Prologue [Edited 08/12/20]
“I don’t give a shit!” Sebastiano D’Onofrio spat, slamming the flat of his hand forcefully against the wooden desk separating him and the fearful man flinching before him.
Two men conversed heatedly in the dimly lit office hidden within the D’Onofrio’s manor, away from prying eyes or listening ears. No one, not even Sebastiano’s three sons knew what was transpiring that evening, and they wouldn’t know until Sebastiano deemed it necessary.
Sebastiano, a man most known for his cool demeanour, was irate. His face was flushed, his pulse pounding, and the veins in his neck protruding like tightly wound strings of a harp. Never had he been so fuelled by anger before. Every second he spent in the presence of the man sat opposite him, only had his fury climbing higher.
Antonio Fiorenza almost cowered in his chair under the stronger man’s fiery gaze; almost. If he had any semblance of intelligence he would be on his knees begging for forgiveness, but Antonio was a man who had made many mistakes in his life, and this would not be his last.
“You owe me, Antonio, and now I wish to collect.” The directness of Sebastiano’s words sent a chill down Antonio’s spine. He would no longer be Sebastiano’s most trusted advisor, he would no longer be the second most feared mafioso, no longer the powerful son of Valentino Fiorenza; he had failed his family and now it was time he be punished for his weaknesses.
“I can’t repay you, Sebastiano. You know of this. Is there no other way?” Antonio pleaded, face pale as he faced the intimidating man before him. He despised whom he had now become. Weak, spineless, powerless. His father had taught him better than this, had ensured Antonio knew exactly what his responsibilities were time and time again. And yet he had failed.
Antonio despised himself; but he despised the man before him even more. Sebastiano was a savage.
He’d seen the older man tear men to their knees without a second thought. He rarely resorted to violence personally, using his lackeys for the instances where violence was necessary. Instead he tore a man apart from the inside, forcing himself into their heads, manipulating them until they had nothing left, and no one to blame but themselves.
“I no longer want your money,” Sebastiano taunted slowly, pulling back to lean into his chair. In an instant all apparent anger evaporated from his demeanour, his expression impassive. When he became reserved like this, his eyes blank and emotionless, that’s when even the toughest of men began to quiver. It was when he was calm and thinking clearly that Sebastiano inflicted the most lingering, gut wrenching pain.
“There is something far more precious to my family that you will grant me,” he spoke in a slow and measured tone. “My eldest, Mercello, has taken over from me a year now, as you are aware.”
Antonio swallowed roughly, wincing at the feeling similar to glass shards stabbing his throat. His mouth was dry, yet his body was drenched in perspiration. The new direction of the conversation had his hands clenching tightly in the expensive material of his suit pants, as a deep sense of dread ate away at him from the inside out.
“I wish to unite our two families through the strongest bond there is and combine our strengths. Naturally, this will ensure your quickly crumbling position at the top, something I understand you to adore more than anything.” Sebastiano held off the fierce scowl wanting to encompass his face at the vile words. While Antonio was usually an intelligent man, something Sebastiano respected, he was sickened by Antonio’s unbalanced priorities.
To Sebastiano, family always came first, a notion that he was now testing as he awaited Antonio’s answer to his outlandish yet profitable proposal.
“You will keep her safe?” Antonio requested quietly, as if he was ashamed of his words.
“I look after family.”
Antonio gritted his teeth to hold in his protests. He could no longer afford to anger the Don. He didn’t want to concede, but he had no choice. He could no longer protect his family without the aid of the D’Onofrio’s and he wasn’t willing to risk their safety over a petty matter of his pride.
“Very well,” Antonio’s voice strained against the concession.
It was all Sebastiano needed in confirmation. The foreboding man stood; his hand outstretched towards Antonio which was clasped limply to seal the deal between the two men. Antonio had just signed his daughter’s life away to the most powerful mafia family currently residing in the U.S.A.