! She didn’t deserve to die like that.” Tears are brimming in her beautiful eyes but she’s fighting them back with all her will. “Lena didn’t have the chance to make her dreams come true, Dominic…” Hanna whispers as she closes her eyes, causing those tears spills down silently.
I close my eyes, sighing hard, hearing Hanna talking about Magdalena. All of sudden I feel ashamed of myself and the way Vince and I acted while we were hanging with Reynaldo, and even after we were done with the Cuban.
It’s true we didn’t hurt any chick physically, but we used them all the same; not thinking if they had their own dreams, just like Magdalena. We were only seeing hot as hell chicks; just easy fucks that didn’t mean further complications for us. Damn!
We were promising them things we knew we weren’t going to do anytime soon, saying shit like ‘I’ll call you’, ‘you’re especial to me, baby’ or ‘I never felt this way before, sweetheart’. I said all that bullshit so many times I lost count and I never meant a single word. I said them just to get in their pants, not giving a shit if I was creating false hopes and dreams. Fuck! I used them exactly like Reynaldo. It’s true that I didn’t kill any of them, but who knows how many tears my insensitive behavior caused.
“Dominic.” Hanna whispers, pulling me out of my thoughts.
“Right here, beautiful.” I reply, grinning lightly. Hanna chuckles as she locks eyes with me.
“I have to tell you something about me.” She says, her eyes flickering to mine. “And you’re not going to like it one bit, baby.” Hanna adds, shivering. I raise my free hand, stroking her cheek with my knuckles.
“There’s nothing I don’t love about you, Hanna.” I whisper, holding her gaze, putting as much reassurance as I can on my words, hoping she realizes I mean my words. In response, Hanna smiles lightly, and she even rolls her eyes.
Damn! She’s a mess, but she’s so damn beautiful and I find myself grinning from ear to ear, watching her blushing lightly.
“Besides, you don’t need to say anything right now.” I add, squeezing her hand. Hanna takes a shaky breath, sighing hard.
“It’s now or never, Dominic. I have to do it. I don’t want to keep lying to you or to myself.” She says, looking away.
I close my eyes for a second, thinking about what is coming. I purposely left out the part about how Hanna changed her profile with Ricardo’s help. I don’t think she should give me any explanation about that part of her past. I have no right to judge her and I suspect if Hanna has to go back, recalling those memories, that’s going to hurt her as much as it did hurt her to tell me about the loss of our son.
I don’t want her suffering any longer. She already went through enough shit. There’s no point in making her relive those months, living alone without Ricardo at her side to take care of her. Nevertheless, I still think that it’s time for us to face once and for all those lies. If not, we won’t be able to go through what’s waiting for us. It’s time to face the truth.
“I’m here, Hanna, and I’m not going anywhere.” I say, encouraging her with a soft kiss on her forehead. Hanna lets out the air she has been holding with a heavy sigh and clearing her throat, she starts talking.
“I met Lena while Richie had been in an illegal clinic, healing from those damn whips. She was there with some guy she was living with and we spent some time talking. Back then Lena was a stripper in a club downtown. It wasn’t a hell of a lot of money but they were paying daily and she gave me a card with the name of the club.” Hanna says, frowning slightly. “I kept the card because I was going to go there, but I didn’t have the guts to do it.” She whispers shyly.
Oh, God, Hanna…I tighten my jaw, holding back a growl. Back then Hanna and Lena were minors. Fucking bastards! I can’t help but wonder how many strippers I’ve seen over my life that were minors without me being aware of that sick fact.
“A few months later Richie was locked in Lompoc and I was running out of money. I had a shitty job and the landlord was after me, asking for his damn rent. I…I didn’t know what to do and there was no one around who I trusted enough to ask for help. I had turned fifteen but I looked older so I went to the club, asking for Lena.” Hanna swallowed hard, biting her lower lip, just the right corner.
I feel my heart starting to race inside my chest, thinking about the next part. Damn! I can do it. I know Hanna needs my strength to go on. I’m not here to judge her. I’m no one to say shit about that. I’ve done much more horrible things. I’ve killed two men without too much thinking.
“Hanna. You know I love you, don’t you?” I whisper, kissing her hair. Hanna shut her eyes tightly, sighing softly, nodding ‘yes’. I know she’s working up the nerve to keep talking. “Go on, baby. I’m not gonna judge you, Hanna.” I say, tracing invisible lines over the back of her hand with my thumb. Hanna clears her throat one more time, frowning deeply.
