Cassandra Fenetti waited for Stephano’s driver around the corner from the VFW. No one knew that she was even missing yet but it would only be a matter of time before Amato started asking questions. If he knew that she was meeting her ex, Stephano Rimaldi, he would never trust her again which is why this all had to be done on the D.L.. In less than 15 minutes, a black Cadillac Escalade, appeared from the northbound lane of 33rd street. The 60 year old chauffeur pulled over next to the curb and emerged from the driver’s seat dressed in a black wool coat and matching driver’s hat. Stephano made all his employees wear uniforms because he liked showing off his wealth. It was what she liked so much about him. He had charisma, and it was obvious that the Alunni would be calling him boss one day.
As the driver walked over to her side of the car, he opened the back, passenger door, “Madame,” he said tipping his hat. Cassie nodded her head in acknowledgement and smiled while climbing inside the nice and warm Cadillac. As the driver headed back into the vehicle, she saw a glimpse of her reflection in the rearview mirror and was horrified at the image reflected back at her. The last time she saw Stephano, she was dumping him for Amato. Back then her hair wasn’t uneven from brain surgery. Doing her best she tried to hide the mess with her knit cap but she felt people could still tell. Surveying the damage, she took out her compact, and immediately zeroed in on the scar on her face from when she fell head first on the floor when her brother Dominic shot her.
Her ego told her that it was a mistake to go to Stephano looking this way but her authentic self, told her to hell with her looks. She had no interest in Stephano and he most likely had none in the woman who kicked him to curb. Besides, she heard he married some wannabe model with fake hair and even faker assets only six months after the breakup. What was that woman’s name?.. Denise, Debbie…no, she thought to herself it was a stripper name. Cinnamon, Daisy, no it was Destiny…Destiny Van Holsten. The thought that someone would name their kid something so stupid made her giggle. It was almost as if that poor girl was doomed to work the pole. Near to laughing out loud, Cassie had to cover her mouth as she desperately tried to regain her composure. Thank God the driver was too busy watching the road to see her.
Remembering their tumultuous affair, she recalled her father forbidding her to see him. He was the enemy after all and therefore the Anti-Christ in his eyes. However Cassie never took her dad’s advice especially, when it came to matters of the heart and this was no exception. If it had been up to him she would’ve been locked up in a nunnery somewhere in Timbuktu. It was a miracle he never caught her sneaking out late at night let alone, sneaking back into the house during the wee hours of the morning. Caressing the seat’s leather armrest, she smiled at the memories this trip was conjuring up. What a shame, so many good times lost and for what? A fake fiancé who turned her life upside down once, with his untimely death and then again, with his recent resurrection. What was she doing this for? Here was a prime opportunity for her to return to her old life with no repercussions. She had avenged her father, and Dom was dead, so there was no reason to play this good Samaritan role anymore. Besides, Amato was too complicated for her tastes. She liked her men simple and easy to deal with and Amato would never be either. Plus he had secrets, and she was certain that there were more to come.
“Who are you Amato?” she asked looking out of the window. Cassie realized she couldn’t risk anymore for him and was going to level the playing field while securing her position. Just as she got lost in her thoughts, the car came to a stop and the driver got out. Recognizing the old brownstone, she almost felt a sense of relief. Suddenly a man appeared, it was one of Stephano’s bodyguards. He motioned for her to follow him which she did, right into the house and into the foyer. A butler took her coat and offered her a seat in a nicely plush, white, suede chair. Thanking the man, she looked around the room. Stephano or his wife had redecorated the house, with a white and gold theme. “Would you like a beverage Ma’am?” the butler asked. She requested a gin and tonic since she never got to finish the one she had at the VFW.
As the butler mixed her drink at the small drink cart in the corner, Cassie looked at the oddly familiar room and figured the décor was definitely gaudy, nouveau riche. It had to be Destiny’s idea, Stephano most likely just signed off. She saw several pathetic knock offs of Bellagio’s Venus and Caravaggio’s Bacchus adorning the very white walls and even though they were knock offs, she could tell they were expensive. The canvases were nice and the framing was ornate. Again this woman’s tastes made Cassie laugh because if she were going to try and pass off a fake portrait, she would have chosen lesser known work.
