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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23. Chapter Twenty-Three

Ty shot up from the bed, breathing heavy and heart racing, thumping madly in her chest and ears. She brought her legs up and rested her forehead on her knees, trying to calm her erratic heart. She wiped the cold sweat from her face and threw the covers off her body, getting up and making her way to the door.

She unlocked the door, opened it just a bit, and peeked out into darkened and deserted hallway. Seeing that no one was lurking about, Ty slipped out of the room and quietly shut the door, pressing her back against the wood and sinking to the floor. She cradled her head in her hands and closed her eyes, wishing away the thoughts that plagued her mind.

Ty evened out her breathing, shaking the remnants of her nightmare – one she couldn't even remember – away. It had been awhile since she had had a particularly horrible one that made her unable to go back to sleep. The mental pressure and stress of her recent life was now disturbing her sleeping pattern. It was only her second night at the Rizzos' and the second time she had trouble sleeping. She was going to be a zombie at school the next day.

Standing up, Ty hugged her arms and began to pace in front of the door to the room the Rizzos had provided for her. She needed to lose herself in mindless pacing, as she couldn't use her usual method to deal with nightmares of this extent since it could potentially put her friends in danger with the people who had threatened Ty just the previous day.

She only broke out of her daze when a hand lightly clamped down on her shoulder.

Ty abruptly turned around, about to shriek in surprised fear and punch her attacker, but the hand on her shoulder quickly moved to slam against her mouth, silencing her, and the other hand grabbed her fisted hand, holding it steady.

"Fuck, you scared the crap out of me." Ty whispered when Dante released her once she recognized him after squinting in the darkness.

"What're you doing?" Dante whispered back, not bothering to apologize.

Ty put her hand on her chest and tried to calm her heart down again before answering, "I couldn't sleep."

Again? Dante frowned, "Why?"

Ty avoided his gaze and shrugged, "I got thirsty."

Dante saw past her lie immediately, despite only barely seeing the masked expression on her face. He crossed his arms over his chest and raised a skeptic brow, "Then why have you been burning a path on the floor for the past twenty or so minutes instead of going downstairs and getting a drink?"

Ty looked back at him, her mouth trying to form a retort but she was unable to utter a word.

Dante had come up the stairs in silence, having released some newly acquired stress in the firing range, and had seen a figure pacing in front of Ty's room. He crept towards what he thought was an intruder (how an intruder would be either brilliant or idiotic enough to invade the Rizzos' home was a mystery to him) but stopped in his tracks when he realized that it was Ty. He had been about to go up to her then, but one look at her face had him stop and watch her, unsure as to how he should proceed.

Something was wrong. That much was obvious with the troubled frown on her face and the way she was hugging herself as if her arms were the only things holding her together.

After about twenty minutes of watching her frown deepen, and feeling like a stalker, he finally went up to her and put his hand on her shoulder, gently so as to not startle her but she jumped in surprise anyway.

"So what's the real reason, stronza?" Dante asked again when Ty remained silent.

Ty worried her bottom lip, and turned away, heading towards the staircase as she quickly muttered, "Nothing."

Dante grabbed her wrist and pulled her back, frustrated with her stubbornness, "Cristo, woman. What is the problem?"

Ty growled at him, anger, and exhaustion roiling through her body like a tempest. "I had a nightmare, okay?" she blurted in a heated whisper, still somehow managing to remember to keep her voice down.

"A nightmare?" Dante questioned, frowning at her. What kind of incubo would make her unable to sleep?

Ty snatched her hand back, successful for the first time only because Dante wasn't holding on firmly, and crossed her arms over her chest, almost hugging herself again. "Yes, a nightmare. Now just leave me alone, Dante. I'm really not in the mood to argue with you."

Ignoring her wishes, Dante continued, "You're going to wake up the entire house if you keep pacing. What do you usually do when you have a nightmare?" Dante had no idea why he was acting like he cared. In fact, he was trying to convince himself that he didn't care, but he knew he was fighting a losing battle. He just didn't know the reason for this constant metaphorical battle or what the prize was.

Ty debated on whether or not to tell him. She could just lie and say she paced, but Dante would see right through the little fib. Suddenly, a recently passed afternoon flashed through her mind. Specifically, the moment that occurred in the firing range where they both momentarily stepped out of character, all walls temporarily brought down. She blamed the recent memory for making her trust Dante with another private piece of her life.

