People don’t ask me when I became this way. No one can tell me that they understand why I am the way I am. I have never been normal. I wasn’t born in the world that most of you are born into. My world is not like yours. We call it The Fifth State. The life of the ones born with a target on their backs. An early grave. Our life is tied solely to our last name and how quick one can pull a trigger and get rid of the body.
My life has always been this way.
Death is inevitable. You either the one with the gun in your hand or the one pissing his pants. Life is something I learned to live like it is my last day, because today might just be that, my last day. The chances of an early grave has been instilled in me from the day I opened, my unseeing eyes. I was born and grew up knowing that my father carried a gun in his right pocket. That the ring on his index finger means that he is part of a dangerous family, the Catelli Famiglia.
Nobody fucked with our family or our kind and lived to tell the tale.
I was born knowing that one day I will marry a Made-man. And maybe I was born to be lucky as not having to marry for power or one of the other fucked up reasons our fathers chose our spouses, but I was born to be the wife of a criminal.
The extent of his crimes are still to be seen.
Us – the females of the Famiglia are honed to be wives to Made-Men, to turn a blind eye when our spouses have mistresses because that is their way of protecting us. I can’t say I’ve never wanted this life. It will be a worthless thought, as I have only ever known this way, and will die only ever knowing it too. We aren’t born in the Mafia to grow up and leave. That only happens in movies and books and even those, the happy endings aren’t that happy. Let us face facts, are we going to be happy walking away from who we are?
Are we going to be happy living a simple life, relying on a bunch of fucking cops to sort out our shit when trouble finds us? No, we would be miserable.
My granddad, a Capo, said that it is easier to off a man and hide the body than to report a crime and wait for the cops. It is a messed up response to life but sadly it is true. Many people look at us in horror as they hear the whispers of how bad the lives we live. Our men getting caught. The tabloids that slaughters our family names, paints us as monsters. Those lives that we call normal, the only one we will live gets looked upon with disgust, awe, jealousy. I will tell you now that it isn’t that bad.
It is like never falling prey to a handsome man.
How would one know the pain of a broken heart if you have never tasted the bliss of a forbidden fruit? We live our lives with no thoughts of how we are going to pay our bills. We take what we want. It is the only way we know. Our men take the risk and we, the women live in the benefits. Now while many of you had heard the way of the Mafia, the way of the Famiglia, I live in it. Here, now, I confess my sins. I tell you the way of the Mafia, I will tell you the way of our world without sugar coating it.
My name is Aliyana Capello, daughter of Consigliere Sartini Capello and this is my confession.
There is hope in all of us, a small glimmer of it even in the evilest of villains to walk the earth.
And love, oh love, a human emotion that is reckless, wild, and free as it paints you into the promise of its false truth, that is our fail switch. Humanity- one emotion that is weak, well at least that is what my papa says.
We sacrifice so much for it that in the end we are a mirror of our suicide. I, Aliyana Capello am not immune to the dealings of the heart when it comes to one man.
I am as vulnerable as if I have already slit my own throat.
“He is so handsome,” I say as I look at the guy walking in front of my sister and I. Leonardo Catelli, third son of our Capo.
Today is a special day for the Famiglia. Marco and Deno Catelli will be choosing their brides. The future heirs of the Famiglia.
“Gli sciocchi si innamorano Yana.” Fools fall in love Yana.
“Sono una sciocca in amore,” I am a fool in love. I inform my eldest sister as we walk to the back of the hall to drop off the biscuits my stepmother made for tonight.
She laughs and her black hair shakes as she tries hard to make the loud noise quieter. I don’t understand why she bothers. She is loud.
My stepmother has tried for years to tame Guilia, but her mother, my papa’s first wife was a free spirit. She died not long after giving birth.
Guilia is just like her, with light green eyes and a brilliant smile that lights up any darkness. My papa told me that he liked Guilia and Filippo’s mother because she never backed out of a challenge. But like her mother she would never get to choose whom she loves.
