We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours.
- Dag Hammarskjold
Slamming my balled fists against my mother's expensive coffee table, I don’t even bother looking down at the shaking object. Angry doesn't cut it, I'm furious as the undying sensation of blood pumps with extra heat; my whole body pulsating the overwhelming urge to punch my own father in the face as we face each other.
"Not only did you go ahead and attach me to someone without my knowledge, much less my permission; you signed me up with a damn brat!" I barked out, gritting my teeth at my parent's ridiculous proposal of marrying someone almost half my age.
"Son, you'll be thirty-one years old at the end of this year. Men your age in a family like ours, they already have wives and a handful of children. You only have Giovanni and that's not enough, at least think about him." My mother is quick to come to my father's defense. No surprise here, she's so wrapped up in him. Even when he's wrong, she'll support him — teachings of the perfect Donna.
"Mother, just because you're his lapdog, it doesn't mean whatever he does is for my good," I argued knowing full well Rico Giordano only agreed to this alliance for his gain only.
"ENOUGH!" My father shouts, getting out of the couch on his feet. He's an inch shorter than my 6'5 but the dominance in his stance is lethal. Just what you'd expect from a former mafia boss. "Don't you ever disrespect your mother like that again, boy," he says, as if scolding a child only adding more fuel to my already burning anger causing my hand to twitch ever so slightly to reach for one of the few guns I usually carry with me.
"Who the f-" I begin to interject, but a small body along with tiny hands wraps themselves around my legs tightly like a monkey. Looking down at the little rascal, I raised an eyebrow, waiting for his request.
"Daddy, I'm hungry!" The emerald, golden-eyed four-year-old demanded and I genuinely smiling at the only thing that truly matters and gives me comfort.
Ruffling his brown curls, I crouch down to his level. "Okay buddy, go wait for me in the car with Renzo," I offer, pointing to my lieutenant, Lorenzo Romano. He's one of the few people who I can trust completely with my son.
Renzo nods in my direction, taking Gio's hand making their exit out of the intense room. It's no secret how much I loathe my father, he simply brings out the worst in me.
"You stay the fuck out of my personal life old man." A growl-like sound rumbles from my chest. "If I wanted a wife, I would've been a married man by now. Even so, my word is my honor, and I'll meet this child you've bound me to; however, I make no promises whatsoever." I retort annoyed stalking out of the living room without glancing back.
Stepping outside the mansion of a house, closing the door with more force than required, taking a moment to collect myself. "Al," I call out to my right-hand. "Check out this Ariana. She's supposedly the youngest sister to that bastard, Leo." I give the order to my underboss and best friend the moment he stepped forward knowing who I'm referring to exactly.
Leonardo Russo, the most annoying, self-righteous prick I've ever had to deal with. Our fathers go way back; they're like brothers really. Even so, Leo and I can't seem to carry on that legacy. He hates my guts for unknown reasons, and I hate him even more.
"Sì boss," Renzo grunts immediately tapping away on his phone.
The Russo's are all pricks in my eyes. They're a set of stick-up-their-ass's type of people; I really can't stand. Mateo and Adriana Russo have four sons, and I thought, only two daughters. However, now, thanks to my meddling parents; there's a third daughter. How we didn't know that, is beyond me. Nevertheless, I intend to find out all about this girl.
Slipping into the Black Mercedes, I'm tackled by the small, bouncing, body of my son who's happy and erupting with little giggles. "Gio, how about we cook something together today instead buddy?" I ask the energetic toddler to which he gladly bounces up and down in his seat. He loves being in the kitchen with our main cook and head maid, Mama Rose along with her granddaughter Simone.
"Yaaaay!" Gio yells on top of his voice. "Simone promised me cookies earlier daddy, you think she's done making them?" He went on to question me about his caregiver.
"Sure thing bud, if not, Mama Rose will gladly make a batch for you," I answer with a chuckle at his eagerness.
Mama Rose, god bless her soul. She has been with my family since I was a teenager. She even remained by my side once the family business got handed over to me when I was only twenty due to my father's health at that time. She's a fierce and dedicated woman, with her delicious food along with her constant nags about gold diggers and our health. Her daughter, Simone, is a very kind and gentle soul, and that's why she's Gio's caretaker when I have to go out of town. Besides that, she's educated in childcare.
Thinking back to the night I brought home my son; Giovanni Luciano Giordano. He was a crying mess, and I had no idea what to do; Mama Rose simply took him and feed him some warm milk, along with soothing lullabies. He was the calmest baby ever after that, she taught me everything possible on how to raise him since my mother refused to. I'm forever in the slightly plumped woman's debt for her continuous support, and loyalty.
