Little Don, Chapter 10

Ballet of Deceit

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The weekend had finally come, the one Bernesa hadn't been looking forward to. She was picked up early on Saturday morning, around nine o'clock, where she drove an hour to her dad's house. Bernesa didn't talk to her father when she got there, but instead went into dress rehearsals: Flats and a fishtail white dress that faded black as it reached her ankle. The dress hooked over one of her shoulders, leaving the other bare. Her hair was left the same: cropped and out of her face. The door opened, but due to the woman behind her, she couldn't turn to see who it was. "Aren't you looking dolled up?"

Bernesa frowned. When the one behind her stood, she turned, her dress swaying. She crossed her arms, looking at Serena. "Hello," she said. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"You're as sarcastic as your father," Serena muttered.

Bernesa smirked haughtily. "Yes, you think you know him so well, don't you," she said, casting her gaze to the side. "That's why you were running out of his office crying last time I visited."

Serena frowned, creating wrinkles in her forehead. "I know him better than you ever will."

Bernesa rolled her eyes, barely noticing the maid standing awkwardly silent beside her. "You act as if that is an honor bestowed upon you," she said. "I don't want to know him; I don't want to be part of his bloodline. So are you done wasting my time? I'm trying to prepare for my job tonight."

The woman huffed and crossed her arms. "What job? His assigned marriage for you, with a little spying on the side? Hardly a job. Any pretty face could get information out of a man."

"Oh? And what's your purpose?" Bernesa asked, frowning now. She was done playing games with Serena—the bitch. She was going to hit the nail on the head. "Speaking of, where do you belong here? Because my father sure doesn't want you, so, I repeat, what are you doing here? Whoring yourself at Niccolo's feet…"

Bernesa took in a breath, prepared to say more, but Serena was already red in the face and looking as if she were about to explode. The lady walked a few full strides and shoved the maid out of the way. She grabbed Bernesa by the neckline of her dress and yanked up, making Bernesa stand on her tippy toes until their noses were nearly touching. "Don't mock me!" Serena said. Bernesa heard the familiar noise of a clicking razor and felt the cold blade shake against her cheek. "I will fucking cut you!"

That fight or flight reflex that people normally got… Bernesa had both in a conscious sort. Naturally though, her reaction was to become precariously calm.

She leaned against the blade a little, taking Serena's wrist. "Do it then," Bernesa said. "When my father asks, I'll just let you do the explaining. Tell him how I antagonized you. Me, a child who isn't even eighteen yet." Bernesa yanked Serena's wrist down, causing the blade to slice with it.

Blood dripped from her chin, onto her collar bone where it would trickle down to her dress. Serena dropped and shoved her, causing Bernesa to fall back on her butt. Serena turned and started storming out, but what stopped near the doorway by Giselle, who had caught her wrist. "What did you do?" Giselle asked.

Through clenched teeth, Serena hissed, "I didn't do a thing," she said. "That bitch is crazy." She yanked her wrist away, glancing back at Bernesa. "I detest you as much as I did your mother." She continued on her way.

Giselle walked over and picked Bernesa up easily, wiping away the blood starting from her dress. "Look now, you've got it dirty," she said, glancing at the maid, who flinched. "When Bernesa strips down, would you please take this to the wash?"

The maid nodded stiffly and stood, not making any other movement. Giselle sighed and turned away. Bernesa figured out a couple of seconds later that it was her turn to make a move. Sighing, she stripped down from her dress and back into her normal clothes. The maid took the dress and hurried out, leaving Bernesa and Giselle alone.

Bernesa hung her head and slumped her shoulders. "How could she hate my mother?" Bernesa asked. "Even after all she did, my mother showed her nothing but kindness. Even after she—" Bernesa bit her lip, unable to say the unfortunate truth. Before her mother had died, Bernesa knew of at least one time when Serena had slept with her father.

"I don't know," Giselle said. "Honestly, I don't understand how anyone could hate your mother. She was kind, respectable, and determined to live in any way she could."

The blonde sighed softly. "Why are you here, Giselle? Why did you choose this job over anything else?"

Giselle returned the sigh. "I don't know really," she said. "It was probably because of your mother. She was a very admirable person and I wanted to follow in her footsteps."

Bernesa smiled faintly. "Sounds like you had a crush on my mother," she murmured.

Giselle clicked her tongue and rubbed the back of her neck. "I wouldn't… Well, maybe. But I promise it was a placid relationship all the way through."

"I know," Bernesa said. "I'm going to go see my father now."

