Monthly Archives: January 2023
To read this serialized blog of A Relationship Beckons from the beginning, click Crisis Averted #1 on the sidebar of the blog page.
Luca and Debra were shown into the massive living room. The brawny henchman with the permanent scowl adorning his face patted down Luca first. His rough hands ran roughly over every inch of Luca’s frame and sparing no part of him including his crotch. He then did the same to Debra utilizing the same lack of finesse over her curves including her breasts and the upside down V of her womanhood.
Immediately after the frisks were completed, their eyes were drawn to the two-story floor-to-ceiling glass wall that fronted the lower Chesapeake Bay. At this late hour, it was a black tableau played out through vertical, rectangular panels set in tracks along the floor and ceiling. Apparently, the panels could be opened like folding doors to allow access to a wide balcony with stairs leading to a lower level and a swimming pool. Beyond that lay more stairs descending to the beach. A high, glistening curtain framed the glass wall ready to be deployed when required. The faint sound of the gentle surf caressing the beach sifted through the thick glass along with a gentle whiff of salty air. The twinkle of orange sodium lamps to the west belied the south island of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel complex. Tommaso Romano had purchased several oceanfront tracts on Willoughby Spit, demolished all the buildings on them and built a towering three-story regal edifice that rivaled European castles. It bespoke the vast amount of money Romano’s crime family earned through its various arms of illegal activity.
Debra knew that Luca was oblivious to any of the history behind the residence. But when she’d first visited Romano’s stately home, she’d done a bit of research on the area and Romano’s part of it. This peninsula took its name from one Thomas Willoughby, a pilgrim who arrived in Virginia in 1610. Legend had it that this finger of land materialized overnight, created by a terrific storm–possibly a hurricane–in the mid- seventeenth century. The Willoughby family quickly took ownership of the newly created acreage and their named had become attached to it forever.
Debra could feel the cold sweat against Luca’s hand as it grasped hers as they walked stiffly and tentatively into the colossal space. The vaulted-ceiling of the room dwarfed the furnishings which were rich and expensive and coordinated with a professional hand. An assortment of comfy, over-sized chairs and two large sofas dotted the space amid coffee and end tables of light-colored mahogany. The arrangement lent an inviting and–at the same time–intimidating air.
“The view’s much better during the day.” The words came from behind them and emanated from a deep, accented voice thick with the gravelly timbre of a longtime smoker and bolstered by the sharp, confident resonance of success.
Debra and Luca turned. Though they both were quite familiar Big Tommy’s vocal signature. Luca instinctively released her hand and clasped both of his together in front of his crotch. Romano stood just inside the nine foot doorway. Two linebacker-sized men in dark suits with sizeable bulges in their jackets took up a rear guard position behind their boss.
Tommaso Romano was as wide as he was tall. No more than five-nine, he carried at least two-hundred and fifty pounds around his torso and prodigious legs. His dark features both in hue and expression were captured in a bowling ball-like face punctuated by black eyes, thick black eyebrows and a curved, black Saddam Hussein moustache that looked like a large equatorial caterpillar had taken up residence beneath his bulbous nose.
“We normally open the panels to let in the night air. But this April evening–as you know–is a little chilly. I must have you both back during the summer for a swim and a meal.”
Luca nodded and said in a rough whisper. “That sounds…wonderful, Tommy.”
Debra added. “That’s very generous, Mr. Romano.”
“Nonsense,” Tommy replied. “Please call me Tommy, we are family. Are we not?”
“Of course…Tommy,” Debra replied hesitantly. She looked in the direction of the door and saw Romano’s bodyguards standing like statutes on either side of the doorway.
He motioned to two overstuffed chairs separated from a wide couch by a wide sand-colored coffee table. Romano plopped his gelatinous frame onto the sofa, taking up a goodly portion of its seating space. When they were seated and without prompting, a liveried waiter in a short white tunic and black trousers appeared with a tray on which sat three shot glasses, a bottle of Sambuca and a long-reach lighter. The servant who appeared to be of Spanish or Mexican descent set the tray on the coffee table. In each shot glasses rested three coffee beans. The houseman poured generous amounts of the anise-flavored liquor. He then picked up the lighter and clicked it so that a long finger of flame curved up from its barrel. He touched the flame to the contents of each shot glass. Each glass seemed to erupt.
Tommy Romano waved away the waiter who left the lighter and the Sambuca on the tray. He studied his guests over the flames that were growing smaller. “We wait for the flames to turn blue. Then we drink…”
Luca held up a hand indicating he did not want to partake. “Tommy, I’m not…”
Romano’s hard gaze turned to granite, cutting off Luca without a sound. “You come into my home and refuse an offer of hospitality. You will drink. We have an urgent matter to discuss…as you know.”
By now, the flames had dwindled to a blue haze. Tommy placed his meaty paw over the shot glass smothering both the fire and the vessel. He nodded to his guests that they should do the same. Luca instantly covered his glass with his slender almost emaciated hand. Debra did the same, wincing as she did so, anticipating some pain. But none came…a brief warmth.
Tommy lifted his glass. “Cin Cin alla nostra salute!” Luca and Debra touched theirs to his. They tilted their heads back and downed the fiery liquid. Debra winced as the burn fell to her belly.
Romano relaxed his bulk deeper into the cushions. He steepled his hands in front of his chest. His black, emotionless eyes bore into his capo. “You know why I have summoned you here tonight.”
Caroline could not sleep. The events of the day clung to her like a skunk’s spray. She padded into the kitchen in her in her t-shirt and short. A coating of sweat dampened her clothes. She moved down the hallway. Cracking the door to his bedroom, she checked on Peter. In the faint moonlight sifting through the window, she could see his angelic face deep in the throes of slumber. His breathing was deep and regular with a slight snore. He cradled a football in his arms. The sight of him safe and unharmed comforted her.
Caroline moved back into the kitchen and the small desk area built-in near the pantry Their Williamsburg carriage home was small compared to what she was used to when she mas married to Luca. It was a four thousand square foot domicile in Newport News. Trading the luxury for her sanity was worth an untold price.
She sat at the chair before the desk, opened the drawer and removed a large manila envelope. Undoing the clasp, Caroline removed the sheaf of documents. She read over the legal document from her attorney that had been sitting untouched for two months:
Request for Change in Child Custody
Without hesitation, she plucked a pen from the coffee cup on the desk, clicked it and scribbled her name on the second page. With a heavy sigh, she closed her eyes and prayed for strength. This was going to be the flight of her life. And she was not looking forward to it.
To Be Continued-
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