Why Me?

Ty, just another skateboarding high school junior, was minding her own legal business when she gets stuck in the middle of a mafia fight with guns, knives, and potato launchers, while only armed with her trusty skateboard. What does she do? Runs for her life only to get captured and asked (read: commanded) to marry one of the three sons of the don. And then people want to kill her. Obviously.

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20. Chapter Twenty

Ty stood outside of the Rizzos' gates wondering just how desperate she was to actually go there of her own accord. She just had to leave the apartment or she knew she'd have gotten herself beyond drunk, possibly given herself alcohol poisoning. So, she had grabbed her phone and before she knew it she was walking in the direction of the Rizzos' mansion.

She turned around, about to walk over to Sal's, when she heard someone call out.

Ty once again faced the gate and saw a dark skinned man with a shaved head walking towards her. He had a black stud piercing in his right ear so Ty figured that he must work for Roberto.

"You're the fiancée, right?" the man questioned when he opened the gate.

Ty's eyebrow twitched at the term but she fought down her argument. "I was just leaving," she said, turning her back to him and preparing to walk off.

"Wait, why don't you come in? I'm Randy, by the way."

Ty smiled at him, he seemed oddly nice, "I'm fine. I don't even know how or why I ended up here."

Randy was persistent, "Still, come in for a drink or something. The boss will have my head when he finds out you were here and didn't come in."

Ty opened her mouth to protest but instead sighed, nodding reluctantly, "Alright. Just for a bit."

Randy escorted her into the estate until they were inside the house and in front of the main staircase.

"I have to get back to work. I'll tell Roberto that you're here," Randy smiled apologetically.

"Alright, go back to work. Thanks, Randy," Ty waved at him as he disappeared up the stairs.

Ty looked around before deciding to use the opportunity to explore and keep her mind distracted. She really didn't want to go back to the apartment, but she also didn't want to worry anyone.

She decided to go upstairs first and walked in the direction Carlos had taken her to when they were heading to the bathroom the night she and her friends had visited the mansion for a party. As she was passing by a door that was left slightly ajar, her curiosity took over and she peeked inside.

Luca was standing with his back to the door wearing a grungy looking outfit, and little sparks were flying out from whatever he was working on. Ty was about to knock on the door when Luca's project released a blinding flash of white-blue light along with a hissing sound that did not sound safe. Luca didn't even jump or seem even remotely fazed.

Ty immediately backed away from the door and quickly ran back downstairs. So not getting involved in that. Maybe I'll just go watch TV or something.

With that thought, Ty made her way through the hallway, hoping she remembered where the sitting room was.

X

Roberto called for Randy to enter and raised an inquiring brow, "Yes, Randy?" His men knew not to interrupt him while he worked unless it was absolutely important, and Randy had his own work to do.

"The girl, Ty, is here, boss. I saw her standing outside of the gates and invited her in," Randy answered.

Roberto sat up in surprise, the reports he was reading temporarily forgotten. "Oh, really?" He had never expected her to come to his home of her own accord, but then again, he could hardly predict her actions.

Randy nodded.

"Thank you, Randy. You can go back to work."

"Yes, boss," Randy nodded again and silently exited Roberto's office.

Roberto looked at the new black vase that sat upon his desk. It held a new Easter lily, similar to the one that Ty had inadvertently destroyed when she threw the first vase at Roberto on the night they first met. The flower was beginning to wilt, the snow-white petals gaining a grungy brown around the edges, and he knew he'd have to go buy a new one for his desk.

"I can't just let Ty roam around alone," Roberto mused, his finger poised to press a button on the phone that sat upon his desk and could contact any room of the mansion.

X

Dante snuck another glance at Ty to see she was still swaying her head slightly but was no longer humming and instead whispering under her breath. Paying closer attention, he caught some of the words and realized she was now singing instead of humming.

"...hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men? It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again..."

"Could you stop?" he asked. He realized he had been on the same line for the past ten minutes and blamed Ty's humming for distracting him. It wasn't her relaxing position on the couch with one leg bent up and the other swinging lazily over the side, her inability to sit still, the sliver of skin that had been revealed when her shirt rode up slightly, or anything else that disrupted his concentration; it was her humming.

