I could go on and on about writer's block and Resent and the new developments in RL, but think you'd all rather just sit back and read. BUT I will apologize for the horrendously long wait. I won't be doing that again: setting a particular update date, especially seeing as how this story and my primary are WIPS.
Anyway...I own nothing written by Mario Puzo or Stephenie Meyer.
Small recap: Edward is a capo in the Cullen crime family, Bella is his father's bodyguard's daughter. He fell for her at first sight, as did she to him, and he's been angsting over it ever since. Meanwhile, Carlisle is planning a retaliation attempt on a rival family for their attempted assassination of him, and Edward's sister, Alice, is getting married.
My new years eve gift to you all...
To her father, she was his little bird.
To her female peers, she was referred to as, in a pleasant or jealous tone, it depended on who you were talking to, "that Cullen girl."
In the case of the male population, she was "Emmett and Edward Cullen's kid sister." And to her soon-to-be husband, Jasper Whitlock, she was simply "My Alice." But one word that had always been on the tip of everyone's tongue was not even a real name.
And shockingly so.
It didn't matter if it was the weather, or the stock market, Alice Cullen always seemed to have a grasp on which way things would go. If she told her mother to take an umbrella with her on a sunny afternoon, Esme would do it, no questions asked. And when the rain inevitably arrived, she would smile to the sky, and whisper her daughter's name to herself knowingly.
If she had a poor feeling on a certain focus of investment of her father's, she would tell him, and Carlisle would demand his people to double check the place of interest's numbers. It didn't surprise him anymore when his people got back to him, flabbergasted by their discovery.
So, when Alice insisted on a May wedding, her family took it in stride and made the arrangements, despite the Weather Man's promise that the April showers would continue well into the next month. Needless to say, May sixteenth was as sunny and warm as anyone could have hoped for in a wedding, and no one in the family was surprised.
Inside the gated confines of the Don's mall, caterers and assistants hurriedly zipped about, organizing everything from the seating plan to the food. The sun burned exuberantly, as gentle breezes caressed the pale pink petals artistically strewn across the surface of the tables. Guests arrived by the dozens as time ticked closer to the ceremony. They chattered excitedly as they took their seats, some in Italian, others in English, a few in French, all admiring the quiet, yet majestic splendor of the Don's property and the exquisite craft of the arrangements. However, one such group had no jubilant smiles plastered on their faces, no excited aura rolling off of them like the others.
In the third row, Gustav Boccio dabbed his forehead with an embroidered handkerchief from his breast pocket. He breathed deeply through his nose, trying to calm his racing heart.
In the fifth row, nearest the aisle, George Gerandy tapped his foot impatiently, turning his head every twenty seconds to scowl at the entrance of the backyard door where the bride was supposed to appear. He folded his arms and gritted his teeth.
In the front row, Joseph Suarez sat as calm as he could, right hand playing with the white Rosary his mother had given him this morning for good luck.
Others more or less took either Boccio or Gerandy's lead, sitting rigid in their seats or fidgeting nervously with their ties or suits in the bright May sun, either thinly-disguised grimaces set across their faces or set wooden scowls.
As the groom and his best man finally took their places, a well-repeated saying rang synonymous in the grim party's minds, a saying so revered and timeless it had become, for these unfortunate few, something akin to a prayer. An archaic promise, that if they played their cards right, would prove to be their salvation and their enemies condemnation.
The commanding arrival of the Wagner's march finally rang true, and as the bride and her father began their walk, the phrase danced on every member of the anxious congregation's lips, though never uttered aloud:
No Sicilian could refuse a request on his daughter's wedding day.
The Don was not pleased.
Lounging in his black leather chair, Carlisle drew Gerandy under his dark green gaze, unimpressed. Before him stood a petulant child in grown-up pants and shirt. He turned his nose up in distaste. A true American trust fund baby; white blond hair slicked back in the timeless aristocratic style, soft, delicate hands that had never so much as touched a shovel, and a sense of entitlement that radiated from his very stance.
