Giovanni parked in the driveway of the De Rege mansion and got out of his car. He just came back from a business deal and wanted the day to come to an end. As he walked up to the front door he saw his younger brother Raffaele talking on the phone. Raffaele smiled and waved at him. He responded with a mere nod and proceeded to open the entrance door of the mansion.
His brother, however, had other plans. Raffaele ended his call and grabbed him by the shoulder.
‘’I’m hurt. I haven’t seen you in months and you don’t even want to wait to talk with me?’’ Raffaele smirked and held his right hand on his heart.
‘’I saw you last week.’’ Giovanni deadpanned, ‘’And no. I’m tired.’’
‘’Well, you don’t look tired,’’ Raffaele mumbled which earned him a glare from Giovanni.
A high-pitched voice made the two brothers turn their head. Their mother stood in the doorway with a surprised look on her face.
‘’Oh gosh! If I had known you would come to visit, I would have made something,’’ Celia said to Giovanni.
Giovanni’s mother was a woman adored by all. She could always make anyone feel welcome at her home. Together with her husband, she managed a small Italian restaurant in town.
Almost everyone in the family had worked there at some point in their lives. It was a family tradition. Usually, the younger ones would work there as a waiter or waitress. Eight years ago, Giovanni had to work in the restaurant as well, but it didn’t last very long. Even though he was only seventeen at the time, quite a few customers got intimidated by his demeanour. It wasn’t good for the business.
The underworld was more suited to a man like Giovanni. He thrived in that brutal world.
‘’Don’t worry about it. It’s not like I told anyone I was coming home again,’’ Giovanni told his mother
The only reason as to why Giovanni had returned to the main De Rege mansion was because of the upcoming wedding.
‘’And why are you still here young man! I told you hours ago to buy some wine from the Donati store!’’ Celia said sternly to Raffaele and hit him lightly with the newspaper in her hand.
‘’Okay, okay! I’m going, I’m going,’’ Raffaele said, rubbing his arm where his mother hit him as if it hurt.
‘’Why don’t go with him, Giovanni? In case he brings the wrong wine home,’’ Giovanni’s mother asked him sweetly. It wasn’t really a question though. It was more of an order.
‘’The usual?’’ Giovanni asked and his mother nodded.
After their mother disappeared from their sight, the two brothers made their way toward the town. There was no need to use the car since the Donati store was only a ten-minute walk away from their house. The sun was slowly starting to set and the streetlamps made up for the lack of light on the streets.
’’Just so you know, Mamma was exaggerating. She told me to get the wine an hour ago. Not hours,’’ Raffaele said making his brother hum in response, ’’How did the deal go? Good? Bad? Probably good ‘cause else you wouldn’t be here right now. Any accidents? You know like, did anything unexpected hap-‘’
‘’This isn’t really the time or place to talk about this, Raffaele.’’
Giovanni pulled the door toward him and the sound of a bell rang throughout the small Donati store. The floor was made of wood and the walls had a champagne colour on them. There were shelves filled with liquor bottles on one side of the store and wine bottles on racks on the other side.
‘’What a lovely surprise! How are you two doing?’’ the store owner Donatella asked the two men with a warm smile.
The Donati family had always been close with the De Rege family despite the latter being a mafia family. After all, Donatella Donati and Celia De Rege had been best friends since elementary school. They were like sisters to each other.
‘’I’m doing absolutely amazi-‘’
Giovanni cut Raffaele off by saying that they were fine and asked Donatella for the usual. Raffaele had a tendency to keep on rambling and Giovanni wanted to go back home as soon as possible. He was still tired.
The ringing of a bell was heard again, this time the sound came from a phone.
‘’Isabella, can you help them? I have to take this call,’’ Donatella yelled out to her daughter who was in the back of the store.
’’Of course, Mamma,’’ a soft-spoken voice said.
Giovanni took notice of the girl standing behind the counter. Isabella had shiny black hair, a pair of green eyes, olive skin and soft pink lips. She looked like the epitome of purity and innocence. He also guessed she was someone who wore her emotions on her sleeves. The complete opposite of him.
Isabella was struck by the handsome man in front of her. She wanted to stare at him as much as she wanted to look away from him. Giovanni had an air of absolute authority to him. He was intimidating her, to say the least. His slicked-back black hair and deep blue eyes only added to it.
‘’What can I help you with, Sir?’’ Isabella asked.
‘’Red wine, please. Barbera.’’ Raffaele smiled to which Isabella nodded and returned a small smile.
She stepped on the stool to get to the Barbera on the top shelf but was beaten to it by Giovanni. He grabbed the bottle before she could and handed it over to her. Isabella was startled by his sudden close proximity and her eyelashes fluttered a few times before mumbling a thank you. She went back to the counter and started to pack the red wine in a long box with the store’s crown logo on it.
‘’That will be €34.95, Sir.’’
‘’Oh, don’t be silly, Isabella! They don’t have to pay.’’ Donatella said walking up to the counter. ‘’Wait isn’t your first time meeting?’’
Giovanni raised a single eyebrow, unsure of what Donatella was getting at.
‘’Yeah, yeah, now you mention it,’’ Raffaele said and moved his eyes from Donatella to his brother, ‘’Isabella is Donatella’s daughter.’’
Giovanni had already met the rest of the Donati family. He knew they had a daughter but never met her in person. It made him wonder where she had been all this time.
‘’Also, you can just call my brother by his name. No need to be overly polite.’’ Raffaele winked at Isabella. ‘’Right, Giovanni?’’ He nudged Giovanni’s side with his elbow.
Giovanni slapped his little brother’s arm away which made Isabella’s lips quirk up. The contrast between the two brothers was amusing in her eyes. One was happy-go-lucky and the other was serious.
‘’Thank you for the red wine, Donatella.’’ Giovanni grabbed the red wine box and walked toward the door.
‘’Say hello to your mother for me!’’ Donatella said with a big smile.
Giovanni turned his head and nodded at Donatella. His eyes flitting one last time to Isabella before leaving the store with his brother.