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S E P T E M B E R  1 9 2 9

“I … Trey said something that’s been bothering me,” Dot said low.


“He said … um … about me and Gio being … together. Like that, the way you and Trey are. That it would … settle me?”

Marina blinked. “Well,” she said, then took a bite, thinking while she chewed. “I don’t know if I can explain it, but I’ll try.”

Dot nodded eagerly.

“This is the way Trey explained it to me.” She tried to describe about best pals and having fun that way, but it wasn’t coming out right and she got impatient with herself. “No! I mean, that there’s something inside you that stops worrying about tomorrow or other people and whether they like you or not because after you do that with your best pal, you wake up knowing that no matter what, there’s somebody in the world who wants you and cares about you and always will and that’s never going to change. After Trey and I do … that, it makes me feel … I don’t know. Solid. Secure.” She paused. “Safe. Protected. Like I have a real home, like I belong somewhere where I am wanted. I’m not just a name floating around in a house that’s not mine, tiptoeing around the other people who live there. With Trey I can say what I think and get angry and yell and know that he’s not going to hold it against me and then we do … that … and everything is all right again.”

Dot blinked in amazement. “That’s what that means? That if Gio and I did … that … ”

“You wouldn’t be mad at me anymore because you would have another best pal who would be with you always. You accused me of leaving you because I got married, but you’ve always been planning to go to Utah to college. We used to live only a few blocks from each other, but Utah is over a thousand miles away. In a year and a half, you’ll leave me behind and probably never come back. And if you do, you’ll get married or get a job and never have time for me.”

Dot’s eyes widened and then began to glitter. Her mouth turned down.

“I always knew that,” Marina said gently, “even though it didn’t seem you thought about that at all. I was scared because then I wouldn’t have anybody, but I didn’t say anything because you’re so excited. Now I have somebody and every time Trey and I are … um … indecent, it’s a promise that I will always be wanted by somebody, somewhere. I took what he said to mean that it would be that way for you and Gio too if you ever got married.

“So after that first time, I thought about it for a long time. It’s not like that with every couple because look at Mother and Father, and look at my real mother and whoever my real father is. So you might feel differently with Gio. But I decided that my husband might be evil, but he’s not to me and he won’t be to our baby. He’s mine and he wants me to be with him and he cares about me and he thinks I’m smart and he tries to make me happy. He brings me flowers and cute little knickknacks he finds. I wouldn’t feel this way if he were awful to me, but if he were that kind of man, I don’t think your father would’ve let me marry him. When he’s mad at you and yells, it’s because you hurt my feelings and he’s trying to fix it.”

Dot looked shocked. “So he’s not trying to get rid of me?”

“No! He just doesn’t like it when you hurt my feelings. That’s all.”

“And eloping?!”

“If you and Gio got married too, we’d both be settled and not worry about splitting up.”

She scowled. “Are you telling me to elope? Forget college?”

Marina shrugged helplessly. “No. But I see Trey’s point. I get to do what I want. Now I can see your parents really are strict, but compared to how Mother and Father were … I’m not saying to do it,” she added hurriedly. “I’m saying it’s a choice. You can get married and go to college.”

“But what if I make a mistake?” she whispered, her voice trembling. “People break up all the time. What if … ?”

“That’s why I’m not saying to do it. You don’t know. I don’t know. What I do know is that Gio wants to marry you and he’s, well, a man of the world. More than Trey. Your mother told me once men fall in love quicker than women and they hardly think about it and they never say it, but when they do, that’s it. Their minds are made up. Dot, you know everything about him, I think. All the bad things he’s done. He ran away from home so he could be free to be a better person and he’s been working his way up. He doesn’t do his old job at 1520, he went to church with you, he stopped smoking and drinking, and he respects your father. He won’t elope with you even if you wanted to because he wants to have your father’s blessing. Dot, he’s a good man, no matter what he’s done.”

“I don’t like thinking about that,” she muttered. “It’s … awful.”

“But you still love him or you wouldn’t have listened to him when he asked to explain.”

Dot bit her lip. “Do you love Trey?”

Marina shook her head. “Not like that, the way your mother loves your father. I love Trey the way I love you.”


