Of all things, Kate could not ever have predicted becoming a mob wife. She knew what mafia women were like, or at the very least had an image in her head. They were glamorous and extravagant, they were the women who were given unspoken discounts at the store and who probably had small pistols in those clutches they carried. They kept things in their families, and they were not to be crossed. That was the image at least, but then, the Gandors were not a typical crime family in that sense. They were smaller, more underestimated, didn’t have the same ties to bigger families.
Still, she was not the type people imagined. They thought of trophy wives and the archetypal femme fatales. They would never think about a quiet musician, when she walked down the street she didn’t have an aura of owning the world around her and she was known for her generosity. She hadn’t been born to this life but she wouldn’t let it change her. She’d made that decision pretty much as soon as she’d decided yes, she would marry that silent movie of a man, she’d known nothing about her would change. Not the way she dressed, not how she carried herself, nothing. It wasn’t even that she’d decided it. She just knew she wasn’t the type to put on airs because she was married to a known criminal.
She wondered, sometimes, what her parents would think. What assumptions they might make? She’d always been sensible, not the type to go off on a reckless romance. And it hadn’t been reckless. Keith had asked her to play piano for him. She had. It was hardly whirlwind or sensationalist. They’d simply grown together, naturally, found themselves getting closer. Kate had fallen in love with the silences. With some people, silence could feel distant. With Keith, it was a calming feeling. His quiet invited her to talk, to play piano, to make the silence less so. He’d invited her in.
He was the feature and she played the accompaniment, and things fitted together just so. Sometimes he didn’t come home at all and she didn’t see him for days. When he did get home it was inevitably late, so he tried not to wake her when he got in. For someone so quiet it should have been a cinch but Kate knew the difference between the disarming silence of an empty home and between Keith’s very particular brand of quiet he carried with him. He’d apologise for waking her.
“It’s no problem at all,” she’d reply. “I’m just happy to see you.” Then, quieter, hand on his shoulder gently. “How was your day?”
The answer would vary. Sometimes words, sometimes only a shrug, or a faint smile and a nod, or sometimes, on rare occasions, no response at all. To those unfamiliar with Keith would see in his wordless replies nothing at all, but there was a vast difference between a flicker of the eyebrows or a remorseful hanging of his head and nothing . There was a difference between Keith’s beautiful silences and...well, and silence itself .
It was one such bad day, when she met with the wrong kind of silence.
“What happened?” she asked immediately, taking his hand in hers.
“...it’s been dealt with,” Keith said calmly, his voice quiet and low as always. He wasn’t saying everything. So many words left unsaid. Normally he was somewhat more forthcoming with her. “You don’t want details.”
“ Oh .” There was a bitter taste at the back of her mouth and she knew, she had always known this came with the territory sometimes, that there would always be things she’d be better off not knowing. “If the police come asking questions, I need deniability, don’t I?” He nodded slowly. “Is this something where you’ll need an alibi?”
“Kate-” he broke off, touching her cheek and sighing. “...do you think I’d ask you to do that?” he asked, after a long moment of pause. “Ask you to lie to the cops? Involve you in everything this family does?” He was evidently worried. This was practically motormouth by his standards. True, he didn't seem unduly concerned, not externally, but Kate knew him. And she knew his silences. This was not the typical kind. He was worried.
She kissed his hand. “Of course not. I’d never expect that.” Silence. Slightly more reassuring silence. The right kind of silence, as Keith leant into his chair and relaxed, undoing his cuffs and setting his cufflinks on the coffee table. “Are you alright?”
“And your brothers?”
Keith sighed. “Berga, yes.”
“Is Luck okay?” Kate asked quickly. She’d always been fond of Keith’s family, her family now. Luck in particular seemed to be a perfectly charming, charismatic young man. He’d been nothing but welcoming. And he clearly looked up to his eldest brother, respected him a great deal.
