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Chapter 7 • Sicilian Love Story

February 28th, 2019

After months of exile in Sicily, Isabel came finally to understand the Aditori character and their destiny. She came to understand men like the caporegimes Stefano Vincenzi and Vito Lazzeri, Anthony's position and also Nicholas' position.

Isabel had been transported from the ship docked at Palermo to the interior of the Sicilian island, to the very heart of a province controlled by the Mafia, where the local capo-mafioso was greatly indebted to her father for some past service. The capo-mafioso was a man in his late fifties named Don Paolo and he operated as the gabbellotto for a huge estate belonging to one of Sicily's most noble families. He, for a certain sum of money protected the real estate of the rich from all claims made on it by the poor, legal or illegal.

Don Paolo also controlled the water rights in the area and vetoed the local building of any new dams by the Roman government. Such dams would ruin the lucrative business of selling water from the artesian wells he controlled, make water too cheap, ruin the whole important water economy so laboriously built up over hundreds of years. However, Don Paolo was an old-fashioned Mafia chief and would have nothing to do with dope traffic or prostitution. In this Don Paolo was at odds with the new breed of Mafia leaders springing up in big cities like Palermo, new men who, influenced by American gangsters deported to Italy, had no such scruples.

Under his protection, Isabel had nothing to fear, yet it was considered necessary to keep the fugitive's identity a secret. And so Isabel was restricted to the walled estate of Don Paolo's brother, Don Enrico who was tall for a Sicilian, almost six feet, and had ruddy cheeks and snow-white hair. Don Enrico enjoyed reading. He read everything and talked about what he read to his fellow townsmen, patients who were illiterate peasants, the estate shepherds, and this gave him a local reputation for foolishness.

In the evenings Don Enrico, Don Paolo and Isabel sat in the huge garden populated with these marble statues that on this island seemed to grow out of the garden as magically as the black heady grapes. Don Enrico loved tell stories about the Mafia and its exploits over the centuries and in Isabel he had a fascinated listener. There were times when even Don Paolo would be carried away by the balmy air, the fruity, intoxicating wine, the elegant and quiet comfort of the garden, and tell a story from his own practical experience. The brother was the legend, the Don the reality.

In this antique garden, Isabel learned about the roots from which her grandfather grew. That the word "Mafia" had originally meant place of refuge. Then it became the name for the secret organization that sprang up to fight against the rulers who had crushed the country and its people for centuries.

Isabel understood for the first time why men like her father chose to become thieves and murderers rather than members of the legal society. The poverty and fear and degradation were too awful to be acceptable to any man of spirit. And in America some emigrating Sicilians had assumed there would be an equally cruel authority.

Don Enrico offered to take Isabel into Palermo with him on his weekly visit to the bordello, but Isabel refused.

She also had plenty of time to think things out. During the day she took walks in the countryside, always accompanied by two of the shepherds attached to Don Paolo's estate. The shepherds of the island were often recruited to act as the Mafia's hired killers and did their job simply to earn money to live. Isabel thought about her father's organization. If it continued to prosper it would grow into what had happened here on this island, so cancerous that it would destroy the whole country. Sicily was already a land of ghosts, its men emigrating to every other country on earth to be able to earn their bread, or simply to escape being murdered for exercising their political and economic freedoms.

On her long walks the most striking thing in Isabel's eyes was the magnificent beauty of the country; she walked through the orange orchards that formed shady deep caverns through the countryside with their ancient conduits splashing water out of the fanged mouths of great snake stones carved before Christ. Houses built like ancient Roman villas, with huge marble portals and great vaulted rooms, falling into ruins or inhabited by stray sheep. On the horizon the bony hills shone like picked bleached bones piled high. She could feel the town's history melt into her skin. Gardens and fields, sparkly green, decorated the desert landscape like bright emerald necklaces. And sometimes she walked as far as the town of Savoca.

