The Vendetti Coward - Sapphire Knight Page 0,1

life forever.

I was in a drunken stupor, lying naked in the middle of my bed, when Matteo had furiously stormed into my room, men in tow. His men, who I’d grown up around since I was merely a boy, stuffed me into my robe and carried me out the back of the estate. I was loaded into one of the blacked-out SUVs, and the next time I’d woken, I was craving more of anything to dull my senses, I was in Upstate New York at a ritzy rehabilitation center. Severo, Matteo’s main guard, was left behind, along with a letter explaining what was happening.

Turns out the paternity test results were in, and after checking them several times, my life would be forever changed. I have a daughter. Me, the fuck-up, is a father. I don’t know why the Heavenly Father bestowed the gift of life on me, but it’s obviously a wake-up call I was destined to get at some point in my life. I have someone counting on me, and this time around, it’s not an older brother with nuts of steel, but an innocent child with no mother. No matter how sober I become, my body painfully detoxing the variety of alcohol and narcotics, I still can’t recall sleeping with Sofia. Although, I suppose I didn’t care at the time, as I thought I was protected from hurting anyone but myself.

I’ll tell you what the real zinger is as my mind begins to clear away the murky time lapses and bad decisions; it’s the never-ending fucking guilt. This is exactly why I don’t allow myself to remain sober for any amount of time that could make a difference. Remembering the beatings I’d received and those that my brothers took for me have my heart clenching. There’s the guilt of not carrying my part of the Empire with Matteo, of leaving it all up to him to deal with.

I keep catching glimpses of stiffs and such, the number climbing as the drowning poison leaves my system. I’m assuming it’s the killing I’ve done. I’m not stupid enough to believe I’m innocent—murder is practically in my blood—but not being able to remember important details, like why I slaughtered the person in the first place, is fucking with me. And now, I have this little girl depending on me to pull my shit together so I can take care of her. I have an unwavering dark cloud encompassing my soul. How on earth can I take care of una bambina if I can’t care for myself?

“You’re a jokester, aren’t you,” I sullenly mutter aloud, upset with God. I’m always frustrated with Him. Not that it’s His fault I’m a drunk, but I still tend to blame Him regardless. Severo casts me a puzzled glance, but I wave him off. “Just the ramblings of a crazy person.”

According to Cris, I’m stuck in this place for the next six months. Apparently, Matteo is serious about me getting sober and remaining that way. My body trembles with the thought. The withdrawals never seem to go away completely. I’m in a permanent stage of freak the fuck out.

This has to get easier at some point, yet they say the fight is forever. How can anyone endure feeling this way if it doesn’t get any better? It has to or I won’t survive. I’ll never see my daughter, and she’ll never have a name.

If I can still breathe,

I’m fine.

- Anonymous

Six months later…

“She won’t stop crying. No matter what I do, she hates me.” My eyes plead with my sister-in-law, Violet. I’m too ashamed to go to Matteo, and admit I’m failing again. No matter what I do, sober or intoxicated, I can’t seem to get my life right.

“She doesn’t hate you.” She argues and coos at the precious, now tranquil bambina in her arms. Of course my daughter stops fussing the moment Violet touches her.

“You heard her screaming.” I’d run out into the hallway, frantic, looking for anyone to help. Luckily, it was Violet I’d found.

“She’s a baby, and babies cry. It’s normal, I promise. Have you changed her?”

“Yes, Margo has been helping with that.”

“Good. Has she eaten recently?”

My head bobs in confirmation. It was the first thing I’d tried to get her to calm down. My brothers used to scream, and if we shoved food at them, they’d usually quiet.

“Have you checked her over to make sure she doesn’t have a rash or isn’t overheated? She’s dressed appropriately, so I know she’s not cold.”

“Si. I