"Do you like Sicily?" Ricci asked quietly.
The question caught Siena by surprise. Whether or not she liked Sicily was hardly the question. Her uncle and her had definitely not come miles just to find that out.
"Why do you care?" Siena asked in turn, serving herself a glass of drink. "Aren't you supposed to be bitter about your money?"
"No," Ricci replied. "Consider it a wedding present."
Siena who had wine in her mouth spat it out to the side in surprise as the words left Ricci's mouth.
The red drink began to spread on the paved floor.
Ricci was thoroughly amused. The people who lived in America were quite dramatic, he thought. But beyond that, it was the sheer annoyance in those eyes at the word "wedding" that got him. If Siena felt the same way he did about marriage, then he most definitely had found his match. In the least, she would not come into the marriage with too many expectations. His own plans for marriage were unconventional. After all, this was a strategic marriage.
"I talked to your uncle about the marriage between you and me," Ricci announced. "They are my terms to seal the peace between our two families. Your uncle has accepted. He has told me to inform you."
"Inform me or ask me?" Siena asked enraged. "Do I look like a doll that can be bought and sold? What do you think? That I would accept because you asked? Who do you think you are?"
"It is hardly a choice," Ricci replied, ignoring her outburst. "You have wronged me- by extension, your family has, and I am to be appeased. These are my terms."
Siena trained her eyes on him. "Take a good look at me, do I look like wife material to you? Do I? If you need a wife, look elsewhere. You most probably need a wife that will love and support you. I? I will put you through hell."
Ricci smirked. He loved her feisty, fiery personality. It was one of the things that first struck him when he met her. This was their second meeting and she was near screaming his own head off.
"You will hardly have too many wifely duties," Ricci replied her. "You will not be doing any chores- we have enough help for that. The marriage I propose is hardly going to be emotionally tasking. The marriage is devoid of any sentimental attachments, except it seems so to the outside world. And in return, you will have all you want. I just want the unity of our families; the alliances we will make that will be mutually profitable to both families; I want a share in your territories as I will share some of mine; I want your loyalty, Siena...Your support, your skill, your body. Everything."
Siena dropped the glass in her hand. "f**k you."
It was Ricci's turn to smile. "Sure," he replied. "Time and place?"
Siena looked like she would explode in anger.
She got up then. It annoyed her that she had not had an inkling of any of this. When Ricci and her uncle had conversed in Italian, it never occurred to her that it had everything to do with a marriage. A marriage she had not consented to.
"Ricci DiAmbrossi," Siena said in an even voice. "Do you really think you can make me do what you want? Well, here's a newsflash for you. I am as pig-headed as they come. I don't care if you have the whole of Sicily under your grip. I am a boss in my own right. In New York, we make our enemies tremble at the thought of us. You can come with your army. It will be quite bloody, but I am not giving you my freedom." Siena brought her sunglasses down over her eyes. "I'll see you in New York."
"You do like blood," Ricci said thoughtfully. "If you liked the sight of blood so much, you should have been a doctor, not a mafioso. Another seven days." Ricci paused." I give you another seven days to reconsider. After that, I will respond in my own way. I will get what I want, Siena."
Siena stomped across the patio to the doors that led inside the study. Ricci watched her leave, then he leaned into the small table and poured herself another glass of drink.
He sat there until Siena and her uncle as well as their men were gone, escorted by his own men.
He had instructed his consigliere to hand over the paperwork holding the marriage contract to Agostino.
He sat at the patio until his next meeting- which was at four o'clock- and all through, a pair of brown eyes dominated his vision, wisps of hair that had escaped the messy knot framing those eyes as they fluttered in the breeze.
She would be back, he knew. It was only a matter of time.
It was exactly three days after the meeting with Siena. Ricci was swimming in his pool just behind his mansion. The sun was high in the sky that morning. It was close to mid-day and Ricci had gone swimming to relax. The last two days had been stressful, as usual, but seeing as he had a lighter schedule that day, he decided to engage in one of the few hobbies he rarely had.
He had done a few laps that morning and had reached the edge on the other side of the pool which connected to rows of shade trees planted for the purpose.
He broke to the surface and saw his consigliere waiting-on the opposing side-invariably, for him. Ricci covered the distance between them and broke out of the cool water.
He climbed out of the pool and strode on the paved floor.
A towel was waiting for him on a high stool like he had asked for earlier.
Now he took the towel and swiped at his face, and then his hair. The curly locks were dripping with water and water continued to run down his temples.
He dropped the towel back and picked up a shirt. He buttoned the shirt over his chest, muscles pulsing as he walked towards Federico.
He reached his consigliere and motioned to two chairs by the side of the pool. When they reached the chairs, they made themselves comfortable.
"What do you think," Federico asked, "will they agree to your demands?"