Guilia will never experience the joy of a kiss with her first crush.
Because for ones like my sister, love will be something that will grow, and die a sudden death.
“Do you find it strange that he sees you every day yet still looks right passed you.” Her strong accent voices out the words I ask myself a thousand times a day.
I smile, because the closest to the real thing she’d ever get to a romance would be through me, even if it is unreciprocated. For now
“Yes, but when the time comes I will eventually make him see me.”
“You are 18 Yana, papa won’t allow you to pass another birthday without an engagement. You are so lucky to choose. I say you better snatch him up before someone beats you to it.” Words can come so easy, but the truth is he is a Catelli and they are pure bloods.
“I am half Russian Guilia.”
“A beautiful half Italian woman, who is educated. Any man would be happy to have you Yana.”
“Guilia, Yana.” We hear the sound of our names coming from a man behind us as we place the four trays of biscuits on the wooden counter. A huge grin brightens my face as the man walks closer to us.
“RENO!!!” My sister practically screams as my brown haired, grey-eyed and deeply tanned skin, best-friend shows himself.
His light blue jeans are filled with holes as his white tee shirt hangs loose around his torso but the promise of his shoulders broadening in a few years is not hidden. No, he is a true Italian man.
I whistle as I throw myself in his arms, “Black and red Jordans. You put in all the stops today, is Diamond here?”
He hugs me back and kisses me gently on my head and it is not the first time I wish that he could be the brother I want to marry. We are so much better together. It will be as simple as looking at him.
Reno is easy, but his heart belongs to a friend of mine named Diamond. She is a biker Princess from Liston Hills and the only one he loves. When he met her, I was there and I knew, she was his.
“No, my father insisted I come alone. I heard Leonardo got his eye on someone.” Reno makes a funny pout face as he swipes a biscuit from one of the trays.
“So Diamond isn’t coming?” I am surprised, she said she’ll be there tonight. It was the reason I extended the invitation to Kylie Bray.
“Of course she is coming. Kylie is bringing her as a plus one.” He rubs his shadowed beard as he looks behind me at the biscuits.
I roll my eyes, “You can take a few more, but if my stepmother finds out you are on your own.”
“I don’t know why we had to do it here in Washington, why not New York,” Guilia groans as Reno fills his left hand with biscuits.
She didn’t like Washington, but my sister liked the man who controlled it. A man I have never met. She saw him once.
“Marco and Deno take residence this side. My father wanted to see how the city is doing since my brothers took this side up with Vincent. Seattle is thriving, if all goes well my brothers will control more places and make the family stronger.”
He touches Guilia’s nose when she scrunches it. My sister, like most of the women know nothing of the dealings of our men. I have never been one of them. The dealings of our men were something I knew way too much about.
We talk about college and Diamond, and Kylie. Reno’s charm is infectious, and his don’t care attitude makes him my sisters focal point for the next thirty odd minutes.
My sister didn’t get the option of University as she didn’t make the cut. She didn’t see the need to apply for college either, with her impending engagement to whoever my father would choose. She was 23 and it was her one wish that Papa not marry her off before I finish school. It was a year back when my Papa fulfilled that promise. Guilia knew that her time had come. And I think secretly she wanted to get it done.
Papa kept Guilia under a very tight leash.
Which meant, she never saw many men very often, especially ones as handsome as Reno.
I am not surprised that she dots on every word Reno says. I am not surprised that her longing gaze stares at him without blinking either. It is times like these that I don’t wish to be a full bred Italian. That I am glad my father married my mother.
I ache for her and my other sister, who spend most of their time with my stepmother taking up the house or attending Gala’s and functions.
My father sent me to boarding school in Chicago when he witnessed my stepmother’s monstrous tongue lashing she gave me on a regular basis.
My papa slapped her a few times, but leaving her would’ve made him look weak.
