Bella (A Sagatori Family Saga Mafia Romance Book 2)

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This book is work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental

Copyright © 2015 Kimberly Blalock

Bella vol.2 A Sagatori family saga by Kimberly Blalock

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Cover art created by Kimberly Blalock

Copy and Line Editing: Silla Webb

Interior Design/formatting: Silla Webb

A

Mafia

Romance

Dedication

This book is dedicated to my beautiful grandson.

I was blessed to hold in my arms my little angel and you will forever live in my heart. You are an angel watching over us now. May your beautiful spirit rest in peace as you sit in the kingdom of God.

 

Chapter 1

Bella

Darkness loomed over my head like a cloud, I prayed for the storm to just run its course. I prayed for the darkness to swallow me whole. I wondered if the darkness with my father’s death would be the turning point for me. He'd been my rock, my everything, so how did I go from a happy carefree girl to a sad, depressed, angry woman?

It didn’t matter what I’d wanted. It didn’t matter that I’d been made to marry the man who would run this family. I’d probably be swept under the rug and left to be alone at some point. Jax didn’t, or should I say,
wouldn’t
love me. Well, hell, who was I kidding? He wouldn’t, couldn’t, it was all the same. But either way, love was off the table. I knew that he'd made that very clear.

The droplets of cool rain peppered against my toes as I sat on the deck of my father’s home in Detroit. Spring was coming, finally. The cold winter had become redundant.  A creak from the door sounded then the clanking of wood followed. I didn’t want to have the conversation I knew was coming. My body tensed, there wasn’t a way out of it, I knew that.

“It's Saturday.” The bravado from his voice was welcome because it made me feel safe, but I could do without the content that followed.

“Mhmm,” I nodded as I slipped my feet off of the chair next to me.

“Are you ready?” The hum of certainty excited me. I was intrigued by his confidence.

My head shifted to the left. There he stood, his suit clad body faced me. Dark eyes watched me. “I don’t need to be reminded.” My stare narrowed. I wouldn’t let him see the meek girl again.

When Papa died I lost it. One psycho hospital visit later and I’d never let him see me weak. Yeah, you heard me right. The bastard locked me up in Detroit’s psycho ward. I was upset, hurt, and angry that my father left me. Isn’t that what happens when people die? Apparently sadness is a weakness that won’t be tolerated. All of the women in the Costa Nostra cry when someone dies, so why couldn’t I?

“Why are you so set on being difficult, Bella?” he hissed. I infuriated him.

I remembered that nice guy he'd been or maybe I imagined it. I was sure he'd calm down by now. That hadn’t happened yet.

I blew out a breath. “Must you always be so overbearing?” I shot back. He was, and I hated him for it. I hadn’t been allowed to see Emily or the staff that I’d practically grown up with. Tony and Sal weren’t allowed to be around me either, and they were like brothers. I sat in this house for the last month alone. Well, Alessandra was here. Jax only allowed his staff to care for me. Even the gardener had been fired and replaced.

But today was Saturday, the day he would be confirmed as the head of this family. I wasn’t allowed to attend the actual event of course; women weren’t allowed to be a part of those pieces of the darkness their husbands swore themselves to. The family would get together for a dinner after the fact. A huge celebration would take place which usually centered around food. I told him I wasn’t going to go. I refused. He was taking my father’s place after-all. But that was only a defiant tactic. An excuse not to go. Another way to piss him off.

I remained seated on the chair while I slipped my red polished toes inside the silver sandals. I opened my mouth to spit something back but decided against it. I’d wasted too much energy being negative, it was all negative. I felt myself falling into a dark hole. Yes, I was having a pity party and the pity table only seated one,
me
.

A few seconds had passed without me responding, he hated that. I think worse than me back talking to him, he hated my silence. So of course, I was silent more than not recently.

“Why must you act like this?” His fists balled to his sides.

