For the last three days, I was preoccupied with my escape plan and my research for pieces of evidence about the Mafia in Angelo’s house. My initial activity went as I had planned. During the night, I was sneaking and transferring bottles of wine and oil in my room. I had hidden them inside my cupboard behind the clothes so that if Maria or a maid opens it, they will not notice them. It also helped the fact that Angelo had been disappeared from view. After that night I had a panic attack and he had thrown me inside the pool, I hadn’t seen him again. I was having dinner with the others in the kitchen. It wasn’t so bad, but it was weird I was feeling missing Angelo. What the hell? I am here because of him! Because of him I also had a panic attack! Because of him, I was elaborating on escape plans! So, why on earth I was missing him?
Concerning my following activity, I had found nothing. The room on the upper floor, which serves as an office and library, is empty. It seems it is only for decoration. No papers or notebooks or even a laptop. Nothing! In the middle, there is an empty office desk with two plush armchairs and a sofa. On the shelves, on the contrary, there are many books. Most of them are in Italian, but there are some in English, French and Spanish too. I had also inspected the other rooms on the ground floor. They are empty. If they are empty, then where Angelo is sleeping?
I know the personnel of the house is staying in some independences nearby. Maybe Angelo is staying in one of them too. In any case, I will not question Gianni about it. What will he think of me? And why do I want to know? Even if I knew where he is staying, I couldn’t enter his room. Imagine he was finding me inside. He would think I wanted to sleep with him. In this idea, I feel a chill through my body and a queer feeling on my belly. No, it is definitely not a good idea to be in his room!
With all that, Friday finally arrived. I stayed the whole morning on the balcony watching at the horizon to see if the helicopter is coming. At lunch, I ate hastily and not so much, because I didn’t want to miss it. It was around 3 pm when I saw it in the sky far away. I immediately get up and almost run to the backside of the house. I go directly where the box is located, but I find two boxes instead! The second box wasn’t here yesterday night. I open it to see what’s inside. It contains the same goods as initially as the first box. I open the first box and relax. No one touched it. It is half empty. I look around and there is nobody. I get in and close the top.
The noise of the helicopter becomes louder as it approaches and lands. I hear people talking in Italian. Suddenly I feel the box moving. Yes, they are transporting it to the helicopter! Well, it is what I thought in the beginning. In few seconds, I start to perceive the sound of the helicopter fading as they are moving the box in which I am inside somewhere else. Oh, dung! Why I am so unlucky! I wait to see where they are placing me. I cannot open it now, because they will see me. So I stay silent in the box. After a while, I feel placing the box on the ground. I wait for a while before opening the box to be sure that there are no people around.
When I am persuaded that I can open it, I slowly open the box and look around. I am in front of the pool. And just in front of me, there is Angelo, sitting on a chair, drinking ice lemon juice and watching at me with a smile. Damn! The bastard! He knew I was inside! In fact, he knew what I had planned all these days! That’s why there was a second box today for loading. I completely open the box and stand up. Angelo is laughing uproariously! I see I am amusing him! I angrily get out of the box and without saying anything I head for my room. I must be all red-faced now. Only smoke doesn’t go out from my ears yet! I hear him shouting laughingly “Allyson, when you have time, please bring the bottles back to the kitchen”. Without turning to see him, I raise my middle finger in his direction. I hear Angelo laughing and saying loud enough to hear him “I’d love doing that with you, bella donna mia!”.
Furiously, I enter my room and close the window doors. I get cross! Everyone is monitoring my moves. They must have searched my room and found the bottles, otherwise, I cannot explain how the hell they had found out what I was planning. I was very careful so that no one could see me transferring them. I am extremely angry with Angelo. I am here now for more than a week. What makes me angrier is that nobody came to search for me! I am wondering if Angelo had told me the truth about Ciara. If he really talked with her, what the hell they had discussed? I hardly believe she collaborated with him. Maybe he threatened her life or her family’s life? Oh, yes! It must be that!