Her two shepherd bodyguards always carried their luparas with them when accompanying Isabel on her walks. The deadly Sicilian shotgun was the favorite weapon of the Mafia. The long walks, a bottle of strong wine at night with a heavy plate of pasta and meat, enabled Isabel to sleep. There were books in Italian in Don Enrico's library and though Isabel spoke dialect Italian, her reading of these books took a great deal of effort and time. Her speech became almost accentiess and, though she could never pass as a native of the district, it would be believed that she was one of those strange Italians from the far north of Italy bordering the Swiss and Germans.

Oddly enough her conscience was never troubled by the two men she had murdered; Russo had tried to

kidnapped her, and tried to kill her father and Russell had not only sexually harassed her, but he also raised his hand on her.

Don Paolo became very busy and was seldom seen at the villa. He was having his troubles with the "new Mafia" springing up in Palermo, young men who were roaming the Streets at night and terrorising the locals. Don Paolo was kept busy defending his domain.

One morning Isabel decided to take a long hike to the mountains beyond Savoca. She was, naturally, accompanied by the two shepherd bodyguards. This was not really a protection against enemies of the Aditori Family. It was simply too dangerous for anyone not a native to go wandering about and especially a young girl. It was dangerous enough for a native. The region was loaded with bandits, with Mafia partisans fighting against each other and endangering everybody else in the process.

They hiked across the fields. One of her bodyguards was a plain simple fellow, almost moronic, silent as the dead and with a face as impassive as an Indian. He had the wiry small build of the typical Sicilian before they ran to the fat of middle age. His name was Matteo.

And the other shepherd was more outgoing, younger, and had seen something of the world. Mostly oceans, since he came from a family of sailors. His name was Ferran. Ferran, unlink Matteo would joke with Isabel and ask questions about America and England for of course it was impossible to keep them in the dark about her true nationality. Still, they did not know exactly who she was except that she was in hiding and there could be no babbling about her.

They walked along dusty country roads passing donkeys pulling gaily painted carts. The land was filled with pink flowers, orange orchards, groves of almond and olive trees, all blooming. That had been one of the surprises. Isabel had expected a barren land because of the legendary poverty of Sicilians. And yet she had found it a land of gushing plenty, carpeted with flowers scented by lemon blossoms. It was so beautiful that she wondered how its people could bear to leave it.

It was a most beautiful morning. Isabel felt like a child all over again going out on a hot summer day to play with Morgan and the other children in the neighbourhood.

Sicily was carpeted is gaudy flowers, the scent of orange and lemon blossoms so heavy that intoxicated her senses.

After going about fifteen miles, Isabel and her bodyguards stopped in the cool green watery shade of an orange grove to eat lunch and drink their wine. Ferran was chattering about how he would someday get to America. "I'll get myself a beautiful girl with golden hair, eyes blue like the ocean and soft skin," he sighed as he laid down on the grass with his hands behind his head.

"Faccia di lucertola," Matteo muttered under his breath before he took a sip from his bottle.

(Lizard face)

Ferran turned turned his head to look at Matteo. "Faccia di lucertola?" He repeated, with his brows arched upwards as he pointed a finger to his own chest. Isabel laughed.

"Un'immaginazione come la tua non è salutare," said Matteo.

(An imagination like yours is not healthy)

Ferran waved his hand at his friend and laid back down. "Oh, sta zitto" he said. "America; that's paradise, I'm telling you. I should have left this town when I was a boy. I'd have been a millionaire

by this time."

(Oh, shut up)

It was sunset, and Isabel asked the two guards if they wanted to go for something stronger to drink at the pub. The doors to the pub were open, chairs and tables were outside the building with candles lit on each one. And inside the pub we're more tables, the black iron chandelier hung down from the wooden ceiling, illuminating the pub in a warm yellowish tone and to the right there was a bar table with a bartender.

The sound of laugher and chatter filled their ears as they sat outside the pub at an empty table close to the entrance. "Bevanda?" Isabel slammed her hand on the table with a smile.


"Amaretto," they replied.

