1: there was a woman
I adjusted the rings on my fingers distractedly, the voices of my men drowning out as they discussed the next weapons deals with a supplier up north.
My elbows were set on the polished wooden table, forehead resting on my intertwined fingers.
It had been almost two weeks since I last saw that woman.
And I haven’t been the same since.
It was like clockwork, her coming into my mind at random times during the day and even the nights. Every minute, my thoughts were full of wonder.
Wondering when I would get to lay my eyes on her again.
And the silly thing was I hadn’t even gotten a good look at her face. Not a clear one anyway.
But when I did see her features, I was in awe.
And I was rarely impressed by such things on women.
But this woman. This...woman.
I’ve never wanted to touch someone so badly. Not even touch intimately. But touch as in caress and admire. As anyone would to a piece of art.
I furrowed my eyebrows.
Why was I speaking like un poeta?
Quanti mesi ero stavo?
“–lio. Emilio,” Dom’s voice broke through my thoughts, making me looking up with irritation.
“What,” I snapped, letting my arms drop to the table, my posture straightening.
Everyone at the table looked at me, expecting me to answer with more than a ‘what’.
“Do we go through with this weapons deal? The police have been making a few busts lately,” Dom continued, tapping his fingers on the table slowly.
"Da quando sei puttana?” I gruffed. “Are you scared?”
Dom chcukled. “No. Just need your yes or no.”
I stood up abruptly, making eye contact with Antonio and nodding my head towards the door. He scrambled up from his seat, smoothing over his dress shirt.
“Take deal. Don’t fuck it up. Take Marco e Luciana.” I left the room without another word and unbuttoned the button on my suit jacket, massaging the space between my eyes gently.
“Yes, Boss?” Antonio stood behind me with his hands behind his back and his gaze on me, focused.
“Did you find her?” I asked, eyes still closed, fingers still between my brows.
“Yes,” Antonio replied, “her name is Xenia Aisha Thomas. Co-CEO of All the Right Curves. Graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in 2017.” he paused. “And single.”
My eyes snapped open. “Is there picture?”
Antonio turned his phone towards me and quickly retracted his hands, a smile on his face.
I looked down at the screen and upped it to full brightness and clicking on a picture of Xenia and another woman.
It was clear to see that she wasn’t as outgoing as the woman next to her, her pose reserved and calm while the other woman–I read the caption–Melia, was seemingly exploding with joy, her arms outstretched in front of a building that was just built, and through the windows, only naked thick mannequins stood.
I tried zooming in to the photo but it just blurred her face the more I expanded it. With a frown, I gave the phone back to Antonio and turned around and walked to my office.
“Close the door,” I muttered, sitting down in my chair behind the dark desk. It groaned under the pressure of my weight.
Antonio did as I said, looking between the seat in front of me and the wall, hesitating to even move a muscle.
“How do I get in contact?” I said, folding my hands in front of me. “With her.”
Antonio gave me a look of bemusement before shaking his head and squinting his eyes at me.
“Well unless you wanna buy lingerie and have her assume you already got someone special at home, I suggest you mark that off the list,” Antonio inquired, swaying side to side slightly.
“Then what else,” I grumbled, “it would be like stalker.”
“I mean–” Antonio gave me a look, “–what we’re basically discussing here is kinda–”
I narrowed my eyes. ”What.”
“Totally normal, Boss,” he continued, his expression uneasy.
I cracked my neck, craning it side to side, gritting my teeth. “Have anything else?”
“Yeah Boss, but just to let you know, I came up with with this while I was intoxicated,” Antonio started, a playful smile on his face.
"Cosa c’è?” I waved my hand for him to continue.
“The tech guy hacked into one of their laptops and saw in the history they were searching for a handyman. For what? Non so. But listen, we can make some fake cards and even a whole company. Just ask the tech guy,” Antonio explained, out of breath when he finished.
I had my eyes shut listening to his words.
Not bad for un bambino di idiota.
“When should all this be ready?” Antonio asked.
“As soon as possible.” I leaned back in the chair, resting my arms in the armrests and crossing my legs. ”Rapido.”
Antonio was still standing in front of me with a lost smile until I glanced at the door, his face falling into one of understanding.
“I’ll get on it right away Boss.” Antonio slipped out from the room, closing the door lightly.
As soon as the door shut, I let my lips tilt up in a smile.
No don’t smile, my mind chastised. Non la conosci nemmeno.
And my mind was right.
I don’t know her.
This is how it all starts.
Attachment. A bond.
Then suddenly it all ends. Just like that. Poof. Gone.
My smile disappeared.
I smacked my lips and pulled out my phone from my from pocket, sliding it open and tapping into my recent messages.
There were multiple texts from Mona. Unanswered of course.
At times I regretted giving her my number.
But then I remembered how good her pussy was and all annoyance was forgotten. She was lucky. Because that’s all she has going for her. Apart from her looks. They were generic.
Small nose, small plump lips, blue eyes.
Maybe that’s why I had so much interest in the woman from the store.
She was different.
But it was dangerous.
So I stuck with the basics.
Mona fell to her side out of breath, a smile stretching across her lips. Her jet black hair was matted against her forehead and her lipstick had smeared across to her right cheek. She let her fingers stroke my bicep as I sat on the edge of the bed, hunched over.
“Okay first of all, wow,” she breathed, her voice deep. ”Lei sentì stanotte così buona...”
