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Kismet. Fate. Serendipity. An act of God.
Whatever you called it, it came knocking on Lucia Mercado’s door that night, and she wasn’t one to look a gift horse in its eye. Eh, mouth. Whatever the saying was.
There was an excitable tremble to her chest she hadn’t felt in a long time.
But when one was escaping, there was no time for reminiscing about a time in her life where she committed a crime that only one other person knew about. And he wasn’t inclined to talk to her about it either.
Clothes flew everywhere as she dragged them out of the tall, white dresser.
She had to be quiet.
Though, she knew no one would hear.
The house she lived in was the size of two football fields with overlap. Her bedroom was on the east wing, and only the staff came across, but never this late.
It was hard to stay silent as she shoved dresses, panties, bras, and flip-flops into a roller case, because she wanted to bubble with laughter.
Lucia wanted to throw herself on the bed she’d slept in since she was a child, and howl with giddy joy.
Wait. She’d need more than flip-flops. She added sneakers and two pairs of ankle booties along with jeans and sweaters.
The dream played on a loop for some weeks.
Trampling through her subconscious, waking her with sweaty needs humming through her bloodstream.
It usually drove her crazy and put her in a dreadful mood for the rest of the day.
Thank God her subconscious was a filthy bitch.
If not for the dream, she never would have stomped out of her bedroom to fetch a glass of water. And if not for the need for a cooling down, she wouldn’t have overheard a conversation her father was having in the echoing entrance hall.
A conversation about her.
Nicholas Cole, renowned Kingpin, cold-hearted criminal, and the wolf of Miami, was planning to use her as a bargaining chip again in one of his business deals.
It was all Lucia heard before she sprinted back to her room on silent feet and began packing.
So much for fatherly love.
But that had always been in short supply ever since her mom died when she was four-years-old. She tried to tell herself she couldn’t miss what she’d never had. But it still stung to hear him talking about her like she was a thing.
Nicholas Cole’s love always came with a price, and for a long time she’d fought for it.
Her image, obedience and lack of opinion were top of his list.
Vanity meant a lot to Nicholas.
She couldn’t get fat, God forbid. Who would buy her then?
Someone always micromanaged Lucia for every morsel she put inside her mouth or the clothes on her back.
My daughter will make you a great wife; let’s get it arranged as soon as possible.
Not this time, dad.
She’d been there, got the t-shirt and the bad fucking memories.
Being her father, she stupidly loved him. But didn’t like him all that much. Funnily, she discovered she was cut from the same cloth because why else was she trying to escape in the middle of the night if she didn’t have some of her father’s fighting instincts? She wouldn’t lie down and take his dictating anymore.
Lucia would take a running guess that her second arranged marriage wouldn’t be quite the same as her first. That slimy goat downstairs would insist on her giving him children.
Once she was packed, she tossed her PJ’s on the bed before she dressed in patterned yoga leggings, a tank top, and a white hoodie. Next, she slid her feet into a pair of Michael Kors tennis shoes.
Her father might lack giving affection and genuine love for his child. But his one good grace, as you might call it, was he’d never been skimpy on anything she wanted. She had an unlimited credit card, only because he refused her to work.
It was degrading to know she was twenty-six and had no say in her own life.
She felt sick admitting she was a trophy. A thing. Not treated as a person.
The plan to spend a lot of his money, until he insisted she earn her own, backfired because he’d smirked over the dinner table and told her. “You had a good month, Lucia.”
Ugh, like he was proud of her frivolous ways.
But of course, a man like Nicholas Cole would equate fun with spending thousands.
She was stifled in a privileged life many would kill to have.
If only they knew.
She lived in a gilded cage, did Lucia.
Her leash was only so long.
Couldn’t travel without her father.
Not permitted to work or have an apartment. Even during her brief marriage, she lived in an estate villa with guards always close by.
In part, it was because of her father and the danger his lifestyle brought.
But why should the daughter pay for the father’s sins?
She refused to be his chess piece again.
Santiago was dead.
Her then nineteen-year-old husband was dead because of her father.
The entire Mercado family was dead.
All except for one man.
The one who might have saved her life again tonight.
She missed Giancarlo like it was a gaping sore.
At times, she fooled herself into pretending that night didn’t happen so she could breathe without it hurting.
That haunting, unforgettable night burned into her memories, staining her soul, flaying her sexual organs.
The night she buried her husband and slept with his brother.
There was a lot that people didn’t know.
A lot that Giancarlo didn’t know either.
If he did, then maybe he wouldn’t hate himself. Or keep distance between them.
But some things weren’t her secrets to share.
God. God. Stop thinking about him, Lucia. She chastised, zipping her case closed.
Or Capone, as he was known now.
Biker. As dangerous as her father.
But yet not to her.
To her, he was her haven and had held her heart since she was eighteen.
Not that he wanted it. Ouch. Unrequited love, what a fucking bitch.
Some might say Lucia was a typical, ditzy blonde and dependent on daddy. Only suitable for pushing out babies and doing as she was told.
She lived in the modern world yet governed by olden-day fashions where women had no rights and opinions of their own.
To him, business was business, and there was no room for emotion with money.
She remembered the night she was brought back to her father’s house, after Santiago was killed. She’d known it was his doing, of course. But there was no show of affection. Go unpack, Lucia. We won’t speak of this again.
And that had been that. As if she’d returned from a trip and not from the police station.
Lucia knew the one remaining man from that whole devastating saga wanted to be as far away from her as possible. If anything, Giancarlo felt obligated to her because of guilt. However, she’d absolved him of any wrong-doing long ago.
Slinging a messenger bag around her back, Lucia picked up the roller case and padded soundlessly to the door while her heart thudded.
She’d always had a nervous laugh when in situations where laughter wasn’t the right thing to do. It couldn’t be helped. The nervous tick tried to work its way up her throat, and Lucia pushed it down. She was on the other side of the house, but it would be her bad luck if someone heard.
It was fast work down the winding staircase, creeping through the corridors, hearing the house staff in the kitchen. Holding her breath, Lucia tiptoed into the garage. She didn’t bother flipping on the lights for fear they triggered a warning in the staff quarters. Luckily, Lucia knew the two rows of eight cars and quickly grabbed the BMW keys from the lockbox.
So sure she’d be caught as she started the electric engine, the reason for the choice when it didn’t make a sound.
It was only when she depressed the gate control Lucia let out a breath, also freeing a bubble of laughter from her chest.
She wasn’t out of the woods yet, but it was the closest to freedom she’d ever felt, and she was euphoric as she increased her speed, taking her further away from the compound.
Life was about choices.
Or so the saying went.
Not for Lucia.
Never for Lucia.
Follow orders, obey the rules, and never ask for anything not already offered.
Refusing to be a pawn any longer.
“Screw that,” she declared aloud. “I’m my own woman with my own choices. And I choose my life, my way.”
Unknown to what that life was yet.
And she laughed while the distance between her old life grew bigger.
It wouldn’t be long before her father realized she wasn’t in the house.
Oh, boy. He’d be fit enough to piss fury.
She’d seen his temper taken out on others and had no desire to face it head-on.
Hoping to be far enough away he couldn’t ever find her.
Lucia was free.
And once a caged bird was free, there was no putting it back.
She’d rather be dead.
Yeah, she was dramatic.
She’d earned it.
She was fucking free at last.
Switching on the radio, she sang along loudly, and went into the unknown.
Copyright© V. Theia 2021.