Another star, you fade away.
IN MY COUNTRY and in Mafia especially, weddings are extremely sacred.
Not because the main body of organized crime has a pension for true love, of course.
Most marriages are loveless and abusive. But no one cares about that. It's about respect, about appearances. About power and wealth.
It is a cold, perfunctory process.
Traditions are followed, money, contacts and alliances are gained.
It is a business meeting.
A very expensive business meeting.
I have always known that, always expected it.
But as I stand here at the altar, next a priest who has most likely killed more people than number of years he's lived, and hidden twice that, I find myself disgusted.
Not that I ever approved of it, but it seems more real now.
The wedding march of doom begins, everyone stands, and I turn my attention to the door.
I'm not even sorry for me. I am an Italian man in the mafia, and the Don at that. They don't care what the hell I do.
Even if they did, they couldn't do anything about it.
I still have my life. If I want to have an affair, I can. If I want to beat my wife, I can. If I want to leave and not come home for months, I can.
I still have my freedom.
She doesn't have that.
As soon as we say do, her choices are ripped from her. Even now, she didn't pick her ring, or her wedding dress or even her wedding day.
In fact, Delphine had no say on anything that has happened today.
No say in her own wedding. The most important day in her life.
I nearly shudder. The woman I first met, she's gone.
The woman I met yesterday, well that is who she will most likely be for the rest of our lives.
That is what she will be. And until I can find a way to set her free, that is what's best.
That is how I have to keep her.
Once I have killed the people looking for her, I will set her free. Let her live her life the way she wants.
Until then, we will both be miserable, everyone will know it, and everyone, including us will pretend that we're not.
She is beautiful, as she glides toward me. Even with the emptiness in her eyes, she is beautiful.
She stands across from me, watching the murderous priest.
Everything is in Italian, and she doesn't speak it. Even so, he prompts her and she says with no hesitation and no emotion, I do.
I can't help but think, No. No, you don't. You really don't.
I repeat the vows and voilà! I'm a married man.
The rest is merely business transactions.
They all come up to greet us, tradition. It's disrespectful not to.
Disrespect is not something with good after effects.
They give us gifts we will never use. Say words they'll never mean. Give smiles that are never real.
Everything around me is fake, and it's disgusting.
The last people to approach the throne were the Don of the South and his wife and his family.
They love each other, they are good people.
Their kids, now near grown and their significant others approach as well as his brother and his wife.
For first time, Delphine smiles.
"Melanie! How are you? I missed you!" She jumps up with an enthusiasm I have never seen her use.
Her smile is warm. One thing about Delphine that hasn't changed is her smile. She still has that smile, the one where she's emotionless, or being hurt and she smiles at you.
It's not the same. Eerily similar, but not the same.
"I'm good, Delphi. How's—"
"My relationship, it's beautiful," she changes the subject quickly and I swore I saw an understanding look from Melanie.
"Have you talked to Papà?"
Discreetly, I listen to her develop an accent. I also didn't know she had relatives.
Melanie sadly shakes her head.
"Él está en silencio. Se niega a hablar. No voy a seguir intentándolo. He terminado."
I see Delphine nod in sympathy as if she understood.
"Tienes razón, amiga. Si la familia no es razón suficiente para él, entonces no vale la pena."
I'm taken aback by her fluency, my body coiling at her sexy accent.
"Brother in law Pierto, què tal?"
Pierto smirks. "You know I refrain from learning Spanish, Delphi. I think I'd need a therapist if I knew what she said when we argue."
My wife giggles, sending shots of jealousy through my veins.
"You're probably right. Now sit down old man, so I can talk to my bestie,"
Melanie fake gasps,"I've been replaced?!"
DiAngelo's wife, Miranda does the same, a mock accusing glare at Melanie. "You have another best friend?!"
DiAngelo shakes his head, rolling his eyes with a smirk. "Cara, come sit down."