Sighing, she looked down at their feet, reluctantly giving him more ammo to use against her should he choose to do so, "When they're bad enough that I can't go back to sleep, I sneak into one of the guys' house through the window and use them as a giant comfort teddy bear."

Dante was fighting two dominant urges. One was to rage and scowl at the mental image of Ty sneaking into one of her friends' house (in his mind it was a specific blond haired boy's) like a secret lover and cuddling with him under the covers. The other was to lift Ty's chin up so that she could return his cold amber gaze with her bold and lively greys, even if it was too dark to see clearly. This meek and virtually defeated Ty almost enraged him. He wanted to throttle whatever or whoever made her act like this smaller, vulnerable version of the stubborn, challenging, and confident Ty, the one that constantly got under his skin.

"I try not to wake them up when I practically cuddle them, but they always wake up and instantly know what's wrong and they hug me and I end up drifting back to sleep," Ty finished, still looking at the sleek wooden paneled flooring, oblivious to Dante's turbulent thoughts.

She braced herself for Dante's goading, taunting, harsh teasing, and sniggering, but nothing arrived except for the unnerving silence that drowned the mansion.

When she finally looked up at him, his face was blank. She couldn't read him at all and did not know what to do. His blank mask hid the tumbling emotions he was experiencing and trying to deal with.

"Come with me," Dante finally uttered, still keeping his voice low.

Ty frowned at his retreating back, rooted to the spot in confusion and wariness.

Dante looked over his shoulder to check and see if the troublesome brunette was following him and breathed a sigh of irritation when he saw that she hadn't moved an inch. His rationality and patience levels were constantly tested when it involved Ty.

Dante backtracked and grabbed Ty's wrist, firm enough to have a solid grip that she wouldn't be able to tear out of but gentle enough to avoid causing pain. "Fucking stronza, move your damned feet," he grunted, pulling her down the hallway quickly.

Dante didn't know what he was thinking but he was adamant about not letting anyone else see his behaviour. He'd never hear the end of it, and when asked to explain, he wouldn't know what to say, further digging his own grave.

He stopped briefly in front of a door and shoved it open. He pulled Ty into the dark room and shut the door behind them, locking it and then flipping one of the switches on the wall, dowsing the room in light.

Ty winced and ducked behind Dante at the sudden assault of light. She blinked to clear her vision and stepped away from him, getting used to the brightness, and took in her surroundings.

The room had a greyscale color scheme that wasn't all that surprising since Dante's own wardrobe didn't consist of anything other than black, white, and grey. His bed was set in the middle of the room, against the wall directly opposite the door. It was unmade, the black quilt thrown haphazardly over the side to reveal the wrinkled light grey bed sheet and disorganized pillows. There was a dark wooden closet off to the side, a desk with his new school supplies, and the dark grey walls had bulletproof glass cases mounted upon them that housed his private collection of firearms.

"Uh, nice room," Ty commented, unsure as to what to say.

Dante merely grunted a noncommittal response as he went to his closet while pulling his shirt and jeans off and tossing them to the floor. He pulled out a pair of black drawstring pants and tugged them on before closing his closet and heading back towards Ty who was now facing the opposite direction, slightly flushed at accidentally watching him strip.

Dante ignored the burst of emotion he felt at seeing Ty flustered because of him, and turned off the lights, pulling her by the arm to the bed, pushing her onto it, and getting in on the other side.

"Um, Dante?" Ty sat up on the bed, thoroughly confused.

"Don't ask questions and just go to sleep. You can't go to your friends for night hugs since Bellini is still out to get you and it's almost one in the morning," Dante said, his back to Ty as he lay on his side at the far end of his bed. "We will never speak of this again, it's just a onetime thing. You're a pain when you've had sleep, I just don't want to have to deal with you when you're a zombie."

Ty stared at him for a moment before deciding to go with it and put her head down on the pillow, lying on her side under the covers with her back to Dante. She closed her eyes and tried to go to sleep but the remnants of her forgotten nightmare still had her on edge.

She was just about to get up and leave the room, giving up all pretenses of trying to get any sleep, when a strong, muscular arm encased her.

She froze, shocked, before slowly turning around and coming face to neck with Dante.

"Dante?" she whispered. "Are you…awake?" She looked at his face but it was too dark to see anything.