After a long day of cooking and fun, I finally kiss my boy goodnight, turning on his glow in the dark lamp, then, double-checking his room for security purposes. Taking one last glance at him with a smile, I close his door only halfway since he tends to come into my room at night sometimes. I'm proud of the relationship I have with him. Rico Giordano is an unpleasant man and an even shitter father. I make sure to give Gio all my attention whenever I can because no matter what; he comes first at all times and never lacks anything.
"So, what do you have for me?" I ask Al seriously once I stepped inside my home office. He frowns but opens up the folder in his hand anyway.
"Ariana Aurora Russo. Twenty-one years of age, she's 5'5 in height, she has hazel eyes along with a bachelor's degree in both business and criminal law. She's mostly associated with the HOPE INSTITUTE, and a twink named Abramo Conti. He's her personal assistant. She's been the CEO of her family's main shipping company here in St. Catherine for a year now. Since she's been there, the company's earnings have doubled in their numbers and their stocks increased. And that's just about all the information that this woman has Capo." He concludes his finding, but he's deep in thought based on the crease in his forehead, and I can see the wheels turning inside his head.
"What is it?" I ask, knowing the man I've grown up with has something else on his mind other than what he had just read.
"We're missing something here. On paper, she's like a regular person. Even so, my gut tells me, there's more to her pretty face. Her sisters are in the media non-stop at every designer fashion show along with the major charity events. Yet, she's almost like a ghost." He answers sighing in frustration.
Taking in all he says, it's factual. The Russo sisters, or should I say, the now Mrs. Cassandra Greco and Mrs. Bernice Santoro both sisters married to wealthy families — every single chance they get, they're in the spotlight. Like the real trophy wives, they are.
"See what else you can pick up on this girl. Things aren't adding up as you said, and I want to know who the hell my father’s tying me to." I instruct.
Al takes his leave but hands me the docket before exiting the room. Taking a look for myself, there's a picture of her driver's license and the only thing that stands out for me at this moment, is her hazel eyes, they're simply beautiful. Texting Armida, my personal assistant, to pencil in a meeting with this girl tomorrow afternoon for lunch. She replies almost immediately, with a 'Yes sir', and I smile.
Armida Montel is a very gorgeous and sexy woman; her brunette wavy hair always seems to just glide with the sun rays whenever she happens to be in sunlight. Her light-brown eyes sparkle lightly every single time she sees me. And god, her big bosoms and ass are a man's greatest dreams. Even so, she's not my type; she's not the kind of wife I've been looking for since I was twenty. She's just like my mother; a lap dog. Someone who's willing to do anything and everything in her power to please me.
I use to love a submissive woman, but these days women make it just too easy for someone like me who loves a challenge. With my meeting on my mind, I close my office door, locking it, and head towards my bedroom to shower and rest.
Walking out the en-suite bathroom, putting on a pair of boxer briefs, diving face-first into the cold and empty king-sized bed. With my family, the business and my son; at times, I just wish I have someone special enough to share all my burdens, concerns, and power with. A person to wake up to, other than Gio. God, I love that kid to death. But I'm missing something in my life; I want someone to argue with about working too late and all that sappy shit. Someone to hold tightly at night, to protect, to possess and to make love to and only fuck. Sex with random women does nothing for me anymore. The older I become, the lonelier and more bitter I get.
Sighing, I get out of bed, putting on a pair of sweatpants, sautering my way to Gio's room. Carefully getting under the sheets with him, he immediately cuddles up to me. "Notte papá(Goodnight daddy)," he mumbled sleepily.
"Goodnight my boy," I whisper against his warm skin, kissing his forehead, before drifting off to sleep myself.
Where the hell is this girl? Armida and I have been waiting patiently for this child and her personal assistant to show up, yet we've been sitting and waiting at this restaurant of her choice for half an hour now.
Suddenly as I'm about to call it quits. In walks, a slender, sexy goddess clad in all black. Her long, chestnut hair is neatly waved and sits obediently on the left side of her round face. She's walking with a confident and dangerous swagger, in her tight dress that reaches just midway to her thighs.
Her knee-high, heeled boots make no clicking sound whatsoever as she strides towards our table with a purpose — her hands are covered in black leather gloves; she's also wearing a leather jacket to match. Beside her, is a lanky looking, shaggy, dark blond-haired guy. With his black eyes staring at me in shameless lust.
Both are surrounded by three bulky guys. The lanky guy whispers something in her ear, and that's when her focus turns at our table, despite wearing sunglasses, I can feel her gaze on me. She walks over towards us; we're seated strategically in the far corner of the restaurant. She removes her jacket, gloves, and sunglasses, passes them to the guy, and sits with such grace as my chest puff with pride, for some reason.
