Ever since my 17th birthday, I've been confined within the walls of this ivory tower, a stark contrast to the freedom I once enjoyed. Prior to that fateful day, life was vibrant and unrestricted. I attended school daily, cherished a close-knit circle of friends, and revelled in spontaneous outings to the movies and parties. There were no bodyguards shadowing my every move, no authority figures to answer to, and, most importantly, no confinement to my room that lasted until my 22nd birthday.
However, those days are now a distant memory. My fate was sealed on my 17th birthday, precisely on March 6th, when I was irrevocably tied to the Gustavo family. I had transformed from a carefree individual into a burden, subject to the stringent control of this infamous clan. I was prohibited from venturing anywhere without their explicit consent, and in the process, I had to bid farewell to my friends, the idyllic walks through the countryside, the joyous gatherings, and the cinematic adventures. In essence, I had to bid farewell to my former life."
"Bianca! Join us for lunch." My mother's voice resonated through the intercom system.
The only moments I got to interact with my family occurred during meal times. I was confined to my room, allowed to emerge only for the three square meals of the day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even my parents were forbidden from entering my quarters. We lived by the strict orders imposed by the formidable Gustavo family. As a small concession to my isolation, they had equipped my room with a PA system that connected to the kitchen, facilitating communication between my family and me.
Then, unexpectedly, I heard the mechanical click of my door being unlocked. Another 'gift' courtesy of the Gustavo family was a ten-bolted door that could only be locked from the outside with a specialised code and key. Escape was an impossible fantasy, a notion I had long given up on.
Mason, my assigned guard, made his entrance. He was not only my protector but also my sole source of companionship since I had severed ties with all my former friends. Mason possessed a gentle spirit, a stark contrast to the harsh world he inhabited.
"Come on, princess, it's time to eat!" he chuckled warmly. With Mason quietly shadowing me, I descended the seemingly endless spiral staircase that led to the kitchen.
"My life was once normal. I lived with my family in Milan, Italy. My dad had a successful importing and exporting business, and my mom ran a bakery in the city. We had simple lives. But things changed two nights before my birthday.
My dad got a call from the Gustavo family, asking him to go to Genoa, a small city near Italy's border. That's where they kept their most important stuff. We thought they wanted to work with my dad's business, and he was happy about it. But it turned out to be something very different.
The Gustavo family reminded my dad about an old family tradition. A long time ago, one of my ancestors agreed that the fifth girl born in our family would marry the son of the future Gustavo family leader. So, I was supposed to marry the biggest mafia leader in Europe. My dad couldn't believe it. He never knew about this tradition when he was growing up. Girls were rare in our family, so it was a big deal that I was the fifth one."
"Among all the generations and families that have come before me, it was my fate to be chosen for a life of captivity.
When I finally reached the kitchen, a hushed air of anticipation enveloped my mother, father, and younger brother, who were seated at the table. Mason, after conducting his customary sweep of the kitchen, discreetly signalled that it was safe for me to hug and join my family.
"Oh, sweetheart, it feels like you've grown leaps and bounds since breakfast!" Mama exclaimed, her hands gently squeezing my cheeks.
"Come now, Mama, it's only been a few hours," I chuckled as I embraced my father and then Gilberto, my younger brother.
We savoured our meal leisurely, knowing that I wouldn't see them again until dinner. These moments in the kitchen were precious—a chance for me to reconnect with my family.
"So, how was everyone's morning?" I inquired, eager to catch up with their day's events.
"Your mother and I decided to stay home because our businesses were running smoothly without our direct involvement, giving us the opportunity to focus on some much-needed house renovations." Father spoke in a gentle tone, his words carrying an undertone of sadness.
"I just got back from school. Daniella and Selena wanted me to pass along their heartfelt messages; they miss you terribly," I said, choking back the tears that welled up at the mere mention of my best friends' names. Their absence in my life was a constant ache, a reminder of the isolation I endured. Even family members weren't allowed to visit.
"Tell them I love them, and I hope to see them again soon," I replied, my voice tinged with uncertainty. The reality was that none of us knew what lay ahead for me after my 22nd birthday. My father had been left in the dark after receiving the life-altering news. All we understood was that as soon as the sun dawned on March 4th, the Gustavo family would come for me. I had only recently celebrated my 21st birthday, and with a mere six months left on my countdown, the weight of impending change hung heavily over me.
Eventually, lunch had to end. There was nothing else to eat and nothing else to say. I hugged each person before Mason escorted back into my dungeon...I mean bedroom.
"I snuck another one of those romcoms to keep you company for a few days. I don't know how you can watch those." Mason muttered as I entered the room.
I giggled as I found the stash of movies he snuck under my sheets.
"What girl doesn't love a good love story and some jokes on the side?"
"Hmm horror is where it's at but it's your life."
"Oh, whatever Mason. Leave me be with my beautiful romcoms." He smiled at me before closing the door and locking it shut.
Looks like it's just me and Little Scarlet for the next 4-5 hours.