He watched her from his table. The conversation that his friends were having had been blocked from his mind and hearing. He had seen beautiful girls before, but not one like her. This was the first time his breath was taken away. He found himself frozen, his heart pounding in his chest; he felt a little dizzy. The blood was surging through his body, through all its extremities and pounding against the tips of his fingers, the tips of his toes. All the perfumes of the island came rushing in on the wind, orange, lemon blossoms, grapes, flowers. It seemed as if his body had sprung away from him out of himself. And then he heard one of his friends speak.

"Ooh," his friend laughed. "Penso che Antonio sia stato colpito da un fulmine."

(I think Antonio was struck by lightning)

The two other young men at the table laughed at what Daniel had said, but Antonio didn't as so much exhale a laugh, a chuckle or broke into a smile even. His eyes were locked on the girl inside his father's pub. He watched as she smiled at his mother and shook her head with a smile, telling her that she was going to be fine taking the tray on her own.

Antonio watched as she walked through the path maze of tables in the pub with the tray. His eyes followed her to the two men who were seated a few tables away from him and his friends.

Isabel placed the tray down on the table as she sat next Matteo. "Fai gli onori?" He asked, and Isabel smiled before she reached her hand out and grabbed the bottle in her hand.

(Do the honours?)

Just as she handed Ferran his glass he gasped and waved at someone. Both Isabel and Matteo followed his gaze and saw four young men sitting a few tables away from them. They were all handsome young men, but only one caught Isabel's full attention; the young man with a fair complexion, dark brown curls and blue eyes.

Ferran gestured for them to come over to their table and they did so. "You don't mind?" Ferran asked Isabel.

"Troppo tardi," said Matteo as he held his shot to his lips. Isabel laughed but shook her head to answer Ferran's question.

(Too late)

The four youngsters stood before the table, Ferran stood from his chair and shook hands with each one of them before he told them to sit down. Matteo knew these young men, they were friends of Ferran's, especially the one with blue eyes, Antonio.

"This is Eric," Ferran said, gesturing to the dark, dirty, blond haired sitting on his left. Isabel smiled at him politely and Eric returned the gesture.

"Jacopo. Max." Ferran pointed to the two men sitting at each end of the table. Isabel waved at them with a small smile.

"And Antonio." Isabel tired to stop herself from turning red, but when Antonio smiled at her she knew she was a strawberry.

It's been a while, and they were already on their second bottle of Amaretto. The low breeze felt cool on her arms and made a shiver run down her spine. The night sky was a marvel; pitch black with starts that looked as though they were sugar scattered on a black surface. There was no one inside the pub, except for Antonio's parents, sister and brother cleaning up.

But there were a few people outside. There was a couple sitting in the far back with nothing but a lit candle on the table. They seemed to be exchanging words of love that must have sound like poetry, there were three elderly men sitting next to where Isabel and the others sat. One of them had a guitar and the other two sang old Italian and Sicilian songs.

"Lu tempu passa ma non agghiorna non c'e mai suli s'idda non torna."

( The time passes but there is no dawn there is no sunshine if she doesn't return)

An hour ago Isabel had switched seats with Ferran and sat next to Antonio. She poured herself and Antonio another shot of Amaretto as she listened to Antonio. They had been talking for some time now and Antonio told her about his childhood memories and how he came to speak English. They talked, but also caught on the banter between the others.

And then Antonio stopped. "I've told you enough about me," he said. "Parlami di te adesso."

(Tell me about yourself now)

Isabel held her glass to her lips and downed the liquor in one go, before she reached her hand out and took his hat off and placed it on her head. "My mother passes away, I have a long lost family and I'm a Brit hiding in Sicily, from the American police" she said without hesitation. "My name is Isabel Smith Aditori. You can inform the police and make your fortune, but then your family would lose a son and brother."

Isabel looked deeply into Antonio's eyes and didn't smile or made any sudden expressions or movements. She knew if she did then Antonio would call her bluff and she didn't want to play this off as a joke. She wanted to be real with him just as he was with her.

Antonio sat still, looking at the girl sitting next to him and expecting her to burst out laughing. But she didn't, and the way she looked at him told him that she wasn't joking.

