“Mom,” protested Gloria. “I don’t have a ring yet.” Her face flushed with mortification at their mother’s remark.
“No, but you two have been talking, haven’t you? No, no, Marla,” said her mother to a cousin, “put the bread in that basket there, yes.”
Chrissy watched the exchange between her mother and sister with rapt interest. This was a shift, and a huge one. Marcus had held out against marriage, hoping to leverage his relationship with the Dom’s granddaughter as a career move. Everyone knew that, except Gloria, who was over-the-moon in love with the lug. Marcus must be ready to make a move up in the organization. And that was interesting. Pandolfo Serafina never acted warmly toward Marcus, precisely because the man mixed his professional ambitions with his private ones. What had changed?
“Come,” said her mother. “Grandpa Pandolfo’s been waiting for you.”
Good and fucked.
That summed it up perfectly.
Saks wanted to leave the dinner table even if it meant showing a massive lack of respect toward his grand-uncle. But he had a score to settle, so he sat through dinner as Uncle Vits chatted happily about the benefits of merging the Serafina family with the Roccos. At any other time, Vits spit what vipers the Serafina were and how you couldn't trust a single one.
His hypocrisy sickened Saks, and the fried calamari soured in his stomach, which was a shame. He liked calamari, especially his mother’s.
Vits joked with Saks’ father, while Saks’ mother did the Italian thing and didn’t speak a word except to exhort the men to eat. She was superb at playing the perfect Italian wife here in front of Vits. But Marie Parks, née Rocco, didn’t hold back within the confines of her immediate family.
Saks’ sister smirked at him through the whole meal. He’d talk to Terri later. First, he just had to bide his time with Uncle Vits.
Finally, Vits left after giving the men hugs and the women kisses on their cheeks. “We’ll set up a meeting, eh? With the Serafina girl. You’ll take her to a nice restaurant; Vincente’s, eh?” Before Saks could protest that the restaurant was out of his price range, Vits quickly continued. “I’ll pay. No problem. And when it comes time for the ring, I’ll cover that, too. My wedding present.”
Saks’ father gave his son a warning look. Maybe that was because of the murder forming in Saks’ own eyes. He glimpsed his face in the hallway mirror by the front door. Even he wouldn’t want to face someone with an expression that fierce on his mug.
“That’s generous, Uncle Vits,” Saks said between gritted teeth.
Vits nodded as if their meeting was concluded in agreement, and left. When the door shut behind him, the shit hit the fan.
“What the hell was that about!” snapped Saks. “Is this what I’m supposed to expect at Sunday dinner now?”
His mother and father stared at him, shock plastered on their faces. Terri scampered up the stairs, ostensibly to her room. But Saks knew she’d listen at the head of the staircase, just as she had through her teen years.
“Anthony,” said his mother. “Settle down.”
“Settle down! How am I supposed to do that? This is outrageous! I expect behavior like this from you, old man,” he said to his father, “but Mom? What the hell were you two thinking?”
“You’ll not talk to you mother like that,” his father said with a scowl, as if Saks hadn’t addressed him, too.
“What? After what you two have done? Bull fuckin’ shit!”
“Anthony!” protested his mother.
“You talk to him, Marie,” snapped his father. His face twisted in scowl as he pushed his way past Saks, his body taut. Insufferably, his father often handed off heavy emotional scenes to his wife. But today Saks couldn’t agree with him more. If the old man stayed a single minute longer, Saks might hit him.
“Come, Anthony,” his mother said. “Come have another cannoli.”
“I don’t want another cannoli! What I want is an explanation.”
His mother’s eyes peered up at him in appeal, and tears formed along the edges.
Saks sighed. His mother had always claimed a soft spot in his heart, and he’d never gotten angry with her in his entire adult life. “Okay, okay. I’ll have another cannoli.”
Marie Parks wiped at her eyes with her sleeve. “Come to the kitchen,” she said, casting a knowing gaze toward the stairs where Terri was eavesdropping.
Saks followed his mother to the kitchen, though his whole meal was roiling in his stomach. She motioned for him to sit at the long table which sat center in the long room. Bright white cabinets lined the kitchen on either side. Black granite counter tops and gray marble tile set off the upper cabinets, with plain glass windows from the more utilitarian bottom cabinets. His mother quickly filled another cannoli and set it before her son. She nodded her head toward the confection and waited until he took a bite to speak.
“We worry about you with that motorcycle club of yours.”
She’s a devious woman, thought Saks. There was no way to reply while he navigated a mouthful of cream and crunchy outer shell. And it was too good not to eat.