"Bel, Arabella, listen to me," John mumbled as he embraced his teenage daughter.
He let out a staggering breath and caressed her pale hair, before squatting down to her eye level. "No matter what happens tonight, do not come out of there."
"What's going on, papà?" Arabella replied, hugging her father back at the same time.
He barely called her full name and hearing it come out of his trembling mouth made her anxious.
"Arabella, my beautiful child." He groaned, caressing her face.
Her bright blue eyes widened and tears poured out of them due to the urgency in his voice.
"Don't worry Bel, just promise me that no matter what happens, you will stay right there."
She nodded and her sobbing got intense, she clung to him, "Papà, please."
Her tiny body trembled as she held on. Even as he attempted to pry her hands away, she didn't budge.
The dreadful feeling became intense and she didn't want to let go for fear of it being the last time they'd see each other.
"Promise me, Bel, please promise me," John said as he joined his daughter, sobbing.
He shook his head and bit his lower lip as his hands wrapped around her small frame.
"I promise you, papà, that no matter what happens, I will not come out," Arabella replied with a quavering voice and her hand trembled as she made a pinky promise with him.
"Here, take this," John murmured, squeezing a white sheet of paper in her hand.
"Go there," He paused, brought out a bunch of keys from his pocket and pointed to the corner of the room where another door was situated.
"Whatever you see, take it and leave this place, go far away from here, somewhere he won't find you."
"These are the keys to unlock every door there, do not stay there or else he will find you, just take what is there and go very far away." He added, dangling the keys in his hand.
"Papà, what are you saying, I do not understand you, why do I have to run away, and who are you talking about?" Arabella creased her closely knitted brows and scrunched up her button nose.
"His name is Alessandro De Luca." He answered, wiping off the sweat trickling down his face with the back of his palm.
"Who is he, papà? Is he a bad man?"
"I'm so sorry my child, please forgive me," John mumbled, ignoring her question. His shoulder trembled once more and he burst into tears.
"Papà, why don't we leave together?" She reasoned.
"No, Bel." He said with a slight shake of his head, "We can't or he would find us and then kill you too. I can't let that happen."
"I'm so sorry darling child, my nemesis has caught up with me, and it's time I pay for what I've done." He said and he nudged her into the wardrobe before shutting it.
"Papà, please don't go. Do not leave me here!" Arabella banged her fists on the wooden closet.
Despite her cry, it didn't stop her father as there was nothing he could do to escape the impending death that awaits him.
Tears slid down from his bloodshot eyes as he turned to gaze at his daughter's hiding place to make sure it wasn't obvious she was in there.
Arabella wanted to call out to her father once more, but the gunshots she heard silenced the words in her mouth.
From a crack in the closet, she watched as the door to the room went ajar, and a man dressed in a steel black tux strode in with some men with him.
Arabella trembled as she glimpsed the guns in each hand. She clasped her hand tightly to stop her from yanking the handle of the closet and darting out to meet her father who was on his knees.
"Please Sandro, spare me. I truly regret what I did." John's hand extended as he grovelled in the presence of the man he was twenty years older than.
"Bastardo!" The man Bel believed to be Sandro exclaimed.
He shoved his hand through his dark brown messy hair and his piercing green eyes narrowed at her father.
She bit her lip as he kicked her father in his gut which made him double over.
"Now you regret it, don't you?" Sandro's voice was laced with a thick Italian accent. "Well too bad for you, I won't spare you this time. Do you know how long I've waited for this day to come, the day I can finally take my revenge on you and make you pay for what you did?"
Arabella shook as she gripped the handle of the closet. She moved to twist it but she remembered the promise she made to her father earlier.
Despite all his pleading for forgiveness, Sandro didn't listen.
"Do you know that every night all I could see in my dreams was your betrayal? You took away everything from me due to your greed." Sandro yelled.
His eyes narrowed as he gazed around, "I bet you must have hidden your daughter somewhere you think I wouldn't be able to find her."
He chuckled and his voice turned colder, "I'll make one thing clear to you, no matter what happens, I will find her and make sure she joins you in hell."
From her hiding place, Arabella shuddered at the threat.
Within her, she was aware it wasn't an empty threat. The man currently punishing her father would carry out what he said.
"P-please Sandro," John stuttered, coughing out blood, "It's me you want, kill me and spare my little girl. She knows nothing."
"Spare?" Sandro sneered.
"Why should I spare the offspring of my foe? Did you listen to me when I said these exact words to you many years ago?" He said as he collected a gun from one of his bodyguards.
"You fucking made my life miserable," Sandro growled.
"You caused me pain. Every fucking night, the things you did haunt me in my dreams and they became my worst nightmare. You took away my peace and happiness and here you are, talking about sparing your daughter."
"Well too sad, I wouldn't be able to grant you this wish. It's time for you to go to hell and don't worry, because I'll find your precious daughter and make sure she suffers the same way I did."
A wicked glint appeared on his face as he cocked the gun, pointing it at her father's head.
Arabella closed her hands around her ears and shut her eyes as the shot fired.
A while later, she opened her eyes to see her father in his pool of blood, blood-spattered around the room and she clasped her throat whilst heaving.
She opened her mouth slightly and breathed in before letting it out slowly.
Her hands clasped her trembling thighs as her eyes glided back to her father's lifeless figure on the floor.
Her whole body shuddered and various emotions surged through her.
Greif, fear, pain and then hate. She loathed him.
She loathed Alessandro De Luca.
Arabella watched him laugh victoriously. He seemed like a psychopath, and she wondered if he was truly a human or a beast in human form.
But, one thing she knew was the night would change her whole life forever.
She'd never forget the face of the man in front of her.
Alessandro De Luca.
He was her worst nightmare and nemesis.
She was going to avenge her father, she vowed whilst sobbing quietly.