The ride to Mama Rosa’s was harmless enough. What Poppy said out loud didn’t worry
“Well, my dear, that sounds like a very good idea. I knew if I bought you that place you would make it successful. You should be very proud of your wife, Anthony.” Poppy’s face glowed with pride.
“Of course I am, Poppy,” Anthony said with a plastic smile. This was his own doing; for whatever reason, he had chosen to endure an afternoon of hearing
“After lunch, Anthony, I would like to go back to the office with you and look over the books. That’s still okay with you?”
Anthony’s hesitation was barely discernable. “No problem,” he responded with the same brittle smile.
Just then, the waiter came over to the table. “Good afternoon. My name is Carmine, and I will be your server today. May I take your order, or do you need some more time?” He looked about fifteen, but
Anthony seemed grateful for the interruption. “No, I think we’re ready. I’m getting hungry. Sweetie, do you know what you want?”
“Would anyone like a cocktail or an appetizer?”
Anthony said, “I’ll have a scotch on the rocks.”
Poppy glanced at him. “Don’t you think it’s a bit early to have a drink, son?”
Anthony ignored him. “Just bring it,” he told the waiter.
“Anyone else?” Carmine asked.
“Espresso,” Poppy said.
“I’ll just have water,”
Poppy returned his attention to
“Last week. They’re doing fine.” She paused. “Thank you again for keeping them safe and hidden so well.” She said that only because she knew you could catch more bees with honey than with vinegar. He acted like she saw them regularly, when she was taken to see them only twice monthly — if she was lucky.
How could she leave Anthony . . . and still keep her parents safe? She was not allowed to call them; they could call her once a week, but the calls were always monitored. She hoped that one day, she’d be able to save them completely and have them home again. It was a situation she tried to change whenever the opportunity came up, and now seemed as good of a time as any.
“Poppy, do you think all of this secrecy is still so necessary?” As soon as the words came out of her mouth, she realized this hadn’t been a good idea. Anthony shot her a look. Questioning any Cavelli could be dangerous. She knew she took a chance every time she asked about her parents, but Poppy genuinely seemed to enjoy her and her company, so, perhaps, she wasn’t as afraid of mentioning it as Anthony would like her to be.
He paused as the waiter came back with the drinks and salads. When he had gone again, Poppy continued, “As a matter of fact, I hear you had some interesting visitors today.”
Poppy gave them a moment to absorb what he had said.
“Two detectives came to see if I knew anything about the family business. I told them I didn’t, and then they left. That was the end of that. It really wasn’t a big deal.”
“I’m proud of the way you handled yourself. You have been an asset to this family from the beginning. I always knew that you would be. It was nice to see how you and my son have gotten along. Who says arranged marriages don’t work?” Poppy smiled broadly and continued on that subject for what seemed like an eternity. They finished their salads, and the waiter came over with their entrees.
“Thank you, Carmine. This smells wonderful.” The rest of the meal was spent in idle chitchat, mostly dominated by Poppy.
Both wished they were elsewhere.
© Nadine Z. 2007