I squeeze into the black number as my nerves for tonight threaten to make itself known in the form of my retching in the nearest washroom. The dress I chose hugged my curves, not leaving much to the imagination. It was sexy and I felt confident wearing it. It made me feel as though I could take on anything.
My hair was delicately styled by one of Emilia’s beauticians, the same asshole who gave me bangs. My hair came to a loose knot at the base of my neck, and he allowed a few tendrils loose framing my bangs. He also did my makeup, not too glamourous like I requested. He used natural colors and painted my lips a pretty nude to compliment my dress.
All in all, I hardly looked like myself.
I looked over at my nightstand and spotted the cell phone I’d manage to de-bug completely. Enzo won’t be listening in to any of my calls anytime soon.
I’d contemplated calling Natalie and appeasing her worries but I always find my thumb hovering over the call button.
What will I tell her? ‘Hey, Nats, I’ve been kidnapped by a crime boss and threatened with my life. Come look for me at the bottom of the Mississippi River after a month. I can’t wait to see you.’
Yeah, that’ll go down well.
I can’t tell her the truth obviously. I could be putting her in more danger than I am in. I’ll have to lie. Another in my already growing pile of lies.
I sit down on the edge of the bed and pick up the phone, my heart pounding in my chest. I pressed the call button quickly before I had a chance to chicken out.
It answered on the second ring. “Hello?” I heard Natalie’s sweet, tired voice on the other line and I almost burst out in tears.
“Hey, Nats. It’s me, Dylan...” I say biting my lip.
“DYLAN!” She shrieked in my ears and I withdrew the phone from my ears so I wouldn’t become impaired with the frequency she just gave out. I chuckled as I get a moment of De ja vu.
“I’m sorry I didn’t call I’ve been caught up. I hope you aren’t mad,” I rush out lamely.
“Of course I’m mad,” Natalie said. “I had to hear about your field trip from your lecturer instead of you.”
“Yeah, the one where you’ll be interning at a couple IT firms. I was so worried when I came home and saw you hadn’t come home. I called your Grams, I even talked to Marianna... that’s how much I was worried for you.”
I honestly shouldn’t be surprised.
Inhaling a breath of relief that he did the hard part for me, chatting with Natalie was easier after that. “Uh... I’m sorry I have to go but I have to be early at the hospital tomorrow. Dude, you should see the hot doctor who’s teaching me. I can’t listen to him talk about life-changing surgeries when all I could do is picture him without his shirt on and those fingers doing some against-hospital poilicy things to me.”
I laugh. “You’re nasty.”
“Gosh, I know,” she said. “So when are you coming home, again?”
I opened my mouth to respond by my eyes fell on Enzo leaning against my doorframe, watching me as I drink him in. He’s in a dark tux that accentuated his muscular arms and chest. My tongue comes out to wet my lips and I see his eyes darken as he grips the doorframe as if it was the only thing keeping him anchored. “Soon,” I whispered into my phone, still caught up in his immaculate. “Soon, I promise. Love you.”
“Love you, too.”
I hung up.
Enzo stepped into my room, arms folded over his chest, drawing my gaze to his bulging arms. I drag my eyes back to his. His jaw was set and oddly, he didn’t look happy. “A boyfriend?”
I shake my head. “No. A best friend who thinks I’m on a field trip in Chicago but it’s better than the original story, I guess,” I answered as I stand. “Thanks again for that.”
He nodded and was about to say something when he finally got the chance to take me in fully. His gaze carried from the tips of my Christian Louboutin red bottoms, along my thighs exposed by the Alexander McClain designer dress, lingering on my chest, and then finally my eyes. I saw a fire in them that consumed me slowly, shooting all the way to my core. I wanted him.
I can’t deny that I am attracted to this man. Who the fuck wouldn’t? It’s like he was put on this earth to taunt women, to play with their sexual prowess.
I saw the internal war raging inside him. I know he wanted me too but the question was... what is he going to do about it?
And as fast as the thought popped up in my head it was extinguished when he turned away. “The party’s about to start. We should go.” But my brain wouldn’t have me ignore the way he sounded... strained.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
The party was hosted at the Corretti Mansion. It was brimming with people... and that was just on the inside. Through the window, I could still see cars pulling up to the front door with men and women in shiny shoes and even shinier diamonds. There’s a commotion of press on both sides of the steps, taking pictures of the people attending the party. I recognized a few congressmen and celebrities in the fold.