Giselle nodded her head in acknowledgement. Bernesa walked out of the room and down the hall, winding her way to her father's study. She knocked on the door, waiting for the reply.

"Come in."

Bernesa pushed open the door and shut it behind her.

Her father was going over paper work, presumably for the party that night. After a moment, Niccolo put down his pen and took off his reading glasses, looking at her. "You know what you have to do, yes?"

"Find the intruder, silence them. Understood." Bernesa thought she heard some sarcasm in her voice but didn't pay any mind to it.

As if smelling it on her, Niccolo said, "And I don't want any funny business," he said. He eased her worries a little when he continued. "I don't want you trying to deal with him on your own. As soon as you are aware, tell Giselle or Carlo about him."

Bernesa smiled bitterly. "Gee, Father. It's almost as if you're worried about me."

Niccolo looked straight through her. "You are my daughter," he said. His eyes were cold and calculating. "Of course I am."

Translation: You're the heir to my throne and I don't want anything happening to you, or I wasted my money feeding and clothing you for the past seventeen and a half years.

Bernesa scratched her nose. "Of course," she said. "I'll see you tonight at the party."

"Maybe," he muttered while she was closing the door behind her.

She stood outside for a moment, taking slow breaths. Then, she started walking finding the room she stayed in while she was home on the second floor. She laid back on her bed and writhed in the silence. It was deafening….

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Bernesa had woken from her restless nap from the soft rapping at her door. She stood and rubbed her eyes. She walked over to the door and opened it, looking up at Giselle. "You have an hour before you need to be at the party, but people are arriving. Your father wants you to get ready and greet them," she said.

Bernesa groaned. "I'll be right there," she said.

Giselle inclined her head and then turned to walk away. Bernesa walked back across the room and grabbed her brush off her nightstand, looking into the hand mirror without touching it. She started to brush her hair. When she was done, she walked out of her room and down the hall to her dressing room, where a new maid was waiting. The maid bowed her head with the dress in hand. Bernesa stripped down and allowed herself to be dressed.

When she was finished, she spun and the dress twirled. "Thank you," Bernesa said, looking back into the mirror. "Could you excuse me?"

With a quick bow, the maid turned and left. Bernesa continued looking in the mirror. The dress fit her well, squeezed her chest so that she didn't look bloated but still gave her shape.

Bernesa sighed and started walked out, looking around for Giselle; she was at the end of the hall, directly where Bernesa was intending to go to get to the medium sized ball room in the middle of her property. She walked, and Giselle followed behind her as she passed and stopped at the entrance to the ballroom. From there, Giselle would be scoping the sidelines. Bernesa swallowed and started head-first out onto the dance floor, waiting to be picked up by any suitors.

"Thank you all for coming," came a woman's voice over the intercom. "Now Mr. Niccolo Yale is busy at the moment, but he would like to invite any and all suitors to try and woow his daughter who has just entered the ballroom. He says good luck to you, because she's a real firecracker and not easily wooh'ed."

The speakers turned off and Bernesa scratched her nose. That was entirely unnecessary, but nonetheless, a few men approached her. They couldn't have been any older than twenty-five. The first approached her. "Hello," he said.

Bernesa couldn't recognize the voice, but smiled and greeted him. "How do you do?" Smile and look pretty.

"Fine," he said. "Dance with me?"

He offered her his hand and she obliged, grasping onto it. They danced, twirling the polka style dance. "So," Bernesa said while twirling. It was hard for her to talk and not step on toes, so she clipped his shoes a little at certain points. "Do you know anyone named Saki Marion?" she asked.

She figured if this Archie was at all related to Saki, she could flush him out like this. "No," the man said. "Never heard the name in my life."

Bernesa smiled. "Then you won't mind if I go on about her," she said. "She's this girl that I met a while back ago. She could not be any more bratty."

As they danced, Bernesa on and on about Saki in all the wrong ways, telling him the moment she jumped off the bridge and Bernesa "had to jump into save her," only to figure out that Saki was just having a spat with her mother and father. And the entire time, the man didn't react. This obviously wasn't Archie. He smiled and nodded the entire time, giving some input but nothing else. Bernesa broke away from him shortly after they stopped dancing and was picked up shortly by another man, whom she ran through the same exercise, but this time with a more formal ballroom dance. And the one after that, and after that, and after that. She started to lose hope. Maybe he wouldn't show up, or maybe he just wasn't even there.