Dante didn't respond and Ty warred with her thoughts, wondering what to do. She could try and get out of his grip and risk waking him up to an incredibly awkward moment that would undoubtedly get her kicked out after they argued, or she could take advantage of the body having its own mind while unconscious.

X

Dante waited for Ty to wriggle out of his grip or try and wake him up while he pretended to sleep. He knew Ty had been staring at his ceiling since the moment she laid down on his bed, unable to sleep, and her words on how she usually went back to sleep kept echoing in his mind. So, he decided to see if it was true and turned around, slinging his arm over her. He didn't expect her to turn to face him and he certainly didn't expect her to snuggle up to him and to actually end up drifting off to sleep.

What the hell is wrong with me? Dante questioned himself before following Ty into sweet oblivion.

X

Dante and Ty both groaned when the sound of Dante's alarm sounded off at seven in the morning.

Ty kept her eyes shut and rolled into the warm body that had been molded to her own the entire night in the hopes of the sound stopping.

"Turn it off," she groaned, pressing her face into Dante's chest and pulling the quilt up over her ears.

Dante reached over and blindly slapped his hand around until he found his phone and slid his thumb across the screen, finally making the headache inducing sound go away.

They both sighed at the wonderful silence and relaxed into the bed once again, Ty's face against Dante's chest, Dante's chin on Ty's head, and Dante's arm slung over Ty's waist, hand resting at her lower back.

And then they realized that that morning was unlike any other.

Both their eyes shot open and they jumped as far from the other as they possibly could, both ending up falling right off of Dante's bed with a thud.

They stood up, wincing in pain and looked at each other, coming to the same conclusion, "This never happened."

They were surprised at how in sync they were but refused to think about it. Ty hugged herself, rubbing her hands up and down her bare arms, and looked all around the room remembering the details of the previous night. Dante was looking between his bed and Ty, standing in her flimsy tank top and shorts on the other side of his bed.

We were cuddling! Ty thought to herself in disbelief. I was nuzzling his fucking chest! She couldn't believe it, even last night when he had rolled over and hugged her and she feltcomfortable and safe. She didn't even have any nightmares.

"Shit. We have school. I'll go out first and tell you if there's no one there," Dante said, walking to the door. He unlocked it and turned the handle but before opening it added, "Last night never happened, capisce?"

Ty rolled her eyes, "Like I want anyone to know I had a nightmare and slept in your bed. They'd think we actually slept together."

Dante opened the door, ignoring the odd pang he felt at Ty's apparent disgust at the thought of being intimate with him, and peeked out into the hallway. It was empty.

He waved Ty out and she quickly exited the room, walking straight to the bathroom without giving Dante another look.

Just as she entered the bathroom and shut the door behind her, Carlos stumbled out of his room already dressed and ready for school in a pair of jeans and a crisp polo shirt that was unbuttoned. He was texting, which was unusual, but Dante didn't question it.

"Buongiorno," Dante mumbled, pretending to feel his usual morning grogginess, and rubbed his eyes. He had come to full alertness when he and Ty had jumped off the bed in realization that they were in a position that would make anyone assume that the two were in some sort of romantic relationship. And he refused to explore the thoughts that went on in that direction, along with the feelings that came with them.

"Buongiorno," Carlos returned, a smile on his face from texting Fred. "Is Ty awake?"

Dante nodded and inclined his head to the bathroom she had entered, his brain still a mess from this morning. He didn't want to think about how he had had the best night of sleep he could remember, nor did he want to think about how Ty's body felt relaxed against his. And he really didn't want to think about the fact that she had slept like that with her friends when she had nightmares.

Going back to sleep with her in his arms had felt so natural that it had been one of the reasons he was so startled when he had realized their position. Ty was bad for his mental health, is what he confirmed from the situation that he believed he handled quite well.

Thirty minutes later, Ty and the brothers were downstairs eating breakfast in the kitchen and about to head to Brick Road High for the first school day of the week. None of them were eager except for Carlos who wanted to see Fred, even though they had plans to meet up in private during the week.

Roberto, Lorenzo, and a few other men sent the kids on their way, the other men – some who Ty recognized from breakfast the day before while others were new – teasing the boys about having to go to school.

Dante got on his bike after giving them the bird while Carlos just rolled his eyes and Luca chuckled.

"Dai, Ty," Luca said, gesturing to his bike.