I stood from the chair and faced the lake. It was calm and peaceful. A gush of air brushed my face. It felt good, cool and fresh. “I’ll get ready.” I drew a long, deep breath, and sidestepped past him as I entered the house. He didn’t move, and my eyes met his only for a moment as I passed his large frame. The thing I liked about being in his company was the aroma of his expensive cologne. Spicy with a hint of a floral undertone.

***

“Your dress is ready.” Alessandra moved swiftly through the room.

I stood silently with my hands limp at my sides. I was numb and angry. I didn’t like feeling that anger burn in the pit of my chest. I didn’t like feeling alone. Even more than that, I hated Jax Moretti. Just like he hated me. Why? I had no idea. We didn’t talk, communicate, or any of the other things married couples did. When we were sat silently at the table, I caught his eyes observing me. A dark glower circled into the delta of the darkness of his eyes. We'd eat silently then he'd excuse himself to return to his office. I resented him. I was alone.

Maybe I resented him because he didn’t want me. Maybe I was jealous of whoever it was he did want. We had been married for months, and he hadn’t even kissed me. I was sure I would’ve slapped him if he'd tried, but he didn’t try. He looked passed me like I didn’t exist. Except for today, when he needed me to be the good mafia princess. Appearances and all that bullshit.

Alessandra released the long, deep crimson gown from its plastic dress bag and held it at the hanger and hem at an attempt not to wrinkle the satin. This dress wasn’t my favorite, but I didn’t get to pick the dress, Jax had arranged it. He insisted actually. Every detail was personally tended to by him. My opinions were moot and it was ridiculous. I’d turned into the woman that I’d never wanted to be, kept. Except I was more like held prisoner. He’d insisted on it.

Jax hadn’t left the house for two days. I wasn’t sure what had kept him home, I didn’t ask and he didn't tell.
More fabulous silence.

“Why don’t you give Mr. Moretti a chance? He picked this beautiful dress for you, Bella. You’re too hard on him.” Her large, warm, chocolate eyes pleaded.

Alessandra thought of Jax as a son. She hadn’t come right out and said as much, but she revered him. This was her downfall, but I’d forgive her. My eyes fell to hers. “Don’t start with this again,” I pleaded as I smiled sweetly. She was constantly trying to get us talking, but I didn’t want that. No, correction; Jax didn’t want that. I did try, sort of. Well, perhaps not a lot and maybe not at all, but
he
certainly hadn’t been trying. I didn’t know why he watched me with such disdain, I just knew that he did. So I’d chosen to hate him as much as he hated me. My heart was safer if I did.

She quivered her head and mumbled something in Italian. She literally mumbled, making it difficult to understand. I was fairly certain she was calling me foolish, however. I turned to examine myself in the same mirror that I had when I’d married Jax. Still the same girl, but now those flaws were even more pronounced than they had been before. The girl that regarded me in the mirror was weaker in ways that no one else could see. She was heartbroken and alone.

One day I’d be happy. One day I’d be loved.

Chapter 2

Bella

I was the wife. I knew that Tito's wife was a small Italian woman that Spring had definitely arrived and with it rainfall. The trees had budded. The grounds would be filled with flowers. I beamed from the many years of memories that the rainfall evoked. The grounds would soon become a blooming utopia. Spring was my favorite time of the year. No matter what had happened in the long, cold winter months, you could always depend on new life to flourish in the spring. New opportunities would come.

I took in the blooms as we walked along the garden and entered the corridor to the party. The wives would wait and chatter amongst themselves about their boring lives. Momma hated these get-togethers. But she went to every single one of them without complaint. The party was being hosted at the home of Tito Toscano the underboss for the Sagatori crime family. I’d never been invited in the past. I was the daughter then, but now, handled most of the dinners since Momma had passed. But before that Momma had been the one to organize these functions. She was always organizing something. She really enjoyed helping and being productive.

