Crossfire of Love

By: Ella Jade

Chapter 1

Gabriella Martinez sat in the back seat of the black stretch limo, staring down at the huge platinum diamond engagement ring and matching wedding band adorning her finger. They were the most exquisite pieces of jewelry she’d ever seen. She didn’t expect anything less from a man like Lorenzo Martinez. His family was rich, powerful, and lethal. His father was one of the most ruthless crime lords New York City had ever seen. He rose to power twenty years ago, doing unspeakable acts to anyone who got in his way. Gabby had heard stories throughout the years about how Carlo Martinez would do anything to move his product through the waterways of New York. He’d also stop at nothing to make sure any debts owed to him were paid. She understood that better than anyone.

She’d come to live on the property of the Martinez family when she was just ten years old. Her father was Carlo’s landscaper and in charge of maintaining the massive Connecticut estate. He lived in a small cottage off the main house. Her mother had never married Ace Santino. He was a womanizing, gambling deadbeat, but that didn’t stop Lola Jennings from leaving her daughter with him that warm September afternoon. He wouldn’t pay child support, so she forced him into being a parent. Gabby rarely saw Lola after she’d dropped her off to live with her father.

When she first moved in with her dad, she was young, alone, and afraid. She remembered the exact morning the beautiful angel came to help her.

Gabby opened the refrigerator door, but didn’t see anything she could eat for breakfast. There was no milk, no orange juice, and certainly no bagels. She poured herself a bowl of Froot Loops and sat down at the kitchen table. It had been two weeks since she came to live at the small cottage. Someone who worked in the main house helped to get her enrolled in the local public school, but she'd yet to make a friend. She had to walk down the long path of the property to catch the school bus and had become friendly with the two security guards, Gus and Jake, who took turns monitoring the front gate. She didn’t quite understand why anyone would need a security guard, much less two, but she liked talking to them. Gus always gave her a lollipop on her way back every afternoon.

Her father got up and made her breakfast on the first morning of school and walked her to the bus, but he hadn’t gotten out of bed any other morning in the past two weeks. She was used to fending for herself, because her mother wasn’t very attentive. Most mornings, Lola would stay in bed with a man Gabby didn't recognize.

There was a light knock at the door, so she quickly hopped out of the kitchen chair and answered it. The most beautiful woman she’d ever seen was standing on the small porch smiling at her. She was wearing a long, white sweater and gray dress pants. Her dark hair was pulled tightly off her face and hung in a low ponytail. Her skin was olive colored and her dark eyes were wide and bright.

“You must be Gabriella,” she said. “I’m Alexa Martinez. May I come in?”

“Um, yes.” Although Gabby had never met the woman she knew she was married to Carlo and her father worked for them. She moved out of the way and let the pretty woman by.

Mrs. Martinez glanced around the untidy cottage and shook her head. “Is this what you’re eating before school?”

Gabby nodded. “We’re out of milk.”

“I see, and where is your father?”

“He’s asleep. He got in real late last night.”

“He left you here alone?”

“He said Jake and Gus wouldn’t let anyone on the property who didn’t belong, so I’d be fine.”

“Hmm.” She smiled at Gabby. “I live in the main house. My husband Carlo and I were in South America vacationing when you came to live here. I know my personal assistant helped your father enroll you in school. What time will your bus be here?”

“At eight.”

Mrs. Martinzez looked at her watch. “Come with me. You have time to get a healthy, hot breakfast before you leave for school.”

“Where are we going?” Gabby looked up at her.

“To the main house. You are to report there every morning for breakfast. We can’t have you heading off to school with an empty stomach, can we?”

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