Miranda glares at him. "Or don't! Either way,"
At first, I'm puzzled. Even if they do this in private, you never submit to your wife in public. But maybe it's because he's second.
"Melanie, viene qui,"
"Why don't you two sit down? We'll be there in a minute."
Pietro narrows his eyes, and Melanie narrows them right back.
"A minute?" he confirms dubiously.
"So... whenever you want?"
"I knew I married you for more than your pretty face."
Pierto huffs, kissing his wife and ordering Isadora to watch her hands.
"Got it, Papà."
Isadora and Sofia order their respective boyfriends away.
As soon as they leave, the four women pull up chairs conspiratorially.
"Isa my darling, did you do it?"
Isadora looks at me in question, her eyes flicking to my wife.
"He will exercise discretion, I'm sure."
Warily, they all nod.
"I finished this job, but it's getting harder to sneak away from Christian."
Faintly I hear, "Do not use the American bastardized version of my name, even in conspiracies!"
Isadora rolls her eyes.
"We all know, they know." Melanie says.
"I swear, never look away when they go down on you on you'll find yourself with a tracker in places it shouldn't be." Melanie rolls her eyes.
They all laugh, even Delphine, which makes me wonder if someone has ever...touched her like that.
My fists clench, my teeth clench, my whole body clenches.
"Well girls, last targets for this hit series is due in three days," Delphi says seriously.
"Who are these people, Delphine?"
She closes her eyes, before opening them, her brown ombre eyes blazing. They look like their glowing, and rage emanating from her is palpable.
My body stands at attention, but my ears do to.
"Dead people," she seethes. "I am not God, never do I claim to be, but they will pay,"
I've never seen her like this. "I won't stop until every one of them is lying in a pool of their own blood. I am not weak anymore,"
"I never was. They will see. Delphine Durante does not get crossed,"
I resist the urge to correct her. Delphine Gambino is her name now.
"Sofia, I need you to infiltrate the Russians —"
That's when I have to step in. Now, murderous rage is nice and sexy and all, but she is now tied to me.
I don't need another war on my hands.
That was the dumbest thing, I may have said to date.
"No?" She repeats quietly.
The women fidget, smiling sheepishly.
"Sit your asses down." Everyone sits down, but they are all dominant women, so they twitch a bit at being commanded.
"My darling husband, whatever do you mean?"
I sense some sarcasm. Her tone is too soft, too caring.
It's how she talks to Apollo, motherly, except for the venomous undertones.
"You cannot infiltrate the Russians. Do you whatever you want, but not that."
"Why ever not?"
"You are my wife now. What you do, I do. You infiltrate the Russians, I infiltrate the Russians, which means now I have war on my hands."
I want to show her I am not what she thinks. But I can only do that but so much.
I glance around, before leaning down to her to speak quietly on her ear.
"I am not ordering you to be a stay at home mom. I'm not telling you to be a fifties wife as a career. But I need you to consult me about these types of things —"
"On what level, Salvatore? On killings—?"
"Darling, you can come home soaking in blood, as long as it's not yours and our son doesn't see it, I don't care.
"But making moves in Mafia's, especially an alliance is something I need to know. At least to prepare."
Quietly, she nods.
"Its time to toss to the bouquet, and send the couple home!"
We rise, Delphine nodding towards her friends.
It goes by so quickly. The bouquet toss, the rice throwing and then we're driving off.
Alone in the car, silence and tension reigns.
I am feigning for her and we are entirely too close.
Her breathing is hitching, my fingers are twitching.
"Will you...step outside the marriage?"
She says silently. "It is expected of me, but no."
She nods. "Do you...how will you...? "
I know what she's asking and it makes my desire for her all the more rampant.
"That is up to you. But no matter what you say, it will not change the nature of our marriage."
She nods. "I think it will help us be civil to one another. Besides, I have needs too,"
The car stops, and she gets out before I can register what she said.