Chosen By A Sinner: Chapter 27

Mariya

I let out a groan, the pain in my leg making it feel like the limb is being torn from my body.

My right hand feels crushed.

And breathing hurts like freaking hell.

Jesus.

Slowly I open my eyes, and seeing Luca’s handsome face staring down at me, has me trying to smile through all the pain.

“Hey, beautiful,” he murmurs softly.

I can’t find the energy to move as I whisper, “Hey.”

He brushes his fingers over my cheek, the expression in his eyes something I’ve never seen before.

It’s warm, wrapping me in a bubble of safety. It also makes the tears rush to my eyes.

Leaning down, he presses a tender kiss to my mouth, then locks eyes with me again. “I’m so fucking proud of you, Mariya. Christ, you fought so well.”

Seeing the pride shining in his eyes, my tears come faster.

Luca gently wipes them away, his gaze glued to me as if he’s scared I’ll disappear.

The corner of his mouth twitches. “I have a badass wife.”

I try to smile, but instead, a sob flutters over my lips as I remember what happened.

The car accident.

Ivan and Lev were killed.

The loss hits hard. They were my guards for over a decade.

Luca carefully sits down on the right side of the bed and leans over me, bracing a forearm next to me. He pushes a hand behind my head, and rains kisses down on my face. “Shh, I’ve got you, amore mio.”

Now that I’m safe and don’t have to fight for my life, I turn into an emotional mess, traumatized by what was done to me.

Breathe. You survived it. Breathe.

Flashes of the drill tearing through my skin make my heart rate spike, the machine next to my bed beeping like crazy.

“Shh.” Luca locks eyes with me. “Breathe, baby. You’re safe. I won’t let anyone touch you again.” Worry tightens his features, and he frames my face with his hands, his eyes burning into mine. “I’ve got you. I’m here.”

I focus on getting my breathing under control as a wave of exhaustion washes over me.

“Luca,” I whisper.

He gives me a comforting smile as he caresses the hair by my temple.

I stare up at the man I love. “I fought for you.”

His gaze dances over my face, then he presses another tender kiss to my mouth. He shakes his head and starts to look emotional. “I wouldn’t have survived losing you. Thank you for staying alive.” He kisses me again, then says, “You don’t have to fight anymore. I’ll take care of everything. Just rest and get better.”

I hear the door open, and Luca kisses me again before he rises to his feet.

The moment I see Dad, a sob sputters from me.

The intense pain throbbing in my body reflects in my father’s eyes as he leans over me. He presses a kiss to my forehead, then holds still.

I try to take a deep breath of his comforting scent.

Dad sits down on the side of the bed, picks up my left hand, and holds it in both of his.

I’ve never seen my father this emotional before, and it only makes me cry harder.

He stands up again, then leans closer and locks eyes with me. “Daddy’s here, baby-girl.”

“Hold me,” I sputter, trying to reach for him.

Dad carefully pushes his arms beneath my back, and gently lifts me to his chest. The moment I get to bury my face against his shoulder, I allow myself to break down.

“I love you, printsessa.” He peppers my hair with kisses. “I’m so fucking sorry you got hurt.”

I nod against his shoulder, then whimper, “I was so scared.”

“Christ, baby-girl,” he groans. “I wish I could trade places with you.”

Dad holds me until the wave of emotions passes, and I manage to calm down. He gently lays me back against the pillows and wipes the wetness from my cheeks.

Then Mom comes in, and the wave of trauma hits all over again.

From pure exhaustion, I drift off into a dreamless sleep.

When I wake up again, Luca’s on a call, murmuring, “Let me know the minute you have eyes on Kastrati or Tinaj.” He listens to something, then glances in my direction. Seeing I’m awake, he says, “Hold on. Mariya just woke up.”

Luca comes to press the phone to my ear. “It’s Viktor.”

“Hey,” I say.

“Hey, little sister. How are you feeling?” Viktor practically coos over the line, which makes me smile.

“Like road kill. They did a number on me.”

“Don’t worry. The fuckers you killed are worse off,” he mutters. “Remind me never to get on your bad side.”

I let out a chuckle, but the sudden movement hurts like a bitch. “Don’t make me laugh. It hurts.”