"Go to hell yourself, Luca," Ty responded almost automatically, as she would have with her friends. She had been feeling guilty about how she had acted towards him two nights ago, but he seemed to not have taken it to heart. Still, Ty promised herself that she would apologize as soon as she could.

Luca frowned before realizing and shook his head, "I said dai, spelled D-A-I. It means come on."

Ty stored that away and brought up her skateboard, "Sorry, bud, but I'm skating. Didn't get to do much of that this weekend, you know, with the blow up Build-A-Bear and shit. Laters!"

Before anyone could stop her, Ty dropped her board to the floor and jumped on, kicking off towards the gates of the Rizzo estate and skating on to the sidewalk.

Dante groaned and jumped on his bike, cursing the brunette under his breath, and raced after her, preparing to yell at her for being a reckless stronza – along with a few other choice words, probably in Italian – when he caught up with her.

The others watched them go with varying levels of amusement before Luca and Carlos went to catch up.

X

"How've your nights at the Rizzos' been?" Fred asked at the lunch table once Ty sat down across from him beside Grant. Drew and Henry were the only ones that had yet to arrive.

Ty groaned, "Don't remind me. I'm practically under house arrest and even now there's probably someone watching my every move along with the brothers."

"Speak of the devils," Jimmy remarked, looking over Ty's shoulder.

Ty turned to look as well and groaned aloud, "Fuck me."

Carlos and Luca plopped down on the table, Carlos subtly choosing to sit beside Fred who was trying his hardest not to grin like a fool, and Luca sitting down next to Ty.

"Ciao," Carlos greeted, sneakily sliding a hand under the table to squeeze Fred's knee.

The others gave their own form of greeting – variations of "'Sup," and "Hey" – and resumed to talk normally.

"So we heading to the park today?" Jimmy asked, munching on his sandwich.

Grant narrowed his eyes at Jimmy, "Are you conveniently forgetting that you've got tutoring today because you failed your chem quiz?"

Jimmy pulled Fred and hid behind him, whimpering, "Nooo. What you talkin' 'bout, bro?"

Grant shook his head while the others laughed, though Carlos was glaring at Jimmy's hands which were holding onto Fred's shoulders. Ty caught the look and chuckled at his apparent possessiveness.

Ty leaned into Grant and rested her head on his shoulder, looking up with a pout, "Please, Buzz? You can torture Jay-Jay after we hit the park. I want the whole gang to be there. Pretty please?"

Grant held Ty's pleading gaze for a few long drawn out seconds before sighing in defeat, "Fine."

Jimmy cheered, releasing Fred much to Carlos' approval, and Ty grinned, hugging Grant and pressing a kiss to his cheek, "I love you, Buzz."

Grant rolled his eyes, "Yeah, yeah, now let go of me."

Ty did so and grinned broadly when she saw Henry and Drew approaching, "Rinny! Drew!"

"Ty!" they both mocked as they sat down, Drew next to Carlos and Henry next to Luca.

"Are you so affectionate with all your friends?" Luca asked, having watched Grant and Ty with a level of interest.

Ty thought about it for a second before nodding, "I guess. Why?"

Luca shrugged, "Just curious. If you ever have a boyfriend, he'll probably be rather jealous of your friends." And a certain fratellone of mine too, Luca added silently when he saw Dante approaching their table, tension and barely restrained anger rolling off of him in waves. That idiota.

That brought out knowing grins from Ty's friends.

"You have no idea," Henry shook his head in remembrance.

"Guys," Ty whined, not wanting them to start delving into her past dating life.

"But that one guy from middle school," Jimmy argued.

Drew clapped his hands together, "Oh my god, that guy, what was his name?"

"Anthony," Grant supplied and Ty whacked his arm for it.

Fred nodded, laughing as he explained to the confused and curious Carlos and Luca, "I remember him. He actually came up to each and every one of us and told us to stay away from Ty because she was his girl or some nonsense."

Ty sighed, cringing, "God, I don't even remember why I agreed to go out with him in the first place. Dude tried to make me stop skating. Broke up with him not a second later."

At that moment Dante plopped down at their table with not a word of greeting and brutally attacked his plate of pasta.

Ty raised her brow at his behaviour, "What did that poor plate of pasta ever do to you?"

Dante gave her a cold stare and then ignored her leaving Ty confused. One moment he was kind – to an extent – and the next he had a tree up his ass. He's almost as moody as I am during the stages, she marveled.

