Dressed with the black mermaid gown, went to the hairdresser and made a bun of my blond hair, wear some jewels I had and bought a black-golden clutch bag and high heels, I was ready to intrude di Ambrosio’s reception. As Ciara had said, an escort agency will send escort girls to the reception. Apparently, they will arrive around 9 pm. Ciara came to pick me up in her father’s car. We have parked the car not so far away from the villa, having at sight the entrance of the villa.
“Just take photos of everyone there. I will tell you who Angelo di Ambrosio is. He is not an old man. He is in his thirties”, Ciara says while she smokes a cigarette. I have to admit that I am a little scared of going there alone.
“If someone talks to me, what will I say?” I reasonably ask her.
“I don’t know. It depends on what they will ask you”.
“No, I mean they will speak to me in Italian. I will not understand what they will tell me”, I explain my fear to her.
“Ah, nothing. They will not talk to you in Italian. The escort girls are not Italians. They are Russians, Ukrainians, Albanians, they don’t speak Italian”, she reassures me.
“Good!”, I take a deep breath.
Right then a van stops in front of the entrance and girls mostly wearing miniskirts are getting out from it.
“Here you go! They arrived! Go!”, Ciara forces me to get out of the car.
I get out and walk quickly to the entrance of the villa. I arrive just in time to enter with the other girls inside. Behind the black metallic door, there is di Ambrosio’s palazzo. I follow the girls inside the villa. I am the last one to enter. The doors of the villa close behind me.
Inside the villa, I enter a vast hall with a huge chandelier with crystals. The ceiling is ornate with wonderful reliefs of colorful flowers and birds. The floor is marbled and covered in the middle by a huge Persian-style carpet. In the middle, there is an oval table with a china vase and flowers. On the left side, there are the grand stairs and in front of us, there is an opening with two Greco-Roman colons and two huge amphorae in front of them which leads to the living room where the reception is held. The escorts enter the living room, and I cautiously follow them.
The huge living room with two salons on the left and the right side is full of men. Here we are, I am thinking. I take one glass of champagne from the tray placed in front of me by the waiter and move to one corner of the room. I drink a little and observe the people around me. There is old Italian music coming from somewhere in the room. I put out my mobile from my clutch bag and place the bag under my arm. No one is looking in my direction. The men either are talking with each other or are occupied with the escorts. I start taking discretely some photos of the present men.
Suddenly, someone says something and the men are directing themselves towards the lofty windows. I walk towards the windows and watch them walking out to the balcony. From there, they take down the stairs. Crap! Where are they going? The escort girls are sitting and talking in the living room. I sneak from the window doors to the balcony. The men are entering the orangery. What the hell they are going to do there? Most probably to talk about their business. I should go there and continue taking photos.
It is exactly what I decide to do. The girls are occupied talking between them and drinking champagne. I swiftly go down the stairs. The air is warm. After all, we are in June. I carefully walk in between the low privet hedges. When I arrive near the windows, I place myself behind a pot of a big grassy bush. I clutch my phone and take as many photos as I can. My good luck doesn’t follow me! Pleasant perfume of citrus, bergamot and musk comes to my nostrils. A male perfume! At that moment I hear a man coughing. Oh, damn! I’ve been caught!
I place my phone behind my clutch bag, hoping he will not notice it. I turn slowly and see the lover boy from the hotel this morning smiling at me.
“Buona sera!” (Good evening!)
“Buona sera!”, I smile back at him.
Yes, make like nothing happens, I say silently to myself. Show that you do nothing bad. Then, he says something in Italian that I do not understand. I continue smiling but without saying a word. He smiles at me and says again something in Italian.
Shit! I decide to talk to him in English. “Excuse me, but I do not understand Italian”, I finally say smilingly to him.
The handsome man in the three pieces navy suit, who looks like he got out of the last catalog of Armani, says gently to me in English “Sorry, I thought you were Italian. You gave me this impression earlier in the day outside of the hotel”. Oh, he recognized me! “May I ask you why you are taking photos?”, he politely interrogates me. Damn him!
“I do not take any photos”, I lie.
He laughs once and asks less politely this time “Are you a journalist? How did you enter here?”.
“I am not a journalist. I came with the girls”, I reply naturally.
He becomes serious this time “You are not an escort girl. For whom are you working?”.
“I work for the agency”, I insist.
“No, you don’t. If you were working, I would know you”, he moves towards me.
Instinctively, I move backward. But that doesn’t bother him because he continues walking towards me. So, I continue moving backward.
“Why are you taking photos? Who sent you here?”, he asks again, but without smiling this time. Damn him!
“No one. And I do not take photos”, I repeat firmly.
“Yes, you are. The security saw you from the cameras in the living room, and I just caught you in action”. Is he joking with me? How does the hell know about the living room? No, which maniac has cameras in his living room? And how does he know about the cameras? Does he belong to di Ambrosio’s security? Damn!
“I do not take any photos. I am an escort girl!”, I repeat angrily this time.
“If you are an escort girl, then I am the Pope!”, he says sarcastically and continues “I didn’t ask the agency to send someone like you here, because you are not working for the agency. I would know if it was the case”.
“Is that so? You know all the girls who are working in the agency?”, I ask fiercely.
“Exactly!”. What the hell? Is he their pimp?
“One of the girls got sick, and they called me last minute to replace her”, I lie trying to persuade him to the contrary. But he doesn’t buy my lie and what he says makes me freeze.
“No. If something like this would have happened, they would have called me, because I own the agency as I also own this villa”.
