Chapter 14 - It Will Rain
...there'll be no sunlight
If I lose you, baby
And there'll be no clear skies
If I lose you, baby
And just like the clouds, my eyes will do the same
If you walk away, everyday it'll rain, rain, rain
When the hell did I board the crazy train? Dominic thought ruefully as he stood between two wrecked cars holding an unconscious stranger in his arms.
The truth of the matter was Gianna had been acting disconnected and scattered since they had left Italy. Granted, she had plenty on her mind, but it seemed with every passing hour, things were going from strange to outright bizarre. Gianna had been so focused in Volterra, and though he could tell confronting her sister involved emotional risk, she was very single-minded and determined.
In hindsight, Dominic knew he should have acted sooner rather than later when Gianna's behavior had become more and more erratic. He came with her to be supportive, protective if necessary, but was now kicking himself for letting things spiral out of control. Only now did he see that this was a very emotionally-charged, highly personal family matter, and he could see Gianna was completely ruled by her emotions.
Things began to seriously unravel that morning with her snap decision to leave the hotel, initiated apparently by a "friend" who had contacted Gianna with Isabella's location. Dominic had found it reasonable that Gianna wanted to jump at the opportunity, as Isabella was supposedly unaccompanied by her abusing husband.
However, Gianna's inexperienced driving had him gripping the passenger side armrest and shouting corrections at her several times while she received directions via her friend on her Bluetooth. But once they had entered a national park, Dominic began to wonder where this seemingly wild goose chase was going to end up.
When Gianna's crazy driving led to accident after a poorly executed attempt at passing another driver, he had actually hoped for a pause in the out-of-control action. Yet, instead of being brought to her senses by the shock of the crash, Gianna had bolted from the rental to confront the other driver. Dominic's efforts to restrain her were thwarted by the guardrail limiting his ability to exit the passenger side of the car.
When he finally managed to wrangle his large frame out the driver's side door, he took off towards Gianna.
Relief washed over him when he realized that the other driver was a petite woman who didn't present a physical threat to Gianna. However, concern took over his emotions once again as he noticed the small woman beginning to stagger and weave. Dominic couldn't understand Gianna's inaction, she just stood there! Dominic had quickly bolted to the stranger's side and caught the woman in his arms just in the nick of time.
"Holy shit, G! Call 9-1-1. We need an ambulance." Dominic panicked, not knowing whether to pick the woman up or ease her to the ground.
Gianna offered another solution, "We need to get her off the street. Put her into the rental."
Accepting her direction, Dominic scooped the woman into his arms and carried her to the car as Gianna opened the backseat door. Dominic laid her onto the seat, climbing in to slide the woman over so he could lay her flat on the seat.
Then the craziness regained its previous momentum - to his surprise, the back car door slammed shut behind him, and Gianna climbed into the driver's seat. She put the still-running car into drive and hit the accelerator. The sudden forward motion of the car caused Dominic to lose his balance and he nearly fell on top of the poor petite woman he was trying to help.
"Gianna, stop!" he hollered, his voice in complete contrast to the navigational system's composed voice giving directions to who knows where. "I don't know what they do in your country, but here we call the police. You can't leave the scene of an accident!"
Dominic had managed to spin around in the confined space of the backseat to grab Gianna's shoulder. "Stop!" he commanded again when she didn't respond.
Dominic caught sight of Gianna eyes in the rearview mirror. They were focused, yet wild and deranged.
Then things got fuzzy - in fact everything within his field of vision started to shimmer and wave like an object being viewed at a distance on hot pavement.
"No," he spoke under his breath.
He was losing control. He could feel the change coming on and couldn't afford to do that in the close quarters he was in – his mind flashed to an image of the completely annihilated table and chairs at his apartment in Italy. Dominic moved slowly toward the unconscious woman's feet so he could sit and gather his wits - his control.
He brought his head into his large hands, which were wet with perspiration.
"Gianna, please, stop the car," he pushed out with an agonized voice as the car continued to careen through the curves of the park road.
This time Gianna responded, "It's Isabella."
It took a minute for her words to sink in, but still, he questioned, "What?"
"The woman - she is who we came for, Dominic."
"This is your sister Isabella?"
On one hand, things began to make sense to Dominic, yet on the other hand, this was a totally messed up situation. He felt like he had just been caught up in some kind of elaborate heist - or kidnapping at the least! It was nothing short of insanity from his point of view. There was no way he could have seen this coming...this was void of all logic.
"You caused an accident with your own sister? Why? Why would you do such a thing?"
"Because she wouldn't have cooperated otherwise. I had to do it to save you – I mean her. I had to knock her out to save her."
"Wait, you drugged her?" He felt like he had reached the limit of understanding. "You drugged your sister?"
Completely freaked out, Dominic looked at Isabella. Strangely, the first thing that came to his mind was how pissed she was going to be when she woke up! Her really nice car damaged, not to mention that her own sister drugging and kidnapping her. It didn't seem like the best plan for convincing Isabella she needed to leave her husband. If anything, it was a sound case against going anywhere with Gianna!
