During the week, Celeste worked only from the G&F Club and Casino in her office. This office was the only place in the whole city where she could get her work done, the only place where she could actually feel like herself. The office had a large oak desk that held her computer, pictures of her family and one very old photograph of her grandfather with his late brothers. The walls were lined with bookshelves that held accounts for the club, transactions made with the families from Italy and journals her grandfather wrote.
She was working on the new trade deal with deciding what half to give to the Russians and the other half to the Boerio’s. This would take her the majority of the day, Celeste would have no time for any more distractions like the bread deliveries, the new menus for the new restaurant, and what wine to buy was going to drive her crazy.
“Mistress, we have a problem that needs addressing,” Clyde opened the door to her office.
“Speak,” not even looking up from her writing.
Clyde closed the large oak door to keep whatever he had to say private. “It involves Sabine; she has been “escaping” the Teppistas-”
Celeste immediately snapped her head up, “‘What do you mean “escaping?!’”
“She was trained by you in the arts of stealth and assassination Mistress.”
“That does not mean that you are incompetent to find a teenage girl! You are a group that have more resources than the FBI or the CIA!”
“Mistress, I do not believe that is the problem here. She knows the shift changes and where we position ourselves when we follow her. Sabine has been sneaking off after school, in the middle of the night, and countless other times to go off and see to our knowledge a male.”
“A male? We do not know a name, address, or even a damn confirmation on gender?!”
“You see it is a little bit more complicated than that too Mistress-”
Before Clyde could finish, Celeste could hear the doors to the restaurant slam open. The other cue that the presence of her daughter was here was the screaming. “Where is my mother! I want to speak to her NOW! I DO NOT CARE IF SHE IS IN A MEETING I DEMAND TO SEE HER!”
Celeste came out to balcony, looking over to see her daughter steaming and a brand new shade of red. “Why are you sneaking around behind my back to see some boy?” Celeste placed her hands on the railing to set her tone as firm.
“Why are you snooping into my business? I deserve to have a life separate from all of this! I had to tell Kennedy and Hannah that I couldn’t go out with them on Saturday night because I had to study for a test. I don’t study for tests, like ever! I had to go out with uncle Antony to interrogate an arms dealer. What teenager my age wants to be doing that?! I want a life!”
Celeste rolled her eyes. She jumped from the balcony and landing right in front of her daughter. “That is no reason to go around sneaking behind my back to spend time with a boy I have no knowledge about. You know the rule: Teppistas follow you no matter what. They are there for your-”
“Your protection, blah blah blah. I get it. I’ve heard this lecture since I could walk. I swear to you that he is not some man who is going to kill me because you are my mother and I was born into the wrong family.” Sabine crossed her arms and rolled her eyes.
Celeste sighed, knowing full well that she would not be able to get through to her daughter unless she met her half way. It is just a faze, it is just a faze. “Bean, I just want you to be safe. You are one of my own. If you would have just told me before you decided to go sneaking around I could have had Anya go and look into his background for you.”
“Mother, first do not call me Bean. Second, I know you would have had him kidnapped and told to never see me again and he would be moved half way across the world just to get away from me after what you would do to him in interrogation.”
“Then how would you, miss all-knowing of her mother’s actions, would like for him to be involved in your life as well as mine? If he is that precious to you.”
“Let him come to dinner please, we can invite him to the dinner that the Estar’s are coming to. So I know that you will keep your claws in.”
“Can I at least have a name for this boy? And don’t you dare give me a fake name Sabine Lilianna Milano-Caito,” Celeste’s eyes burned into her daughters.
“His name is Martin Stevens. Marty for short. And if you look into him in any way I will find out about it.”
“I would never dream of it Bean,” Celeste smiled as she climbed back up the stairs.
“I could only gather up a handful of information on such a short notice,” Anya placed the file on the vanity beside Celeste.