The long corridor gave me a small amount of time that I desperately needed to adjust to the feeling of Jax's hand that had covered mine. His hand was warm and tense; the insurmountable stress was palpable in his touch. The doors were opened for us; two suit-clad men stood rigid as they greeted us with an unwelcomed pat-down sliding unnecessarily across my breasts.

A snarl erupted from Jax’s’ throat and the man quickly stepped away. “Sorry, Mr. Moretti, my apologies.” Jax’s eyes were wicked. He had to maintain authority and composure if he was going to have the respect the boss needed in order to lead this family. I’d seen it for years with Papa, he’d never take anyone’s shit.

Our feet smoothly stepped in line with each other’s. Jax wore a dark suit, crimson tie, and matching handkerchief folded neatly into thirds tucked into the pocket of his jacket. My eyes fell to the ground watching our feet stride in sync. His strides were longer and smoother than mine. My legs were smaller, making my steps shorter and with the long gown, and I desperately prayed I wouldn’t trip on my face. I
also
needed to maintain composure as his wife. Could you imagine the laughs behind my back if I’d messed this up? But as if he knew I was anxious his hand clutched tightly onto mine.

“Moretti.” The bald-headed man that approached reverberated. “Welcome to my home. His beady eyes met mine and a smile pecked at his thin lips. His hand extended towards my torso. I wasn’t sure but it felt as if Jax’s hand had tensed at Tito’s approach towards me. “Isabella. Your father was a good man, a respected man.” His eyes were mischievous. I’d seen that look before. I’d of course seen several of these men at Papa’s funeral, but they only shook my hand giving their condolences and then departed ways.

“Yes, it’s good to see you again.” My voice cracked. An involuntary shiver tattered my skin. I was all too aware that he was the epitome of a made man.

His eyes stayed on me for a second too long making me feel uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t let him know how he'd made me feel. Screw that shit. I was Bella Sagatori, well I was actually Bella Moretti, but I was still my father’s daughter and weakness wasn’t in our blood. So I smiled, meeting his stare head on. I stood tall in my three-inch heels and squeezed his hand, not like a dainty princess, but like a woman who could reach into her bag and take out a gun, point it to his portly temple, and pull the trigger without hesitation. Okay, I’m dramatic, I didn’t have a gun because they weren’t allowed during these gatherings. They were kept in the car or confiscated. Jax had left his gold finished guns he always carried with him in the car, and I didn’t have a gun so that was pretty much wishful thinking.

Momma had a few of these ladies over when I was younger, and I’d see them drinking wine and laughing, but that was grown up time. I played upstairs with the other children who came with the women, the other Cosa nostra children. We were so clueless what our parents’ had been up to. We didn’t care either. They loved us and that was all that mattered. To others, our life may have been strange, but to us, it was as normal as it could possibly be.               

Jax drew me into his side. I could hear his breaths, feel his chest heave once then twice. “Stay with the women. I’ll be back shortly.” I nodded again. “Dominic will be with you the entire time if you need anything just ask. Understand?” I didn’t answer. I examined him, there was worry etched into the lines around his darkly shadowed eyes. Apprehension. “Bella, do you understand?” He dipped his head as he gestured for me to do the same. So I did what I always did. I rolled my eyes and turned towards Dominic. I wasn’t a slave. He could fuck off. But as soon as I turned he was behind me grasping my shoulders tightly. His lips were at the apex of my ear. “If I give an order it’s for a good reason. If you'd like to be difficult, wait until we’re home.” I turned and met his glower. From my peripheral, I could see a few women advance so I smiled, and yes, I nodded. I would’ve simply walked away, but showing my disdain at that moment would’ve led to trouble, so I simply nodded like a good little wife.

Jax dipped his head for the ladies and walked away in the direction of Tito Toscano. Subconsciously, my eyes watched as he sauntered away. Right hand tucked loosely inside his suit slacks, the elongated stride. The smooth edge of his bottom, the flex of his shoulders. The way his footsteps halted and his torso swiveled in my direction with a glimpse of his perfection. His dark eyes met mine with hunger; a fire loomed over him and goosebumps peppered my flesh.

