An Offer She Can’t Refuse
Copyright ©2020 by Cindy Julian
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
I plucked the withering flower from the flawless bunch, the weather this season was just right for the garden. The sunflowers swayed beautifully in the breeze, while I watered the white roses the petals seemed a bit dry I didn’t want them to get them to shrivel up by next week. The red ones shined bright in the sun, their glowing Scarlett’s petals were the garden’s perfection. They were also my favorite but were complimented the best with the whites. Both made the loveliest bouquet. Last time I hung them in the shop they all sold faster the papa’s chocolate.
There’s even more flowers blooming than last year that was a sign of fortune according my grandma and her wondrous gypsy folklores. Of course, I wouldn’t mind her being right for once the house needed a new Heater and the roof could desperately use some retiling. We can enough for everything we need after Papa double prices. The goods he started ordering from Tuscany were so expensive but sold like candy. Triple price on those as soon as they arrive and we’re definitely in business for the season.
“Angelica,” My name was being beckoned from the front porch.
I dropped the watering can and left the garden to find my horse grinning cousin hurrying to hoist in his slim arms. Grandma was in her chair peeling a bag of apples shaking her head at me as she watched us.
“I thought you weren’t gonna be back till Saturday. How are things at the Casino?”
I asked anxious to know.
“He can’t tell you, bambina, because he doesn’t have a job there anymore.”
Grandma bellowed, slicing the craved apples.
“Granny, Sofie, please. I haven’t even fully explained yet.”
He replied frowning at her.
She gave him a stare suggesting he could save the explanation.
“You don’t have to, it’s always the same with you, Kenny, how many times do I remind you that you can’t just skate by and depend on your dumb schemes.”
He sighed refusing to argue with her.
I crossed my arms looking at him judgmentally, and here I was having such a nice peaceful day.
My cousin was fairly decent young man with ambitions too big him to grasp.
“Is this true, you lost the Assistant job?”
“No, I quit. I found something else with much more prospect than minimum wage.”
He told me confidently.
“Rubbish, another one of your little schemes. I swear, someday you’re going to learn the hard way.”
“Yes, grandma Sofie.” Kenny said with the fakest smile.
He would simply agree with her whenever he got tired of her scolds.
“Let’s go back to the garden, Angie. It’ll be quieter there.”
He said ushering me along with him.
“That’s your problem, you don’t listen you get it from your father.”
He retorted nonchalant.
“Look, don’t bother with the lectures I know what I’m doing this time. I’m telling you, Angie, I hit the jackpot.”
I puffed rolling my eyes at him. I got frustrated always having to hear go on about the jackpots that he never has any success with.
“I’m not talking easy money plots.”
“I sure hope not,” I cut him off with my lecturing tone.
“Betting on horse races got you nowhere except in trouble.”
I reminded. He almost ended up in jail he was lucky the officer let him off with a warning. At this point I was totally fed up with his whole trickster behavior.
“I already said I was sorry for that and everything else that didn’t work out. But, you see that’s why I’m bend on this its not a scheme or gambling just smart investing.”
“And what exactly do you know doing smart investments?”
I asked skeptical.
“All you need is a good inside tip and that cousin is what I have. I told Uncle Dennis about it and he thinks it’s a great idea.”
I bristled surprised.
“Papa said that, you’re kidding.”
“Nope, you can ask him yourself.”
I was lost for words at this point.
“Well, if he approves.” I said while still having uncertainty.
“Ah, finally, for once you side with me instead of Sofie.”
He smiled overly happy giving me a thank you hug.
“Good luck with it, Kenny. I so glad to see your not gambling anymore.”
He simply nodded. I could swear I spotted some guilt lingering in his eyes. He probably felt ashamed for all his past bad decisions. Though he should I wanted him to know he’s forgiven.
“You always have my support when I see you trying.”
I promised him returning the hug.
I polished the glass vase with a bit of vinegar until it was clear and shining like crystal. I arranged the roses the way liked in circles mostly red with whites in the middle. I sampled the sweet scent before lining on the shelves. I put together a few more, smiling as tied a pink ribbon on the final bouquet. “Molto Bello, cara.” Papa commented admiring my work. “Those won’t stay on display for long.” He said encouragingly.
“Graci, Papa. I’ll help you tidy.”
