Chapter 14:


Love and Destruction

     Actavio flipped through his keys until landing on the appropriate one to unlock the door. The instant he stepped into the studio apartment, he was met with a ferocious roar from the other side.


A pillow flew across the room with surprising accuracy as it smacked the floor only a few feet in front of him. Sighing, he took off his shoes, picked up the pillow, and sat it and himself on the bed.

Then, with a gentle voice, he spoke. “Alivia.”

The woman kept her head buried beneath a mass of blankets and pillows, though the rest of her body stuck out. It was broken in all sorts of blemishes, all of them injuries in one way or another. Her off-white dress was filthy and torn, doing nothing to hide her wounds, let alone her stained thighs.

Actavio sighed again, momentarily leaving to retrieve a first aid kit before returning.

“You need to stop letting these pigs for men treat you this way.”

She didn’t respond and instead kept to the confines of the sheets.

Administering first aid would be difficult without her cooperation, not that he hasn’t done so before, but he sensed that something was off this time. To gain her attention, Actavio traveled to the kitchen and began to cook. Once the spark of the gas stove clicked, she noticeably perked up though ultimately stayed hidden under the pile. Only after he was finished and subsequently brought the meal over did she finally rise. At the least, her face was mostly left intact though her dyed stygian hair was a mess.

Hazel-blue eyes, the same as his own. She usually wore black contacts but apparently had enough stamina left to remove them before crumbling into the mattress.

Alivia snatched the plate from Actavio’s hands, scarfing down the meal like a starved orphan as she occasionally choked and forgot to breathe between scoops.

Silently, Actavio sat beside her and watched with a melancholic gaze. His sister, reduced to this. Hunting down the men that would do this to her time and time again and skinning them alive always raged in his mind, but he knew she wouldn’t want that. The entire reason she was so far detached from their family in the first place was because of that exact tendency of violence and power.

After she finished she tossed the plate carelessly onto the bed then waited.

“Well?” Alivia reached for her lighter and cigarettes from the nightstand. The colorless stick almost matched her pale skin in hue–or absence of it.

Removing his coat, blazer, and vest, Actavio rolled up the sleeves to his dress shirt and got to work. He flipped open the kit, starting off by disinfecting what he could and soothing what he couldn’t with an ointment. Every now and then Alivia would wince from the sting but was overall used to the process.

“Who was it this time?”

“You think I’ll answer that? You ask me all the time and I always say the same thing. Doesn’t. Matter.” She attempted to exhale the smoke but coughed hoarsely.

Actavio’s eyes dimmed, speaking in a low and calm tone. “You should quit smoking.”

“And you should try not to be such a tight ass but some things can’t change about people now can they?”

“What if you’re pregnant again?”

“So what, you can rip my kids from my arms for–what–the third time now? It’s probably better off dead than living in this God forsaken family.”

The elder brother heaves an exhale as he pulls the bandage into a tight wrap.

“Ow–! What the fuck?!”

“Take better care of yourself.”

A bit frustrated, he slams the kit shut and puts it away with attitude.

“Maybe if you would do a worse job at patching me I’d do a better job at dying.” Alivia extinguishes her cigarette and lights another just as fast.

Unable to stay mad at his sister for very long, Actavio quickly withdraws his anger and sits beside her, letting her rest her head against his shoulder.

“...How are they doing by the way? Those two. Eirian and Aiden.”

“You aren’t asking me.”

“You’re right, I’m not.”

The two siblings sit in comfortable silence. Often Actavio would come by and do this: cook for her, patch her up, then let her rest against him. It was the only support he could give without her fleeing altogether.

All those years ago she ran from home. Any child would, knowing and being constantly reminded that they were the lesser of the two. Actavio was the oldest and was deemed to inherit everything the Meridaitus family had and he was perfect in every way. But Alivia? To her parents she was just a bundle of mistakes. From early on they made it clear to her that the only thing she would be good for is her looks in order to win over politicians and corporate executives.

So, she left and made it her sole purpose to be the furthest thing from an attractive being that she could muster; always letting people hurt and abuse her in the hopes that it would destroy her image completely. That face that belonged to her parents, to her family, to her brother. And maybe one day, she would finally be able to detach herself from the curse that was her birth.

After she left her brother sought her out immediately once he gained the power to do so, but no matter how many times she pushed him away he always came back. It infuriated her, almost like he was trying to solidify his position as the pristine child, but at the same time it felt…comforting. Alivia loathed Actavio and his existence. And yet, she loved him. More than even her kids.

Sometimes she did wonder about her children but knew it was for the better that her brother took care of them. She knew full well that she would be a terrible mother but perfect Actavio could give them a better life than she ever had.

“...They remind me of us.” Actavio muttered after a long duration of silence. “Eirian worries me, the same way you do.”

