A Second Chance - Book cover

A Second Chance

Amal A. Usman

Chapter 2


Melina opens her eyes, and darkness greets her. She sits up on a hard concrete floor where she was lying. Feeling a wall behind her, she rests her back against it.

She pulls her knees to her chest and looks around the dark room, wondering where she is. She can tell she’s underground as the place has no windows. Other than that, she can’t say anything about the room.

Her mind drifts, and she thinks about what Thomas means by doing it the hard way. She’s curious if the rumors about men like him are true.

Goosebumps spread out on her skin as she thinks about it. If they are true, things don’t look very good for her.

Thinking about Thomas has her thinking about what her life would be like if she didn’t steal his money for James. Melina would’ve had a good life. She would’ve been attending school to get her nursing degree.

Melina has a deep love for helping people and wanted to work as a nurse. She would’ve been able to throw it in the faces of those who kept saying she could only get by using her looks.

Melina would be happy because she’d be with Thomas. She sniffs and wipes her cheeks. She wants to fix the past, but she knows there’s nothing she can do.

Recalling the day she met Thomas, a sad smile settles on her face.


“James, you told me Justin was the last one. I don’t want to do this again,” Melina whines, tears pooling in her eyes.

James was her husband, but he forces her to trick men into falling in love with her so they can con them out of their money. Melina doesn’t want to do it, but with James, she doesn’t have a choice.

“I know I said that, honey, but I promise you this is the last one. After this one, we’ll have all the money we need,” James says, caressing her face.

His touch causes her to flinch. She forces a smile, hoping he doesn’t notice it.


“I promise,” he says, kissing her forehead.

“Can you show me what he looks like again?” She moves closer to him on the couch. He shows her the picture of the new man he wants her to seduce.

Melina smiles as she looks at the handsome man. James is stunning, too, with his blond hair and blue eyes, but this man puts him to shame. The smile on her face drops at the thought of James.

She hopes he didn’t see her smiling at the man’s picture. Her hands unconsciously move to the new scar on her arm, rubbing it as tears fill her eyes.

“His name is Thomas Costanzo. He’s one of the richest men in Italy and the US,” James says, his voice dripping with greed.

“How sure are you that the plan will work?”

“Trust me, you are irresistible.” James’s eyes roam Melina’s body. She moves back, feeling a little uncomfortable.

“I don’t think I’m that beautiful.”

“Trust me, you are.” James grabs her hand and places it on his growing bulge. She slowly pulls it away, hoping he doesn’t want sex right now. She’s still recovering from last night.

Melina releases the breath she’s holding as James takes the remote and switches on the TV.

Their living room is lovely with gray couches facing their smart TV that hangs on the white wall. A beautiful plant sits beside the TV, bringing some color to the room.

James lifts his legs and rests them on the brown coffee table that matches the TV stand. Standing up from the sofa, she walks to the bedroom of the luxury apartment.

She wants to get away from him before he changes his mind and demands sex. Their bedroom is beautiful with gray-painted walls and vintage art hanging above the king-size bed.

She lies down on their bed wondering if a day will ever come when she doesn’t have to worry about such things. She doesn’t deserve to live in fear.


Later that night, James and Melina leave their house for the party Thomas Costanzo is hosting. Melina hopes everything goes as James wants so she suffers no consequences.

She smacks her lips together and checks herself in her hand mirror, ensuring she looks perfect. The car pulls up in front of the Costanzo Hotel.

“You look perfect, let’s go.” James gets out of the car, and she follows behind. He’s wearing a black tux, andshe’s wearing a sparkling champagne-nude tulle gown with shiny handmade embroideries.

He grabs her hand, and they walk to the ballroom hand in hand.

They walk around greeting a few familiar faces. Melina mainly scans the room for Thomas as they walk around. He’s the host, but surprisingly, he’s nowhere to be found.

It’s been an hour now since they arrived at the party, yet Thomas is nowhere to be found.

Feeling a little tired, Melina decides to leave the crowd to go sit down. She doesn’t take more than a step before James stops her.

“Where are you going?” he asks, grabbing her hand.

“My feet hurt. I want to sit down for a while.” She resists the urge to pull her hand out of his as that will only make him angrier.

“Rest for ten minutes, then come back here.” James releases her and turns back to the group.

Melina massages her wrist, hoping a bruise doesn’t form by tomorrow. On her way to the sitting area, a friend of hers from high school approaches her.

“Hi, Melina.” Claire pecks Melina’s cheeks and hugs her. Melina isn’t surprised to run into Claire here since she moved to LA from Chicago after they graduated from high school.

Claire is the one who introduced her and James to most of the people they know in LA.

“How’re you doing?”

“I am doing well. How’re you?”

“I’m—” Melina gets cut short as someone wraps his arm around her waist. Her body becomes ridged as she recognizes his touch. James turns his face away from Claire after giving her a fake smile.

“Didn’t you say you were going to sit down? Why the fuck are you here talking to Claire?” James whispers through gritted teeth.

“Claire, could you excuse us? James and I have something private to discuss.”

“Sure, see you guys later.” Claire walks away from the couple.

“She—” Melina tries to explain that Claire stopped her, but James interrupts her again.

“Follow me.” James takes hold of her arm and drags her away from the party. She wiggles to get her hand free but fails. James tightens his grip and digs his nails into her wrist.

The color on her face drains away as she sees the ballroom entrance. She struggles harder to get free, digging her heels into the ground.

Suddenly James lets go of her hand. She turns to face him, wondering why he let go, and sees him looking at someone. She recognizes the person and finds herself staring too. It’s Thomas.

His piercing blue eyes are more beautiful in real life. His long, full eyelashes fan his face when he blinks. His nose is long and pointed. He has a well-defined jaw that’s sharp and carved.

The one thing that stands out the most on his face is his lips. Melina wets her lips at how beautiful, plump, and light pink they are.

She yelps as James suddenly pushes her to the ground in front of Thomas. She turns to ask James why he did that, but she finds him nowhere to be seen.

“Are you okay?” Thomas asks, his voice deep and husky. He bends down and helps her stand.

“Yes, thank you.” She dusts off her dress and hands, wincing as she does.

“It seems you bruised your elbow.” Thomas takes her arm, and Melina feels a spark as their skin touches. She pulls her arm back, but Thomas pulls it forward and inspects her wound. “You need to get it checked out.”

“No, there’s no need for that. It’s just a small scrape.” Melina drops her arm, wincing again.

“You’re flinching because it hurts. Admit it, I’m right.” He smirks, staring at her.

“I guess so.”

“Come with me,” he takes hold of her hand, and she feels the sparks again. Melina locks eyes with him, and she can tell he feels it too.

He stares deep into her eyes. He only looks away when their hands start to feel sticky from sweating, but he doesn’t let go.

“Let’s go.” Thomas walks them toward the exit.

“Where are you taking me?”

“To get your elbow treated.”


“What is your name, bella?” Thomas asks, pressing the elevator button.

“Melina. Melina Davis.” They step into the elevator as it opens.

“Hello, Melina Davis. I’m Thomas Costanzo. Nice to meet you.” He smiles, staring at her.

“Nice to meet you too.”

Melina looks down at their still-joined hands as they stand in the elevator. She wonders why he won’t let go. She won’t lie, though, she’s happy he hasn’t. His hands are warm, and his touch is calming.

Melina smiles for the first time tonight and allows herself to enjoy this moment with Thomas Costanzo. She wishes the elevator would never reach their stop.

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