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Authors: Jackie Collins

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BOOK: Confessions of a Wild Child
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‘Lucky?’

Someone is calling my name, and it can’t be my attacker because he doesn’t even know my real name.

‘Lucky?’ the voice gets nearer.

I glance over my shoulder, and
oh my God
, it’s Marco. The real Marco, not some useless carbon copy.

‘Oh!’ I gasp. ‘It’s you.’

He’s staring at me like I’m some kind of alien. ‘What are you doin’ out at this time?’

‘Uh . . .’ a quick think. ‘Um . . . couldn’t sleep, so I took a walk.’

‘A walk. Where?’

‘Just around.’

I can tell he is checking me out, and I know I must look like a total wreck.

‘Does Gino know you’re out?’ he questions, a stern glint in his eyes.

‘Gino was asleep,’ I answer vaguely. ‘Didn’t want to disturb him.’

Marco shakes his head. Oh my God, he is
so
damn handsome. ‘Baby,’ he says, ‘if Gino knew you were out you’d disturb him all right.’

The way he says ‘baby’ makes me shiver. I love him, I love him, I LOVE HIM!

‘I’m hungry,’ I say, making the most of this opportunity to be alone with him. ‘Is there anywhere I can get a sandwich?’

‘I’ll have one sent up to you,’ he says.

‘But I don’t feel like going up yet,’ I respond.

Marco looks perplexed. Why is
he
up at four a.m.? I start to wonder where
he’s
been. Probably with that skank from the party. She doesn’t deserve him.
I
do.

‘You don’t, huh?’

‘Nope.’

‘OK, Lucky,’ he decides. ‘I’ll take you to the coffee shop.’

Brilliant!

We make our way there, and I am psyched.

‘Uh . . . I don’t think you should tell Gino I was out,’ I venture as we settle into a booth facing each other.

Marco throws me a steely look. ‘You don’t, huh?’

I nod my head vigorously. ‘Y’know how Gino gets.’

‘Yeah, I do know.’

I lean toward him. ‘So . . . this can be our secret, right?’

Marco scratches his chin with his index finger. ‘You seem kind of messed up, Lucky. Were you drinkin’?’ he asks, giving me a penetrating stare.

‘Me?’ I say, all innocent.

‘Yeah, you.’

‘No way,’ I say, conveniently forgetting about the three or four beers plus the wine I’d consumed earlier.

‘You’re sure?’

‘Of course I’m sure.’

Marco seems to be thinking, then he gets up and informs me he’ll be right back.

I am concerned. Surely he hasn’t gone to call Gino? Oh God, Gino will
not
be happy.

But no, Marco returns within minutes, orders a glass of water and watches me while I consume a chicken sandwich. I am not really hungry, but spending alone-time with Marco is worth stuffing myself.

‘Y’know, Lucky,’ Marco says thoughtfully. ‘This is a dangerous town. A pretty young girl like you has to be careful.’

He called me pretty! Marco called me pretty!

‘I don’t need a lecture,’ I mumble, chewing on my sandwich. ‘And I can assure you, I
do
know how to look after myself.’

‘Gino’s happens to be a very important man in this city,’ Marco continues. ‘What you get up to reflects directly on him.’

I shrug. ‘Then it’s good I’m not getting up to anything, right?’ I counter.

He nods unsurely. ‘Right.’

I beam at him. ‘This is terrific,’ I say boldly. ‘We should do this more often.’

Chapter Thirty-Seven

 

M
arco escorts me upstairs to the door of Gino’s penthouse suite. I am euphoric – being with Marco, just the two of us, has made the whole Vegas trip worthwhile. He is
it
for me. The perfect man. I am in a bit of a trance as I reach for the key tucked into the back pocket of my jeans. ‘Shhh . . .’ I whisper. ‘Mustn’t wake Big Daddy.’

Marco is silent.

‘I’d ask you in,’ I continue, ‘but I guess
he
wouldn’t like it.’ Then feeling even bolder I go for the gold. ‘Of course, you
could
ask me back to
your
room—’

‘Goodnight, Lucky,’ Marco says, frowning. ‘Go sleep it off, you’ll feel better in the morning.’

‘What?’ I say, grabbing him. ‘No goodnight kiss?’ And before he can dodge me, I press my mouth firmly against his.

Unfortunately he does not seem to appreciate this move ’cause he backs off real quick and heads for the elevator. Just in time, for once again my name is called, and this time it’s my father, Gino. An angry man in a white terry-cloth bathrobe, a ferocious expression on his face.

‘Where you bin, kid?’ Gino demands in a harsh voice. ‘Out gettin’ laid?’

