Over a period of time Tony got used to seeing more of Sofia around his house. If it kept Marcia in check, it was no skin off his nose. Although he had been quite satisfied that cutting Marcia down to size would keep her under control, he was nonetheless relieved to have someone for her and an auntie for his kids. Sofia increasingly stayed over at weekends; he was OK with that.
However, the way that Sofia behaved to him was completely nonchalant, totally relaxed. What was it with her? How about showing bit of fear and respect?'
Sofia didn’t find out that Tony had beaten up Marcia and never did. She did become closer to Marcia though through both pregnancies and had rationalised that impending motherhood must heighten Marcia’s sense of family.
Sofia was happy to be Marcia’s friend, particularly because it put her closer to the aura of Tony’s power. She never got so close though that she would stop trying to get even closer to Tony. Observing Tony’s ambivalence towards Marcia, and sensing that having babies might put a sexual strain on their relationship, Sofia rationalised that she would be doing them both a service.
On finding out the nature of Tony’s business, rather than being appalled by it as most young women might, Sofia was enthralled.
Further discovering that Tony was boss, the head-honcho, and that her sister was his wife, only served to fascinate her. Sofia started to see Tony in a different light. His disinterest in her, despite being his sister-in-law, and dismissive behaviour heightened this fascination. She developed a crush on Tony, or maybe his power, which was a strong aphrodisiac. Her distance from Marcia had kept Sofia in check though.
Until now, when Marcia wanted a friend.
Sofia had never warmed to Tony. She'd never warmed to Marcia either, from the jealousy a younger girl might feel for her older sibling. Marcia seemed to have 'married well', to Tony, a successful businessman who enabled her sister to live in style, denied little by way of material things.
The girls' family background had been somewhat of a struggle and Marcia's apparent good fortune had catapulted her out of this. Sofia wasn't so lucky yet... and she wanted everything that Marcia had.
Only recently had she become aware of what Tony's 'business' was. Was that something she would want?
Marcia had balls. In her marriage to Tony she had somehow managed to face him down and gave as good as she got. Her strong features matched a strong character and a strong determination to do things her way.
Unfortunately, doing things her way had finally prompted Tony to put her in her place for once and for all. His beating and the unveiled threat to her life had, for once, scared her into submission. The having kids thing she regarded as sensible and a bit of insurance for her survival. But then she needed a friend.
Sofia would do.
Marcia never had many girlfriends. Some women are like that. Likewise, her relationship with her only sibling, her sister Sofia, had never been particularly close. Until now when she had been isolated by Tony into performing the role of mother and little else.
Sofia was 4 years younger than Marcia, but they looked very similar. They were both very striking. Whilst Terry's Livia was undoubtedly extremely pretty, Marcia and Sofia had the facial architecture that set them out as women to be reckoned with. Terry was seduced by a pretty face, but Tony favoured strong looks, as befits the bossman.
By now, Tony pretty much had contempt for Marcia. Any love had evaporated years ago, but he still maintained rights over her. With Tony disinterested, Marcia attempted to enjoy herself, having now ‘done her duty’ by him. She slept around, very carefully, so that Tony or any of his people wouldn’t find out. But of course he did. After all, he had a phone locating app.
But now he had a family too. Two lovely little kids needing a mum, so Marcia was allowed to continue living, under almost custodial conditions, while her lovers never resurfaced, each having suddenly disappeared.
“Do as you’re told and you can live like a princess and I won’t bother you again unless you really step out of line”.
Marcia agreed, secretly telling herself to be careful not to be seen stepping out of line. But by then she was pregnant, producing a girl, Giovanna, and eighteen months later, after strong pressure and veiled threat, she delivered Tony a son, Alfredo.
As far as Tony was concerned then she had done what he wanted, he had an heir and spare. He lost interest in Marcia after that, but still kept her on a tight rein.
Realising that Marcia had been doing the same thing as Livia, but out in the open, Tony evened things by beating up Marcia too. Tony wasn’t going to be made a monkey of by her, so he searched and found all her contraceptive pills, flushed them away and had his way with her over and over during the week that she was ‘indisposed’.
Marcia screamed that he hemmed her in. Tony made it clear that unless she kept her mouth shut, his network was wide and deep, and she might find her style really cramped, ‘like in a car crusher!’
Livia, whose instinct normally kept her out of trouble, had misjudged things badly. After Tony’s visit, she had nobody she could to talk to, certainly not Terry. So she dealt with it all by talking to Luka while he was sleeping. He wouldn’t understand what she was talking about… not yet, she figured.
Luka was a smart boy who eventually would work out what his mum had been mumbling about. But not right now.