She was getting ready for the dinner that night, putting on her Martha Stewart face always was a slow effort. “I’ve seen you gather up more information on even shorter notice.”
“I have seven children, a spy network, covering up any mistakes and being the chief of police all in the same day. I had one of my own look into him. Normally when you put in the request yourself off the record I do it myself. I will send updates to you as I receive them under the code name Black Widow.” Anya stood behind her like a solider, back straight as a pole and as stiff as a board.
“Anya, please relax. It makes me tense to see you so professional on a simple recon,” Celeste applied her blush as she looked at her through the mirror.
“Sorry, I forget sometimes. Women in power and all that.”
“Sit on the bed and tell me what is in the file,” Celeste turned around to face Anya directly.
“Martin Christopher Stevens was born and raised in the City. He was born August 23, 1996. His father, Richard P. Stevens, is a journalist for the New York Times in the political section. His mother, Eleonore K. Dickenson-Stevens, is a neonatal nurse for one of the local hospitals. Martin graduated from high school last year, he played basketball against the children as a rival school. He currently still lives at his parent’s house and has no job. He moves from temp job to temp job. Apparently all of his bosses were women and each claimed that they were sad to see him go. He currently is unemployed but still uses Mommy and Daddy’s money like there is no tomorrow.”
“Is there anything below the surface that you were able to uncover?”
“Nothing yet, I am afraid. But if you give me time I can build a more stable portfolio on him for you Celeste.”
“Please do, also make sure that you are not seen by Sabine while tracking this poor boy she considers as a man. You and I did train her after all.” Celeste turned back around to finish the Martha Stewart mask.
“Is there anything else that you need?”
“No, go home and say hello to Gerald and the kids for me. Come for dinner this Saturday, we are planning a barbeque and outdoor sleep out for all of the little ones.”
“Thank you for the invitation, ma’am, we will be sure to make it.”
Celeste and Anna-Maria finished looking over the final details before the guests arrived. They both decided that the theme should be around a barbeque so that the Estar’s would not feel uncomfortable on the first visit. The other god families were coming to as support for the Estar’s to assimilate better into the family.
“Should the dinner be a more serve yourself or be served by the dining staff?” Anna-Maria looked over her check list.
“I think a more serve yourself because we do not want to overwhelm the Estar’s on their first night. They are not used to the lifestyle that we have.” Celeste moved the center pieces on the table more to the left.
They walked out to the patio to see the preparation on the burgers, ribs, and hot dogs.
“The car sent to the Estar’s house just arrived to their house and are waiting to return. Sabine should be arriving any minute with Martin,” Clyde came through the door, “The car’s GPS was approximately three miles away. She should be here in five minutes.”
“Good,” Celeste released a large sigh, “I want this night to be perfect, without any problems.”
“I think that everything should be fine,” Anna-Maria assured her elder sister.
“Sure, tell the person who killed her guests husband that everything will be fine. Let us see how long we can go along with that type of brute honesty shall we?” Celeste walked back into the house and paced around the kitchen twenty-five times before Clyde came in to announce the arrival of the Estar’s.
Celeste ran to the front door to watch her new family climb out of the car slowly, carefully. Diana Estar was everything that Celeste was not. She was plain of face, though she was beautiful in a different aspect. Her hair was curled to frame her heart shaped face, with just the hint of makeup. She was dressed in simple clothes but still made her look like she had more warmth in her whole body than Celeste did in her pinky finger.
Her son on the other hand could have passed off as one of the Ciatos. Jacob had a built body, like he underwent one of her Antony III’s training exercises. Jacob had a small scar over his left eyebrow, making Celeste wonder where it came from. She had no knowledge of him ever going to the hospital, receiving any injuries, or playing any sports where you can get hit in the face like that. Jacob took one look at Celeste and she could see it in his eyes. That same cold, calculating look that she saw every time she looked in the mirror.
“Diana, Jacob. Welcome to our home. I hope that you can find it like your second home,” Celeste smiled.
