Daddy's Here(4)

By: Lucy Wild

“I’m nineteen.”

“And you act like a fourteen year old whore.”

“Aren’t those two things mutually exclusive?”

I told you not to get funny with me, Isabel. I’ve had enough of you behaving like this.”

“Like what?”

“I’m not getting into a debate with you about what’s appropriate for a woman of your age, I’ll get to the point. I’ve decided it’s time to get married.”

“Who’s the unlucky woman?”

“Not me, you.”

A heavy weight suddenly thudded down into the pit of my stomach. The hangover that had faded away came roaring back. “You want me to get married?”

“It’s all been arranged. You’ll like him.”

“You mean you’ve picked my husband out for me? What century is this?”

“I don’t care what century it is, I care about my daughter acting like a woman, not a slut. The venue’s booked, everything’s already arranged. All you have to do is turn up.”

“Who is he?”

“You’ll like him.”

“Who is he?”

“His name’s Kingsley.”

“He sounds like he’s out of a Merchant Ivory film.”

“He’s the son of Tony Matteo.”

“You want me to marry the son of a gangster?”

“He’s not a gangster, he’s a businessman same as me.”

“He’s a gangster. What’s going on, Dad?”

He sighed, the neutral expression on his face vanishing for a moment. “Nothing’s going on.”

“Bullshit. This isn’t you talking, you’ve never mentioned marriage before. You’ve never cared what I’m up to as long as I don’t spend too much.”

He sighed again, this time rubbing the bridge of his nose with two fingers before continuing. “You have to marry him, all right.”

“I don’t have to do anything, not if you don’t tell me why.”

“Christ, can’t you just do as you’re told?”

“Can’t you just tell me the truth.”

“Fine,” he snapped. “I owe him a favour.”

“A favour? I’m a favour for a gangster?”

“It’s not like that. Listen, back when you were little, things were a lot tougher than they are now.”

“Oh, here we go, the old candle light and no food to eat story, I’ve heard it before, Dad.”

“Shut up,” he said, pointing at me, his eyes narrowing. “For once in your life, just shut up and listen.”

I did. He looked more serious than he ever had before. It was a look that terrified me because he looked scared. He never looked scared.

“My first bit of legal work was for the Matteo family.”

“Oh, Dad, you didn’t?”

“I had to, sweetheart. We’d have been on the streets otherwise.”

I thought about replying but then I saw the look on his face again.

“Tony said I owed him a favour at the time.” His face twisted as he tried to keep it under control. “He laughed when he said it, I thought he was joking.”

“But he wasn’t?”

“He came to see me last week, told me he needed a wife for his son, told me he was calling in his favour.”

“Oh, Dad.”

“Don’t do that. Don’t talk to me that way. We don’t have a choice, Isabel. You don’t know him, you don’t know what he’s capable of.”

“All right.”

“What?” He looked surprised by my reaction.

“I said, all right.”

“You mean you’ll do it?”

“Whatever you say, father.”

“Wonderful!” A bell rang in the distance. “Come and have breakfast with me. We’ll talk.”

“No thanks. Is that everything? Only I’ve a date with a duvet and I don’t want to miss it.”

“Of course, you go get some rest. I can let you know the details later.”

The driver was waiting for me outside and I didn’t let my fixed smile fade until I was in the car. “Now will you take me home?” I asked, closing my eyes again.

The car set off as I waited for the nausea to pass. So he wanted me to marry Kingsley Matteo, son of scum? My father, the big man, the smart man, yet not smart enough to see I was only nodding for long enough to get away from him. There was no way I was marrying the kid of a man so oily he probably slept in a giant sardine tin. I’d go home, get some sleep, then start packing. When I got married, if I ever got married, it wouldn’t be for a ‘favour’ or to a man no one liked I would marry for one reason and one reason only. I would marry for love. Until that day, I was out of there.

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