Authors: Maria Delaurentis
By Maria Delaurentis
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Incriminated is the sequel to Blacklisted. While it is its own story, I would strongly recommend you read Blacklisted first for the best reading experience. You can grab a copy from Amazon.com or use the following link:
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 by Maria Delaurentis. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or part of this publication without express written consent is strictly prohibited.
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I tried to avoid thinking about any one subject for too long. I let my brain jump from topic to topic, hoping that the constant stimulation would keep everything in some distant place. I couldn’t think about Michael, Genovese, and the last few weeks… the things that had happened. My only chance at sanity was pushing them as far away as possible.
Once I made it to the city I checked myself into one of the more moderate hotels, assuming that three nights would be long enough for me to find an apartment. After parking his SUV in the lot out back I hailed a cab to the nearest used car dealer. I had no intention of living my life in excess and planned to get it back to normal as soon as possible.
The dealer's eyes lit up as I easily picked a 2009 royal blue Toyota Camry and handed my car over. Within half an hour I was leaving the dealer, with a promise to come back for my permanent plates tomorrow.
I made my way back to the hotel and headed to the lobby, deciding I needed to work on a job and a place to live. The clerk was able to give me a renter's guide, and a recent newspaper. I spent the better part of the day making phone calls, and was surprised with my success.
With the money Michael had given me, I was able to rent a beautiful loft on the edge of downtown. It was small, but open, with lots of windows. The loft was surrounded by restaurants, fancier bars, and lounges—lots of places I could try to find a job. The building manager promised to have my place ready for move-in by 8am the next day.
It was 7pm, and I was finally letting the exhaustion of the day kick in. I had yet to eat anything, and had spent the day in my sweatpants. I forced myself into the shower, relishing in the feel of warm water working through my strained muscles.
Once I was out I cracked open the bag Michael gave me, pulling out a pair of jeans and a loose t-shirt.
Oh so now you understand the type of clothes I'd be comfortable in.
I rolled my eyes and pulled out a pair of panties, and a simple black bra. As the bra fell out, a small note accompanied it. I arched a brow and shook my head, deciding it wouldn't matter what he had to say.
After getting dressed I walked to the nearest bar and grill, ordering myself a grilled chicken sandwich and a tall beer. The waiter eyed me funny but brought my beer a few minutes later. I rubbed at my temple and took generous sips, while my mind sorted through the day.
Maybe things will be alright—maybe I should consider some fucking therapy.
I pulled the new cellphone out and idly flipped through the options, my brows furrowing when I realized I had 23 text messages. Sighing a little I opened the small icon, my eyes widening as Michael's name filled the screen.
"Jesus…" I mumbled, taking another gulp of my beer. Leaning back in my chair I maneuvered through each text, my resolve slowly breaking apart.
I'm so sorry.
Please talk to me.
I didn't mean for this to get so messed up.
I never wanted him to hurt you.
You told me you wanted to help me.
I don't want to lose you, Gabriella. Please talk to me.
Please just give me a chance.
I found the SUV, is that the hotel you're staying in?
I just want a chance to make things right.
Can we please start over?
I could see the last one was from twenty minutes ago. Shaking my head I tucked my phone back into my pocket and muttered a "thanks" when my sandwich was dropped off. I picked at it, my hunger dissolving from my newest mood. I forced half of it down before giving up. After settling my check I made my way back to the hotel, taking the elevator up to the room. Once I unlocked my door I stepped in, flicking the light on.
I spun around quickly, my eyes widening as Michael stood before me.
"ARE YOU CRAZY? GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!" I screeched, marching towards him. Before I could raise my hand to hit him again he grabbed my arms, looking down at me.
"Please just talk to me. If you never want to see me again afterwards, fine. But at least give me that, please."
I rolled my eyes and pulled out of his arms. I took a seat on the edge of the bed and stared at him squarely, crossing my arms over my chest. "Go ahead."
He sighed and pushed his fingers through his tussled locks, the stress showing on his demeanor. He had clearly showered but the stubble on his face was evident. The bags under his eyes stood out against his usually clear complexion.
"Gabriella, what I did was completely out of line. I should've warned you—I shouldn't have deceived you like that. I just got so caught up in the fact that it was almost over, that things could go back to normal. I had no idea he would hurt you like that—I swear. I knew I was going to come get you that night, and I figured he would've left you there alone most of the day. I caused enough problems at various businesses of his that I figured it would keep him away from you ‘til night time. I came as soon as I knew he would be there. Brie, I never wanted you to get hurt that way. I know in the beginning—you didn't matter to me, you were just a way to make my plan work. But, you're so much more now. You helped me see light where there wasn't any. You showed me what my future could be. I'm so sorry I let you suffer; I'm so sorry you got so tangled into this." He pleaded with me, his eyes burning into mine.
