Prologue: Torn Apart
-20 Years Ago-
Domenico Romano stood in his yard with his wife at his side, and his three-year-old daughter in his arms, as they watched their house burn to the ground. His daughter cried as she watched their home burn, and his wife sniffled beside him. He pulled his wife to his side and kissed the top of her head.
“Papa?” His sweet girl cried as she looked at her parents.
“Andrà Tutto bene (Everything will be fine),” he whispered as he kissed his daughter’s cheek. But he wasn’t so sure if it would be all right.
“Dom, what are we going to do now?” His wife asked as she looked up at him.
Dom looked down at his beautiful wife. Her blond hair blew in the wind, and he could smell her sweet scent. What are they going to do? He can’t just pick up and move on. He knows Trevisani won’t allow it.
“Papa, did you get Henry?”
Dom looked at his daughter’s tear-streaked face. “Of course, neonata (baby girl),” he said as he pulled a stuffed dog out of his pocket, then handed it to her.
She sniffled as she held the stuffed dog up to her nose and rubbed his soft fur.
Sirens blared behind them as the fire department came down their drive. But it was too late. Their house was gone.
Dom turned to watch a black car pull into the drive. “Take her,” Dom said as he handed his daughter over to his wife.
“Dom?” She questioned as she looked up into his eyes.
“I love you,” he said as he leaned forward and kissed her lips, “now, run.”
“Dom,” she said with a cry as he pushed her away.
“Run, Bella, and don’t look back. I will take care of everything. Please go!”
Dom watched his wife nod, then turn and run through the woods, their daughter crying in her arms. It’s a good thing the fire trucks hadn’t turned off their sirens.
He walked over to what was left of his burning house and knelt to the ground, then picked up a handful of soot and smeared it over his body and face, then sprinkled some into his hair. Once Dom was sure he looked like he had been in the burning house long enough to search for his family, Dom knew he was ready to face the man who has destroyed his entire world. He stood and meandered to the driveway, ready to break down, for all to see.
Dom put together identities for his family and found a place for them to live for the moment. Giving up his life as he knows it is the hardest thing he has ever had to do. But Dom knows it is what needs to be done to keep them safe. Until he can bring them home.
“Dom, isn’t there another way?”
He looked at his wife with a half-smile. “If there was, don’t you think I would have found it?”
“But you can’t do this, please.”
He sighed as his heart broke into a million pieces. “Ti amo (I love you),” he said as he pulled his wife into his arms.
She cried as she sagged against him. “I love you too.”
“When it is safe, I will bring you both home to me,” he said as he kissed her forehead.
“Please, Dom, don’t leave without…” She stopped as she buried her face in his shirt.
Dom caressed her shoulders. “This isn’t goodbye,” he whispered as he lifted her into his arms.
“It feels like it,” She said with a hiccup as Dom carried her to bed.
“We will be together again, il mio amore (my love).”
“Love me,” she whispered as she looked into his dark eyes.
Dom smiled, his heart in his eyes. “Always,” he whispered, then laid her on the bed and joined her.
The years went by too slow for Dom, as he put his life back together, without his family. He knows they’re safe now, and that is all that matters. Even if he never sees them again, they’re safe.
He had told his wife to move, move a lot for the first three years, never stay in one place for long. Then find a place to settle down and raise their daughter. He made sure she had enough money for her and their daughter to live very well.
Too many years went by, and he still couldn’t bring his family home. His enemy wasn’t taken care of, and he couldn’t figure out how to get what he needed to fix it.
When ten years had passed, he found a young man whom he trusted and molded him into his second in command.
It is now twenty years since he last saw his family.
What were they doing now? What did his wife tell their daughter happened to him? Is his daughter in college, does she have friends? Is she in love? Does she know who he is?
Does his daughter even remember him?