09 | the posh dinner
His head buried into the crook of my neck and I could feel his hot breath on my shoulders, making me shiver.
"When I call you, Francesca," he started and I instantly knew that I was screwed. He sounded mad. "You pick up the call."
His grip on my body tightened before his lips started sucking the tender skin on my neck. I couldn't help but flinch. I already had marks there from before.
"What the hell?" he harshly whispered as he whipped his mouth with the back of his palm.
I jumped before turning around. I could feel goosebumps covering my body and I was glad that I was wearing something long-sleeved. "I'm sorry. I covered the hickeys with concealer."
I wasn't going to cry even though I really wanted to. From Father's torture, I learned how to keep my emotions at bay. The more I showed, the more pleasure he would take.
His eyes snapped to my face. "I don't want them covered, Francesca."
I was attracted to him and his unruly black hair. Up close, I could see that his eyes were a deep black yet I couldn't deny that I didn't like the dominance he was showing. "I didn't know."
I waited for him to call me useless just like Father did to Mother and was surprised when he just stared at me. It made me realize how little did I know of this man and how much more did he know of me. He wouldn't ever randomly agree to marry a stranger without knowing her background.
He stepped closer, invading my personal space even more. My gaze instantly fell on his chest that was covered with a sleek grey shirt and a black tie. He titled my chin up with his index finger but I refused to look him in the eye. Instead, my eyes fell on his lips. They looked too inviting for their own good and I hated that. My lipstick would be ruined if I kissed him now.
"Look at me in the eye when I'm talking to you." My eyes widened a fraction.
"What?" I squeaked, refusing to raise my eyes. He was joking, right? He probably wanted me to offend him so he can hit me. But then again, why did he need a reason? He could do it without a reason and no one would dare question him. Plus, the Don wasn't the one for jokes.
"I do not repeat myself, Doll." Doll. The word hitched my breathing. In the Family, everyone important had another name that concealed their true identity from the police. They knew me as Doll—the woman getting married to the Don or the Ace. I was his personal doll.
Hesitantly, I raised my eyes to meet his dark ones. They were narrowed with frustration. I feared that he was too mad at me.
"I'm sorry," I repeated. I was still shorter than him even though I was wearing heels but I wasn't that short to make us seem like the difference between the North and South Pole. I think we looked fairly well height-wise.
My hands shook when he moved his hand to my cheek before they went behind my hair. I could feel pressure on my head before he let go. My hair fell out of the clip and tumbled around my face even more.
"I don't want anyone even seeing something that I'm the only one supposed to be having." His eyes were furrowed in concentration as he brought some on my hair on my shoulders, covering the skin from sight. "If you want to hide them, then do it without the makeup," he ordered.
"O-Okay." I felt myself relaxing a bit. He wasn't going to hit me yet but I knew it was coming. I was a hypocrite. Despite his ill intentions toward me, I wanted his approval. I wanted him to call me beautiful and worthy enough to please him.
The bell rang interrupting the moment. A sigh of relief left my lips accidentally and I knew he heard.
"Go open the door." His tone was demanding and as if he was ordering—which he was. He concealed his emotions in a commanding manner, making it impossible to refuse or even give him a wrong look.
I nodded before scurrying away. It was best to leave him alone right now. He wasn't the best company for me.
I quickly scanned the house as I walked to the doors. Everything was in place and perfect. The alcohol was not forgotten either. It was the main thing.
I didn't know who I was expecting when I opened the door but surely, it wasn't a woman with a face that looked like it had cake splattered over it. Not that I cared, she just seemed out of place.
• • •
I felt out of place and awkward. The men were gathered in one of the living rooms and were tensely chatting while waiting for the arrival of the Godfather, Roberto Giordano. I wanted to ask why the Don's uncles were not here but it was not my place to ask. I decided to keep silent.
"Hello, Doll," a happy voice snapped me out of my thoughts. Who the heck would be happy here?