Ty looked away from her phone, stopped swinging her leg and turned her head to Dante's direction. "Stop what?" she asked. She hadn't realized she was doing anything other than lying down on the couch texting Fred. Over the week, she had noticed he was acting a little off, blushing coincidentally whenever Carlos was nearby and she saw how his eyes were constantly seeking out the eldest Rizzo brother. Something was up and she was more than a little excited about playing detective cupid.

Dante looked up at the ceiling, annoyed, "You've been humming something incessantly and now started singing it. It's bad enough I have to read this merda for English tomorrow, and with your annoyingly distracting singing I'm extremely tempted to fire more than a couple of rounds into your head and this damned book."

Ty frowned and sat up on her elbows, "I was humming and singing?"

"Yes," Dante gritted his teeth.

"Huh. That's weird. What was I singing?" she asked, completely oblivious to Dante's ire at her.

"I don't know. Just shut up or go bother someone else," he half-growled, barely keeping his calm.

Ty did not relent and whined, "C'mon, please? Didn't you hear any of the words? The tune?"

"Oh dio mio, sei proprio una stronza fastidiosa," he groaned, pressing a hand to his temple. He was already getting a headache from reading the required novel and Ty was only adding to it. He roughly put the book down and glared at Ty.

She blinked back blankly, "Er, translation?" She had recognized "stronza" for obvious reasons, and she remembered hearing Carlos mutter "dio mio" a few times, but the rest was gibberish to her ears.

Dante gripped the armrest of his chair, imagining it was Ty's frail neck. "I said, 'Oh my god, you are such an annoying bitch'. Will you go bother someone else if I tell you?"

Ty nodded and sat up, stretching her arms. Having most of her weight on her elbows hurt after a while. She slapped her arms a bit to rid the feeling of tiny pins and needles poking at every nerve ending in the sleeping limbs.

Dante sighed and thought up what she had been singing, pretending to think hard. He didn't want to admit that he had listened to her for a bit. She wasn't great, but she wasn't tone deaf either in his opinion and watching her completely dazed and unconsciously singing so freely was a much better alternative to reading some book about adulterers wearing a scarlet A. Not that anyone would ever hear him say that or live to tell the tale.

"Something about angry men singing about refusing to be slaves again. Or something," he finally revealed with an aloof shrug.

Ty frowned for a second in thought and pursed her lips before said lips rounded in a silent 'Oh' of realization. "Dammit, that song has been stuck in my head the whole day since Drew made me watch Les Misérables last night. Then he decided to put the song on repeat until this morning and we had to rush to school before Mr. Yvuicks could give us two months of detention for being late again. I mean I like the song, but it gets annoying after hearing it more than a million times."

Dante's jaw hardened. He stopped listening after Ty had indirectly said that Drew had stayed over. So she'll kick me out at one in the morning, while it's raining buckets when there's no school the next day, but lets that blond brat watch a movie and sleep over when there is?

He picked up his book and restarted the chapter he had been trying to read for the past half hour. "There, I told you so go bother someone else."

Ty flopped back onto the couch and resumed her conversation with Fred who had decided to avoid the topic she had been trying to reach. "I would, but Luca's working on some new contraption and I like my head where it is, I'm avoiding Carlos so he can't make me do my homework, Jay and Rinny are working, Red's stuck at a family gathering thing, I'm not in the mood to go to the skate park alone, and Drew is being tutored by Buzz in a library I'm banned from and Drew really needs to pass his next test so I don't want to disturb him." She turned her head to grin cheekily and stick her tongue out at him, "So you're stuck with me."

Ty was successfully ignoring her problems so she could be civil with Dante. She knew she was annoying him, but she didn't care. She just wanted her mind to be preoccupied enough so she didn't think about her own problems.

"How do you get banned from a library? Actually never mind, I don't want to know. Why don't you just go to your own house?" Dante asked, once again not able to get the first five words into his head from the book. How the hell do her friends put up with her?

