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Authors: Jackie Collins

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BOOK: Confessions of a Wild Child
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‘Gino made me swear I wouldn’t tell anyone,’ I mumble, slightly panicked. ‘He thinks if anyone finds out who I really am, they’ll steer clear of me.’

‘As if,’ Olympia snorts. ‘I wish
my
father was a notorious gangster instead of a boring old billionaire.’

‘No you don’t,’ I say firmly.

‘Yes, I
do
,’ Olympia insists, wrinkling her nose. ‘And while we’re on the subject . . . when do I get to meet the infamous Gino?’ She pauses, gives me a secretive look then lowers her voice. ‘I’ve read all about him. Tell me the truth – has he really arranged to have people killed?’

‘That’s so much crap,’ I snap. ‘Everything written about Gino is exaggerated.’

‘OK,’ Olympia says, backing off because she can see I’m getting agitated.

And I am, because what do I know? Not much. I’m hardly naïve when it comes to my father – I’m well aware he’s not exactly citizen number one – but has he arranged to have people killed? No freaking way.

Olympia jumps off her bed and envelops me in a warm hug. I immediately feel comforted.

‘I don’t really care who your father is,’ she whispers in my ear. ‘You’re my best friend, Lucky, and you always will be.’

Chapter Thirteen

 

‘H
ere comes trouble,’ Olympia exclaims as she almost falls leaning out of our window. ‘I think I spy your old man arriving.’

‘You do?’ I gasp.

‘Yes. And, hey, wait a minute – he’s not so old, in fact he’s hot!’

I feel a shiver of apprehension as I rush to join her at the window. Yes. It is Gino. Big surprise.

I can’t make up my mind whether I am disappointed or elated.

Disappointed because I’d expected Marco. Elated because Daddy Dearest has actually made the trip. Which means he must care, a true shocker.

‘Hmm . . .’ says Olympia, leaving the window and running to admire herself in the mirror. ‘How do I look?’

‘Who gives a crap how you look,’ I say brusquely. ‘Gino is actually here.’

‘That means I get to meet him,’ Olympia says, still primping.

‘This isn’t a social occasion,’ I point out. ‘We’re about to get thrown out of school, remember?’

‘In that case I should definitely look my best,’ Olympia giggles, thrusting out her boobs.

‘Stop it!’ I admonish.

‘Spoilsport,’ Olympia retaliates.

A knock on our door and I am informed that I should go downstairs to the principal’s office immediately.

No Marco to save me. Only Gino the Ram. Daddy Dearest
.

What’ll he have to say?

Am I scared?

Not really. I am a Santangelo just like him. I am strong in my own way. I am powerful. I am woman!

Of course I crumble like a weakling when I come face to face with Gino. He is angry and handsome. Olympia is right – my father
is
hot with his thick black hair and intense dark eyes, impeccably dressed in an Italian hand-tailored suit and crisp white shirt.

Gino the Ram. Women lust after him. Women love him. I wish they wouldn’t
.

He gives me a look.
The
look that says – ‘So you screwed up again, huh? Can’t you do anything right?’

‘Hey . . . Daddy,’ I venture, playing little girl lost.

Maybe he’ll call me princess and tell me all is forgiven
.

‘You packed?’ he snarls with about as much fatherly love as a snake.

‘Yes, I’m packed,’ I say, throwing him a defiant glare. I haven’t seen him in ages – don’t I even get a hug?

No way. It’s Gino the Ram. He’s mad at me
.

I can’t even figure out why
he’s
come to collect me. Surely he’d find it more convenient to send one of his lackeys? Marco, for instance.

Ah yes, Marco. I wouldn’t mind seeing his face when Miss Miriam informs him I was caught naked in bed with a boy. Ha! Perhaps he’d finally see me as a real woman, experienced and very sexy.

No such luck – Gino is here and I have to deal with him.

‘We should take off,’ Gino says to Miss Miriam.

I can tell by his tone of voice that he’s way pissed off. Trouble lies ahead.

‘Yes, perhaps you should,’ replies Miss Miriam, thin lips clamped tightly together.

‘I appreciate your understanding,’ Gino says. ‘I’ll be sendin’ you that contribution for the school.’

What
contribution? Is he paying for her silence so she doesn’t spill about his naughty little daughter? Me? Typical.

Ten minutes later we’re sitting in a chauffeur-driven car on our way to the airport.

Gino is silent. So am I.

