Authors: Jackie Chanel
Love and War
A Caprice Bonatelli Novel
It started with a letter.
A three page letter that wasn’t even addressed to me. The letter was for my mother’s eyes only. The thick envelope arrived like clockwork with the rest of the mail and sat on the table in our hallway until she made time to open it. Same envelope, same New York return address. It even smelled the same.
Like marinara sauce and garlic bread.
My mother had gotten a letter from that same address every month since the day I was born. Whenever it arrived, she would read it in her bedroom with the door locked.
She never let me see her letters. I respected that. Why would I care about some letters? After hours of being locked in her bedroom in our huge Miami house, she’d come out of her room, dressed to the nines with her “face” on. Off to the bank she’d go.
This time…the letter was different from the others. She only stayed in her room for half an hour.
Instead of putting on a DVF dress and carrying her head high like the former model she was, she came into my room with tears streaming down her face. I was eighteen years old, and I had never seen my mother cry. She handed me the last page of the letter. There were only two sentences. But from the terrified expression on my mother’s beautiful face, I knew those two sentences had just changed our lives forever.
It’s time for Caprice to meet her father. Send her to me
That was four years ago, almost to the day. Four years since I was a sweet and innocent eighteen year old by the name of Caprice Burke; four years since I boarded a plane in Miami, without my mother, and landed in New York City.
I am not the same person. I hold a business degree from NYU. I am not sweet, nor am I innocent. I am ruthless. I am cold-hearted. Or so I’ve been told. I’ve been called worse.
My name is Caprice Burke-Bonatelli.
The small group of people who love me, simply call me Caprice.
My associates refer to me as Boss or Boss Lady.
I don’t know what my enemies call me behind my back, nor do I care. What I do know is when they are unfortunate enough to come in contact with me, they call me “Oh Shit”.
People still wonder how I got to the top. How this half-black, half Italian, former Miss Teen Florida, became the HBIC.
They can wonder forever, as far as I’m concerned.
The only thing that anyone needs to know about me is this:
I am the Boss.
I am not one to be fucked with.
“Focus on the target and relax,” Nico instructed his kid sister. He steadied her shoulders and wrapped her fingers around the cold steel trigger of the .22 caliber pistol.
Eighteen year old Caprice tried to do as her brother suggested but target practice was a waste of time. She would never have to shoot a gun. The NYU campus couldn’t be that bad, right?
Caprice wobbled a little with the gun in her hand. In Chanel sandals and a cotton summer dress, she was not dressed properly for target practice. When she agreed to come to her father’s ranch estate in the Hamptons, she envisioned sipping iced tea on the veranda with her step-mother and the ladies of the family. She had no idea she’d be standing outside of the barn learning how to shoot guns.
“Nico, I really don’t want to do this.”
“I know, but Dad’s the Boss, and I’m supposed to toughen you up. You’re a Bonatelli, sis, and soon you’re going to be a Bonatelli in New York City. You better know how to shoot.”
Caprice sighed heavily and lowered the gun.
“What does that even mean?”
Nico laughed at his little sister’s naïveté. When her mother put her on a plane from Miami to meet her father for the first time, she had no idea what she’d gotten into. It wasn’t her fault that their father, Domani Bonatelli, had banished mother and child to Miami.
Consequently, there had been no contact between him and his daughter in eighteen years.
Simply because of the color of her skin.
Silently, Nico had always judged his father for sending Caprice and her mother away. He liked the idea of having a little sister. But rules were rules.
Domani Bonatelli was the head of one of the most powerful crime families in the tri-state area. His blood was pure Italian. Unfortunately, Caprice’s mother was black so his daughter’s blood was not. From the day she was born, she was not welcomed. She was the illegitimate child of a kingpin. That was it. When his wife, Gabriella, found out about the child, she demanded the exile. Gabriella had balls of steel. She wouldn’t hesitate to get rid of the problem herself if Domani did not.
Times had changed. Gabriella had her own dirty secret. She would have done anything to prevent Domani from leaving her and sending her, disgraced, back to Italy. She may have been less than thrilled when the Boss insisted it was time for him to get to know his only daughter, but she had no choice but to accept it.
Slow and heavy footsteps crossed the cement barn floor.
Caprice turned and stared at the sharply dressed Italian man…the father she’d just met less than twenty-four hours ago. His dark hair was peppered with hints of gray. He stood tall and dominant, like a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Immediately, she understood why her mother had fallen for him.
When Domani Bonatelli spoke, people listened. Domani wasn’t the type of man who followed orders. He gave them.
Caprice was awed by the fact that a man like him was her father. She wasn’t the least bit surprised that her mother was unable to stand up to him and had gone to Miami when he demanded.
She had yet to return to New York City again.
Mahogany was weak.
As it turned out, Caprice was much more like her father. She didn’t let anyone walk all over her either.