“I’m indecent with him because he’s my husband and that’s what husbands and wives who are very good friends—and couples who love each other the way you and Gio do—do to have fun. It doesn’t take very much time and you don’t have to dress up, and it doesn’t cost anything to do it, not like Fairyland and baseball games, cotton candy and Crackerjacks and everything. That adds up,” she added sagely.

Dot scowled in thought. “That’s a very practical way of looking at it. Kinda takes all the mystery out of it.”

Marina shook her head. “It’s not mysterious at all.”

What she didn’t tell Dot, however, was that she still needed the sweet tea to get over her embarrassment and lingering dread that Trey would start thinking of her as a loose woman. Even if she could be herself, the sweet tea gave her an excuse, some space between herself and the act of being indecent, permission to let herself go with that wonderful body sneeze.

It was easy to talk about indecencies as just another fun thing couples did together, nothing special, but … it was special. Marina didn’t like that she had to have the sweet tea, but she was positive she could not give Trey what he wanted without it, which meant she would feel awful in the morning. She didn’t like that she thought of being indecent as special because then what? If she really believed what she told Dot, she’d be able to do it without sweet tea the same way she could ride rollercoasters.

“Um … ” Dot said again hesitantly, “do you think you and Trey could … well, let me tag along on your outings again? Pictures and such?”

Marina sighed. “Dot, we go during school hours and Sundays. You know that. I can ask for Saturdays, but a threesome is always awkward—” She gasped when Dot grimaced. “You want Gio to come along!”

Dot flushed.

“Dot!” Marina cried, thoroughly exasperated. “Gio has a hard enough time sneaking around at all. He’ll never do that. What you need to do is badger your father instead of me, just the way Trey said.”

“Would you have ever badgered your parents?”

I did! Politely! At the right time. It worked or else I wouldn’t be here now!”

“Not with my church activities!”

“Most of the time,” she amended. “And I knew I had to stop before Mother— I think I knew she would do something like she did. She scares me. She’s always scared me but I didn’t know. Your father yells like Trey does! He’s never going to beat you and then someday you’ll turn eighteen—”

“And I’ll be in Utah,” she said flatly.

“Not on your birthday. There is no reason Gio can’t go with you as your husband.”

“You’ve gotten really sneaky since you married him.”

Marina nodded, not feeling insulted in the least, which surprised her. “I married an evil man, remember?”

Again, Dot flushed. “I’m sorry. He’s not. I’m just … ” She sighed heavily, then muttered, “I’m jealous. You’re mine. Gio is mine. You and he have both chosen Trey over me.”

Marina bowed her head. She didn’t know what to do, but she knew she couldn’t change Gio’s mind and her life and loyalty were to Trey because she was a good woman and he was good to her.

“You’re going to have to talk to your father, but he’s not going to give you what you want. He’s protecting you from the Machine and more than that, he’s protecting you from the New York Mafia. They’re a lot more powerful than Boss Tom and Brother John put together. They don’t want to get into a war with Boss Tom, but they do want Gio and if they know he’s here, somebody is going to be here so they can get paid for bringing him back to New York alive for the bosses to kill him. Maybe, just maybe, Utah would be a good place for him to hide. That’s what Trey said. They wouldn’t believe Gio would run with Mormons, much less turn his back on the Catholic church no matter what. They’d assume any girl he married would be Catholic or turn Catholic, not the other way around.”

Dot’s rosiness had turned ghost and her breath hitched.

“You didn’t know?” Marina whispered, horrified she said something she oughtn’t. Why hadn’t Trey told her? He was very specific about things she should not tell anybody.

“I don’t— I don’t understand.”

Marina sighed in resignation. “Gio’s real name is Matteo Terranova. He’s part of a big crime family with connections everywhere, and he’s in a lot of trouble with his family because he … didn’t finish a job he was ordered to do.” Then she told her the job, what Gio had not done, and described the Cosa Nostra’s punishment rituals as Trey had explained them to her. Then, “It’s not just his own family. When he turned, he turned on all the bosses, all the outfits like in Chicago and Atlantic City, not just his own. Every Mafia soldier in the country is looking for him because if they find him and bring him in alive, they’ll get a lot of money. I thought you knew that. Your father doesn’t want you to be a widow in a year or two or three or however long, and he doesn’t want to take the chance that they would kill you to punish Gio. That’s why he won’t budge. You have to convince him you’re willing to take the chance. Get your father to let you take Gio to BYU, get him to change his name to something English, because he doesn’t want to do that, either, and they’ll never find him.”