I was all too aware of Enzo’s palm on the small of my back as he guided me into the... ballroom? No other words come to mind to describe this place. Milky white marble floor, gold-trimmed columns and diamond chandeliers twinkled overhead like the one in the dining room. It’s beautiful, puts my shabby apartment to shame I could tell you that.
Enzo escorts me inside and instantly, eyes follow us where ever we go. I see mouths moving behind palms and I strain my ears to listen to a group of girls in the throng.
“Is that the new girlfriend I keep hearing about?”
“Yeah, I heard they met at one of the IT firms he’s funding. She was on an internship for MIT.”
“So she’s a nerd and she’s ugly... he sure knows how to pick up.” Cue the annoying high-pitch giggling.
You’re not in the hood anymore, Dyl. You can’t jump bitches here. I breathe and focus on putting one foot over the other in the opposite direction of those nasty girls. The music that wafted through to me from the live band cured any anxiousness I felt moments ago. I love the sound of violins. The sound is so raw and precious. I looked up at Enzo over my shoulder, only to realize he was already watching me. “What?”
He shook his head, dragging his gaze forward. “Nothing.”
“Enzo!” Something fast and hard stumbled into him, clutching his legs with her small arms.
"Piccolina mia," Enzo crouched down lifting the little girl into his arms, and if I didn’t know any better I’d think he was smiling. But that can’t be. Enzo doesn’t smile but then what’s he doing with his mouth? I’m trying to decide whether I should call the ambulance when another child staggers through the crowd right at Enzo’s feet. If the little girl was a boy she’d look just like this boy.
“Enzo! I’ve been looking everywhere for you...” The little boy said with a broad smile. The way his eyes twinkled as he looked up at Enzo, there’s no doubt he idolized this man. “Mother won’t let me have any of the drinks they’re serving here.”
“She’s doing you a favor, Leo. It tastes like piss anyway,” Enzo said.
Leo scrunched up his nose and blanched.
Just then a boy looking about my age cut through the crowd. “Dammit, twins. What did I say-- Oh, Enzo. What’s up, man?”
Enzo smirked. “Lucky, they stuck you with babysitting duty.”
Lucky rolled his eyes as Leo danced around his leg. “There aren’t enough males in this goddamn family. I keep getting outvoted.”
“Where are Nera and Greta then, they usually watch the twins?”
“Nino convinced Uncle Antonio to leave the girls home,” Lucky said leaning back on his heel with his hands in his pockets. He had the nonchalant swagger of a rock star, not to mention the face of an Olympian God. “You know how Nino gets where his sisters are concerned. They’re so sheltered they wouldn’t know the difference between a penis and a...” He trailed off, looking down at the twins. He cleared his throat. “Anyway, all I’m saying is, I’m so glad I don’t have sisters. Vince and Massimo are enough. Girls are too much of a headache.”
Then his eyes fell on me and he was on me the next second. “And you, Bellissima, must be the girl I’ve been hearing so much about.” He said, taking my hand and kissing it. “My fantasies didn’t do you justice. You’re so much more beautiful in real life.”
I blushed but Enzo took my arm and jerk me away from him before I could introduce myself. “Okay enough of that,” Enzo said, exasperatedly. “Go use your google recycled one-liners on someone who isn’t my girlfriend.”
The way he said ‘Girlfriend’ caused an off flutter in my stomach. I shook my head, it must be my lack of food. I hadn’t eaten anything all day. Everyone was busy setting up the party for tonight and I was hashing out ideas on how I was going to sneak out of here, food hadn’t really crossed my mind.
I glared up at him, yanking my arm out of his grip. “Don’t worry about him, Lucky he gets extra cranky when he doesn’t kick at least three puppies in the mornings.”
Lucky bursts out laughing as Enzo rolls his eyes. “She’ll fit right in with the family.”
After our run-in with Lucky and the twins. I’m introduced to the rest of the family. I met Vince’s twin brother Massimo who couldn’t be more different. Vince made you want to pee your pants with one cold stare, Massimo made you want to drop your pants with one warm look. He was beautiful in all definitions of the word and if I wasn’t Enzo’s ‘girlfriend’ I would be making moves on the guy all night.
I learned that Nino has three other sisters besides Emilia. Greta and Nera are fourteen and have been left at home from what I could garner. Sofia, the oldest of all the siblings, is tall, blonde, and maybe the most striking woman in the room. Her smile lit up the room when we spoke and she reminded me a lot like a mother. Maybe that was because she was a mother. A mother of three actually. She had the twins and was currently walking around with another in her oven.