I could easily recognize that he was being completely honest. I'm sure he never meant for me to be hurt the way I was, but it didn't change what happened. How could I ever put my trust in him again?
I shook my head, smiling sadly. "I don't think we'll ever be okay. I think you should go."
He stared at me for a moment, the hurt prominently etched into his face. Without saying another word he crossed the room and left.
I took a deep breath and let my body fall back against the mattress, the tears welling in my eyes. Tonight was another night I'd fall asleep crying, wishing I knew what to do.
Two weeks had passed by, and I had become new again. My apartment was coming along slowly, I had enough money to furnish it but I was incredibly specific about what I wanted. The landlord had been accommodating; letting me paint whatever I wanted and even offering to paint it back to white himself if I chose to leave.
I had painted the walls of my room a soft gray-blue, and had decorated my room in navy and white—effectively giving it an unintended sailor feel, but I didn't mind.
My kitchen was probably the best room of the house. The appliances were new; the counters were a warm mixture of beige and white ceramic tiles. The cabinets were white with small windows set into them so you could see the contents without opening the door. The walls were all cream except for an accent wall of mocha which mixed nicely with the other warm colors of the room.
It was open to the living area so that I could watch TV while I cooked or baked. If I ever bothered to have friends; I'd be able to entertain from the kitchen easily. It had a large island with a built in ceramic sink. I loved using the island for baking, but in the last few days I had taken to sitting at it with coffee and pastries I made late at night.
The last week had gone by in a blur as I had been training at my new job. I was a hostess for a large bar and grill. The rest of the staff was friendly and outgoing, not strippers or muscle heads that worked the door. When we closed at 11, the staff saddled up to the bar and had drinks with the owner before cleaning up. The owner was a sweet old man—not Italian and no tie in to the mob. I was free.
Michael had crossed my mind on and off, but he had for the most part obeyed my request. I had received multiple bouquets of roses, stuffed animals, fruit arrangements, and heart-felt apologies. He had even written to tell me that he had talked to a few property managers about building a new restaurant. I had been happy for him, but not happy enough to say anything back.
He had even included Genovese's obituary in one of the letters which stated he died in a "tragic accident" and would "never be forgotten". The picture showed a surprisingly beautiful woman as his "wife", though I wondered just how much she really knew. I had debated going to the funeral just to see the coffin lowered into the ground at the end, but had decided against it. I wanted to cleanse my life, not muddy it back up.
I slid on a pair of jeans, a pair of black heels and a semi-translucent black button-up that framed my body perfectly. I pulled my hair up into a high ponytail and headed out to work. The night went on in its usual manner—a blur of customers, laughing, and delicious food.
Towards the end of the night Tammy, my trainer had to leave early, but decided I would be fine on my own. I stood at the host booth, idly writing notes to myself on things I had to pick up from the store when I heard the door in front of me open. Without lifting my head I greeted a "table for -?"
When I looked up, my eyes met sultry green ones, and tussled bronze locks. I gasped and dropped my pen, my heart stopping. "Michael, why are you here." I frowned, shifting uncomfortably.
"You look good, cara mia. You're a sight for sore eyes." He smiled sadly, moving towards me.
I grabbed a menu and turned on my heel, mumbling a "this way." I led him towards the back of the restaurant to a cozy table and pulled his chair out, stepping out of his way.
"Your server will be with you shortly."
"Actually, I'd like you to be my server." His eyes sparkled with amusement, knowing that I couldn't turn him down. I sighed and placed his menu in front of him, resting my hand on my hip.
"What would you like to drink?"
"How have you been?"
"What. Would you like. To drink." I said again through clenched teeth.
"You're not being very friendly, Gabriella." He said my name in a sing-song voice, though the teasing manner didn't reach his eyes.
"I'm fine. I'm also at work. Can we move on now?" I said impatiently, my foot tapping against the hardwood.
"How about a Yuengling?"
I nodded and turned on my heel, heading for the bar. The bartender quickly filled the tall glass and I made it back to the table in record time. I placed the glass in front of him and a straw just in case he wanted it, though I had never seen anyone drink beer through a straw.
"When you're ready to order just signal me over," I mumbled, and turned on my heel ready to get as far away as I could.
"Actually I was hoping you could tell me what was good on the menu?" he mentioned, causing me to turn back around.