The next man, Bernesa thought she recognized his voice and pulled him out in the hall, but it was a no-go. Finally, she just sat to the side, on the stairs that led up to the second floor with her face in her hands; her cheeks bulged up because of her position. She sighed, scanning the room. All the suitors were boring and she couldn't find Suitor X. Even the gala was boring and quiet; the tapping shoes were just like chirping crickets to Bernesa. She missed the sound of running engines already, and she had only been at home a few hours.

A man locked eyes with Bernesa for a quick moment before making his way across the room towards her. Bernesa straightened her posture again and tried to look inconspicuous, watching him from the corner of her eye. He went straight for Bernesa with utter casualty. "Excuse me," he asked.

During that time, Bernesa had been contemplating whether or not to ask him about Saki and start ranting about her. Maybe she wouldn't do it. Not like it had gotten her anywhere anyway. It was what the man said next that changed her mind.

"Are you the Don's daughter?" he asked.

She looked up at him with pursed lips. Why would he want to know that? In fact, why didn't he already know it if he was approaching her? "Um…" she started to say. Okay, so maybe it wasn't the biggest hit; there were plenty of other things that could have been said to tip her off that he was Suitor X, but so far, this seemed to be the only liable tip.

The man blushed bashfully, scratching the back of his head. "Um, right, sorry," he said. "Just, I've been looking for her all night. I've wanted to talk to her for the longest while."

'Did he not look at my picture before coming on this case?' she thought. Well, maybe it wasn't him. Suitor X wouldn't be so stupid, but it wouldn't hurt to test.

"Oh, no," Bernesa said. "I am her. My name is Bernesa."

"Oh!" he exclaimed, looking baffled. Bernesa laughed a little when he bowed the upper half of his body. Charming. "Excuse me then."

Bernesa stood and smiled. "I don't suppose you're going to ask me to dance?" The man replied with a short "No" and she sighed. "Thank goodness. My feet are killing me."

The man's face broke out into a smile. "I'm Scott," he said. "If your feet are killing you, please, let's sit."

"Oh," Bernesa said, tipping her head to the side. "Do you think we could find some place more private? I'm getting a headache."

"Of course," he said.

Bernesa took his hand and they led each other in a weird way that consisted of Scott trying to lead the way, but since he didn't know the way around, Bernesa was a step ahead of him. They stepped just outside and Bernesa had a seat on the ground. "Come, sit with me," she said. "Unless you don't want to sit on the ground of course."

Scott scratched his nose. "Not a problem," he said, and sat slightly to the right of her. "How are you this evening, Miss?"

"I'm fine. And please, don't be so formal," she said. "Bernesa is just fine." Scott gave a nod, and Bernesa launched her attack. "Speaking of formalities, I have to say, you look much more like an Archie than you do a Scott."

The man blinked, tilting his head slightly. "Is that so?" he said. "Well, I must say, I've never been told that."

Bernesa chuckled quietly. "Well what did you want to talk to me about?"

Scott became bashfully and he averted his gaze a bit. "Well, about that… I was actually asked to come with a friend, but he ditched me upon seeing another lady," Scott explained. "So I thought I'd get to know the daughter of the host."

"That seems like a fairly odd thing to do on your pass time," she said.

"I don't think so," Scott said, smiling. "So, what is your father like?"

"Oh that man…" she said, pouting. "You know, I really did not want to come to this party. It was all this was all his idea to hook me up with someone." Bernesa looked at him, fluttering her eyelashes. "But if I did choose anyone, it would have to be someone like you."

Scott laughed quietly, not meeting her gaze. "I was talking more about his business and how he runs it," he explained. "I'm aiming to be a business major, and since your father is so big, I thought I'd try to learn more about it."

Bernesa clicked her tongue. "Well, I will give you a hint," she said, pulling him closer. He leaned in obediently and she whispered, "Very secretly," then pulled back with a huge grin plastered on her face.

His face fell, but he still kept a smile on. "Oh," he said disappointed. "Any examples?"

"Mm, enough about my father," she said. "I want to talk about Archie."

Scott blinked and looked at her, furrowing his eyebrows. "I'm sorry?"

Bernesa let out a startled laugh. "Gosh, I'm so sorry. I told you, you looked like an Archie!" Scott sighed slowly, running his fingers through his hair. Bernesa narrowed her eyes. "Then do you know of the Marion family?"

Scott seemed to freeze at the name, but he quickly recovered and glanced at Bernesa. "You are really strange," he said. "No, I've never heard of them. Who are they?"

"Well, I don't know exactly, but I have this acquaintance whose last name is Marion," she said. "And that girl is related to another guy who works in the police force, but I don't know if they have the same last name or not. Do you know anyone in the force?" Scott shook his head, and Bernesa continued. "Oh good, then you won't mind if I let off a bit of steam, would you?"

