54 | a taste of italy
I smiled softly.
Before I could answer, Stella spoke. "You seem thoroughly fucked," she said.
I gaped at the f-word she used. In the Mafia, women using such bad words were determined to be of loose character. It was mainly why I opted to go for less strong words such as 'douche' or 'prick.' I didn't actually want to judge her.
"What?" She innocently blinked at us all.
"You just swore," Lisa said.
She shrugged. "It's not like guys are going to tell. Are you?"
I couldn't help but smile. I wasn't going to tell. She did nothing wrong. I kind of liked her. She seemed fun and was someone I'd look forward to spend time with whenever I came back to Italy.
We all soon forgot about my tired state. They were knitting some clothing for fun while I was reading a book.
I giggled quietly at a funny part in the novel. I was so engrossed in it that I was very annoyed when my phone decided to ring. It was odd that it did so in Italy but then I figured it was Antonio's doing. A blush made its way to my face at the thought of him.
Husband, the caller ID read.
I blinked in surprise. He was supposed to be out with his men.
The girls looked at me in question. I smiled at them in reassurance. Amalia, who was sitting beside me, threw me a teasing glint when she saw his name.
"Sweet," she mouthed to me.
"Shut up," I mouthed back.
She chuckled and I couldn't help but return her a smile as I walked out of the living room.
"Hello," I answered.
"You busy?" he asked. I was momentarily surprised that he didn't get straight to point.
I glanced at the book in my hand. I loved Percy Jackson but Antonio was more important right now. He never called unless it was necessary. "No," I said.
"Get in the car outside," he said.
"What car?" I asked as soon as I walked outside after grabbing my purse. There were a lot of cars.
"Stefano will show you," he said.
"Where are you?" I asked. My tone was full of accusation that I didn't even mean.
He was silent for a moment. "Outside."
I looked around to spot him but than I realized he meant outside the house as in out for business. I suddenly felt like a fool.
"When will you be back?" I questioned.
"You'll see me soon," he answered curtly.
I bit my lips to keep myself from sighing into the phone. "Okay," I muttered. "Just come home quickly."
"Why?" he asked before I could put the phone down.
I didn't have it in me to tell him that whenever he came home late it scared me because I would always think he was in danger or dying. I had a feeling he knew though. All mafia wives feared that and would stress when their husbands won't be home in time. This was Italy and our city but that didn't mean we didn't have any enemies. We had enemies everywhere.
He cut the call and I stiffly walked down the porch steps. Stefano got out from one of the black SUVs and opened the door for me.
"Madam." He gestured toward the door. I was confused on where Antonio was sending me.
"Where are we going?" I asked once I settled in.
"I'm not supposed to say," he said when he sat on the driver's seat.
I didn't ask further.
Sirens blared as our cars passed by the town. People looked our way and immediately recognized us with the police and private cars surrounding my single one.
I opened my book and started reading. I was disturbed when Stefano spoke again. "Madam, we're here."
I looked outside to see a small Italian restaurant. It wasn't too luxurious but rather middle class. I was confused as to why I was brought here.
When Stefano opened my door, I stepped out briskly with my book. "Where are we?"
"At A Taste of Italy. It's a nice restaurant," he briefly answered.
I nodded as I started walking toward the place. My long jumpsuit fluttered against the wind softly as I tried to tame my brown hair. I gripped my phone in case I needed it. I was always very sceptical about new places.
The door dinged when Stefano opened it for me. Not a lot of people were inside either. I blinked in surprise when I noticed Antonio's bodyguards. He was here?
I turned to the new bodyguard. "Find out where the Don is."
The man nodded and walked toward a guy sprawled on the chair smoking. He instantly straightened up at the sight of a captain.
"Dov'è il capo?" Stefano asked. (Where is the boss?)
The stranger glanced at me. His eyes didn't go any lower before he turned back to Stefano. "È dentro, ma ha degli ospiti." (He's inside, but he has guests.)
I didn't need Stefano to come tell me. I understood. "Stefano," I called out. He turned to me. "Tell him I'm here please."
"Yes, Donna." He nodded at the man to do as I say while Stefano guarded me.
I felt their eyes on me. Half of these men were from Italy and the other half from America that came with us. I didn't look any in the eye. It wasn't that I was scared of them anymore. Antonio was here. But they made me wary.
While he left to do as I said, I looked around. It wasn't a big restaurant. I saw the owners behind the counter looking at us timidly. The waiters were all lined up and looking down. There weren't any customers inside. They all seemed to be ushered out.
The bodyguard walked out. "L'ha chiamata lui." (He called her in.)
I nodded for him to wait outside as I sauntered into a more private room. The first thing I saw a blonde woman. She sat opposite my husband on a square table, inspecting her nails.
I stood in the shadows. I saw his gaze flicker to mine as he beckoned me over. I paused momentarily for some reason. A sudden feeling in my gut made me annoyed.
Once I padded closer, he grabbed my hand and pulled my closer so I stood closely beside his sitting form.
The blonde glanced at me before looking back at my husband. "Deal?" she asked.
"You have my word, Ava," he said, nodding at her.
She got up to leave before staring at me. "I hope this is the Donna and not some side chick," she said gesturing to me.
Her accent was a Italian-American mix so I knew she was part of the mafia and from America. I was just confused as to who she was. And why was she being so rude?
I titled my head toward Antonio in question but he didn't look at me. Instead, he answered the tall woman standing before us.
"She is the one investing in your company, Ava," he said.
The woman nodded at me before reaching a hand out for a handshake. I shook my hand with her just for the sake of it.
"I look forward to dealing with you," she said with a smile.
I reciprocated her smile. "Likewise," I said as if I knew everything what was going on.
"I'll take my leave if that's alright?" she asked my husband.
He nodded and she left, closing the door shut behind her.
I instantly tapped his shoulder to get his attention. He looked at me through hooded eyes as he softly pulled me onto his lap and laid his head on top of my chest. His fingers played with mine as I stifled in a swallow.
"Baby, what was that?" I muttered. "And who was she?"
"Ava Mancino," he muttered, his breath fanning against my neck.
"Elaborate please," I said as I ran my hand through his hair.
He placed his hand on my thigh and he drew circular motions. I knew what he wanted and I rolled my eyes playfully.
"She's short of money and I'm just helping her."
"Oh," I said, very well knowing that helping her meant lending her money that she would have to return in some amount of time. If not, she'd be harassed. "How am I involved?"
"I'll be investing in her company under your name. We have the Feds on our backs right now. Ava is associated with elite people so she'll have a lot of attention. I investing in her company would raise questions. People know I'm mafia. You have a clean sheet. It's just to be safe." He sighed as he pushed my hair back. My body heated up and I didn't know whether to be thankful that I was wearing a jumpsuit or not.
"You draw amazing," he mumbled after a moment of silence.
"What?" I frowned in question.
He chuckled and I felt a tug in my stomach. It was husky and the right amount of deep. A total turn on.
"In the library, you left your sketch there," he explained. "It was on your first day here."
Ohh. "How'd you find it?" I asked.
"Omero was removing the guns from there. He found it."
That made sense. Alessia couldn't see the guns. She didn't exactly know about the crime world.
"When are we going to tell Alessia about us?" I asked.
He didn't answer me. I figured that he didn't know himself.
He tapped my leg to tell me to get up. I did and he shuffled up as well.
"For now..." He gripped my neck and pulled me closer. I craned my neck up as he tilted his down. His breath fanned my face lightly as he continued, "...just let me worry about the illicit stuff."
And then his lips met mine.