He kept himself from smirking with amusement. This man, no, this boy had waltzed into his office once the reception had begun and went right to business, as though The Don himself were the groveling client. Needless to say, he felt a little more than affronted by the boy's nerve. Out right insulted by his offer. Any normal day he would have cast the insolent brat away, and at the present, he was considering doing just that.
"Sit down," Carlisle ordered softly, interrupting Gerandy before he could go into another tirade, eyes glinting with cold fury. Taken aback, Gerandy complied, sinking into the chair in front of the Don's desk.
"You will show respect in my home George, or I will cast you out without so much as a blink." The Don leaned back in his leather chair, stroking his chin. He began to speak in a grave voice.
"You come here, on the day of my daughter's wedding, eager and expectant, wanting my service without so much as an offer of your personal friendship. Instead, you offer money. You wave it under my nose, like how one waves a piece of meat under a dog's snout. Money, no less, that isn't even yours to give away." He got up and walked to the window on his left, hands behind his back. Near the door, Edward watched silently, noting with relish the foolish boy's shame. Eleazar shook his head with amusement as he lounged on the couch, cigarette in his mouth.
"Give me a reason, other than the fact that your father is a dear close friend of mine, why I should help you."
A bead of sweat trailed down George's right temple. He squirmed in his seat. Slowly he raised his head.
"Please…I will pay you anything. Whatever you want."
Carlisle sighed in discontent. He waved his hand in dismissal, and almost immediately, two thuggish brutes clad in prim, crisp dress suits appeared on each side of George and grabbed him by his arms, hoisting him up, intending to escort him out of the room and off the premises.
"Wait! Please!" he beseeched, wrenching himself out of their grasp. He lost his balance, ending up at Carlisle's heel. His hair in shambles, eyes wild with sudden desperation, he stared up at what he now saw as his potential savior. His last chance. And that realization finally humbled him. He knew now what words to appease him for his disrespectful behavior.
"My friendship," he said in a broken voice, answering the Don's question from before, the inside of his mouth dry as cotton. "I offer my friendship." His fingers gripped the carpet as he waited agonizingly for The Don's response. Unbeknownst to him, Carlisle smiled.
He turned around, meeting George Gerandy's petrified stare.
"Good," he said. He turned to Eleazar. "See to it that reliable people are given the task. People that won't get carried away."
The Don returned to his seat. Shakily, the boy rose, and like how his father told him to do, kissed the Don's hand, shakily murmuring a "thank you, Godfather" as his lips departed from the Don's knuckles. It was not until after their guest left that Edward finally spoke.
"He's lucky you hold Richard in such high regard."
"He is," Carlisle agreed. "At least he's not completely hopeless. He knows when to pay his respects…when properly reminded."
Edward smiled, in spite of himself. He walked to the window, hands in his pockets. He watched the dancing guests with disinterest.
"Who's next on the list?" Carlisle asked Eleazar.
"Hmm. Send him in after the toast." He turned his attention back to Edward. "Go find Emmett. He should be here for this."
Reluctantly, Edward steered himself away from the window and exited the room, brushing by the bodyguards as he passed under the door post. The hallway was dark, the intricate molding of the doors barely visible to his eyes. He confidently strode forward, remembering where the turn was from memory as he fixed his tie.
As he reached the wooden bars of the banister his ears caught the excited chatter of the bridesmaids below, in the kitchen. He walked down the stairs, ignoring them and their lust-filled gazes as he walked past and out the backdoor, striding into the blinding light of the backyard.
The party was in full swing. Guests in various styles of elegant attire littered the backyard, lounging at their tables, or walking about, champagne in hand. Near the middle he could just barely make out the light wood of the dance floor, where Alice and Jasper were dancing jubilantly to the beat of the tarantella.
"Well if it isn't Edward Cullen," someone said behind him.
He froze, then slowly turned around. He immediately regretted his decision.
Before him stood a young woman in a dark red dress that instantly made him think of blood. Long, strawberry blond locks cascaded down her slim but nubile frame, while long lashes complimented startling powder blue eyes.
