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Chapter 3 • New York City

The balcony window created a checker board of brilliant sunlight onto the dark hardwood floor. The watery daylight pushed back at the darkened edges of dawn, reclaiming the colours of day that had been washed into grey by the moonlit night. The world came back like a freshly developed photograph, every colour bright and new.

Isabel squinted as she held her right hand up to block the sunlight from her eyes. For hours, she was on her laptop trying to find as much information about Alessio and the Aditori family as she could, but at some point she fell asleep with one hand on her keyboard and the other dangling off the side of the bed.

She slowly sat up and moved her neck around, and then sighed. She sat still for a moment, thinking about everything she managed to find from her research;

• She found out that the Aditori family were wealthy. That was the first thing she found. Their wealth came from their American and Sicilian ancestors from long ago.

• Second, she found out that Alessio had a brother and sister. His sister, however, she passed away, leaving her only son, Bruno to be raised by her older brother.

• Third, she found out that the Aditori's were businessmen and businesswoman. They owned restaurants, club, casinos and even had their own charity foundation to help the orphanages, churches and those in need.

• And fourth, they had powerful and well known friends. And Isabel knew that people with wealth, businesses and power of that kind were dangerously

Yet still, there was so much she wanted to know. She wanted to know what it was they were really doing behind closed doors. She wanted to know how it all started. Maybe being an Article Reporter is my calling? She thought to herself.

Isabel entered the kitchen and she felt her jaw slightly drop. The kitchen was massive, to say the least. Mostly beige and brown. The marble floor in the kitchen was spotless and looked as though it could have been a mirror. Hanging down from the high ceiling was a black iron chandelier. The entrance way to the kitchen was a tall arched doorframe, and on the right side of the entrance there were two brown doors made from wood which were the doors to the fridge. On the left side of the arched entrance there were two ovens with cupboards above them. There were two marble counters; one went had a cooking stove buried in the counter, and the other had a sink. And there was also a kitchen island in the middle.

She walked further in the kitchen, and saw a man, slightly fluffy, sun-kissed skin, brown eyes and a moustache. He wore a toque blanche, a white double-breasted jacket, and black pants and a white apron. "Quante volte?" He said to the young man dressed in black. The chef threw his hands up in surrender. "Non importa," he said. "I will go down to the Market myself."

(How many times? Never mind)

"Buongiorno," the chef greeted once he caught sight of Isabel. "Would you like some breakfast?" Isabel smiled at the man as her answer.



Isabel turned her head at the familiar voice, and found that there was an open dinning room attached to the kitchen. There were tall, french windows with white curtains and a long table with chairs that had people seated in them.

"Hi," Isabel smiled as Nicholas approached her. Compared to Ariana, Isabel felt more of a sibling connection to Nicholas than she did to Ariana. She guessed that maybe it was because of Ariana's reaction and lack of communication. But she brushed it off. After all, it was just the first day, right?

Nicholas smiled down at Isabel. He still couldn't believe that he had another younger sister. He knew he had only known Isabel for a day, but he had this brotherly feeling which made him feel protective over her. "So," he began. "How do you like you room? My mother said if there is anything you want to change—"

"No, no," Isabel shook her head. "The room is fine."

Nicholas nodded with a small smile. He still couldn't believe that he had another sister. He felt even more protective now than he did before. After all, he did have two younger sisters to protect now. "Come on," he gestured with his head and left the way to the dinning table.

Around the long table sat four men; two were around the same age as Alessio. The one on the left had dark brown man had olive skin, brown eyes and fluffy. He had his blazer off, the sleeves of his shirt rolled to his elbows and his tie slightly undone. This was Vito Lazzeri, he was one of Alessio's capo's and friend. He was street smart, an excellent storyteller with a great sense of humour. But he could also be your worst nightmare.

The man sitting opposite him was slim and had a mixture of black and grey hair. He wore a dark blue tie, a white shirt, with a dark blue vest and dark blue pants. This was Stefano Vincenzi, another one of Alessio's capo's and friend. Vincenzi was also a smart man, but spoke very little. But when he did speak it was either to Alessio, his family, or when he did a job that required him to speak.

