Chosen By A Sinner: Chapter 25

Luca

Aunt Bella and Aunt Ariana come rushing into the waiting room with my parents right behind them.

My mother was out with my aunts when shit went down, and Uncle Alexei only called them after we got to the hospital.

“What the fuck happened to my daughter,” Aunt Bella screams.

“She was taken by Albanians,” Viktor explains.

Aunt Bella’s eyes are wild with rage and worry as she goes to stand in front of her husband. “Why did this happen?” She aims her anger at me. “Why wasn’t she protected?”

As Viktor steps forward, I grab his arm and shake my head. “This is on me.”

Everyone’s eyes turn to me as I say, “I take full responsibility. She should’ve had more guards.” I shake my head, the regret thick in my voice, “I failed to keep Mariya safe, and for that, I’ll never forgive myself.”

“I trained Ivan and Lev,” Uncle Alexei mutters. “They were good.”

I shake my head. “Mariya should’ve had an entire entourage of guards. This is on me.”

“Dear God,” Aunt Bella cries. “Can we not have a pissing contest right now.” She gestures at me, Viktor, and Uncle Alexei. “You all failed my little girl, and I swear on all that’s holy, if she doesn’t pull through, there will be four funerals.”

“Baby,” Uncle Alexei murmurs, trying to take hold of her arm.

Aunt Bella yanks away from him, her Latino temper flaring hotter. “Don’t baby me.”

She comes to stand in front of me, her eyes cold as ice. “I want the head of the man who did this to my daughter on a golden fucking platter.”

I nod, silently vowing to find and kill whoever’s involved with the attack on my wife’s life.

Her chin quivers, then she asks, “Did you at least make her happy the past three days?”

“I loved her with all that I am.”

Aunt Bella’s face crumbles, and she turns to Uncle Alexei for comfort.

Needing a moment alone, I step out of the waiting room and aimlessly walk down the hallway.

Not even three days in, and I already failed Mariya. She was mine to protect. I should’ve had an army guarding her every move.

It’s such a bitter pill to swallow I almost choke on it.

I stop in front of floor-to-ceiling windows and stare blankly into the night.

Please survive this.

I feel a hand on my back, then my parents come to stand on either side of me. Mom takes my hand while Dad gives me a sideways hug.

“What the fuck did I do?” I groan, the guilt becoming an insurmountable mountain in my chest. “How could I let this happen?”

Dad pulls me into a hug. “No one saw this coming.”

“I should’ve.” I yank away from my father, my guilt morphing into white-hot rage. “I was so fucking sure no one would have the guts to take us on. It’s because of my arrogance the woman I love was tortured.” I lock eyes with him. “She can die.”

“She won’t. Mariya is strong.”

The air rushes from my lungs, and I remember how hard she fought.

Dio, Papà. You should’ve seen her fight. She was so fierce.”

If I weren’t consumed with fear, guilt, and anger, I’d take a moment to feel proud of Mariya.

Finding the strength in my parents, I nod. “She’ll pull through.”

“Of course.” Dad gives my shoulder a squeeze. “She has Koslov and Terrero blood in her veins, and neither is easy to kill.”

I turn my gaze back to the window and just soak in the support and comfort my parents are offering me because I’m going to need it to get through the next couple of hours.

 


 

I’ve lost count of the hours, and by the time a doctor comes into the waiting room, it feels like I’ve lost my mind.

I dart up from the chair, my muscles tense and my heart hammering in my chest.

Uncle Alexei gestures to me. “This is Mariya’s husband, Luca Cotroni.”

The elderly woman turns her attention to me. “I’m Dr. West. The surgery went well. Miss…” She glances between Uncle Alexei and me, “Mrs. Cotroni is in the intensive care unit. We’ve put her in an induced coma so her body will have time to heal before she wakes up. The pain would be too much for her to handle right now.”

Jesus fucking Christ.

“She’s suffered four broken ribs. Part of her femur shattered from the bullet’s impact, and her right hand suffered great nerve and bone damage. There’s a long road of recovery ahead of her. With rehabilitation, she should regain full use of her leg, but I’m worried about her hand. With the nerve damage she suffered, we’ll be lucky if she regains fifty percent use.”

I can only stare at the doctor as her prognosis rips my heart to shreds.

In short, Mariya’s going to suffer a great deal still, and there’s nothing I can do to ease her pain.

“Can we see her?” Viktor asks, seeing as the rest of us are shocked into silence.

“Only two people at a time while she’s in the ICU,” Dr. West answers.