Her beauty was typical. Expected of her status; a princess amongst the kings and queens of the criminal underworld. Like George Gerandy, she was born into aristocracy, wielding power that was not hers to wield.
And she did it with no shame.
She sauntered over to Edward, ruby lips widening at the young man's discomfort and anxiety at her approach. When they were inches apart, she eyed him like a tigress eying her next meal, ravenous and predatory.
"You look well," she said, noting with glee his rigid stature and uncomfortable look in his eyes. "Lovely wedding."
He coughed slightly, before answering her with a brisk, "Thank you… and yes, it is."
She inched closer to him, one hand on her hip, casually, in a way that would make Gilda proud. "You never called," she noted, sipping her wine, the iciness in her voice suddenly reflected in her blue eyes.
"There was nothing to talk about," he said curtly.
"It wouldn't have to be that way this time," she simpered, trailing one manicured nail down his chest. She was inches from his naval when his hand stopped her and calmly but firmly steered her hand back to her side.
"It's been three years. You know of all people that it was a...mistake. Now if you'll excuse me, I have business to attend to with the best man." He made to leave, but she stopped him. Anger accentuated her lovely features, but Edward had long broken free from that spell. For all her sensual charm, he was attracted to her as dog was to a flea.
"You can't treat me this way," she huffed. "When your father hears about this—"
"My father could care less who I associated with during my free time, especially if said companion was as insignificant to me as I've implied," he cut her off coldly. Her eyes lit with unspoken outrage that for the briefest of second's, broke the mesmerizing beauty she carried with her like a second skin. And Edward was pleased. She was a superficial, vindictive brat who got away with anything and everything because of her father's title and her beautiful face. It was about time that her inner monster became reflected on the outside. He only hoped it would happen more often…
Content, he stepped past her, pausing to add, "You're delusional. You are not mine, and I will never be yours." And with that, he left her on the patio, alone and fuming.
Isabella watched with interest as Edward coolly stalked away from the woman in the red dress. He zigzagged through the dance floor, shuffling past numerous guests, until he finally made it to where Alice and Jasper were now slow dancing. When he turned her way, she bowed her head, her face heating with embarrassment. And desire.
Since that afternoon, she wondered about her sanity. His actions were far from innocent. And she should have been thoroughly disgusted. She should not have been captivated by his presence, or found it so…endearing to see him so close to falling off the precipice of control. Or find herself wondering during Mr. Banner's lectures if he still thought about her.
Yes. She must be insane.
She sipped her water, trying to stop herself from looking back up to watch him.
It was going to be a long day.
Unbeknownst to her, and currently the object of her affection, a couple, stricken by marital lust as a result of their now in-laws union, unleashed on each other an explosion of carnal desire in the form of desperate groping and declarations of love in a slurry of Italian and French.
Hidden inside one of the many guest rooms of the Don's estate, the eldest Cullen held his beloved wife in his embrace, one hand holding the small of her back, the other tangled in her long, golden blond locks. The sound of their lips, of soft skin rubbing and sliding over one another, filled the small room, their fight for dominance a battle of its own erotic caliber. Ignoring the bed, he instead pushed her up against the door.
So when she, with a light jump, wrapped her long legs around his middle, he smiled in their kiss and braced her against the dark oak, strong hands pushing up her lavender dress and grasping her soft, supple thighs.
He looked deep into her sapphire blue eyes as he pushed into her, the sharp gasp escaping her mouth nearly sending him into a frenzy. Stilling for a second, he planted a soft kiss on her already tender red lips, pulling almost completely out, before slamming into her once more, earning him a mewl of satisfaction. He began to set the pace, the creaking, rhythmic strain of the wooden door as it was repeatedly assaulted from the inside thankfully arising no unwanted attention.
Her legs tightened around him, immaculately manicured nails clawing his back. Spurned by the delicious pricks of pleasure pain, he pushed harder, eliciting her first of many moans. He nibbled her neck, continuing to growl sweet nothings into her flesh as she tangled her hand in his dark, curly hair, the other holding onto him for dear life.