He came home one evening and told our house maker to pack my bags. It was the next morning that I found out I was leaving to Chicago.
There was a group of kids selected to go to Chicago as a peace offering between two Italian syndicates. I was the only girl, and my papa had to deal with a lot of the questions that came from his decision but the alternative was worse.
All he ever wanted was to protect me. That is what he told me the morning I left. Didn’t mean it felt right at the time. I was only 11. Barely of age to take care of myself.
It was like we were pawned off. I never thought that we could become a family of our own.
For seven years we stuck together. Romero, Michel, Lorenzo (Reno), Gabriel and I.
The five of us were inseparable. We weren’t accepted in Chicago as our parents had hoped. I was treated the worse, and called a whore for staying with four boys.
What the other kids hoped would make us miserable, made us stronger. In the end we decided to join the same University, here in Washington.
To the people in the Famiglia, these four boys are my brothers. After seven years, the stories amongst our kind became history and my father’s choice of sending his half-blood daughter was looked as an honorable action, not a suicide to his name.
But unfortunately, marriage to any one of the four boys would be considered a scandal. It was the one thing my father couldn’t be clearer about as I got older.
The thing is, I didn’t care, they, were not him.
When I first saw Leonardo Catelli it was two days after my fifteenth birthday and the first day of summer vacation. He was moaning to Reno and Gabriel about having to fetch us.
He looked right past me. I never existed then, and I didn’t exist now. I was Yana, Reno’s friend.
It was my own personal torture that Leonardo Catelli became the only one for me. Maybe it was his voice, or his broad shoulders, or the fact that he was always smiling. Or those few moments we shared on the rare occasions he actually knew I existed. Whatever the reason, it got me to University, got me to Washington, got me to look at him as he crossed the Campus grounds and attended frat parties.
Sometimes I wondered if he was the only reason I chose to study business.
My papa was proud when I announced that I was going to further my studies.
He always empowered me.
In more ways than one.
Except when it came to the matters of the heart, I was clueless as my sister. My father preached to me that love will not guarantee me a stress free life.
“I have not met your brother, Marco. Is he as charming as Deno?” I tease, aware that my sister is hoping to get chosen by Marco. I have not seen the man in person but his brother, Deno is a regular when Reno is around. His dark humor always welcome. If I could say it aloud, I would call him a friend.
But it has been a while since I have seen him. There are rumors that the Famiglia is shifting power. And Deno Catelli is the name whispered as the main player.
Unlike my sisters and most women of the Famiglia and even the ones that make up the 5th State, I know the dealings of our men.
Growing up I was always ashamed of having only half Italian blood. My papa told me to be proud of the Bratva’s blood in my veins. He said our women were strong but the Russian’s made their women unbreakable.
He said I am unbreakable. I like to believe that is true.
“He’s hard work, thank fuck you don’t have to marry for power or you might just be stuck with one of my clan.” He laughs and I smack his arm knowing he is teasing me because of Leonardo.
Reno has known about my affections for his brother from that first day.
“I have to leave you ladies now. Guilia, it was lovely seeing you again. And my Yana Banana. I’ll be your plus one tonight, so wear something short and fleshy.” He winks at me as he saunters off.
“He has a sexy butt, your friend must sleep really well.” My sister sighs as she watches Reno leave.
“It’s the hormones. Control them, we have three hours to get ready, let’s go, our stepmother will be bitching a fit if we’re late.”
“I don’t know why you care so much about her,” Giulia says.
“She is Elia and Serena’s mother, we don’t have a choice.” My sister opens the black Mercedes as she takes off her light blue heels and throws them in the back of the convertible.
Her skin tight jeans and Blue top screams sexy, she is so tall that I know she could have done well in modeling.
My short form, pale skin, blue eyes and ash blonde hair is everything that sets us apart.
Our thin built is the one thing we share from our father.
“There is always a choice, we can go Gunzo on her and zap zap, ditch the body. Who would know?” Guilia says it like that can be an option as she starts the car. I slam my door closed.
