Authors: Lisa Cardiff
THE TRASSATO CRIME FAMILY,
BY LISA CARDIFF
Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Cardiff.
All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: June 2016
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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I hate silk boxers
Oddly, this thought floated through my mind as I threw Kevin’s last pair of silky blue boxers out the front window onto the tree-lined street. You’d think when his clothes, shoes, and other personal effects tumbled out the window of the brownstone, somebody would stop and ask me what the hell I was doing. That’s what would have happened in my hometown—except I lived in Brooklyn now, and nobody cared enough to pull their ear away from their cell phone long enough to question me.
I sat down on the couch and lifted the last sip of Bordeaux to my lips. Drunk, and vindictively happy, I had polished off two bottles of Kevin’s precious 2009 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. I think it retailed for around two thousand dollars, and it probably wasn’t meant to be inhaled by one person over the span of an hour, but fuck it. I didn’t give a shit. When faced with the decision to throw them out with the rest of his crap or drink two bottles, I decided somebody might as well enjoy them. I had. There’s nothing like four thousand dollars of liquid courage to make me realize my seriously sad excuse for a life had to change.
Picking up my phone, I contemplated Kevin’s tenth text message in the last two hours. The first one made me cry. This one made me giggle hysterically. It was the kind of laugh that could only be found at the bottom of a bottle of wine…or two.
Kevin: Evie, please forgive me. It will never happen again. I love you, only you. Nobody can replace you. You’re my everything.
I guess I preferred it to his initial excuse, when he tried to convince me the sex meant nothing, that it had been part of the creative process. Seriously, did he really think I was an idiot? Yes, he did, and I didn’t disagree. Somehow, over the last year, he had sucked the life out of me until I transformed into someone I didn’t recognize, a shell of my former self.
With the last of my tears drying on my face, I considered throwing my phone out the window with the rest of his stuff. After all, he’d paid for the phone, the brownstone, my car, my clothes, my shoes, and my entire fucking life. Not one thing in this entire apartment belonged to me. I should probably throw myself out the window and leave the rest of the shit here because other than me, every last item belonged to him.
I picked up one of his shiny white marble coasters, sitting on his perfectly polished espresso-stained coffee table. I rolled it between my fingers, contemplating my life. A few seconds later, I tossed it at the original artwork of Ana Ivanka, his latest conquest in the art world. Foolishly, I believed his little protégés were learning the ropes from the incredibly talented and renowned Kevin Ryder. Apparently, I had missed the mark by a cornfield-wide margin. Now I understood it clearly. For Kevin, the ropes meant painting and fucking. Mostly fucking.
Dumb, right? No wonder none of his protégés were men. He claimed it had something to do with the creative synergies between men and women, which in reflection, really meant, “I like fucking random artists on the side.”
Granted, I missed plenty of clues over the last year. No, missed didn’t adequately describe my behavior.
All four words more accurately described my behavior when the truth flashed in front of my face like a neon sign on a daily basis.
While I could attribute my behavior to many things, it all came down to one defining event. Exactly one year ago, I’d ruptured my Achilles tendon while auditioning for what could have been my third role on Broadway. At the time, reviewers heralded me as the next big star. I was a shoo-in for a lead part, or so all my friends in the know told me.
Regrettably, like all good things, my life had been ripped apart in a matter of seconds. One minute I leaped into the air, the next I landed and rolled my ankle. I heard a snap, and flames shot up my leg. I didn’t need to see a doctor to know it was more than a sprain.
Unable to work and lacking resources, I desperately clung to all the remaining pieces of my life. At the time, that meant investing my energy in my relationship with Kevin. In retrospect, I should have packed my meager belongings and caught the first flight home.
Now, I found myself in the same situation, only amplified one hundred times. I didn’t have any money, aside from the three hundred dollars in my wallet and the joint bank account I shared with Kevin, which I refused to touch. I hadn’t contributed any money to the account.
Dropping my head into my lap, I screamed a slightly unhinged and utterly unbalanced cry. It didn’t begin to relieve the stress building inside of me with every passing second. What could I do? I was jobless, moneyless, and homeless, or would be when I rallied enough courage to walk out the door.
When I left my mom’s house two and a half years ago, she warned me New York would eat at my soul until I became a hollow shell. I laughed in her face because I didn’t think history would repeat itself. Unlike her, I wouldn’t settle for being a second-rate dance and acting teacher in a little-known town in Nebraska. I refused to give up until I had the world in the palm of my hand.
In my mind, I had more discipline and talent than my mom, and that was all I needed. Unfortunately, neither of those things meant much in New York. It might open a door or two, but to keep that door open, I needed connections, lots of connections, more than a girl from Nebraska could ever dream of having, and a really good string of luck.
The buzzer rang. I opened the door to find Carmela Trassato’s hopefully cautious face on the other side. I’d met Carmela in a coffee shop a few days after I moved to New York. Hopelessly lost, I’d asked her for directions to an audition, and she’d escorted me there. We exchanged phone numbers, and slowly, she became a permanent fixture in my life.
“Hey, Carmela,” I responded, opening the door wider, welcoming her into my soon-to-be ex-apartment owned by my soon-to-be ex-fiancé.
“I guess I’m a little late to stop the shit storm.” Carmela pushed her not quite black hair away from her face as she looked around my normally meticulous apartment.
“Yep, and I already drank his precious bottles of Bordeaux, so I can’t even offer you a really good glass of wine.” I kicked the door shut with my foot, enjoying the black smudge my lace-up pale pink flats made on the pristine white paint. Kevin would freak when he saw it.