"Dominic, stop! Stop asking questions. This is what I had to do!" Gianna pleaded for his understanding. She was barely keeping it together and his line of questions was adding stress to her last nerve.
The resounding boom that shook the car in the next instant evoked a shriek from Gianna's mouth. In the backseat, Dominic instinctively ducked.
"What the hell was that?" he barked and twisted around to see black smoke billowing up above the trees behind them. "Oh my God," he breathed.
Gianna knew what had happened. Isabella's car had been destroyed. Logan was making sure the car burned hot and hard so nothing would be left. He was keeping the secret. She also knew her time was running out if she was going to act to save at least one innocent person…
Before Dominic could return to his ongoing interrogation, Gianna made a sudden right turn off the main road. Again, Dominic struggled to maintain his balance. The road was not paved, and the car was soon swallowed in a large dirt cloud as the passengers bounced around inside.
Dominic tried to secure Isabella, but found himself again pinned against the front seat – Gianna had come to a skidding stop.
"Get out!" she yelled.
"You heard me. Get. Out!"
Dominic looked at Gianna as if she had completely lost it, though he had already been edging toward that very conclusion…
Dumbstruck, he stared at the back of her head while she glared at him in the rearview mirror. Gianna struck another hard, fast blow...
"I used you, Dominic. I needed someone to help me get Isabella. Getting her back to Italy was my only priority, and you were so easy to convince. Now I'm done with you. Get out and go home, Dominic. You still have a lot to learn about life. Don't return to Volterra."
"Why are you doing this? I…I can't leave you. I won't! Let me help you, G," he groveled, panic welling up inside of him at the thought of being separated from her.
"I'm not giving you a choice, Dominic! Besides, Fr. Aro fired you a while ago. Your work was sub-standard - amateur. I needed you so I didn't tell you. Go home where you belong."
"But last night…"
"Too many Long Island Ice Teas. Nothing more," she retorted coolly.
"And the times before that?" he snapped, convinced he knew her heart and body despite her chilling words.
"Wine. I warned you I was no good for you, but you chose not to listen. Did you get my intoxicated ramblings confused with declarations of love?"
Her final words struck him harder that any fist ever could.
"My mistake," Dominic apologized, too humiliated to continue the fight. "This is crazy..." he mumbled. Dazed by everything she threw at him, he climbed over Isabella and exited the car.
Gianna took off so quickly Dominic was pelted with bits of gravel from the road. He didn't move to protect himself. He believed he deserved the punishment for being so gullible.
Dominic watched and listened as Gianna sped away until there was no sound left and the dust had settled. She had just left him there, uncomprehending what had hit him. It just wasn't adding up. She said she loved him, and her body told him so when they made love last night.
Yet she had negated everything that had been between them. As her words sunk in, his ego caved and it all began to make sense. After all, he had known from the start that Gianna was out of his league as was the project he took on - and he had been naive and foolish to ever believe otherwise.
He was just a farm boy with a ridiculous fanciful dream.
For an unknown amount of time, he replayed their past conversations in his head, searching for clues he had missed. Every touch and every intimate conversation he called into question. Regardless of what she said, for him it had all been very real.
He tried to move, but he ached. It was more than just heartbreak - he'd felt that before. This was different. The pain in his chest wasn't from his heart breaking - it had been completely shattered. There was no recovering from this, and he knew it in his soul. He couldn't go back to "before" Gianna. That person didn't exist anymore. And the "after" Dominic didn't know how to function without her.
Not that he could make sense of any of this. Rationally, how could he be so enmeshed in the destiny of a woman he barely knew? Hell, no one would understand if he didn't even understand. Yet it didn't matter. He was lost, a changed person without a place to belong and no one to cling to.
Dominic lost track of time before he finally started to walk numbly toward the main road. He wasn't surprised when he felt the first raindrops falling - it only seemed appropriate.
Gianna had tried to resist stealing that one last glance in the rearview mirror before she hit the main road, but when she did look, she wasn't able to see Dominic through the dust cloud she had created in her hasty getaway. All the better, she might have changed her mind and stopped the car.
She gripped the steering wheel tightly.
Neither Aro nor Marcus would tell her what would become of Dominic once they returned to Volterra. Did they think she was stupid enough not to notice their evasions? Whatever plans they had for him, Gianna was sure Dominic would have found them disagreeable – if they even saw it fit to let him live…
Her tears were now flowing so hard and fast she couldn't wipe them away fast enough, and it made driving difficult. But she couldn't slow down, she had to make up the time she lost getting Dominic out of the car or risk Logan figuring out what she had done without permission. She was sure his vampire mind would calculate the time it should take her to arrive at the nearby airport.
As she drove faster, fat raindrops started to splatter on her windshield, and then the darkened skies opened into a torrential downpour, further complicating her drive. Gianna put more reliance on the GPS to guide her.