“Isabella, welcome to my home. I was wondering when I’d get you over here,” Margarete exclaimed. She was an older woman, approximately early fifties. Dark brown curly hair. Four eleven, round pudgy torso. She was perfect. The smile on her cheeks told me she was happy that I was there. Hmm, maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. She looped her arm inside of mine and leaned into me. “I hate this boring shit.” She sighed. My eyes swelled. She was not what I’d been expecting, and I liked her already. “Wine?” she asked as a waiter walked by with a silver tray that held three round glasses of white wine.

“Yes, please.” I rotated my wrist watching as the fruitful liquid swirled in the glass. I’d assumed these gatherings were flooded with wine.  She extended her hand and I took the crystal into my hands. My eyes wandered around seeing the ladies in beautiful gowns. The room was white. All white. Very modern and yet classy-elegant. Margarete had good taste.

“So, tell me about yourself,” she said as she leaned her black satin clad arm on a chair.

I smiled. “My father is, or was, Anthony Sagatori.” Well, he was my father. He is, still, but now he’s gone.  I pushed back the knot in my throat and drew a smile to my lips. “I’m married to Jax Moretti and…”

She shook her head. “No dear, tell me about you. I know all of those other things already, sweet girl.” I was surprised by her response. I thought I was supposed to just smile and nod at these functions. But now I’m supposed to make friends? Okay, I was confused, but I’d roll with it. I didn’t trust these people. My father taught me never to trust
anyone
. Except for a select few people, I’d never trusted anyone completely. I wasn’t stupid. “Listen, you’re the boss’ wife. Fabulous. But if you want to fit in with these ladies you’re gonna have to be yourself. These women are good women, Isabella. Just give them a chance.” She seemed sincere.

“I just…”

“Honey, I knew your mother
very
well. If there was one thing that women are good at, it’s making friends. She loved a good party and her family, but she knew how to just be… ya know what I’m saying?” I did understand.

“Yes.” I smiled.

“Good.” She bowed slightly. “Let’s meet the ladies. That’s Tonya in the pink. She always wears pink. She lives in cotton candy land.” I threw my hand to my mouth to stifle a laugh, but she ignored me. That’s Jezebel or “Jess” in the blue. Very funny and sweet, but,” she pointed her finger. “If you piss her off you’d better hope your weave is stitched in.” What was she talking about? “Trista, she's the one wearing the white dress. Smart girl. But lets her shit for brains husband walk all over her.” She moved her head back and forth. She drew me around, watched me, her eyes a dark brown. “You don't know anyone here, do you?” I shook my head. “Okay let's introduce you to the girls. Lizzie is somewhere around; she’ll show up eventually.” Margarete held my arm as she walked us into the grand great room. How did she keep all of this white so…white? “Ah, Lizzie,” she said from my left side. I turned into the direction she'd been speaking to see a beautiful blonde crossing the corridor. She wore a long green dress, silver shoes peeked out from just under the hem. Her hair was wrapped in a bun, and lips bright red hugged her brilliant white smile. I’d noticed that this group was all wearing different colors, and it surprised me after seeing how beautiful they all were that no one else wore red. Crimson has always felt like such a powerful color. I suppose when I walked in here tonight I had preconceived notions about these ladies, but maybe they weren’t all bad. I, on the other hand, was forced to wear this loud vibrant color.

“Who do we have here?” Lizzie spoke with apprehension.

“This is Isabella Moretti,” Margarete said in a soft tone.

She took me in, her eyes stalked me. “I know who you are. I need a cigarette, care to join me?” She reached for her clutch.

I didn't answer. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know her and definitely wasn't comfortable with her just yet. “Come on, I don't bite, princess.” She pulled a cigarette out of her clutch.