"No, of course not."

Bernesa licked her lips, hoping that Scott would react as Archie when she started talking. "Well, there's this girl named Saki," she said. "She is the whiniest person I've ever met! I saved her from drowning you know. Then she still has the idea that she can try and force herself on me. It's just, disgusting."

Scott looked at her with wide eyes and for a moment, she thought Scott was going to become Archie. Instead, he said, "Why did she jump off the bridge?"

"Oh that's an even better topic," Bernesa said. "She was apparently having a disagreement with her parents. It's the stupidest reason ever to jump off a bridge, right?"

"No…" Scott started saying and shook his head. "Yes. Um, how do you know her again?"

Bernesa shrugged and came up with the rest of the story on the top of her head. Having to stray from her practiced lines was the first sign that this was Archie. "Well, after I saved her she just kept coming back so I started pitying her. Then it escalated," Bernesa said, scrunching her nose. "I hope I never have to see her again."

"That's cold," Scott said, frowning now.

Bernesa frowned too and furrowed her eyebrows. "Archie," she said. "I know who you are. I have known since the beginning."

"I don't know who Archie is you crazy woman!" 'Scott' said.

Bernesa stoned her face up and glared. She leaned in against Archie and said, "Well, then you wouldn't mind if I erased her pathetic existence."

In just a couple of seconds of movement, Bernesa was shoved back against the wall with "Scott" hanging over her, giving her a glare that was worse than her father's. She swallowed and stared back into this man's darkened eyes. "Don't speak of my family that way," he hissed.

She blinked and shoved him off. "Are you stupid? If you attack me like that you'll be caught," she said. "And everyone will know you are the spy."

He gripped onto the top of her dress and yanked forward, pulling her so close that their noses almost touched. "I don't really give a damn right now."

Bernesa narrowed her eyes. 'I wish I had family like this still,' she thought, then pushed at him. "Hey, listen to me. I didn't mean it, I said it to flush you out," she tried explaining. She dropped her voice. "So that I can tell you, get the hell out while you can."

Scott—Archie—shoved her back against the wall and stood. She stood with him, watching him to see what he would do. "I suppose you are going to tell your father about this," he said. "Meaning I should start running."

"I'm not going to tell him," she said, causing Archie to look over at her with one eyebrow raised. She found the characteristic similar to Saki's and smiled faintly. "But you should start running anyway."

"Why?" he asked.

She shrugged. "That was never my intent," she said. "It was my father's, but I don't like his style of doing things."

After a moment, Archie recovered himself. "It's your job," he said. "You're his daughter, are you really going to turn your back on him?"

Bernesa scrunched her nose and glared. 'He turned his back on me,' she thought. "Yes," she said. "So get out."

"Wait, wait. If you are really turning your back on him, I want to ask questions," he said. "Like what is your father's plan behind all this?"

"Just stop. Go, now," she said, pushing him slightly. "I won't tell you anything."

Archie smacked her hand away. "You said you were turning against your father," he said.

"He's family," she said. "I'm not going to give away family secrets to a cop."

"Then I should just take you in now," he said.

Bernesa gave a sharp laugh. "Are you stupid?" she said. "As if that could ever happen. Not here at least."

Archie didn't reply for a moment. He seemed to be thinking. That, or letting himself cool down. "What, am I supposed to just leave without getting any information out of you?"

"That's exactly—"

Bernesa cut off and nearly screamed when she heard the door heading into the ballroom open. She glanced at it, seeing Giselle slip through unnoticably and shut the door behind her. She glanced at Archie, visibly paling. "Um, he should leave," she said. Bernesa's eyes widened a fraction. Giselle regarded Archie when he spoke. "Your father is already sending men after him. If you don't hand in the actual informant, your father's going to be spilling plenty of blood."

The blond stood. "I haven't given Niccolo any information on it," she said. "Not even a hint. How does he know?"

"He doesn't," Giselle said. "But he knows you."

Bernesa bit her lip. As soon as Archie stood, she shoved him. "Leave," she said.

"I can't."

Bernesa stomped. "Damn it," she growled, then said, "Serena Lester. Look up the Lester family. Before Serena Lester became infatuated with my father, she was her own family informant that was trying to use seduction to bring down my father. I don't know how much she told them, but that should be satisfactory, right?"

Archie stared at her for a long while. Giselle clicked her tongue. "'Scuse me, we're a bit pressed on time."

"Fine," Archie said.

