"What was that all about?" I looked at my uncle in shock. His usual calm demean is no longer visible, but was replaced by an irate man.
"I told you to stay away from him," he reprimands.
"Why?" I asked flinching from his tone.
"He's a dangerous man."
"Really? Because, I'm pretty sure he wasn't the only one who was cocking a gun in my direction."
"Don't be ridiculous, none of them were pointed at you."
"Semantics," I sigh, "are you going to tell me what's been happening here or should I go and find Christian and ask him myself?"
"Your father really didn't tell you anything did he?" he sighs.
"No," I scoff, "don't worry, I already know your big family secret, I did my own research last night."
"Let's save this conversation for home okay?" he asked, taking my hand and patted it. "James take us through the garage instead."
"Yes, sir," James replies.
Once we were safe in the confines of the penthouse, he sat me down on the couch in the great room.
"Yes, bambolina?" he asked rubbing his eyes and running his fingers through his hair.
"Please, tell me the truth."
He lets out a huge sigh and looks me straight into my eyes.
"When you came here I thought that you already knew about our family, but when I spoke with your father he told me that you knew nothing. So that's what I told the Don, so at that point the only thing separating you from the business was your ignorance, but now that you know-"
"Does it really change anything?"
"It does, because now you'll have to know fully, you'll be embedded into it, this was something neither your father or I wanted. Thus my reassurance that you won't be a liability has been compromised with those goddamn pictures that will definitely be in some sort of new story. Now I can't hide it from him."
"Exactly," he sighs and takes the seat next to me, "I told him tonight that I would try to shield you from all of this, keep you out for as long as I could, but now that low-life Grey had to pursue you."
"What does he have to do with anything?"
"He's the underboss of his Family, the Gambino's. Grey isn't actually his last name, he only goes by that in the business world."
"Our two families were once good friends and even better business partners, we respected each other, but they were the ones who aided those FBI agents," he spat. "He put our family in jail, they thought that this would bring us down, but we're slowly re-building."
"I read about that , how are you sure that it was them?"
"It was," he says sternly, I knew from his tone that he didn't want any more questions regarding the Gambino's.
"So what's your role in all of this?"
"I'm the Consigliere, the advisor to Genovese who actually happens to be your second uncle. All the men other than the soldiers and some capos are your immediate family; they are here to protect you. Sometime this week I will have to introduce you to them," he sighs.
"Why are you so angry that the talked to me?"
"His breathing alone bothers me, but he's really only using you to get under my skin." Okay, ouch.
"I think he was being sincere."
"Don't be naïve, Ana, when did you meet him exactly?"
"Uh, when I got to New York at the café down the street, then at your restaurant, the Zoo, and then the Plaza."
"He's been following you," he says, more as a statement rather than a question.
"More like coincidence…"
"He's a snake, you can't trust him or any other Gambino," he wraps an arm around me, "I wish it weren't the truth, but I have to be honest with you, I don't have a good feeling about him." I really didn't have anything to say after his statement I remained silent. In all honesty I didn't know what Christian wanted, for all I know he could be playing, but that idea really stung.
"Will you train me?"
"What you do?" I asked softly, my words stun him and he gives me a look of pure disbelief.
"I'll have someone train you, so you will be able to better protect yourself, but you are not going to learn the business. I don't want you to be anywhere near this."
"That sounds fair," I shrug and lean on his side, "what's dad's role?"
"He actually got out," he chuckles sarcastically, "your good for nothing son of a bitch of a father has been running from this for his entire life."
"Oh, that's what that was," I laugh.
"I know he was never around, he's always been selfish, even when we were growing up."
"I could see that."
Things don't have to change for you, just think of the training as a workout," he laughs, trying to lighten the mood. "Nothing has to be different, okay?"
"Alright, I trust you," I say giving him a kiss on the cheek, "I'm going to bed, thank you for being honest with me."
"All you'll have to do is talk to me and I'll always be honest with you."
"And don't forget that I will always be here for you, I'm always a phone call away."
"Thank you," I smile back at him, and walk into my room.
The next few days flew by with no interruptions by Christian, not like I was trying to run into him. I am willing to follow my uncle's instructions, if he doesn't have a good feeling about Christian than I should stay away. Though there have been countless dreams about those magnetic gray eyes, my curiosity is continually building with each new question that forms in my brain.
The day after the big revelation I was greeted by Katherine and my uncle, they both informed me that I would be starting to some combat fighting and when my trainer sees fit I will be trained with various firearms. Not going to lie, I've always wanted to shoot something.