“Ilaria is papa’s wife, we can’t go zap zap, or someone would zap zap us,” I inform my sister. We both hate the woman but tolerate her, I more than Guilia.
But my sister is lucky there, as she is the eldest daughter, and my eldest brother, Filippo will never let anyone harm our spirited sister.
We get home in an hour. The familiarity of it is welcomed to me as I have lived here for a while, with my papa.
This house is one of my fathers’ many properties. Like most in the Famiglia, my father has legitimate businesses and The 5th State ones.
The four floor Mansion me and my sister walk into is one of the legitimate things he owns. Real Estate.
“Hello, siamo a casa papa.” We are home papa
My papa doesn’t respond. He is either busy or out back in the gardens.
“You two are quite cheerful today, excited for tonight.”
Filippo my eldest brother walks out from the open arch way leading to the study. His voice is deep and loud as his big smile makes us giddy. I haven’t seen him in a month.
He looks handsome and refined in his navy suit and grey tie, Guilia and I picked out for him last week.
We both say my brother is a handsomer version of Christian Grey. He has grey/brown eyes and dark hair which is almost black. His jaw is clean shaven and when he smiles he has a dimple just under his eye.
“I didn’t know you were here, Papa said you would make it only tonight.” I say as my brother kisses me first on my cheeks, then my sister.
“Ah, Papa, wanted to surprise you.” He grabs us by one hand each and we follow him.
We know Filippo, he has got us something. He is always giving us presents.
I hear the sound of my other sister and brother, as we pass the back door leading to the pool. We like to call them the devil twins. They could burn the house down without a match stick.
“Papa is gone out, he took my car, should be back in a few, but I got something for the two of you.” He says as he opens the garage door.
I see it first and squeal jumping like a mad thing. It is a Lime Green Ashton Martin Vantage. My sister takes a few seconds to realize that this is the car we have wanted forever.
She jumps with me and we both throw ourselves at Filippo.
I kiss his cheeks and he laughs, trying to hold both of us.
Guilia almost falls but someone stops her and she makes a funny noise that has me releasing my brother and looking at the man that has his arm around my sister’s waist.
He is older, his early to mid-thirties. He has broad shoulders that stand out behind his suit jacket and a lethal presence that has me frowning.
His black eyes send shivers everywhere through my body as it stares at me while my sister takes a step back. The eyes of a killer.
A dark shadowed face and black unkempt hair is unlike a Made-Man but everything else is exact. From the shiny tan shoes, to the tailored cream pants and matching jacket.
He is a Made-Mad-Man.
I have always been attracted to a man with big hands. It is the only reason as to why my eyes go to his. Thick, long fingers, with veins around his knuckles and a long cut on his forefinger, makes me swallow hard. His hands can easily wrap around my neck, overpowering me. I frown, looking at his hand because he is currently holding that hand out waiting for me to take it.
Everything in me is screaming not to touch him. My body wants to run, so why is that I can’t drop my eyes from his.
I don’t want to be rude and disrespect my brother so I put my big pants on and my small hand in his. He closes his fingers around my dainty ones. His touch is rough, and firm, and his hands are neither cold nor warm. I don’t appreciate my bodies reaction to him. My pulse that beats on my wrist, the flush coming to my cheeks. The heat I feel emanating from his eyes.
He is staring, Aliyana. Don’t let him know you are affected by him.
“It is a pleasure to meet you..” His voice is deep, too deep, I don’t like it. He senses my need to remove my hand and grips it tighter. The action has my eyes stabbing right through his. Black, black eyes. Evil. But even evil is beauty. I deny the slight kick I get when his mouth twitches. He is waiting for my name. I need to tell him.
“Aliyana, I am Filippo’s sister.”
“Ah, Aliyana. I am Marco,” He replies.
