I'm at the bar. I'm bored out of my mind. That's the thing about me. I'm always bored. Nothing excites me anymore. I've been in New York for less than an hour and I'm already bored to death. Maybe that is the reason I said no to Kairo Thomas when he asked to marry me. Maybe that's why I left Kairo at the alter. I was the ultimate runaway groom. My mother damn near wanted to kill me. Who said no to a successful, sexy, kind, patient lawyer who adores you, she tells me. She loved him. She probably would have married him if he wasn't half her age and gay.
I said no and I left.
I ran away to NYC. My mother is blowing up my phone. I know Kairo is on the other line. He wants to know why I left the day of the wedding. I text my dad and tell him I'm in his city. I need to be away from home. That's why I hit up the bar. I need a drink. I happen to find the most low key lame bar in the world.
And I expect everything to be the same. I expect myself to be bored to the point of inertia. I expect nothing to catch my excitement and nothing to keep it.
I'm completely wrong.
I don't notice him at first when he sits next to me. He's Spanish or at least I think he is. I'm not really sure. He has a gangster swag to him. He's very New York.
“Bartender...bourbon....” the guy says.
I notice his accent. I can't help it. He's not Spanish. I'm wrong. He's Italian. He's tall, dark and handsome. He has daring eyes when I look at him and dark hair sitting on the top of his head. His eyes are so dark that they are almost black. His lips are pink and his skin was the color of dark sand. He has on a leather jacket and a cigar that's been put out still dangles from his fingertips. He puffs on it and blows....slight drafts of smoke towards the bar. I catch a whiff of it. It's strong, masculine and intoxicating smoke just like him. The one word that comes to my mind is Stallion.
“Here you go
“How much do I owe you Joey?” the Italian says.
“Don't mention it,” the bartender states.
I don't think much of it at the time. Maybe they were friends. Maybe they were associates. If this was a gay bar I'd be accustomed to getting drinks all the time. I was attractive myself or at least I'd like to think so. I was dark with light brown eyes and skin like milk chocolate. That's what Kairo always said. Kairo always gave me fucking compliments. I couldn't go a day without them. He never disagreed either. He was the ultimate yes man. 5 years with the guy and he never even raised his voice at me. He made me feel like a prince.
Maybe that's what I hated. I'd had my share of guys and never had an issue getting one but when something is easy...it gets boring.
This guy...he didn't seem boring and he's yet to open his mouth.
“Bourbon says a lot about a guy,” I tell him.
He looks over at me. He seems surprised I'm talking to him. As our eyes connect I really get a taste of how exotic he is. His brown skin and his dark features are like midnight. There is something so dark and sexy about this fucking man. He's mysterious and handsome. He puffs on his cigar a few times and takes his time to answer me.
“Like what...smart guy?” he asks.
“You are from
here...Staten Island. You are drinking it on the rocks. You own a
nice watch but you don't like to wear it to places that don't valet.
All those things tell me you've lived here all your life and you have
a lot on your mind. You are accustomed to nice things but you don't
want to show off too much. You can do a lot more with what you have
but you're a nice a guy.”
“Nice guy huh?”
“Yeah. Deep down.”
“You some type of pig reading people like that?”
He raises his eyebrows. I'm shocked it took me so long to realize those eyebrows of his. They are thick. They are so thick and sexy. It draws you right into the dark eyes of his. I don't know why my heart is in my throat just looking at this guy. The one word that comes to mind is...damn. Why didn't I ever meet guys like him before Kairo.
I have to take my shot because I'm no punk. I'm no pussy. I'm not about to just not take my shot. So I lean forward. I lick my lips and I whisper in my ear when I see the bartender turning away from us.
a cop. I'm a cook. I just pay attention to beautiful
The guy is silent at that moment.
There's nothing. Then there's something.
He gets up. He puts a pile of money on the bar even though the bartender said his drink was free. Then he heads to the bathroom.
