40 | a family outing
I chuckled lightly. "Yes, they do," I lied. "They just don't know how to express it." Love wasn't a term mafia men liked to be associated with. They liked having lovers but not to reciprocate. It was quite selfish actually.
"I don't know," she mumbled.
I gave her a look of surprise. "Why would I lie? They're your brothers. Of course they love you."
"I haven't been with them all my life. I don't even get why they took me in because after mom's death..." she gulped. I knew she still was not accustomed to her mother's death and was still trying to move forward. "...my step-dad was willing to take me in and to be honest I was quite happy with that."
I wanted to tell her it was probably because her step-dad was a cop (she had told me when we went shopping) but then again that would have more questions and I wasn't too keen on answering any.
"Maybe they thought it was the best if you live with them," I answered, picking up a glass of water.
"They? How about you?" she asked again.
I took a sip of the cold water to stall. Placing the cup down, I replied with a shrug. "Me as well, silly. Of course I want you with us." Faking enthusiasm was almost like a chore to me now. I had been so used to it that it didn't it didn't even make a difference anymore.
Alessia beamed. "That means a lot to me, Franci. Thank you."
I nodded, feeling like a liar. I didn't want her here because being with us meant ruining her life. It wouldn't be late before the Family finds a suitable match for her and gets her engaged just like me. I wanted her to live her life as if she owned it, not her husband. I wanted to protect her.
"Good evening, Antonio," someone abruptly said. I turned around to see a tall, Italian man with a charming smile. He winked at us playfully.
"Romeo," my husband greeted, gesturing towards the seat opposite him. Our table was a large rectangle. The Don sat at the head while Costanzo and Dante sat on his right. Omero, Alessia and I sat on his left with I right beside him. Dante had a smirk on his face as Costanzo did a weird handshake with the stranger. Omero, just like Antonio, only nodded in greeting.
Who was Romeo? I never heard of him before. Was that his real name? Was that his real name?
"Who's that?" Alessia whispered to me.
Antonio answered her. "This is Romeo Vitale. A close...friend," he told Alessia but I saw his eyes skim over me. I furrowed my brows. What did this have to do with me?
Romeo threw me a large smile that seemed friendly but mean at the same time. "I have heard a lot about you, Mrs. Giordano," he said with a heavy accent.
I gave him a forced smile, my eyes quickly skimmed towards my husband. He didn't look annoyed. He looked indifferent and that gave me a sense of peace. I didn't know how to reply to that but from the way he looked away I knew he didn't expect me to either. Or maybe he just didn't care.
"Romeo will be joining us today," Antonio said out of the blue.
Like most Italians Romeo had an olive complexion with chocolate brown eyes and dark brown hair that was layered cut, few strands messily falling on his face while the others were roughly shoved back. He was tall as well, probably as tall as Antonio, and he didn't dress to impress. I could tell. But he looked good nevertheless. He had that dark joker type vibe around him with his tattered brown biker jacket and black v-neck underneath.
I didn't stare at him for long. It wasn't appropriate, especially for the Donna. I knew my boundaries very well and it was was taboo for me to hint someone. Even by accidentally.
A question suddenly sprung in my head. Why would Antonio ask a stranger who is most likely a criminal to join a dinner with his oblivious sister involved? Unless he just didn't care. He didn't seem like the one to let things go casually.
"Alessia, are you done eating?" Antonio asked her when he saw her just messing with her food.
Alessia looked at me before timidly shrugging at him.
"Would you like Costanzo to take you on a drive?"
She looked at me again and I didn't know what to do other than giving her an encouraging nod.
"Okay," so she said.
"Costa, make sure no comes in," he told his brother in Italian.
Antonio almost smiled—almost. I saw the small twitch of his lips before it quickly disappeared. He leaned back casually. I could see it on Costanzo's face that he'd do anything to stay but also didn't want to disobey his brother.
Now it was only five of us left. The scene was very odd. We all sat in a private area of an elite restaurant in designer clothes while Romeo just came in with rugged clothes as if he was too busy to give a crap. Maybe he was. But I had to admit it was a smart get up.
In the mafia, men who wear prestigious suits have a bounty on their back. They were the gangsters who were worth more. It's basically asking for the Feds to follow behind. Antonio has to wear suits, obviously. He was a don, but I noticed that his suits weren't that expensive. His collection was mostly filled with Armani. It was smart. The cops would just think he was a minor player in a Family.
"She take the bait?" Romeo instantly asked once Alessia and Costanzo were gone.
I wondered why Antonio didn't ask me to take her. I shouldn't be involved in this. That were the rules. Costanzo should've been instead.
His hand fell on my thigh. "Yes."
Romeo didn't show any indifference on his face but then he looked towards me before sharing a look with Antonio that confused me to no end. Were they talking about me? I didn't think so. I hoped not at least.
"She was caught," Antonio continued as he rubbed circles over my dress before his hand creeped under. I shivered when I felt his hand touching my thigh.
"Why am I fucking hearing of this now?" He glowered.
I tried to keep my face emotionless and as if he didn't just scare me. Romeo wasn't all that decent when he was mad and right now he felt like a ticking time bomb. A man who could talk with Antonio like that wasn't a small time gangster.
Romeo was dark. I just knew. Normal people could have never figured it out but I knew enough to know that Romeo was someone not to be messed with. He had a smile on his face and if one looked closely it was sinister. He was a total player and I didn't the sex addict type who broke hearts. He was the one who broke souls.
"Watch it," Dante snapped.
But Romeo threw him a look that would scare the crap out of anyone. Dante didn't particularly budge but he didn't say anything either. Romeo was sending him a warning and Dante got the message.
And while all this was happening my dear husband was busy teasing me my bringing his hand close to my warmth and then away. I knew he was doing it purposely. He had to be. I took in a shaky breath as he started drumming his fingers against my inner thigh before abruptly leaving me cold. I would've sent him a glare if I wanted to be obvious. I didn't so I opted for nudging him pettily with my leg. It was a bold thing to do but it worked. I got a reaction.
Antonio broke the staring contest with a smirk on his lips and the way he glanced at me I knew it was because of me. "You had police tailing your back for months. You've been on and off." The words were supposed to be the ones of comfort but his voice was anything but that. Antonio wasn't pissed off yet but it wouldn't be long before things turned bloody.
I suddenly didn't want to be in this more than ever.
Romeo started smiling again. The smile that vanished came back and it looked too normal for anyones good. "Just make sure she's there and I'll do the rest."
One thing I noticed from the interaction was that Romeo didn't act like Antonio was the Don and that made me sure that Romeo probably didn't work under Antonio either. They were most likely allies—very loyal ones if Antonio allowed the disrespect bestowed by Romeo. They seemed like best mates even though Romeo looked a bit younger, around my age.
The Don stared at him with tight lips. "You have my word, Romeo."
"As you have mine, Antonio. No harm shall come to her, as for she will be my wife as well."