In her penthouse in the middle of
She had the kind of beauty that stood out in a crowded room. With dark brown hair and glistening hazel eyes, she could light up a room when she smiled, which was often. She was a strong woman, with equal parts of compassion and confidence. Her strength was born out of her faith, and she needed both virtues — faith and strength — to deal with the man she was married to.
She turned around and gazed at the figure sleeping so soundly in her bed. Her husband looked sweet and innocent, almost childlike, when he slept, but she wouldn’t use those words to describe him when he was awake. Physically speaking, Anthony was a very good-looking man — a fact that didn’t escape him. He put on charm like a comfortable pair of jeans. His six-foot stature, jet-black hair, brown eyes, and olive skin made him very popular with the ladies. For better or for worse, marriage hadn’t hindered his social life at all.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a faint knock on the door. She walked across the room and opened it to find Lilly standing there with a breakfast tray. Lilly had worked for
With a nod,
Two chairs and a small round table stood near the window where
She started to pray, God, give me your wisdom to do what is right. Guide and direct my every step. Protect me . . . Her prayer was interrupted by sounds of Anthony moving about in the bed. When she heard his groaning, she wondered what type of mood he would be in when he woke up.
When he saw the cup trembling in her fingers, he yelled, “What’s the matter with you, woman? Be careful or you’ll spill that coffee all over me!”
His response answered her question about his mood.
“I’m sorry, Anthony. I’m not feeling very well this morning. Here’s your coffee, just the way you like it.”
She placed the cup on the nightstand. Anthony grabbed her wrist and pulled her down to the bed. She hated it when he grabbed her, because he would often leave a bruise whether he meant to or not. He just glared at her, as if he could read her thoughts. She turned her eyes, but not her face, away from him. When he looked at her like this, it scared her. There were times she felt brave enough to stand up to him, and other times fear just got the best of her. She started to pray for strength.
“You kinda look green. I’ll have Vinny take you to Doc’s today to make sure you haven’t got anything seriously wrong with you.”
It wasn’t that Anthony was really concerned with
“That’s okay, Anthony. I’m sure I’ll feel better if I just get a little rest before going to the restaurant. I think I’m just overly tired. I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
She hoped he believed her. The last thing she needed was to go to Anthony’s doctor and for him to find out that she was pregnant.
With a look of indifference, he let go of her wrist. “Suit yourself. I don’t care if you get better or not. But I’ll have Vinny stay here to drive you to work later.”
“I’m not that sick,”
“Let me rephrase that for you. Vinny will stay and drive you to work.” His glare went straight through her heart. If she could have melted into the surroundings, she would have gladly done so.
She didn’t feel like arguing with him. “That’s fine,” she said simply, then walked around to her side of the bed and slipped under the covers. She lay down on her side, grateful for their king-sized bed, which ensured that their bodies never had to touch at night.
“If you’re not up by ten, I’ll have Lilly wake you, okay?”
“That’s fine. I should be better rested by then.” She closed her eyes and silently prayed, Lord, deliver me and my child from the danger we are in. Give me the strength to do whatever I must do to protect my child. Most importantly, please don’t let Anthony ever find out that I’m pregnant.
Her edginess was what bothered him. He wasn’t sure what was going on with her, but he knew he didn’t like it. Of course, there wasn’t much he liked about her to begin with.
He took another sip of coffee and then got out of bed, pulling on his robe. On the other side of the door, he found Vinny and Mario standing guard. Anthony always kept a guard or two outside his bedroom. He was able to sleep better at night knowing someone was watching the door.
With the physique of a bodybuilder, Vinny was much larger than Mario, but he was a gentle giant. Anthony liked having him around because he intimidated everyone he met with his size alone. On the other hand, what Mario lacked in size he made up for in attitude and cruelty. He was one of Anthony’s most fearless men. There was no job he wouldn’t do, without hesitation. He never questioned orders or thought about the ramifications to himself.
Mario’s left cheek bore a scar he received as a souvenir from a fight with a drunken, six-foot-three sailor at a bar several years ago. A week later, that same man’s head had been found in a dumpster behind the bar — a knife wound on his left check. The police never recovered the rest of his body. Though never proven, it was commonly known who had killed the sailor. Mario’s reputation had soared.
Anthony closed the door behind him and said, “Vin, I want you to hang around here until she wakes up and then drive her to the restaurant.” He never greeted his men with hellos; he wasn’t interested in their personal lives. Usually he just spoke what was on his mind.
“Sure thing, Boss. Do ya want me to stay at the restaurant or go to the office afterwards?”
“I want you to stay there and keep an eye on her. I’m not sure, but I think she’s up to something. I don’t want her to know you’re watchin’. She’ll think you’re there to help her out.”
Vinny nodded his head to show he understood what Anthony expected.
“Did you take care of that situation last night?” Anthony asked Mario.
“Yeah, Boss. No problem; it went smooth as silk. After last night, no one will ever try that again.”
“Are there any loose ends I’ll have to worry about later?”
Mario seemed surprised that he would even ask. “Everything’s tight, Boss.”
“Good. I couldn’t have my people doing their own thing and then thinking they can get away with it. That’s not the kind of example I want to set. After I get dressed, I’ve gotta go see Poppy. Get the car and meet me downstairs in thirty minutes.”
Anthony enjoyed being feared by people. He got a rush when he entered a room and knew that with one look, the largest man present would lick his boots if he asked. He relished watching them jump when he said to and bend over backward just to please him. He enjoyed being the boss and the power that came with it. For the most part, life was good to him.
He went back into his room, where
Mostly, it was all that God stuff that got on his nerves. He blamed Lilly for that. In the beginning
As much as people feared him, Anthony feared no one — except maybe his father, Antonio Cavelli. Anthony had called him Poppy since he had first learned to talk, and Antonio’s associates had picked up the nickname as a term of endearment. Through the years, it had stuck.
Poppy was old, but he was tough. What he said went, without discussion. They often disagreed, but Poppy always won in the end. Anthony wondered what in the world the old man wanted with him today. Whatever it was, he was sure he wouldn’t like it. Poppy never beckoned unless he had something he wanted to enforce. Anthony felt like he was a teenager trying to sneak in after curfew whenever he visited his father under these circumstances. He didn’t like going into a situation where he wasn’t in complete control.
He’d better get ready or else he’d be late. Poppy hated it when people were late. He felt it showed a lack of respect, and the last thing Anthony wanted to do was sit through a lecture on respect.
When she heard the bathroom door close,
The water suddenly shut off in the bathroom, and her heart missed a beat. She slid back into bed and closed her eyes.
Oh, Lord, please calm me down, she prayed as she tried desperately to steady her breathing. She nearly forgot to put the camera back but did just before the door opened. Oh, God, she thought to herself, I pray he didn’t see me move. She pretended to be still asleep and rolled over to her side. She could feel his glare on her even with her eyes closed and her back toward him. Please help my heart to stop beating so fast.
Gradually, her heart began to calm down, and she started to feel more at ease. Thank You, Lord. Soon he would be gone and she could relax. She continued to lie there, praying silently.
© Nadine Z. 2007