We were about to open in half hour I made sure to start boiling the coffee beans after clearing the floor of the empty boxes. Papa swept the store while I wiped the counters spreading the colorful place mats Mama picked out on them. Grandma Sofie’s apple pies would soon brighten them just how my bouquets did the plain wooden shelves.
She and my mother, Lyla, arrived in time as we ready to open. I could smell her delicious pies from the back room. There was no better baker than our own Sofie Kimper, we were proud to always boasts that her apple pies the same one could only buy at our Pasticceria were the tastiest batch in Fiorito. There was already at line of customers at the cashing counter the smell hit folks fast. I quickly took orders while she sliced and Mama did the bagging.
“Thank you, please come again.”
I graciously repeated to each buyer.
“Boy, am I excited, Angelica, did you hear already?” My girlfriend Francesca kept pestering, who was idling by the corner of the counter scrolling news sites on her Smartphone.
“No, I was at home all day yesterday. Did something happen?”
“It’s what’s about to happen, honey. Johnny Luciano is coming to Fiorito today. They say the Lucianos are planning to buy out some the small businesses to begin building a Winery.”
“My, I guess that is something.”
I mouthed nonchalant. I never shared her enthusiasm with mention of the Lucianos’ son. Jonathan Luciano aka, Johnny the Bully, that’s what I’ll forever remember him as. The rich kid with the meanest attitude. A total jerk. I can’t believe Francesca crushed on him in high school. He may have had appealing features, but every other one of his qualifies was repulsive. That first time he tried to flirt with me I shot him down real good. ‘Not even if my life depended on it.’
She was in a hurry this morning. I waved her goodbye after handing her the change and slice of pie. I tended to the next customer in line. Mama began serving the ones seated at the tables as her husband prepared the refined coffee.
I released a happy sigh observing the place. We were doing good I had great feeling about the months to follow too. Sofie premonition seemed to be coming true. This fruitful season might also prove our most bountiful.
Kenny came by in the afternoon looking like he just finished filming a James Bond movie. I chuckled raising my eyebrows at the suave business suit he was wearing. “I know,” He mouthed buttoning the jacket. I pulled myself away from the account ledgers to inspect my cousin’s fashion sense closer.
“Ay, dio,” Grandma muttered rubbing her wrinkled temples as if she was having bad headache.
“Where did you get it?” Mama asked. She almost spilled her hot chocolate when Kenny trotted in.
“Tailor Giorgio, he fitted me first.”
He said making a dashing twist turn in the full professional attire.
“Giorgio’s material is pricy,” Papa bellowed from on top the shelf latter. “Can you afford that?”
“Of course, uncle, I’ve saved a little. Besides, this how the corporate dealers men dress I want to look proper for their visit.”
I puzzled at what he just said.
“What corporate Brokers? And where are they visiting.”
“The ones who we bought company stocks from. They’re stopping by Fiorito to meet with me.
“And who’s we?”
I became bewildered by all his sudden news.
“Me and uncle Dominic. I thought he would’ve told you by now.”
I glanced at my Papa surprised. He only smiled and nodded.
“It was such a busy day I forgot.”
I was taken aback, him, getting into business with Kenny of all people?
“Are you sure, Papa?”
“Yes, I talk it over with Kenny and I must say it’s very lucrative and a safe investment to make we’re guaranteed a refund with interest if we decide to cancel the deal.”
He informed his wife.
“He told me about it I think it’s a great business proposition. The dividends made from it could really help us with our expenses. Remember, we’re getting goods on credit from two of our suppliers and the cost keeps increasing even for local items.”
I could see she was badly hoping for it to go smoothly.
“No, Dominic, this is a foolish thing to do.”
Grandma Sofie intervened.
“I don’t trust anything whether old or new that this boy is involved in.”
I pointed at Kenny with conviction. He frowned once she turned to him.
“Mother, you mustn’t be so negative.”
Papa put forth supporting his nephew.
“That’s right, Granny Sofie. Give the idea a chance Kenny is just trying to do good by his family.”
I stepped in to lend some encouragement.
I simpered and winked to Kenny. I wanted him cheer up and not have his confidence shattered. How happy I was to see him grinning again once he heard me defending him.
“Ay, not you too bambina, fine side with them, but I still think it’s foolish.”
She spat ending the debate by disappearing in the storage room.
The rest of us only sighed since she wouldn’t be convinced.
I gave my father and cousin a big hug of congratulations, wishing the best in their endeavor.