“I don’t smoke.”

She laughed, “Neither do I.” She winked.

“You two go ahead. I really need to speak with the chef and I'll catch back up with you, Bella.” Margarete hurried off.

“Well, I must say you are the stunning site, Bella.” She wrapped her arm inside of mine.

“Thank you,” I answered. I stood tall and refined. Lizzie wasn't a girl on the refined track, yet she was brilliant in another sort of way. The shake of her hips in a way you'd smack your husband for eyeing. A man stood a few feet in front of us ogling our bodies as he guarded the exit.

“Ladies.” He tilted his eyes, skimming our body's with lust. His lower lip sucked into his mouth biting against his desire for I'm assuming Lizzie. She'd make any man hard. My eyes crossed hers seeing a wink so faint that I would have missed it completely if I hadn't spotted her in that one second.

“Thank you,” she said crisply as the guard opened the door for us to pass.

We stepped over the threshold seeing the lights of the city darting across the blackness of the night. A glance over my shoulder showed Dominic very close by, yet he gave me some space, and I appreciated it.

“So, Bella, what do you think about the party?” The flame flickered as she lit her cigarette. Her hand lifted with an extra cigarette for me.

I eyed the white tube and shook my head. “No thank you.” She shrugged forward. My throat cleared, and I leaned on the railing looking down onto the grounds.  Dizziness washed over my head and nausea kicked in. “It's lovely.” I stepped back as I held onto the railing.

She choked on the smoke. “Oh wow, so proper. Just like your mother.” However grateful I was that she hadn’t caught my weak moment, she had made a dig and I'd quickly set her straight.

I shot off of the railing in a second and pulled the hem of my floor length gown into my palm. “You know nothing about my mother. Keep your mouth shut about my family.”

She didn't budge, not even an inch. She remained tall while holding a smirk that raised at the corner of her mouth. She pulled her cigarette to her red lips and blew the smoke in a billowing cloud that surrounded us. “I like you, Bella. I like you.” She pointed and then leaned into the deck railing. “So much fake bullshit, but you're real. I knew if you were like your mother, I’d like you.”

I remained in a clenched position, surprised and feral. I had wanted to punch her in her pretty face one moment and the next I didn't.  “How did u know my mother?”

She remained quiet for a moment then turned her head to mine. “She was someone who helped me once.” She tossed her cigarette to the floor of the deck, blew out a cloud of smoke, and dug into the butt with her two-thousand-dollar shoes. “Come on, let's meet the other girls.” She tucked her arm through mine and led me into the house.

I quickly saw Tonya, long red hair with wide curls flowing down her back. Smooth cream skin, diamonds dripped from her neck and ears. She was someone's princess. “Who is this?” she growled protectively.

“Isabella Moretti.” Lizzie winked.

The creamy wash of Tonya’s face flushed pink. “Oh my God.” She was embarrassed. “I didn't… Sorry, I'm Tonya.” Her eyes darted back to Lizzie's as she held out her hand.

“Hello, it’s so nice to meet you. I'm Bella.” I offered a smile. A woman in the Cosa Nostra was protective of their circle. I knew that and expected it. Really they were being much nicer than I'd thought they'd be.

Margarete’s hand landed softly on my arm as she reached us. “Dinner will be served in five.” I thought we'd be waiting for the men before we'd eat.

“Will we be dining alone?” I asked over my left shoulder.

“No dear, they’ll be joining us.”  Her eyes focused forward.

A loud clank echoed across the space, and all heads turned toward the white distance of bright flowers and crisp decor. The darkness of suits against the bright color was hardening to the eyes. Music played in the background. Drums hummed against a piano and a whispered voice rang in my diamond pierced ears. Jax stood behind three other suit-clad men who smiled against the lies they lived every day. His eyes focused on mine. Dark, hungry, scary, worried, electrified, and dangerous. I knew that look. I knew what that darkness meant.

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