The strange thing was that despite the beating Tony gave Livia, she was even more attracted to him. The same couldn’t be said for Marcia though.
As he’d beaten her, Tony had explained to Livia he was within an inch of strangling her, but out of respect for Terry, who for some crazy reason still adored her, and despite what she’d done, he stopped short. Tony told her she was going to be under his beady eye for the foreseeable future and if she was smart, she would give Terry the second child he wanted. She agreed, somewhat nervously, and the price of her survival was to tell nobody about what had gone on, even her best friends.
Because if it got out, she was dead.
The way Tony had explained things made it clear to Terry that Livia had taken a beating. He had no idea what would greet him when he got home. He needn’t have worried, because Livia had locked herself away and wouldn’t speak to him.
Grudgingly Terry accepted the need for Livia to be punished and was grateful that Tony hadn’t done any worse, like killing her, and he’d avoided her face. Terry loved Livia’s face and he didn’t want a constant visual reminder of what had transpired.
Days later, he drew a line in the sand with Livia. Sort of.
Later in the day, and before he had left for home, Tony called Terry over, gave him a hug and carefully explained that nobody was going to ‘treat his brother this fucking way’ and that Livia had needed to be ‘taught a lesson’.
“I had to explain to her Terry that we don’t do things like that in our family. I had to explain firmly, very firmly,” said Tony. “She’ll be fine. And she got the message… just give her a few days… and I ain’t touched her face Terry, I ain’t touched her face!”
Terry was stunned, but relieved.
After he'd placated Terry the best he could, and kept him off the scent that he, Tony, might have been sniffing around Livia, Tony started to deal with the realisation that he too had been dragged into her deception. He was livid. He had been used by her in a way that forced him to break his code of loyalty.
He went to have a quiet word with Livia. His words were very quiet, but the beating he gave her was quite savage, avoiding at all times her pretty face. He chose a treatment that wouldn't show... on the outside.
"I can't give her the beating she probably deserves. It just ain't me!" complained Terry.
"I know, I know," said Tony "But you know what she did and said shouldn’t go unpunished.”
“Yeah, but I did tear the place apart and found all her fucking pills and I’ll be on the lookout for more. I'll check in places she'll never believe! She's not going to do that to me again. ”
“I’ll have a quiet word with her Terry. I don’t think she’ll dare try those pills again for a long time, even if she manages to keep some hidden!"
After listening quietly, attentively, Tony said.
"You know Livia and I don't get on so well. lt don’t surprise me she says that stuff. But it’s a row, just bloody words mate. We all have ‘em. I admit what she said and how she said it sounds really shitty, but I’m sure you gave her a belting and maybe she'll learn her lesson from it!”
“No, that’s the thing Tony. When it came to the crunch I couldn’t bear to hit her. After all this I still love her to bits!”
“I know you do Terry, I know you do."
Tony and Terry's relationship was very strong, but also rather complex. At the basic level there was great trust and loyalty between them. But, despite the fact that they were incredibly close, there was a huge distance between them. Most of the gap was related to the noticeable differences in the pecking order, the decision making, taking the lead and the respect given by others. But these differences had themselves begotten other, deeper emotional differences. They'd become loyal best friends, with tension.
As Terry opened up, Tony, feeling a combination of guilt, complicity and rage, somehow held himself in check.
After Livia's taunt regarding Tony's balls, irrespective of whether she had been at it with Tony, the mere fact that she might want to was dynamite. Either way, Terry was not about to go into battle with Tony; that would be foolish and, being a twin, he trusted his brother, who had only ever looked out for him. Livia was the bitch and she was hurting him, something he couldn’t do to her himself.
With nobody else to confide in, and preferring not to think or believe that his brother could have been screwing his wife, Terry talked to Tony.
That was all Livia said. It was all Livia needed to say. It was a taunt and one that was far too close to the truth. Years of staying in his place as Tony’s number two had built up a tension in Terry not consistent with the loyalty that Tony always afforded him. They say gratefulness is not a positive emotion; it's one of acknowledgement of debt. It’s more akin to hate than love on the emotional scale. Terry went absolutely mad, but fell short of striking her.
Whether he'd grasped that she and Tony had been screwing is uncertain.
In rows, things are said spontaneously, often unthinking. It's difficult under such stressful conditions to prevent oneself saying something that will take it to another level entirely. At Terry's mention of sharing eggs, Livia responded instinctively and spitefully.
“Well you'd know about sharing an egg, wouldn’t you Terry? The thing is though, although you and Tony were half an egg, Tony is twice the man that you are Terry, and he’s got real balls!”
“You sound like you know first-hand about Tony’s balls!”
Livia shouldn’t have said what she did then. It was a game changer. “Maybe I do!”