What was she doing? Cassie thought as she caught herself comparing herself to Destiny. How low could her self-esteem be that she was judging the wife of an ex-boyfriend? Cassie realized she had to stop and get into a serious frame of mind, if she didn’t this was never going to work. Just as she was pulling herself together, Stefano entered the room wearing his trademark steel blue Versace suit. “Hey Cassandra, what can I do ya for?” Before she could answer, the butler handed her a glass of gin. Taking a chair across from her, Cassie began with an apology. As she was apologizing, a woman walked through the door, tall, thin, and very blonde. With her were several shopping bags, clutched in her newly manicured hands. Sauntering into the salon, Stephano’s eyes lit up as she gave him a kiss. “Destiny, glad you’re here, I want you to meet my old high school sweetheart, Cassandra Fenetti. She’s the one I told ya about.”
Cassie shook her hand and asked rather annoyed, “What did he tell you?”
“Ah nothing, just that you just broke his heart.” She answered rather nonchalantly.
“You gotta be kidding me,” Cassie said then chuckled, however, no one was laughing along with her. “Oh,” she said somberly, “Well everything turned out alright for you two.” She said trying to put a positive spin on things. Destiny immediately smiled and looked at Stephano, “She’s right, I should be grateful that relationship didn’t work out.” Stefano returned the smile and asked, “Cassandra what brings you here?” Immediately, Cassie looked up at Destiny and said, “It’s personal.” Taking the hint, Destiny shrugged her shoulders and said, “I guess I’ll go find something to do.” Smiling as she left the room, she made direct eye contact with Stefano and he smiled back, unable to take his eyes off her. It was cute Cassie thought, cute, but annoying. As they were playing love struck teenagers, she took out a pack of smokes.
When she was out of earshot, Cassie continued, “I have a deal to make.” Immediately, Stephano chuckled, “What? You got some nerve…”
“The Cosimo’s gas stations, there’s gonna be a takeover”
“So what? What does that have to do with me?”
“Millions are about to go up in smoke,” she said as she lit a cigarette.
A flash of anger crossed his face and then he looked down at the floor as though he were conflicted. Carefully she hit all the right tunes, “Look, I want to help you, why look a gift horse in the mouth?”
“Cuz, you’re one of them,” he answered.
“Yeah, I’m one of them who went out her way to take them down. I gave up my brother, my fiancé and know what? I ain’t done.”
Rising up from his chair, he said forcefully, “Get out!”
Standing up, Cassie met him, eye to eye and placed a piece of paper in his jacket pocket then she whispered as smoke slowly poured from her lips, “Just in case you change your mind.”
He snorted, and then looked away again. He was struggling again, he wanted to say something but was fighting the urge. When he met her gaze again, he pointed to the door.
Without a sound she walked over to the butler who handed her, her coat. As Cassie slid it on, she noticed what appeared to be Destiny peeking from around the hallway. Pretending she didn’t notice her, Cassie took her leave and quietly walked out the front door.
However, instead of taking off in a huff, Cassie decided to get reacquainted with the old neighborhood and walked to a coffee shop at the corner where she and Stefano used to meet. Taking one last drag from her cigarette, she dropped it to the ground and extinguished it with her shoe. With purpose she walked over to a dark, corner booth in the back in that booth they would make their plans for a better life outside the business. It was bitter sweet, to know neither one of them would ever completely escape this life. But it had to be done, just one more job and she would walk away Cassie told herself. However she knew this wasn’t true, something or someone would always pull her back. As her thoughts got dark, the phone in her purse rang and looking at the I.D. on the screen, she saw it was none other than Stephano.
Rachel Rueben is author of the bestselling YA novel Hag and The Eternal Bond Series both available on Wattpad. To keep up with Rachel, you can sign up for her frighteningly entertaining newsletter here.