What about Tom? If he has no news, he will call Ciara. Then what would she have told him? The truth or a lie? Tom is very clever and intelligent. I doubt he is trusting her. He trusts no one except his family and me. I am sure he is searching for me! He even might alert the Italian authorities. But, if Angelo has people who protect him in the police, they will do nothing. They might say lies to Tom. I get more furious with Angelo. So much that I start hitting with my fists the pillows on the bed. Damn him! Damn him!
I stop torturing the pillows and start thinking of a way to escape from here. Unfortunately, I do not have any other option, but stay here and wait. For how long? How long is he going to keep me here? He said he was working on it. Yeah! Sure! I think he is trying to figure out if I am going to write something against him. Maybe, if I show I believe him that he is not part of the Mafia, then he might let me go. As I am thinking of it more, I find it a good strategy. I decide to change my attitude towards him. Then, we will see what it’s going to happen.
Unfortunately, my strategy will have to wait. Because during dinner, I haven’t seen Angelo. Neither on Saturday. On Sunday a priest came with the helicopter for the Sunday mess in the small church of the island. I went by curiosity. All the personnel was there, Angelo included. I was not expecting him to be here. He was dressed in a light blue linen costume with a white linen shirt. He had unbuttoned the first three buttons of his shirt. He was looking sexier than ever! He was devilishly handsome! He only smiled at me, when he saw me sitting on the first rang next to Maria. He was also sitting on the first rang, but on the opposite side where the men were sitting all together.
Despite the fact my both parents were Catholics, we never went to the mess every Sunday. We were mostly going during Christmas, Easter and Thanks Giving. For example, I haven’t made my confirmation. Every time we were going to church, I don’t remember the women being separated from the men. Maybe in Italy rules are stricter, or more traditionally than in States. I was also surprised to see Angelo in the church. I wouldn’t think he believes in God if someone was telling me so. A man, whose business is extortion, prostitution, trafficking of all kinds, and ordering people to be killed, believes in God! Well, believing in a power superior to us is one thing. Believing he will be punished is another. And I do not think that Angelo believes in the second. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be the Head of the Mafia. How hypocritical he is! I look again in his direction. He is also watching me. He catches my eyes in his. I turn my head in front of me, avoiding looking at him. Damn him! He is so handsome! Dangerously handsome! And he knows it!
I don’t believe what I am thinking right now! Alright, he is attractive and so what? Good for him! It is not of my concern! He is not my boyfriend and will never be! Not that there was ever a possibility of being. No! No way! I look again in his direction. He is still watching me. Or maybe I should use a more appropriate word to describe how he is observing me. He is undressing me with his eyes! And then he looks directly into my eyes. I turn my face again in front of me, embarrassed.
Wait a minute! Why do I feel embarrassed? He should be! He is undressing me with his eyes and in the church! He should be ashamed of what he is doing, not me! I am not dressed like a prostitute! I look at the dress Maria had brought for me. It’s a linen midi blue striped dress in A-line, with short sleeves and V neck, but without a very deep cut in front. It has white buttons at the front, from the top to the bottom, with a stripped belt on the waist. It is a well-appropriated dress for going to church. But even if I was wearing a mini skirt, it is not a reason for undressing me like this way in a holy place, as it is the house of God!
I am angry now! Why do I feel angry by the way? These days I am here, I really do not recognize myself. I am changing moods quickly. I am having thoughts I should never have. To be precise, I have thoughts about Angelo I shouldn’t have. And this makes me angry. Because I haven’t had these thoughts for Tom. And the dreams… Oh, God! Every night I am dreaming kissing Angelo. I am dreaming of Angelo kissing me in places where even Tom hasn’t. I am dreaming of making love with Angelo and cry with pleasure. I wake up in the morning and am frustrated that it was only a dream.