When Ty didn't answer straight away with a moderately witty remark or comeback, Dante looked up to see her face was stone cold and emotionless. He frowned slightly, not liking that look on her face.

Before he could think longer on that dangerous train of thought, he wiped the frown from his face to replace it with a snarky smirk and scoffed, "What, little principessa have an argument with mommy and daddy? They didn't let you go skateboarding with your little skater friends? Filed a restraining order against them?"

Dropping the phone, Ty sat up abruptly and stomped to the doors, her lips set in a grim line and her fists shaking. What she had been able to ignore and temporarily forget about just seconds before was now the only thing on her mind.

Dante frowned and sat up, his legs moving without his consent to go after her, but her cold stare stopped him in his tracks.

"Fuck off, Dante," she muttered so quietly that he barely heard her. Her voice, though muted, was tense and venomous. It was nothing like the usual curses she threw his or anyone else's way. She sounded like her voice was going to break. But the sudden shift in completely polar-opposite emotions was not what rooted his feet to the ground for he was now more or less used to her quick shifts, even if this one was much more exaggerated than previous ones. No, what had him stunned beyond words and thought were the unmistakable tears forming in her eyes.

Ty briskly marched through the mansion, avoiding anyone who would stop her. She pushed past Luigi without a word and he simply watched her in alarmed confusion. Before he could go after her and ask what was wrong, she disappeared around the corner.

Ty walked blindly, her feet carrying her while her mind forced itself to shut down. Her feet moved her towards a door that was hidden underneath the main staircase. She opened it and flipped the switch, seeing that it was a room that held a secret staircase that went downwards.

Ty slowly crept into the tiny room and stood at the top of the steps, debating on whether or not to venture down to what she guessed was the basement.

"If I smell or see something that even remotely seems like a corpse, I'll hightail it out of here," she stated, coming to a decision.

She left the door slightly opened in case she needed to make a quick getaway that would not be disrupted by trying to open a door, and quietly went down the stairs, crouching slightly and trying to make as little noise as possible.

She made her way down the spiraled stairwell until she reached another door, this one made of some sort of metal. Ty pressed her ear against the cold door, but she could only hear air.

"Well...If it's locked then snooping stops. But if it's not..." Ty put her hand on the handle and held her breath, biting down on her lip and wincing slightly as she pushed downwards and outwards.

To her surprise, the door slowly swung open though she had to use her shoulder to open it enough to slip through. What awaited her on the other side of the door was not a dungeon, a torture chamber, or a morgue, but instead a rather impressive indoor shooting range.

Ty's eyes raked across the room. The walls were lined with bulletproof glass cases that housed a multitude of firearms from shotguns to rifles to handguns and everything in between. Ty carefully walked over to one of the cases and traced the firearms through the glass. She tried to see if her luck would hold through and attempted to open the case, but it was locked shut. She noticed that next to each case was a keypad that must have been the locking mechanism for the cases.

Ty moved around the room, walking towards the actual firing range and stepped into one of the stalls, seeing that the targets were all new except for one that had bullet holes all in or around the center of the chest and head targets. Whoever was practicing before Ty dropped by had uncanny accuracy.

"Looks like someone forgot to clean up." Ty went to the stall of the used target and picked up the silver pistol. She carefully examined it in her hands, checking the magazine and seeing that it was still half-loaded.

After a moment of hesitation, she picked up the expensive looking headset, placing it over her head and securely covering her ears. She went back to her stall and held the gun up in both hands, feet around shoulder width apart, and her knees slightly bent.

"That's right, kitten. Don't lock your knees or you'll just fly backwards and right into the wall."

She took a deep breath and aligned her sight, closing her left eye and looked down the barrel of the gun to line up the center of the human shaped target's chest.

"Now let's find out which is your main eye. Hold your hand out in front of you and make a circle with your pointing fingers and thumbs. Yes, just like that. Now, I'm just gonna move your hands, see that post? Now, close one eye and if you can still see the post, that's your main eye, so when you shoot, you're going to look with this eye while closing the other."