“Sorry. I’m just tracking the bastards behind the attack, then I’ll come to visit. Want me to bring anything?”

“No.”

“Love you, little one,” he murmurs.

“Love you too.”

Luca tucks the phone away, then gives me a quick kiss. He sits down in the chair next to the bed and smiles at me. “You look a little better.”

“I don’t feel it,” I mutter. Lifting my right arm, I look at the thick bandage around my hand and wrist.

I swear I can still hear the drill.

“Just keep resting. You’ll be back on your feet soon enough,” Luca tries to encourage me.

“What did the doctors say?” I ask as I rest my hand back on the covers. “How bad is the damage?”

Luca leans closer and brushes his fingers over my forehead. “You have a shattered femur from the gunshot, but with a little rehabilitation, you’ll be good as new.” He tries to give me a comforting smile. “The broken ribs should heal in a month or so. Just take it easy and let me cater to your every need.”

I almost chuckle but catch myself in time. “I like the sound of that.”

His eyes caress my face, then he admits, “I’ve never been so terrified in my life.”

“Me too.” Terrified is actually an understatement. I don’t think there’s a word for what I felt. There were a couple of times I really believed I was going to die.

Luca kisses the back of my left hand, then takes something out of his pocket. I watch as he slips the diamond ring back onto my finger. His thumb brushes over it, then he kisses my hand again.

He rises from the chair, my eyes following his every movement.

I’m so thankful I didn’t die, and I got another chance with this man.

Luca sits on the side of the bed and braces a hand next to my head, so his face is closer to mine, then he says, “I always thought I’d have all the time in the world.” He shakes his head. “Turns out I was wrong. We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow.”

That’s something I realized as well. This attack was one hell of a wake-up call.

Luca’s eyes turn so freaking serious it makes my heartbeat speed up. He stares at me for a moment. Anticipation fills my chest because it feels like he’s about to tell me something really important.

I hold my breath, my eyes glued to his.

“I have to come clean about something,” he admits.

My stomach tightens into a tight ball.

Please don’t tell me you want an annulment. Not now. It will break me. I can handle being tortured but not losing you.

“I wasn’t drunk.”

Huh?

What is he talking about?

“On your birthday, when we got married,” he explains. “I knew exactly what I was doing.”

The air wooshes from me, causing a sharp ache in my chest.

I’m not sure what it means.

Luca’s fingers caress my cheek. “I’ve always wanted you, Mariya. You were drunk, and I did nothing to stop you. I took advantage of the situation.”

Luca married me because he wanted to?

My mind tells me I should be angry, but my heart refuses to tolerate the emotion.

His features soften with such tenderness, it soothes the blow of the news. The intensity of his attention focused only on me wraps me in a hopeful bubble.

My heart stutters.

My breaths stall.

“I love you so fucking much, and when you came up with the idea that we should get married, I grabbed it with both hands.”

Holy shit.

It takes a moment for the words to sink in, then I burst out in tears as intense relief hits.

Carefully, Luca wraps his arms around me, holding me so gently as if he’s scared I might break. “There was a moment I thought you wouldn’t make it. My biggest regret was not telling you how I felt about you. Especially because I knew you loved me. I tried to show you how much you meant to me, but too late, I realized I never said the words.” He kisses my temple, then the heat of his breath warms my ear. “Ti amo tanto.”

I recognize the words from when he said them to me during sex.

Luca.

I lift my left arm and grab hold of his side as I try to breathe through the magnitude of this moment.

I never thought it would happen. I hoped but never believed.

“So I’m not letting another day pass without you knowing there is no one more important than you,” he continues. “Everything I have, everything I am, is yours, Mariya.”

All I can do is cling to him as the words I never thought I’d hear settle deep in my heart.

Thank you, God.

Thank you for not letting me die before I could hear these words from Luca.

“Bastard,” I whimper. “I thought you hated me.”

“I love you.”

I slap his side, sobbing, “You should’ve told me sooner.”

“I love you.”

Happiness bursts in my chest, and I sob like a baby in his arms. Finally, free to say the words I’ve kept secret for so long, I cry, “I love you… so much… it hurts.”

Luca peppers the side of my face with kisses and bathes me in his love.

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