Her thighs trembled as she let out a cry, him soon following with an ensuing yelp. Her head lolled to his shoulder, exhausted but sated, as he began to nuzzle the inside of her neck in their post-coital embrace. She giggled.
Inevitably, a certain brother of theirs walked by their door in frustration, still searching for said enraptured man.
The exhilarated pants Edward heard from behind the suspiciously closed first floor door immediately roused his attention. And revulsion. Staring at the wooden door in disbelief, he rapped his knuckle against it, hissing in an annoyed tone, "Emmett? You in there?"
Both flinched in surprise at the unwelcome intrusion.
"…Yeah," Emmett panted in response.
"Dad wants to see you. In his office. Now."
"Yeah…in a minute."
Rolling his eyes, Edward stalked away.
"..Damn," Emmett sighed.
"Oui," Rosalie agreed. "Nous pouvons continuer sur ce soir," We can continue later tonight, she murmured against his neck. "une fois tout le monde est parti." Once everyone's gone.
He chuckled, placing her carefully back on her feet.
"Mi hai letto nella mente," You read my mind, he answered with a sultry smile.
"Are you sure?" Emmett asked his father, tie still undone as he stood before him with Edward in the dark study hours later, once the last client had left.
"I'm positive," Carlisle replied from his desk, fingers twirling a still-smoking cigar. "We've been infiltrated. There's no other explanation."
"But your schedule, anyone watching your office could have figured out your routine. What makes you think the information came from inside?"
"…It's too convenient." He looked from Edward, then to Emmett, wagging his brow. "And there have been other things." Both brothers shared a knowing look.
"So how do we sniff out the rat?" Emmett asked, hands in his pockets.
"In due time. I've already shared my suspicions with Eleazar. Share none of this with anyone else."
"…What about Jasper?" The Don eyed his eldest son with sympathy.
"I don't think it's him. He has nothing to gain by betraying us, and he's not stupid enough to open his mouth to outsiders. You can inform him, after he and Alice get back from their honeymoon." Emmett breathed a sigh of relief.
"Does this change anything?" Edward asked, arms folded.
"No. We'll proceed as planned. Any delays might tip off the traitor." He turned his seat around and got up, hand in his pocket as he walked to the window once more, admiring the night sky.
"Is there anymore business to attend to?" he asked softly, as he saw his only daughter sitting comfortably with his now son-in-law.
"No. Greene was the last of them," Emmett answered.
"Good." He sighed with relief and grabbed his dress jacket from the coat hanger. "Your mother's going to have a fit if I miss the whole reception," he said wryly, as he led the way out the door.
Outside, a gentle breeze caressed their clean shaven faces, and as though swept away by the same wind, the father separated from his children, quickly meeting with his wife, who he kissed on the cheek with a sheepish, "Sorry I'm late." Meanwhile, his grown sons joined their many…acquaintances in the gardens, their ties (or in Emmett's case, top shirt button.) finally loosened in the departure of the sun, Tuxedo jackets draped over chairs. Cigars were passed around, toasts were given, and as the night went on, hard-set, stressful scowls melted into relaxed, even playful smiles as old friends reminisced.
"So, Eleazar was just talking about your brother earlier," Todd remarked to Emmett, downing his glass of wine not a second after the words had come out of his mouth.
"Yeah? Did he mention anything about a thunderbolt?" Emmett asked slyly, throwing another look at Edward. He was currently leaning against a tree, cigarette in his mouth as he calmly listened to the brainless banter between Max and Ricky.
"As a matter of fact, yeah."
Emmett chuckled and threw another look at Bella, several feet away. She was currently trying to fend off another one of her star-struck suitors, it seemed. He wondered where Charles was. He knew for a fact he would ring the current boy's neck, and the others for good measure, if he knew what was happening.
"Hey, where's Charles?" he decided to ask Todd.
He shrugged. "Last I saw, he was speaking to Stefano."
It seemed some pushing would have to be in order. With that in mind, he walked over to where Max and Ricky were standing, smoothly becoming a part of their circle.