I turned around to spot the well-groomed woman from before. She was the first one who had come with the previous Don Raffaello Giordano. Apparently, she was his choice of a woman. I didn't like judging people but right now I was worried for her. With the short clothes she wore, I wasn't too sure if she was in the right state of mind considering where she was right now. She practically seemed to invite trouble.
Her well dyed red hair was thrown up into a fancy bun and her glittering green dress was with a deep v-neck that plunged out her large breasts and hugged her small waist perfectly. I feared for her but I couldn't deny that she was beautiful even though she did need to tone it down a little. But it was her choice in the end.
I plastered the smile that I had learned to master for years. "Hello, Sara," I greeted.
I didn't want to be disrespectful even though I had no reason to be respectful either. Her boyfriend didn't mind sharing her with the other men. He refused to respect her so it allowed others to do the same. Mother was treated the same. I didn't want that to happen to any other woman.
"Wonderful organization. I must say, you are a tolerable woman for the Don." Her voice sugarcoated what she really wanted to say.
"I'm sure he won't be replacing me for that very reason and more." I had no clue on half of what I rambled. But I knew that I hit the nerve. She knew she wasn't a wife so my status would always be higher.
Her smile faltered. Women like her tried to establish dominance on the wives so their life could be easier. I wasn't an idiot. Once a gold-digger was always a gold-digger. She wanted to secure her position by steering me down. If Rafaello left her then she wanted the Don to protect her and that was only if she pleased him more than me. I didn't blame her to be honest. If I were in her place, I would be doing the same thing.
But she was playing with the wrong fire. I was born into this world and had more experience than her. She was just picked up from the streets with no experience whatsoever. If she did, then she'd know what type of dinner this was. She reminded me of Medusa for some reason. A beautiful woman trapped in an ugly world without much fault.
Sara tried to laugh it off. The woman was dumber than I had first thought. What was the point of taunting me only to get out of it? Weird people.
I wasn't very good at approaching people so when I saw the second and third in commands wives socializing in another room close by, I didn't approach them. I stayed in the kitchen. Apparently, Sara was just looking for a chance to find me alone.
Thankfully, though suspiciously, the other two women decided to join us in the kitchen.
They were beautiful people. Gianna, the second in command Pietro's wife, was a woman with long black hair and piercing black eyes. Her fair complexion with a short and curvy body made her very appealing. It was a pity that her husband couldn't see it. Whereas Amalia, the third in command Alessandro's wife, was a woman with blonde tresses and innocent brown eyes. She was tall and skinny, and she was smart. She knew how to keep her husband in control. From rumours I've heard, her husband brought his mistresses the least whilst Pietro did the most. They were an odd pair of friends.
"Hello, Francesca. I was waiting for you to join us." Gianna grinned at me as she pulled me in for a hug. Her bold grey dress stuck to her like a glove just like mine and fell to her shins. I hadn't failed to notice that all the women, other than Sara, of course, had opted to wear a dress with more layers. I was glad that my long brown tresses covered my bare shoulders otherwise I would've looked a bit odd as well.
"OMG! That dress looks gorgeous on you," Amalia gushed, totally ignoring Sara who was fumbling with her fingers. I could see a desperate look on her face before she concealed it with a cherished smile. I instantly knew that she had a bad relationship with these women. Sara looked out of place with the short dress and I didn't understand how to help her.
"Thank you." I smiled back at both girls. Amalia sported a flowy blue dress that fell to her ankles. "You guys look very pretty too. I love the nails."
Gianna brought her recently done nails up. "I love them too. I just got them done."
"Me too," Amalia butted in. "Maybe we should go get them done together next time."
I nodded in agreement. It was better if the women of the husbands got along too. I was glad they were good women otherwise most females in the Family were hypocrites and power-hungry. I needed more allies of my own to establish a strong base—so my word wouldn't be taken lightly and the Don would think twice before replacing me.
"Do you guys want to come sit somewhere more peaceful?" I asked but I could already see their agreement in the way their eyes twinkled.
And I just knew that this was only the beginning.