34 | calling him
The burning stench of the hot food did little to help me forget yesterday. It was impossible but I had to move on. I couldn't dwell on it forever. Alessia needed me strong.
I saw her look at me and I gave her a small welcoming smile. She looked away, making me frown. Maybe she didn't want to be here and was rather forced to do so. I wasn't even surprised. Or maybe it was because of the first impression I was forced to make. Did she know I was married to her brother and was not a gold digger?
"Alessia," my husband's commanding voice said. Everyone looked at him. Alessia, having the attention suddenly pointed at her, winced. Antonio, however, didn't care that she was uncomfortable. Or he just didn't show it if he did. "Francesca will get you admitted to school and show you around the city."
Alessia nodded meekly. Even though she didn't know who her brothers were and how it worked around them, they gave off the deadly vibes and she seemed smart enough to notice. She, being raised by a cop, would help. As long as she wouldn't know anything, she would be safe and sound.
"Use your words, Alessia," Dante said. If I wasn't wrong then that was a trick to help them assess someone's weak and strong points as well as know how much truth was in their words.
"Okay," she said. She looked sad and I didn't know how to comfort her, especially since she didn't seem to like it here. I didn't know any way to make her feel comfortable. Maybe I should act like a friend. But she was ten years younger than me.
The brothers left soon after and put their plates away. Though I was tired from the lack of sleep last night, I was actually looking forward to spending time outside with Alessia.
All was going smoothly until I realized I would need the proper documents for Alessia which I didn't have. Antonio did and he had left.
• • •
Turned out, I had to call him. I had his number. It was given to me when I got engaged to him. Silvio given it in case for emergencies but never once had I used it. I wasn't expecting too either. It just never crossed my mind.
I didn't want to disappoint him but I didn't want to call him either.
It's just a call, Franci. He won't be able to do anything to you from that far.
What if he drives back here just to do so? My other side of the brain argued.
He doesn't have the time for that. Plus, he's not that bad—
—if you ignore the murders and the psychotic brain, of course.
I heaved out a painful sigh. I was going to call him. Whatever was going to happen would happen and I didn't want him saying that I hadn't tried.
I pressed the green button and I waited for him to pick up. He did after a ring or two but it still felt like hours.
"Giordano," he said. Count on my husband to even be formal to me—his wife.
"Antonio," I hesitantly said to test out his mood.
"What's wrong?" was his response. He knew that I wouldn't call him without a reason.
I gulped. "Um, I need the documents for administering Alessia into high-school."
He was silent. "Get it from my office downstairs," he finally said.
"I-I don't—I mean I don't want to go..." I trailed off. I had no explanation.
"I'll send Omero to you guys. Go to the mall or something first. He'll find you."
"Okay," I replied, relieved. I didn't want to go into his office or on the third floor again. It was too dark and creepy. "Uh, bye then. Stay safe." I squeezed my eyes shut in embarrassment. Why did I just have to open my big mouth?
He hummed in response. "Of course." And then he cut the call. I immediately breathed out a sigh of relief.
To be honest, I preferred Costanzo out of all the brothers. He was more carefree and respectful towards me. Omero was all silent and creepy with the stalker vibes. Dante was similar with the silent gangster type vibe and my husband exceeded all of them. He was the mob boss and actually behaved like one. Silent and broody which was also very cliche but a bastard nevertheless.
I rolled my eyes and grabbed a pair of washed jeans and a baggy nude off shoulder sweater, pairing it with a hair of black boots. I covered the dark spots under my eyes with foundation and applied a bit of mascara, enhancing the outlet of my eyes.
I fiddled with my wedding ring as I walked down the huge staircase. This time I didn't forget to bring my phone and purse. A group of men waited below. There were six of them and I only recognized Fabio.
Antonio's men were more respectful towards me than Father's. They were more professional and less gangster type. But these men were wearing the cliche suits. It was probably a show for Alessia because the regular uniform was a black shirt enhancing their bulky muscles and tats with a pair of jeans and biker gloves on their hands.
Fabio nodded at me. He was a large man with visible muscle through his suit. He had tattoos clawing up to his neck and a buzz hair cut. His eyes were a dark brown with a jagged scar running across his face. It looked painful.
"Madam," he greeted.
"Fabio," I said. Now that I was seeing him after what happened, I felt a bit safer around him. He had helped me and trusted me enough to give me a gun. It was practically giving a woman power.
I waited for Alessia and she arrived minutes after, wearing a hoodie and jeans. Her blonde hair was thrown in a simple braid and her face was free of any make up. I was glad that she wore something conservative because I didn't want to explain this to the Don. Plus, I couldn't exactly forbid her to wear such clothing. I had to explain why as well.