Despite her need for concentration, she could not get Dominic's ebony eyes out of her mind. When she had spewed her lies and crass words, she could see in those eyes how she had totally destroyed him. She had attacked his feelings, his intellect, his skill as an artist…all so he wouldn't return to Volterra. So he would have a chance at survival.
She worried she had gone too far, though. She prayed she didn't destroy his heart – some lucky girl certainly deserved it.
Gianna knew that girl would not be her. She also knew the Volturi would punish her for her actions, but her fear of the repercussions paled in comparison to her emotional pain. She had learned to live without emotions, hardening her heart, but now she swore she was feeling everything she had denied all at once.
"Please God, watch over him," she begged as the small airport finally came into view. "Goodbye, my Domenico."
Even through the gloom, it was very obvious the facility had been abandoned. It was all dark and grass grew high around the tall fence that was topped with rusty barbed wire. The rain still fell in sheets, however, Gianna could detect the outline of a small jet on what she assumed was the runway.
She pulled up to the gate and waited, wondering what to do next. She looked back at Isabella, still out cold in the backseat. Gianna refused to feel anything for her. Besides, it's her own fault for attracting the Volturi's attention…
Returning her eyes to the runway, Gianna squinted attempting to see more clearly. She switched the controls on the car to defrost as the windows began to fog up.
She never saw him coming. The brisk rapping on the window made her jump.
The face of the figure talking outside her car door window was blurred by the fog and rain-streaked window, but the unearthly red eyes were unmistakable. Gianna did as commanded, opening her door and stepping out into the heavy rain.
"Where's Logan?" he asked.
"I...I don't know," Gianna shouted over the pelting noise of the storm.
The vampire Gianna now recognized by face, if not by name, retrieved Isabella, throwing her over his shoulder like a large sack of flour before fading into the gray haze of the rain as he trekked toward the waiting airplane.
But Gianna hesitated.
Already soaked to the bone, she wondered if this was her chance to disappear. Could it be this easy…just get back into the car and drive away?
Her mission was complete, and for the first time in her life, she knew the person she really wanted to be. It was not a bloodthirsty immortal void of past experiences. And though most of her memories tormented her, they also included meeting and falling for Dominic. Those she wanted to remember.
Marcus' words again came to her mind: It changes you...feeling love.
She wanted to be a woman worthy of Dominic's affection. Could she ever prove that to him now?
She had to try. It was all that mattered anymore.
Gianna slowly slid back into the driver's seat. She searched around and saw no sign of anyone. Cautiously, she secured her seat belt. Rainwater dripped down her face and arms, and she shivered.
Pulling herself together, she stepped decidedly on the brake to put the car in reverse, only to spot two headlights rapidly approaching from behind. Her breathing took off, and she froze in fear. The vehicle pulled right up to her bumper. The speed with which the driver exited made it clear her plan to seek asylum from vampires would not be easily accomplished.
Without addressing her, the driver moved to the passenger side of his car. Gianna watched with rapt attention as he hauled out a limp body.
"Dominic!" Gianna screamed.
Her vocalization caught the attention of Logan as he dragged Dominic by the collar of his jacket and shirt past Gianna's car.
"Stop!" Gianna was yelling as she jumped out of her car and chased after Logan. "Stop! Don't treat him that way! You're hurting him!"
Gianna pummeled Logan with her fists as he continued to walk toward the airport gates that admitted Isabella and the nameless vampire just a few minutes ago.
Logan ignored her efforts while on the runway the jet's engines began to whir.
"Where are you taking him? Let him go! You have Isabella! Why do you need him?"
Logan stopped and turned his head to look at the hysterical Gianna. Shocked by the dead expression in his blazing red eyes, she stumbled back.
"He's part of the masters' plan and must return to Volterra."
"Please," Gianna begged with everything she had left in her, "please just let us go, Logan. I swear I will find a way to repay you. Anything you want, name it." She would have gladly got on her knees before him, but she knew Logan would only see that action as further confirmation of her human weakness.
He let out a sharp roar of laughter that rang out over the pounding rain. "You cannot give me anything I can't secure for myself. You are nothing."
"But he is…everything."
"Then I assume you are coming."
She looked at Dominic, unconscious, his face bruised, before hanging her head in defeat. The rainwater showed no mercy for the crying, broken pawn as it ran cold down the back of her neck.
"Yes. I will return to Volterra."
As always, thank you so much for reading. A comment or review would be most appreciated (they help get the story noticed!)
Thank you heaps to Ashling92, who catches all my canon boo boos, and to RowanMoon & RosaBella75 who spit polish every chapter before posting and boost my esteem so much - I know I couldn't do it without them.
If this story is causing you some angst, check out the short story RosaBella and I recently finished (with an epilogue to post soon) - The Face I Can't Forget - a BXE AH romantic comedy. Find it through my profile. It's a fluffy, funny, HEA kind of story.
Happy New Year. See you next week!