How many times, have I been waiting by the door to hear these chimes? I had lost count. Just like I had lost track of the days and the nights I had spend here at the Casino della Cassa. My ear pressed to the black mahogany wood of the door, listening to the dark voices of the men, of course Salvatore Cassa's voice the deepest, only once in a while placing a comment.
I looked down at my wine red knee length dress, now sprawled out all around me on the floor. My black gloves in my lap.
I looked up, into the eyes of Estella, her blonde hair pulled back to reveal her neck, flattered by her own black and red dress. only her gloves were short and her heels just that little much higher. Her eyes were questioning, her lips, equally blood-red as mine, being bitten by her teeth. Holding back a smile.
I shook my head, nothing interesting just yet, but smiled back.
I pressed my ear back to the door. It smelled like the smoke of cigars and martini's.
"Now tell us, Salvatore, is he coming? The young wonder? We chare all wondering about the rumors being true or not!"
I pressed my finger to my mouth, signalling to Estella that something was going on and she crawled over, both of our cheeks now pressed to the wood. I could only barely hear what was being said, because of the music played in the game-rooms and the casino's, where people were dancing, having fun and emptying their pockets in those of Salvatore Cassa, with his large moustache and expensive suits.
"Calmly Marcus, calmly. I don't want hurt to you, no?" Salvatore said and I could almost see him smugly inhaling the smoke of his cigar. The shine of the full moon falling through the window behind him.
"Tell us, della Cassa!" Another man frivolously shouted, the evidence of too much wine clear in his voice.
"Okay then, okay then, my friends. I will tell you." Salvatore answered his man, as Estella and I pressed our ears closer. Both our eyes shining with what was probably a very interesting novelty.
"Yes. He is coming. In fact, he is already here."
The talking in the other room got louder, as we stared at each other in wonder. Who was here?
"Double Inferno!" The same drunk man yelled, the two of us outside the door giggling at the drunk male's voice, wishing to see his probably puffy red face. As all of those who had drunk to much were, but who was this double inferno he was yelling about.
"Bambina's!" The shocked voice of Mrs. Valentine Snarka suddenly yelled dramatically as she appeared on the other side of the hallway, smiling her teeth bare in a monitory smile, her dark skin stading out against the cream walls and her flamenco dress. "Get back to your rooms or go practise your dance!" She ordered, shaking her head, but gazing at us lovingly at the same time.
"We don't want Double Inferno to think there are ill-mannered bambina's at padrone's casino." She said.
"Oh! Amante Snarka, do you know who this mysterious Double Inferno is?" I asked Mrs. Snarka. Tugging on her arm as Estella grabbed her other. "Please tell us, rispettato!"
"No, no. Maccena. I have sworn not to tell. Now, go to your rooms, both of you. And don't let me see your bella facce again! Those beautiful faces need to rest for tomorrow's show for Double Inferno."
"We're going to perform for this mysterious man?" Estella shrieked. "How exciting!" I could tell she found that exciting just from the way she was looking, her face even prettier then Mrs. Snarka always discribed it. Her red-coloured lips now smiling.
"Yes, yes! Very exciting, but I have told you way too much now, bambina's. Off you go!" Mrs. Snarka said, shoving us towards our wings.
Giggling, Estella and I ran back, my dark hair and her blone bouncing as our heels ticked on the ground.
Once in our rooms, we couldn't quite get to sleep. Our dresses hanging in the open window, the warm air drying it after we cleaned it for tomorrow.
"Who do you think this Double Inferno is?" Estella asked.
"I don't know." I sighed. My head already on my pillow, exhaustion from tonights performance getting to my trained muscles. "But he must be really something. Something debonaire."
I looked through a small crack in the red curtains, towards the smokey casino. The man sitting there, with their wine and small dishes, gambling. Towards the door, where the guards waited for something to happen, so they wouldn't have to be bored all night. Salvatore's dogs lying at the feet of his throne. Their heavy heads on their paws, as his comrades stood behind the throne, half in the shadows. I could almost see the name 'Double Inferno' on their lips.
The mysterious name 'Double Inferno'. It had been the subject of every discussion, all day long. Estella almost lost it from curiosity. We all did.
All the dancing girls, the grazioso ragazze, as Salvatore so lovingly called us, had been chattering about it athroughout the rehearsals, speculating about him and how he would look.