All I could think of was yes. Yes. I've scored.
I get up at that moment. I follow this guy to the bathroom. I walk over to him. The sexy Italian is at the urinal when I walk into the stall. He's taking a piss. I walk over to the stall next to him. I pull my dick out. It takes a moment for me to start peeing. The Italian isn't even acknowledging me. He isn't even looking my way. He's just looking down at the urinal pissing.
That's when I do it.
I lean over and I look at his dick. It's thick. Heavy. It's so
thick and heavy that when he holds it he has to cup it with his
ENTIRE hand and his hands still don't go around his dick. It's the
thickest dick I've ever seen in my life. So much for the bullshit
theory that street guys have little dicks.
This guy was a street guy and his dick was so thick that my mouth watered a little bit.
“You mind?” he asks.
“You staring at my meat or something?”
“Naw I was---”
“You were staring at my meat,” he says in his deep sexy ass Italian accent driving me fucking crazy, “Staring. Can you believe this? This guy's staring at my meat. Can you believe this?”
I can't help but to be so turned on by his accent. It's a mix of New York and Italy. He's forceful in his tone but somehow it turns me the fuck on even more.
“You want to see my meat. Here it is. Take a look at it. I saw you staring,” he states.
I can't tell if he is offended or not. I don't know if he's joking. All I know is that this guy is facing me right now. His dick is between his legs as he's standing towards me. His dick is tan. It's the same color as him. His head is big and there are veins outlining his dick. Every part of me wants to just drop to my knees. I want to suck the skin off of his dick. That's what I want to do so bad.
“Why you say that? You some type of homo?”
At that moment I'm a little bit scared. He's a little aggressive in the way he's talking. Don't get me wrong. I'm still turned on but right now the Italian is a little too aggressive.
“No...” I lie.
“Listen homo don't lie to me.”
He moves me back. He shoves me up against the wall. I slam hard into the wall of the bathroom. My head is against the tiles. He's pressed up against me. He yokes me up. He's so strong. He's so fucking powerful. His dick is still out and it's pressed up against the sides of my pants. He's one of those manly men and for some reason that is turning me on so much more.
We make eye contact.
“What if I was?” I ask him.
Nothing. He still has me pressed up against the wall. He's staring in my eyes. A few seconds pass but it seems like a lifetime. Sparks are flying. I've had sparks before meeting other guys but not like this. There is some sort of passion drawing us here. I wonder if it's fate that we meet here in this dirty bathroom. He's challenging me. Something is going to happen. The tension is just too high. I can almost imagine seeing fireworks between us.
A part of me thinks he's either going to beat my ass right now or kiss me.
He does neither.
The phone rings and he steps backward, pulls his pants out and runs out of the bathroom. I stare at the door my heart racing not sure what just happened but wanting to chase behind him. I don't though. I don't because I just got into town and I should be meeting my father.
“Where are you? Your flight landed an hour ago,” my dad says.
“I'm at a
“Are you ok? Your mom told me about the thing with your friend. I'm sorry to hear about that.”
My dad hasn't always been comfortable with the gay thing. He made up some weird excuse not to attend the wedding. He was a nice guy but he was just a little closeminded. He tries his best, god bless him. Even him calling Kairo my friend after all the years we were together is a huge step forward for him.
Right now though. I'm not thinking at Kairo. I'm thinking of the Italian guy. I can still smell him on me.
Better than ever if guys like that guy were in Staten Island.
“I'm on my
way over now. I just stopped at a bar first to get a feel for the
area. I promise you it's not because of depression or anything. I'm
fine. Just learning the area....”
From what I learned...I was going to like this area.
It was the summer of 2016 when I went to live with my father. I was 23 and I didn't have a job. Kairo felt like I should be a stay at home husband and had convinced me to quitting my job. That way after his long days at work I can be home ready to suck his dick, cook for him and be this great guy for him. I can still hear my mother now. “You have to please Kairo. Men like that don't come around often.” She acts like I'm useless. She acts like I don't have a damn thing going for myself except Kairo.
