(II) Chapter 42
The next morning, I tossed and turned in bed. And then in sleep, I stretched my arm to the other side of the bed, hopelessly trying to feel or touch Anthonio. The space was empty and I opened my eyes. Realising I was home. It wasn't a dream. I was clearly home.
My heart ached for a short while but I smiled soon enough, remembering that I was back with my family at last.
There was a knock at my door and our maid walked in with a tray of delicious breakfast.
"Good morning, Donnica. I'm happy you're back." she smiled.
"Thank you, Charline. Happy new year."
"Happy new year, miss."
She put the tray down on my bed. I thanked her and she left.
It would take some time getting used to my old life.
"Good morning everyone and once again welcome to the 'Kristen Show'. I'm Kristen Lance and I'm you host."
I heard Kristen announce on the set of her very popular show while I stood nervously, backstage. I heard the applause from the crowd
"Everything's going to be fine, honey." my dad said, rubbing my shoulders.
"Everything will be fine." my mom repeated.
"As promised, we have as guest today, the Smith family. Yes, Donnica Smith, the terrorist victim along with her parents. We shall get to know her side of what turned out to be a terrible story, full of misunderstanding, and a terrible experience as captive of the Italian Mafia/terrorist cult. Let's cheer her up as she comes on set along with her parents.
I took a deep breath and stepped onto the set, appearing in front of the cameras and the crowd, my parents behind me. We were applauded and Kristen got up to greet us.
"Please, have a seat." she said and we all sat. My heart raced being in front of all those cameras, being watched nationally and maybe internationally. I had to be careful with what I was going to say. I had to be careful not to expose anything important on Anthonio and the Mafia.
"How are you, Donnica?" Kristen asked.
"How does it feel like to be back with your parents, family and friends?"
"It's– it's wonderful Kristen. I'm very happy to be back."
"I can see that, dear. We're all glad you're safe."
"Now tell us," she started, "What happened after your arrest? How did you get kidnapped?" she asked slowly.
I looked down at my hands, feeling nervous all of a sudden.
"You can take all your time. We understand it is difficult to talk about all that happened." she added.
I swallowed and spoke:
"I– well, while I was being taken to central prison, I was in tears and for more than half of the journey, I stared at my feet in the backseat. I couldn't realise such a horrible thing was happening to Me. I was innocent." I had a heavy lump in my throat but I went on.
"The car stopped and when I raised my head, I realised we were at the outskirts of the city. I didn't understand why."
"Hold on please. You and who?" Kristen asked.
I swallowed and stared at the crowd who watched attentively.
"Anthonio and I. He was disguised as a police man."
There was fidgeting.
"That must have been a terrifying surprise."
"Then what happened?"
"I thought his intension was to free me but I realised it was just a cunning act."
"What do you mean?"
"He said I could either chose to stay right there and get caught once again by the police or I could follow him and be free. I thought he was going to drop me off in another country. My first decision was to stay and let the police catch me so I would be judged rightfully and then eventually, I would be declared innocent. But that changed when he threatened me. He told me about the horrors that might happen to me in prison. Scared, I found myself choosing to follow him."
I told them how we drove to Philadelphia and then took a plane the next day. I told them how cunning he was and how he avoided us from being caught. I also precised we were disguised. I was being honest and told them things as they had happened.
I didn't tell them about the theft of the English jewels, though.
"And what happened then?"
I told them about Brazil and the boss. How he sent me on a dangerous mission to save my life. I told them how I failed but escaped the dangerous Russians thanks to Anthonio. And how he presented the watch to the boss, claiming I had found it.
"Wait," Kristen cut in, "Caruso helped you??"
There was fidgeting again.
I told them the whole story but I lied a lot. I told them that after Anthonio helped me, I never saw him again. That he went away and left me as captive to the boss. I couldn't tell them about how crazy he was and how I succeeded in changing him with the help of Leandro. I couldn't tell them I'd fallen in love with him. They would never understand.
If I did, I would be classified as a mad and mafia brainwashed victim. And might end up in a psychiatric hospital or a psychologist's office. Or worse, I could be considered his partner in crime again. And so, I kept that info for myself.
I made up a solid lie on how I survived, though being sexually molested by the boss and locked up. I was careful not to mention Anthonio's name again. I told them about the boss's death by an unknown member and how a new group was created still within that sect and how they had decided to cancel terrorist attacks.
"Wow, what a story. I'm sure everybody watching you out there admires your courage, Donnica. Welcome back amongst us." Kristen said and I was applauded.
"And so ever since the watch incident, you've never seen Caruso again?"
I swallowed a little.
"No, I didn't see him again."
"Well, honestly, I thank God for that. He's a very dangerous psychopath. Maybe you wouldn't even be here today if he'd stuck around."
I tried not to frown. Anthonio wasn't the same anymore and the fact that people still saw him as some sort of devil hurt me. But what could I do? They would never understand why he was the person he used to be. They would never understand that I'd changed and fallen in love with him. I loved him. But I couldn't defend him.
She asked questions to my parents and then permitted some people in the crowd to ask me questions. Some questions were okay while others where a little embarrassing. There's this girl who stood and asked:
"I have a feeling you haven't told us everything. I understand that you went through a tough time and you prefer to keep some things for yourself, but I'd like to know, are you trying to protect Anthonio Caruso because this whole issue is about you both but you hardly mentioned his name throughout the story."
I was silent for sometime but then replied.
"Why would I try to protect the psychopath that got me into that mess? He had nothing to do with me and I with him. He dropped me off as captive to his boss and I've never seen him again. I don't know where he is and I don't care. I went through a lot and it's annoying to me that you think I'm trying to protect someone who put my life in danger."
"Okay. I'm sorry." she sat down.
Kristen then spoke.
"Do you think Anthonio Caruso will attempt another attack in this country? He is quite dangerous."
"Anything can happen, Kristen. We never know. He is afraid of nothing."
"Oh, that we know. Anyway thank you so much for being on the show today Donnica, along with you parents."
"And welcome back."
That ended it.
I was even interrogated by the FBI and so on who were trying to get some important information to bring the Mafia down but I managed to keep calm and answered intelligently. I gave them nothing and claimed that I was being locked up and blindfolded most of the time. I never heard of their plans and couldn't even know in what country we were until they told me themselves. In other words, I claimed not to know where the property was found. Surprisingly, I made it through all interrogations and even passed the lie detector by some miracle. I was glad I was done.