“Thank you for inviting us,” Diana spoke in such a soft voice that Celeste almost could not hear her.
“It is our pleasure. No one deserves to be alone in a time of need. We will be here for anything that you may need. What kind of husband leaves their wife for a dog walker?” Celeste’s voice was as sincere as she could manage. She knew she brought the desired result when Diana had tears welling in her eyes. “Now, let us go inside and get in a more festive mood.”
It was not until after introductions to the family, the simple pleasantries about the house and invitation, the tour of the house and the grounds, and even into the beginning of the meal that Sabine was announced at the entrance. She came into the dining room with the family could only assume was the elusive Marty. He did not seem that impressive to anyone in the room except to Sabine. He looked like the typical jock boy who became yesterday’s news once he graduated from high school; way too confident for anyone to be patient with, a cocky attitude, and no sense that the same four stories would drive even the biggest sports fanatic insane.
“Sabine, how wonderful that you decide to grace us with your presence in a middle of dinner.” The sarcasm was practically dripping off Bruno, making everyone smile.
“I’m sorry we got a little side-tracked,” Sabine giggled.
“Yeah we took a little bit of a detour,” Marty added on causing even more giggles to erupt from Sabine.
Anna-Maria was able to clear her throat just in time before Celeste could even open her mouth, “Why don’t I show you two the food out on the patio?” She got out of her chair and herded the couple out to the patio, shutting the door behind them.
As silence slowly filled the room, Bruno managed to speak first, “So Ms. Estar, what exactly do you do for a living?”
The small woman snapped out of her quiet trance, “I work the night shift as a nurse for the Bellevue Hospital right off of 1st Ave near Midtown. I might have to pick up more shifts now.” Ms. Estar got quiet again and went back to looking down at her untouched plate of food.
“Now that will not be an issue at all, Diana.” Celeste took her hand, “If you ever need anything, and I mean anything at all, we would be happy to help you by any means necessary.”
That cheered Ms. Estar up just a little bit more, taking a small tentative bite of her food.
“That goes for you too Jacob,” Celeste continued eating her meal, “I don’t want you to ever feel like you cannot receive the best opportunities in life just because your deadbeat father decided to be unfaithful.”
“Thank you so much for your concern. I really do appreciate that,” Jacob smiled down the table to Celeste and continued to eat his ribs.
So far Celeste was able to put together small bits and pieces about the Estars, they really did not like to talk much. That meant they both had something to hide. I wonder if they know about Sam’s death? Celeste thought to herself as she continued smiling and taking a sip of her wine.
Anna-Maria came back in with Sabine and Marty. “Now that is what I call an appetite!” Bruno laughed when Marty came in with two heaping plate-fulls of food.
“I am used to eating like the athlete diet. I can’t help it. When I see something I want, I can’t get enough. Isn’t that right babe?” Marty winked over at Sabine, who continued to sound like she was on laughing gas with as much as she was giggling.
“Well why don’t we all enjoy the meal that Anna-Maria so graciously helped to cook. Hm?” Celeste stared daggers towards her daughter’s new conquest, while still giving an Oscar winning performance. I swear this child is going to be the death of me one day.
“Ah, yes. I would definitely say that this all looks delightful. Certainly better than that dinner we had to attend last week with the Congressman Crowley and his wife,” Vincente signaled for another glass of wine, “I guess you could say that he is just crowling for votes.” He and Anna-Maria started laughing at his joke so hard that everyone else just had to join in.
Bruno practically had tears in his eyes, “How long have you been waiting to tell that joke Vinny?”
Finally calming himself down, Vincente took in a deep breath, “Oh far too long, Bruno, far too long.”
For some you could say that the whole evening went off without a hitch. For this family, three avoided arguments, one child screaming, a fight over who got the last helping of mac-n-cheese, and the nauseous display of Sabine and Marty…you could say that, for the most part, it went as smoothly as any other family dinner would for this family.