She might be right.
Little did I know that this summer would change my life forever.
Cornbread you listening?”
I turn at that moment to my dad. He's patting on the back. He has a gap between his tooth. He's always been a nice looking man and him patting me on my back reminds me of how he used to do when I was younger. I missed him. I can't lie.
“Can you stop calling me Cornbread. My name is Regis,” I tell him.
Regis O'Brian Jr. Ever since I was young my father called me cornbread. They used to joke that I learned how to make cornbread before I learned how to talk. It was a running thing in my family that I couldn't escape.
“OK sure, whatever Cornbread. No time for daydreaming. I brought you up here to help me out. The Sicilian runs like clock work. You're the front host. Your mom tells me you have experience with it?”
“A little but Dad you know I cook.”
“Yeah. You're a great cook. I don't doubt you...but you don't cook food like this.”
The Sicilian is a beautiful restaurant. It's huge. It's only open for dinner. I'm here early before dinner begins and I can feel the weight on my shoulders. I don't want to let my dad down but most importantly I don't want to let my mom down. I can still hear her voice. I'm the disappointment. I always have been. It's one of the most upscale restaurants in Staten Island. My father walks me through the front doors. He's the same old man, a little wrinkled down with old age but he's an honest guy. He makes an honest living.
“What?” my dad asks.
I ask my dad, “We're black. Shouldn't you have like some type
of Soulfood restaurant or something. I dunno...”
It sounds stupid but my dad left Mississippi to come all the way up here to Staten Island. I'm not used to the city. I mean Staten Island was a borough in New York that wasn't as busy or crazy as Manhattan. Still...you can still feel the big city in the people. It had a large percentage of Italians.
“When I was your age I traveled to Italy. I fell in love,” he explains.
Back then I just assumed it was nothing. Little did I know my father was telling me something that would last me my entire life.
The back of the kitchen has the staff. My dad introduces me to a few of the cooks and waitresses. The majority of them are black which makes this even weirder that my dad owns this Italian restaurant in the middle of this Italian neighborhood. A girl is back there. She's loud and demanding while instructing the cooks on how to prep and get ready for the night. At first I don't recognize her but when she turns the corner I know exactly who she is.
“Oh my god...Patricia?”
“You don't recognize me?” she asks.
She's a heavy set woman with black hair. She has dredlocks that fall to her ass. Her cheeks are red and she's already begun sweating. When she smiles she seems happy...just like my father. You could tell they've been in the service business forever now. Smiling so hard comes second nature to them.
“You look like you ate Patricia...no offense.” I say completely shocked that this is my cousin.
taken. I'm representing for the big girls,” she laughs, “It's
about time you come down to join the family business.”
I remember my cousin well. It takes a lot to offend her. My father laughs heartily with her in the kitchen. They were...good people. It's hard to kind of describe it. Sure they'd lived in New York for a long time but they still had that southern hospitality from home. Seeing my cousin smile the way she was smiling is making me feel a lot better. She gives me another hearty hug and she smells like pure Italian spices. It's actually making me a little hungry.
“I had to bribe his mother to send him down,” my dad says.
“It's a good investment. I heard you were a beast in the kitchen,” Patricia tells me.
I shrug. My ex fiance said it all the time. I figured I was good. I just didn't understand why I couldn't get a job in it. Maybe it was the fact that I lost interest so quickly. Nothing interested in me. Nothing excited me down south. I ended up finding a way for my chefs to fire me one way or another.
going to be working as the host.”
“Out...there?” Patricia asks.
The tone in her voice is strange. It's almost like she's questioning him. She seems concerned. I'm not sure why she is so upset in her tone.
“Uncle Regis...that's not a good idea,” she responds.
She isn't being quiet about it.
“Listen. Should I be worried?” I ask at that moment.
