45 | fake friends
I did worry for him. I did wait his arrival. I did miss his warmth. And I did miss our non-existent moments. I, pathetically, took pleasure in his company. But he didn't because it was so easy for him to ignore me.
I knocked twice on the white wood door and waited for the 'come in.' There was no come in and when I tried to walk in, considering that this was the room nonna had guided me to with her words, the door didn't open. It was locked.
I rattled the door knob once more before groaning in frustration. I felt anxiety claw up my neck. I didn't know my way around here and I didn't trust anyone. At least back home I knew who to trust and who was in charge. There I could even muster up the courage to ask his brothers. They were sweet even though we didn't talk a lot. Here I knew no one.
Was this Antonio's way of punishing me? It seemed absurd but it was a possibility. Antonio was unpredictable. I didn't think so though. He wasn't childish. If he wanted to punish me, I would know. Antonio didn't do petty. He just wasn't like that.
I decided to sit on the couch in a living room nearby. That way, I could notice when he comes back. I wasn't going to be that idiot who roams around trying to find him. That would be stupid and would lead me just to trouble. I didn't care enough anyways.
It was common sense not to trust unknown surroundings and go wandering around looking for him. If he left, it was his problem. He'd come back on his own.
"Francesca?" I jumped in surprise and stood up.
Not knowing who it was, I turned around as if I had been jolted by lightening. A sigh of relief immediately left my lips.
Gianna giggled as she looked at my surprised state. "Dang, girl! You got scared."
But Amalia smiled warmly. "She was just surprised, Gianna."
"Big difference," retorted she.
I was embarrassed. I had honestly been scared for my life. I just had a feeling that I was going to be jumped. Or raped. The fear was coming back.
"What are you guys doing here?" I asked, honestly very confused. They were the consigliere and underboss' wives. But then I realized how stupid my question was. Their husbands were supposed to be with the Don.
Gianna was about to answer but Amalia beat her to it. "I think you already know the answer."
"Where the Don goes, the underboss and consigliere follow soon after and this is an important event," Gianna said as they walked forward.
I was oblivious to what they were talking about. I didn't want to look stupid asking them but I wanted to know as well. "No, I meant what are you doing awake at this time? And what event?" I asked like a fool.
Gianna smirked but Amalia smiled. I liked her better. Gianna always seemed like one of those friends that deliberately wanted to be above but it just might be a wrong feeling. Amalia seemed more genuine or it could all be an act considering that one can't always be trustworthy in the mafia. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
"We just arrived," Gianna answered the first question as they both sat down. She sat opposite me on another couch and Amalia sat beside me with her legs crossed.
I sat down on the beige couch. Amalia sat beside me. "There is an event hosted by the Godfather for all the families. No weapons and no fights unless you want to be killed. It's a meeting of peace—La Nostra Pace— in the form of party."
"I've never heard of this. How long has it been going on? Is it like the Commision Meetings?" I asked, curious.
Gianna shrugged. "Forever, I guess. But no one really attended it until your husband did once and ever since then it became a meeting for reviewing the borders and territories and stuff."
"Yeah. It's actually good though. Crime rate has gone down," Amalia said with a happy smile. "And it's quite similar to Commission Meetings. Those meetings started becoming dangerous after 1985 when the FBI put mob bosses behind bars using RICO or something, but this is a party and it's legal. Plus, it's in Itlay. Our domain."
"How do you know about all this?" I questioned. "I don't watch the news a lot."
"You should," she said. "But if you check on the news, the Families aren't that hostile toward each other as they were in the last Don's time. The breakouts have been less."
"Raffaello?" I asked.
They nodded before Amalia said, "the new Don is perfect to be the godfather. He did something that many of the previous dons couldn't do."
I felt proud for some reason. I felt like I was being praised instead of him. A smile made its way to my face.
"Aww, you're blushing," Gianna gushed as she giggled.
I chuckled and looked down. Amalia patted my arm in amusement. I pulled on my sleeves feeling embarrassed.
"What are you doing here, by the way? You should've been in your room," Amalia asked after a moment.
"I got locked out," I answered with a light chuckle.
Gianna snickered. "Sad...your husband and ours are in the office upstairs. Maybe you should go there."
"Gianna," Amalia warned.
"What? I'm sure the Don would want to see his wife." She blinked innocently at me. "I'm sure you're not scared of him, are you?"
It was then that I finally figured out that she wasn't the friend that I thought she was. She was questioning my pride and I actually felt offended. She was trying to get on my nerves and right now, she somehow succeeded.
"No." I smiled sweetly at her. "I'm not but I think you are—of yours, I mean."
There was literally no point in doing this, but did that make me shut up? No. Amalia tensed beside me. Even she knew that this was a sore subject. Well, Gianna shouldn't have brought it up because it would've been a sore subject for me as well.
Gianna's smile faded a bit. "What do you mean?"
I inspected my nails casually before looking up at her face. She was actually very pretty with her short and curvy figure. Her hair was thrown in a high bun and small curls framed her face. Her lips were coated with red and it made her eyes pop out. Unlike her, I was still in the same dress and probably looked very tired.
"Whether I meet my husband or not is my choice, love, but I think you should meet yours. After all, he does sometimes become very loose," I told her.
Amalia didn't stop me because she knew I had the higher authority here and I was glad she respected me enough. I saw her give a warning look to Gianna, sort of telling her to shut up. Gianna and her were friends and their husbands were almost in the same rank, therefore, it didn't really matter but I was the Donna whether they liked it or not. It sort of frustrated me that I would have to deal with women like her who found joy for no reason. Putting me down wasn't going to get her married to Antonio. Instead, he'd kill her himself for infidelity. It was a big thing in the Mafia for the women.
"Make sure yours doesn't. I'm handling mine just fine," she gritted out. It wasn't that I hated Gianna. I liked her till now and I didn't understand what had happened so suddenly for her to act so hostile.
"Of course, sweetheart. I would never think otherwise."
I felt like a bully. Wasn't I overreacting? But the damage had been done.
"At least I'm not like you," she retorted.
"Gianna, be quiet," Amalia gritted out but I could see the panic in her eyes.
"Of course you're not like me. I'm the Donna." I crossed my legs, agitated. "And rather acting like a backstabbing mate, just say what you want to."
"Fine! Stay away from my husband."
A pause. A deathly silence.
I burst out laughing. I couldn't control it. So that was the problem. She was a great actress and her resolve was awesome until our husbands were mentioned.
"I'm married, Gianna. I do not cheat and neither do I backstab," I told her. "You're overreacting."
A small smirk made its way to her face. "If you are so confident in your relationship with the Don then why don't you go see for yourself what they're doing upstairs. I'll even come with you."
"Of course," I agreed even though I knew I was a fool for doing so. I knew very well that my husband may not be loyal either. Yet I went anyway, ready to receive the humiliating slap on the face after this.
Instead, I saw something completely different.