Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Happy Family . . . Not

Mario pulled into the garage next to the two-story office complex. It was about twenty minutes from Regina’s restaurant, and the Cavelli family owned the whole building. All their businesses operated from here, each with a name that sounded respectable and completely above board, but what happened behind closed doors was another story. Anthony had his men sweep the building periodically for bugs, and sometimes they found a few. As far as the city cops were concerned, their informant was usually quite reliable. But the Feds were a different story; they planted bugs fairly regularly or positioned men outside to observe the proceedings as best they could.

As Regina and Anthony got out of the car, he asked her, “Do you think you can manage to be civil to my father?”

“Of course, I can. I forgave him a long time ago for forcing me to marry you and live in hell,” Regina replied with an edge of sarcasm. She sometimes couldn’t help but give snide remarks, especially when she was around Poppy. It was a shortcoming she was still working on.

Instead of being sarcastic in return, Anthony said calmly, “That’s exactly what I mean. The old man thinks we are happily married. I’d like to keep it that way. Now just do as you’re told and everything will be all right.”

Normally he would come back at her or threaten her in some way. For the second time today, Regina wondered if something was wrong. She kept quiet, hoping to pick up on what was really going on.

Stepping into the building with Anthony and Mario at her heels, Regina tried to focus. She always found it difficult to be in Poppy’s presence, especially now in her condition. He had always wanted a grandchild. It was a topic that had been on his mind, and lips, since the death of Anthony’s mother. Lord, I need You to help me keep my cool and not give myself away.

A little prayer never hurt in stressful situations.

They walked into the outer office and a very nervous Mary greeted them. She came out from behind her desk.

“What’s the matter with you?” Anthony asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“Mr. Cavelli, your father is in your office,” Mary said with much excitement in her voice. “He came about twenty minutes ago and just walked right in. Then he started dictating letters to me. I didn’t know what to do! I didn’t get a chance to call you. I was just about to now. He’s been making phone calls and asking me questions . . .” Mary was very close to being frantic.

“Calm down, will you? Just bring us some coffee and type those letters like he asked. Don’t worry about it. Did the accountant drop off anything?”

“No, sir, he hasn’t.”

This did not seem to make Anthony happy at all. Grabbing Regina by the arm, he whispered, “Don’t forget what I told you.”

They walked in and found Poppy on the phone, sitting behind Anthony’s desk. He motioned for them to come in, as if it was his office they had just walked into. Instantly, heat shot through Anthony’s body. He didn’t like this situation at all. Poppy had no business, none whatsoever, appearing so comfortable in Anthony’s office.

Poppy hung up the phone and, with a huge smile on his face, got up to greet them.

For a second, Anthony smirked at Regina’s expression. Hugging her was like trying to hug a fence post. She never returned his father’s hugs, but it didn’t seem to phase Poppy or discourage him from trying.

“What a pleasant surprise! Anthony, why didn’t you tell me Regina was going to be here?” Before Anthony could answer him, he went on, “My son can’t seem to tell me if I will ever become a grandfather. Regina, Dear, can you give me an idea?”

“I’m sorry, not yet. You know we’re still young. There’s plenty of time for that in the future.” Forgive me, Lord, for telling such a lie. It amazed her how this man seemed to forget that he had forced them to get married. He lived in some fantasy world in which they were all one big, happy family.

Mary walked in with the coffee tray and set it up on the table.

“Okay, I’ll drop it for now. But I have a wonderful idea. Why don’t we all go to lunch together? I would love to visit with you in a more pleasant environment.”

Anthony smiled and said, “That sounds great. I guess we won’t be needing that coffee, Mary. Thank you anyway.” He turned to his father. “Why don’t you two go out to the car? I have some instructions for Mary before we leave.”

As soon as they were out of hearing distance, Anthony whispered in a low growl, “Mary, I want you to call the accountant and tell him that he’d better be here with the books before I return from lunch. Make sure he understands — wait. Forget that. Instead tell Jimmy to go there in person and pick it up. He’ll know what to do if it’s not ready.”

“Yes, sir. No problem.”

On his way out to the car, Anthony made a call. “Yeah, it’s me. Can you talk? Listen, I want to know what he is up to before it happens, not after. Why wasn’t I told about the visit? That’s not what you get paid for! No more excuses — just keep a better eye on him!”

When Anthony joined them in the limousine, he was back to his pseudo cheerful self again. “So, Poppy, where to?”

“Mama Rosa’s Seafood Palace. I’m in the mood for some fish.”

“Great. Mario, you heard him — Mama Rosa’s.”

Regina started to pray. Lord, give me strength to hold down my lunch. And help me to behave in a way that would please You. It really didn’t do her any good to be upset. Nothing ever seemed to change.

© Nadine Z. 2007


Cherrye said...

Nooo, Nadine! I can't read it. I won't be able to wait for it to be published, to be out in the bookstores, be sold and THEN be shipped to me in Italy...

Shoot, maybe I will read them after all!!

GOOD LUCK, girl! My fingers are crossed for you!

Theresa said...

wow, you are a terrific writer. I can't wait to read more.

yerdoingitwrong said...

Oh are a fabulous writer. I'm so impressed!!!

Shionge said...

You are 'killing' me just like watching a movie LOLz....

Great Job Nadine!

Reva said...

I love mysteries and crime stories like those from James Patterson and Catherine Coulter. I am so happy to meet someone else who is writing their first book like me. I just started my blog but I am interested in getting comments from someone like you to help me along the way. Let me know if you are interested in reviewing bits or chapters that I have already.

By the way thank you so much for visiting my site and giving me so much attention and encouragement to blog more. I surely don't intend my blog to be a downer for anyone but just real.

Thanks again.