"Mr. Giordano, my apologies for my despicable tardiness. I'm profoundly sorry." She quickly apologizes, with a smile. "My name's Ariana Russo and this is my personal assistant Abe. You must be Armida Montel." She greets us, and Armida shakes their hands dutifully.
I, on the other hand, sit with a blank and expressionless face. However, I can't seem to focus on the inside, her voice is so smooth, I can almost picture her moaning my name rather sweetly.
"You're late Miss Russo, I'm a very busy man, my time is valuable," I answer cutting the pleasantries, almost bitter because her presence excites me already for unknown reasons.
Her stunning hazel eyes harden as her jaw ticks. "Well then asshole, let's order shall we... You know, not wanting to waste any more of your valuable time." She grits out sassily and I can see a smirk slowly appearing on Abe's face when he notices my reaction.
I'm stunned and downright shocked since her response is quite blunt and serious, but I let it slide for now simply because it wasn't expected.
Signaling a slender, red-haired, waiter, he rushes over to our table. Notepad and pen in hand, ready to take our orders. "Hey Luca, how's school going?" she asks sweetly, causing the young man to beam almost gratefully towards her.
"Scuola è buono Ombra [School is good Shadow],” he replies happily, and I wonder why he called her shadow.
"Good, Abe and I will have our regular sweetheart, what’re you having Armida?" She retorts seriously, skipping me without even a glance making my teeth grit together at the bold disrespect. Taking deep breaths to control my brewing foul mood, we place our orders then waited for our food.
"So, you're my future husband?" She asks in so much disgust as if I'm some form of burden making my palms itches at the thought of putting her in her rightful place, but before I can address Ariana, our steaming plates of food are placed in front of us, and we all proceed to eat.
Once our delicious meal is finished and the dishes were collected, she goes to open her mouth to say something, but I signal her to stop with a wave of my hand. The dominant in me has put up with her disdain attitude long enough. This girl needs to know I'm done playing nice, though, a girl isn't the right word to use; now that I've seen her for myself.
"Little girl, you had me waiting here for nearly an hour before you decided to grace us with your presence. As if I'm some boy seeing pussy for the first time. To top your little performance, you insult me as if we're the same size. I suggest you check that attitude of yours, for the next time we meet, and so help me; you better show up on time or else... I’m someone you don't keep waiting, no matter who the fuck your parents are." I declare sternly.
"With that being said, do enjoy the rest of your day Miss. Russo." I say coldly, looking directly into her hazel eyes; which hold something other than rage. Smirking, I pay for our food, leaving a considerable tip because it was indeed delicious regardless of the company I was in.
Getting up, I nod at my security details two tables ahead from us and walk out the door with Armida right behind me.
"Renzo, have one of your best track down every single detail you can on the name Shadow. In addition, have a few of the soldiers pursue both Ariana and her PA," I command my lieutenant, the moment I'm sitting in the backseat of the car.
"Sì Capo," he responds nodding in respect. "Let's move," he instructs the driver.
"Armida dear, reschedule all my appointments for the rest of today, for tomorrow, I'm taking the day off." I inform her and she frowns but says nothing and the car becomes silenced. Thanking god for it, because my mind is only thinking of that hazel-eyed goddess.
The fact she had the audacity to look at me straight in the eyes, calling me an asshole is something very new, and quite refreshing might I add. People are afraid to give me eye contact for more than a minute with very good reason. While most families associated themselves with my father out of pure respect, they stand with me for my blunt honesty, my ruthlessness and that my word is the law. If I say I'm going to get something done, it gets accomplished without mistakes or hiccups. A mistake is not in my book and anyone who makes one never lives to correct it themselves.
Smirking darkly at the folder in my right hand. I sip on the scotch, going over the contents one last time. I've waited a full month for this, normally getting information does not take this long; nevertheless, the wait was very much fruitful.
A few more minutes and my boys: Alfonso Costa, Aldo Lombardi, and Lorenzo Romano, my underboss, my consigliere, and my lieutenant are all here. Men I grew up with and trust with not only my life but my son.
"What's up, man?" Aldo asks, curiosity shining in his deep-blue eyes. I smirk, and they follow suit.
"So, who's the prey this time Capo?" Al utters slyly.
"Well boys, it seems there's more to my lovely wife to be than her stunning eyes," I retort mysteriously before filling them in on the information.
"No fucking way! It can't be!" Renzo exclaims astonished.
"You mean your wife is the Shadow!" Aldo counteracts and I nod because this just got a lot more interesting.
"Arsenio, I still can't believe that Ariana is the shadow. Who would've thought, Shadow's a woman?" Aldo rambles on, mostly to himself.
I knew something was off about her, the moment she walked into that restaurant. She had an air of sophisticated arrogance I didn't appreciate, and her quick tongue is too sharp to be a Russo bred female. Oh Shadow, you will be mine.