Thinking of the dreams, a cold breeze passes through my spine. My hands shake. I desire him. It is obvious. But I shouldn’t. He is dangerous! A Mafioso, who is keeping me without my will prisoner in an island. He is not in love with me. If we sleep together, I will be another trophy in his bed collection. I am sure he has many women waiting for him in Naples. Why isn’t he returning there? Why should he also be on the island with me? Maybe he is waiting for me to be in his bed. The next day, he will go back to Naples. “I roll in the hay the American!”, he will show off to his friends.
Maria tapes me to my shoulder, bringing me back to reality. The mess has finished, they are leaving the church. I was so deep in my thoughts, I haven’t noticed it ended. I follow Maria outside of the church. Angelo is talking with the priest. I leave them and return back to the house. I follow Maria in the kitchen. She is preparing a brunch for lunch. I think the priest will join us. I look outside from the big balcony down the garden. They are placing two other tables next to the bigger ones in the garden next to the pool, making a huge dining table for twenty-four people to sit around.
I am calculating and am wondering. There are twenty people on the island. With Angelo and me, we are twenty-two. With the priest, we are twenty-three. Who’s the twenty-fourth? Most probably they made a wrong calculation. The maids are dressing the tables with white napkins and silver cutlery. They place white porcelain dishes with armorial bearings. Most probably di Ambrosio’s crest.
Suddenly, I hear the noise of a helicopter approaching the island. I look at the sky and detect one. Hence, they did calculate correctly. We have another guest! I am curious to discover who that guest is. I enter the house and go out from the principal door which opens to the backside of the house, on the top of the hill. I walk towards the helipad, but I see Angelo already there, waiting for his guest. I stop walking and stand there watching carefully.
A man in his sixties descends from the helicopter and approaches Angelo. They hug each other and kiss each other’s cheek. They talk for a while and then they turn their attention to me. The two men head in my direction. The white-haired man is tall and robust. He wears a beige costume and a white shirt with a cravat on the same color as his costume. His costume has a pocket on his left side with a white handkerchief. He is the synonym of the old well-fashioned Italian! He is staring at me with a big smile on his face and says to Angelo “Madonna! Angelo, non mi hai detto che è così bella!” (My Virgin Mary! Angelo, you haven't told me she is so beautiful!).
Angelo is blushing! He looks embarrassed, and I hate myself for not understanding what the man had just said to Angelo. Angelo clears his throat and replies in English “Uncle, may I present you Allyson Matthews. She is not speaking Italian”.
So, this man is his uncle who took care of him when his parents died. The man takes my hand in his and says in English to me with a distinctive Italian accent “I am glad to meet you, Donna Allyson”. Then, he gently kisses the top of my hand. I smile at him and before saying anything he presents himself “My name is Marco di Ambrosio. I am Angelo’s uncle, but Angelo is like a son for me”.
“Nice to meet you too, Mister di Ambrosio”, I politely reply, but he immediately corrects me.
“Please, Allyson, call me Uncle Marco!”.
I look at Angelo. He is smiling, but still, he looks embarrassed. I really wasn’t expecting to see Angelo di Ambrosio embarrassed from anything in this world! I reply to the white-haired man with a big smile “Alright, Uncle Marco!”.
“Wonderful! Now let’s go to eat and drink”, he cheerfully says, placing his hand around my waist and directing me to the stairs which lead to the garden down the hill. Angelo is following us. I turn my head in his direction. He is staring at me with an apologetic face.
Right then, Angelo’s uncle says to me “I was saying to Angelo that he hadn’t told me on the phone that you were such a beauty!”. I immediately turn my head from Angelo’s direction to his Uncle’s. He looks at me with a big smile and continues “Now, I understand why he took such big risks for bringing you here. I would certainly have done the same if I was his age. Or at least ten years younger than I am now!”. I smile, but I do not laugh and certainly do not comment.
