Capo: captain of boss’s enforcers
If anyone asked me I’d tell them I’ve known Antonio my whole life –intimately. This isn’t because we have spent every waking moment with each other since birth. In fact, we never spent any time together until recently.
But, my soul was drawn to him even when my mind didn’t want to be. It isn’t about the danger or his dark beauty. It’s the connection I feel. He makes me feel at home even though I am miles away from it.
We have been apart now for three weeks. I have been caged in this gilded prison for three weeks. Fancy meals, workout room, pool, repeat.
This separation is painful. If you get something, something powerful, then lose it, desolation takes over. It’s both unhealthy and right all at the same time.
“Meg!” my sister, Erin, calls weakly.
I just finished working out. I use the gym here every day. I have never worked out before, but boredom took over. Well, boredom and my run-in with Uncle Tutti, Antonio’s uncle. Near strangulation is a great motivator. It inspires me to become stronger.
The only time that I leave the family floor of the casino is during the slow times. A bodyguard takes Clarissa and me downstairs to get ice cream from the small Ben and Jerry’s stand in the midst of the high-priced shops that line up and down the main lobby hallway. I always look forward to this escape. Sure, it’s a diversion from the top floor of Mancuso Mafia Penitentiary, otherwise known as La Bella Regale Casino, but it is something I have to get me through.
The bodyguards are relatively nice. Joey is typically the one on duty when we get our treat. It still surprises me that Clarissa has been living like this her whole life. I don’t know how she does it. I, on the other hand, feel like an animal in a cage, even if it’s a comfortable one.
I typically bring Erin a huge sundae. Chunky Monkey is her favorite. I think she is well enough to come downstairs with us, but she chooses to stay upstairs.
“Meg! Joey’s here.”
I walk towards the front of the suite. It’s not a short walk. Think studio-style with palace-like, heavy gold furniture…an old-world palace in a modern-day sky scraper.
“Hey, Joey,” I greet him.
He grins at me. Joey is a good looking guy…well no, he’s gorgeous. He fits right in here with his black, floppy hair scattered around his forehead, but his eyes seem to set him apart from everyone…they are a pale green. I can see why Clarissa and my sister, Erin, giggle every time he’s around. He is quite charming. When he smiles, two dimples appear on each side of his mouth. It’s sweet and endearing. But, all the same, I probably wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley.
Clarissa is sitting on the couch next to my sister. Her short-cut bob of rich brown hair swings when she turns to me flashing a warm smile. Our stay has been a treat for her.
Erin and Clarissa have their heads together, snickering. I roll my eyes at their immaturity, but it also fills me with happiness to see my sister entertained. They have become very close during our seclusion. Clarissa truly has been a lifesaver by pulling Erin back from the darkness of recent traumas.
The traumas run deep. Connor, her ex-boyfriend…what an ass! He cheated on her. There isn’t a minute that goes by when I think of his betrayal that my blood doesn’t boil. And the truth about Dad’s work, being bound to a chair in our kitchen with a gun pointed at her head…these events revealed my sister’s insecurities and vulnerabilities.
Clarissa is good for Erin. She is a tough cookie. She gives my sister coping skills that she desperately needs. Being immersed in the Mafia lifestyle, even though she’s trapped at the casino, makes Clarissa a force to be reckoned with. She learned, like Antonio, to handle and deal with tough situations.
Joey is the son of Ennio’s right hand man, Julio. Julio is head of security and an enforcer…I’ve heard him also referred to as Capo. Joey is in the beginning of his training, at the very early stages. Being a bodyguard for us is one of the things he has to do. He is pretty close-lipped about it, but I still ask a ton of questions and he typically caves. As much as what goes on scares me, it also fascinates me. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m in love with a mobster or if it’s because I’ve been born into this life, albeit ignorant of it.
“You ready?” Joey asks.
“Yeah. You coming, Clarissa?” I ask, grabbing a sweatshirt.
“I think I’ll stay with Erin.”
“You don’t have to,” Erin interjects.
“It’s okay. Make that two Chunky Monkeys today, Meg.”
“Got it. We’ll be back.”
Joey and I leave the suite and head for the family elevator. The red and gold carpeted hallway gleams all the time. I have mused to myself that little elves come in the middle of the night to scrub it.
Joey pushes in a security code and we wait.
“How are things going today?” he asks.
“Ugh. Same ol’,” I shrug.
A door opens at the end of the hall. We both turn to look. Alex, another enforcer, sticks his head out. My face automatically moves to offer a greeting, but, when he sees Joey and I, he quickly pulls his head back in and shuts the door. No hello. Alex is another one of the people I’ve met here that I really like. He seems genuine and has been extremely helpful with anything that Erin and I have needed, so this behavior is a little odd.
“What was that about?” I ask quizzically.
“Who knows,” Joey responds.
The elevator dings, and we step in. Mirrors line all of the walls. I know behind those mirrors are cameras. There are cameras everywhere.
“I think I’m going to take my ice cream upstairs too. I’ll eat with Erin,” I tell Joey.
“Nah, eat downstairs. It’s your big adventure to the casino floor,” he coaxes.
“I’d rather eat in the suite with Erin and Clarissa. Erin’s birthday is tomorrow, and it’s not too early to start celebrating. Besides, I always feel guilty when I leave with you.”
Joey raises his eyebrows at me.
“Why? Do you have a thing for me, Miss O’Neill? You’re a beauty, but I don’t need my face knocked in by Tonio,” he jokes, his dimples deepen when he laughs.
“Ha ha,” I deadpan.
Everyone knows that Antonio and I are in love. I miss him so much. But I am struck by what Joey said. Joey is in his twenties, much older than us…and he’s afraid of Antonio.
Joey’s phone buzzes in his pocket, and he shifts his coat to the side, his gun and holster poking out, as he takes his phone out and answers it.
“Yeah…(pause)…No…(pause)…I can do that…(pause)…Okay.”
Joey hangs up and presses a new floor button – B.
“Are we are going to the basement?” I ask skeptically.
“Yup. We’re going on a field trip.” He scrubs his hands together maniacally. He is joking, but an eerie feeling overcomes me. Mice and gross things are usually in basements. Is there a special mob morgue down there? My mind is running away from me. I have been cooped up too long.
Joey grins at me. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing.” I shiver. “I’m just not a big fan of basements.”
Joey shakes his head and laughs at me. “It’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
Says the mobster – Sure, no problem!
The elevator dings. The doors slide open.