“What’s going on back here?” Domani’s powerful baritone voice bellowed from the barn doors. “What’s she doing with that piece of shit gun? Are you going easy on her because she’s a girl?”
Nico looked down at his weapon of choice for Caprice. The tiny gun fit her small hands perfectly. It was a lady’s gun. He had found it in his mother’s jewelry box, after all.
“What’s wrong with that one?” Nico asked. “She’s never held a gun before, Pops.”
“That’s no excuse. She’s a Bonatelli. We don’t use that shit.”
Domani reached under his tailored linen shirt and pulled out a nickel plated .9mm handgun. In three short strides, he was standing in front of his children. After giving Caprice a full once-over, he frowned.
“Don’t you own any sneakers?”
Caprice glanced down at her feet. “I don’t wear sneakers unless I’m at the gym.”
A satisfied smile hinted at Domani’s mouth. He’d heard great things about his daughter, information that made him very proud. Caprice was a very smart girl. Brains and beauty, his little girl had it all. His job was to bring out the Bonatelli toughness that was running through her veins.
“Nico, leave us for a moment. I’ll take over from here.”
Knowing better than to argue, Nico walked towards the main house.
“Give me that,” Domani said to Caprice.
They traded weapons. The .9mm was much heavier than the .22. Caprice ran her fingers over the smooth surface. This was the type of weapon that could do some serious damage. She saw guns like that in movies. She never thought she’d be holding one in her hand. It felt oddly sensational. She turned on her heels and pointed the barrel at the paper target.
“Steady,” Domani said. “Hold it tight, but don’t be afraid. Focus on the target then squeeze. Let the gun do its job.”
Caprice took a deep breath and only exhaled after she fired three shots into the target, missing the
by mere centimeters.
“I knew you’d be a natural at this,” Domani laughed. “Next time, don’t hold your breath.”
“I’m a natural at what, Da-” Caprice stopped the word in mid sentence. “I mean, Domani.”
“I’m your father, Caprice.
You can call me Dad.”
Caprice turned down the corners of her mouth into a harsh frown. “Yeah right. You haven’t been
since I was born. Now you expect me to be all happy go lucky and call you Daddy just because you bought me a plane ticket to New York?
,” she huffed. “I’m not my mother.”
Domani smiled warmly at his child. “You’re angry with me?”
“You’re asking me that while I have a gun in my hand?” Caprice raised her eyebrows. As she did, she realized how much she resembled her father. Both were wearing the same expression. “Of course I’m angry!
Why shouldn’t I be?”
“Do you have something you want to get off your chest, Caprice?”
Domani’s tone had lost all playfulness. “Keep in mind; I’m giving you this chance because I have been M.I. A. Make it worth it. In life, there are no second chances.”
Caprice wasted no time in ripping into her father.
“Why am I here? Why have you come crashing into my life after eighteen years? You broke my mother’s heart! She raised me all alone. I’m about to go to college. I don’t need a father now.”
Almost by instinct, Caprice switched on the safety of the gun and handed it to Domani. She wanted to go back to Miami with a clear conscience, not a murder charge. Nico was cool, but she had no intention of seeing him or his father ever again.
“You’re here because I want you here,” was Domani’s simple response. “You’re almost an adult. You need to know your family.”
“Why is that important now? Why didn’t I need to know my father or brother or stepmother when I was little? Why now?” Caprice snapped.
“Because you are a Bonatelli and since you’re going to NYU, you need to be protected.”
Here we go with that Bonatelli crap
, Caprice thought to herself before blurting out,
“What the hell is that supposed to mean? My last name is Burke!”
Domani shook his head.
“The last name on your birth certificate is Bonatelli. I made sure of it. That name carries a lot of weight in the city.”
Caprice sighed loudly. “Why do I feel like I just walked into an episode of
“Because you did...
added. “There are many in the city who would love to get their hands on my daughter, whether she likes me or not. I will not let anything happen to you. You will learn how to fire that gun and protect yourself in the event I am not there to protect you.”
Caprice was speechless. She couldn’t have heard him correctly. Was her father in the mob? Even in her head, it sounded insane. There was no such thing.
“Do not look at me like that,” Domani interrupted her thoughts. “Don’t ask questions you know I’m not going to answer, either,” he said. “You’re going to college. When you graduate, you will marry a nice Italian boy with strong genes. You will never be a part of what I have going on. Do you understand that?”
“Nico told me why you sent us to Miami,” Caprice blurted out. “You knocked up my mom and sent us away because your wife didn’t want a black stepchild. Now you want me to marry an Italian so you can erase the black outta your gene pool, huh? Sorry, Pops, it doesn’t work that way,” she sneered.
Domani placed a heavy hand on Caprice’s shoulder and looked her straight in the eye.