I was more curious to what he would be like, but I had never dreamed about what he was.
We all peeked around the curtain when the music started and extra intense song and he walked in, my eyelids opening up to see my world before my eyes.
A tanned, curly haired and so young! man with dark hair and possibly darker eyes walked in next to Salvatore, the owner of our italian casino. The look in his orbs daring, yet loving and seemingly pulling me in.
The rest of the girls giggled as he walked through the casino, where conversations stalled as the men stared at him with respect in their eyes, the women with adoration.
He wore a flattering black tux, without anything like a tie, so his neck was left bare. A silver shine from the collar of his shirt, as well as around just one of his fingers. Not like Salvatore, whose fingers were all shine and silver.
He walked past the curtains and all the other girls simmered away, laughing and giggling, but I kept looking. So close, I could smell his odour, he had the scent of something special and I wished he would smile as he passed me. His face was so serious, so intensely focussed on something I couldn't see, something maybe nobody could see. He only now and then replied to padrone Cassa's words, the same moustached man leading him towards the throne of the honoured guest, right next to his own.
"Bambina's!" Mrs. Snarka called. "Get ready, now, the show must go on!"
I unwillingly pried my eyes from his silhouette, which had created an image on the whole night. For everyone, but certainly for me.
"Bet you he's going to stay that reserved all evening, not even looking at us." Maria whispered. Amy next to her smiling as we lined up next to the stage. I didn't nod, nor shook my head as the other girls. He would surprise me, I was sure, so instead I swallowed.
I liked dancing, but I did not particulary like the stage. All those people looking at me and our short dresses. It was a relief every time when I would see Estella, right there next to me.
Then, the music started and we walked on stage.
all together, I was glad it was over. The smoke suffocated me and the black walls made me dizzy, as always, as I pray to the moon to once redeem me from this fate. But the most distracting had been the two fiery pits of brown. A much lighter -and deeper, shade than I had originally seen them.
And they had been focussed on me the entire time. Watching me with his glass in his right hand, the other supporting his head. He hadn't drunken a sip of the alcohol. Nor had he moved for the entire show. How could a man, even if he was called double inferno, sit still for over three parts of an hour?
When the regular, non-dancing music started again and we walked off, he had clapped a total of two times, before he repositioned himself to talk to Salvatore, but his eyes followed me off stage.
"Maccena, Estella!" Mrs. Snarka marvelled. "You were amazing, fantastico! You are invited to be at padrone's gamble with Double Inferno tomorrow! Aren't you honored?"
Estella and I smiled and nodded, it was an honour to be asked to Salvadore's gambles with his guests, but me nor Estella liked to stand, serve and slime over padrone Salvadore. Though I was willing if that meant seeing Double Inferno again, as his image hadn't dissapeared from behind my eyes for the entire evening. I would be tired, dancing and then participating in Salvadore's gamble. But to see him, it was all worth it.
I walk away, as Estella is summoned to help at one of the gamble tables. Our fingertips touch in goodbye and I see the tiredness in her eyes.
I walk away, through the dark halls of the grand casino, but suddenly, it seems like I'm not alone...
I look up from my black-heeled feet, up into his face. Double Inferno, in front of me he stands and I stop, freeze. Motionless we look at each other. His face looks curious. He steps closer, his scent becoming heavier. I can't help but notice how his skin shimmers in the soft lightning and I shudder, before looking at him with scared eyes. Afraid that movement drove him away, but he only smiles as a blush creeps to my cheeks.
His hand rises and touches my cheek.
"What is your name?" He whispers. His voice is like a melody.
"Maccena." I answer, whispering as I look up into his face.
"Maccena." He repeats, the name sounding beautiful as they leave his slightly out of proportioned lips. "You dance like an angel, worthy of the moon. No wonder your master is so taken with you."
He sighs, saying the word master like it is a curse.
"I believe the padrone is very pleased with me." I whisper. Still afraid he is going to dissapear with the slightest breeze. Though the warmth from his chest through my thin red and black dress proves he is very much here.
He lifts my head with his fingers underneath my chin and softly kisses my forehead.
"Goodnight Maccena." He says.
"Wait." I whisper, but he doesn't hear me anymore, as he has walked way. "what is your name?"
I feel his lips burning on my forehead. "Double Inferno. What a night this is."