"Fantastic," Giselle said. "Now both of you have to return normally. Any other plan of action would alert them immediately that you are the informant."

Archie was pale now; he wiped his hands on his blazer. Bernesa wrapped an arm around his and tugged him along. "Put on a straight face," she hissed, smiling as she opened the doors and walked back into the ballroom. As soon as they were on the edge of the dancefloor, she turned, still smiling to Archie. "Thank you for the chat. I'll see you around," she said.

Archie gave a pathetic idea of a smile and she let her hands glide over his arm as she released him. She walked away a couple of yards and looked towards her father. He was sitting atop his perch like he aways was during public gatherings, chatting away the night with many different men and women; all acquaintences of people who thought of his as a conquest. Bernesa narrowed her eyes, glaring until he turned her way. The corner of his lip jutted upwards and she frowned, crinkles forming on her forehead.

Bernesa made her way across the dancefloor, being cautious of all the dancers and weaving her way around them. When she was in arms width of him, she tapped him hard on the shoulder. "Ah, one moment," he told the few he was talking to. He turned to face Bernea, his dark eyes and tall figure imposing.

She smiled up at him. "Father, might we talk?" she said.

"I'm a little busy at the moment dear," he said, about to turn.

"I will find him," she said, and he stopped, glancing at her with narrowed eyes. Her smile was most likely just a thin line now. She dropped her voice and clenched her fist at her sides. "He will be the next person I dance with, the only one I will have danced with twice tonight. So please watch."

A slow, cruel grin fluttered onto Niccolo's face. "Of course I will be watching," he said. "I always have been."

Bernesa lowered her head and slouched, making her way back down to the dance floor. She searched, trying her best not to think who she should rat out. It would show on her face. So instead, she thought, "Where is the informant?"

Her eyes flitted about, glancing around. Her eyes locked onto a man that was dancing with another lady. When their eyes met, he smiled at Bernesa. She shivered, but smiled back as convincingly as she could, waving him down. He was easy to attach from the she-beast that he had been dancing with previously. "Hello," Bernesa said tenderly. "I never caught your name when we danced before."

"Estavan," he said. "And you're the lovely Bernesa."

She smiled wider. "How would you like to come and meet my father?" she asked as the proceeded with a dancing formation. She rolled her fingers over his upper arm to emphasize her point.

Estavan grinned wolfishly and twirled her to the sidelines. "If you think I am worthy." He bowed his head to kiss her hand and Bernesa felt a melancholy pang in her heart. This man did not deserve what he was about to get. Then again, they never did.

She smiled and led him up the stairs to her father, locking eyes with Niccolo briefly. "This man," she said.

From the way Estavan reacted, she knew he had no idea of his current circumstances. Niccolo only smirked at him, laying a hand on his shoulder. "Come," he said. "We must talk privately, let my young daughter enjoy her fill of the entrees that have been provided."

"Of course," Estavan said.

Bernesa turned away from them as they started to leave, losing her smile as she did. She gripped the railing and made her face stone, staring for only a second at the fleeing Archie. 'Turn your tail and run,' she said. 'That's all that any of us can do.'

She licked her lips and started walking in the direction her father had taken Estavan in. She opened the door into the hallway and closed it, going unnoticed by all. She started halfway down the hall, and then stopped when she saw the door to the basement floor opened. She crept over and placed her back against the wall beside the doorway, and immediately she heard sputtering. "I've been framed!" Estavan cried, and she heard Carlo's voice reply harshly for him to quiet down. "That damn bitch!"

Bernsa flinched, then started walking down. "Father," she started, only to recieve a long line of curses from Estavan.

"What Bernesa?" he asked, cold and calculating. "Carlo and I are busy. Why don't you go find Giselle?"

"What are you going to do with him?" she asked, nodding towards Estavan.

"Get any and all information out of him," Carlo said for her father. "And then we'll probably kill him."

Bernesa swallowed, staring at the wall without emotion. "What if he has no answers to provide?"

Carlo replied while her father took the club from him and smacked it hard against Estavan's thigh. Carlo looked at her, then shrugged. "Maybe kill him, maybe let him go. But probably the first. We already have enough enemies to deal with, we don't need one more on top of that."

She nodded slowly, then smiled. "Okay," she said, turning her back. She walked back up the stairs with Estavan spitting out curses to reply the cries of anguish that he felt. She closed the door behind her, wishing that she could lock these men down there forever. She shook her head, then dragged her feet to her room. She felt sick to her stomach.

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A/N: It took me a while, but I finally finished this chapter! Pats on the back!