Carmela flopped down on the sofa, propping her feet on the coffee table, another thing that would drive Kevin crazy. He never liked Carmela. He said she was too aggressive. Most likely, because she always called him on his lies and pretentious behavior. She saw through everyone. She had to. She came from a huge Italian family that I suspected had more than a few unsavory connections. She never admitted anything, and anytime I questioned her, she changed the subject so skillfully I barely noticed until a few hours later.
“Do you think he’ll let you stay here when he sees the debacle on the sidewalk?” Carmela picked up the empty bottle of wine and inspected the label.
“He says it won’t happen again.”
“And you believe him?” Carmela asked, raising her beautifully sculpted eyebrows, the kind you can only find in a salon.
I sighed. “No. I’m not that dumb.”
“Thank God.” She raised one hand into the air. “Finally. You’ve seen the light. Are you telling me I won’t have to endure another moment in his company?” She never referred to Kevin by his name. She called him the prick, the art douche, or
, which I think loosely translated to jackass.
I shoved her shoulder lightly. “About time, huh?”
“No comment.” She tossed the empty wine bottle on the floor. A few deep burgundy drops splattered on the white and black cowhide rug. “So what’s the plan?”
“I don’t have one. I’m done with Kevin, though.”
A disbelieving look flashed across Carmela’s face, and while I hated that she doubted my conviction, I understood. I had overlooked so much of Kevin’s crap in the past six months that I barely believed myself.
“For good this time. I promise.”
Carmela shifted toward me and pointed at my ankle. “How’s physical therapy going? Do you think you can start auditioning again?”
My stomach bottomed out, mirroring the trajectory of my life. My gaze bouncing around the room, I considered my words. I settled on the truth. “I’ve been lying to you. I haven’t gone in a really long time.”
Her almond eyes narrowed. “What qualifies as a really long time?”
I rubbed my tear-stained face. “I haven’t been to rehab in nine and a half months. I haven’t tried to dance since the day I fell.” My voice wavered, and I wondered when Evie from Nebraska disappeared and this weak, pathetic girl hijacked her soul. If someone told me I would be in this position after living in New York for a little over two years, I wouldn’t have believed it. I was better than this. A better dancer. A better actress.
Somehow, after I met Kevin, my life fell apart. First my career, then my ambition, and slowly my friends disappeared one by one, except Carmela. Now, I only had a worthless ex-fiancé to show for my life.
“Do you still want to act on Broadway?”
“I do, except every time I think about what the doctor said, I want to curl into a ball and die.”
The corners of her lips tugged down into a frown. “The doctor said if you finished rehab, you could dance again.”
I rubbed my hands along my thighs. “Not exactly. He said I
be able to dance again, but that he couldn’t guarantee anything.” I lowered my voice. “A ruptured Achilles tendon can be a career-ending injury for a dancer.”
“So you gave up without knowing for sure.”
“I was busy,” I lied. In actuality, the thought of packing up my bags and crawling back to Nebraska scared me to death. When Kevin proposed, I seized the opportunity to focus on something other than the end of my childhood dreams. I put my career on hold and micromanaged every detail of our wedding plans.
Carmela jumped up and clapped her hands together. “Well, let’s pack your stuff and get you out of here before Kevin shows up. I’m not sure you’re strong enough to face him yet.”
I didn’t bother arguing with her. “Where to? I don’t have money to rent my own place.”
Carmela looked pointedly at my finger, where I still wore my two-carat custom-designed wedding ring. “Pawn your engagement ring. It will pay for a few months of your living expenses and physical therapy, and you always have your credit card. In the meantime, you have me, and that means you can stay at my place until you figure out how to put the pieces together.”
Exhaling loudly, I twisted the ring on my finger, contemplating pawning it for cash. I’d never liked it. I told Kevin I wanted a sapphire, not a diamond, and something rough-cut, not refined and uptight like the ring he’d designed for me. He never listened to me. Everything revolved around him and what he wanted.
When Kevin had to work late, I convinced myself he had to finish a few commissioned paintings. When I saw a red lipstick stain on his collar, I attributed it to paint. When he spent an entire party introducing his protégée to all of his friends and ignoring me, I called him a good mentor.
“Don’t you think I should give it back?”
Carmela’s eyebrows shot up. “No. You caught him screwing another woman in his art studio. Consider it your severance package.”
“Which part?” she questioned.
“Both.” I took off the ring and stuffed it into my pocket. It didn’t mean anything, and all things considered, it never had. “I feel so dumb,” I mumbled.
“Why? He took advantage of you.
should feel dumb. You, on the other hand, should feel lucky you found out before you married him.”
I shoved my tangled strawberry blonde hair away from my face. “Not about the cheating—although, that is embarrassing enough. After we’d been dating for a month, I asked him what color my eyes were.”
“And?” she said, planting her hands on the sides of her hips.
“He said blue. Can you imagine? My eyes aren’t even close to blue. What a fucking loser. He could have said brown or hazel. He said blue. Even though I knew better, I stayed with him because I wanted the fairytale.” I tipped my head to the ceiling. “Now look at me.”
“You’re right where you’re supposed to be.”
I scoffed. “Broken, depressed, and unemployable?”
“No, you’re smarter and more worldly. Every girl needs a reality check now and then, and now that you’ve had yours, you’ll be smarter next time.”
My phone vibrated on the coffee table again. “He’s getting impatient,” I commented, watching the phone skip across the slick, dust-free surface.
“Then let’s move.”