He drops it, but not before brushing the inside of my palm as he does. The touch is intimate. The most intimate thing I have ever experienced no doubt in my sheltered life. Living with the four guys didn’t make me have more freedom. In fact it made any privacy impossible.
I take a step away, removing myself from our close proximity and behold my eyes, walking closer to us is Leonardo Catelli. He is a mystery to the Catelli bloodline. Where his brothers are dark, he is light. Brown eyes that are perfect, look at me, and as always, I remain like a statue. Marco is tall, but Leonardo is much taller than his older brother.
“You two go inside, we need to talk business. The keys to the car are on the dresser in my room, you can drive to Azure tonight.” Filippo orders us and I kiss my brother as my sister moons over Marco. I have to pull her arm so she comes inside with me. And even then she turns her head around at least a few times. I do it once, as I close the door to our home. One day I would ask myself why my gaze is drawn to Marco Catelli, a man with mad eyes and not the one whom I want. Dark vs Light.
“We are stalkers Yana.” My sister mumbles from next to me.
I don’t miss Leonardo watching us with a small smile on his thick lips.
We’ve been peeping from the top of my bedroom window at the three of them for the last twenty minutes.
They have now taken their discussion to the patio. Sitting on the large out door lounge suites we purchased just two days ago. It makes it easier for us to see them.
He is so cute. “Leonardo and you will make a great couple Aliyana, imagine what your babies would look like, and Marco, ah Yana.” She groans my name nudging me on my king size bed.
I sigh, throwing myself flat on the black and purple bedding, looking at the ceiling, “He is the guy for me, tonight at the dinner I am going to make my move.”
“We need to go shopping,” My sister declares, her eyes widening with glee. But not even this moment, can we hide her fear of tonight.
She will become betroth to a Made-man of my father’s choosing tonight.
Who? I don’t know, my papa has not mentioned it. After tonight my sister will prepare for her engagement. The only thing that keeps us sane about this night, is that my papa will choose well and Marco and Deno will also be choosing their brides. My sister is hoping for Marco, but Deno is a better choice in my opinion. My forehead scrunches into a frown as I relive that split second when Marco touched my palm. It was a graze, but I feel like it is something more.
I stare at my sister, knowing what lies ahead.
Every family has their fortunate ones and the unfortunate. For mine it was my parent’s marriage been that of the fortunate.
My mother was a woman, a 9th generation member of the Bratva. She was also the love of my father’s life.
My father, born and raised to be a powerful member of the Famiglia, a Consigliere to the Capo Dei Capi, The boss of all bosses. He is the one who controls the entire 5th State, or as commoners know it as the Underworld.
All the Capo’s regardless of whether you were Italian or Irish, answered to him.
Whoever he is, nobody knows besides a select few. My father is one of those people.
When the Russians landed in New York, they agreed a peace offering. A marriage between my mother and Papa was negotiated.
My parents were young and fortunate, as they fell in love with each other and all was good, in fact Papa said it was amazing. The Russians and the Italians were happy, until the time came for the offering. The Bratva agreed on peace on one condition, that the first child which they’d hoped was a boy would be given to them at age 5. But my mother bore a girl and when the time came, they couldn’t do it.
So, the Famiglia protected her as they knew how.
Until the Capo of the Famiglia declared an end to his reign, and the new Capo rose. The decision was not made by the Capo Dei Capi as my sister’s life wasn’t that important that they take it to the true head. And our Capo seemed to have frozen his heart and gave my sister away. A deal is a deal, he said.
She was the unfortunate of my family. I, however am the fortunate sibling.
I’ve never met my sister. I was the last of my mother’s children to be born. She died when I was three so I don’t remember much. My father remarried as is custom in our world. And finally managed to produce another male. I, being the Russian’s daughter will never be forced to marry.
I am born free to have a choice of whom I choose to marry as long as he is in the Famiglia, which is fine by me. I always wished to be with Leonardo. Staring at my ceiling, I have to admit that when I saw him today, my attention was not the one he sought.