That night at dinner, I decided to wear one of the dresses Maria brought for me. I have chosen a midi white summer dress patterned with small red flowers. She had also brought me sandals, so I put on a pair of white flat ones. I let my blond hair fall on my shoulders and put on some perfume. I go upstairs to the living-dining room, but I find it empty. I also notice the table is not dressed. I walk to the balcony and look down. Angelo is sitting around a table for two next to the board of the pool at the edge of the hill. He wears beige trousers and a light blue shirt. The sleeves are pulled up to his arms. He sees me and beckons to me. I leave from the balcony and walk down the stairs arriving at the ground floor. I get out of the house and walk all the way next to the pool until I arrive where Angelo is sitting. Angelo immediately gets up from his chair and with a “Buona sera!” he gently moves my chair for me to sit. I also reply “Buona sera!” and “Thank you!” to him and sit down.
“I saw a helicopter today”, I start conversing with him. “Why we haven’t come with the helicopter here from Naples?”.
“I thought it would be more enjoyable taking the yacht and much more peaceful. The helicopter is fast, but it has a lot of noise during the flight”, he explains.
Sure, he is right. I want to learn more about the arrival of the helicopter, but I keep my questions for me for the moment. I will try to fish for answers Gianni. Angelo might understand the purpose of my questions. So, I decide to change the subject. “Tell me about you! You want me to change my opinion of you, that you are not a Mafioso. Then, tell me about you!”.
Angelo laughs wryly and pours some red wine into my glass. He already served himself a glass of wine while he was waiting for me to come. I drink some. The wine is exquisite. “What do you want to know?”, he smiles at me.
“I don’t know. You tell me, what I should know about you”.
“Well, I am thirty-five years old. I am single, handsome, healthy, educated and rich”, he jokes with me.
“Ha, ha”, I laugh falsely.
At that time, one of the maids arrived bringing us our dinner in a wheeling tray. Spaghetti with clams. I taste it and it is delicious! “Maria is an excellent cook!”, I say admiringly to Angelo.
“Yes, she is”, he invariably replies taking a bite with his fork.
“So, tell me about your family. I know Gianni is your cousin”.
“Yes, from my mother’s side, one of my six cousins. I also have another nine from my father’s side… I mean eight”, he corrects with difficulty. I see his face darkening. “My parents are not in this world anymore. I’ve lost them when I was twelve. My uncle Marco, my father’s brother and his wife, Elena, raised my sister and me”, Angelo scarcely explains.
“I am sorry. How did they die?”, I curiously ask, but Angelo purposely ignores my question.
“I stayed in Italy until the age of seventeen. Then, I went to Harvard for studies. I came back to Italy only seven years ago. I took over the family business with my uncle. My sister is married, living in Switzerland and has two children, all boys. That’s all, Allyson! I do not have any complicated life!”. I feel it is not true. There are many things he is hiding from me. I feel it in his voice and his eyes.
I let it pass for the moment. We continue eating, but Angelo asks me something that makes me chock with my food.
“When you and Tom are getting married?”.
I almost vomit my food. He comes behind me and hits my back. He pours some water in a glass and gives it to me worryingly asking me “Allyson, are you alright?”.
I drink some water and reply as naturally as I can “Yes, I am fine”. He sits back in his chair. I take a deep breath in.
“I am sorry. I took you by surprise”, he typically apologizes.
“Well, to be honest, we haven’t discussed it yet”, I cautiously reply looking at him.
He raises one eyebrow. “You are living together under the same roof and hasn’t proposed to you yet?”.
“Well, we are going slowly. No need to rush”, I reply uncomfortably.
“Allyson, how long are you together?”.
I think for a second, “Eh, five years”. With Tom, we had met at the University. When we came to New York, we immediately moved to an apartment together.
“Five years! And no talk about getting engaged! I don’t know, Allyson. It seems too long for me!”.
“I haven’t asked your opinion”, I feel offended.
“Yes, you didn’t. I offered it”, he confidently replies with a smile.
“Thanks, but I do not need it”, I say bitterly.
Angelo laughs and then drinks a little wine. “What about your businesses? You’ve told me that you own the escort agency and the hotel. Is there something in Naples that you do not own?”, I ask sarcastically. He smiles.
“I do not own whole Naples, only half of it. I own multitudes of companies in Italy and abroad, which are part of the same Group, my father founded thirty years ago. I own a company specialized in Hotel Management, a cosmetic company, a marketing agency, an entertainment company and a financial services company. My wealth, according to Bloomberg, is 14 billion dollars, ranging me to the 36th position of the wealthiest people in the world. You see, there is nothing illegal in these activities”. Angelo drinks some more wine and continues to eat.
I want to believe him. I truly do! But I know, what he is telling me, is only the cover of his dirty business: drugs, prostitution, arms and human trafficking. “And the escort girls haven’t come illegally in Italy? They are not kept prisoners and are not abused by their customers? Because I am sure they are prostitutes, not escort girls”. He laughs out loud.
“No, Allyson! They are employed, they have an annual contract and they are living in Italy legally. They have their papers. They can come and go whenever they want. But, they do not, because they know that working with my agency gives them protection and liberty. No one abuses them. In fact, no one would even try abusing them. Because the customers of my agency know very well that if something bad happens to these girls, then something bad will happen to them too. Now, if a girl wants to sleep with someone, she can do it, but not during her working hours with the agency. If I learn something like that, they are fired. There is a clause in their contract about that. If you don’t believe me, I can give you a copy of a signed one to verify yourself”.
