Background info is not included since this is Chapter 9
Andy escorted me to the shiny red BMW, opened the back door and held it for me to get in. Once I was comfortable on the black leather seat, he closed the door and then walked around the back of the car and got in the back seat settling in next to me. Pisciotta got in behind the wheel and Norverto sat in the passenger seat. As we were leaving my driveway, none of us were aware that a listening device inside of the blue bird nesting box on the pasture fence post heard our entire conversation. Andy gave me his cell phone and said, “Here, use mine. My number is private so the calls cannot be traced to my phone. May I please have your cell phone?”
“Why?” I asked. Andy looked at me as if to say, “Must you ask why?” I handed him my cell phone and he slipped it into his pants pocket. I took his phone and dialed Rob’s number as we were headed north on CR 225A to Gainesville. Again, dialing the police was a dangerous idea and an idiotic idea at that. I was in no real danger; only in a situation. I’d been in worse situations several times. I had planned to meet Rob at the beach Saturday but now with a new turn of events, I wasn’t going to make it there. After a few rings, Rob answered.
“Hey Rob! It’s Alex. How’re you doing?” I inquired.
“Good. Real good. I’m in Daytona at Mike’s. I just got back from the gym. I’m planning to lay on the beach for the rest of the afternoon. How are you doing?”
“I’m OK, but I have to cancel for tomorrow. I have to trim some horse hooves at a farm in Sumter County. They have 18 horses to be done, so I’ll be there all day Saturday and Sunday. Sorry! How about we meet next Saturday?” I offered.
“Sure, that’ll be just fine,” he agreed.
“OK, well, have a great weekend. I’ll call you sometime next week.”
“Bye,” I said before ending the call.
My next call was to Dr. Dawson. I wondered what excuse I was going to give him particularly with the caller ID coming up as a private number. I knew I’d come up with something when the time came. I dialed his number; thankful that his voice mail answered. I left the message, “Hey there, Good Doctor. Hope your day is going well. I’m going to have to cancel for tonight. I have 18 horses to trim this weekend at a farm here in Sumter County. I came down tonight so I could get started and then get some good sleep tonight because tomorrow and Sunday will be a very long days. For a change, it is me who has to cancel instead of you. It never fails you always have an emergency on our date nights. I do hope you can forgive me. I’ll call you later.”
I pushed the End button and handed the cell phone back to Andy. He took it and put it in his pocket. We just merged onto SR 441 from CR 225A to go to Gainesville. The awaiting plane must be a private jet if we were departing from the Gainesville Airport. I looked at Andy and said, “So, will you please tell me what’s going on?”
“Yeah, I guess I should, shouldn’t I?” Andy replied.
“You bet your sweet ass you should tell me since I was forced to rearrange my schedule to accommodate you and your associates.” I noticed Pisciotta watching us in the rear-view mirror. We locked eyes for a moment and then he returned his view to SR 441.
“Sophia made a decision.”
“She did? So, she finally got tired of all her husband’s extracurricular marital activities? And this is the result of her telling her daddy?”
“You told me that you didn’t know if she knew, and that if she did know that she really wouldn’t care about what you do with other women.”
“She doesn’t care. She even has a few men on the side herself. We decided to divorce a few months ago but we’d remain amicable. She’ll have full custody of the children. I thought it would be best considering how I am. But I upset her when I told her I wanted the cabin in the Pocono’s. She got mad and told her father about all my indiscretions. Looking back, I should have let her keep the cabin,” he said with a sheepish grin.
“One never knows how a scorned woman will react. Why the hell didn’t you just let her have the cabin, Dumb Shit? What’s so special about it? You have plenty of money to buy another one,” I said as I slapped his chest with the back of my hand. He did not respond verbally but gave me a look of admission of guilt. “So then, am I the only woman being escorted to this undisclosed location or are there others? Are we all going to meet there? I hope it’s an auditorium so it can accommodate all of us women you’ve been with. If I’m the only one, how did I become so lucky? How do I fit into this?”
“No, Alex, it’s only you. Actually Sophia chose you. Her father pulled my cell phone records and emails. Over the years, I contacted you the most of all the women and for the most years. She wanted to know things about you; information such as what you look like, what you do for a living, what kind of personality you have, and where we originally met. She asked and her father strongly urged that I tell her so I did,” he confessed.
“Did the strongly urged include a ski pole, a pair of scissors or a wire coat hanger?” I inquired.
