“You let Tsar into our lives, that was the only mistake you have ever made in your life, Ambrose. And no one will ever forgive you for it, man.”
“Not even you?”
“If I were upset, then I wouldn’t have accompanied you. I was with you at every moment, I know what you’ve been through, and I know how manipulative Tsar was. I understand everything, Ambrose. I wouldn’t have broken all ties with my family if I was upset with you.”
“Then why did you bring it up today? You know how harrowing that time was for me. I don’t like anyone bringing it up. Tsar is not here; he is rotting in a highly-secure and secretive facility in Siberia. I don’t think he even knows where he is,”
“I bet the cold is a giveaway,” Victor said.
“No, it is not. The authorities administer drugs into his body, they keep his mental capacities from working to their fullest abilities. He probably does not even know who he is,” Ambrose said, a dangerous smile forming on his lips. It was a tormenting truth, but it served Tsar. What he did to everyone in his family and the Cosa Nostra couldn’t be forgiven. What he did to the civilians couldn’t be overlooked.
The Mafia never mixed themselves up with any innocent. There were codes kept in place, systems for everyone’s safety and Tsar came in, manipulating those codes and pushing his agenda forward. Ambrose was grateful to have found out about those agendas in time. A lot could’ve been lost, and for the first time in his life he was even thankful to the FBI.
“Though I never really liked what you did with Dina,”
“And I don’t care about that, Victor. Trust me, your attraction to her was purely physical. With her as your wife, you would’ve probably had an eighteen-year-old kid running around.”
“Dina Walsh is better off with Norman Wolff; the guy keeps her on a tight leash, and that one needs it. I know the likes of Dina; she would have sucked on you like a leach. God, I have never found a woman as annoying as Dina Walsh.”
“It is Dina Wolff now, she has an eight and six-year-old son, respectively,”
“Because Norman didn’t want to settle down early. He wanted to build his reputation and business, achieve and establish something. That takes time. Norman’s father had left a lot of chaos upon retiring, unlike mine. I just had to build on top off what was given to me, Norman had to clear the rubble and then build his empire. I respect that idiot.”
“You miss that life, don’t you?” Victor asked.
“More than anything else. I like this life too, there is a comfort that I never found in that life. But even pleasures and comfort have their limits. I think my only aim right now is to mitigate whatever storm is upon New York and then start a family.”
“Let me guess, with Bell,”
“You are right, I know we are soulmates. I can feel it. I have never been as sure about anything else but this. I, of course, want to discover more, learn more about her and spend some time with her. I want to woo her, make her fall for me. I will try my best; I will give it my everything.”
Victor looked uncomfortable.
“What do you like about her?” he asked.
“I like how spirited she is about Ballet. I have seen Bell’s dreams glisten in her eyes. Whenever I paint her, and she is looking out of the window, I see her pirouetting upon the clouds in the beautiful night sky. I also like how chatty she is but also coy. And the way she moves, there is grace and elegance in each and every movement. Every action, whether it is just picking a morsel and bringing it to her mouth, it is like a performance. So proper and executed perfectly. And I have never seen someone as beautiful as her.”
“Woah,” Victor muttered, “I am sorry for doubting your love.”
“Its not love yet,” Ambrose mumbled.
“I have to tell you something though,” Victor said.
“What is it?”
“I kissed Bell,”
It was as if someone had turned a switch in Ambrose’s system because the next moment, he was lunging towards Victor.
“Why the hell did you do that?” Ambrose roared, “you knew how I feel about her!”
“I just had a little something that I felt for her too, I am sorry. She is lovely!” Victor apologised, “and I wanted to know if she is really the innocent and gullible person that she makes out to be.”
“And you kissed her for that?”
“It was a test! You tested Dina!”
“I didn’t kiss Dina, Bell is mine,”
“Not yet,” Victor mumbled.
“Smoochy will be out, in no time. You will see. I will make sure that he is out of Bell’s life permanently.”
Victor got up, he brushed his jacket and looked straight into Ambrose’s eyes.
“That is not up to you. It is completely Bell’s decision; you know in the end she may even love you, but I have seen people who will go to any lengths in carrying out their commitments. And Bell strikes me like that kind of person. Like you said and like I have observed, Bell is committed to Ballet. She will not let any reason deter her. What if she harbours a similar passion for her engagement?”
Ambrose absorbed Victor’s words. His cousin was absolutely correct. Bell was a very righteous woman, and Ambrose appreciated that quality.
“Do you know what this means?”
“What?” Ambrose mumbled.
“It means that your opponent is not Smoochy but Bell herself, you will have to defeat her and emerge a winner.”
“Picked the wrong girl,”
“No, I am just two years late. If we had met then, she would have been my wife now,”
“I think your age is another thing that you don’t consider as a factor,”
“What about my age?”
“Maybe Bell isn’t comfortable dating a man who is almost double her age!”
“You are just asking to get your ass kicked today, Victor. I am still in my prime, and some women prefer older men,”
“You come under the category of elderly men,” Victor snickered.
Ambrose sat on his dining chair; his eyes narrowed.
“You will see, Victor. This time next year, you will be my Best Man. That is a promise, my man,”
“I would love to win,”
“You know, you have softened up over the years. I remember how cruel you were once upon a time,”
“Do you want me to be cruel to the bunnies bouncing in my estate? Or to Roofus? Which reminds me, where is my boy?”
Ambrose whistled, and the golden retriever came running in. Ambrose laughed at the dog’s contagious excitement.
“Bell!” Ambrose called his beautiful ballerina.
