Mafia Puppet

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57 | a party in the cruise

"THAT'S IT," NONNO said. "Is it hurting?"

I mumbled a 'no' as I stared at myself in the mirror. I looked gorgeous. My eyes were shadowed with black eyeliner and my lips were bold red just like my dress. I had large hoop earrings dangling from my ears and there was glitter everywhere. I no longer looked upset.

"My lord," Amalia gushed. "You look gorgeous."

Nonna smiled. "It's my art, darling."

"Did you know that Nonna got me ready for my wedding? I looked so good that Alessandro just couldn't take his eyes off me. It was hilarious and hot at the same time." She chuckled.

I smiled. "I was there at your wedding with my family. You looked gorgeous."

Nonna placed her hands on my shoulders. "And so are you, darling. I promise you, Toni would not be able to take his eyes off you."

"Isn't her dress too revealing?" Gianna suddenly remarked as she fiddled with the sleeves of her long white dress. "It's nice but it's like asking to be raped or hurt, especially with a slit so big. Your husband surely won't approve."

Nonna smiled sweetly at Gianna who sat dressed up on the bed. "She has her husband to protect her." Unlike someone. I could practically hear the unsaid words.

I hid my grimace at the mention of my husband. I knew he wouldn't let anyone touch me. That would hurt his ego so I was safe from others.

"He's not going to be around her the whole time. He's going to meddle with other whor-people," Gianna spoke again.

But Nonna cut me off before I could say anything. "My boy is wise. He knows what to do at what moment. Francesca is beautiful but she only dresses up for her husband. Showing her off would be his pleasure. He doesn't need other women to announce his status unlike many people we both know."

Gianna didn't speak any further but I could see that she didn't like getting told down. Gianna wasn't a bad woman. It was her husband that made her act like this. I could only assume Gianna knew that her husband had his eyes set on me. I wasn't oblivious to his gazes either but she needed to understand that I would never reciprocate. I was a married woman and despite all of my conflicts with my husband right now, I would never backstab him. The mere thought disgusted me.

A knock sounded on the door. "They are ready to leave."

I stood up along with Amalia. She gave me my purse and grabbed hers as well. Nonna bid us three a goodbye as we left. I couldn't help but stop at the balcony of the staircase. Antonio was down there. I was going to see him the first time after our fight.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Amalia asked in confusion.

She sported a baby pink dress that reached her shins with large heels that made her look even taller than she was. It hid her small baby bump.

"Nothing," I told her.

"Trouble in paradise?" she asked with a smile.

Gianna snorted behind me. I rolled my eyes at her childish behaviour. I was getting tired of her.

"Can you stop?" Amalia snapped. "Francesca hasn't done anything to you. Why don't you handl—?"

Gianna sneered. "First you befriended me because I was the underboss' wife but now that she is here, you forget me. I say you're the real bitch around here."

Amalia rolled her eyes. "You just see everything negatively. How about I tell the underboss that you swore?"

I fisted my hand, irritated. "No one is telling anyone anything," I snapped.

They turned to me in surprise. I understood why. I sounded very aggressive, but I couldn't help it. I couldn't get Antonio out of my head and their bickering was like bees humming in my ears.

"This is our problem and we will solve it ourselves. I'm sure we are capable enough to do at least that," I told them.

They didn't say anything.

"Good. It's settled then. For now, let us all just head down peacefully. This is an important event and I do not need everyone to know about our conflicts."

They nodded despite their clear annoyance but I was relieved that they didn't argue. I didn't need any more on my plate than I already had. I didn't even know how I got stuck into this problem.

I walked past them and down the stairs. The lights were dimmed, making a romantic atmosphere somehow. My heels clicked against the marble stairs and all attention snapped to me and the two girls a step behind. Gianna stood to my right and Amalia stood to my left. I saw him first standing with Alessandro and Pietro. He wore an all-black three-piece suit with a black tie. His hair was pushed back and he had shaved.