The other two men at the table looked to be around the same age as Nicholas. One had dirty blonde hair, blue eyes and fair skin, while the other one had light brown hair and dark brown eyes with sun-kissed skin. They wore the same suite that looked more like a uniform with earpieces.

Nicholas sat down at the head of the table, while Isabel sat in the chair on the left next to Lazzeri. "Everyone," Nicholas began. "This is Isabel. Isabel, this is Vito Lazzeri, Stefano Vincenzi, Michael Di'Amor and David Pezo."

The kitchen fell silent. The sound of the laugher from the men standing outside became loud and clear. The men at the table and the kitchen staff looked at each other with wide eyes, this was the girl, they thought to themselves, this was Isabel.

"Hello," Isabel waved shyly at everyone.

Vito Lazzeri dropped his fork and stopped chewing, as he looked down at the girl sitting next to him. She reminded him so much of Hayley. Years ago, Alessio had to take care of something in England, and doing so he took a few of his most trusted men with him. Lazzeri being one of them. And that was then Alessio met Hayley. He could remember that night as though it had happened yesterday. He was checking the entrance and exit ways of the club that Alessio had bought when he bumped into a girl with long, dark brown hair that was drenched from the rain, a porcelain-like face, and hazel eyes and she held one handle of her rucksack. He told Alessio that things wouldn't end well with Hayley and that he he was to rethink his next move because he had a wife and kid waiting for him back home.

Lazzeri shook his head and held his hand out, he watched as the girl smile at him and shook his hand.

"Isabel," Stefano Vincenzi began. "How do you like New York so far?"

"Oh, um, I haven't had the chance to see the anything yet" she replied.

"That's okay," the young man with dirty blonde hair, Michael said.

"When we have time, we'll take you—""

"Like hell you will," Nicholas cut the young man with light brown hair off. David and Michael lowered their heads while smiling and looked at each other sideways.

The following few days were meeting the family, and Ariana had never felt such jealousy and anger before. She used to be the centre of attention. The star of the event, but now that she had an 'older sister' she felt like her spotlight had been stolen. She was leaning over the island with her phone in her hand, and from time to time she'd look at Isabel with fire in her eyes.

Victoria had invited the family over for dinner in celebration of their charity success. It wasn't a large party, but just a small get together. It's been a while, and night had already fallen. The sky was pitch black with a void of stars hanging as though they were dangling from invisible strings. Isabel had met two of her cousin's; Natalia and Bianca. Sisters.

Natalia was the same age as Isabel and Bianca was a year younger than the two girls. Natalia was a beautiful girl with very long, light brown hair, brown eyes that turned into a slight orange colour when the sun hit them and a sun-kissed complexion.

And Bianca had a fair complexion, red lips as the red, red rose, long, light brown hair and brown eyes that turned into an orange colour when the sunlight shone on them.

The girls were sitting at the table with Victoria and the other women. Isabel never experienced a night like this. For years it was just her, Hayley, Megan and her mother, but ever since Megan moved away it was just Isabel and Hayley. So having a large group of people to call family was new to her was new to her.

"But you're here with us now," said Natalia's and Bianca's mother, Dagmara. Dagmara was Alessio's brothers sister, she had brown hair that reached her waist with very light-almost golden highlights. She had blue eyes and sun-kissed skin. She was a very professional and classy lady. She always wanted everything to be in order and that everyone was proper. But she also had a fun side.

Isabel smiled at the women shyly. Victoria watched Isabel with a small smile. She had only known the girl for a few days, but already she adored her. And even though she was not her daughter and from an affair Alessio had with a woman she couldn't seem to feel any anger or hatred towards the girl.

Victoria's attention turned from Isabel to her daughter who was standing next to the kitchen island. She knew Ariana didn't approve of Isabel because she felt that Isabel was going to steal her father away from her, but that wasn't the truth.

"Ariana," Victoria called out to her daughter. Ariana looked away from her phone and met her mother's eyes. "Come sit with us, honey."

Ariana locked her phone, rolled her eyes and sighed as she approached the table and sat down opposite Isabel.

New York has a smell. It first hit you when taking the subway in from JFK. That old familiar scent that's a mix of a shirt from a vintage clothing store and sulfur. A weird way of describing such a place like New York.