“Lena wasn’t working there anymore but one of the girls gave me her address. Lena was living with another two chicks that were a couple of years older than us. They all were working on the streets. They… they told me it wasn’t that bad, that most of their clients were regulars and that the only thing I had to do was shut my mind, pretending to be in another place.” Hanna lowers the tone of her voice slightly and I notice she’s tensing a little. “I already had a lot of experience doing that. So…I just kept doing what I had been doing for years. Only difference I was being paid and those guys weren’t hitting me after or before…”
Damn! This hurt more than I thought at the beginning. Fuck! It’s not the first time we’ve talked about this, but she never talked with such honesty before. Hanna is revealing to me a new side of herself with just a few words.
“Lena introduced me to one of her best clients and… I…I cried all the time but after a couple of weeks I had my own regulars…” Hanna shivers again as she goes on. “I became the ‘Ice Queen’ and started lying to myself…” She trails off, looking away, sighing heavily.
This is the first time Hanna is undressing her soul for me since we met, and even though I’m dying inside, I feel damn proud of her because now I’m sure she’s going to heal this time too. Now more than ever, I’m fucking sure we’re going to survive this living hell.
I take a deep breath and slowly I lift my hand, pulling behind her ear a stray lock. “Look at me, Hanna.” I whisper, brushing her jaw line, lingering on my caress for a few seconds. A strong shudder crosses her body from head to toe and hesitantly, Hanna obliges, locking eyes with me. “You don’t have to be ashamed, baby. You had no other choice.” My eyes flicker to hers as she chews her lower lip, holding my gaze. “You did what you had to do to survive and that fact is not going to make me change my mind about you, Hanna.”
Her eyes are sparkling again with unshed tears and the vision is tearing me apart. But I have to put myself together because she needs me now more than ever.
“I don’t care about the past, baby. I only care about you.” I say as I bend my head, kissing her hair, causing her to sigh hard.
“One night that guy appeared and he was an undercover cop. I was arrested and someone bailed me out. There was always someone who bailed me out. Back then I didn’t know who was paying, but honestly, I didn’t care.” Hanna whispers, shrugging her shoulders. “Then a few months later William showed up, saying that fucker had died in prison and that he had some kind of insurance. So I was going to receive a monthly check and a hell of a lot of money as compensation for damages.” She adds, moving one hand, stroking my forearm absently. I grin lightly, watching her hand, caressing my skin. “What the hell did I know about insurance companies and compensation for damages? I was just a kid, so I said to myself. Hell, yes! And I took the money not caring about anything else apart from the fact that Lena and I were going to be able to leave the streets.”
Damn! William found a way to make sure Hanna received her grandfather’s money. Now I finally confirm my suspicions about that old fox was being the one bailing Hanna out each and every time she was arrested. William took care of her in his own way while Ricardo was in prison.
I shake my head, turning my attention to Hanna, narrowing my eyes as soon as I realize what she’s doing again. Hanna is staring at a spot she only can see, her gaze lost and her mind somewhere far from here and now. Damn!
“Hanna!” I call her, causing her to blink fast, looking down at her lap.
“You should run away from me, Dominic.” Hanna says. “I’m damaged goods, just like Lena.”
I feel the air being knocked out of my lungs at the tone of her voice and her words. And before I realize I’m tensing every single muscle in my body, growling. Hanna notices and struggling lightly she releases from my arms, getting to her feet in a second. Fuck!
I suspect Hanna’s trying to distance herself from the painful reality surrounding her and the fact I just dropped a bomb. But her words stabbed my heart, killing me.
“You’re not damaged goods, Hanna. You’re a woman.” I reply fiercely, staring at her eyes. “I know how you feel now but you have to let me help you, Hanna.” My voice is low but full of determination.
Tears are rolling down her cheeks unrestrained as she moves backward, staring back at my eyes.
“How the fuck do you know how I feel, huh?” She mutters, tightening her jaw. “Last time I checked, you hadn’t been raped or tortured?” Hanna spats, her hands closed in fists.
I know too damn well I couldn’t stop Snake from hurting her and that’s something that will be haunting me forever. But I’m not going to refuse her; not now; not after all the shit we went through. That’s not gonna happen. I suspect Hanna is doing her best to try and make me leave her behind. She’s repeating the same words she told me that night. I know the reasons why she is acting like this, but I’m not buying her performance for a minute.
“I don’t care about the past, baby. I don’t fucking care about anything else except you, Hanna. I’m not going to leave you know. No matter what you say, I’m going to stick by your side” I swallow hard, clearing my throat. That invisible knot is not going to cut me off now. “I love you, Hanna. I love you with all my heart and soul.”
“Why?” Hanna retorts, narrowing her eyes. I frown deeply.
“Why what, baby?” I ask, slowly getting to my feet, never lifting my gaze off hers. Hanna tenses even more, taking a step back, increasing the physical distance between us.
“Why do you love me, Dominic?” She whispers, cleaning her tears. “I’m just a lie. All my life has been a fucking lie.” Her gaze is turning cold in seconds. Hanna is shutting me out again. Her breath is ragged and she’s almost panting. “I was a whore, Dominic. I was selling my body on the streets.” Hanna adds, coldly.
