I’m supposed to be organizing my mafia intel but I haven’t been able to focus all day.
Taking my computer mouse, I click on the video cameras within Stella’s shop.
She was in the backroom meeting with a client, drawing on a sketch pad. Her head went back while she laughed over something with the client. Her young worker sat down beside her and I quickly made a mental note to have one the guards drive her home instead of Stella.
Sure, it might seem a bit creepy to be watching Stella, but I won’t let someone take her again.
I won’t risk her life even with the body guards she has on her at every moment.
Last night I didn’t mean to tell Stella what happened my Mother and Father, I don’t even want to think about it. But somehow, I found myself telling her, maybe it was because I wanted to tell her, to feel her comfort when talking about the darkest time in my life.
I half expected her to stand up and walk away.
But she didn’t.
Instead she told me that my pain is valid.
That woman is going to own my heart one day and I will gladly give her it.
A knock on my office door made me call out for someone to come in.
Lorenzo stepped into my office, his shoulders rolled back and face tight telling me he has been doing mafia business all day.
“What can I do for you brother?” I leaned back into my chair once Lorenzo sat down, the video camera feed that is still on my computer catching his interest.
“You must invite her to family dinner.” Lorenzo said, his eyes hard watching Stella on the screen. “Would be good to get to know the woman claiming to be carrying my brother’s child.”
My jaw snapped shut at the way he stressed ‘claiming’. “She’s not claiming anything, Stella is carrying my child.”
Lorenzo didn’t acknowledge me but took out a folder. “I had the lawyer write this up, it’s a custody agreement for her to sign when and if DNA proves the child is yours. There is also an allowance during her pregnancy but once she gives birth she gets nothing.”
Before my brother could continue with his plan to save me from a gold digger, I took the folder and dropped it in the trash can. “Stella is not trying to extort or blackmail the family.”
My brother leaned back in his chair locking his jaw, his eyes slowly running me over. “You sure you have known her long enough to know that?”
His face tightened. “What is my rule with new people.”
Cracking my neck, I kept the anger from his accusations down, trying to remind myself that it is his job and our lives that has us looking for deception. “Never trust anyone till they have shown all their colours.”
Lorenzo hummed while we stared at each other, another moment passing before he spoke again. “Where are with shipping and Carnellio?”
Glad for the topic change but not happy he still thinks of Stella as gold digger, I turned the security feed on Stella off. “We have moved everything that was under Carnellio’s business out, Shaw is now our point man for shipping and he is already providing security and new shipments.”
“What was lost?”
Sighing I took out a page of an itemized list. “Everything that was taken under Carnellio is listed here, thankfully none of them were important.”
Lorenzo reached forward taking the paper, his eyes quickly reading the list. “You find out who sold out our shipping locations?”
I hummed leaning back. “Carnellio and his men aren’t good at keeping their mouths shut, the security guard they paid off overheard them talking about selling our locations to bidders. Didn’t get to the guard in time before Carnellio’s men killed him.”
Dropping the paper on the desk Lorenzo leaned back into his chair. “I don’t like Carnellio missing. He is a loud bastard and him going underground is making me antsy. He is planning something.”
A growl escaped me when I thought of Carnellio, the bastard is mine after what he did to Stella. She hasn’t talked to me about what happened, but I can see the shadows in her eyes. Thankfully, Sebastian filled me in about what he did which has helped my curiosity from running out of control thinking of all the different things to have happened to her.
“Think Carnellio is being prideful or acting with someone who is giving him the idea to fight us?” I asked wiggling my jaw to keep myself from grabbing my gun and heading out to find Carnellio right now. “We have a long list of enemies.”
Lorenzo cracked his neck. “Another rule little brother, always consider the different possibilities. Is that woman making you forget your mafia training?”
Narrowing my eyes at him I cured my fist. “You done being a dick?”
He barked out a laugh. “I’m not being that much of a dick.”
“Yeah you are.” He laughed again standing up to walk over to my alcohol stand and pour us both a drink. “Listen I understand why you are acting like a bigger dick than usual, but you need to chill before I throttle you.”
Lorenzo walked back to my desk passing me a glass, his eyes warm and face relaxed giving me back my brother and not the mafia boss he walked in as. Returning to his seat he took a sip of his drink as I did mine. “You are my underboss, a position you have proven yourself in. You are also my little brother and with this woman and idea of being a father… you are acting a bit more…”
Groaning I slammed my head back onto the chair. “I swear to god if you call me sensitive, you won’t have the ability to make a child yourself.”
He laughed loudly in his chair while I took a large gulp of my drink, the alcohol burning my throat. “I wasn’t going to say sensitive but the way you get ever since Romano mentioned it is making me reconsider. What I was going to say is that you are more hopeful, try to see the good rather than let the darkness around us focus you.”