"Oh! It's gone!"

A honey coated chuckle.

"Looks like you're like me, kitten. We're both right eye-aye-ayed!"

Ty smiled softly and slowly let her trigger finger rest on the trigger. She took another even breath and slowly pressed the trigger until she heard a muffled bang and stepped backwards slightly because of the recoil.

"Never keep you finger on the trigger unless you are right about to shoot. Unless you are going to shoot, your trigger finger has to be outside of the trigger guard. This is a very important rule, do you understand, Sierra?"

She removed her finger from the trigger, consciously keeping it out of the trigger guard, and set the headset down on the small side table to the side. She looked at her target, lips twitching into a small, sad smile seeing her bullet hole just grazing the outer most ring of the target.

"Lucky shot, stronza."

Ty gasped in surprise and swiveled around. She put the pistol down next to the headset and put her hand to her chest, trying to calm her startled heart.

Dante was leaning casually against the open door. After she had run out of the room, he was stunned for a moment before chasing after her, his body once again moving without thought. He ran into Luigi who asked what had happened and Dante avoided the question by asking him where he had seen Ty run off. It was pure luck that Dante had noticed that the door underneath the main staircase was slightly ajar. He had quietly and cautiously snuck down and seen Ty pick up the gun he had forgotten to put back, and fire it.

He was surprised that she seemed to actually know what she was doing, getting into the proper stance with only a few mistakes and managing to actually hit the target instead of the wall or even herself. She had smiled. It was small, soft, and one of remembrance. The embodiment of a bittersweet memory.

Ty simply narrowed her eyes at him and turned around to face the target. She picked up the gun again and prepared to fire another shot. Her anger and hatred from before came back in full force, replacing the blanket of wistful nostalgia.

A tic formed in Dante's jaw. He pushed off the doorway, closing the door, and walked towards Ty.

"Of all the things I'd call you, a prissy twelve year old is not one of them. The silent treatment? Really? I thought you were better than that, stronza."

Ty tensed and Dante mentally kicked himself. What the hell am I doing? I meant to...Cazzo, I don't even know why I followed her.

Not giving up just yet, Dante added, "And if you're going to shoot again, you might want to put the headset back on."

Ty gritted her teeth and put the gun back down, swinging around in frustration, "What do you want, Dante? Why can't you just leave me to fume alone?"

"Fume or cry?" The words flew straight out of his mouth before he knew what he was saying.

Ty froze, her anger faltering for a moment before she pulled it back up and crossed her arms over her chest, "Do I look like I'm crying?"

Dante strolled towards her until he was standing right in front of her. His body moved on its own, and he wasn't sure he wanted to stop it. He reached out to tilt Ty's head up by her chin and caught her gaze. He could see anger, frustration, annoyance, and hatred. But they were overshadowed by hurt, pain, and sadness.

"Almost," he answered, the word slipping past his lips without warning. He just couldn't seem to control his body at all in the past couple of minutes.

Ty jerked out of his hold and went back to preparing to fire at the target again.

Dante silently groaned and caught her arm to turn her back to him before she could pick up the gun again, "Look, I'm...I'm so—I...How do you know how to fire a gun?"

Ty refused to look at him or question his sudden change of topic and nibbled on her lip.

Just when Dante thought she had gone back to the silent treatment, Ty mumbled, "My grandpa."

Her arm fell limp in his grip and his hold slid down to her wrist. "What?" he questioned, wary of her change in emotions.

Ty swallowed the hard lump in her throat and repeated, "My grandpa. Tyler Marrow."

She laughed but it was void of humor, "He named me after himself since my father was at some business meeting in Japan and my mother couldn't be bothered to think of a girls' name since they were hoping I'd be an obedient little boy who would listen to their every beck and call. They wanted to have a son called Delaney Buford Jackson. I mean could they have thought of a worse name?