“I don’t care, Hanna. I love you and no matter what you say, that’s not gonna change.” I say, feeling each and every single word.
“You deserve better than me.” She replies, taking a shaky breath. “I want you out of here, Dominic.”
“I’m not going anywhere, Hanna. At least not without you.” I retort, standing my ground. In response, Hanna chuckles sadly, shaking her head.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” Hanna says, raising her tone of voice. “I don’t want you around me, Damnit!!” She cries, closing her hands in fists.
“Don’t do this, Hanna.” I reply, locking eyes with her. “Don’t shut me out, baby. We need each other. Now more than ever we have to be together to be able to survive this shit.”
“Did you not listen?” Hanna whispers coldly. “I don’t want anything to do with you, Dominic.” She hisses, her eyes flickering to mine. “I’m not a woman anymore. He broke me just like those fuckers broke Lena.”
“That’s not true.” Ricardo says, entering the room. Hanna turns her head to one side, looking at him. “That fucker didn’t break you, Hanna.” His voice is cold, emotionless as he heads toward her side.
Hanna grunts as she narrows her eyes. “What the fuck do you know, huh? You weren’t there.” She replies, mimicking his tone of voice. A deep growl escapes his lips as Ricardo stops right in front of her.
“Because I taught you better than that, princess.” He whispers coldly, staring at her eyes. Hanna’s eyes widen as she gasps. “You’re stronger than this shit, Hanna. You better stop fighting us and bitching around. You’re not going to get rid of us any time soon. So get over it.”
“Or what?!” Hanna snaps, facing him. “What are you gonna do to make me stop, huh, Montenegro? Are you gonna beat the shit out of me? Are you gonna rape me? What?!” Hanna shouts a breath away from his face. “’cause whatever sick shit your mind may conjure Snake already did to me.” She mutters in disgust.
He moves so damn fast that my brain almost doesn’t register it. In a second, Ricardo grabs Hanna by her nape, pulling her to him until their foreheads are pressed together as his other hand grabs her by her waist, preventing Hanna from moving an inch. Hanna yelps in shock, shaking violently.
Fuck!! I feel a rush of adrenaline, running through my veins and before I take a step forward, Ricardo shots me a hard look, narrowing his eyes.
“Stay out of this, Dom.” He whispers menacingly, flashing me with that hard gaze. Damn! What the fuck is he doing?!
Ricardo then returns his attention to Hanna. She’s trembling with fear, staring at his eyes. A whimper escapes her lips as she grabs his shirt, trying to release herself.
“Listen to me and pay me attention, Hanna.” His voice is so cold that it sends shivers up my spine. “I know I wasn’t there to stop him and that’s something I have to live with.” In response, Hanna freezes, fresh tears rolling down her face. “But you’re not going to run away this time, princess. You’re going to fight and you’re going to let us help you, got it?” Hanna gasps loudly, shaking violently, staring at his eyes.
I know Ricardo is right, but damn! This is hell. Watching him, talking to her the way he’s doing it is tearing my heart apart. I guess Ricardo knows what he’s doing, but he’s scaring her even more.
“Richie…” She breathes, swallowing hard. “I…I can’t do it. I’m not that strong anymore.” Her voice sound broken and I wince, looking at her, hearing her voice.
“That’s not true, princess.” Ricardo replies, never releasing her. “You’re not alone anymore. We are here and we’re going to help you.” Ricardo is not leaving her room to complain and Hanna shivers one more time, holding his gaze. And after what it seems an eternity, she nods ‘yes’, relaxing her body.
In a second, Ricardo pulls her to him, growling deeply as I let the air I’ve been holding with a painful heavy sigh. Damnit!! Hanna takes a shallow breath and pressing her cheek to his shoulder, she whispers.
“I’m sorry, Richie.” Ricardo relaxes his muscles, chuckling.
“No you’re not, princess.” He retorts, stroking her hair. “But it’s not like I’m sorry either.” He adds, laughing hard. Hanna giggles, holding him tightly against her. “Hey, niña, you better let me go before the street racer gets a jealous attack.” Ricardo looks at me. “That asshole is a tough motherfucker, you know?” He adds, winking as a small grin tugs his lips.
“Fuck you, asshole.” I mouth, narrowing my eyes but unable to stop the grin spreading on my own lips.
“Later.” Ricardo replies, laughing out loud. Then he releases Hanna, moving backward a couple of steps. “Ok, princess, since you’re a shitty cook, how about I make dinner?” He teases her, chuckling at his own words. Hanna smiles, nodding ‘yes’. “That’s my girl. Now why don’t you take a shower, huh?” Ricardo says, kissing her forehead. “Dom can help you.” He adds, glancing at me from the corner of his eye and with that he turns around, leaving us alone.