Holy crap! “What?” I shout surprised by what I have just heard. If he owns the villa, then he is Angelo di Ambrosio. “You are… Ah” I started saying, but I stop. As I was moving backward, my legs hit the hedge and I start falling behind. I would have fallen if Angelo di Ambrosio hadn’t stopped my fall by seizing my left hand with one of his hands and placing the other behind my back to prevent me from falling. His perfume comes again to my nostrils making me feeling dizzy. Our bodies are touching and I feel his heat all over mine. I lift my head to look at his face. His dark eyes are looking at me intensely. I feel like they are reading my thoughts, transpiercing my soul. That makes me feel scared and my knees start trembling.
“Now that you know who I am, may I ask you, who you are?”, he asks softly.
I open my mouth, but I immediately close it. It is not a good idea to tell him who I am. I avoid looking at him and hear him saying something in Italian while he leaves me from his embrace. Then, two men appear and seize my arms.
“Wait! What’s that?”, I protest and try to move my hands, but without success. They are keeping me steady. Angelo di Ambrosio seizes my bag and my phone from my hands. “Hey! You have no right! That belongs to me!”, I shout.
“Not anymore!”. He gives his directions to the men in Italian, who drag me towards the gardens. I look behind my back. I see him taking out my purse from my bag and examine my papers. Crap! I turn my head and watch the men directing me inside the house. Once inside, we take an elevator and bring me to the third floor. Next, they throw me inside a room and leave me alone, locking the door behind them. Fucking shit!
The room has in the middle a double bed. One door next to the bed leads to a bathroom and the other door, on the other side of the bed, to a walk-in closet. Opposite the bed, there are windows. A cupboard on one wall and a desk filled the room. Now, what will happen? He will keep me here until when? Is he going to torture me? Or put his men to do it? Or kill me? On the last idea, I feel a chill all over my body. I go to the windows and open them. The air starts being fresh. Yes, I need fresh air! I look down from the windows. I see a terrace with a round table and four chairs. Unfortunately, it is too high to jump without breaking any leg or arm.
I turn my back to the windows. Wonderful! Well done, Allyson, I say to myself. Craig’s words come to my mind, “Just come back in one piece, preferably not in a coffin!”. What the hell Angelo di Ambrosio is going to do to me? Am I going to see again my friends? Tom? Poor Tom! He was also against all this from the beginning. He was telling me not to come to Italy. That it was dangerous. Well, everyone was telling me this. I have only myself to blame now! I am here because of my stubbornness! I lay on the bed and stare at the windows. I can see the sea and the lights of the villages and the towns on the opposite side of the gulf. I try to stay calm. The minutes are passing as well as the hours and no one is entering the room. I finally fall asleep.
The distinctive sound of a deep male voice speaking eloquently in Italian wakes me up. I open my eyes and see the room where I have been locked in di Ambrosio’s villa. I turn and see Angelo di Ambrosio in front of the windows, watching outside and speaking with someone on the phone. I notice the covers of the bed are on me. I don’t recall covering myself yesterday night. Who covered me? He did it? Why? He got afraid that I might catch a cold? Seriously?
I sit on the bed and he turns to face me, continuing talking over the phone. He smiles at me. I don’t return his smile. I watch him talking on the phone. Well, he is handsome! You cannot say the contrary. He is wearing white linen trousers and a blue linen shirt with short sleeves. He has white moccasins on his feet and a pair of sunglasses on his head. He closes the phone and says to me with a charming smile “Buongiorno, Allyson!”. Of course, he knows my name. He found my ID card inside my purse yesterday.
“You’ve put the covers on me?”, I ask ignoring intentionally his good morning.
He continues smiling “Yes, when I finished with my guests, I came to see you. I wanted to talk with you, but you had already fallen asleep. I didn’t want to wake you up and as the windows were open, I afraid you might catch a cold”.
“Why bothering?”, I say sarcastically with a low voice without expecting a reply.
He laughs knowingly “I am not a monster!”.
“Yes, you are only a Mafioso”. I immediately regret it. I shouldn’t have shown I know who he really is. Instead of getting angry, he laughs out loud. He is enjoying calling him Mafioso, I think.
“So, Allyson Matthews, aged twenty-seven years old, living in the 66th Street of West Manhattan in New York, number 75th, apartment number 81, with Tom Harlyn. He is the son of Winston Harlyn, the Republican Senator. You are not married. You are a journalist for Brooklyn Journal and are investigating the Italian Mafia in Brooklyn. You arrived five days ago in Naples and staying at the “Bella Vita Hotel” in the center. You are investigating with a local journalist, Ciara Siagnati, here in Naples. You snuck yesterday into my home and took many photos with your mobile, which by the way I deleted. Do I forget anything?”, he triumphantly finishes resuming my life and why I am here. How the hell, he learned all these in one night?
I move my head right and left confirming that he didn’t forget anything. “Good. I am thinking to go somewhere with the two of us”, he heads for the door. He opens it and calls someone in Italian. A man in his fifties enters with a small doctor bag. He places the bag on the desk and puts out a small vial and a needle for injection.
“What the hell?” I say anxiously while the man prepares the injection. Di Ambrosio comes next to me on the bed and tries to hold me still. I try to escape from him. I hit him with my legs and hands, but he is very strong. He forcibly puts me down on the bed placing his body over me.
“I am sorry Allyson, but we will make a trip and I do not want that you cause trouble in public”. The man injects the drug into my hand. Di Ambrosio remains on top of me, despite the man finishes with the injection. I instantly start feeling dizzy.
I feel my head spinning and say feebly to him “Why? What do you want from me?”.
I feel a hand caressing tenderly my face and a voice far away saying “I have told you, Alysson, the first time I saw you. Bella donna mia!”.