Pure Poison (Pure #1)

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5.

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I was out of the hospital a week later. I could have been out in a day or two but apparently Capo Morretti’s fiancée needed more coddling and caring than anything else in the world. I had droned to Raffaello for hours but he wanted me to be completely healed. He recommended another week but I had kept my foot down at that very instant. This man would make me go crazy.

I rolled my eyes; I was turning into a romantic sap. I was on the edge of the cliff again wanting to take that dive but my feelings for him had to take a back seat. I had shown him that I was feisty but that was all I was going to do. I couldn’t reveal more. This much was enough. And now he trusted me as well.

I walked out of my room and down the stairs. The hallways were getting cleaned up. I frowned to myself when I saw a large selection of flowers and bouquets getting carried inside the house along with various other decoration items. My mother stood in the foyer administrating the tasks.

“What is happening mother?” I asked.

Was there an event happening and I was not aware about it?

Lilly turned to me and gave me her sweet maternal smile.

“Well, you are getting married tomorrow,” she said, “I was just about to inform you of the same.”

My jaw dropped. Usually I was aware of my feelings but I was not anticipating the shock. I was getting married. And I was not told about it, rather a day before. Horror filled my system; this was not expected.

She must have been reading the obvious expressions of fear on my face because she furrowed her brows and looked at me with concern. I quickly schooled my face.

“Valentina, sweetheart, is everything alright?” she asked.

“Yes, mother. It’s just that I wasn’t anticipating it, just surprised that’s all,” I said, “also, I don’t have a dress.”

I think she thought the fear on my face was due to the dress because she nodded in understanding. What a fool!

“Well, I can totally understand. That is a very valid fear. I have asked Joe to come and take you out for your dress fittings”

“Who is going to prepare the dress for me in such a short notice?”

“You are Raffaello’s fiancée, anyone on this planet would do it for you,” she stated.

This was one of the rare times when she was right.

“Alright, I will just get changed and meet Joe, we will get a dress,”

“Oh, please take your time but be home by eight, I don’t want the bride compromising on her sleep,”

“Okay,” I said and turned around but she continued speaking,

“Also, get some… intimates,” she said hesitantly and walked away from there.

That was the second thing that shocked me that day.

I stood by the car and observed Joe walking out of the house. He looked particularly pissed and a grin appeared on my face. What had his panties in a bunch?

“You want to tell me?” I asked.

“Your mother thinks that I am an errand boy,” he seethed and passed me a note.

“Brown sugar, trout fish…” I crumpled the note and threw it outside, “You are not her errand boy, she can tell a member of the staff to do it for her. Anyhow where are you taking me?”

“There is a small boutique that I found; she is an understated designer. I feel that by wearing her collection you can help her out,” he said.

I frowned and turned to him. I had no qualms in wearing an unknown designer’s work but there was something that Joe wasn’t telling me. I wanted to press but decided against it. I had the dagger strapped my thigh, any funny business and he will be on the floor.

“I am not killing you,” he said.

I rolled my eyes but nodded.

“She happens to be under some serious debt,”

“What sort of debt?”

“Nothing shady just college debt, mortgage on house, a child to take care of,”

“There is an ulterior motive here Joe, spit it out,”

“I think with how desperate she is for money, she can be really resourceful for us,”

“How?”

“She can store the money that I will be getting, all black money,” Joe said, “we cannot move the money through bank accounts, we will have to get cold hard currency then maybe we can open up a bank account and slowly start transferring the money to it. I have already opened two swiss bank accounts in our name.”

“You got a lot of stuff done,”

“These are menial tasks that I can take care of, you need to start thinking of strategies through which you can weaken the Ricci family foundation and then the Morretti family,”

“I have already thought of those strategies, I am done with living this controlled life,”

Joe gave me a pitiful look; he knew that I was getting married tomorrow and he couldn’t do anything about it. We were sacrificing our youth for a better tomorrow. I knew that once I would become the Capo I would change the dynamics in the underworld. No longer would I let the girls be mere tools of pleasure trading and trafficking. I would change it all. I would be ethical just like Nonno was.

Ever since Silvano had taken the reins of the Ricci clan he had created nothing but ruckus and an absolute muck about things. He was always looking for easy money. Cheap asshole, I wanted to kill him with my own hands. I knew what was happening, I hated my life being controlled and this is what these two were doing. Angry tears swam in my eyes, what a disappointment.

I felt Joe’s hand on my shoulder.

“It is all going to be okay,”

I nodded and hastily wiped my tears away. There was no time for tears.

The scenic area of a gated community soon changed into a downtown area as Joe drove towards the small boutique. A few of our associates lived here, this was definitely a great plan, they could be our alibi should anything happen. We were just shopping for a dress, weren’t we?

I got down from the car and looked at the small shop. The display window was dusty with an equally poor mannequin inside. I scrunched my nose and turned to Joe with my hands on my hips.

“Go inside at least!” he said.

I rolled my eyes and walked inside.

The shop was small but it was stuffed with white wedding gowns. Tulle, tissue, silk, organza and so much more. Each and every form of fabric was present. I walked to one of the dresses and picked it off the rack. My hand grazed the delicate embroidery on the translucent fabric. I could imagine myself in this.

