Don Ventimiglia gestured us to the sofa, him sitting on the love seat. He sighed, clasped his hands, and said, "I offered Jane the chance to live with me in Bel Air. She would attend a private school, have a generous allowance, the run of the estate, her hot rod and motorcycle would come with her. I would give her luxury, and indulgence, and my love.
"She has refused. Jane wishes to remain with you two until she begins college. I asked her of this loyalty, and she explained that she has already lost one set of adults in her life --- her parents --- and does not want to lose you, too. I told her she would be free to visit whenever she wished, and she said it would not be the same. She loves you, and wants to remain with you.
"That said, she is amenable to touring Europe with me over the summer, if you give your approval. She knows she could go of her own volition, but wants your permission to do so. If you acquiesce, she will need to start the process of acquiring a passport soon. I personally have not been on the Continent since Franco still ran things in Spain. The contagious energy of her youth will keep me going much better than if I was to visit on my own. Will you allow this?"
I said, "Absolutely. That's fantastic."
"It's wonderful," said Bekka. "She has to promise to write, though."
The Don smiled. "I will see to it. Break the news of your approval to her after I have departed. I will speak with her on the telephone tonight. There is also some business I need to discuss...."
Don V. leaned forward. So did we. He said, "I have reached a decision. I am going to appoint Angel Morelli, your capo, as the new Don. You are the first ones to learn of my decision, I have not told him myself yet. Lenny, I know you do not take part in the gossip that flies around, but just the same, I am telling you to keep this a secret until you hear otherwise. The same for you, Bekka. I will announce my decision by the end of the week."
"That's great," I said. "How did you reach your decision?"
"Watching him in action, just minutes ago. He caught Nicky's motion for his gun. He assessed the situation, and acted, in a split second. A man of such fast and intelligent thinking is what La Cosa Nostra needs at the helm. Angel can see the big picture, but also has an eye for detail. He is an excellent administrator. Angel is precisely the sort of man I want running things.
"They say a rising tide raises all ships. Lenny, your duties may increase. And with your wife being fellow mafioso, you two may become the first 'power couple' La Cosa Nostra has ever had. What do you say to that?"
I shook my head, as if to clear it. "Well.... I'll do what I can, but I'm not sure what that would be. I'm down here in San Diego, away from the action. San Diego is practically an exile in itself, albeit a nice one. What could I do from here?"
The Don considered this, and smiled. "I am sure you could accomplish much, and we would make sure you are not kept from home or your duties at Inana for long. We will have to give it some thought. In the meantime, I have kept them downstairs waiting for long enough."
He rose from the sofa and gave us both Italian man-hugs. "Take care, my young mafioso," he said. "I will be calling to speak with Jane tonight. I shall have Dino drive Nicky, so that I may break the news to Angel and discuss the future with him."
Bekka asked, "Can we share the news of Angel's good fortune with Jane?"
"Feel free, so long as she understands that it is a secret until next week."
We walked him downstairs. Nicky was in the passenger seat of his Continental, already belted in. Angel and Dino sat on the hood, smoking cigarettes. The Don informed them of the driving arrangements, simply telling Angel that they had things to discuss. We waved them goodbye and went back up.
"So, brunch?" I asked.
"Hell yes," said Bekka. "I could deal with a mimosa or five right now."
"So that's where things stand," I said. We sat at the table, most of us sipping mimosas. (Our waitress had carded Roach, so he was stuck with straight orange juice.) Our orders were coming. Jane was dancing in her seat, still jazzed at our approval of her going to Europe with Uncle Vito. "I know one person who is not going to be happy with the news," Bekka pointed out.
"Who's that?" asked Jane.
"Lance. No nookie all summer."
Jane laughed. "I'll give him permission to get laid at drama camp. He'll probably be one of the few straight boys there."
I said to Roach, "Remember, this news stays under your hat for a week."
Roach replied, "I have no idea who I'd tell anyway. No way am I letting my parents know how you guys are connected, they'd expect you to, like, hook me up with a job as an enforcer or something."
"Not happening," I told him. "The mafia chooses you, not the other way around. I don't have that kind of pull, not only am I just a soldier, I'm not a member. Just an associate."
"So when will you get the call, Bekka?" asked Jane.
Bekka said, "I have no clue. I'm guessing sooner rather than later, while Vito still has plenty of political pull. I haven't the slightest idea what to expect, either. I know there's a ceremony involved, some sort of secret rite. I know Lenny won't be there, except if they also serve dinner. And who knows what sort of contributions they'll want me to make to the family. It's gonna be weird enough for them having a woman member, but one who makes porn? That should throw 'em. I'll be the only member they get to see naked."
"Most of them already have," I pointed out. "It's not every month that Sicilian girls become centerfolds. I'll bet you're hanging up in a lot of garages and private offices."
"And you're probably the only one they want to see naked," said Jane. "Can you imagine nude photos of Rico Carelli floating around? Eww."
"Who is Rico Carelli?" boomed a voice to my right. We all looked up and there stood Detective Ross with his wife Vicky.
I said, "Oh, hello officer. What brings you by? Where are the kids?"
"They're at home. This is an anniversary brunch for just me and Vicky. And you haven't answered my question."
I patiently explained, "Rico Carelli is a mafia friend of mine from Orange County. He owns Carelli Cadillac up in Anaheim, I'm sure you've seen his commercials. Why do you ask?"
"Just curious," said Ross. "I figured he might be one of Jane's, uh, clients."
"Oh, fuck off, officer," Jane muttered.
"What was that? I didn't quite catch that."
Jane smiled sweetly and said, "I was just wishing I had some orange juice left, so I'd have something to throw in your face. I'm sick of you calling me a prostitute, and I'm sick of you accusing Lenny and Bekka of pimping me out. Go enjoy your breakfast, the hostess is waiting on you."
Vicky tugged at his sleeve and said, "Let's go, Richard."
"Eat brunch here often?" Ross asked.
"Every weekend," said Bekka. "We like it here."
Ross looked at me and said, "See you in the holding cells, Lenny," and followed the hostess.
"What the fuck was that?" asked Roach.
Rubbing her temples, Jane answered, "Detective Ross there is convinced that Lenny and Bekka pimp me out. You know, prime underage pussy for a high price. He's also my boyfriend Lance's stepdad. Yeah, it's a real fun dynamic we have going on. His wife is cool with me, but he's sure I'm going to be pulled in on a vice bust any day now. He figures that's why Lenny and Bekka are so good to me, to keep me sweet."
"Ross hates that we're successful," said Bekka. "He can't grasp that we live how we do through hard work and talent. And a bit of luck. And mafia connections."
"Far out," said Roach. "You're, like, the world's richest punk, aren't you?"
Bekka said, "I believe he is."
"The luckiest, anyways," I said.
"Lots of money and a hot wife," said Jane. "You are a lucky punk.'
"Don't I know it," I said, polishing off my mimosa. Our food was arriving.