Chapter 2

Linda jolts awake when she hears her father’s thudding footsteps in the hall. She panics and takes out the needle that she kept in her bedside cupboard. Linda opens her door, and quickly makes a beeline towards his big figure in the kitchen. He is rummaging through the cupboard; he looks tousled and he is blinking profusely. “Where is it? Where is it?” he asks lowly. Thomas’ brows are furrowed, as if he is confused. 

“Dad, why are you up?” Thomas turns around. He is holding a knife out to Linda. “Put the knife down,” she says calmly and holds her hand out to him. “Please.” She says and lunges forward. Linda jabs the needle in her father’s arm, and he is almost instantly paralyzed. His eyes are big and his breathing is stifled. His eyes start dropping, and Linda plops onto the floor next to her sedated father. “I’m sorry.” She says sadly and takes his hand in hers. “But I cannot trust you anywhere outside this apartment. It is best if they think you are dead,” she pecks the back of his hand. Linda hears a tap on the door. She groans. “What do you want Davi-” before she is able to finish her sentence, she feels a blow to her head and then she stumbles backward onto the floor. 

“Take her,” she hears as the world around her suddenly goes black.

*8 days later*

Linda tries tugging at the heavy chains for the umpteenth time. She doesn’t know where she is, or why she’s here. She doesn’t know how long she’s been laying on the cold metal surface with the chains knotted around her body. But she has become accustomed to the routine. Every day a lady with neatly ironed clothes, comes into the room, feeds her and leaves. She never says anything, she just stares into the air. 

Linda hears the heavy door open with a long groan. She notes that the door doesn’t close again. It remains open until the lady leaves again. She hears the soft patter of the lady’s shoes. This time she has a trolley with her. “You prepared a feast today?” Linda jokes, but the lady looks at her with nothing but sorrow. “Please let me out.” Linda begs like she had been doing for the past few days. 

“Find happy place. Don’t scream, he likes fear.” She mutters in broken English and leaves. The heavy door doesn’t close again. Linda looks around when she hears heavy thudding suddenly entering the room. 

“You must be Linda,” a thick accented voice echoes through her ears. 

“What gave it away?” she asks sarcastically. The man laughs and tugs on the chains. Linda feels his glaring gaze on her body. “Why am I here?” she asks. The man suddenly appears in front of her. Linda gasps. The man in front of her looks like a beast. He is tall, looks like a body builder with tattoos. He is wearing an eye patch, and there is a nasty scar on his face that disappears into the patch. He extracts a knife from the trolley and glides it over Linda’s leg. “Please don’t hurt me.” She says in a hushed tone.

“What gave it away?” he asks with a sadistic smile. 

“Why am I here?” Linda asks again. Her confidence has suddenly vanished. 

“You are scared,” the man says and grabs onto Linda’s neck. “My wife was also scared when Thomas sucked the life out of her.” He squeezes her neck. Linda struggles to breathe, she moves around, trying to escape his death grip. “The more you fight it, the harder it becomes.” Her face turns purple. He lets go of her neck and chuckles darkly. “I don’t want you dead. At least not now.” Linda starts a violent fit of coughs, trying to gasp for air. Piero rips the underwear from Linda’s trembling body. 

“No, please.” She says with tears in her eyes. He cuts her bra with the knife and goes over to the farthest corner of the room. He sets something alight and turns around. Linda’s eyes go as wide as saucers. She shakes her head. “No, I beg you. No,” is all she can get out before Piero shouts down at her in a foreign language.

“Have you ever been branded, Linda?” he asks with a smile. Linda continues shaking her head. Piero smirks and forces the hot metal onto Linda’s skin. Linda shouts and cries when she feels the excruciating pain of the hot rod against her skin. She slips into unconsciousness. Piero looks at her glowing skin. His name, on the skin of a woman he’d been promised. Thomas will feel the wrath of the Pappalardo heir. He will shake the ground beneath his pathetic feet.