Soon after my uncle informs me that I would be meeting my "Family" this weekend at a little get together in the Hamptons. Therefore, I am to go shopping for a dress for this very important meet and greet. Ugh I hate shopping. Don't get me wrong I like to shop and buy things, but I find no enjoyment shopping with other people. I like to be in and out, I don't eel the need to go to every store and see if I will find something I'd like. No, I know what want and what I look good in; there is no need to waste any more time. To top it all off, Katherine would always try to pressure me into trying on said clothing, like I was her very own personal model. The only inkling I had to try anything on was the dress I was to wear for this weekend, but everything else like shoes or shirts, I just handed to the sales associate and walked around some more.
After shopping I was to meet my uncle in his office in Midtown, then we would go to dinner, he's never asked me to meet him there. Since finding out his very lucrative legitimate business was really just a front, I wasn't really curious what he did during the day when he wasn't running off and capping anyone's knees. I joke… well… not really.
My phone started ringing from inside my pocket, I usually keep it on vibrate, so I was started by the sound, "Hello?" I asked, but no one answers. What the hell?
"Hello?" I repeat. Still nothing, I look at the number it was blocked. So instead of playing along I hung up, but almost immediately it rings again. I decide to turn my phone on mute and ignore the rest of the messages.
Once we arrived at my uncle's we were quickly escorted to the top floor of the twenty-five-story building.
"Hello, bambolina," my uncle greets me.
"Hey, uncle Berto, pretty fancy digs," I tease.
"I have to keep appearances," he winks at me and leads me to the leather couches on the east side of the expansive office. "How are you?"
"I'm great, exhausted, but great," I smiled.
"Good," he seemed appeased, "are you excited to meet the family?"
"Not really," I confessed, "it's different with you, I'm not scared, but thinking of being in a confined space with all of them…"
"Completely understandable, but you have nothing to worry about. No harm will ever come to you while in our company, they're your family too, they will lay down their lives for you."
I quirk my eyebrow at him, unconvinced by his melodramatic statement, "Right, they don't know me."
"That's where you are mistaken, they know all about you, but due to your father's wishes the family was ordered to stay away."
"What about you?"
"I'm your father's brother, he couldn't have done much to stop me from getting to know you. You know that I've always considered you as a daughter," he said with a smile that reached his eyes.
"I've always thought of you as a father too, I mean you were definitely better than the one who calls himself that," I laugh.
"He does love you," he said as his tone turned a bit sour, "he just has a poor way of showing it."
"I know he loves me, I just don't see how he can stay away for so long, you know? I would understand if he didn't want me at all and didn't bother showing up, but he continually raised my hopes just to disappoint me."
"I know," he kisses my forehead, "let's keep things light and go to dinner?"
"Okay," I say my mood brightening.
The week passed by quickly and by Friday afternoon I was in a helicopter on our way to the Hamptons, I continued to get more calls and even texts from the blocked number, but still they said nothing in return when I would reply. It was getting really annoying.
"We're here," said my uncle as we land.
"Great," I gave him a forced smile.
"Don't be nervous, bambolina," he cooed as he unstrapped me and helped me out.
"I'll try, but no promises."
We were the last two to arrive, the house was already packed with people, the Boss, the Underboss, and the Capos with some of their crew members. Plus all their wives and children, I was definitely nervous when we walked in. My uncle informed me that the underboss is the second command to the Don, the Capos a.k.a. the Caporegimes are like the commanders of the different crews and the different parts of the business. For instance one family would be in charge of narcotics, gambling, or human trafficking… Ugh I wish I didn't know that.
Once our coats were taken care of, my uncle introduced me to the wives and their children, they all pretty much put on a fake smile and shook my hand, but some were whispering snide remarks. What are we in high school again?
"Why do they all look like they want to gouge my eyes out?" I whispered to my uncle.
He laughs loudly and explains, "You're the first woman born into the family, and most of the men were only lucky enough to have born males."
He continues to explain, "You're like new-found royalty, your father if he hadn't left the family would have been the new Don."
"What about you?"
"He was first born," he says pointedly, like that would explain everything.
"You're like a monarchy?"
"Well that still doesn't explain everything-"
"You're the last Luciano."
"What about you?"
"I won't be having children," he says nonchalantly.
"Ahh my dear Anastasia," a tall man in his late forties came up to us.
"This Genovese," my uncle quickly whispered to me.
"Danny," my uncle turns on the charms.
"Roberto, this must be the beautiful Ana!" he exclaims and gives me a large hug.
"Hello-" I began.
"Call me Uncle Danny," he holds me out at arm's length to get a good look at me. "You weren't kidding, Roberto, she's definitely a looker."