I am totally startled. How dare he talk to me as if I’m some kind of tramp?

‘Daddy . . .’ I stutter, as Marco vanishes into the elevator.

Gino’s black eyes rake me over from head to toe, and I know he misses nothing. I pull down my T-shirt and shy away from his scrutiny.

‘You think I was born yesterday, kid,’ he rasps. ‘You think I don’t know what goes on out there.’

‘Out where?’ I say lamely.

‘Y’know what I mean.’

‘I’m sorry,’ I mutter.

‘Don’t go givin’ me that sorry shit again,’ he says, glaring at me. ‘I’ve had it with that crap. It don’t work no more. Who exactly d’you think you’re foolin’?’

‘I just went for a walk, that’s all,’ I say with a defensive shrug. ‘There’s no law against doing that.’

‘A walk, my ass,’ Gino says harshly. ‘Is that why your hair an’ clothes are such a mess? An’ how about the bruises all up your arms. A walk, huh?’

‘A man attacked me,’ I blurt. ‘I was wandering around the parking lot and he jumped me.’

‘No shit,’ Gino says, shaking his head.

‘Yes, really,’ I say wide-eyed.

‘Guess it was just like that boy in Switzerland, huh? The boy who accordin’ t’you just happened to turn up in your room, strip off an’ climb in bed with you – the both of you bare-assed. While across the room your so-called friend was doin’ the same thing.’ An ominous pause, then – ‘I’ve bin meanin’ t’ask, how come neither of you screamed for help? Answer me that.’

Should I answer Gino, or simply let him rave on? I stare moodily at the floor. It’s black and white marble, very cold and pristine.

All I can think about is Marco, and the way he betrayed me. What a dick.

‘An’ let’s not forget France,’ Gino continues, still glaring at me. ‘You and your whore friend shacked up in the villa with a goddamn pimp. How many guys didja have there? How many, kid? Or did you an’ your friend settle for sharin’ the services of the pimp?’

Tears fill my eyes.
It’s my sixteenth birthday, Daddy, cut me a break
.

‘It wasn’t like that,’ I mutter.

‘Enough with the crap excuses,’ Gino steams, his eyes an angry deadly black. ‘No daughter of mine is gonna be runnin’ round town actin’ like a
putana
. I finally figured out what I’m gonna do with you, an’ you should get down on your knees an’ thank me.’

‘What?’ I whisper fearfully.

‘You got hot pants, you wanna fuck around, so be it. Only you’re not doin’ it on my fuckin’ watch. You’re Gino Santangelo’s daughter, and you’d better learn to respect that.’

‘I don’t fuck around,’ I mumble, humiliated and upset. ‘Honestly, Daddy, I don’t.’

‘I’m marryin’ you off, kid. I’ve found you the right husband an’ you’re gettin’ married, so any screwin’ around you do will be in your marriage bed an’ nowhere else.’

‘W . . . what?’ I stammer, not quite sure I’ve heard him correctly.

‘You heard me, an’ you’d better understand what I’m sayin’, ’cause you got no choice.’

I’m trembling. This is total disaster time.

‘I don’t want to get married,’ I hear myself saying.

‘Too bad,’ he says sternly.

I feel colour creeping into my face. Why is he like this? Why doesn’t he love me?

‘You’re nothing but a big stupid bully,’ I spit, full of venom. ‘You don’t understand me, and you never will. It’s ’cause of you Mommy got murdered. I
hate
you.’

Instantly Gino lashes out and whacks me across the face. I spin across the hallway, such is his strength. We are both shocked.

Within seconds Gino comes after me and cradles me in his arms. ‘I’m sorry, kiddo,’ he croons. ‘I didn’t mean to do that, only you gotta realize you’re so goddamn stubborn, exactly like me. I only want what’s best for you. You’re my little princess, an’ if
I
don’t protect you, who will?’

Deep in the warmth of his arms I start to cry. He called me his little princess. He cares, he really cares. I’m Daddy’s little girl. I’m five years old and we’re playing games and having fun. Mommy is there, smiling at us, beautiful Mommy Maria. Security envelops us, and not in a bad way.

I breathe in Gino’s smell. Daddy’s smell, a mixture of aftershave and warmth. I’m in his arms and I love him. I will do anything he wants me to do, because he loves me as much as I love him.

‘OK, Daddy,’ I whisper. ‘I’ll listen to you. I’ll do it. I’ll do anything to make it right between us.’

‘That’s my girl,’ he says soothingly, stroking the hair off my face. ‘It’ll be for the best, you’ll see. I’m protecting you, sweetheart, protecting you from yourself.’