"—NO way in hell you slept with both of them."
"I kid you not."
"Fellas, fellas, calm down. There are plenty of fish in the sea," Emmett remarked to them. "Actually, if I'm not mistaken there are already plenty of fish in the surrounding area, if you haven't noticed."
Emmett's interjection startled Edward out of his brooding. The youngest son of the Don shot an angry glare at his brother, who proceeded to grin in response.
You'll thank me for this one day brother, Emmett thought to himself.
"Just one dance, that's all I ask," begged the insistent twerp.
"I'm clumsy," she answered.
"Oh c'mon, I'm sure you're fine," he said, wagging his brows in what he believed to be a seductive manner.
She rolled her eyes and let out a sigh, not that her current consort noticed. His eyes were drawn below, to her legs. She sipped her wine carefully, feeling the traitorous blush creep across her face, reflecting her discomfort.
It was night now, the midnight blue sky, dotted with sparkling stars, their new canopy. The party had just begun to die down, slow, melodic love songs gracing the air as opposed to the jaunty, up-beat concoctions cooked up in the May afternoon. Her periwinkle blue dress set off her creamy white skin perfectly, so much so, that now, to her displeasure, it was attracting the attention of the many single young men finally zeroing-in their surroundings in the absence of light.
She did not seek. She did not flaunt. She merely sat, observing with interest the workings of her Americanized counterparts. She had been in the states for over a year now, and yet she was still trying to absorb the differences in this strange, "modern" country.
She liked her privacy. It was not in her nature to force idle small-talk amongst strangers with vulgar agenda's. She would rather observe. Action's, after all, spoke louder than words. And yet, this clueless imbecile in front of her could not understand from her own body-language in response to him that she wanted to be left alone.
"You're a real dame you know that? Prettiest one here. If you don't want to dance, I can show you my car, I just got it back from the shop—"
"I doubt any lady would want to stomach that hunk of junk you call your car, Antoine," a dangerously soft voice said behind him. Flinching from his tone, Antoine turned, coming face to face with none other than the object of Isabella's affection.
Goosebumps prickled on Isabella's arms, be it because of the fury lurking beneath Edward's words, or by his mere presence, she did not know. She rose from her seat, anxiety making her hands shake as she watched Edward glare the miscreant into a trembling puddle of goo.
"I believe the lady has made it quite clear that she does not want to dance with you," Edward said icily, taking another step towards him until their noses were inches apart. "There are many more young ladies willing to tolerate your presence on the other side of the dance floor. I suggest you try your hand at propositioning them."
Taking the hint, Antoine swiftly excused himself and promptly left in favor of company not intent on reducing his face to a bloody pulp. It was mere seconds after his departure that Edward and Isabella realized they were alone. To his extreme embarrassment, he could not keep himself from looking at her. The distant observations he had made earlier did not do her justice in the least; he had forgotten how ethereal she looked, the moonlight making her skin acquire an almost luminescent glow, the innocence in her eyes…
The beginning of a new song behind them brought him out of his entranced state. He fixed his eyes firmly to the ground and cleared his throat, a polite, rough sound that conveyed his discomfort and awkwardness. With a slight nod of the head began to walk away.
Her desperate plea shot a surge of electricity through his heart. Slowly he turned back to her. She blinked up at him, her trademark blush blooming across her face once more in shy intimidation. Her eyes fluttered to the ground.
"…Thank you…for what you did," she said to his shoes.
"…It was no problem," he muttered. She nodded, eyes still focused on his polished shoes. Before he could stop himself, his hand traveled to her face, fingers inches from her cheek before finally settling just under her chin, which he tilted up.
"There," he muttered. "Much better." They stared at each other for several more seconds, before he realized that their frozen forms were drawing attention.
"…Forgive me," he began, staring into her warm, chocolate irises, having yet removed his hand from underneath her chin, "but would you like to dance?"
She blinked rapidly, flustered and secretly thrilled by his offer. She felt her face heat with embarrassment, however, when she remembered how poor her dancing skills truly were.