Yeah! Sure! It can be written in the contract, but what they are obliged to perform during working hours is something else. I haven’t stayed a long time to verify that in his villa. He had locked me in that room. If I would be in the living room after their mafia meeting was over, most probably I would have witnessed other things. The little time I had watched, the men were touching everywhere the girls.
“What about your cosmetic business?”, I ask, curiously to hear what he will say.
“Well, we have three brands actually with natural ingredients, one for the hair care, one for the body care and another one for face care. Last month, we launched a make-up line 100% vegan. Sales are going as expected”, Angelo explains.
“And the laboratory in New York?”, I inevitably ask. He smiles.
“The laboratory is where we make the tests of the products. We do not fabricate anything there. All the fabrication happens to a factory near Milan”.
I want to ask him about Belluca, but Angelo reading my thought continues “I have asked about this guy you have mentioned, Belluca. Danny Belluca. They have told me he has been killed about a month ago in Brooklyn. He was part of a local Italian Mafia, related to a family here in Campania. A family related to my family, not only in business but also personally. What I do not understand is, how documents of my company, invoices to be precise and export documents, have been found in his apartment, as he had never been employed by any of my companies, neither made any business with him”.
When I heard his answer, a red alarm button sound in my head. How does he know what documents I had found in his apartment? I haven’t been such precise when I spoke to him the other day. “I’ve never told you what kind of documents I have found in his apartment. How do you know it?”. He smiles again.
“I’ve sent someone in your apartment to search them”, Angelo candidly confesses.
“What?”, I shout loudly. Angelo laughs. Is he joking with me? Apparently, he doesn’t!
“What did you expect me to do? Ask you to show them to me? You wouldn’t. So, I did it my way”.
“Fucking bastard!”, I say angrily to him.
“In business I am, but not on a personal level, Allyson”, Angelo looks straight into my eyes and drinks some wine.
The maid comes again, taking our empty dishes from the table and replacing them with full ones. Stuffed fish and salad. I try to eat, but my appetite has been gone, because of Angelo. Send someone to search our apartment! This man is capable of many things! He doesn’t stop in anything until he takes what he wants. Now, I really start believing he doesn’t have any intention of letting me go from this island. He is going to keep me here forever. After all, no one knows about it! He said he talked with Ciara. I really do not believe it. Because, if Tom could not find me, he will try to contact Ciara. In the meantime, I hope Ciara averted the police for my disappearance.
Oh, God! What if Angelo is paying the police, and they ignore everything related to my disappearance? Even worst, maybe Angelo with the help of the police has already placed a dead body in my place, saying I had a car accident. That I had been burned and they have faked the DNA results to show it was me. Everyone will think of me dead and Angelo can keep me here forever and do whatever he wants with me. Maybe he is a sadist! Most probably he is! He likes controlling everything and everyone. In that thought, a chill runs through my spine. I feel weird in my stomach. My heartbeat goes crazy! I even start sweating, despite the air is not so hot. I feel I cannot breathe!
I close my eyes. I feel someone touching my face. I feel warm and laying on something. Suddenly, I feel cold water engulfing me. I am drowning! I am battling. Then, I feel someone pulling me out of the water. I open my eyes and breathe. I see the dark eyes of Angelo. His dark hair is wet and drops are falling on his face. His shirt is stuck on his body, showing his muscled arms and chest. He is holding me near the edge of the swimming pool.
“Allyson, are you alright?”, he worryingly asks me.
“Yes”, I whisper weakly. I feel his fingers on my waist burning my skin, despite we are inside the fresh water. “What… what happened?”, I ask wanting to know how we ended inside the pool.
“I think you had a panic attack. Did something like that happened to you before?”, he carefully explains by asking me.
“A panic attack? No! Never!”.
He moves me near the steps of the pool and we get out, helping me not to fall. I have lost my sandals. I look at the pool and see them at the bottom. “Leave them. They will fish them tomorrow”, he says instantly looking at my sandals in the bottom of the pool. We sit on the deck chairs.
“How I ended in the pool?”, I wonderingly ask him.
“I saw you couldn’t breathe, your eyes were closed and you were sweating. I know the symptoms of a panic attack. So, I throw you in the water. Your brain had to think of something else than the one you were thinking about when you had the attack. What bothers you, Allyson?”, Angelo curiously asks me.
“Nothing!”, I merely reply and get up. He also gets up. I walk to my room. I hear him following me. His hand eagerly seizes my arm, stopping me from entering my room.
“Allyson, what is wrong?”, he persistently asks me again.
“I just want to go back to States, back home”, I reply sincerely looking into his eyes.
“I am sorry, Allyson! I cannot let you go! Not for the time being. I am working on it to do it as soon as possible. Believe me”, he moves closer. His hand leaves my arm and touches my face. Then, he leans and kisses me a good night on my cheek. Next, he turns his back to me and leaves.
I stay there in front of my window watching him walking away. I am a little disappointed he didn’t kiss me on my lips. I thought he would do that when he leaned over me. When Angelo’s figure disappears from my view, I enter my room and take a shower. I lay on the bed and think what my next move to my freedom will be.