Suddenly I realize the blazing truth – he is marrying me off to Marco. Of course he is. And for one shining moment all is right in the world.

‘Who?’ I ask softly. ‘Who am I marrying?’

‘Craven Richmond,’ Gino announces proudly. ‘It’s all arranged.’

Chapter Thirty-Eight

 

M
y stomach drops as if the world is ending. Did Gino just say Craven Richmond? No. That’s impossible. I misheard him. Surely he uttered Marco’s name?

I pull away from my father and stare at him in disbelief.

‘I don’t even
know
Craven Richmond,’ I mutter, still feeling the sting of Gino’s slap across my face.

‘Doesn’t matter, you’ll get to know him,’ Gino says, as if it’s no big deal. ‘You gotta get it into your head, he’s a catch, kiddo. His family is political royalty.’

I am stunned. Political royalty, what does
that
mean?

‘Go to bed, an’ we’ll talk in the mornin’,’ Gino says, like he hasn’t just dropped this horrendous bombshell on me.

‘But Daddy—’ I begin.

Too late. He’s walking away, leaving me crushed.

I make it to my room and throw myself on the circular bed. Everything is one big surreal blur. I’m sixteen and about to be married off to some jerk I don’t even know. What am I to do? Should I run? Make a daring escape?

And go where?

I start to collect my thoughts. There’s no way Gino can force me to go through with this. We’re not in some country where arranged marriage is the norm. We’re in America – land of the free. I can do whatever I want.

Then I start considering the alternatives.

School
.

No thank you
.

Home-schooling
.

Even worse
.

Then if not school – what?

Daddy Dearest has made it clear he doesn’t want me working alongside him. According to him I’m just a girl. Only boys get that privilege.

One of these days I will make him change his mind. I know I can do it.

So what if I do get married to Craven? Play the good little wife until I’m older and ready to strike. At least it will give me the independence I crave. And who says I have to stay married?

I curl up into a ball and attempt to sleep, but it’s almost impossible ’cause my mind is on speed dial.

Marriage or school?

Not much of a choice
.

*  *  *

 

By the time I awake it is almost noon and I’m not in great shape. I am most likely experiencing my first real hangover.

Memories of the previous evening explode in my brain. The Richmond event. Diamond earrings from Daddy. Boring Craven Richmond. My walk on the wild side. Horny Jeff. Handsome Marco. Big Daddy Gino.

MARRIAGE!!!

Mrs Craven Richmond. Lucky Richmond. Neither of them sound right.

Who are the Richmonds anyway? He’s some kind of big-deal senator, and apparently she’s a do-gooder, heavy on the charity circuit if last night is anything to go by.

How does Gino even
know
them? I need to find out.

After showering and throwing on my jeans, I go looking for Gino. A maid is in his bedroom making up his bed.

‘Where’s my father?’ I demand.

She stares at me unsurely. ‘No Engleesh,’ she finally says.

Has he left Vegas, flown away and dumped me?

No, Gino wouldn’t do that. I’m to be married, there are arrangements to be made.

I return to my room. The message light on the phone is blinking. Tentatively I pick up. The first message is from boring Craven mumbling about a tennis game. Too late for that, it’s almost noon.

The second message is from Marco, the Betrayer. ‘Lucky,’ he says, sounding strained. ‘Gino had a couple of meetings he had to go to. Call me when you’re up.’

Hmm . . . did the kiss I gave him work? Is he ready to seal the deal and rescue me from Craven?

I have a feeling not. Anyway, I hate him now. He must’ve known what Gino had planned, so why didn’t he warn me?

I pick up the phone and call him. ‘Yes, Marco?’ I say, as icy as I can make it.

‘How’re you feelin’?’ he asks.

What does
he
care?

‘Just great,’ I say sarcastically. ‘Thanks for blowing my cover, so loyal of you.’

‘Hey, Lucky, I did what was best for you.’

‘Yeah,’ I snap. ‘Right.’

‘Gino has arranged for you to meet with Mrs Richmond today.’

‘What for?’

‘To discuss everything.’

‘You mean to discuss my so-called upcoming arranged marriage?’

‘It’s not such a bad thing, Lucky. Craven’s a nice guy.’

‘How do you know?’

‘Uh, I can tell.’

I suddenly lose it. Marco the Betrayer is no longer my would-be lover. He’s a freaking jerk and I hate him.

‘Y’know, Marco,’ I hiss, narrowing my eyes, ‘one of these days you’re going to realize what you’re missing, and believe me, you’ll be
real
sorry, only by that time it’ll be too late, so
there
!’

BOOK: Confessions of a Wild Child
7.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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