"Anyway," Ty said, returning to the previous topic at hand. "Skate park after school."

"I feel like it's been forever since we all went," Drew said, nodding.

"Which is why we're spending the rest of the day there after school," said Ty.

Dante slammed his fork down, startling the others and receiving surprised looks that begged the question as to why he would slam the piece of cutlery against the plastic coated wood. The sound was cringe worthy.

"Do you not understand your situation at all?" he snapped at Ty.

Ty blinked at him owlishly and then frowned, "Situation?"

Dante gritted his teeth with such force it was a wonder they didn't shatter under the pressure. "You have a man set out to murder you, stronza," he managed to spit out evenly without raising his voice so as to attract attention and eavesdroppers from other tables.

Ty breathed out exasperatedly, "I know that! Jeez, is it so bad that I want to keep my mind off of that for just a few hours? You guys can stalk me to the park if it'll help you sleep better, but just let me have this one thing."

"We were going to do that anyway," Carlos said, understanding Ty's need for a distraction. He also understood that Dante was worried about her, even though the raven-haired male didn't know it himself yet. And, he also wanted to stay near Fred even though they had planned to hang out together at Fred's house just the next day. Carlos wanted to see Fred enjoy himself and he knew his little redhead loved skateboarding almost as much as he loved reading.

"You guys won't get bored?" Fred questioned.

Luca and Carlos shook their heads, Carlos replying, "I've got a book." And watching you can never get boring.

"I've got a small project I'm working on," Luca said.

That piqued the table's interest so Luca pulled out an object that looked like a pen to show to them.

"What's that?" Henry asked, intrigued.

"When it's finished it'll be a retractable mini-buzzsaw of sorts. You just have to press the top, like you would for a pen or mechanical pencil, and then the blade will come out. You press this button on the side and it'll activate the saw," Luca explained, pointing to the parts as he mentioned them.

The boys and Ty looked at Luca in astonishment.

"That is so fucking cool! I want one," Jimmy exclaimed.

He received a slap upside his head for that with Fred snorting, "Not a chance in hell, Jay."

"You are so talented, Luca. Seriously, the stuff you do is mind blowing," Ty praised the dirty blond. Luca had let her hold the buzzsaw-pen and she was amazed at how it looked so normal. She remembered the project he had shown her when she was forced to the party at the Castrillo. It was amazing how he could turn such mundane objects into such inventions, though they all seemed to be on the more violent and dangerous side, not that she minded.

Luca's cheeks darkened, much to the surprise of everyone at the table and he looked away. He wasn't used to so many compliments. It left him incredibly flustered.

Ty grinned, she found the blushing boy to be even more adorable than he already was, the image of him being a puppy still very present in her mind. It made her feel even more guilty about how she had acted towards him that night in the kitchen when he was just trying to make her feel better and talk. She was also beginning to feel guilty about how she had been with Carlos the previous day. Ty understood that they were worried about her, but that was the problem. She didn't want people to worry about her. She could take care of herself.

X

After lunch, the rest of the school day went by with the only bump being when Ty and Fred ran into George. He scowled at the two and Ty was ready to give him a tongue lashing as well as a well-aimed foot to the groin, but to her and Fred's surprise, he then smirked and walked away. Weird, but neither looked into it too much.

Ty found herself laughing with her friends as they made their way to the skate park, the Rizzos following them on their bikes. Dante was still in a grumpy, I-will-cut-a-bitch mood, but kept silent and followed the gang to their usual haunt.

It was exactly what Ty had needed. She immediately felt the stress and tension of her situation lift from her shoulders and simply had a good time skating with her friends and other fellow skaters.

Carlos and Luca sat on benches, alternating between watching Ty and her friends and doing their own thing, reading and tinkering, respectively. Eventually, Carlos began to take pictures with his phone, though the main subject of his pictures was his little redhead who was wearing his new black beanie once again.

The day ended with a content Ty, and friends who were less worried about her mental wellbeing.

Dante had darkly watched the entire time and his mood only seemed to lighten when he saw that Ty was behaving normally again. But just as he relaxed, he tensed again, his new, strange emotions causing confusion within his mind. A confusion he did not like.

___

Italian Lingo:

Stronza - bitch

Incubo - nightmare

Capisce? - understood?

Buongiorno - good morning

Dai - come on

Fratellone - big brother

Idiota - idiot

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