Anyway, when I visited him, my grandpa, he taught me how to use a pistol, but obviously he had his hands over mine on the gun so didn't I fly back from the recoil or accidentally shoot a bird or something. But I did get to pull the trigger and he told me how to stand and how to aim. I practiced on bottles and cans he lined up in his backyard on a fence, and when I missed, it just went into the wall of the abandoned house next door. I had so much fun when I was allowed to see him. I loved every minute of it."

"Allowed?" Dante questioned, puzzled by her word choice. Really, he had a lot more questions but that point stuck out in her bitter-turned-nostalgic rant.

"Yeah, soon after I turned six, he was forbidden to see me and I him. He's my mother's biological father but after my grandparents' divorce, he was sort of kicked out of the family and was only allowed to visit sometimes, the birth of his only grandchild being one. I was allowed to visit him over breaks but I didn't know that my parents had their fucking robot-goon Andrew spy on us, taking pictures to gather as evidence to give the court to show that gramps was a bad influence on me so they could get their restraining order against him and keep us apart. I don't care if they're my parents, they can't put a fucking restraining order against the only family member I actually like! The last time I saw him, Andrew was dragging me into the car after telling Gramps about the new restraining order and that that weekend was the last he'd ever spend with me. I don't even know if he's still alive."

The whole time Ty had bitterly spoken about her past, she was staring off to the side, gaze transfixed on a blank spot of the wall, eyes burning with unshed tears.

Feeling an odd contraction in his chest, Dante had no explanations for his body's next actions. Really, he had no idea how to explain most of his actions around Ty.

He lightly tugged on her wrist and pulled her to his chest. Dante wrapped one arm around her waist while he released his hold on her wrist and moved it to awkwardly pat her head. It was the most awkward action he had ever executed. He couldn't remember the last time he had hugged someone.

"Umm... what are you doing?" Ty asked after a moment of silence. Her face was pressed into Dante's shoulder and she could smell his soap, aftershave, deodorant and a smidge of his sweat and body odor, which made her wrinkle her nose slightly. She could hear a heart – she wasn't sure whose – beating at a pace that was definitely faster than normal, and the hand patting her head was definitely not used to patting the heads of emotionally breaking down teenagers.

Dante cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable, "I don't actually know, but I just felt like you needed...comforting or something. Yeah, I don't know, I'll let go..."

He stopped patting her head and slowly began to move away, but stopped when Ty's arms went around his torso, pulling him back. Not sure what to do, he put his hands back where they were and resumed patting her head, though as he felt Ty's hold tighten his patting turned into gentle stroking and he rested his chin on her head. It was an oddly comfortable position despite the intense awkwardness in the air and neither knew what to make of it.

"Thanks...it's weird and not like you and I'm waiting for the punch line, but thanks," Ty mumbled. She was feeling weird and blamed it on the emotional breakdown. She was confused and her feelings were in a jumble, more so than they had been in the previous years. It's just because it's really early this year. And I usually have the guys with me when it happens.

Coming to that conclusion, she released her hold on him and coughed consciously. Dante immediately let go and stepped away as if she were an open flame. He rubbed the back of his neck and avoided looking directly at Ty.

Ty did the same and turned back to pick up the pistol and headset and refaced the target.

While she slowly prepared to fire, Dante stood dumbfounded. He couldn't get the feeling of her against him out of his head and the urge to pull her back was frighteningly powerful. He tried to sort his thoughts but they worked against him and he decided to push them away.

"I don't want you to pity me," Ty stated, keeping her voice blank. She was set to fire, but still had yet to press down on the trigger. "Just, forget this happened, okay? I'm not usually having mental breakdowns and this one was really early. It usually happens at the end of the first week of May. Usually on the date of the last time I ever saw him. So, don't treat me any different. Please. I don't want your pity or your sympathy."

Early this year? Usually the first week of May? This...this mental breakdown thing is an annual occurrence? If I wasn't here, then what does she do? No wonder she's kind of insane though...

Dante's mind was one of tumbled thoughts and questions. It was bad enough he didn't know how to deal with these thoughts and new emotions about the odd lapse in sanity they both had, but now questions about her mental breakdown added to the flood. He also felt irrational anger at her parents and this Andrew.