There is something strange about how my cousin Patricia is acting. She's almost worried about me being the front end host. I can see her struggling on saying anything else. Her and my father exchange looks between one another. They seem to be having a conversation with no words. My cousin Patricia was always been close to my father. After her father died my dad raised her. I figure they know each other enough to understand each other. I know people enough to know that Patricia is acting weird as fuck.
have very...important people that eat here,” my dad tells me,
“Just follow directions. Listen to your cousin and you'll be
fine. OK Cornbread? You can make a living out here. The tips are
amazing. Just...listen to your cousin. She's the manager of the
restaurant. You're in good hands. ”
My dad rubs his hand in my hair messing it up a little bit.
I look at Patricia.
She seems...concerned to say the least.
“Patricia should I be worried about something?” I ask her again.
Patricia lets out a
nervous smile, “No. No. Listen. Let's just go over the
rules. You'll be fine.”
She smiles again but for some reason I can see her break a little sweat. That is when I wonder what happened to the host that came before me and why the manager of the entire restaurant was training me.
to be cheerful with the guests when you greet them. Take them to
their table and provide them with silverware and a menu. The good
thing is we get a lot of repeat guests so there's no need to worry.
You look handsome tonight.”
She fixes my tie and adjusts it.
“What kind of
people come here?”
She's being resistant. My dad is off in the kitchen area and the the staff seems busy setting up the area as the doors open for the dinner service of the night. My heart is racing. I'm concerned. I'm more than concerned about what is going on.
“The way you
were talking about them earlier was like we have a bunch of vampires
coming to dinner tonight,” I respond to Patricia, “I
could have stayed in Mississippi for all that.”
“You'll be fine. Just listen closely. Mind your business. Ok. Rule number 1. Mind your business. Rule number 2. Don't ask questions. No matter what you hear tonight don't repeat it. To anyone. Not even me. Just smile. Show people to the seats. Give them silverware. Give them a menu. That's it. Ok?”
“Patricia. You said that already. This isn't brain surgery.”
Patricia gives me a sharp look.
I raise my eyebrow with sarcasm, “Oh no. I can't imagine this becoming anymore difficult than showing someone to their seats.”
“If someone walks in and asks says, 'bring him the heart of Snow White'...go get Uncle Regis.”
“Rule number 2,” Patricia says.
Don't ask questions.
I smile instead. Patricia walks forward gives me a huge wet kiss on my cheek and goes on the back to help manage the cooking area.
I stand in the front
and I have to admit I am nervous. I don't get it. I should feel at
ease but I'm not. I get even more nervous when I see the cars
pulling up through the front glass. The Sicilian has huge windows.
The red carpet is fancy in the front and I can see out of the window
to the Sicilian's valet guys. These guys are pulling up with luxury
cars. Everyone is driving something beautiful. I watch in almost
awe as these men walk out with these nice suits and pretty women.
Just looking at them you'd think they were some important politicians maybe. I'm not sure. It isn't until they start to pour in that I realize they are...different.
“Whose this Mulignon?” I hear a guy say to me.
I don't know what the word means but I don't want to ask either. I smile, “Right this way sir.”
Table 4a is open. These guys have heavy Italian accents. Some of them I can barely understand. I have the feeling as more and more come in that they aren't familiar with me. It seems like a tight circle and they seem to know that a new host is there.
The restaurant gets
more and more crowded. I am seating more and more people.
There are several things I notice about these people.
They were Italian.
They spoke in a lot of code.
Some of them were extremely loud and aggressive.
I push my hands back as I lean up against the table. I'm attempting to smile. I look around at the tables. I watch the staff of the Sicilian. They work like clockwork just like my Dad said. It was almost like the people who came here knew just what to order, they knew just what to say and they knew just who else would be in attendance. There were no secrets here. I can tell by how they don't look at the menu. I can tell by how they flirt with the waitresses and every now and then you hear a loud FUHGEDDABOUDIT or some Italian phrase like Oobatz or Shfooyadell.