“The scissors,” Andy said with a smirk on his face. I was very well aware of how scissors can be used as an intimidation tool. I had seen Andy’s penile scars.
“Oh, I see. Your manhood is still carrying the scars of the last scissors incident, or should I say intimidation? I can understand why you would comply with his request,” I said and then continued, “What did you tell her? It must have been very flattering to me that she chose me out of the many, many women.”
“I told her the truth. Well, actually, I confirmed what her father’s investigation had already found out about you. I confirmed your job as a maximum-security prison teacher for male inmates, your farrier activities, your divorce, and your physical attributes even though he had pictures of you. I told her about your personality too. She was very interested in you because you seem to be able to do or handle anything. So she decided that you’d be the best woman for my punishment.”
“I don’t understand, Andy. What punishment? Do I have to witness your punishment? Where are we going? And who are our escorts?” I again inquired.
“YOU are my punishment, Alexis. But you as you are at this time will not be sufficient. Sophia feels you’ll be more effective as my wife so these gentlemen are escorting us to Las Vegas to rectify the logistics. Sophia felt that with your bold and bossy personality and that you can handle male inmates and male strip club patrons, you’d be the perfect punishment for me. You’ll never let me get away with anything and you’ll rip my ass off if I try.”
“We’re going to Vegas to get married?!” I shouted in disbelief.
“Yes, Alex, we are.”
“Wait, wait, wait! I don’t want to be married! Dr. Dawson might not be much but I like dating him occasionally. I don’t want a husband! I like living alone. I like being alone. I mean, I love you but I love my sister too. I don’t want to be married to her either! What would happen if I decline to be part of this ridiculous punishment Sophia has made?”
“Mr. Pisciotta, would you please tell Alexis the repercussions if she declines?”
“Ma’am, Sophia’s father ordered us to terminate Mr. Salvucci’s life if you fail to comply,” stated Pisciotta.
“Oh, I see. So if I opt not to participate then Andy dies. Is that correct?” I asked of Pisciotta.
“Yes Ma’am, that is correct,” confirmed Pisciotta.
“Well, Andy, it looks like its up to me, isn’t it? Perhaps I should just drop my drawers now and let you kiss my ass to keep you alive. How could you let this happen? I mean, you and I have been friends for years, and ONLY friends. We only slept together a dozen times or so when we first met. When I found out that you had a wife, I was furious with you. There was no way I would share another woman’s husband. I should slap the shit out of you for this. You know I won’t let you die, and I’m sure Sophia and her daddy know that too. Passive coercion. My conscience won’t let you die because of my inaction,” I paused and then continued, “Well, I’m not changing my name even though I wouldn’t have to buy new monogrammed towels since my initials won’t change.”
Andy looked at me. I read his lips. He thanked me. We sat in silence for a few minutes until I asked Pisciotta to turn on the radio. He did as I asked. Leanne Rimes’ Commitment was playing. The words she sang of “Commitment…and everything that goes with it….I need honor and love in my life from somebody who’s playin’ for keeps….. “ resounded throughout the car. I thought how appropriate the song was for the situation. We were just passing over Paynes Prairie so I knew we’d be at the airport soon. It seemed every time I’m with Andy, somehow an airport is involved. That’s how all this whole mess began anyway.
We arrived at the Gainesville Airport. While being silently noted by an observant plane mechanic, Pisciotta parked the red BMW near a private hanger. Before I could open the car door, Norverto opened it for me from the outside. I got out and joined Andy for the walk to the plane. It was obviously a private jet. It looked very much like the other jets I would fly on with Andy when we went to Cazumel, the Bahamas and Rio. Andy put his hand in his pants pocket, took out my cell phone and handed it to Pisciotta who then looked at me and said, “Ma’am, I’ll safe keep this for you until the trip is completed.”
I replied sarcastically, “If you make any calls and burn up my minutes, you’ll need to pay for the overage charges. While you have it, you can pay the entire bill for me if you wouldn’t mind.”
“Yes Ma’am. The bill will be paid regardless.”