Though the younger ones of the family were a bit more receptive towards me. Their parents didn’t make the effort to introduce themselves to me. I had a feeling Enzo’s mother, Gianna told them the truth. That I wasn’t really Enzo’s girlfriend but rather, I was the woman with information the Famiglia needed but wasn’t jumping at the opportunity to give. I was the enemy by default earning their aloofness.
But that fact didn’t get to me because I knew at the end of this, I was going to disappear far-far away and hopefully never see these people again.
That thought made my chest burn a little and I didn’t want to acknowledge why.
“This is nice and all but when are you people going to feed me,” I whisper to Enzo as I’m introduced to the thirteenth congressman tonight.
“Anytime now, I believe--”
“Mr. Corretti,” A short balding man in a velvet tux waddles towards us. I shift awkwardly in my heels, uncomfortable with the way this man was watching me as if he was dying of thirst and I was the last glass of water in the world. “I don’t think I’ve been introduced to your lovely wife.”
If it was even possible Enzo’s mask tightened at the appearance of the man. “She is not my wife,” he said tersely.
The man, who is probably three times my senior, eyes gleamed at that. “Oh! Well are you going to introduce us?”
The man didn’t seem deterred by Enzo’s rudeness. “I am Malcolm Rossi, it’s a pleasure to meet you...”
“Dylan,” I offered, taking his hand and cringing a bit when his wet lips lingered on my skin. But I kept my smile intact. “Dylan Alvarez.”
“You did well with this one, Enzo. She is very lovely.”
“I have eyes,” Enzo said, his tone icy. He yanked my hand out of Rossi’s grip when he made no move to release me. Enzo held me close to his side. “If you’ll excuse us, I think diner is about to begin.”
Then without warning, he was pulling me away from him. “I don’t want you speaking with that man,” Enzo gritted out.
“I mean I wasn’t planning to but why? Who is he?” I say struggling to keep up with his long strides.
“He’s a distant cousin... somewhere on my mother’s side, I think. In the words of his wife and every female in his vicinity...he’s a creep. I don’t want you to going anywhere alone with him. If you want to go to the bathroom, take Emilia with you, okay?”
I wanted to put out the argument that I could protect myself but my eyes caught on the food on top of the dining tables and all rational thought left my head. I was like Alex the lion from Madagascar, everything looked like food and I was ninety-nine percent sure my tongue was hanging out my mouth too.
We get to the dining table and soon the entire assembly follows after us. Enzo sits at the head of the table as the Capo and the Head of the house, his family fans out in his lead and the rest of the party take up the other elegant dining tables.
Soon we’re digging in and I couldn’t be more happy. Like seriously, the food is delicious. You know it’s good when you can’t pronounce the names of the dishes.
“This,” I address Malachai beside me. “is the most boring party I’ve ever been to. I mean I didn’t expect rap music and grinding and I know it’s for your grandma’s birthday but... jeez. The poor woman would have a better time at a resting home.”
Malachai snickered. “It’s not really for Nonna,” he said leaning down so we wouldn’t be heard. “It’s a show of force.”
I cock an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“You haven’t noticed our men stationed all around this place. They’re in the shadows but not hiding. We want every motherfucker in this room to know that Corretti’s are united and stronger than ever. This party is for our enemies to scout us out. We let them see what they want to see, make them believe they have the upper hand until we’re ready for them.”
“You actually invited your enemies to your house? That’s the ballsy-est shit I’ve ever seen.”
He took my chin and turned my face to the left, to the table behind Vince. “You see those two guys... the ones in the matching purple tuxes,” I nodded. “Those are the Scillianos.”
A small gasp escaped me. “The New Orleans Cosa Nostra. You’re kidding?”
“Nope. They’re big in the trafficking game. Nasty fuckers. We don’t really associate with them but they’ve got friends in high places and you never know when you’re in need of an ally. And over there,” he continued. “See those six men, that’s the Lucianos.”
“The Chicago Outfit.”
“Mhmm,” he sounded in approval. “Their thing is guns and drugs like us. We were at war before our parents but Enzo recently formed a treaty with Luciano, but even that’s flimsy considering we both want Georgia and Enzo wouldn’t mind-blowing that treaty to shit if it meant he’d get what he wanted.”
I chuckled shaking my head finally getting it. “You people take ‘keep your enemies close’ to the next level.”
“It comes with the business, sweetheart.” Malachai winked.
My eyes drift to Enzo’s and I find him watching the space between Malachai and I, or lack thereof with distaste. And oddly enough I find myself pulling away from Malachai.
Malachai looked at me strangely but I kept my head down finishing up.
“Lucky,” Vince’s mother, Camilla called from beside her husband. “Are you going to tell your family the good news?”