I turn ready to smile and show them to the table. That's when I see him.
The Italian. No. Not just any Italian. The Italian I met earlier. When I see him he isn't staring at the back of my head. He's staring lower. He quickly adjusts his stare immediately but his expression is still priceless. He's shocked.
More importantly---was he really staring at my ass?
“You...” I respond to him.
sexy Italian guy isn't alone. He's with a group of people. There
are men and women. There is a heavy set guy who is standing there.
He got people with him. They are different kind of people. They
almost look like...body guards. I watch how they surround the heavy
set white man.
“You know this host, Carmine?” the heavy set man asks.
That's his name. He looks at me. I look at him. There is that tension again. You can cut it with a fucking knife. I swear. I didn't know him but the way that we are acting right now you would think we were long lost friends who'd just reunited.
that's why he lies, “That's just my homie.”
“I met him at a bar up near me Pops.”
Pops? This guy was Carmine's father.
“Well why didn't you say that? Homie. If you want to speak like a fucking mulignan, you can go eat at the chicken shack down the street.”
I'm not sure what Carmine's father means by the term but a couple of people laugh including Carmine who just lets out a slight laughter. He gives me a hard look though. I can't tell.
Seeing Carmine I just forget to smile. I'm just...staring.
“You got a problem?” someone says.
It's one of the guys that's with Carmine. He looks young...maybe just 18 or 19 but he kind of looks like Carmine. Even though Carmine is dark, this guy is much darker. He almost looks black but I have a feeling he is related to Carmine in some sort of way. They look alike. The darker guy who looks like Carmine is giving me this really aggressive look.
That's when I see it. The boy standing next to Carmine that looks like a younger version of him has gun in his pants. I can see it stuck to his belt.
All of a sudden I realize this shit is real and I'm scared to fucking death.
“Nicky, shut up will you?” the old man says, “This is the Sicilian for godsakes. This new guy. He just doesn't know the ropes. That's all. Ain't that right kid?”
Carmine raises his sexy eyebrow, “Yeah...Nicky lay off---why don't you?”
“Sure Pops,” Nicky responds.
Nicky closes the jacket of his suit concealing the gun again. He's so young. I mean he looks like Carmine. All of them are in suits. Carmine looks so much more important now than he did before. He looked...he looked like he was a gangster.
Then it becomes almost clear to me. These weren't politicians. These weren't business men. These are fucking gangsters and they are all at this restaurant.
Carmine's father snaps his finger at me, “Listen kid, bring me the heart of snow white.”
I pause. I'm stuck in my steps.
“What is this? You some kind of retard or somethin'? I tell the kid bring me the heart of snow white and he just stands there. What is this? They hired some kind retard here?”
I don't know why I'm just standing there. He says “What is this?” like 5 more times seeming to get more annoyed every second I didn't move. The group of men are getting a little upset. I guess me just not doing anything for the moment is offending them. I want to move but my feet are like fucking cement. The gun the Nicky guy pulled out scared the fuck out of me. I'd never seen a gun before. I didn't now if it was legal to just walk in a restaurant with one of those. The look on their faces tells me that every second I don't do what Carmine's father asks me to do is a moment that I'm in some serious danger.
I look around.
That's what comes out of my fucking mouth. I hear cursing at that moment. I swear one of the bigger guys takes a step towards me in a threatening way. I cringe.
“Right this way sir. I got this,” a boy says.
I turn to see a boy standing there. He's a waiter. He must have overheard me having trouble here. The boy disappears and comes back with my father. My father comes out for the men taking over for me. I watch from a distance at my father takes them to a special table. It's almost like they are getting some type of special treatment or something. I can't keep my eyes off of them or the table. I can't keep my eyes off the fact that I hear my father whisper something to Carmine's father. They exchange some words and then I see my father pass Carmine's father something.
