Sweetest Sorrow (Forbidden #2) - J.M. Darhower
Forbidden Series Book #2
The air was damp, thick with filth, overpowering with the stench of dirt and mildew. Despite it being summer, coldness had settled between the solid concrete walls, the windowless chamber offering no ventilation.
The moment Dante Galante regained consciousness, he sensed he was underground. The dense air invaded his lungs and coated the inside of his tattered chest, making every breath strained, like he was slowly suffocating.
That was how it felt.
Darkness surrounded him, the kind of darkness that felt like a void, like one wrong move and he might get lost in it, never to be found again.
He blinked and saw nothing.
Blinked again. Nothing still.
How long had he been there? An hour? A day? A week? Maybe more. He'd been tormented mercilessly, beaten until he could no longer stand, strangled before being brought back to life again.
Again and again, they pushed him to the edge, but he'd yet to tip over. They could break his body, but they weren't going to break him.
He wouldn't let them.
So they tortured him until he lost consciousness, taunting him all along, waiting for him to crack. 'We'll put you out of your misery,' they promised. 'All you have to do is ask.'
Dante said nothing.
He barely made a noise.
He endured it in silence, passing out before waking up to suffer even more.
Pain was nothing to a man who had been burned alive at five years old. Nothing they could do to him would ever surpass the feeling of his body on fire, the sensation of his shirt melting right into his skin, fabric dripping like candle wax, charring him.
Compared to that?
This was a piece of fucking cake.
Hours. Days. Weeks. Who knew?
Time passed, and his body grew weaker, but his resolve remained strong. He was going to die. He'd come to accept that. There would be no crying, no begging, and not a stitch of fear. That was what they wanted from him.
He wouldn't give them the satisfaction.
So he lay there, listening to the world above him, a world that wouldn't try to rescue him if he screamed, waiting for them to finish him off. He was deep in the heart of Barsanti territory. He had no friends there.
It happened unexpectedly, the basement door thrusting open, bright light filtering through. Dante winced from the harshness, too drained to move, unable to shield his eyes as someone descended the stairs. He blinked as they approached, trying to make out his surroundings, his gaze meeting his captor's.
The man stopped in front of Dante, his shadowy figure blocking out the blinding glare. Fury swirled through Dante, strengthening him. He considered lunging, attacking, making a break for it even though he wouldn't make it far.
He thought about it.
He almost did it.
Until the man spoke.
"Your sister's dead."
Those words, in that impassive voice, stalled Dante's heart for a long beat. No. No. No. It couldn't be. He didn't want to believe it. Couldn't believe it. Dead? No fucking way. Not his sister. Not Genevieve. It was just another form of torture. They’d broken his body but he hadn’t caved. They were going to try to break his spirit, and he couldn't let them.
So he just glared at the man, trying to control his strained breathing, hoping like hell the sudden spike of fear he felt didn’t show.
He didn't want them to see.
God, no, don't let it be...
"She's dead," Barsanti said again, his vacant stare fixed on the grimy wall before he turned back to Dante. Tears swam in his usually callous eyes. Intense fear swarmed the room, mixed with a sense of devastation, but it wasn't radiating from Dante. No. The man in front of him was cracking, even more than Dante ever had. "Your sister is dead, and my son…” A long pause, so long Dante’s mind raced for a way to finish that thought, realizing the truth a fraction of a second before the words left Barsanti's lips. “He's dead, too."
Dante let out a shaky breath, words on the tip of his tongue, the first ones he would utter since they'd snatched him. Just kill me now. He swallowed the thought back, resolved to stay strong, but something forced itself from his busted lips, a whisper in a gritty voice. "Fuck you."
In a blink, Barsanti drew back his arm, his fist connecting with Dante's face, pain exploding through his skull.
This is it, he thought, as the blackness took him.
I'm dying alone in the dark.
Primo Galante hadn't driven a car in over sixteen years.