Married To The Mafia

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3. You Were Saying?

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~||OLIVIA SMITH||~

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“I refuse!”

Stella pouted and all of us laughed as Joanne glared at the peach colored off-shoulder bridesmaid’s dress.

“Pretty please!!!” Stella pleaded with her puppy eyes. No one could say no to Stella’s puppy eyes but Joanne was immune to it.

‘I raised a puppy, remember?’ was her argument.

Joanne was adamant she didn’t want to be a bridesmaid. But Stella wanted her there.

And I was the maid of honor. But I had to walk with Leon and that made me sad. I wish Zach was here. They had a custom where the bridesmaid and groomsmen walked out together as the married couple walked out. Joanne was lucky. She gets to walk with Ava because she likes ‘Aunt Joey’. I smiled thinking of that cuteness.

“It makes no sense. I have to walk with Ava.” She pointed at the three year old sucking on a lollypop. “Not that I am complaining but that’s plain stupid. Ava should have all the attention.”

Daniella rolled her eyes and walked over to the duo to persuade her.

I sat back, shaking my head laughing. Joanne will always be like that.

I turned to look at Anika who sat there quietly, her eyes never leaving her daughter.

“Hey.” I said, giving her my warmest smile.

“Hi.” Her voice was so low that I wouldn’t have known she replied if I hadn’t seen her lips move.

“You are awfully quiet.” I said. I know I am a bit blunt at times but I guess it comes with being an health and relationship advisor.

“Don’t the rest of my family make up for it?” She said tiredly, though I swear I sensed some bitterness.

“I am sorry.” I started but she cut me off.

“No, I am.” She said. “But I just want to tell you and your friends that-”

She stopped and I turned around to see where she was looking. Daniella was looking at us intently, her face wore an expression I couldn’t quite decipher but it was definitely not something I thought she could make. She flashed me a grin when she saw me looking and turned around. I looked at my friends and Joanne looked at me with a suspicious look on her face and tilted her head towards Daniella. She had seen the exchange.

‘Distract her. ’ I mouthed.
She gave me a thumb up behind her back and approached Daniella, saying something.

I quickly turned around to Anika.

“You were saying?”

“Nothing. It’s nothing.”

“Please. If it’s something my friends and I should know, you should tell us.”

“It’s just that the Kings are not -” She stopped as she looked at where the three women were and then at Ava. “- very open to new ideas. They are kind of.. Orthodox. We are kind of orthodox.” She corrected. Her eyes didn’t meet mine and her hands were clampy. She was definitely lying.

She quickly got up and made her way to her daughter, not turning back or letting me say anything.

I remembered that even at the dinner, she didn’t talk. She was quietly feeding her daughter. And she and Gregory didn’t have the kind of relationship Xander and Daniella did.
But they had such a lovely family. I thought they were just the quiet kind. But something was definitely fishy.

Stella sat down next to me.

“Where’s Jo and Daniella?” I asked.

“Ahh.. Joanne finally agreed after Daniella persuaded her and now she has gone to try on the dress.”

“Aren’t you trying yours on?” I asked.

Joanne had ‘pulled some strings’ to get that dress for her. We hadn’t even seen it.

“Let the two of them get back.” Stella said.

“Hey Anika!” She called out to the mother .

Anika turned around looking scared and alert and I turned to my best friend. She didn’t look phased by it.

“I gotta go out with Ava for a while. She is getting cranky.” She scooted with the child.

What is happening?

“Did you see how scared she looked?” I turned to my best friend.

“Yeah.” Stella sighed. “She’s not really comfortable with new people. Anthony said it will get better once we are married.”

I nodded though something inside me said it was going to get a whole lot worse.

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Joanne leaned on the window watching the city lights as I drove. Or dragged. Whatever you call travelling in New York at rush hour.

“You know..” She said. “Daniella is not all that she pretends she is.”

“I know.” I replied. “They are hiding something.”

“But what?” She sighed. “You think I should call Rodney?”

“You did already, didn’t you?” I narrowed my eyes at her. I knew this devil. She was not one to wait for second opinion.

She turned to me, grinning sheepishly.

“Maybe.”

“And?”

“She sent a mail.”

“You read it?”

“It’s sent via a different software on my laptop.” She pouted. “I am dying from the suspense.”

“She didn’t say anything?” I asked, rolling down the window so I could give the asshole honking behind me the finger.

Why do they think honking helps clear a mile long traffic jam?

“She was at the airport. She’s flying to Greece for vacation. On a cruise ship. Won’t be back for a few weeks.” She said.

“She’s living the life, isn’t she?”

“My Rodney darling is something else.” She laughed.

I had met Rodney once, on FaceTime and could say that the black woman was the mastermind behind the atom bomb called Joanne. They had such a great connection. They were closer than I was to my parents or siblings. It was crazy.

Rodney was a hacker. She was in her early forties if I remember right. And she was Joanne’s neighbor when she lived with her parents. Joanne, like Stella, did not have any contact with her parents.

She said they disowned her when she took up Web Designing and not medical school. Damn.

Stella’s parents were a whole new level.
Her mom was on her seventh husband and her dad’s present wife was twenty one, that is two years younger than Stella.