“That is a pretty dress,”

I turned around and found a girl of my age standing. She had beautiful brunette hair and innocent blue eyes but there were bags under them. She was stressed, her shoulders were drooped and she looked underweight.

She was the owner of this store. I turned to Joe and found his eyes transfixed on her. She however tried to not look at him. Her hands gripped the handle of the pram. I walked and peered. A little girl of only a few months slept peacefully.

“What’s her name?”

“Joey,”

In that very moment the little girl opened her eyes and I peered into the silver orbs. My heart grew heavy and I turned to Joe and looked into his eyes. They were the same, so identical. The girl began to fuss and my concentration broke.

Joe cleared his throat.

“Mimi will show you the dresses and I will take care of the girl,”

“That girl is your daughter Joe,” I snarked and turned to Mimi.

“I have a wedding tomorrow, get me any dress that fits me. We have business to talk as well,” I snapped at the girl. Mimi’s eyes widened as fear filled them and she turned to Joe who just nodded at her. Mimi picked a dress out and laid it out in front of me. My hands grazed the lace appliques.

“Where is the trial room?” I asked and she pointed in the direction.

I walked inside and closed the door behind me. I got out of my clothes and slipped the dress on. I was not concentrating on how I looked, I was livid on my cousin. Since our childhood we had been closer than most siblings, our bond was so strong. But to know that he has a daughter and a baby mama was like a stab to my heart.

I barreled out of the dressing room with my dress half worn and slapped Joe. The sharp sound bounced off the walls. Joe stood still but little Joey started crying. Mimi hurriedly took the baby from Joe’s arms.

“How could you do this to me?” I screamed. Tears streamed down my eyes.

“Vale…”

“No! We always share everything!” I cried.

“I had no other option; I haven’t told anyone about it!”

“There isn’t anyone else! There is only me,”

“Valentina, I apologise,” he said and kept his hands on my shoulders, “Mimi doesn’t want to be associated with what we are doing.”

I turned to her. She held Joey protectively and walked away from us.

“I met her when she was in the last year of her design school, we started going out. She didn’t know who I was, what family I belonged to. Everything was going well until she got to know my real identity,” Joe whispered, “she didn’t want anything to do with me but then she fell pregnant.”

“And… why is she living here?”

“She didn’t want to depend on me, she wanted nothing to do with the Mafia. I numerous times offered her money and protection but she refused. But now she is nose deep into debt and I kind of blackmailed her,”

My eyes widened and horror filled my system.

“I blackmailed her into becoming a resource centre for our business. She has a basement below this shop that will operate as headquarters. She also has a cousin who owns a warehouse and is ready to house our shipments,” he said, “if she doesn’t do as I say then I will take Joey away from her.”

“Joe!” I gasped, “how can you do this?”

“I had to do what had to be done Valentina,” he seethed, “if we continue taking into account the feelings of other people then I don’t see us reaching anywhere.”

“I know what we have to do! But I am not doing it at the sake of an innocent getting trapped into this!” I snapped, “find some other place Joe!”

“No, you are not the only one who gets to have a say Val, we are doing this,” Joe said, “I have sourced a very expensive painting that a certain anonymous individual want, he is ready to transfer the money in our swiss accounts as well.”

“Where did you get this painting?” I asked.

“Remember that Senator’s party we were at? You were friends with his daughter?”

“Trisha, I remember,”

“You must also remember how he tried to assault you?”

I gritted my teeth but nodded.

“Well, I told him I would let him go if he gave me this particular painting,”

“Brilliant,” I said, definitely not impressed by the way he used me.

“Beggars cannot be choosers Val,” he shrugged.

I nodded.

“Call Mimi here, we will finalise the dress and go back home,” I whispered, “there is a wedding I have to prepare for. “

He nodded and called Mimi. The small scared girl entered with Joey in her arms. Even though Joe had blackmailed her I knew he was feeling awfully guilty about it. I could see it in his eyes that he wanted to be with Mimi but it was not the right time to reveal to the world that you had a child and a girlfriend.

I walked and peered over Joey. This time my heart sighed. The first scion of the Ricci family was born. I took her in my arms and she stared at me with eyes just like her father.

“You are cute,” I whispered to her, “don’t worry, when this is all over, we will have so much fun! You wait and see!”

She gave me her gummy smile and I looked up at Mimi.

“I expect a perfect dress from you,” I said.

I might’ve said dress but it meant more than that. I wanted the entire operation in her basement to go perfectly.

“You will be rewarded for this Mimi,” I said, “tomorrow when I wear this dress, the entire world will know your name, I expect you to be prepared for the overnight success and accomplishment.”

She nodded and I left the shop but not without one last kiss on Joey’s forehead, she was just so adorable.

“You will not miss Joey,” I asked Joe while fastening my seat belt.

“I come here almost every night,” he admitted, “so I get to meet her then.”

“I hope you cover your tracks,”

“I am very covert, do not worry,”

“I am not, I know you are smart enough to do that but something tells me that you just don’t visit Joey,”

He stayed quiet.

“You like Mimi, I know that,”

“When all of this is over, I know that I will have her in my life, there is no one else that I would want to share my life with.”

“I understand,”

“You be prepared for tomorrow, don’t worry about us,”

I nodded and looked outside. Tomorrow was indeed a special day.

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