We arrive at the garden and all the personnel is there. The table is also full of beautiful things cooked by Maria and the other women. The priest is also there. Marco di Ambrosio greets every single one of them personally. Then, he sits in the middle of the table, but not at the head. Marco shows me the chair next to his right side for me to sit. I obey and sit next to him. Angelo sits next to his Uncle on the left side. The others sit also around the table. The Priest sits opposite Marco. Next to me comes Gianni. Maria and Marta, her sister-in-law, sit at the head of the tables. Weird, I am thinking. Normally, it’s the men who sit at the head of the table. I stay silent. In front of us, there are many dishes with cheeses, hams, melons, prosciutto, smoked salmon, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrot salads.
“You should try this together”, Marco di Ambrosio places some prosciutto and melon on my plate.
“Thank you!” I reply and taste it together. Alright, it is a very good combination. The salted smoked ham and the sweet melon balance the flavors in my mouth. I really do not need to use my hands to take something from the dishes on the table. Angelo’s uncle is placing food on my plate, saying to me that I am too skinny and I should eat. What’s their problem, him and Angelo, about my weight? I am not skinny, I am normal!
Fortunately, Maria and the other women take back the dishes in the kitchen. I try getting up to help them, but Marco says to me in a very authoritarian tone “Not you. You are a guest here. Sit down!”. I instantly obey and take my seat back. “Did you have time to visit Naples and the surroundings while you were in Italy?” Marco di Ambrosio asks me, surprising me with his question.
“Eh, not really. I haven’t initially come for holidays here”.
“I know”, he looks into my eyes and continues “But did you had some time to go around? Swim maybe? The Amalfi coast has beautiful beaches and clear waters”.
“Unfortunately, I hadn’t”, I smile apologetically.
He turns to Angelo “Angelo, when all this mess ends, you should show her around Naples and the countryside”.
Angelo looks at me in the eyes and with a smile, he replies “My pleasure!”.
What the hell is going on here? Is his uncle trying to put Angelo and me together or it is my imagination? I do not reply. I watch Angelo staring at me and deep inside of me, I want him to show me Italy. I want us to spend time together. But, the logical side of my brain tells me that I should avoid being alone with him. I should try to leave this island as soon as possible. I am not a guest here! I am a prisoner! This family is dangerously involved with the Mafia. Not exactly involved. It’s the Mafia!
The women are coming back, bringing with them other dishes. They are placing on the table plates with pasta baked in the oven. Some are with cheese and some with minced beef. Of course, Marco puts on my plate both dishes to taste. Honestly, both are equally delicious. I eat and try to hear what Angelo with his Uncle are discussing, but it is in Italian. I do not understand anything. Gianni next to me is making small talk with me.
The next dish is the main course. Lamp baked in the oven, accompanied with baked and grilled vegetables. Smells and tastes marvelous. Marco di Ambrosio is placing all the time food on my plate. I try to eat it all, but I stop eating, feeling that my stomach will explode.
I really want to walk right now. We are sitting for how long, I do not know exactly, but my legs need to move a little. I am not used to sitting so much around the table for lunch or dinner.
“You eat like a bird”, Marco comments, pointing with his finger my plate.
“Believe me, I feel I have eaten enough until the whole next week”. He laughs out loud.
Everyone stops talking and looks in our direction. At that time, Marco explains to them what I had said in Italian and they all start laughing and saying something that I do not understand. Gianni explains to me in English “They say, when you will go back to America, your parents will not recognize you when they will see you”.
I gulp my saliva hard. My parents! If only they knew! Right then, Angelo says something in Italian and they all stop laughing.
“I am sorry! We didn’t know about it. Please accept our sincere apologies”, Marco says to me. I look at Angelo. He is not laughing and is not looking at me. He looks at his plate in front of him without eating. His sources did a very good job! He knows about my parents. They did check me out very thoroughly!
“It’s alright, Uncle Marco!”, I smile at him. “You couldn’t know it!”. So, Angelo took my defense and cut the laughter about me. The others continue talking to each other and eating.