“You can’t save me Actavio.”

“You’re really going to waste your life waiting for a man who likely doesn’t even remember that you exist? Let alone know you have children together?”

“And are you really going to try and take the last thing I have to look forward to?!” Alivia pushes him away and barks back immediately. “I don’t want this apartment. I don’t want this family I don’t want this life. And I especially don’t want YOU to keep coming in here just so I get to watch you guilt trip and blame yourself for something you didn’t do. Go live your life, Actavio. And stop worrying about mine.”

She snuffs out the flame, diving back into the covers.

He reaches forward then retracts his hand with pursed lips. There was only so much he could do, and so much he had to leave to fate.


      A gust of frigid air blew past as he exited the vehicle, but he didn’t hide in his coat. Instead he continued on, walking with first hesitant then proud steps into the public cemetery. Over the hill he already saw two familiar figures: Eirian and Aiden. His two oldest children–or hers. They didn’t notice his arrival until he reached them, and subsequently they stopped speaking.


Eirian rolled their hazel-blue eyes at Aiden’s formality.

“Eirian, get up.”

“Why should I?”

“It’s fine.” Actavio quelled their argument before it could start, then sat beside Eirian, causing Aiden to follow.

It wasn’t abnormal to find them here, mainly Eirian. Aiden would only visit his mother’s grave with his older sibling–strangely enough–while Nolan couldn’t bring himself to visit outside of the annual commemoration or if he was feeling especially troubled. Usually his sisters would accompany him then, as much as they typically torture him it was their way of showing they cared.

Actavio though came once per week: every Saturday evening, before he went to the bar, which was the same time in which he used to visit her in the past. No matter how exhausted or down trodden he was, he would always go. And today was no exception.

He unlatched the bottle of wine, pouring a few streams by the gravestone before drinking it himself and passing it down to his and her children. Normally he didn’t approve of them drinking but this was different.

Eirian popped open their box of cigarettes and gazed at it with empty eyes. Then, they closed it and put it away.

“I’ve been smoking less.” They spoke to the gravestone. “And…I’ve been thinking about going back to school, when this is all over.”

It was the first that Actavio had heard of such an intention, but he kept to himself and let Eirian continue.

“I think you would’ve liked that, especially with how much Dad nags me about it. Like mother like child I guess.”

“...I’ll try to treat Eirian better.” Aiden added on after his older sibling. “And help them out with school if they stick to that promise.”

“I will.” Eirian barked, albeit without much enmity behind it as per usual.

Once they had said their piece, Actavio set a plate of dessert down beside the stone, topped with foil.

“It’s your favorite, black forest. My daughters have your sweet tooth, and sometimes I wonder how that happened.” He pauses, then sighs. “You would have been a good aunt to them.”

Actavio stands, adjusting his clothing and ruffling his children’s hair.

“When you get home gather your mother and your younger siblings, I’d like to tell you all something regarding your father. Your real father.” He clarified. “Take care of yourselves, especially you, Eirian.”

Instead of rolling their eyes like usual, they avoid eye contact altogether but seem to take the words to heart.

With a soft smile, Actavio turns away.

“Rest well, Alivia.”

Their adoptive father leaves, letting the children continue in solitude with their mother.


      The bar was empty save for Ruth, Sylas, and his love, Actavio. It was the first time this had ever occurred and in fact he was grateful that it happened now of all times. He gave a subtle sign to the owner and just like that she understood to leave them in private, making her way to the staff room to busy herself.

“Surprised that you can sit, if you were a girl you would've been pregnant after all that.”

Unsurprisingly, Actavio didn’t respond and continued to focus on his liquor before him.

For the second time, Sylas stood from the far end stool and sat beside his love at the counter; although now, he didn’t shoo him away.

Without asking first Sylas lit a cigarette and still Actavio didn’t react. Either he was still exhausted or he had finally grown comfortable with him or both.

Eventually, after a period of silent and joint drinking, the mafia boss finally spoke.

“Would you like to meet my family?”

Sylas choked on his smoke.


“My family, would you like to meet them?”

“I mean sure but where’s this coming from? I thought you only saw me as a fling.”

Just as Sylas’s hopes started to rise, Actavio shot them down.

“Even that is a stretch. I would just rather they meet you by my doing than by accident.”

He took out a few bills, dropping them onto the counter. Beneath his sleeve Sylas caught a peek of the gashes left from their intercourse the previous night, bringing him to a snide beam.

“Leaving so soon?” The delinquent intentionally pined.

“I’m not giving you a chance for a repeat offense. I’ll pick you up tomorrow at noon.”

“You don’t even know where I live.”

Actavio gave him an eye roll as a response before exiting the bar altogether. Right, the Head of the Meridaitus Group. He’ll figure it out.

This Novel Contains Mature Content

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