After our exchange, Pisciotta was first up the steps. He entered the cockpit. When we reached the steps, Andy stepped aside and let me ascend in front of him. He followed close behind me. Norverto ascended just a few steps behind Andy. Once inside the plane, Norverto told us to make ourselves comfortable anywhere in the cabin and then he disappeared behind the door in the rear of the cabin. I looked around and thought how someone could not be comfortable in here. The plush beige carpeting retained the imprints of my boots in its loft as I walked to the pillowed beige leather sofa along the opposing wall and sat down. I was engulfed in comfort. I realized I was still wearing spandex and my farm clothes. I was sure my clothing and my body were both in need of a bath. The “Ode de Sweaty Horse & Sweaty Human” scent is not an attractive perfume to others but it is to me. Andy, being the gentleman that he is, was kind enough not to remark about my objectionable stench. I appreciated his efforts. Andy sat in the coordinating beige leather armchair with teal trim perpendicular to the sofa. Pisciotta came out of the cockpit and said, “We’ll be taking off in a few minutes”. The door closed again.
Left alone, I looked at Andy. He looked at me. He finally spoke to me since telling me what was going on, “Alex, I…”
With a wave of my hand, I cut him off in mid-sentence, “No Andy, please don’t. Not right now. Give me some time to let this sink in and to forgive you.”
“There’s not that much time. It’s only three hours to Las Vegas,” he said with the grin of a guilty little boy.
“Well then, I guess I better start finding some resolution to my anger I have with my husband-to-be, huh? Does it really matter if we get married while I’m pissed at you? I’m sure we won’t be the first couple to have issues on our wedding day.” Just as I finished speaking, the plane began to move. I sat back against the plushness of the sofa to prepare for take off. Within minutes, we were taxing down the runway. Moments later, we were in the air. Norverto came out of the door carrying a small white paper bag with twine handles.
He handed it to me and said, “Ma’am, just in case you want to put on something more comfortable until we get to Vegas. If you’d like a wet clothe and some water and soap, I’d be happy to get it for you.”
“Thank you, Norverto. I think I would like that and so would my future spouse,” I decided. Norverto disappeared behind the door again and returned with a towel, a washcloth and a pitcher and basin. The pitcher and basin combination were hand-painted porcelain; white with intricate and ornate borders of different colored flowers adorned the rim of both and the belly of the pitcher. He put it on the table next to Andy’s chair. I stood and put the white bag on the table. In the bag, there was an assortment of toiletries, a black 36C bra, a pair of black 2-inch pumps, and a black cotton a-lined casual tank mini dress.
“Thank you, Norverto. Your kindness is appreciated.”
“You’re welcome, Ma’am,” then he exited again through the door at the back of the cabin again. I looked at Andy and said, “The clothes and shoes are my size and style. The toiletries are my favorites including my favorite perfume. Someone sure knows me well. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to wash up so could you occupy yourself by looking out the window at the Florida topography or the cloud formations?”
“Alex, I’ve seen you naked many times before. Its no big deal, is it? I mean, after all, we will be wedded soon,” he reminded me with a slight smirk on his face.
“No, it’s no big deal. I took my clothes off for money for men and for woman so what do I really care if you see me naked? But it’s the principle of it. I’m still angry with you.”
“That I’m used to. Women are always mad at me for something,” he said and then turned his back to me. After I took off my boots, I removed the spandex shorts and sports bra that I had such a difficult time putting on hours earlier. They came off much easier than they went on thanks to the air conditioning system of the plane. I took a birdbath with the toiletries Norverto gave to me. The soap was a scented moisturizing bar. When I was done, I pampered myself with the remaining toiletries in the small white bag before putting on the tank dress. I noticed that no panties were included in the bag, not that I would have used them anyway. I opened and used the new stick of deodorant, thankful it was included in the bag. I applied a small amount of my favorite perfume to my neck. When I was done dressing and primping, I sat down on the sofa to relax. Andy was still staring out the window but he stirred when the scent of my perfume reached him. I wondered what he was thinking but I didn’t want to ask. I was relatively sure I knew what he was thinking. His whole world was changing, but his life is always changing. This was just one more bump on his rocky road of life.
Norverto returned soon afterwards and took everything back through the door. Five minutes later, once again, he appeared but with a silver serving cart. As he wheeled it in front of me, he stated, “Dinner is served.”
“Dinner? I didn’t realize there was dinner service on this flight tonight,” I said jokingly to Norverto.
“Yes, Ma’am, compliments of Sophia’s father. He thought you might be hungry so he arranged for you to have a nice dinner as well as the clothing. The entrée is Maine lobster flown in today with broiled scallops, shrimp scampi, broccoli and cheese, salad and New York style cheesecake, also flown in today,” he informed me. By this time, Andy turned to view the cart. I saw there was dinner service for two, minus one wine glass, and a full bottle of Reisling wine from Italy, an appropriate white wine to accompany the crustaceans. Was this Sophia’s father’s idea of a joke, or was it to be our last meal, or was he just being nice? I didn’t know but I didn’t think the gesture was malicious.