"Thank you?" I said nervously.
"No thank yous necessary, no wonder you wanted to hide her from this," he laughs like it's a joke, "Come meet the family."
"Okay," I smile up at him as he holds his arm out; I let go of my uncle a bit apprehensively and grab Danny's. My uncle gives me a reassuring smile as we walk into another room where the men have all seemed to gather.
"Boys, this is my niece Ana," Danny announces to the room.
"Hello," I said in a small voice, these men are all criminals and they're all standing there like they've just had tea and crumpets.
"Let me introduce you to them individually," he says to me, I'm not sure how to take his laid back approach. Instead of being anxious I decide to grab the bull by the horns and walk right into the lion's den. I kept telling myself that they're family, nothing will happen to me… I mean I've seen the Godfather, family's everything. Right? Right.
"This is our Streetboss, Mario Gigante," he says to me as I shake the man's pudgy hand.
"Pleased to meet you," I reply, "what's a street boss?" I asked Danny once we were out of earshot.
"Decades ago, a man who was the head of our family Philip Lombardo, had come up with this position. It was to divert law enforcement away form the Don, the Godfather."
"Do you really call yourself the Godfather?"
He laughs, "No, not since the 70s."
"Oh good to know, wasn't sure if I was to refer to you as that."
"No worries," he smiles, "but I must stress that everything you learn in this room must remain between us"
"I understand fully."
"Good, you seem to be a bright young woman."
"I try to be," I smile; this makes him laugh… quite loudly actually. The night goes on and I've met the Underboss John Barbato, the Messaggero Andrew Gigante, then the few capos form the other boroughs, Ernie from the Bronx, Rosario from Manhattan, Punchy from Brooklyn, and Rom from Queens. Apparently the capos that were in attendance tonight aren't the only ones; they've also divided the boroughs down so there were little sections.
Not only were they largely based in New York, but they were also in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida, and Washington. There was also the different Family Crews that ran NYC, which were apart from the capos that were already stationed.
This was too much information all at once, that I could barely remember people's names.
Danny and followed by my uncle Berto led me to his office, "Overwhelmed?"
"Yeah, you could say that," I confessed.
"You have nothing to be worried about, you're Mafia royalty," Danny chuckles. Despite his current calm and jovial mood, there was something a bit forced with him. I didn't know what to think about it, so I pushed back in my mind.
"Why again am I royalty?" I ask.
"Well," Danny deliberates silently, "you are the last Luciano and as you may already know, Lucky Luciano, your great-great grandfather, was one of the five families that came from Sicily. Since you are the last, that makes you pretty special."
"Because I'll be able to make more Luciano babies?" I deadpanned.
"So I'm a baby-maker?"
"No," he laughs, "okay, maybe a little. Just think if you have no children your family line ends with you."
"I fully intend to have children, but not for a long time."
"We understand that, we want you to have the most normal life you can have under these circumstances."
"Thank you," I give him a small smile.
"Now, on to this Grey problem."
"Yes, there have been talks about you."
I furrow my eyebrows, "Why?"
"Forbidden fruit perhaps, maybe it's because he's like any other man, he wants what he can't have."
"You understand that I'm not a pawn in this game, right?"
"Of course, bambolina, but you must understand that you will be expected to stand with your family," my uncle tries to appease me.
"My family?" I say rolling my eyes..
"Yes us," Danny quips, "when it is time we will find you a husband."
"What!? ABSOLUTELY NOT!" I yell.
"It is your duty to your family!"
"My family? Well isn't that convenient? Where were you when I was growing up?" I give Danny a pointed look. "Just a week ago, I didn't even know the significance of being a Luciano.
"Now you're asking me to stand by my "family"? I'm sorry but the only sort of family I do have is my Uncle Berto. I never saw you during Christmas, shit I didn't even know you existed!" I seethe. Completely forgetting the fact that the man sat across from me is armed and quite dangerous. As the though floods my brain, I quickly flinch and try to physically put as much space between him and I.
"I don't know who you think you're speaking to, but you will respect your elders," Danny yells. His tone makes me cringe as I jump out my seat.
"Calm down!" my uncle warns him. "You're scaring her."
Danny takes a moment to gather his thoughts and smoothed out of his face, "I apologize, I'm sorry for frightening you." And just like that his laid back demeanour was replaced by something sinister in his eyes, despite his body saying otherwise. I couldn't quite place it, but it made me rather uneasy.
Still unmoving from my spot, I look down at my feet willing the ground to swallow me whole. I wish I didn't know what I did now. How am I going to get out of here?