My husband wore his signet on his right hand that signified that he was the Don and a wedding ring on the left. They both glistened and caught the most attention. Other than that, he had a golden-diamond watch on. This party had the Five Families. One needed to boast their power.

Then I noticed the other men who stood in the room. They were coming with us. I smiled at him for a show. I couldn't exactly tell everyone about our problems. Whatever happened, stayed in between us.

I stepped down the stairs and wrapped my arm around his softly. He didn't push me away and I didn't expect him to. From what I learned about him was that he too didn't like others knowing personal matter.

Amalia instantly walked into the arms of Alessandro and he put a hand on her back. Gianna just got pushed away by Pietro. I couldn't help but feel bad. It really wasn't her fault.

"Bambola," my husband said, his breath fanning my earlobe as he gave it a soft kiss. "I'll make it up to you, that's a promise."

And when I looked up at him, he was already staring right back.

• • •

I stifled in a gasp at the cruise that stood before me.

He wrapped his hand around my waist. "Do you like it?"

I only nodded.

"We have many cruises in America," he told me. The cruise was a large and white that stood at the border of the water.

Paparazzi were getting blocked by our bodyguards as we walked up the ship. It was like the red hall in Hollywood. There were a bunch of movie stars, mobsters, businessmen, ministers, and basically all the rich people over the world gathered here, in Italy.

"Do they all know?" I asked him in a low voice.

Antonio instantly understood. "Everyone here knows it's hosted by the Crime Organization, but no one knows it's a peace meeting in between the five families of New York," he answered.

I nodded.

They didn't stop us when we walked in. The security knew it was us, but we all had to put our guns away before we walked through a scanner, going undetected as expected.

Antonio and I walked inside the cruise. He didn't really follow the signs that led to the party. There were pretty women at the side escorting guests to the actual party hall. Antonio just knew where to go.

I noticed the grandness instantly when we stepped inside. The golden tinge of the light and the beige couches filled the large hall. There were gold spiral staircases at right and left which had red brass stanchions, allowing none to enter with guards preventing people from entering. I glanced up and saw two floors where one could stare down from the balcony. Many glistening white chandeliers hung from the top. That must've cost millions alone.

There people bustling around, talking and laughing until they noticed us. Silence ushered upon the people with only a light buzz of whispers. I gripped Antonio's arm tighter as eyes fell on us.

"Is that Mr. Giordano?" I heard a whisper. "The woman by his side is gorgeous."

I kept my face neutral even though I wanted to thank whoever said that.

Antonio stepped down the steps and into the whole room. People made space for us. The man opened the barricade without question and let us—the underboss and consigliere as well—pass and go upstairs.

I picked up my dress and walked up with his hand still in mine. I barely got a glimpse of Gianna and Amalia staying down. Why was I allowed upstairs?

The cruise was large but the cushions in the luxury area stood out the most. This was like the superior area. We weren't on the top floor and not a single soul was there either.

He led us to the couches in the corner. The loud voices of people started booming again downstairs. The music was a bit loud but soothing at the same time. It gave me a nice vibe at the place. I wondered if the police here tried to bug the place. It was a possibility.

"Mr. Giordano!" a man greeted as he stood up. "Long time no see." He looked at me and tilted his head to the side in curiosity. "Beautiful woman you've got there."

My husband's hand wrapped around my waist tightly. "I know," he replied.

I returned a small, professional nod to the man. Antonio and I sat down on a large separate couch. Even though there was a lot of space, the other rich associates chose to cramp themselves onto the other couches. Alessandro and Pietro sat beside him, however.

The men started talking business. There were occasional glances at me but when Antonio didn't object to me sitting there, they started talking, slowly but surely.

The man who called me beautiful was named Joseph Ricco who was the don of the Ricco Family of the Five Families. The Ricco Family wasn't as big as the Giordano, Bianchi, and Lambardi Family. The Ricco and Fiorentino Families were smaller but they were very influential.

Antonio and he were secretly talking about earning billions from illegal construction. Obviously, they said that stuff in code words. Things began to change when loud chatter coming from below lowered. I looked down at the glass railing beside me. Antonio noticed too. He leaned away from Don Ricco.

