Authors: S. W. Frank
Tags: #Drama, #American, #African American
“Let go of my arm,” Shanda hissed. He dropped her arm and glowered like a predatory animal. She crossed her arms over her breasts. “Don’t put your hands on me again Giuseppe. I’m not feeling that shit and I will cut you.”
His laugh was more of a dare. “With what, a scissor tongue?”
“I’m going to bed. Play that daddy bull-shit with someone else.”
Giuseppe heard what she did not say. A corner of his lip rose and he snarled. “I am not your babbo!”
She tried to slip past his body, but he closed the route of escape by pressing his arms to the wall to fence her inside a human pen. “You have fifteen minutes to pack. I cannot have your death on my conscience.”
“Fine, you want me out. Me and Carlo will leave.”
“No. You do not understand, Carlo is not here. He is with his Nonna. It is you that must go.”
Okay, now the stakes had changed. He talked crazy. “You lying sonovabitch. I knew it…I knew you’d pull some shit like this. You can dish it out but you can’t take it. I go out and have fun like you
and the next thing I know you’re reneging on our deal. I’m not leaving this house without my son!”
She pushed at his chest and he smiled. “I have not reneged. You broke the verbal contract when you put the famiglia in harm’s way.”
Shanda screwed up her face. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I cannot protect Shanda from
.” Giuseppe said. He abruptly stepped back and she was free. “Collect your things. My plane is waiting to take you to America.”
Shanda didn’t move from the spot. Shock held her stationary. “What?”
Giuseppe walked to the sofa, crossed one leg over the other and coolly checked his watch. The donna sought to delay the inevitable. “You have twelve minutes.”
Along with Giuseppe’s cold gaze and obstinacy she detected contempt. This pained her. No, it’s more than that, it cut her deep. She collected herself, refused to go there with him. He’d shown his hand, hers had yet to be played. She hurried upstairs and barricaded herself in the nursery to make a call. Giuseppe was not going to keep her child. The damn fool was out of his mind if he thought she’d walk out without Carlo.
Selange’s voice answered the distress call and Shanda leaned her back against the door to talk to a friend. “Girl, I need your help!”
“Shanda isn’t it three in the morning there, what’s going on?”
“Giuseppe’s kicking me out.”
The irritation she’d experienced slowly turned to weariness and she sighed. “I flipped the script on his ass and he can’t take it.”
“Oh, Shanda –no the heck you didn’t. Damn, I’m at a spa trying to relax and you’re calling to stress me out. Why are you guys fighting, let me guess you just came in, right?”
“I sure did!”
“What’s the problem?”
“I closed the candy store on his ass the other day. The dog tried to play me. Everything was cool one minute and the next he waltzes in here after whoring around all night smelling like a woman poured perfume on him and then had the audacity to try to get in my drawers.” Shanda’s eyes traveled to the empty crib and a lump formed in her throat. She hadn’t done anything. Walk around the mall, shop, sit in café’s and people watch from the main square like the Sicilians do. She had toured the galleries, smiled at her loneliness and hoped Giuseppe would grow the fuck up. She’d gone for a drive and somehow found herself in the province of Capaci. The darkness and unfamiliar terrain turned her about and for the first time in her life, she was scared by the night. She’d heard mafia opposition rallies led by a man named Timpico and the Ministry of the Interior were aimed at men like Giuseppe. This too, made her uneasy and afraid to venture out of her car. Luckily, she navigated her way home and what Giuseppe thought was defiance was actually a woman from the streets of Brooklyn refusing to show anyone her fright.
There was another terror beating at her breast; she feared falling victim to Giuseppe’s charm and opening the candy store at night. She’d dropped her guard before and received a sucker punch in the pussy from the man she had begun to love. Twice was enough. “I’m pissed the fuck off because I thought…”
“You thought what?”
“I thought he
about me and it wasn’t only because of Carlo.”
“Shanda, I don’t know what’s going on between you two but there’s a baby in the house and children sense negative vibes, so please don’t fight around my godchild. I swear you guys are going to make Carlo crazy!”
“Carlo’s at Sophie’s.”
“Well, that’s a relief!”
“I’m not leaving without him, girl. Would you let Alfonzo steal your children?”
“Shanda, listen to me on this. Do not push Giuseppe’s buttons. Call Sophie.” There was a brief pause followed by a long sigh before Selange said. “Sophie’s his mother and she’ll talk sense into Giuseppe.”
“Selange, I don’t need her help, I need your man’s. She’ll side with him, anyway. Mothers are like that. Right now I’m an outsider on Giuseppe’s turf and none of these people have my back.”
“Damn Shanda, Sophie’s a professional swimmer
, grab hold to her. She’ll be your lifeguard. You’re panicking and going about things wrong. The women there will to help you but you have to stop being stubborn; it’ll cause you to drown.”
There was pounding on the door and Shanda spoke urgently into the phone. “He’s banging on the door but I’m not coming out.”
“He’ll break the thing, if you don’t.” Selange warned. The damage to Sophie’s home when he learned about Luzo remained fresh in her mind. Giuseppe’s anger required a mother’s touch to douse. Selange feared for her friend, and being at a distance didn’t help.
The heavy thuds came again with shouting which received Shanda’s response. “Not until you keep your promise and let me leave here with my baby,
were free to go. I never mentioned the bambino!”
“Yes, you did
“I did not lie. You hear things in your mind; open the door!”
Shanda spoke to her friend. “See, this motherfucker’s crazy!”
“Shanda, I’ll call and speak to Giuseppe and calm him down. Take off the bitch-face, drop the animosity and open the door when he’s talking in a normal tone. Then act like an adult and communicate without the name-calling before this escalates, do you hear me?”