May 7th, 2019

The following days turned to weeks, and Isabel had been spending more and more time with Antonio. He would take her out on walks, to the pub but they wouldn't drink. No, they would sit and talk for hours just to learn more about each other. She even met his family. His parents were sweet, as were his siblings and the rest of his family. She remembered his mother saying to her that she has never seen her son so happy.

Isabel has to sneak out of the house and from Don Paolo since it was around nine o'clock at night. Even though they had been seeing each other and everyone knew, Don Paolo followed the old ways; they weren't allowed to go out unsupervised. Matteo and Ferran would always be following after her, but they'd keep their distance.

Antonio took her to a spot where you could see the village from and the view was breathtaking. The stars hung in the night sky as though they were dangling from invisible strings and the village lights looked like flames.

Isabel felt a heavy gaze on. She closed her eyes and sighed a small laugh, before she opened them again and turned to Antonio. "Non fare."


But in that very moment Antonio went def and didn't hear what she had said. "Sei così bella."

(You're so beautiful)

Isabel's smile faded slowly as she looked down at her hands. "Non lo diresti se sapessi cosa ho fatto," she said softly.

(You wouldn't say it if you knew what I did)

Antonio reached his hand out towards Isabel's face and cupped her warm, rosey cheek. There was a short moment of silence as he looked into her eyes. "Non c'è niente," he said. "In questo mondo che ti renderebbe indegno ai miei occhi."

(There is nothing in this world that would make you unworthy in my eyes)

Antonio slowly began to lean forward until his lips met hers in a soft and tender kiss.

"Sh!!!!" Isabel laughed. Antonio was taking Isabel back home, but it seemed like he was dunk. Drunk from the first kiss that their shared just moments ago. You would think that after all the hours, days and months she spent with Antonio- watching him talk, laugh and frown - that she would know all there was to know about his lips but that was no the case.

"A kiss! Such a small gesture! Lips touching each other tender and fierce! I love you! Full of longing

and fear! Longing because you're what I've been searching for! Fear because you're what Im afraid to loose!" Antonio sang as he walked backwards, watching Isabel with a smile that shined brighter than the stars in the sky. She shushed him once again while laughing, but that only encouraged him.

He pulled her into his arms, turned her around so her back was against his chest and kissed her cheek. Hearing her laugh sounded like music to his ears and it made his heart beat a million times faster. "Ti amo!" He shouted.

"Antonio," Isabel giggled, as she tried escaping from his arms, but Antonio wouldn't let her go. "You're going to wake—" Isabel gasped and laughed as Antonio tickled her sides.

Once he stopped tickling her, they stopped in the middle of the road and the gates to the house were just a few feet away. He brushed her hear away from her face. "Let them hear," he said. "Voglio che il mondo intero sappia che sono innamorato della ragazza più bella e sorprendente del mondo."

(I want the whole world to know that I'm in love with the most beautiful and amazing girl in the world)

Isabel smiled up at Antonio. The last time she felt this happy was when she still had her mother around. She missed the feeling and she felt like she could take on the world.

"Ti amo," Antonio whispered, and Isabel smiled. She could feel her cheeks heating up. "Dai, dillo," he said, and Isabel shook her head playfully.

(Come on, say it)

Antonio leaned his forehead against hers as he backed her against the tall stone walls that surrounded the villa. A small laugh escaped Isabel's lips as she felt Antonio's hands on her waist.

"Nope," she replied shortly.

Antonio looked up at the stars and then back down to Isabel. "Say, ti amo, Antonio," he said, but Isabel only shook her head yet again. "Say it," he said as he began to move his fingers slowly in a ticking gesture.

"Ti amo, Antonio," Isabel gasped with laughter, and the look of victory danced in Antonio's eyes. He cupped Isabel's cheek in his right hand and just as he was about to lean forward, a loud gunshot echoed in the air.

Isabel looked to her left and right, searching for someone or something that could have caused the loud noise. But when she turned to look at Antonio she noticed that he had a nervous expression on his face, like he was trying to hide something. "Antonio," she began. "What wro—" before she had the chance to finish her sentence, Antonio collapsed onto the ground, taking Isabel with him because she tried to catch him but the weight of his body pull her down as well.

