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Authors: Cynthia Freeman


BOOK: Fairytales
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A Novel
Cynthia Freeman

To Dominic Rossi

whose enormous spirit never ceased to amaze me


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Illusions of Love

About the Author


those glorious mornings in Santa Barbara that sojourners from the damp, dismal fog of San Francisco dream about, in fact, look forward to every year. The men were already waiting in teams of twos and fours to get on to the green lush golf course. It was the promise of a great day for eighteen holes of golf as they stood swinging their clubs limbering up, but Catherine Rossi couldn’t have cared less as she lay alone in the middle of the luxurious oversized bed, in the luxurious oversized room reserved at the Biltmore for herself and her famous husband. The famous Dominic Rossi. Famous stud, that’s what he was as far as she was concerned. He’d given her seven famous children, hadn’t he? Well … this morning Catherine had it up to here. Every time she thought about last night she did a slow burn as her anger smoldered … How dare he not remember to make arrangements for her to be seated at the speakers’ table alongside of him and all the other dignitaries? Good question … how come? Wasn’t that where the future United States senator’s wife belonged? … he’d better believe. That’s where she and four of his famous children belonged … but where were they seated … at a round table in the shadows, in the corner like paying guests. She doubted if anybody knew she was present, but more important, did anyone give a damn? Especially Darlin’ Dominic standing up on that platform making speeches with such dramatic flair that would have made Marlon Brando look like a piker … why he could easily have won an Academy Award and knowing Dominic, he would have accepted it. Well, there was one advantage … in case of fire she was so close to the exit she sure as hell would have had no problem getting out fast … why the very idea …

How dare he treat her like she was some insignificant Sicilian wife cooking pasta. Well, the odds were eight would get you five in Las Vegas that Dominic Rossi would be the next U.S. senator from California, that he was a winner, invincible. No contest. There was no one that could come up against him and place, much less win. But that’s what
thought. There was one person who could beat him. Indeed there was. And by God, she would even if it meant her marriage. What marriage? Why she hadn’t had a husband in the last six-and-a-half years. He’d gone off this morning to pursue his quest on the campaign trail without her, and Catherine Antoinette Frances Posata Rossi was tired of taking second place and today, more than any other day, she remembered who and what he was when she married him, a starving young attorney from San Francisco. But angry as she was, Catherine wanted to be fair, if even begrudgingly, with herself (and at this moment, it was damned hard to be perfectly fair). He hadn’t been exactly poor, since his father and all of the Rossi brothers from Sicily had made it big in fish, or produce, or booze, or whatever they made it in after one generation. But nonetheless, he wasn’t her equal when he’d come down to New Orleans that summer to meet her. Bet your little Sicilian ass he wasn’t. Why her family had been American born for three generations. Southern born, and they were rich,
really rich.
However they got rich, by now they could afford to forget that Pasquale Posata had jumped ship at New Orleans without papers and melted into a society struggling in a civil war. So with all that going on, who noticed an immigrant from Sicily? His heritage of survival from the old country had trained him well, he found a very lucrative business in rumrunning for the North and gun-running for the South. He did anything and everything that was illegal or illicit, but the most important thing was his shrewdness to stay out of jail and above all, not to get deported. As far as he was concerned, it didn’t make one damn little bit of difference who won, as long as he came out in the end with more than he had started and
Mama mia,
that he did. When the dust had settled, and the fray was over, Pasquale Posata decided to remain in this most divine, magnificent country of opportunity because where else in the world, but in America, could anyone become a millionaire over night from a revolution. When he thought about it, he laughed. In all the twenty years of his life, he’d known nothing but chaos and revolution in the old country, but out of that, one either found himself dead or starving, and here, from revolution, you could become rich.

Now he decided to become respectable and a gentleman. He changed his name to Peter and married an impoverished southern belle of Italian extraction with a crumbling dilapidated mansion and a ruined plantation. But he needed her and she needed him. Not only did he restore the mansion and eventually yield the greatest harvest of tobacco in the state, but he produced four sons and two daughters and Peter Posata was a very happy man. Life had been good to him.
Mama mia,
had life been good to him. He would even have been happier had he been able to foretell that, from the Sicilian earth from which he had come, four generations later, out of his loins would emerge a woman of prominence and distinction.

But this morning, Catherine Rossi wasn’t concerned with her lineage nor her great-great-great-grandfather, her mind was filled with the past which didn’t go back quite so far. It went back to a lavish garden party given by her parents, who lived in a house one hundred and fifty years old in perfect repair, one of the best in the Latin Quarter, furnished with the most elaborate antiques, and there she met, for the first time, Dominic Rossi, fresh out of Harvard. The meeting was more than casual or coincidental, although it was made to appear so. However, the Rossis of San Francisco and the Posatas of New Orleans had met on many occasions through mutual friends and relatives in their travels and through the years had developed a strong bond of friendship and it was they who had decided it was important the two young people meet. When Catherine’s mother, in her most diplomatic, gracious manner, mingled with her southern accent, mentioned that Dominic Rossi was to be their houseguest for a time, Catherine exploded. “You mean, Mama, you’re bringin’ him here so as I can marry him, and that’s the truth … isn’t that the truth?”