“You’re worrying about him again, aren’t you?” Kate asked softly, meeting her husband’s eyes for the briefest moment. He glanced away and then back, and then Kate went to fetch some coffee. Perhaps it was a little too late for coffee, but she didn’t intend to go off to bed with Keith worrying about something, stewing inside his head. If he was going to voice his thoughts to anyone, it’d be to her. It always was. That was was somewhat flattering. Or rather, very flattering indeed. Keith’s words were so treasured, information brokers would pay to know what they were. She’d been offered money before now. She was the one he trusted with the majority of things he chose to say, and that was a weight sometimes, but it was one she would never consider a burden. He was her husband. She loved him.
“Luck was never suited for this,” Keith said, when she came back with coffee. “He always deserved something else. After today, I asked him to take a few days, maybe take a trip.”
“I take it he disagreed with you?”
“Apparently he’s busy,” Keith replied. “So he says.”
“Do you want me to talk to him?” Kate asked. “I know he looks up to you, if he knew how worried you were about him, he’d listen. I’m sure.” Keith didn’t look convinced. “Invite him for dinner tomorrow. I’ll talk to him.”
Keith nodded. “Thank you, Kate.”
“It’s no problem.”
He might have been smiling, only fractionally, when he looked across at her, met her eyes and said; “I love you.”
Three precious words.
And she replied with four.
Next day, Luck did indeed come to dinner. It was a universal truth that you didn’t decline Kate’s invitations unless you had a really, really good excuse. Keith received a phone call almost immediately after arriving home and kissed his wife goodbye, heading back out. Luck moved to follow but was stopped in his tracks with a single look.
“I guess I’ll see you later,” Luck called out, as his brother made his way to the door. Keith nodded and then was gone without a word. Left alone, Luck seemed a little awkward, but he hung his hat and coat up and made himself comfortable. “Thanks for inviting me. How’re things with you, if you don’t mind my line of enquiry?”
“I don’t,” she replied, smiling. Luck was well-mannered as ever. “I’m well, thank you for asking, Luck. And yourself? How have you been keeping?”
Luck returned her smile, somewhat thinly. It didn’t quite reach his eyes. “I’ve been fine.”
“He’s worried about you, you know?” Kate said softly. Luck’s smile faded. “You’re his younger brother, and he cares a lot. He’s just...well, you know what he’s like. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care.”
“I know,” Luck murmured.
“I promised I’d talk to you, anyway. Set things to rights.” Luck nodded absently. “If he asked you to take time off, take a couple of days. Listen to what he says. He’s only looking out for you.”
“I know,” Luck repeated. “I know, and I respect him a lot. I don’t mean to make him worry whatsoever. He helped raise me. There are just things that need doing. Important matters to be settled.” He shifted in his seat. “I won’t talk business. I know you’d rather not, and Keith wants you to stay out of it anyway. All I’ll say is it’s crucial I handle it. I don’t want to let him down,” he admitted.
Kate reached out and touched his shoulder. “You won’t. You aren’t. He’s proud of you. You know that.” Luck nodded. Of course he knew. He just didn’t want that to change. “Luck, I’m asking you now not as your brother’s wife, not on his behalf, but as your sister-in-law, as family . Take a short break, please.” Luck said nothing. “I’ll go fix up dinner now, shall I?”
“Did you need a hand?” Luck offered.
“Well, I won’t say no.”
They headed through to the kitchen, where Luck was put to chopping vegetables while Kate dealt with the meat. It was a nice arrangement and one that worked out well.
The meal was delicious.
Kate hadn’t expected anything less.
It was late by the time Keith got back. Luck had made his farewells and promised to take a short trip, somewhat reluctantly but he didn’t want to argue with Kate. He wouldn’t. And Kate didn’t think he’d break a promise either. He wasn’t the type.
It was very late, and Kate had gone to bed when she heard the bedroom door open and her husband enter the room, as quiet as he could, setting his clothes aside and sliding into bed next to her.
“What time do you call this?” Kate teased, smiling softly.
“Night,” Keith replied, without a hint of sarcasm, only ever sincerity. She loved that about him.
Kate rolled her eyes. “I’m glad you’re back. Luck’s agreed to take a short break. I told you he’d listen to me.” Turning over, she kissed her husband’s cheek. “It’s okay. It’ll be okay.” She looped her arms around his neck, pressing their foreheads together. She could feel him smiling.
“Thank you,” he said. “Kate. I love you.”
And she, as always, replied with four.