Can't Hurry LoveBy: Dixie Lynn Dwyer
Nina Voltaro ran her sweaty palms along her skirt. She needed to calm down. Just breathe and act like she was normal. When am I going to feel like I fit in? Will I ever be able to stop looking over my shoulder? Stop shaking every time a man hits on me or acts interested? When will Sanford’s hold on me disappear? When?
Nina didn’t think of herself as a victim, an easily manipulated and controlled girlfriend, but a woman who survived and was ready to move on with her life and be someone important. She deserved this despite her cousin Francesca’s pull. It was something Nina worked hard for. She did awesome in her college classes. Anything with interior designs and decorating. She loved taking a plain room and giving it character. Reinventing a special place for someone and getting an understanding on what a client wanted and needed or visualized in their head. She was good at that. It made her feel proud and capable. It was all she had. Everything else was ripped from her and belonged to Sanford, or at least that’s what he trained her to believe.
She sighed and shifted her feet, trying to act unaffected by her own thoughts. She refocused on her plans. Her grasp of hope for a new life. She had experience, two internships in college and even a job fresh out of college for a big interior decorating company in New York. She knew her stuff and then some. Her uncle Caspian Voltaro, her cousin Francesca, and her men, plus Vincenzo Corpese and his brothers were giving her an opportunity to start making a name for herself and perhaps start her own interior decorating firm. Francesca was her rock. Her saving grace. Her lifeline. She gulped.
Since taking on the job of decorating their new office building, Nina had already gained a few new clients. Some of them were on a small scale, but that was fine with her because she really wasn’t ready to get help or grow too quickly. She had her fears, but she didn’t show them, or at least she hoped she didn’t. If she wanted a chance at living she had to do this. She got along with most people. She made contacts in construction—Frankie Pencer, a retired soldier, and a boyfriend to Casey Lane, a friend of Kai. That connection brought her others and gave her the idea of hiring retired military, men and women in need of employment to assist when she needed to hire out. She definitely needed to do that with this job for the Corpese men and Francesca. It was a large first job and introduction back into a field she loved. She had been super nervous, but soon enough she fell into that comfort zone. That state of confidence she had whenever she did interior design and decorating. She loved this. It awoke her spirit. A spirit she thought was dead and so submerged after being forced to give it up.
Nina had come a long way. Getting involved with an older man who seduced her had been the worst mistake of her life. It didn’t help that her cousin York was friends with Sanford and was under his thumb. Her cousin York wasn’t exactly the brightest, and unfortunately for her, York sold her out. It was too late when she realized they were both doing illegal things and that Sanford had thought of her as a prized possession. She had to admit there was a time she loved him. Thought he would be her life, her destiny, the man she would marry and raise a family with. That wasn’t what Sanford wanted. He was so good looking, fierce in his commanding ways, his attitude, and control. It was crazy, but what did she know about men, about sex, about love before him? Nothing. Sanford took her virginity, introduced her to a world of money, power, and crime. He was a criminal businessman, ten years older than her, and possessive. She was twenty-one when she met him. When York introduced her at an event he invited her to. She had no idea that it was a setup. That Sandford had already seen her at one of the clubs and had been warned that she was twenty-one and York’s cousin. She remembered that night at the party. Some men were talking to her, and one in particular, a business associate of Sanford’s kept touching her, and when he slid his arm around her waist and whispered into her ear that he wanted her to go home with him, she panicked and pushed away. He followed. That was Mark Servco. He was a total creep, and she learned later about how he drugged women and raped them. The women woke up none the wiser. She shivered from the memory and then from Sanford’s actions as he intervened, threatened Mark, and when Mark looked angry then bowed in respect, she was shocked. Sanford kept her by his side the rest of the evening. They engaged in conversation. He didn’t flirt or touch her but stared at her like he was memorizing her face. Somehow, he manipulated that situation to his advantage, and she found herself wanting him to touch her. To show interest. He didn’t though. No, he played her like a pro. At the end of the evening, he had one of his drivers bring her home. She dreamed of him. Of a life filled with money, power, and a gorgeous, successful older man by her side. She fell for the charm and the fantasy. It was too late when she realized that the game he created drew her in and trapped her. She went and fell in love with him.