We board the plane in silence. Make the trip in silence. What was the point of him coming to get me if he has nothing to say?

The plane flies us to New York, not LA. I am surprised. Why New York? LA is home.

I soon find out.

My father has an apartment in New York that I’ve never seen before. It’s like something out of one of those men’s magazines – all sleek and glam with an incredible sound system and mind-blowing views over Central Park. I guess I can get used to it.

I am thinking about how I’m going to enjoy New York, when Aunt Jen appears, all quivering lips and sympathetic hugs. ‘Hello, dear,’ she says, plump and motherly in a salmon-pink outfit with pearls galore. She smells of a musky scent, and has an expression on her face as if she’s about to burst into tears. At least she’s speaking to me, which is a relief.

‘What are
you
doing here?’ I ask.

‘Gino requested that I come.’

‘He did?’ I say, still trying to figure everything out.

‘Indeed he did,’ she replies.

‘Is Daddy still engaged?’ I ask.

‘Not any more,’ Aunt Jen says crisply. ‘Miss Blue is history.’

I digest this little piece of information. No more Marabelle Blue. Thank goodness. At least I don’t have to deal with a movie star psycho stepmom.

‘Come, dear,’ Aunt Jen says. ‘Let us go in the bedroom and talk. There is nothing better than a thorough chat about things to clear the air.’

I sigh. Do I really have to hash things out with Aunt Jen? How embarrassing.

‘You do know that your father is
very
concerned about you,’ Aunt Jen says.

I glance over at Gino. He’s at the bar, fixing himself what I presume is a strong drink. He still hasn’t spoken to me.

I guess a conversation with Aunt Jen is inevitable. She’s a sweet woman, but she’s sure as hell not my mother.

Reluctantly I follow her, and we go into what I presume is Gino’s bedroom. The room has my father’s taste, it’s all leather and dark wood – totally macho. Very suitable for Gino the Ram.

Aunt Jen perches herself daintily on the edge of the bed, whereupon she launches into an awkward speech about how girls have to save themselves for the boy they’re eventually going to marry, and how above all else they must hang onto their self-respect and must never do anything untoward.

I get what she’s after. She’s desperate to find out – at Gino’s request – exactly how far I have gone.

I give her what she needs to hear – ‘It was a one-off, Auntie Jen,’ I explain, all wide-eyed and innocent. ‘It’s not as if we
did
anything. I’m still a good girl, the boy in my bed was a crazy lapse of judgement. I promise it’ll never happen again.’

Aunt Jen sighs with relief. She can now report back to Daddy Dearest that his precious little Italian princess is still a virgin.

After she imparts this piece of news to Gino, he summons me into the living room and begins to talk to me.

‘Hey, kid,’ he says, ‘got somethin’ planned for you.’

‘What?’ I ask suspiciously.

‘Somethin’ you’re gonna like,’ he replies, all cheerful and upbeat.

‘Really?’ I say, brightening up, because if he’s happy I suppose I should be too.

‘Yeah, really.’

‘What?’ I repeat, anxious to hear my fate.

Gino settles himself in an armchair ready to tell me what I hope is going to be exciting news, although I have a lurking hunch it won’t be.

‘I’m sendin’ you to a private boardin’ school in Connecticut,’ he announces, like he’s expecting me to jump up and down with joy.

My stomach takes a dive. So does my face.

‘Now don’t go givin’ me one of your shitty looks,’ Gino grumbles, narrowing his eyes. ‘It’s a great place. Oh yeah, an’ it’s closer to LA, which means you get to fly home once a month, that’s if y’feel like it. They got tennis, swimmin’ an’ ridin’ – you like horses, doncha?’

‘Horses!’ I exclaim in horror. ‘I
hate
horses.’

‘C’
mon
, kiddo,’ Gino says, and I can hear it in his voice that he’s getting fed up with the conversation. ‘Hate is kinda a strong way t’feel about horses – y’know, man’s best friend an’ all that crap.’

‘Dogs are man’s best friend,’ I point out.

‘No, money is man’s best friend,’ Gino says, as usual determined to get the last word. ‘An’ doncha forget it.’

And there you have it. Not family. Not love. Money.

Gino the Ram. My father.

I hate him. He’s brash, short, badly spoken, coarse and full of his own importance.

I love him. He’s handsome, macho, beautifully dressed, sexy – and when he’s nice, he’s very very nice
.

Dinner is served. Now it’s just me and Gino – Aunt Jen has conveniently vanished, her job well done.