“Now, Catherine, that’s no way to talk to your Mama.”

Catherine’s Sicilian blood, of which there was more than a little residue after all the generations, bubbled. “Maybe not, Mama, but that’s why you’re havin’ him come. Why, you’d think I was an old maid.”

And that’s what Catherine’s Mama really thought. With the few eligible Italian young men in New Orleans from the best families, for some reason Catherine, pretty, petite five-foot-three, brunette, brown-eyed little belle that she was, had more beaus than one could count, but not one proposal. She was going on twenty-five and not one on the horizon and Mama knew why. It was because Catherine lacked her southern, quiet, coquettish style. Instead, Catherine was blunt and outspoken, half scaring, if not discouraging, the young men, and Mama swore it had to come from the Posata side, not hers. Rosa Ann was like
She knew when to say yes at the right time, how to appeal to a man’s ego which was the only way to grab a man at the right time, and that was why Rosa Ann, who was only eighteen months younger than Catherine, was married and expecting her second child. Well… God almighty, somethin’ had to be done even if it took importing a northerner, or more to the point, a westerner who was two years younger than Catherine, but Mama had read
Gone With the Wind
and decided she would think about that tomorrow (as Scarlett had suggested). But when Catherine saw Dominic Rossi for the first time, entering the garden with the orchestra playing softly, with his father at his side, her blood did bubble, not from anger this time, but from passion. He was virile, handsome, six feet tall with a shock of dark auburn hair, with a clear light complexion. His charm and smile were captivating as was his amazing wit which added to his allure, but he also had made a name for himself as best halfback of the year at Harvard. However he wasn’t all brawn, there was a brain so keen and exceptional it had taken him to Harvard at the age of sixteen, from where he graduated first in the top ten, magna cum laude. Yes, sir, the moment she saw him, she could have swooned (if that were the sort of thing Catherine did) as he approached her, standing in that celestial setting with the violins playing in the background, dressed in the most exquisite, most expensive apricot silk organza dress (that Mama or money could buy) with lots and lots of ruffles and on her pretty little feet were four-inch heeled silk shoes to match. Her hair was coiffed to perfection (because Mama always knew a woman’s crowning glory was her hair). She pursed her lips in a rather Mona Lisa style, crinkled her eyes as an inner smile tickled her. Yes, sir, by God, Dominic Rossi had met his mate in Catherine Posata and she made up her mind then and there she was going to marry him, make no mistake about that. In spite of his size, she was every inch the woman to handle him. The two fathers embraced one another around the shoulders as Catherine and Dominic looked into each other’s eyes for a moment. The spell was broken as Angelo Posata said with enormous pride, taking Catherine’s diminutive hand in his, “May I present my daughter, Catherine … this is Dominic Rossi.”

He answered smiling (beautiful teeth, she thought), “I can assure you this is a pleasure I’ve looked forward to for a very long time.”

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised,” Catherine answered in her most extravagant southern accent, narrowing her eyes and thrusting back her chin.

For a moment, he inclined his head to one side as though he hadn’t heard her, then looked her squarely in the eyes, smiled and laughed as she joined him in the laughter. The two fathers walked away, leaving them alone. “Would you like to dance?” Dominic asked.

And Catherine answered, “Would you rather dance or make love to me?”

This time he stood speechless and for Dominic Rossi, that was a rare situation. He took her by the hand and led her to the furthest part of the garden where he sat her down on a stone bench, half laughing, and said, “You know, beyond a doubt, you’re the most curious girl I have ever met. I’m not sure if you’re happy or unhappy to have met me.”

“Well, I kinda think that’s sort of an accomplishment if I can keep a big lawyer guessin’ what my motives are.”

“Oh … well, in that case, I want to make love to you.” He took her arm and gently stood her up.

“Now, you just hold on for one minute. What makes
think I want to make love to you?”

“Because you asked me.”

“That’s right … I asked you a question, but all questions require answers and my answer is I wouldn’t let you make love to me,” she responded with that Mona Lisa smile.

“Oh, I’m not so sure of that,” he said, holding her close to him, but she pushed herself back.

“Now, you listen to me. You know, as well as I do, that this is nothin’ more or less than an arrangement, an arrangement made between our parents, expectin’ me to say ‘Yes’ and ‘how sudden all this is,’ when the time came for you to pop the question and I should be coy and all nervous-like and excited. Well … for your information, Mr. Barrister, I want you to know I don’t enjoy playin’ these kinda games and I want you to know from the very beginnin’ I’m gonna say yes because I do want to marry you. I didn’t think I would, but I do. So anytime you want to ask me, don’t hesitate.”

Dominic started to laugh. Not at her and she knew it, but at her complete candor and lack of inhibition, then quite seriously, looking at her, he said, “You know, when I came down here, I had the same doubts and reservations, but of course I wasn’t aware you knew why I was coming. Suppose I tell you something?”

BOOK: Fairytales
12.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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