Marco says to me “I don’t know if Angelo has told you, but he also lost his parents. He was twelve when they died”.
“I know, he has already told me”. I look at Angelo. He is eating silently. “I’ve lost my mother when I was eighteen and a year later my father”, I explain to him.
“May I ask from what they had died?”, Marco curiously asks me.
“My mother had a car accident. She instantly died from the crash. My father died from heart failure”.
“Heart-breaking is the worst disease”, Marco comments and I am stunned. The same exact words were used by one of my father’s friends in the neighborhood when he came to the funeral. He was an Italian. He was living in the house next door to us.
“Did Angelo tell you how his parents died?”, Marco di Ambrosio asks me.
“No, he didn’t, despite I have asked him. But, I know how they have died. Gianni had told me”, I confess to him.
“He never talks about it to anyone. Except me”, he explains. Well, quite normal talking about it only to him. He is his uncle who raised him like a father. In addition, he can understand him better than anyone. He also lost a son. I look in Angelo’s direction. He is talking with the priest. Right then, the women get up again and take the dishes in the kitchen, bringing back clean ones for the dessert.
The desserts, and not the dessert! Maria and the other women are bringing many Italian desserts which look delicious. I bet they are! Angelo’s uncle explains to me what is what, while he is placing some in front of me to taste. He brought them today from the best pastry shop in Naples. They are calling them pasticcini. I taste one that looks like a horn and has pastry cream inside. It is amazing! Marco also tells me that they call it cannoncini. Next, I taste something that looks like a choux with chocolate glaze on top and pastry cream inside. It is also delicious! Last, I taste the famous cannoli with ricotta filling.
“They are all delicious!”, I delightfully exclaim to Marco di Abrosio.
“I am glad you like it! If you are still here next weekend, I will send a box only for you with different pasticcini to taste”.
“Oh, no, you shouldn’t bother!”, I politely reply, but he cuts me from talking by telling me “Dona Allyson, please! It is my pleasure!”. It is better not to contradict him, so I stay silent. I only smile at him. He smiles back and then turns to Angelo.
“Angelo, mio caro (Angelo, my boy), look what I have brought!”. Marco shows him a cigar leather pocket to Angelo.
Angelo smilingly replies “Zio Marco (Uncle, Marco), I was thinking you will never ask me”. With that, they both get up, excusing themselves. They walk to the gardens far away from the tables.
I observe them drawing away and think I must follow them. I should try listening to what they are talking about without anyone sees me. So, I also excuse myself. I head for my room, but when I am out of their view, I change direction. I follow a path leading to the direction where Angelo and his uncle are. I see them and hide behind a bush. I try listening to them, but I cannot understand what they are talking about. They are speaking in Italian. Damn me! I should have chosen Italian as a second language in the school and not French. I try to catch some words, but I still do not understand the subject of their talk. Suddenly, they change their language and start speaking in English.
“Bancini came to see me yesterday” his uncle says first, mentioning the name of the person responsible for the death of Angelo’s parents, as Gianni had told me. Marco continues “He was asking about the disappearance of a certain American journalist in Naples. I pretended I wasn’t aware of it. I am not sure he believed me”.
“Che palle!” (What a pain in the ass!) Angelo angrily replies while smoking his cigar. “He can go to hell. I am not going to answer him about what I am doing with Alysson. Especially him! Alysson found out that one of his guys had export documents and invoices of our laboratory in New York. Apparently, they are forged. His guy was also working for Camorra. I don’t know what is going on, but I will figure it out. Did you have any news from Fabricio?”, Angelo asks his uncle.
“Fabricio will wait for you tomorrow in Santa Maria at one o’clock in the afternoon”, Marco informs him. Touching Angelo’s arm, he says worryingly “Bancini knows where Veronica lives. He mentioned he might go for a trip to Zurich”.
“Cazzo! Stronzo!” (Shit! The asshole!), Angelo exclaims angrily.
“We should move her as soon as possible”, Marco suggests.
