Chapter 14 - New York City
Hayley fidgeted with her top as she waited for Luca to come for her, he wanted to show her New York. Was he trying to give her a reason to stay? Did she truly need a reason? Luca was blowing hot and cold, one minute he was pulling her towards him, wanting her.
The next he was trying to avoid her, shouting at her and making her hate him. It was 10am on the dot when he turned up, Hayley’s heart was racing as he knocked on her apartment door, she grabbed her jacket before answering it.
“Hello.” She beamed at him, he stood in one of his expensive suits, did he own anything else?
He couldn’t help but admire her, as hard as it was to admit she was breathtaking. He drank in her natural beauty, the way her hair had its natural warmth, her brilliant blue eyes and her perfect body.
"Ciao, Bella." He beamed back and watched as she blushed slightly brushing a stray piece of hair behind her ear.
How did he have this effect on her? how did he manage to make her feel like a teenager rather than a strong woman she believed herself to be?
“Ready to go?” He asked as she put on her jacket.
“Yep.” She replied as she followed Luca down the stairs and out onto the street. Nic was in the driver’s seat. He smiled at Hayley as Luca opened the door and let her slip in first.
It was mid-October and the air was a lot cooler. Luca took her to an Italian café where she drank expensive Italian coffee. Luca was casual as they spoke, they discussed little topics, favourite music styles, favourite seasons, they talked about nothing in particular and Hayley just let the conversation flow.
They strolled through the park that had leaves beginning to change to the warm autumn colours, reds, golds and oranges.
“Do you miss England?” He asked as he took her hand gently, he knew Nic was around and perhaps a few others of his security, which meant he could focus all his attention on the brunette that walked beside him.
Did she miss England? That was a tough question. There was nothing left for her in England, her dad lived in Russia, her grandma was dead and the man she loved was long gone.
“I miss the life I once had,” she replied honestly as she walked holding Luca’s hand, it felt strange yet comforting. “I miss the friends I once had, my home.” She explained, he nodded.
“What about Paris, do you miss Paris?” He quizzed her, and she sighed.
“Paris was never home, it was a place I used to hide from my dad, a place that kept me safe,” She replied. “Adrien and the girls there were fantastic, friends. But, I wasn’t a huge fan of Paris as a city.” She said, and he chuckled.
“What about New York?” He asked, had he managed to convince her to stay?
“New York is much like Paris, busy, but safe,” She sighed,.“I suppose home is where the heart is, and my heart hasn’t made up its mind.” She explained.
“The guy you were with did he have your heart?” Luca asked, it had bugged him since her confession. This guy was the one to her, was he so cruel to take her heart and hurt her first?
“He did once. But he’s long gone now, he left England after he left me, no goodbye just the pain he inflicted.” Hayley had no idea why she was being so open. Maybe it was because Luca was letting down his own guard, which mobster just takes a girl out for a day in New York?
Luca wanted to ask what he did, find out his name, perhaps his men could track him down, but his mobile distracted him. It was a text message from Isabella Altera, Frankie’s little sister.
“Damn, I forgot we have somewhere to be. Do you fancy going to a birthday party?” He asked Hayley, who just nodded anything for more time with Luca.
The Italian restaurant he brought Hayley too was the stereotypical Italian place, it had the red and white checked tablecloths, wine bottles with candlesticks in. Along the wall were old photos of members of the huge Altera family, alongside black and white photographs of New York and Italy.
Frankie’s family was huge, he had four sisters, only three were here; Isabella, Mia and Sofia. He also had an abundance of cousin’s, Hayley thinks somebody said twenty-two of them.
His dad was a true Italian man called Salvatore, or Sal as everyone called him, his wife was a petite woman called Maria and she loved to fuss over everybody.
It was obvious Frankie loved his family and his family seemed to worship him, his older cousins picked on him, but the younger boys seemed to admire him.
Luca seemed amazingly comfortable in the family, he laughed alongside the older cousins that bullied Frankie, and Frankie took it in his stride. Nic also stood amongst the family talking to the older men, the uncles of Frankie. It was like they fit like some sort of jigsaw puzzle.
Hayley sat with Isabella, Sofia, Mia and some of the girl cousins. They all talked mainly about men, films and other casual subjects as they passed the bottles of Italian wine around.
Sofia was a twin to Elena who was away in college, she was only nineteen and attached to her hip was a young boy, he was about three years old. Samuel or Sam who was her son and Hayley had learnt she had gotten pregnant by a man who was several years older than her, she believed he loved her at the time.
Whilst Sofia enjoyed the wine she confessed to Hayley that Sam’s father was an enemy to Frankie and got with her to prove he could, she told her he ran away when she told him she was pregnant, she proudly admitted to Hayley that Frankie was like a father to Sam, helped financially and did the things his father should be doing.
Luca couldn’t take his eyes off Hayley as she sat amongst the Altera women, they were all laughing and joking, he watched as Hayley smiled and sipped the wine that Mr Altera had laid out for everyone. Suddenly Sal stopped the music and coughed loudly he was going to make a speech.
