“So is Raffaele the assistant manager?”
“No, he’s responsible for the hookers. He makes sure we have enough of them available at all times. He works together with Tommaso for that purpose.”
My nose wrinkled, my standard reaction to hearing his name. Dante cocked one blond eyebrow. “Is this because of the prostitution, or because of Tommaso? I thought you were friends with his wife Bibiana.”
“Bibiana is my best friend, which is why I can’t stand that man. I don’t suppose there’s any chance that Tommaso might be a traitor, so you can get rid of him?”
Dante scanned my face. “You are being serious.”
“Yes. He’s been treating Bibiana like dirt since they married. I wouldn’t shed a single tear if you put a bullet in his head.”
For a couple of heartbeats, our eyes locked and I got the impression that Dante wouldn’t have minded a moment of privacy with me either, but then the moment was gone. “He’s a loyal soldier. He’s never given me any reason to doubt him. There’s nothing I can do about him.”
“Not even if I tell you that he’s raping Bibiana?” I knew Bibiana didn’t want people to know but maybe Dante could help. It wasn’t as if he would tell others about it.
He put his hand on the door handle, his eyes bleak. “She’s his wife.”
“That doesn’t mean he can rape her,” I hissed.
“I know, but I can’t tell my men how they’re supposed to treat their wives. Even a Capo can’t interfere in a marriage. My decision to forbid rape as punishment or entertainment was already met with resentment.”
I looked away to hide how emotional this topic made me. Sometimes it was easy to forget the horrible things happening in the Outfit.
“Are you ready to go in? Raffaele and Leo, the assistant manager, are waiting in your office to meet you.”
I took a deep breath, then I nodded.
Dante opened the door, and his hand still pressed against my back, he led me into a long corridor with five more doors.
“I assume these aren’t for the public eye unlike the doors branching off the main floor?”
“Yes. This is only for you and the other employees. The doors outside lead into several rooms that the prostitutes can use with their customers.”
I nodded. It was surreal that I would soon work here.
Dante steered me toward the door at the end of the hallway and opened it. Behind it was a spacious windowless office with a desk, a meeting table with six chairs, a sofa, and two chairs facing the desk. Raffaele, who was a couple of years younger than me, and a middle-aged man with a mustache occupied the chairs. Both rose when Dante and I entered. My eyes were immediately drawn to Raffaele’s hand. His finger had been re-attached by the Outfit doctor but it stuck out and was obviously stiff.
“Raffaele, Leo,” Dante said coolly, dropping his hand from my back to shake their hands. Then he gestured toward me. “This is my wife, Valentina. As I told you yesterday, she’ll be taking Dino’s place.” I assumed that was the guy who’d filled his pockets with Outfit money.
I tilted my head, hoping to appear self-confident. I shook first Leo’s hand, who was a few inches smaller than me, then Raffaele’s. Both men greeted me friendly but I could see in their eyes that they were unhappy with Dante’s choice to involve me in Outfit business. They couldn’t possibly like having a woman as their boss, even if Leo would still do most of the management work.
“Why don’t you show Valentina around? You know the ins and outs of this place better than I do,” Dante said to Leo, who nodded before facing me with a stiff smile. “This way,” he said as he walked out of the room and headed back to the main floor. “Our opening hours are from six in the evening until six in the morning. Of course sometimes a group of high rollers wants to book the place for a different time slot. Then we open for them.”
It wasn’t even noon yet, so there was still plenty of time before the casino opened its doors. That explained why everything was still deserted. I pointed toward a booth. “Is that where customers exchange their money for chips?”
Leo nodded. “Yes. If a customer doesn’t have any money, we offer them credits.”
“At fair interest rates, I’m sure,” I joked.
“Of course,” Leo agreed with a toothless smile.
“And if they don’t pay back our money, who takes care of it then?”
“The same soldiers who collect all of our money,” Dante said. He was trailing behind us. I wasn’t sure if he was making sure that the men were acting civilized or if he wanted to see how I was handling myself.
“I assume this is an by-invitation-only place, so how does word get around? Do customers have to sign some kind of non-disclosure clause?”
Raffaele snorted, but fell silent when Dante shot him a glower.
“We don’t need non-disclosure clauses. We tell customers that they can’t tell people about this unless they ask us for permission in advance and we do a background check on the person. Our customers know to keep their mouths shut.”
“Nobody wants to mess with us unless they have a death wish,” Raffaele said proudly.
Raffaele was starting to grate on my nerves. He was a bit too sure of himself. Losing a finger didn’t seem to have diminished his self-esteem. “And you are responsible for the girls?”
“I make sure the whores make our customers happy. And I choose the sluts who sit at the bar to get the men horny and I also decide who’s going to be one of the complimentary girls. I test all of them to make sure they know how to suck a cock and can take it up their asses. Anal is a must. Most poor bastards don’t get that at home.”
Dante’s eyes were burning with anger but he wasn’t interfering. Maybe he thought it would make me look weak. I was going to be the head of this casino after all. “I hope you don’t talk like that around customers,” I said to Raffaele.