Vince paused, looking between his mother and his little brother in suspicion. “What news?”
Lucky rolled his eyes. “Nobody died, relax. I got accepted into Ohio State.”
Vince’s eyebrow drew together. “I thought you said you were done with football after you go into that fight with the other team.”
“Yeah, That was before he went to check the place out and ‘accidentally’ walked into the girl’s locker room when a bunch of cheerleaders just happened to be changing,” Massimo, Vince’s twin brother voiced.
Lucky beamed, “What can I say, I had a calling.”
“Your next calling would be in a courtroom with the judge issuing a restraining order. I may be a lawyer but even I can’t say your perverted ass don’t deserve it,” Massimo chuckled and the rest of the table followed suit.
I think I was beginning to understand the dynamics of this family. Nino, Malachai, Vince, and Enzo were the major figureheads in the mafia. While their parents advised or helped out when the situation needed to be. But other than that, they had no say in the Famiglia’s affairs once they gave the reins to their children to run.
Massimo was the family’s lawyer and a good one too from what I’ve been hearing. He gets them out of sticky situations like the time Lucky almost beat a guy to death after one of his games. Apparently he’d catch the guy fucking his girlfriend in the locker room and he’d lost his shit. Wouldn’t blame him, really.
Everyone had a role in the family, Emilia took care of the house and organized parties when her mother wasn’t around, Massimo gets them out of trouble, Sofia and her husband Nico is couple everybody wants to be. I’ve heard they starred on many magazine covers and was named Forbes IT Couple.
And don’t forget Lucky, the future star quarterback.
The way this family worked you’d think they’ll all be prissy assholes in suits, but no. They’re just like a normal family... just richer... and more prone to violence.
“Psst, Sofia, you going to eat that,” I hear Nino call to his older sister. The mother of the twins I met earlier. She looked like his sister alright. They had the same green eyes, sandy blonde hair and looked as if they woke up looking like Olympians.
Sofia glared at him, batting his hand away when he reached for her plate. “I’m eating for two. That means if you touch my plate I’ll castrate you. Enforcer or no.” She whispered the last part as a threat and even I was a bit frightened. She was the type of woman to keep her husband on his toes, while also having him wrapped around her finger. And judging by the way he was watching her as if she put the stars in the sky, I’d say she succeeded.
“But that’s like your fifth one. At least save some for the rest of us,” Nino pouted but Sofia wasn’t having it.
“Are you pregnant? I don’t think so.”
“Lend me your husband tonight and you’ll get your answer in a week,” he retorted. She smacked him upside the head.
“Ouch...This family is too goddamn abusive,” Nino grumbled grabbing his wine as his sisters laugh at his expense.
I snigger at the banter between the family. It brings me back to my home in Mexico, when all of us would be home for Christmas, excluding my brother, he hasn’t been home in seven years.
I’m brought out of my reverie when I feel a leg brush against my own. My eyes snap to Nino, narrowing on the fake innocent look on his face. But it’s the mischievous look in his eyes that gets me and I narrow my eyes.
“You don’t want to play this game with me, Nino,” I murmur across the table as his foot continues to stroke my calf.
His foot wanders up my dress and still, the look didn’t falter.
Fine, you want to play.
I kicked his foot away, and subtly brought my seat closer to the table without interrupting the steady flow of conversation around me. I slip my heels off and slowly, let my foot slide up the inside of Nino’s leg. Nino’s eyes bug out and he jumps, his knees hitting under the table, rattling the contents above it. Enzo and everyone at the table, including his mother gave him odd looks.
I press my foot against his bulge in response to the challenge in his eyes. He gasps, clamping a hand over his mouth the last second.
I massage my foot up and down his hardening dick. Nino’s gaze darkens and a throaty sound leaves him, but it’s muffled by his hand still clamped over his mouth.
I move my foot faster, enjoying the way he squirms as more gaze looks at him in concern. “Nino,” his mother said from a couple of placings down. “Are you okay? You don’t look too good.”
I smirk, making my movements fast and pressing slightly harder. “I’m dandy,” he grits, his muscles tense.
When I know he was on the edge of release, I slip my foot back down his leg, sliding my shoe back on. I took a sip of my drink. “Are you sure you’re okay there, Nino? You’re looking a bit pale?” He looked pained as he hopped to his feet. “I-I’m gonna use the bathroom.” Then he scrambles away and it took everything in me to not burst out laughing in the middle of dinner.
I catch Enzo looking at me, disapprovingly. I wink, only because I knew it’ll piss him off, and look at that... it did.