“Everyone, we are going to wish a happy birthday to the birthday boys, it’s not every day you turn twenty-nine, you boys are nearly old...” Salvatore Altera spoke and then Maria spoke loudly.
"Dovresti essere sposato ora, con i bambini!” Her words made everyone laugh.
(You should be married, with children.)
“Non ancora mamma, sono troppo occupato per quello.” Frankie replied which made all the men laugh, and his mother frowned.
(Not yet mom, I’m far too busy for that.)
“What did your mum say?” Hayley asked the oldest Altera sister, Isabella. Isabella laughed before she answered.
“She says they should be married with babies, but Frankie says he is too busy for that” Isabella explained before her father spoke again.
“Calmati, si sposerà a suo tempo.” Sal said laughing at his wife.
(Calm down, he will get married in his own time.)
“Now, Frankie and Luca!” Sal said, suddenly Hayley realised it was both Frankie’s and Luca’s birthday, she noticed him standing beside Nic and Frankie.
Maria walked over to them and kissed each of the birthday boys on the cheek.
“Happy Birthday boys, hope life treats you well! To the birthday boys.” Sal toasted, and every one replied and clinked their glasses. Then the live music began again and everyone began to grab partners and dance.
“Do you dance Hayley?” Sofia asked as she sat with little Sam on her lap who was eating the buffet food that Maria had put out, she looked like she was feeding the entire city of New York.
“I used to, I was a national ballroom champion, ” Hayley hadn’t said that out loud in years. “I did it all Cha cha, waltz you name it.” Hayley laughed as she sipped the wine, Sofia’s eyes lit up as she scanned the room before she found her dad, standing beside Luca and Frankie.
"Papà, Hayley era una ballerina della sala da ballo. Dovresti ballare con lei.” She shouted Luca looked up at Sofia what the hell was she going on about, was she drunk?
(Dad, Hayley was a ballroom dancer, you should have a dance with her!)
Luca watched as Sal nodded and walked across the room to Hayley and Sofia. Hayley had no idea what Sofia had said to her dad, but he held out his hand towards Hayley, she could hear the distinctive beat of a Cha Cha cha being played.
“Can I have a dance, Bella?” He asked her, she was unsure, but she had been drinking and it was a party after all. So, she took the older Altera’s hand and he guided her to where other couples were dancing to the cha cha cha beat.
Luca’s eyes were locked on the beauty dancing with Sal, Sal and Maria were once professional ballroom and Latin dancers in their younger years and so it would appear was Hayley.
Hayley was nimble, light and energetic. He smiled as she laughed, and her face lit up with pure joy. It had been years since she had danced like this, Sal was guiding her, leading her well and he was impressed with her footwork.
The other couples had left the area they had created as a makeshift dance floor, they were clapping to the beat cheering Sal on, as he spun, twisted and danced with the young girl. Maria stood beside Luca, who looked down at the Altera matriarch.
“She’s a beauty Luca, I hope she is a keeper.” She spoke in a low voice as she watched her husband dance with Hayley.
The music ended, and Hayley curtsied to the audience, and Sal lightly kissed the back of her hand as the music began with another lively piece and Luca walked over to them along with Maria Altera.
"Lei è un diamante, Luca. Non lasciarla andare, o ti mancherà la sua scintilla.” Sal spoke directly to Luca before taking his wife and danced with the other couples. Luca knew Sal and Maria was right, she was something unique, something he had never encountered before.
(She is a diamond, Luca. Don’t let her go, or you will miss her sparkle.)
Luca took Hayley and pulled her towards him as he joined in the dancing, it was a party after all.
“You never told me you were a ballroom dancer.” Luca murmured as he held her close, and she laughed at him, looking at his chocolate eyes.
"You never told me it was your birthday, happy birthday Luca.” She smiled, as he looked down at her bright blue eyes.
“Thank you.” Was all he said before he twirled her under his arm, and then brought her back into him and she let out a light laugh, it made him smile at the sound. The music came to an end and Frankie stood beside Luca and Hayley.
“Sorry Luca, it’s my birthday too and I want a dance.” Frankie winked at Hayley as another fast-paced piece of music played, and Frankie came between the pair.
"Addio, capo." As he danced away with Luca’s woman, Luca would be mad if it wasn’t Frankie and his birthday.
Hayley danced most of the night, and everyone was getting merry with the drink. She was exhausted as she sat at a table and Sal began singing a song in Italian with a merry Frankie joining in along with some of his drunk cousins. Luca sat with Hayley, he hadn’t as much to drink as Frankie.
“I’ve had a great night.” Hayley confessed as she looked at Luca, who smiled at her.
“I’m glad.” He replied before taking a sip of his whiskey. Hayley looked around the huge room at the family of Italian’s who were all getting along, singing and dancing.
“Frankie’s family are lovely.” She said, and Luca nodded.