That was when Dot dropped her head on the table and began to sob.

*  *  *

“You’re not mad?” Marina asked Trey hesitantly at breakfast.

“Naw. I didn’t tell you not to spill that because she needed to know, Gio wasn’t going to tell her, my first loyalty’s to Albright or I wouldn’t give a shit whether she was out with Gio or not, so long as it’s not on speak time, but that’s a mute point—”



Marina released a relieved sigh.

“There isn’t much I get mad about, excepting you breaking my rules, but I do got a bone to pick.”

Marina’s mouth dropped open and her spine tingled. Was he going to send her away? Was he going to start sleeping at the speakeasy again? For the first time since she was indecent with him, she no longer felt safe and secure in him and this situation.

“Carville’s got a crush on you.”

Marina’s brow wrinkled. “What?” she asked, confused. It wasn’t true, but even if it was, how was that her fault?

“Miss Stanley tells me Carville’s got a crush on you,” he repeated. “She thinks you’re spendin’ entirely too much time with him, givin’ him dinner an’ whatnot—”

“You told me to!” she cried, imagining getting an old, crusty math tutor who needed the money and resented her, her slow learning, her inability to learn if he couldn’t teach her correctly, but had to keep the job because he needed the money.

“Yeah, I did, but he ain’t welcome to dinner anymore. It don’t take two hours for dinner an’ I doubt he’s teachin’ you durin’ dinner. Nobody can take four straight hours of that kinda math without their brain shrivelin’.”

“Miss Stanley was coming to dinner too! If she’s so concerned, why did she stop coming to dinner?”

“She and Carville don’t get along. They both teach at East, but Miss Stanley likes women, and Carville’s snide about it. She’s worried about you and him together.”

“We don’t do anything wrong!” Marina cried. “We just talk about books! He likes Agatha Christie too!”

That was the wrong thing to say. Trey’s face flushed and his nostrils flared. “You what?” he growled.

“Um … you don’t … You and I don’t talk, not since we started being indecent together, I mean. We don’t lie in bed and read or share notes anymore. Nobody in the neighborhood reads much and Dot certainly doesn’t! I miss that, miss talking to someone about books we both like. I don’t know how he could have a crush on me anyway! I’m fat and ugly!”

Trey’s mouth opened and closed in astonishment, but for which thing, she didn’t know. “You spend six hours a week with him doin’ somethin’ you do with me?”

Did!” she screamed, hopping to her feet, fists clenched by her side. Tomorrow she’d cringe at this, but right now she was too angry to stop. “You did! You want to be indecent more than you want to talk to me!” He gaped at her, which she took to mean he was about to acknowledge his error to himself.

“You don’t even read anymore and if you do, I don’t know about it, much less get to talk about it! All you want to do with me anymore is be indecent. Dot thinks we go do fun things when you’re home, like Fairyland and the pictures and, and, and those things! But we don’t. We do the, the thing, which I like, when I’ve had sweet tea, but I’d like to do other things too! Mr. Carville talks to me! So does Miss Stanley, but it’s always about the same thing and I can’t get a word in edgewise! Dot’s all but abandoned me and blaming me for it, which she wouldn’t do if Gio had any bravery at all. My neighborhood friends have children, so the only time I get to spend with them is when I take them grocery shopping. I don’t go to school or church so I don’t have a chance to make new friends. You have the speakeasy and you come home ready to be indecent. Then I make breakfast for you, you tell me how your night went, you don’t care what I did all day, and off you go! I’m lonely, Trey! You’ve got the speak and a whole bunch of people to talk to and I’m alone practically all the time!”

He was staring at her—a weird sort of glare, really—and his jaw began to grind. She braced herself for a rant, but the only thing he did was storm upstairs, take a shower, and head out the door without so much as a smile or goodbye.

Marina didn’t bother to plan dinner.

Mr. Carville would never come over again.


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