Snorting I shook my head. “You becoming a poet now?”
“Jesus, you call me a dick then when I try to be nice you say I’m being a poet.” He rolled his eyes at me with a small smile.
Waving my hand, I got up and walked to the alcohol. “Trying to help you find the right balance.” I pick up the bottle and walked back to my desk refilling our glasses. “Stella isn’t distracting me from my position.”
“Maximus.” I focused on Lorenzo who looked at me with sincerity. “What do you need from me?”
Sighing I leaned back into my chair running my hand down my face feeling exhausted. “I’m not going to lie, I’m fucking terrified. I never thought of being a father and now I’m going to be one. Right now, I’m focusing on getting closer to Stella who is this amazingly smart and gentle hearted woman. What I need from you, is to keep your lawyer files to yourself and when I freak out when I become a father, pull me from the ledge.”
It was his turn to run a hand down his face, slowly he smiled, a tired smile but a smile. “You are a good man brother, you shouldn’t have any fears about raising a kid.”
Swirling my drink, I shrug. “Yeah well I do.” I had no shame admitting it, not with Lorenzo, he would never judge me for having a fear, he’d judge me if I didn’t.
Everyone has a fear, it doesn’t make you a fool for having one, it makes you a fool not admitting it.
“What are you afraid of Maximus?” Lorenzo asked.
I sighed. “Not being there, not knowing what to do, not being what Stella needs. Cazzo, look at our father, he abandoned his kids.”
Lorenzo leaned his elbows on his legs. “You’re not our father. It’s good you feel and acknowledged this fear, it shows you care for your… future kid.”
I snorted. “Are you acknowledging that it is mine?”
He chuckled taking a sip. “I’m being supportive, now it’s your turn to not be a dick.” I put my hands up in defense and Lorenzo put his glass down relaxing into his chair.
I swirled my drink around. “Hard to do that around you.”
Lorenzo studied me. “What else is bothering you?”
“I told Stella… about Mother and Father.” I said the words slowly but Lorenzo reacted immediate, his body rigid.
He cleared his throat. “That’s soon.”
I took a large gulp of the alcohol. “I didn’t mean to. Stella has a way about her that makes me feel like I can talk to her and not be judged. She doesn’t want me to act like ‘Maximus Sorrentino’ but Max. She wanted to know about Mother and I ended up talking about her and her death.”
I looked up to meet his eyes. “She didn’t run away.”
Lorenzo nodded. “Well, I guess that’s something.”
A knock on the door sounded and Romano walked in, his tongue clicking when he looked between us. “Are you two drinking already? It’s barely three.”
“I’m trying be supportive.” Lorenzo said at the same time I said. “He’s being a dick.”
Romano shook his head walking to the other seat beside Lorenzo and sat down taking Lorenzo’s drink for himself.
“Are you drinking already, it’s barely three?” I threw his words back to him.
The younger brother down the rest of the alcohol and placed the empty glass on the table. “Esperenza took Anastasia downtown with her to go shopping. I don’t like her leaving the estate with Carnellio at large and her father, that Bravata bastard, is in the country.” Lorenzo looked to me with amusement in his eyes, my hand coming to my mouth to stifle my laugh. “What?”
I put my hands up letting Lorenzo bring the kid down. “One, Anastasia can handle herself better than most our men. And two, when are you marrying that girl?”
Romano’s head snapped back. “Ana and I are friends stop telling me to marry her. Maximus is the one who knocked someone up, talk to him about marriage.”
Lorenzo snorted. “Romano, you glare at anyone who breathes. I once saw Anastasia shiver and you took off your sweater-shirt and jacket to give to her. I swear if she needed a heart for her witch shit, you would rip yours out and hand it over.”
Laughing I watch Romano look away. “Maximus is having a kid, focus on him.”
Shaking my head, I roll my eyes. “Well, Lorenzo hasn’t even suggest I get married, he gave me a custody agreement and a way to pay off Stella.”
Romano clicked his tongue looking at me. “He does have a point, you need to get a paternity test done.”
“Alright, out of my office!”
The bastards I have for brothers laughed and stayed put.
“What’s Anastasia and Esperenza going shopping for? Should I be worried about the credit card bill?” Lorenzo asked Romano.
Romano chuckled. “Well Anastasia needed to get some new crystals and I think Esperenza is shopping for a new gown.”
Something tightened in my gut and a sense of dread washed over me. “Tell me they aren’t going where I think they are.”
My little brother looked to me with a shrug. “You know you can’t tell those women ‘no’ when they have a plan.”
My head fell back. God help me if they go see Stella without me making sure they behave themselves. Taking my phone out I go to my cousin Esperenza’s contact and message her to stay away.
She sent back a wink emoji.