I recoiled from her touch absentmindedly, throwing the condom away in the trash beside her bed.
“Mmm baby lay down,” she whined, gripping my arm with her fingers tighter than before, her sharp acrylic nails brushing against my veins.
I hated when they asked that.
Lay down? Per cosa?
For those close moments after fucking to look into each other’s eyes and just holding one another, saying, “I love you.“?
I love you. Schifoso.
How weak to show your attachment to someone through three words. Why did that mean so much to people?
Three lousy fucking words.
Was it a lie? Non sai.
Did they mean it? Non sai.
Was the feeling mutual? Non sai.
You just don’t know.
That was a word acquainted with misery.
The last people to say that word to me were gone. The last people to show me any type of affection were selfish enough to leave my life.
They were what you call family.
Parents. Unconditional love right?
Then how could they let their three year old child watch them bleed out on the kitchen floor, holding each other while leaving me alone. Muttering those three disgusting words over and over again until the life was drained from them, seeping into my clothes as I sat between them and cried, begging for them not to leave me.
But they didn’t listen.
Breathing in sharply, I held my hand over hers, letting it stay there for a moment before slipping it off my arm.
“You never let me touch you,” Mona mumbled, her tone dispirited. “You never want to touch.”
I stood up, walking over to my discarded pants in the corner of the room and pulled them on.
“You are right. I don’t.” I zipped them up and fastened the belt. “There is no point.”
"E perché no?” Mona sat up from the bed, letting her breasts hang freely as her arms flew into the air in protest. “Emilio you never show emotion. You are blank! There is no meaning in what you do. Fucking or not–”
"Attento a come parli,” I snapped, leaving my dress shirt unbuttoned in the midst of my outburst. “You watch your fucking mouth.”
Mona closed her lips and furrowed her dark brows, letting her arms fall back down to the gray sheets. She stayed quiet, chewing on a piece of gum obnoxiously loud.
“Where ya goin’?” Mona asked, twirling a piece of her messy curled hair in between her slim fingers. “Dontcha think you should stay and rest?”
I finished putting my shoes on them adjusted the collar of my jacket. I shook my head. “I don’t have time for you.”
“Had time to fuck me...” she responded lowly in a singsong voice.
“...well that is all you are worth.” I gave a small salute with two fingers and left her gasping in the bed.
When I reached the lobby, I saw Antonio in the driver’s seat of the truck, banging his head around with earphones plugged into his ears.
I knocked on the passenger’s seat window lightly, immediately pulling him out of his inattentive manner.
I pulled the door open in the back and hopped in, grunting as I did.
Antonio cleared his throat, fixing up his clothes, smoothing over his hair and face as if he was asleep for a while.
“Where to Boss? Home? Food?” Antonio turned the car on and looked in the rearview mirror, awaiting my answer.
My hand stroked my beard repeatedly, my foot tapping the black flooring of the truck.
“I want to see store.”
Antonio nodded, a bright grin erupting on his face. “You got it.”
“So I was thinking that if this whole plan goes through, you and Dom should come together ya know. Because you’re actually going to be constructing something and you’ll need help,” Antonio rambled, clutching the steering wheel with two hands. “so I know you used to build before, but you’ll need the help regardless.”
I hummed in response, staring out the window at the people who passed by.
The truck pulled out of the parking space and sped down the lit up streets of Los Angeles. I let my knuckles fall against the windows gently, mumbling to myself as the car made its way through the multitude of vehicles.
Once past the clustering traffic, we made it to the bright street of high fashion, a constant stream of people sliding past each and talking into their phones louder than necessary, bags of clothes hung from their arms.
Antonio parked the car in front of the shop, turning the engine off and sitting quietly.
I turned my head and watched three women stand in front of the store, the lights off inside.
I figured it was time for a doctor’s visit when my heart pumped irregularly once upon seeing the familiar brushed out hair that stopped just before it reached the middle of her back, puffing out to the sides, untamed and tamed at the same time.
She walked to her car, her sweater bunched up around her stomach. When she looked up to check the street before walking around to the driver’s side of her car, that’s the first time I was able to see her face.
"Mio Dio,” I whispered, outstretching my neck to get more of her before she unlocked her car and slipped in, staying parked for a while then taking off.
“Ain’t that right,” I heard Antonio mutter from in front of me. I followed his gaze to the younger woman beside the other owner of the shop, Melia. “She hasn’t changed one bit.”
I ignored his words and returned to my reserved state, sitting back into my seat with a slight frown on my lips.
“Let’s go,” I uttered, rubbing my bottom lip with my index finger.
I stepped into the top floor of the building, locking the door behind me. Slowly, I lazily unbuttoned my shirt and threw it on the back of the dark couch, followed by my dress shirt.
Now only in a pair of slacks, I went to the fridge and pulled out a glass of beer, tearing off the cap with a twist of my fingers. The liquid that escaped my mouth as I drank messily, dripped down to my chest, trailing down my stomach.
I sat down on the couch wide-legged, lolling my head back against the edge of my seat.
This was an every night thing–on nights I had nothing to do of course.
In whose world would it be more sought out to be planning the next arms or drug deal or even beating the fuck out of some low-life for a whole night rather than spend time alone in penthouse way too spacious for just one person?
I was fucked up like that.
I was fucked up and no one could change me.