"W-what's wrong? What happe—" she looked down at her hands and the air from her lungs disappeared. No, no, no this was not real. This wasn't supposed to happen. Her hands and skirt were covered in Antonio's blood.

"No," whispered to herself. "No, no, no! Antonio, look at me! Okay?!" She brushed his hair away from his face as tears began to blur her vision. "Dio!" She shouted, and Antonio tried his very best to stay conscious.

Isabel searched for the shooter as she shouted for help, and that's when she cause sight of Ferran a few feet away loading his shotgun. Ferran felt his body freeze once he locked eyes with Isabel. He had just fired at Antonio and his next target was Isabel, but he had been caught and also, he couldn't bring his finger to pull the trigger. He dropped the shotgun and ran into the distance.

"FERRAN!" Isabel shouted after him. "Get back here!"

"Chi va li?" Don Paolo walked out from the villa with his gun aimed ready to fire away.

(who goes there?)

"Isabel?" He's eyes widened at the sights of the girl and boy on the ground. "Matteo! Get the car ready!!"

"It's going to be alright," Isabel whispered to Antonio. "You'll be fine."

"E dove—"

(And where)

Matteo froze on the spot when he saw Isabel holding Antonio in her arms on the ground.

"You'll be alright," Isabel said to Antonio with a small smile, who began to cough up blood and struggle to keep his eyes open. "No, no, no" Isabel panicked. "Don't you dare close your eyes! Do you hear me?! Don't close..."


Stop time.

Stop the universe.

Isabel's felt a sun coldness run through her veins once Antonio closed his blue eyes and his smile faded away.

"Antonio?" She asked in a small voice, but no response came. "Antonio?" She tried again in a slightly louder tone this time, but still , no response and that's when it all came clashing down on her.

"No," she shook her head and cried. "No, no. Antonio, don't do this to me! Please! Open your eyes! Antonio!!"

It was close to two in the morning, and the sky seemed to have gone even more darker and the stars brighter. Don Paolo had taken Isabel inside the villa and sat her in the kitchen while Matteo and two other men took care of Antonio.

The Don placed a cup on the table in front of Isabel, but she didn't even acknowledge him or the cup of water sitting before her. She sat still and stared at the wall. She had just watched the killer escape and the boy she was in love with die in her arms.

"I just got off the phone with Anthony," said Don Paolo. "You'll leave first thing in the morning. It's not safe for you here anymore."

Isabel didn't speak or move. She was like a statue.

But that all changed when Matteo walked in the kitchen with Alex. Her veins, fill with rage and fire, she grabbed the cup and threw it across the kitchen at Matteo, who moved to the side quickly. The cup smashed against the wall, leaving a mark from the splattered water and the pieces fell on the floor.

"Tu!" She roared. "Avresti potuto avvisarmi!

(You could have warned me!)

Don Paolo warmed his arm around the girl's waist and held her back from attacking Matteo. "Isabel," Matteo began. "Non ne avevo idea."

(Isabel, I had no idea)

Silence. Isabel stopped fighting and stood silently, tying her best to control her emotions but her trembling chin and flooded eyes didn't stop her from braking down all over again.



This virus is not something to leave and think nothing of. I know a few people who have lost their loved ones to this virus so PLEASE! PLEASE BE CAREFUL❗️

If you have a cough, a cold or are just feeling a little bit under the weather STAY IN DOORS AND KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. It may be just a natural cold you have, but if someone who has the virus could pass it onto you while your weak.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter💙

And please, do let me know in the comments of what you think of the book so far💙

Also, since THE WHOLE WORLD IS CLOSED, I have a new book out that is going to be about a deadly virus and how the government are the authors of the whole thing. And since I am enjoying writing strong and independent female characters lately so GAME OF SURVIVAL will have that as well.

I really do hope you will enjoy this book. It's going to have a few conspiracy theories in it. Some which Shane (my queen) spoke about, some I have researched and others that I have came up with.

Stay safe,

Valeria 💙

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