I pick up an asparagus tip and lick the dripping butter with my tongue. ‘I was thinking . . . ’ I venture.

‘Yeah?’ says Gino, one eye firmly fixed on a ball-game playing on TV.

‘Umm . . . well . . . I mean . . . in a couple of months I’m going to be sixteen,’ I say. ‘So why do I have to go back to school at all?’

‘Huh?’

I haven’t quite got his full attention, but almost.

‘Here’s the thing,’ I continue quickly. ‘You know that I hate school, and school obviously hates me. And it’s not as if I ever learn anything, so basically it’s a total waste of time.
And
a waste of your money,’ I add, thinking this might encourage him to back off the private school idea. Hey – I’ve been thrown out of one, isn’t that enough?

Gino gives me a long steady look.

Yippee! I finally have his full attention
.

‘No school, huh?’ he growls. ‘An’ what exactly would you be plannin’ t’do all day?’

Wow! Is he actually taking me seriously? I can’t believe it
.

‘I was thinking I could follow you around, learn everything about the family business,’ I say eagerly. ‘You do so many things, and maybe you can teach me.’

‘Teach you, huh?’

‘Yes,’ I say, my words tumbling over each other as I struggle to impress him. ‘I pick things up real quick. I can be your right hand. I can learn all about Vegas and the hotel business.’

‘Jesus Christ!’ Gino suddenly explodes. ‘What are you – delusional?’

‘No, just smart, like you,’ I mutter stubbornly.

‘Forget about it, kid. You’re a girl. Education’s what you need. You’re gonna finish school, go to college, meet a nice guy, get married an’ have a bunch of kids. Sounds like a plan t’me.’

‘Sounds lousy to me,’ I respond, holding back angry tears. ‘When you talk like that it sounds as if you’ve got one foot in the last century.’

‘Y’know something, you have yourself a real smart mouth, Lucky,’ Gino says, his black eyes growing even darker with anger.

Wow! His words are mirroring Marco’s. Just because I have something to say for myself, does that mean that I have a smart mouth? What utter crap.

‘Take a long look at me, kiddo,’ Gino continues. ‘I never had no fancy private education. I was out bustin’ my ass to make a buck long before I was your age.’

Yes, Daddy, I know. You’ve told me countless times.

‘You – kiddo – are getting’ everythin’ I never had. So whyn’t you shut the fuck up, an’ remember how fortunate you are.’

Thanks, Daddy. What a lovely fatherly speech
.

‘So here’s the deal,’ Gino mutters. ‘You’ll do as I say, an’ one of these days you’re gonna kiss my ass an’ thank me. Got it?’

Chapter Fourteen

 

‘N
ew girl . . . new girl . . . new girl.’ Everywhere I go I hear the whispers. Yes, I
am
indeed the new girl – however, I do not fit the image of the other girls. Most of them are uptight white girls with hair neatly tied back, no make-up and pristine uniforms. I stand out with my wild black curls, deep olive skin, and touches of mascara and lip gloss. I have also adapted the school uniform to suit me. I have shortened the skirt, unbuttoned the blouse and abandoned the tie. A far better look.

Within days I am summoned to the principal’s office, another tight-ass with major attitude.

Here we go again
, I think.

Thanks, Gino
,
for sending me somewhere I hate
.

‘We have an extremely strict dress code here,’ the principal, a woman with a vast expanse of forehead and large horse teeth, informs me. ‘And we certainly do
not
allow our girls to wear make-up.’

‘Lip gloss isn’t make-up,’ I object. ‘That’s stupid.’

And for those few words I get detention, which is not all bad because detention takes place in an outer building, and directly outside the building I observe a young Mexican gardener doing his thing. Well, he’s not exactly doing his thing – that sounds rude – he’s actually sweeping up leaves and looking quite pissed off about it.

Once I’ve written
Lip gloss is make-up
five hundred times, I make my way outside to maybe get acquainted with the gardener. I soon discover that his name is Lopez, that he works for his father, and he is twenty. He’s also major cute, with flashing eyes almost as dark as mine, extremely long eyelashes, and a dangerous scar running down his left cheek.

I ask him how he got the scar. He tells me he was in a gang until his father whisked him out of the Bronx to the greenery and calmness of Connecticut.

I am impressed, and slightly excited. We arrange to meet later, and he fills me in on the safest window to escape from.

BOOK: Confessions of a Wild Child
13.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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