Victoria decided to take Ariana and Isabel out for the day. She knew Alessio wanted his daughters to be civil and take each other as sisters and that's a task Victoria set for herself.

They had been walking the busy payments for almost an hour, and Isabel was in aw at how beautiful this city was. She thought that it would be raining by now, but the sky was still covered in thick black clouds, building up for the heavy rain that was going to shower the city. Isabel took her phone out multiples of times to either take pictures of the buildings and videos of some of the talents that were being performed.

As they continued walking, she could hear the people around speaking in tongue. Some spoke mostly English, but also French, Japanese, Russian, and so many others. And this is what made her fall in love with her city even more. She loved to hear other people speaking other languages because it made her want to learn.

New York was visually stunning, defined by the people and the buildings. The people were energy, feeling, and movement that create emotion, splashed against the canvas of the architecture. The buildings provide a stark, static contrast and permanence to a town that was constantly evolving.

A wide variety of shops lined the nearby streets: antique and art stalls, jewelry and accessory shops, luxury boutiques, souvenir kiosks and stores selling leather goods, all showcasing an array of the finest Italian wares. Tourists flocked to them like fireflies to a lamp, enthusiasm accentuating their features. The silvery melody of the drawl of sightseers and the strong, distinct accents of the locals drifted through my ears as they ambled past. There were chimes of bells that tinkled incessantly as the people sauntered in and out of the stores.

She saw people dressed up in office clothes, and she heard a snippets of their conversations that were mostly about business. She could hear parents talking to their children. She could hear the cars driving and music playing somewhere in the background. She could hear teenagers talking and laughing as they walked past her and she could see that some people were giving her looks, and she knew exactly why.

Victoria stopped and turned to the two men dressed in black. "Wait here, boys" she said with a polite smile. The men nodded and stood on the side of the entrance as Victoria and the girls walked in the shop.

They walked around the shop, admiring every dress they walked past. Isabel walked off on her own to the other side of the shop, checking the dress on that side while Ariana was in the changing room and Victoria was on the other side on her own as well.

Isabel looked at the two pieces dresses in the shop when she suddenly felt the urge to look away and out the massive window. She felt a heavy gaze on her. The only other time she felt this heavy gaze was when she was back home in England.

She watched as the cars drove by and as the people walked in opposite directions of each other and that's when she saw a boy in the distance. He was tall and was well built. He had a tanned complexion, dark brown hair that looked almost black and brown eyes. He stood by a lamppost with his hands tucked in his pockets as he watched Isabel for a short moment, and in the blink of an eye he vanished into the crowd.

Isabel stood frozen as her eyes searched for the man. She wondered if he had left, or if he was still out there just waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. She shook her head. Her breathing became heavy, like something was suffocating her. She had to get out of that shop for air.

Isabel walked towards the door and pulled it open and stepped outside. The wind hit her and brushed her face, blowing her hair in her face. She stood still for a moment, searching for the two men dressed in black, and saw them standing on the opposite side of the road talking to some girls.

Maybe if I drink some water....she thought to herself as she looked around and spotted a nearby shop that served drinks as well.

As she approached the crosswalk she felt a sudden poke in her back. She held her breath and her whole body froze. "Don't make any sudden moves," a masculine voice said behind her. "You'll do as I say, or that kid dies, got it?"

Isabel gasped in her head as she looked at the little boy with golden locks on the opposite side of the street. She wanted to turn around and face the man, but with a gun to her back and a threat she only nodded.

They walked down the street, people passing by and not knowing that the girl before them was being led to her doom. Isabel wanted to shout, she wanted to fight back and run, but if she was warned. She felt as though there was something chocking her. Like someone was holding her by the throat. She began to wonder what was going to happen to her? What would this man do to her?

They made a turn just close to the end of the street, it was a dark, cobbled alleyway. The buildings were tight together and look over her like a forest of stone. When she looked up the roofs were so close together that she could only make out a line of the blue sky. The alleyway twisted and turned back on itself, first going to the right, then to the left.

"Stop," the man behind her said, as they reached the end of the path that was blocked off by two black cars.


Did I really do that to you guys?


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