He was shaken from his headache inducing thoughts when Ty fired. She missed, this time hitting way below the target. Dante winced slightly seeing that had the target been a real person, they'd have been shot directly in the crotch. What is with her and crotch injuries?

Ty tried again and she was closer to the target rings, but still not as close as her first shot.

She pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes at the target in frustration. She was about to try again but jumped an inch off the ground when she felt arms cover hers, gripping the gun lightly over her hands.

In her startled jump, the headset fell down to rest on her shoulders and she felt Dante's breath against the back of her neck, just brushing her left ear that quickly took on a red hue.

"You need to straighten your arms, elbows up and legs a bit farther apart," he instructed.

Ty did as was told and felt Dante nod his approval behind her. Her heart rate was rising at the close proximity, especially after what had just happened. Even though she tried to play it cool and act as if nothing had happened, she knew she'd never be able to lose this one event in her memories. What scared her was that she wasn't sure she even really wanted to.

Dante himself was fighting certain urges. He cursed himself for trying to help her fire better. It's only so that she doesn't shoot herself in the face, or anyone else who happens to come in while she's here. And it's just for safety in case she has to actually fire a gun, the likelihood of which is pretty damn high considering she may run risk of being targeted by Bellini.

"There. Take even breaths. Good. Now, when you're going to shoot, take one even breath in and only exhale half, hold and steady your hands and then shoot. Okay?" Dante moved back, putting the headset back in place over her reddened ear, and ignored the pull that had him tempted to wrap his arms around her again.

Something is wrong with me. He determined. I'm sick, the flu or something. A head cold that's messing with my thoughts.

Ty followed Dante's instructions, able to think more clearly now that he had backed away. She eyed the target, exhaled, held, and fired.

She grinned when she saw that she had hit the second most outer ring. Feeling encouraged, she repeated the steps and fired a few more times, getting similar results.

"C'mon, just one, that's all I'm asking for," she muttered to herself after her sixth shot. She had, give or take, another six more since the pistol magazine held twenty rounds and was already about half used before she picked it up.

Two shots later and she had improved considerably, getting to the middle rings, but it wasn't enough.

Dante had silently watched her the entire time. The awkward tension between them had dissolved with each fire as she grew more confident and happy with her progress and Dante watched her every success, a small smile unknowingly tugging at his face.

"Yes!" Ty cheered, gun pointed straight up in the air. She pulled the headset down and turned to face Dante with a broad grin. "I did it! I got a fucking bullseye!"

Dante peeked past her and saw that she had indeed managed to fire a bullet through the center of the target's chest rings.

"Yeah, just barely, stronza. It's on the very edge," he drawled, covering a grin that was threatening to stretch across his face. Seeing her so proud and elated was something he hadn't seen before, or at least directly. She had never grinned at him like that before.

Not like I ever gave her much reason to, his traitorous subconscious reminded.

"And put the gun down, you're going to accidentally shoot something or someone," he reprimanded, eyeing the pistol Ty had temporarily forgotten that she still had in hand.

"Oh, right. Woops," she sheepishly pointed the barrel of the gun downwards.

Ty removed the headset, placed it on a hook where she guessed it was supposed to go, and carefully held the gun, looking at Dante, "Um, where do I keep this? It was lying around when I came in."

"I'll take it. I forgot to put it away. I didn't think Papà would actually pretend to urgently call me from practicing to make me do my homework and give you company."

Ty chuckled and handed him the pistol, "Wow, you guys sure are a bunch of daddy's girls."

Before Dante could retort, she ducked past him and waved, "Later, Dainty. I'm going to annoy Jay-Jay and Rinny at work."

As she disappeared behind the metal door, Dante swore he heard her whisper, "You're not so bad, Dante."

___

Italian Lingo:

Merda - shit

Oh dio mio, sei proprio una stronza fastidiosa - Oh my god, you are such an annoying bitch

Principessa - princess

Stronza - bitch

Cazzo - fuck (literally: balls)

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