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!”
Livia was careless one morning, leaving her pills out next to her glass of water on her bedside table. Up until then she’d been very careful about tucking them away somewhere Terry would never look - the bottom of her tin of tampons.
In a heated row that evening about her trying to prevent herself getting pregnant, Terry just let his feelings out. “You and fucking Marcia are both the same. Fucking precious about your bodies and utterly fucking selfish about your fucking eggs. Marriage is a partnership, Livia, about sharing everything. That includes decisions and sharing your fucking eggs too!”
They say that sometimes deceivers in love allow themselves to be found out, to bring things to a head and gain their freedom. Whether or not Livia was complicit in Terry discovering her stash of contraceptive pills and realising how she'd deceived him is questionable. She had started to feel that despite his strong loyalty to Terry her husband and his brother, she now had Tony under her spell. It was Tony who was wanting more of her. He was demanding her twice a week now. He was nicer to her. He had been unwittingly entrapped.
Or so she thought.
Determined that he wouldn't have a fertility problem too, but privately concerned lest it be the case, Tony kept trying. He was starting not only to enjoy the trying process, but also his opinion softened dramatically towards Livia; entranced, he almost became obsessively attracted to her. Almost. He certainly looked forward to their surreptitious meetings. Exciting!
Given Marcia’s general hostility towards him, he felt totally justified in these off-limits pleasures, although he was also burdened with an extreme conflict of loyalties towards his brother. It was this that might make his patience brittle and bring things to a head.
While Tony was starting to relax and enjoy the process, Livia was continuing to pop her contraceptive pills. She knew that at some point in the future, after a few months of failure to fertilise, Tony might lose patience with her and hold her to blame for the failure to 'click'.
So her strategy was to keep him interested, to lure him in so that he wouldn't see her as the problem but rather to build his inner fears that, like Terry, he himself might have a problem. After all, he'd never had the chance to find out with Marcia...
Tony was no match for Livia's brand of manipulation. She was cunning by being direct. She didn't use the mewing, puckering and pouting that so many other women turned on - the kind of approach that a ruthless bastard like Tony would knock away, probably literally. Livia used apparent honesty and reason. That was what pushed Tony's buttons.
So the following week, he tried to lighten up and give it all a bit more time. And for her part, Livia gave him more of the kind of physical attention that most red-blooded men would find irresistible.
Tony started enjoying it.
"We haven't given it a chance Tony", said Livia "and it's hardly a relaxed atmosphere we're operating in, is it?"
"What do you mean?" asked Tony, slightly more quizzical.
"Well I know you don't like me, but do you always have to make it crystal clear... like when we're doing it? Women have to relax to make nature work properly you know."
"Who says I don't like you?" asked Tony.
"You do, with your looks, your harsh words and your disinterest. You don't have to find me attractive..."
"Horseshit! You're a stunner!"
"Well you could treat me like one...for now!"
The credit Tony was allowing Livia was short-lived as in the third week, her period started and it was clear she wasn't pregnant. Tony was angry and that week was all for calling the whole plan off. But Livia's innate skills came out to play again. She urged him not to be so hasty, that it was unusual for women to fall pregnant immediately.
"The casual teenage one-night-stand sex resulting in a girl immediately getting up the duff is not the norm. Nature takes time. It demands time!" she argued.
"But I ain't got time!" ranted Tony.
So once a week for the next two weeks Livia and Tony slept together, although sleeping wasn't built into the activity. Neither was anything remotely approximating to passion. Livia wasn't remotely worried about that, yet.
As far as Tony was concerned, he still didn't really like LIvia, and yet he warmed to her somewhat as he gave her credit for coming up with what seemed to be a brilliant scheme. It would give Terry what he so desperately wanted and it would provide him his own true heir, even if he and Livia would be the only ones to know.
"Don't worry about Marcia, she goes out a lot and I always know where she is. I have my spies you know!" Tony added menacingly, giving nothing specific away.
Nonetheless, Tony decided that if they were to continue this strategy it would be best that they didn't do any more in his house. They would meet weekly, on a different weekday, at a different hotel, in a different part of London, which he would arrange. It would be somewhere out of the way, just in case anyone casually dropped by and spotted Livia's car there. Personalised number and pink. Sheesh!
She then reasoned with Tony that to be sure, they would need to do it again the following week and the week after, then by the fourth week, she would know if she’d had her period that the process must start again. Tony was on the hook.
One issue Livia was concerned about though was that at any moment Marcia might burst in.
However, Tony was relaxed about that. He always knew exactly where Marcia was, because, unbeknownst to her, he had a phone-tracking app on his phone telling him her location. A smart move for a gang boss.
There was no time like the present for Livia. She was certain that getting over this initial hurdle would get the deed done. Tony would then have committed adultery with his brother’s wife, and would accordingly be well committed.
So Livia worked skilfully on Tony with the required result. Pulling him down onto the couch, she continued to do all the work, in a more mechanical way than she'd planned, until Tony emptied himself. At this point she made a point of keeping his 'gift' where he'd deposited it, using a tissue. And she made sure he got the point.
"For starters, couldn’t we at least find a bed to lie on?” asked Livia.
“Couch OK for you Mrs Monelli?” was Tony's concession.
“OK then, let's give it a go, but a bed would be so much better.” she conceded.
"This ain't no hoochy-coochy-smoochy stuff you know!" Tony was keeping his distance while having embraced the concept. "This is business!"
Livia couldn't resist saying "But it still doesn't have to be ouchy-couchy either!"
Tony's look prompted her to zip her mouth for a while. No more smart-Alice... now straight down to business, or indeed the couch.
Cold and mechanical Tony wanted it, but Livia wasn’t settling for that. Her way would be different, and Tony’s plans of being uninvolved were not what she wanted. And what she wanted she usually got.
"It has a better chance of working if you’re not tense."
“Who’s tense? I’m not!”
“Well I am! Can't we do things a bit slower?"
“And what’s your slow way?”
“Well, just like you want me to warm you up a bit...”
“You mean getting my cock stiff?”
“Well yes, since you put it so nicely! But I need a bit of warming up too."
You don't get to be and stay the boss by being indecisive. Tony Monelli certainly wasn't that. Instinctive in his reactions he was equally instinctive in his actions and the decisions prompting them.
Livia had convinced him that the two of them having sex was doing the right thing by Terry. 'No time like the present', thought Tony, 'unless...'
"Not on the blob are you?" he demanded, crudely and directly.
"Last week." Livia replied coldly.
Then he unbuckled his belt, unzipped and dropped his trousers and underpants.
"Get your kit off and get this thing standing up!"
Talk about mechanical!
At last, Tony had grasped exactly what Livia was suggesting and what she had skilfully reasoned, without somehow getting the violent response that Tony could so easily have provided, given his unbreakable bond with his brother.
Livia had presented the almost altruistic proposal, and in so doing had presented herself as the faithful loving wife, albeit faithful in spirit. She had entirely justified the imperative of both her and Tony keeping completely schtum... again without challenging the fidelity of either one of their relationships with Terry.
It had sunk in. Livia had been masterly, although she would be the mistress.