When Salvatore, Vito and the two doomed Bodene brothers had left them, Carlo and Mildred stood in the library alone, amongst the blood and gore of what had so brutally transpired there.
Mildred felt certain that she was going to die at any moment. Indeed, she had scarcely felt more sure of anything in her life. She was terrified, yet almost resigned to it. Carlo was an evil, vicious man; a murderous, sadistic maniac – the extent of which she had not truly realised until now. She had known him to be quick tempered, volatile and passionate – a man she should have known better than to cross. But it was too late now and she was destined to pay the ultimate price for disrespecting him.
She felt her husband’s gaze burn into her, but was too afraid to face him, standing there, as she was, dishevelled, caked in the blood of the dead boy lying at her feet. She knew that he had died as a result of her own selfish, extremely foolish actions but she was numb to the guilt and feared only for herself, knowing that she would be joining the boy in the afterlife very shortly.
Carlo stepped closer her to her now, so that his mouth was just inches from her ear as he spoke. “You are the mother of an angel,” he said, which took Mildred somewhat by surprise and she turned her head very slightly to look at him. He then picked up her left hand gently, almost tenderly. “Were you not – or should I say, had I not been reminded of that so horribly tonight, then you would now be dead. Please be certain of that.”
Unexpectedly, Mildred felt a glimmer of hope – would the little girl be her salvation again? Could she really be that lucky?
“After what Ava saw here I cannot in good conscience kill you,” he continued, “God knows I want to, but she must be traumatised enough after seeing you rutting like a slut with all those men – and after I—” he paused momentarily to phrase it properly, “—after I put an end to it so permanently.”
Mildred felt relief wash over her and very nearly passed out, her legs almost giving way beneath her, but she held steady. Carlo was still holding onto her hand, turning the heavy gold wedding band that he, himself, had placed on her finger seven years earlier. Till death do us part.
“It would be too cruel. Too much for her to take.” He went on. “How could I ever look into Ava’s little eyes again knowing that I had killed her mother?”
Mildred whimpered slightly and a tear trickled down her cheek, almost overcome with emotion after this unexpected reprieve.
“No. You cannot die. You must go somewhere safe from harm, where you can live out your life free from any further temptation – somewhere that allows me to look into your daughter’s eyes with a clear conscience and tell her that you’re alive and well, but where you’ll never be able to hurt her again.”
A chill ran through Mildred now. What did this mean? Where must she go – surely not to a nunnery where he supposedly sent his real daughter? Mildred remembered the day, shortly after she and Edmund arrived, when Maria left the mansion escorted by Salvatore. She had also heard the staff whispering about it, although she had never discussed it with Carlo directly as it had not concerned her. On the contrary, having Maria out of the way had worked extremely well in her favour.
But it concerned her now. “Carlo, please— I can’t go to a convent – I won’t survive, I’ll die—” she pleaded.
Liuzzi chuckled, a cold, mirthless laugh. “Don’t worry, my dear, I won’t be sending you away anywhere. You have my word. I have got something much more appropriate lined up for you.”
Mildred felt her bowels shift as she saw the malicious glint in her husband’s evil eyes.
“But, I digress,” he said. “Naturally, we can no longer remain married. It would not be fair to me. I am a man with needs after all and I may wish to re-marry once this whole sordid affair is behind us. And I refuse to be married to a whore – I’m sure you understand. It would not befit my status.”
Mildred’s head was spinning. What was going on, what did he have in mind for her, where on earth was she going to end up? With her mind awash with panic, she did not notice as Carlo stretched out her ring finger. Neither did she feel him place the curved blade of the bejewelled dagger beneath it, between the ring and the knuckle.
“So, I’m afraid,” he said, with a menacing rasp, I must declare us ‘divorced’”. With that he violently pushed the blade upwards, slicing it effortlessly through her flesh and sinew, cutting easily through the delicate bone. Mildred screamed out in agony and struggled to free herself but Carlo held fast until the slim digit was finally detached, blood spurting from the ugly stump that remained. He looked at the severed finger victoriously, which was still encircled by the solid gold wedding band, delighting in Mildred’s anguish, as he held it in front of her face as if it was some macabre trophy that he had won.
“Now I am free of you,” he said, as the door behind him opened and Edmund walked in.
Continues tomorrow or download the complete novel here