"I'm sorry for making you wait," she said.
I smiled at her. "It's fine. Ready?"
She nodded in response and we walked out. The six bodyguards surrounded us. Before Silvio used to lead them. Now, Fabio did.
I was used to all this but Alessia was not. She was clearly uncomfortable and I had a feeling she felt that she was underdressed and poor because of the branded clothing and luxury things that surrounded us. I wanted to tell her it didn't matter but I knew it would only make things worse because she'd know that I noticed.
Five SUV's were parked outside. I knew the one in the middle was what we would be riding in. Fabio opened the back door for us. I let Alessia slide in before I did. She stared out the window. I felt bad for her. She was separated from her family and thrown into this sick world I lived in.
My eyes wandered to her slumped form. Just like when she was last in the car, she sat huddled close to the window as if I would swallow her. What was her problem?
I looked away before a gasp left my lips at the gun that was peeking out of the front seat back pouch on her side. I didn't know what to do. Explaining why a gun was here was not something I wanted to do.
I reached out my hand and discreetly pushed it back in. She glanced at me but I turned away. She hadn't seen the object and I could only hope she was not curious enough to. Curiosity really did kill the cat.
"Do you need something from the mall?" I asked her once we were in the parking lot. We already had brought a lot of attention to ourselves by the six imposing bodyguards following us around.
Alessia shook her head. "No, I don't have any money."
"Don't worry about the money, sweetheart. Just get whatever you want," I said.
Alessia didn't reply. She only nodded but I knew that her pride wouldn't let her. Men were going love breaking that pride and I would be left to watch it happen.
No, I'm not going to let that happen. But I promise her that I would do anything to stop it. She didn't need to lose her spirit as I did.
For the next hour or so, I took her around, buying stuff occasionally. She started getting more comfortable, asking simple questions as to which outfit looked better and what mall it was. She suddenly paused from inspecting a bracelet. Alessia turned toward me with a sheepish expression on her face.
"I'm sorry if I have been rude in the morning. I was actually feeling quite uncomfortable. Also, thank you for all this," she said.
I smiled at her. My heart bloomed with a sudden feeling of glee. No one had ever took their time to appreciate what I had done for them. They would see it as my job or my duty but no one from the Family would ever be grateful. Not Father and especially not my husband.
"It's okay." I beamed. "How about you go try this on? It looks cute." I gave her a a long sleeved shirt that looked decent and conservative. I knew that that wouldn't go against the codes.
She looked at it with a raised brow. "No offence, Franci, but it's too conservative. It barely shows any skin."
I quickly shushed and glanced at Fabio who was looking at us. The other bodyguards decided to guard to door but Fabio stayed with us. I couldn't tell from his expression if he heard or not but I hoped he didn't. If he did then my husband would surely know of this. He knew everything.
She looked at me with wide eyes as if I shushing her offended her. It probably did but I couldn't care about that right now.
"Alessia," I started. I didn't know how to explain to her that her saying such things would make her seem like a whore (not my words) and she would be most likely killed or groped badly. She was lucky she was the Don's sister and people preferred to stay away just in case. "Our family is very, very conservative. Showing even a little bit of extra skin would get you in...a situation you don't want to be in."
She raised a brow. "Bad situation? That's stupid. I'm a teenager, not some granny. My family never cared."
I sighed. "I don't expect you to understand, Alessia, but I expect you to listen. Not because you live in my house but because I know the people you are living with."
She huffed. "Then what should I do because the clothes that you chose for me are just so...traditional?"
"Showing skin does not always mean that it would make you more prettier. In fact, sometimes longer outfits would make you look actually more appealing. Like, buy a long sleeved turtle neck. I love those. Showing less skin would leave a person to imagine," I, obviously, whispered out the last part. I felt like a grandma. This was wrong.
I plucked a tight black turtle neck off the rack. Alessia was extremely skinny. The shirt would look good on her. "Try this."
I saw her face dim down. I understood the faze she was going through of showing skin. I had it too and I remembered the consequences. I shuddered at the memory. The scars Father created with his belt were healed but the wounds in my heart never did. What if Raffaello did that to her?
No. That isn't going to happen. I am not going to let it.
"Trust me, it'll look good," I said, leading her to the change rooms.
Fabio stopped outside. I turned to the corner where the stalls were. I didn't even know I was tense until I was out of his sight. Little did I know, my own loyalties were going to be questioned after this. If I had known, I would've preferred him with me.