Something is deffinately going on here. The air is tense, the asmosphere not as exuberant as usual. My now rose-red lips pursed as I feel it. My hair, a differenza to yesterday night, is hanging loosely over my shoulders, instead of in the dancing bun and I shake it nervously as I smell the familiar odour of cigars and Martini's.
I stand behind the chair of our guest, as Estella has taken position behind Salvadore's, who sips his martini in his best striped suit. An equally lined hat on his head.
The smoke starts to arise and through the curtain of vapor, I see where he is. His form behind the chair of the padrone. The men play cards.
You walk over, softly moving passing the guards.
"Welcome. Benvenuto." Salvadore speaks. His voice low and in nothing like the voice I heard him use yesterday.
His eyes rest on me as he answers.
"Blessed to be here. Sono felice."
I take his coat as the game starts. But when it continues, I'm not sure it is a game anymore. They are playing for something, but I cannot figure out what.
I feel the stakes getting higher and I'm sure his heart feels it too. His shoulders tense as he and Salvadore share a look, almost a glare. What is going on here? Why can't I not shake off the feeling that there is more at stake then just a simple game. More then a simple match. More then a simple life.
I have seen the look in Salvadore's eyes before. Greedy, mean, evil. He wants something and knowing the way he plays, he's going to get it. He is an ace. Can the young man put up with him. Even with that incredible poker-face of his?
Man after man puts his cards down. Until only the two most important are over. Salvadore calls him a bluff. He only smiles.
But he doesn't know how much our padrone plays. He is unbeatable. I regret the obvious defeat of the Double Inferno. He has placed himself close to my heart in just this little amount of time. In just one night.
But even if the odds lie in this young man's favour, I am not sure if winning this could really be enough.
To my relief, Salvadore calls a pauze and orders me to accompany our guest.
We end up outside, on the balcony. I stand a little behind him as he looks up to the sky, the moon reflected in his eyes.
"Are you familiar with the legend of 'higo de la luna?" He suddenly asks.
"The son of the moon?" I repeat.
"Yes, the child of the moon." He says. "The story of a gypsy woman living without love, pleading with the moon to marry a gypsy man. The full moon replies that she shall have the tawny-skinned man, but in return she has to give the moon the first child she has with him." Hetells, his voice changing the story into a song. "His love for her changes when he sees the baby is not tanned like he himself, but white, blank and with light hair and silver eyes."
"Like Estella." I whisper.
"Yes, like your friend. Her story must be as sad as the childs'" He answers. "The man is convinced his wife has been unfaithful. So he murders her and abadones the baby, the son of the moon, on a hill, where the beams of the moon find it. When the child is happy, the moon is full and when it cries, it shrinks to a craddle, to rock the baby."
I don't know where the story comes from, but it touches me, like it obviously touches him. What a complicated soul he must have, what worries must be on his mind.
"My brother loves that story, he is convinced he will find himself a moon's child and love her." He tells me, running one hand through his curls, the other one still resting on the marble of the balcony. "Please, come closer."
I step towards him and we watch the large full moon. The light shining off his skin.
"Are you sad, like the moon, Maccena?" He asks.
I look at him and then answer: "When you take a look beyond the moon, you see the stars."
He chuckles, a low and tipical sound, making shudders run over my spine as his fingers grace the skin of my hand.
"Beyond sadness lays happiness." He states, not asks. "Your friend, the dancing. That must make you happy."
"Yes. It does." I answer.
"But does the slavery make you happy, do you like being one of Salvadore's lap girls? Does your moon-blank friend like it?"
"No." I whisper. "We hate it. But we are treated well and everyone is nice to us. We have fun here."
"But you can't have fun elsewhere, you are forever bounded to this place." He finishes, expressing the words I could never dare to say.
So I just nod and look at him again.
"Don't worry, it's more then the cards I want to touch." He finally says, bringing my hand to his mouth and kissing it, leaving once again a burning mark.
We walk back into the dark and stuffy room. Music sounds from far away as we take our places.
They play again. The game will not end, both being masters in the game. Everyone watches in awe as both play their tricks and moves. the cards going faster then I can follow. My hand has found it's way to his shoulder and I squeeze it softly. Finally making a soft smirk come to his lips.