It feels like I’ve been thrown into an alternate universe where nothing makes sense anymore.

Uncle Alexei and Aunt Bella leave to see their daughter.

Viktor places his hand on my shoulder. “We’ll go after them.”

I sit back down, and leaning my elbows on my knees, I cover my face with my hands.

Mariya’s going to need rehabilitation. Her left leg will take weeks, if not months, to heal, and her hand is practically fucked.

Pulling my phone out of my pocket, I dial Marco’s number.

“Any news?” he asks.

“She’s in an induced coma. I need you to find a single-level apartment or house. Make sure it’s wheelchair friendly. Have our belongings moved to the new place and make it happen in the next two weeks.”

“Got it, boss.”

“Also, put every man we have on finding the fucker behind these attacks.”

“Yes, boss.”

“Thanks, Marco,” I say before ending the call.

I straighten my jacket and square my shoulders because I’ll have to be stronger than ever to eradicate the Albanians and help my wife with her recovery.

Come hell or high water, I’ll fucking carry her every step of the way until she’s able to walk on her own again.

Emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Mom brings me coffee that tastes like lukewarm water and cream, but I force it down.

“Want anything to eat, sweetheart?” she asks.

I shake my head, then say, “You don’t have to stay.”

“We’ll wait for Alexei and Bella,” Dad replies.

I glance at Uncle Demitri and Aunt Ariana. They’ve been quiet.

“Thanks for the help, Uncle Demitri.”

He nods, tightening his hold on his wife’s hand.

Uncle Alexei comes into the waiting room and gestures for me to follow him. Once we’re outside, he says, “We’re staying the night with Mariya. The two of us will have to take turns because there’s no way I’m getting my wife away from our daughter.”

“I understand.” We stare at each other for a moment until I shake my head.

“I know, son,” my godfather… damn, my father-in-law says. “We’ll all get through this for Mariya.”

“We will.”

His features strain with heartache. “Christ, Luca.”

Not hesitating, I pull him into a hug. We embrace each other for a long while, then I promise, “I won’t let you down again.”

Pulling apart, Uncle Alexei takes me to the ICU, then says, “Third bed to the right.”

“I’ll try to make it quick.”

“Take your time. I’m going to talk with Viktor and Demitri to get the ball rolling on finding the rest of the fuckers.”

“Okay.” I walk through the doors, and I’m instantly bombarded with the sounds of people on life support. It’s so loud that I wonder how anyone can get sleep in here.

My eyes find Aunt Bella, who’s wiping tears from her cheeks, then I see my wife.

My feet stall from the shock of the tube taped to her cheek. Machines form a halo around the head of her bed, all working to keep her alive.

Christ, baby.

Slowly, I move closer, and I don’t even bother wiping the tear away as it rolls down my face.

Mariya’s right hand is wrapped in a thick bandage, and her left leg is suspended off the bed. She only has a sheet covering her, and there are ice packs on either side of her neck and beneath her arms.

Worried, I ask, “Why are there ice packs? Won’t she get cold?”

“It’s to keep the fever down.” Aunt Bella informs me.

“Oh.” My eyes drift over Mariya, hating that she’s so still and fragile. I lean over her, pressing a kiss to her forehead. Moving my mouth to her ear, I whisper, “I’m here, amore mio. You did so well during surgery.” I press another kiss to beneath her ear. “Don’t overthink things while you’re sleeping. Okay? Just rest so you can get better.”

I keep still, taking a deep breath of her, but I only smell antiseptic fluid.

Straightening up, I brush my fingers through her hair.

Seeing her so vulnerable shifts something in my chest until I’m trembling with protectiveness and possessiveness.

I don’t want to let her out of my sight. The urge to sweep her up in my arms and carry her to a place where no one can find us hits hard.

I don’t want to share her.

Christ, I wish I could tuck her safely inside me.

“You really love her,” Aunt Bella whispers.

My eyes dart to my mother-in-law. “I do.”

She nods, then adjusts some of Mariya’s hair with a trembling hand. “Don’t ever let this happen to her again.”

“I promise it won’t.”

She lifts her eyes to mine. “I’ll give you a minute alone.”

I nod. “Thank you.” I turn my attention back to Mariya and softly caress her shoulder.

I lean over her again, savoring the fact that she’s alive. “I’m fucking proud of you. Thank you for fighting so hard.” I kiss her forehead and close my eyes, drinking in the feel of her warm skin. “Just rest, amore mio. I’ll take care of everything from here on out.”

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