I'm not sure what it is.
be ok,” the waiter who helps me says, “You'll get used to
I look at the waiter. He's a light brown guy. I'm assuming he must be of some sort of Arabian or North African descent. He has dark brown hair and his eyes are light brown. The shock of what happened makes me not even notice this guy. Truth is that is rare for me. The guy is a cutey to say the least. I guess starting a new job makes you overlook the simple things in life such as a cute guy working at your job.
I'm still in shock when he stretches out his hands to meet me, “Thank you for helping.”
“I'm Danny,” the Arabian boy with the pretty eyes tells me.
He has a firm handshake. He is about my height and slim like I am. He has strong jaw features though like he could be a model or something like that. He keeps flashing this smile and for some reason I'm convinced every person that works at the Sicilian has mastered the art of smiling.
“You seem so...happy.”
“Trust me. You'll get used to it,” Danny says, “Just smile and do your job. Patricia didn't tell you what to do or something?”
“No. She told me. I just blanked out,” I state before trying to shake off the nerves a little bit and then adding, “By the way...I'm....Regis Jr.”
“Yeah I know. Cornbread,” the guy says and laughs before offering an explanation, “Your dad gave us the rundown that you were coming down. I was kind of excited. Your dad has to be the nicest guy in the world so I figured his son was as well.”
I couldn't smile hardly as hard as my dad did. I wasn't this perfect host like my dad always was. I was a guy who was bored with life. I was someone who couldn't seem excited about meeting someone if you paid me.
No excitement...a life devoid of any true fear or extreme happiness or extreme emotion or anything...
“Well if you haven't figured it out yet,” he says leaning forward in a low whisper, “This place is a hangout or haunt for the Mafia in New York.”
I look around. The Italians. The danger. The intrigue. For the first time in a long time I found my heart beating fast. I found my palms sweating. I'd seen movies like the Godfather or Scarface. I didn't know those things still existed.
that guy...who said that thing about Snow White?” I ask.
“I'd get in trouble for talking about this stuff,” he says.
maybe I get back to work.”
Danny walks up to me. He clearly is an excitable person. He leans up against the podium that I'm working at, “Ok. Fine. You've convinced me.”
“Of course. But that guy he's Leo 'Crazy' Fontana...Underboss of the Moretti crime family.”
The guy has returned with my father. I don't know what they did in the back area but it seems...odd to say the least. The guy is back at the table eating antipasto with his company. I watch as he is entertaining a woman...she is middle aged and it's clear that she has to be his wife. She's beautiful to say the least.
his family with him.”
“Crazy Fontana's wife Isabella is there and the two sons. The Fontana boys. They are notorious to say the least. The youngest one is Nicky 'Nuts' Fontana. He's a fucking wreckless firecracker. Don't let his age fool you. He's probably killed more people than the number of years he's lived on this earth. His ruthlessness is only topped by his older brother.”
“Carmine...” I state.
I look at the table.
Just at that moment Carmine is looking at me. Our eyes connect. There is something there. There is a spark. This man is dangerous.
And I'm excited...as fuck.
heard of him?” Danny asks, “I thought you were from
I don't have the time to explain to Danny what happened at the bar earlier. Hell I can't even explain what happened at the bar earlier. I wasn't sure if I was about to get my ass whooped or if I was about to have the best sex I ever had in a public bathroom.
The exciting thing is that maybe it could have been neither of those things.
Maybe it could have been both.
And I was intrigued by Carmine.
name is Carmine Fontana. They call him Charming Carmine. Unlike
his brother he's already a made man. That means he's already in La
Cosa Nostra. He's already a member of the in the criminal syndicate.
He's a Capo. He's a made man. That danger that you see in his eyes
is real. He's a little crazy. He's a lot of dangerous.”
I watch Carmine get up. Our eyes haven't stopped looking at each other since we got into this restaurant.
He motions for me to go to the bathroom.
It's at that moment I realize that this is going to be the most interesting summer ever.
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com