I almost felt bad for being grateful that my parents were nothing like theirs. They let me do what I want with my life. All my pops ever said is, “Do what you think is right. Do what you think is fair.”

I smiled to myself. My parents had become their parents as well. But Pops couldn’t make it here for the wedding to walk Stella down the aisle. Guess who was going to do it? My dumb brothers Luke and Dexter.
They were sixteen and twins and the most horrible specimens of the human race.

I don’t even know what Stella was thinking. I wish Zach was here but he was in Australia for a joint venture of his company and he was going to there for two more months.

I missed him so much.

“You are missing Zachy-poo.” Joanne sang, making kissing sounds.

“Shut up Jo. But how did you know that?” I whispered the last part.

“You play with your promise ring whenever you do.” She shrugged.

I forget that she’s really good at observing people.

“You noticed something when I was talking to Anika?”

“Yeah. After you asked me to distract Daniella, I agreed to the fitting and dragged her out of the room but she gave Anika a look and gestured to Ava and she paused.” Joanne explained. “But then she continued talking to you right?”

“She lied after that.” I was getting really restless right now. “And am I the only person who thinks it’s weird that marriage is only applicable to Anika and Stella and not to Daniella?”

“Nope. I had the same doubt and I asked Stella. She just laughed it off saying maybe Anthony was making an excuse to get married to her. She is blind in love right now.” Joanne pursed her lips but then looked out and her face lit up.
“Can we get takeout from McDonald’s?”

I nodded and pulled up to the drive through. We got ourselves a heavy dinner and made our way to our apartment.

“I bet Old Man is bored to death by now!” Joanne laughed as she turned the key but she paused.

“What?” I asked.

She took the key out and opened the door.
“Did we forget to lock the door?” She asked me.

I shook my head. I remembered clearly we had forgotten to lock the door and Wolverine had barked from inside and showed us the key.

She quickly walked in and turned on the lights.

The whole house was trashed.

I held a hand to my mouth as we walked in. I quickly held her hand making her stop.

“They could still be in here.” I whispered.

“Then they already saw us come through and turn the light on.” She said out loud and walked forward, her hand wrapping around a vase on the table as she did.

“Babe?” She called out.
She called Wolverine that when she was feeling much love for him or worry. Tonight was definitely worry.

I dialed 911 as I followed her into her room.

“This is 911, what is your emergency?”

“Baby, where are you?” Joanne called. No response. I turned on the lights.

I described what happened to the operator and she said the cops will be here soon. I hung up after answering a few more questions.

The Great Dane was nowhere in sight. But the room was fully trashed and all the clothes and stuff scattered everywhere.

We were about to leave the room when we heard something fall in the bathroom.

“Jo no!!” I tried to pull her back but she hurried into the bathroom without a care in the world.

I gasped, choking on my own tears as I saw the sight.

Wolverine lay there, blood gushing out through multiple wounds on his abdomen, whimpering helplessly, his eyes dilated and trained on Joanne.

“NO THEY DID NOT!!” Joanne yelled angrily as she fell to her knees, lifting her baby’s head to her lap.

“Momma’s here love. Nothing’s gonna happen to you.” She whispered. “You are my Wolverine. You are too strong!”

“Quick get me some clothes and duct tape!” She yelled at me, her face red, sweaty and full of fear.

She quickly got up and turned on the shower and put it at hot.

I quickly grabbed the clothes littered on the bedroom floor and gave it to her and headed to the storage room for duct tapes.

When I finally found them and got back, she was wiping the gaping wounds with wet clothes. And her hands were red from the hot water.

Wolverine whimpered in her arms.
I knelt down, trying to control my tears as I helped her with the wounds. We quickly patched the wounds up with cloth and duct tape to stop the bleeding.

I looked over at Joanne. She was not letting her fear and dread come in the way of her thinking. She was doing this rationally and had thought everything through.

She hauled the 160 pound canine over her shoulder and we ran like mad-women.

It was on our way out that we realized the security guards were also missing.

Joanne quickly dialed 911 again and updated them.

Shit. This was worse than we thought.

“Shouldn’t we call Stella?” I asked.

“Not now Livy!” She gritted through her teeth. “Just drive!”

We didn’t talk as I drove like a madwoman. Joanne kept soothing Wolverine telling how she was going to find whoever did this to him and how he was going to rip their limbs off.

When this is over, I am getting tickets for speeding and missing seven red lights. I was just glad nobody got hurt because of my rash driving.

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We watched as Wolverine got wheeled into the Emergency Room.

“Whoever did that to my kid, is gonna pay!!!” Joanne screeched, stomping on the ground.

She quickly speed dialed ‘0’ and threw her phone in frustration when she realized Rodney cannot be contacted right now.

I picked up the phone. Luckily it didn’t break.

“I will call Stella okay? And I will deal with the paper work. You stay here.” I told her before I walked away, turning around to see her slide down to the floor.

I quickly made it to the reception and dealt with paper works.

I called Stella then. She didn’t pick up.
I called her again and again and bombarded her with messages. No reply.

Then I decided to call someone else.

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