“Per favore,” he said.
“Oh, no. I can’t.”.
He stopped moving and smiled an evil grin, brown eyes glittering. “Say it so I can hear it.”
“Per favore. I want it.”
“Lo voglio, Capo.”
I leaned forward, and he gathered me in his arms, holding me close and controlling my movement. “Sei così preziosa per me.” He whispered it over and over as the heat between us built to a red throb, slowly, in a rhythm that went from pleasant to tortuous without changing.
“Wait for me,” he sighed.
“Per favore,” I cried. “Faster, please.”
“Wait for me.”
I nodded but had no words until he said, “Si.”
He held me to the rhythm, and I felt every step of my orgasm: the foothills, the climb to the mountain, and then the volcano dripping lava as I cried for him. My face pressed to his, my mouth opened wordlessly, and he put his lips to my tears and came into me, clutching me as if he’d never let me go.
I lived in an unreality where my life was marked in days. And having made that absurd, stupid choice to end my life, I lost my mind.
Antonio was shrewder than I was. He wanted to leave everything alone and let it sort itself out. I wanted to leave a neat little world behind me, where everyone could be happy. Anything less seemed cruel. I kept twisting contingencies around in my mind, trying to find the best and worst outcomes and to fix all I could without raising flags. What damage could be prevented? Was there a single favor I could call in and never repay?
I didn’t tell Antonio. We’d be long gone and he could be pissed at me as we fucked on a beach on a Greek island. The thought of a rabid hatefuck on a beach made me smile, in public, on an elevator to the Century City penthouse, where ODRSN Enterprises had its offices.
“Daddy,” I said when he turned the corner and entered the bright, sparkling reception area. My father was in his sixties. He still stood straight at six foot four, wearing a four-thousand-dollar suit and a face still handsome enough to turn heads.
“Theresa.” He handed a folder to a tall, blonde receptionist. She slipped behind the glass desk and answered the phone, smiling like a robot. My father had impoverished the family trust. Then Jonathan had rebuilt it and sold it back to J. Declan Drazen. Since then, my father had been a businessman worthy of the original Irish-born Jonathan O’Drassen and just as bad a parent as the Irishman.
“What brings you out here?” he asked.
“Looking for a job.”
He laughed and led me into the corner office. The windows were on a slant, as if it were a greenhouse where all the plants had been removed and replaced by an expansive desk and maps of Los Angeles everywhere.
“I’m glad you came by.” He indicated a leather chair and sat in the seat next to it. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you since Thanksgiving.”
“It’s my turn to say, ‘really?’”
“Tell me first, how are you doing since you left WDE?”
“Fine. I’ve been working a little on my friend’s film.”
He leaned back. The leather of the sofa squeaked. “It’s not like my daughter Theresa to not have any plans. Fiona, yes. Leanne, sometimes, but you? You always were very sensible.”
“It’s not like I need money to live.”
“You never wanted to live on your trust.”
“I’m just in between things.”
He shook his head slowly.
“You don’t approve?” I said.
“You’re all past my approval. Which is too bad. But no, since you asked, I don’t. I heard about this man you took to Sheila’s?”
“Is he the reason you quit your job with nowhere to land?”
The visit had been a mistake. He did what he always did: he took control of the conversation and made me uncomfortable before I’d even gotten to the reason for my visit. And he’d do it until I either blurted out what I wanted or left without mentioning it. He had that way of interacting. He just wanted to make us squirm. He wanted to take the rug out from under us. It was his way, and even when he’d been called out on it, he’d laughed. Only Margie could manage him, God bless her and God fuck her.
“I quit my job because I was miserable. I have nowhere to land because I hadn’t set anything up. I hadn’t even thought about it. I’ve spent my whole life inside a sensible little box. I got tired of it.”
“So you went ‘outside the box?’ That’s very cliché, Theresa. I’d say you’re better than that, but you’re not a creative soul. I thought you were at peace with that.”
His tone was so gentle and sincere that his words didn’t sound insulting. I knew they were, but he wasn’t trying to offend me, so I took no offense. He had a way of cutting deep without letting a person put up a defense.
“I am, but I’ve been thinking about what to do, anyway. There’s a trust I need released to my discretion. There’s only one left that you still have control over.”
“I know the one. What were your plans?”
His interest was piqued. He knew I didn’t want to pack it up my nose or blow it on the ponies.
“Antonio’s aunt has a restaurant in San Pedro. It’s being investigated for fraud, and I’ve looked at the books. It’s clean, but broke. He can’t help or he’ll be accused of laundering money through it. He’s pulled out completely. She’s a nice old woman. The restaurant is all she has. I want to help her.”
“How nice of you.” He didn’t believe a word of it, or at the very least, he didn’t care.
“And because I know nothing is free with you,” I said, letting the first part of the sentence sink in. He nodded. He didn’t care what any of us thought of him. “I can donate half to the Wilshire Golfer’s Club. I can finance a renovation. I think the carriage house could use a touch-up?”
He waved my suggestion away. “They haven’t done anything in eighteen years. They won’t fix that thing until an earthquake flattens it, and it’s already survived two.”
“You name it, then.”
“For this man? This mobster?”
“For me,” I said.
He looked out the wall of windows. “Have you ever wondered how I have so many children and so few grandchildren?”