It scares the patrone. He begins to sweat. He cannot believe he has found his equal, or even better.
"What about we raise the stakes a little, to make it a little more interesting." Double Inferno suggests at one point.
"What did you have in mind?" Salvadore asks. Obviously this is what he has been waiting for.
"When you win, my friend, you will get those two things you desire." He tells the patrone. "If I win, I get two things I desire to take from you."
"You have a deal, Inferno."
And so, the game continues. Cards in his, his shoulder beneath my hand. Opposite to padrone Salvadore and Estella.
I am scared, scared for this man I have come to love. Can you imagine it? I would never have dreamed something like this would happen. I fell in love with a man, just by being in his presence, feeling his soul.
They present their last cards, the air growing so thick I can hardly breathe. Then, Salvadore throws the cards aside and screams his rage.
Double Inferno has won the game. Both me and Estella sigh in relief.
Salvadore glares at the young man and then asks: "Well then, young winner. What do you desire?"
He smiles, smirks and replies. "I desire the dark haired girl beside me and her blonde friend besides you."
It's simple and a shock and the whole room seems to hold his breath again.
The padrone seems shocked, that this man has the nerve to ask him for his most cherished possesion, his girls. His ragazze.
"You agreed, Cassa." Double Inferno smirks again. "No turning back now, you are a honest man."
"Very well, take them, but from now on, you are responsible for them and the things that may happen to them. And you."
He takes the threat and smilingly stands up, lifting his black hat with the red feather of his head for a moment.
"It has been a honour, Salvadore." He politely tells the patrone as Estella and I look at each other with wide eyes.
This young man wants us? To come with him?
Have you ever seen a night like this? I could have never dreamed it, I cannot believe it. Just when i think everything is incomplete and I will stay a slave forever. This mysterious man comes along and he saves me. Because that's what he does. He is saving us.
We depart that same night. In a large carriage, a coach. The man that saved us on a horse in the front. Accompanied by more men, a few other women on two other carriages, as well as some probably personal posessions.
I have to remind myself that I am not a possesion anymore. I am free, thanks to him. He told me himself, that I was free to go or come with him to his home and meet his brothers, along with Estella.
And maybe more. He had added, before softly kissing my lips, again and again and again.
I fell in love and he has taken a liking to me to. My father would have been proud, if he had seen me with such a noble man. My mom would have been happy, that I have found someone like him, that saves me from the hands of the man who killed them.
And when we arrived at the house and I saw the amazed looks one of older brothers gave Estella, I was convinced he had found his child of the moon he was so frantically searching for, under the supervising eye of the oldest and his wife.
Then finally I asked: "They call you Double Inferno, beautiul man, but what is your name?"
"Nicholas, Nick." He answers and kisses me, again and again and again underneath the craddle that is the full moon.
I shoot up in bed, my hair all over my face as I look at my alarm clock. 2 minutes past midnight. Then, I look down at my bed again, still half into the extremely intense and epic dream I just experienced.
I've had dreams about JONAS before, but never like this. Never almost just about one particular Lucas-brother.
The dream had been so real, the feeling of regret that it was over and the vague knowledge that it had been a good one, with a good ending, still in my head.
I sighed, looking at the poster right accross from my bed, where Nick, Kevin and Joe were looking at me.
"Could you have been a knight in old Italy, saving young slaves from the maffia?" I asked the one in the middle, the youngest.
He could've been. Italian and all.
I lay back down, thinking about how Stella would react if I told her about my dream, still feeling the his lips burning on mine and I realised she wouldn't understand. Though she was Joe's child of the moon. Sort of.
I closed my eyes and turned around, putting the dream in a little box and putting it away in the back of my head, saving it for a rainy day as I smiled. "Silly imagination, how could you ever dream it? I have never dreamed a night like this."
Macy Misa didn't notice the full moon, silver and perfectly round, shining brightly through her window, the contours of a smile on it's surface as it watched over the gypsy girl.
anyone ever noticed how italian they all are? Not just their looks, for all we know, the tower could've been called the tower of Misa... Not talking about 'Stella' being an italian name.
Inspirations came from the songs 'night like this' by caro emerald and 'Hijo de la luna' The old fairytale.
Now, thank you for reading and to see Macy and Stella's dressed, please visit my profile.. or maybe push that little lovey button below to let me know what you think!
I love you all so