“His family are amazing people, they have always been good to me.” Luca nodded.
This family was always here when he needed a family. He spent many Christmas’, Birthdays and other holidays here. Frankie and Luca were school friends, Frankie was a rebel kid, getting into trouble until Luca’s Uncle offered him work and soon he was like Nic always at Luca’s side.
“His sisters seem like nice girls,” Hayley said as she sipped from her glass. “Sofia’s story is heart-breaking.”
Luca nodded as he looked at young Sofia and the little boy who was now asleep on her knee, a little boy whose blood held the blood of an enemy family.
“She says Frankie looks out for Sam.” Luca stopped to look at Hayley’s innocent eyes as she looked at his dark eyes.
“Frankie looks out for his entire family. Elena is in university because of his money, Mia has a salon because of Frankie, his family’s restaurant is thriving because of Frankie’s Marcello links.” Luca explained.
“He loves his family,” Luca added as he watched Frankie pick up Sam from his sister and carried him out of the restaurant presumably to bed.
Would Hayley think any less of Luca and Frankie if she knew that Samuel will never know his father because he never walked away from Samuel but was simply murdered? Frankie wouldn’t let his sister marry any Borroni scum, particularly a second cousin of Lorenzo Borroni.
Luca hated the idea of killing Samuel’s father, as did Frankie but it was the only way Borroni couldn’t be in their family. Sofia had to believe the asshole was gone. Thankfully, she knew she had her brother to look out for her and Samuel.
“Luca.” Nic sat beside Luca as Hayley was whisked away for another dance by one of Frankie’s older cousins. Luca never took his eyes on them as he danced with his woman. Frankie sat next to Nic and lit a cigarette.
“Outside are three of Borroni’s men, they want to talk to you,” Nic spoke in a low voice. “They said they will come in if they have too.” His eyes looked from Nic to Hayley.
Luca remained calm, panicking would only cause an accident. So with a nod, the trio stood up, Frankie looked at his two oldest cousins Angelo and Daniel, who walked out behind the trio. They were Marcello men, they worked as heavies, they went for the money and broke bones if necessary.
Luca walked out with Nic and Frankie on either side. He said nothing as he recognised the main man as Vitali, Lorenzo’s second in command.
“My boss sends you a birthday present,” Vitali smirked as he puffed out some smoke. Luca looked at the wrapped gift box that Vitali put on the floor, between the two groups.
“He also says he’s coming for you.” Luca laughed at Vitali’s threat, but Vitali wasn’t laughing.
“Tell him I’m waiting,” Luca called out across the back alley of the restaurant. It was then Vitali laughed before he walked to the waiting car and the three of them left.
They all stood looking at the gift, it could be anything, a bomb, anything with Lorenzo was possible. Nic walked towards the gift box and carefully opened the lid before he looked back at Luca shaking his head. Luca and Frankie walked towards the box and Luca recognised the head straightaway.
“Deano, god damn it!” Luca said through his teeth before Nic closed up the offending box. Deano was one of Luca’s informants, a man he planted within the Borroni’s camp, he was betrayed and now was dead.
“Get rid of it, inform his fiancée. Make sure she is secure and financially okay.” Luca said looking at Nic, who was the soberest. Nic got on the phone with Dom to help with the clean-up.
Luca and Frankie entered the party where Hayley was laughing with Maria, she hadn’t noticed the trio had left, she presumed they were drinking somewhere or having a cigar. Frankie joined a game of cards, and Luca text Ric to pick him and Hayley up as he approached her, taking her waist lightly.
“Thank you so much for making me feel welcome.” She thanked Sal and Maria who said they were delighted to meet her, Luca was warned -in Italian- not to be a stranger and to look after Hayley.
It was easy for Luca to forget the visit from Borroni’s men as he held Hayley close to him and the pair laughed together as they talked about the party and the Altera family.
Luca took her back to her apartment and walked her to the door. She sighed and turned to him, she knew the alcohol was fuelling her, but she didn’t care, she wanted him.
“I don’t have a birthday present for you.” Hayley said breathlessly, and he smiled and shrugged.
She pulled herself closer to him and began to kiss his mouth, her hand was on his cheek and he pulled her even closer to him before she gently pulled away.
“But, I can change that,” she raised her eyebrow, and he grinned like a naughty boy, ”come inside.” She teased as she unlocked the door. She knew she was alone, the others were at work.
They lost themselves in their kisses, he carried her to her room kicking the door shut behind him. Removing each other’s clothes and he had her naked on her bed.
She felt his mouth trailing kisses along her body before his mouth reached her entrance, and he worked his magic on her.
He craved her, he wanted her, and he wanted to give her the best of everything. She only wanted him, gangster or not she wanted him.
She watched him as he got dressed, the sex with Hayley was amazing, and he didn’t want to leave her, but he had work to attend to. He sat with his dress trousers on but still shirtless, he ran his hand across her cheek and kissed her again.