With the cart’s size, Andy sat down next to me on the sofa. I wasn’t sure if I could eat or what kind of dinner conversation we would have. Norverto uncovered our entrees, uncorked the wine, poured a glass for me but not for Andy. He replaced the wine bottle into the bucket of ice, opened a bottle of water for Andy and then left again through the rear door. For Andy, any alcohol has negative effects on him. As he would say, “I’m an instant asshole if you just add alcohol”. He was determined not to ever become the person he was 16 years ago. Drinking alcohol would be the first step backwards. I picked up my fork and started with the broiled scallops. As I’m normally suspicious, I thought that the food could be tainted but what good would that do if I was not in any condition to hand out the punishment I was chosen to do? As I was spearing a scallop, Andy began again, “Alex, I am sorry for this mess.”
“Well, Andy, perhaps the next time you’re in an airport, you’ll practice some self-control?”
“That’s not funny!”
“Well, neither is being coerced into marrying you.”
“Dammit, Andy, why did you have to do this? You were married when you met me. Had you told me that you were married and who she is and who her father is, I could have made my own informed decisions. You didn’t tell me on purpose. You pulled me into your world without my consent. Also, could you try to practice some self-control about what you tell people? The more and more you told me about yourself including your past, the less and less you trusted me. If you can’t handle the repercussions of your actions, then don’t do them to begin with. Maybe you never should have stolen all that coke from the family 16 years ago. If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t have had to marry the boss’ daughter to stay alive. Next time, think before you do because now I must live with tomorrow with what you said and did yesterday. Please, I beg you, Andy, the next time you get the urge to meet a woman in an airport and then take her out for dinner, resist the urge.”
“Point well taken, Dear.”
“Hey, let’s not start those pet names!” I said jovially. He responded with a half-smile. I really didn’t like seeing him with such a bruised spirit, but he made his bed, now he’s occupying it.
We finished our meals without much conversation. Little did I know, Andy’s silence was induced by my perfume, the reason for the flood of memories he was quietly experiencing. When we were done eating, Andy turned to me and said, “Why don’t you get some sleep. I’m sure you were up early this morning. You worked all day and you trimmed horse hooves after work, and it’ll be a late night tonight once we arrive in Las Vegas.”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea. I think I will. Wake me if I’m not up in an hour?”
“Of course I will. Anything you want.”
“Listen, Andy, there’s no need to kiss my ass. You know I wouldn’t let anything happen to you no matter how pissed I might be at you. This will all work out somehow. It always does.”
“Aren’t you always the optimistic one?”
“Yes I am. Sometimes it sucks to always be optimistic but it helps me live in my world and now in your world too,” I confessed. Fortunately my life experiences proved that everything works out somehow and usually for the better even if it doesn’t appear to be at first.
“Would you like the headphones? I’ll put in a CD for you. Which one would you like to listen to?” Andy asked.
“From what selections do I have to choose? Is Vince Gill’s Souvenirs there?” I inquired. Andy looked through the large selection of CDs provided.
“Who’s that?” he asked. A minute later, “Yeah, actually it is here. I guess pop-in-law really did his homework, didn’t he? He knows your taste in music too.”
“I guess I should be flattered, huh?”
“Well, you should be. You’d know what I mean if you ever met him. Now put your headphones on and try to get some sleep,” Andy stated.
“What are you going to do?” I inquired.
“I’ve got some thinking to do.”
“I bet your sweet ass that you do! I don’t envy you at all,” I admitted. I removed my shoes with my hand, turned to my left, put my feet on the leather sofa and stretched out on my back using the cushy arm of the sofa as a pillow. Andy removed a hunter green fleece blanket from the overhead storage compartment above the sofa and covered me. He leaned down and gently kissed me on the forehead and said, “Sleep well, Alexis.”
I grabbed his hand with mine. “Everything will be alright. Good night, Andy,” I said to him in a comforting female voice while my scent of my perfume soothed him too. He kissed my forehead again, placed my hand on my stomach and returned to his chair. I closed my eyes. I could feel my body getting heavier and sinking down into the sofa as I listened to Vince Gill singing “..how many lies you must have told…you think you’re a rich man with your pocket full of gold”. Once again, another appropriate song for the situation, I thought. Andy never wore a wedding band.