The Sweetest Oblivion (Made Book 1)

By: Danielle Lori

“There’s no such thing as good money or bad money. There’s just money.”

—Lucky Luciano

Long Island, New York

MY HOME WAS PICTURESQUE. A red front door with a golden knocker. Black and white checkered flooring. A wooden staircase with a lacquer shine and a sparkling chandelier. However, I’d always wondered, If I pulled back a corner of the wallpaper . . . would it bleed red? If this world was as transparent as glass, soft splats would drip a pool to the marble floors.

I stared at the TV in the corner of the kitchen, hardly processing the newscaster’s voice, but when murder passed her ruby red lips, the word resounded in my mind. My throat tightened as I twisted the ring on my middle finger.

While my home, my life, was built on piles of dirty money, I’d always been able to say I hadn’t contributed to the balance. Not until earlier this year, that is. Now, blood was on my hands and guilt watched me while I slept.

Voices from the foyer drifted to my ears every time the swinging door opened as our servants came in and out, preparing for lunch.

A feminine trill of a laugh, my cousin Benito’s lively timbre, and a voice I’d vaguely recognized as I left the church this morning. It was low, smooth, and indifferent. The hair on the back of my neck rose. I knew it belonged to my future brother-in-law.

And it was partly—wholly—the reason I was hiding in the kitchen, though I would never admit it.

“You are too beautiful for that frown, Sweet Abelli,” my mamma said, as she entered the room with the cacophony of our guests’ conversations following her.

I shifted under the weight of her words. For obvious reasons, I hadn’t heard that nickname in a while. I’d grown out of the name some, especially when I realized I was the girl adored for all the wrong reasons: I wasn’t hard to look at, I was quiet when I should be and polite when I wasn’t. Like a childhood dress that didn’t fit anymore, I was stuck in the world’s expectations for me. It took years of feeling like a pretty bird in a cage until it all became too much . . . and I escaped.

“I don’t know why you watch this, Elena,” Mamma said, stirring the sauce on the stove. “All that nonsense is depressing.”

Mamma was married to Salvatore Abelli—a high-profile boss of one of the biggest organized crime syndicates in the United States. Sometimes I wondered if the naivety was denial, or if she would truly rather watch Days of Our Lives than worry about my papà’s affairs.

“I’m not sure who to vote for in the election,” I answered absently.

She shook her head in disbelief, and I guessed it was odd for the daughter of a mob boss to care about the legalities of the government.

“Your papà isn’t happy with you,” she said, looking at me under her dark eyelashes with that pursed-lips-you’re-in-trouble expression.

“When isn’t Papà unhappy with me lately?”

“What do you expect after what you did?”

Six months had passed, and I swore she brought it up every day. She was like a dog with a bone, and I honestly thought she enjoyed the mistake I’d made because she finally had something to chastise me about.

“Why didn’t you come meet the Russo after church today?” She pointed her spoon at me. “I’m not buying the act that you forgot and were waiting innocently in the car.”

I crossed my arms. “I just didn’t want to. He’s . . . rude.”

“Elena,” she scolded. “You don’t even know him.”

“You don’t need to meet someone with his reputation to know his character, Mamma.”

“Oh, Madonna, salvami,” she muttered.

“And he won’t understand Adriana,” I added tersely.

She snorted. “Not many will understand your sister, figlia mia.”

The gardener did . . . but I wasn’t going to share that with Mamma, or by the end of the day he’d be at the bottom of the Hudson.

Earlier this week, Papà had announced that Adriana would be marrying Nicolas Russo, the don of one of the five families in New York. My past transgressions were still tender wounds, but with this news added to the list it was like they’d been cut back open.