My breath hitched as he leaned against me on the couch to glance down. I didn't lean back as my breath fanned his ear. If he would've titled his head a little then our lips would've met. I looked away, his betrayal coming to light.

Pietro stood up and stood against the railings, gripping it stiffly. "The Bianchi's," he said looking back at my husband.

I felt Antonio wrap a protective arm around my waist. He pulled me closer so that his lips were at my ear. "You'll stay with me," he told me before pressing a soft kiss on my earlobe. I felt my heart leap but I didn't show him any reaction.

I nodded, surprised that he was letting me be with him. I should've been down with the other women. I shouldn't have been that surprised though because Antonio let me in on the meetings from before but this was serious and it was because I barged in and he didn't want to insult me by telling me to leave. I was grateful for that.

The chatter started again as the new Mafia Family made their way up here. Everyone stood other than my husband and me. He placed a hand on my thigh and rubbed circles on it.

There were five people: four men and one woman wrapped around a younger man's arm. I knew there were more of them downstairs, meddling with businessmen and acting casual just like our men.

The woman was blonde with striking stormy blue eyes. She was tall but the man beside her was taller, easily passing six feet. The wedding ring on her finger told me that she was his wife. The man had dark brown hair and black eyes. High cheekbones and a firm, annoyed look on his face, as if he had better things to do than be in his meeting. However, the man carried an aura of dominance just like my husband did and the two sidekicks beside him told me that they were his consigliere and underboss. He seemed familiar.

Vincent Bianchi, I remembered Antonio say. He was the Don of the Bianchi Family and one of the youngest dons in history.

"Bianchi," my husband greeted with a stif nod.

Vincent Bianchi nodded back. "Giordano," he said. The woman by his side gripped his arm tightly as if in a warning. I hid my confusion. Why was he so pissed off?

As the man sat down on a couch opposite us, the atmosphere became stiff.

"Anyone want wine?" Joseph Ricco said with a slight chuckle as a woman came bringing in a trolley.

"Are the Lambardi and Fiorentino here?" a man from the Bianchi Family asked.

My husband tilted his head toward me. I moved closer. My hand reflectivity fell on his that was on my thigh. "That's Vincent Bianchi," he whispered in my ear. "The woman beside him is Angelina. She's his wife."

I nodded. "Which one is the consigliere and underboss from the two?" I whispered back. It was the first thing I said to him this whole day of ignoring each other.

"The scrawny one is called Danilo. He's the consigliere. The other is Maximus, the underboss," he explained.

I nodded, glancing at the scrawny, middle aged man beside Don Bianchi and the buff, muscular guy standing at the side. The awkward silence between the three families was broken when the Lambardi Family stepped in. It was chaos and I had a sudden feeling that this meeting was not just going to be a peaceful meeting. It was more.

• • •

When everyone boarded, the cruise started moving. I knew we weren't staying the whole night. None of us brought any luggage with us. When Antonio stood up with me and grabbed my hand, I knew that we were finally going on the top floor. I didn't want to go with him. I didn't want to get involved in any way.

The Lambardi Family came late and that earned a pretty nasty glare from Antonio and Vincent Bianchi.

"Well, well, well. Everyone's here in one shape," Gino Fiorentino joked.

No one laughed.

Gino Fiorentino was the Don of the Fiorentino Family. He was a man in his late forties and had humour lines on his face. The man smiled a lot and was jolly.

Luciano Lambardi was the crime boss of the Lambardi Family. He was an older man, probably in his sixties. That meant that he was more experienced than all of us. The more the experience the smarter a person is. The man came with his son, Franco.

I didn't sit beside my husband at the long table. Other than me, Angelina was the only woman. I didn't know what to say when she came and sat beside me on the couch in the corner. The men of the five families sat on a large round table in the middle of the board room. I didn't even know why we were here. We weren't supposed to be but no one objected Antonio and Vincent. They were the leading powers of the Nostra Vita.

When everyone settled in, my husband spoke. "Let's began."
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