Shanda sucked her teeth. “Whatever lion tamer, calm the beast down first and I’ll chill.”
Giuseppe’s cell hummed in his pocket and when he brandished it in his hand and saw the caller’s name he chuckled. Ah, his donna called Selange the Savior. How adorable, the ‘Shanda troublemaker sought a sneak attack. Strategic brilliance. “Buongiorno.”
“Hello favorite brother-in-law.”
“Is there another brother-in-law I have yet to meet, bella?”
He smirked because with his biological father, anything was possible. “You have called because you miss me, eh?”
“Of course. Expect a birthday present soon. Too bad you’re not coming to visit so we can celebrate. The kids would love to see their funny Uncle.”
“You are coming for Carlo’s christening, no?”
“I’m the godmother, damn straight I’ll be there. By the way, are you making a contribution to the charity?”
“No, you are rich. Take your husband’s money.”
“You are having a fundraiser, you will do well.” He laughed. “The foolish people dazzled by your smile will pay to see it, not me, I’ve seen it enough.”
“Are you finished making fun of me?”
“Ah, not quite,
Selange broached the purpose of her call. “
Don Cognato, ho bisogno di un favore.”
Giuseppe chuckled. Ah, sí, he liked Selange and found her humorous. Sal must have taught her a bit of Italian because she resorted to his language to ask a favor. Smart woman had also given deference to his status which exhibited her respect, despite her husband’s influence being greater.
Giuseppe could not bypass an opportunity to poke more fun at his brother’s wife, whom he considered a charmer of men. “A favor, hmmm. I have yet to recover from the previous one in which I nearly died. ”
“No you didn’t almost die silly, besides I didn’t ask you to come along, you volunteered.”
“No,” he said. “Your memory is short.”
“Wow, you’re really getting pleasure from this aren’t you?”
“Seriously fratello, help a sister out.”
He leaned on the door, smiling. “I am now your brother?”
“Sí, Geo. You are family and I sincerely love you big brother.” It is the evocation of Semitra spoken to her betrothed on their wedding day in Tigrinya which shattered a stubborn Don’s will and brought a powerful lion undone. “I shall lay upon pillars of fire beside my love in protection of our children, burn I shall for the greater good of family. Set me to flame; for I shall gladly die Giacanti, my love’s name.”
Ah, now Selange had him in her clutches with the declaration. Famiglia. The women’s oath of allegiance, taken by every Giacanti mother. Yes, famiglia was the center of his heart. It is his father who shared Semira’s pledge in confidence to an inquisitive son. Not any of the Giacanti women spoke the oath aloud, to do so to a Giacanti man served as a reminder of his duties to protect the woman who bore his son. He could not resist further. The charmer of men’s sugar was too sweet; her appeal too strong and Giuseppe relented. “What is this favor, my
“Do not toss Shanda out, it’s cruel. She’s my friend, true, but I haven’t disclosed our history, that’s your place. If you haven’t done it Geo she will never understand you or our family’s ways, capisce?”
Giuseppe frowned. He pushed away from the door and walked the corridor with Gee at his heels. His pensive expression reflected how carefully he considered her words. Yes, his brother chose well. He considered it remarkable she spoke on the subject of family and safety when it is exactly why he sought to be rid of a potential problem. The interval stretched as Giuseppe paced. Time crept unnoticed to dawn. He had not spoken with Shanda about his family. These confidences he never shared with bedmates. The old Sicilians were familiar with the heritage of his famiglia, but many outsiders weren’t privy to the rumored tale. Perhaps, his mistake was seeing Shanda as a foreigner and not a member of the family. Wisdom comes in many ways. The least likely donna had relayed an indisputable truth.
Giuseppe halted. The door to the nursery slowly opened and Shanda peeked out. He saw her humility and a mother’s concern. He would grant this favor and give the taxing woman
sending sparks through his body one more chance. “Sí, cognata. I will talk with the other ‘S’ donna about family and allow her to remain with Carlo, but if she cannot accept our way and the necessity of the guards, then she must leave,
” he said loud enough for Shanda to hear.
Saturday night, oh yeah. Party time!
He had his four hundred dollars from helping out the seniors and aching as a result, but the pain would ease the moment he had some pussy. Oh yes it would!
Sergio dressed in his finest, and when done he examined his reflection in the bedroom mirror attached to the door. He turned from side to side and winked at himself, because damn he looked good. “Yeah, tonight I’m in there, for real.”
He collected his wallet and keys and stepped out the door. The corridor was filled with teens, mainly, Ms. Gail’s children and their friends. Sergio didn’t like to say bad stuff about minors, but this was the exception. The three girls and one boy ranging from the ages of twelve to seventeen had vulgar mouths and horrible names. Their biggest obstacles in life, besides their terrible disposition were those goddamn
“Hi Sergio,” the girl Finesha waved.
“Yeah, what’s up?” Sergio didn’t smile when he responded. The girl’s sixteen and fast for her age. Being too friendly might give a wrong impression and it’s the last thing a brother needed. Hell no, he didn’t want any drama from Finesha’s mean ass mama. The woman was notorious for having beef with everybody on the floor. He managed to avoid it by staying gone.
He stuck his hands in his pockets, waiting for the slow elevator, thinking how the woman needed her ass kicked for naming her child Finesha. Heck, if that isn’t bad enough she kept rolling them out, Kaquanna, Taquasia and Nasarius were the product of her identity crisis. She wanted to show pride in her ancestry but hadn’t researched African names, so why not, invent them, huh?
Dumb woman didn’t know there’s a mud snail, known as the nassa mud snail and a dog whelk spelled N-a-s-s-a-r-i-u-s.