Angelo doesn’t reply. He inhales the smoke of the cigar and while he is putting it out, he nods his head positively.
“I will take care of it”, his uncle says reassuringly.
I am wondering who Veronica is? What is she for them? What is she for Angelo? And why this Bancini wants to reach her? To hurt her? Or hurt Angelo through her? I leave my thoughts for later because what I hear makes me freeze.
“She is very charming and beautiful tua ragazza! (Your girlfriend!)”, his uncle says.
“She is not my girlfriend!”, Angelo replies and instantly adds “Not yet!”.
The fucking bastard! I am left with an open mouth. That’s why he is keeping me here? In fact, there is no danger. He is keeping me here only to make me come to his bed. I am extremely furious with him. My hands form fists which I want to punch Angelo in his handsome face. A gift from the American girl! He can show it to his friends if he dares! He is not shameful at all! All this time, keeping me here, away from my friends, my work, my research, he is doing it with only one purpose in his mind. Having me in his bed! Damn him!
“I should go, Angelo. Are you coming to Naples with me?”, his uncle asks him.
“Yes, zio. Go to the helicopter and I will be there in few minutes. I have to do something before”, Angelo replies.
“Bene!” (Fine!) Marco di Ambrosio leaves him alone.
I wait for Angelo to leave from here too, but instead, I hear him saying “Allyson, you can get out from behind the bush now”.
What the hell! Does he have eyes behind his back? How did he know I was here? It is impossible to know where I am. I stay still. I hear footsteps approaching me. Crap! Before I run away, Angelo seizes my arm and pushes me hard towards him. I fall on his muscled chest.
“You are a very naughty girl, Allyson!”, Angelo amusingly says to me.
“Let me go!”, I shout trying to escape from his fierce grip. Angelo places one hand around my waist to keep me steady.
“It is very impolite to eavesdrop, Allyson!”. I continue fighting to escape from his embrace, but uselessly. He is holding me very strongly close to him. Our bodies are touching and I feel burning. Wherever he touches me, I feel that part of my body in flames. I feel a desire for him. I shouldn’t. Especially after what I have heard.
“Allyson, look at me”, Angelo seriously orders me, but I do not obey. I intentionally avoid looking at his face. I do not want him to see my desire for him. What a shame! Having feelings for someone holding me as a prisoner and wanting to throw me in his bed, to exhaust all his sexual desires on me. No, I do not want to look at him.
“Let me go, you bastard!”, I shout louder, hoping someone will hear me and come to my rescue.
At that instant, Angelo grabs me from my hair and lifts my head to see his face. I shout loud “Help!”. Angelo leans over me and closes my mouth with his mouth, kissing me hungrily. I stop breathing. I hear my heartbeats going faster and faster. I feel his soft lips on mine. I feel his hot and sweet tongue inside my mouth searching mine. And when he finds it, he plays with my tongue. Our tongues are dancing the sensual and archetype rhythm which lovers are dancing for centuries.
I do not protest anymore. I let myself enjoy that moment, this kiss. I smell his perfume, bergamot, citrus and musk. He travels me through the sea to Naples, to Amalfi coast. Being under the sun, exposed to the light. Feeling his heat all over my body. Feeling his touch, soft like a feather. I am dreaming and do not understand he is not kissing me anymore. “Allyson, bella donna mia!”, I hear Angelo’s voice bringing me back to reality. I open my eyes and see him smiling at me. What an asshole!
At that moment I do what I wanted to do when I heard him talking to his uncle about his plans for me. I slap him hard on his face.
“Merda! (Shit!) Allyson!”, he exclaims surprisedly from my reaction.
I bet he wasn’t expecting that. In any case, my reaction releases me from his embrace as he lets me go. I run through the garden and hear him saying “Ma guarda un po’!” (Good heavens!).
I do not know what does it means and do not want to learn. I arrive at my room. I enter and close the window doors behind me. I am left without breath and tears are running down from my eyes.