Bell appeared by the staircase, her face teary and pink. Ambrose’s heart sighed. He was the reason why she had those tears in her eyes.
“Come here,” Ambrose whispered.
“No, you have made my place very clear,” Bell sobbed.
“Baby, I am sorry. You took it in the wrong sense. Please come here, I have a fascinating surprise for you. And you will love it,”
“I don’t want another piece of jewellery; I am not shallow.”
“Calling you shallow will be an insult to your existence, my sweet. Please come here, look even Roofus wants you here.” Ambrose pointed to his dog and Roofus even whimpered.
Bell bit her plush lip and reluctantly climbed down the staircase. She walked up to Ambrose and stared at him.
“What is it?”
“Well, I am sorry. I should’ve taken your search for a job more seriously,”
“Yes, I will have to warn you, Ambrose. I am not the kind of girl who just sits around, I am definitely enjoying my life here but even sleeping and getting fresh air has its limits. My limbs are aching from not practising and I can already feel my form deteriorating. I have to work.”
“I know, and I am sorry for not understanding that. I know how much your art means to you but Bell when I took you in, I promised for your security too, and I cannot trust you with anyone. You are my responsibility. I have to protect you which is why I cannot risk you taking a job outside the estate,”
“Ambrose no one know me….”
“There are people who are keeping an eye on my at all times. I am a very important man, Bell.”
“But I didn’t sign up for this,”
“I know, you signed up to be my muse. But I understand where you are coming from and I have come up with a solution. If implemented, you will find a purpose, and I will have my protection.”
“Oh, what is this… solution?”
“Please come with me,”
Ambrose took Bell’s hand in his and walked out of the house. Roofus and Victor followed them too. The estate was significant with a separate two-bedroom guest house equipped with all amenities. It lay around a half a kilometre away from the main mansion. The walk was long, but the gentle breeze and cloudy weather made it more comfortable.
Bell was on her toes, literally. Ambrose could sense her excitement with her fidgety moves. Sometimes she tucked her hair behind her ear, sometimes she bit her lip or played with the hem of her dress.
Ambrose was thoroughly enjoying this.
In the end, it was all going to be worth it.
They reached the guest house. It had a stony exterior and was like a cute little cottage only slightly bigger. The gardens of the house were delicately manicured, and Bell turned to Ambrose.
“Why are we at the guest house? Are you moving me here?”
“No, maybe, okay. So, this guest house is going to be your workplace.”
“Am I going to be the cleaning lady?”
“No, Bell. You see, when you ran away to your room, I was distraught. You have no idea how much your tears bother me. I was afraid that you’ll be upset and I didn’t want that. Bell, you are important to me,” Ambrose confessed. Each word was dripping with honesty. Ambrose triumphed when he saw Bell’s expression soften.
Victor stared at his cousin like a hawk. Why did it feel like he had some tricks up his sleeve?
“And so, I thought about it,” Ambrose continued, “when a brilliant idea struck me.”
“What brilliant idea?” Bell asked, her cute ears all perked up.
“Okay, I have to show this,” Ambrose grinned and clapped his hands together.
Ambrose dragged her inside and planted himself right in the living area.
“What do you think of this living area?” Ambrose asked.
The room was decorated with classy furniture. Something that always stayed in fashion.
“It is beautiful,” Bell mumbled, suddenly looking apprehensive.
“What would happen if all this furniture is moved away?”
“The room will be empty?”
“And space would appear all big and empty?” Ambrose prodded.
“Yes….” Bell trailed away.
“Now look at the other side of the wall,” Ambrose asked.
Bell turned around and stared at the wall. A beautiful scenery hung there.
“Remove the scenery and let us hang wall to wall mirrors there,” Ambrose instructed.
Bell imagined the mirrors and her eyes widened.
“Are you turning this into a studio?” Bell squealed.
“You got that right, my girl. You see this idea struck me, my associates all have young girls who need some extra-curricular and I thought to myself, well Bell could teach them Ballet.”
“Oh my god!” Bell squealed, “I have always wanted to do that. This is the best day of my life.”
Bell launched herself at Ambrose and gave him a tight hug.
“Thank you so much, Ambrose. I love this idea, you are a genius!”
“Only for you baby!” Ambrose grinned.
“When are the classes starting?”
“Does tomorrow sound good?”
“Oh, it is perfect! I will go home and form a lesson plan! It is going to be so cute, little girls in their itty-bitty tutus and ballerinas,” Bell sobbed, “can I please have a look around?”
Ambrose nodded, and Bell ran around the house. Victor stepped forward, his arms folded across his chest.
“This wasn’t your brilliant idea,” Victor accused, “you just took credit for someone else’s idea.”
“I am their Boss. Their ideas are my ideas and besides what is it to you?”
“Because it is cheap,”
“I am cheap only to get my Bell, this is my first move,”
“Your first move is festered with lies!”
“I don’t care, I want Bell, that’s all,”
“If she gets to know then you will be in deep trouble,”
“I gave the green light to this project, alright? I deserve some credit!”
“Bell would be just as happy if you told her the truth,”
“Yes, she will be. But she wouldn’t be attracted to me. I am trying to present myself in a certain manner, alright?”
“You do you, man. But if you are serious about her, then you need to be truthful.”
“I don’t think this is as serious, Victor,”
“Whatever you say, bro. But don’t come crying to me when she gets to see your real face,”
“My real face is beautiful; Victor stop ruining the moment, will you? Let me bask myself in Bell’s beautiful smiles. Look at her, she adores me now,”
“She adores Roofus too,”
Ambrose could only glare.