"Gabriella, I just want to know how you are. I think about you every day, I just want to talk to you." He frowned, his eyes pleading with me.
"I'm fine. Really. I have a beautiful place to live, I'm happy with my job, and things are going okay. Thank you for asking."
He nodded thoughtfully, happy enough to not press the matter any further.
"Maybe we could get a drink sometime?" he asked hopefully, chewing at his bottom lip.
"Probably not. The specials tonight are a T-bone with roasted potatoes and garlic sautéed asparagus. Chicken parm. And the clubhouse burger." I was careful to keep my eyes away from him, not wanting to see the look on his face.
"The burger is fine. Do you think you'll ever change your mind?"
"I don't see that happening. How do you want it?"
"Medium. And I've changed a lot, Brie. I just want to show you that."
"I'm going to go put your order in."
And with that I was charging across the room towards the kitchen. I dropped the ticket off and headed back to my post, seating another couple moments later. Within 15 minutes I found myself walking back to the kitchen to get his food. I placed it in front of him, warning him of the hot plate.
"Do you need anything else?"
"Some of your time?"
"Something I'm actually going to give you."
After getting his beer I left him to his meal, but I could feel his eyes on me as I moved around the room. I plastered my best fake smile on, causally joking with new customers as they came and went. As we got busier I thankfully was able to pawn Michael's table onto one of the waitresses. Once half an hour had passed, and we neared closing I headed back towards his table to clean up. Of course, to my displeasure he was still there.
"Is there something else you need?" I asked hastily, my arms crossing over my chest.
"Why won't you give me another chance?" he asked boldly; the beer had apparently given him a back bone.
"Is that a rhetorical question?" I glared; amazed that he couldn't figure it out.
"No, Gabriella, it isn't. You can't tell me you never felt anything for me at all. I know I messed up but for fucks sake at least let me fix it!" he said in a harsh whisper, our conversation growing very interesting to the surrounding tables.
"I think it's time you go. You finished your food a while ago. Terry can get you change if you need it."
And with that I left him. I ducked behind the bar until I saw him leave, and then went back to the table to clean up. I rolled my eyes at the $100 tip that was left on the table and handed it to Terry, earning me a heart-felt thank you. That night I didn't stick around after we closed. I did my duties and made my way home, emotionally and physically exhausted.
Once I got home I parked in the back lot and headed towards the door. As I approached it a figure stepped out of the shadow; dark long hair was illuminated by the light of the moon, as well as a familiar face that I couldn't quite place. The woman walked towards me, her stilettos clicking against the pavement. Once she was in front of me she slapped me, hard. I gasped and held my cheek, the stinging subsiding slowly. I stared at her with wide eyes, confusion etched all over my face.
"I know who you are, you little bitch. Your name and your pictures were found all over my husband's office at the casino. I even found your disgusting little love nest. How could you tear up my marriage and not have the decency to come clean when he passed?!" Her voice came out in a thick New York accent, her words spewed at me a mile a minute.
"You're... you're Mrs. Genovese, aren't you?" I said quietly, my head still whirling from her assault to my skin.
"Yes, you little slut. I'm Mrs. Genovese. And what are you? Nothing but a side-whore," she growled, shoving me.
"You've got this all wrong, lady. Your husband followed ME around, and then KIDNAPPED me when he didn't get what he wanted. That little "love-nest" as you called it, was my personal hell for 24-hours while your husband held me hostage, beat me, and molested me. So you can fuck off!" I finally screamed in her face, shoving her away from me.
"YOU TAKE THAT BACK! MY HUSBAND WAS A WONDERFUL MAN. HE PROVIDED FOR ME, AND WOULD NEVER BETRAY ME," she screamed, her perfect little face twisting into a pained expression.
I sighed and crossed my arms over my chest, taking a deep breath.
"It's the truth. He propositioned me at my job, and got me fired when I declined him; multiple times. And then when he had the opportune moment, he kidnapped me and did as he pleased. I'm sorry for your loss, but I didn't do anything to your
" I moved to go around her but she grabbed my arm, pulling me back.
"You haven't heard the end of this, bitch. Just because he's gone doesn't mean I don't got my own connections, y'know? I'll make sure this glamorous lil' life you got goin' on don't last. Mark my words, girlie. You'll get what's comin' to ya!"
And with that she stomped off.
I quickly made my way inside and up to my apartment, shutting and locking the door behind me. Sliding down the door I slammed my head backwards, my eyes staring up at the ceiling.
Here we go again.