"I'd love to…but I'm clumsy,' she murmured, fighting the urge to look away.
"It's all in the leading," he said softly, while his heart pounded in his chest, "and I won't let you fall."
Still holding his stare, she finally nodded yes. His hand fell away from her face as he gently led her to the dance floor, her heels clicking on the hard wood. She fought to keep her eyes from closing in pleasure as she felt the warmth from his body almost encompassing her own as he held her to him. Unconsciously she moved closer to him, the scent of his cologne filling her with a curious sense of calm she had not felt since before her mother passed. But she did not question it. For once, she just let herself be.
"I'm sorry…if my behavior offended you the first time we met," he said softly to her, a couple of minutes into their dance. He avoided her surprised gaze as he maneuvered her around the other couples, keeping his promise on not allowing her to fall.
"…I wasn't offended,' she said quietly, almost inaudibly. She was speaking to herself, not intending for him to hear her admission, her secret, but he heard. An overwhelming feeling of relief nearly bought him to his knees. He said nothing, though inside he repeated her words over and over, his hope growing. He allowed himself to look at her again, and the gnawing urge that began in the hallway days ago evolved, grew into something more. As he stared at her lovely face, the mysteries surrounding her bombarded his mind. He knew the general story everyone knew; that Renee Swan had passed years before, leaving Isabella to the care of her father. But who was she? If she was friends with Alice, why didn't he know more about her? And most of all, how could he not, in the past two years, have met her until days prior?
"Why haven't I seen you around?" he finally asked her. She looked at him curiously. "…Since you know Alice," he clarified.
"…I've only met your sister a handful of times. She and your mother helped me get settled when…when I first arrived. Last weekend was actually the first time I had been to your home," she said, a small smile playing on her lips.
"I see," he murmured. "And you've been here for a year?"
She nodded. "I don't go out much..."
"Not shopping?" he asked her teasingly, and she let out a small laugh.
"No, not shopping. I can't stand shopping…"
"So what do you like to do?"
"…Read…cook, walk around the city, but mostly read. I know, that seems quite boring and odd, what with my father, and what he does."
"What do you mean?" he asked her, perplexed this time. Charles had always seemed the introverted type anyway. Why would she think there were contrasts to either of them?
"I'm not stupid Edward." she said quietly, a hint of annoyance in her tone. They danced in silence for several minutes, as he digested her admission. When the song finally ended, her hands parted from his, a look of awkwardness on her face as she made to leave, but instead, he took her back in his embrace and immersed themselves in another song.
"I never said you were. How long have you known, and how much?" he asked her in a whisper. He was not sure how open Charles was with Isabella, and there were people around, after all.
"…It's not that hard to put together…I don't know everything. My father knows how to hide things well, when he puts his mind to it…but I know enough."
"Like that what he does for a living doesn't include a desk or pencil. That what he does keeps him out until 3 A.M on some days, and 5 P.M on others."
Edward blinked down at her in mild amazement. She was observant.
"And it doesn't bother you?"
She shrugged, shuffling closer to him as another couple made to leave the dance floor. Once again, she blushed at their close proximity. Edward couldn't help but smile.
"Don't be shy," he said softly, drawing her nervous gaze.
"I'm not shy," she said quietly. Her voice caught in her throat as he leaned down and his mouth ghosted over her ear.
"Yes, you are." His voice sent shivers down her spine.
"Fine…'" she murmured. "Maybe I am."
"Mall" refers to the the Cullen's estate and the surrounding houses that they own, which Bella and Charlie are currently staying in while James is out hunting.
Gilda is one of the main characters, played by Rita Hayworth, in the 1946 movie of the same name.
And before I forget...One of you pointed out that Cullen isn't an Italian last name. It's not a mistake, I promise you. The origins of the name will be revealed later on. If you recall, Corleone isn't Vito's real last name either :)
From here on out, updates for this story will be sporadic. My apologies...
Can you guess which members of the Corleone family each Cullen is loosely base on? ;)