Body of Trust - Jeannine Colette

Chapter One

In the dark, winding hills overlooking the New York Harbor lies the city’s most exclusive club. A former mansion once owned by the Genovese crime family is now a private social club offering a glimpse back to the days when the mob ruled New York.

It’s a place where wine is sipped by women as business is discussed in hushed tones by men. A restaurant of exclusivity that only members may enter.

I, Amelia Sorrentino, am one of them.

The thick iron gates open as I drive up to the valet waiting near the entrance. A familiar Lincoln pulls up behind my Mercedes-Benz. The lights blind me in the rearview as I grab my purse and exit the car.

“Good evening, Miss Sorrentino,” the valet greets me as my heels hit the cobblestone. “Mr. Sorrentino is in the Oak Bar, finishing up a meeting,” the valet informs me of my father’s whereabouts.

I step to the side and adjust my hair as the evening breeze rolls off the harbor.

“Amelia.” Rocco, one of my father’s longtime associates, gets out of the car behind me. His hair is slicked back despite having thinned with age.

I smile at the familiar face that always seems to arrive at the same time I do.

“Dinner with the family?”

I laugh lightly. He knows as well as everyone here where to find me on this day and time. It’s a long-standing Friday night tradition between my parents, sister, and me.

“Dad’s head would explode if I ever canceled. I think it’s his way of keeping tabs on us.”

“Then, what do you call Sunday dinner at the house?” he asks, adjusting his silk tie.

“A weekend accountability check.” I smile with a lift of my eyes.

Rocco laughs in the deep, husky tone of a middle-aged man. He waves to the valet, not needing a ticket, as they know whose car belongs to whom. “I know you well, Amelia, and a troublemaker you’re not. You never veer off schedule.”

“You sound like you’re the one keeping tabs on me.”

Rocco looks behind us as he adjusts his tie again, running his finger along his collar, and then he holds his arm out for me to walk first. “Come, let’s get you inside.”

The fountain in the center of the circular drive is bubbling in the warm evening as I saunter up the pavers to the stucco entrance of Villa Russo.

The concierge opens the door as I approach, and I walk into the foyer. Inside, men’s laughter fills the thickly clouded air. This club is one of the only places in the city where you can still smoke a cigar indoors. My father says it’s because they sell tobacco. I know it’s because outsiders aren’t allowed in to see who is breaking the rules and payoffs are given out like candy. Money is exchanged in palms disguised as handshakes. Envelopes in the shape of holiday cards are handed out on occasions we don’t even celebrate.

“There you are!” Sienna calls from the mahogany bar. Her long black hair flows over her shoulder as she stands up with open arms. I walk over to her with a kiss hello. “You’re late.”

“I’m precisely on time. I told you I wasn’t clocking out a minute early.” I slide onto a stool.

“Hasn’t your boss ever heard of early Fridays?”

“Not everyone gets to live a life of leisure,” I tease as I adjust the bottom of my dress.

Sienna has a college degree but has yet to use it, as her father, Frank Evangelista, provides her with everything she needs. Her diploma is a hundred-thousand-dollar piece of artwork on the family wall.

“Speaking of”—she lightly paws at me—“I went to the spa today, getting the world’s most ridiculously relaxing massage, and while I was in the tranquility room, I overheard Anthony Buonno’s mother talking to some other woman about how Anthony broke up with horseface Francine. You know, the one he dumped you for.”

“Technically, I was the one who dumped him.”

“Because he was sleeping with that whore!” she adds, and I don’t argue with her. “I can’t believe you were with him for two years. He is such a creep. If he even thinks about calling you, I hope you’re in the right mind to kick him in the balls.”

“It’d be hard to do that over the phone.”

She rolls her eyes. “You know what I mean.” While her tone is dramatic, she is justified in her intention.

Anthony and I were a steady couple for a long time. He was a fixture by my side at family dinners. My father