‘’How are the kids?’’ Giovanni said.
‘’Still sick but they are doing better,’’ Dante said and looked at the duffel bag in Giovanni’s hands. ‘’You’re going back today?’’
Giovanni nodded and looked over his shoulder at the sound of quick tapping against the floor. It was his nephew running over to them.
‘’I’m not sick!’’ Angelo grinned.
Dante picked his son up. ‘’Yes, you are and you need to go back to your room before you get everyone else sick.’’
Giovanni watched his nephew make a sulking face as Dante walked the stairs to bring him back to his room. When Angelo waved Giovanni goodbye, he smiled in return. For the second time, Giovanni heard someone walk up to him and turned.
‘’Leaving already?’’ Silvio raised an eyebrow at Giovanni. ‘’I don’t see enough of you these days.’’
‘’You know that’s not true,’’ Giovanni sighed.
Giovanni knew his father didn’t like him leaving the house to live on his own. Silvio would often send him on a guilt trip on how little he got to see him at his old age.
’’Put that down, Figlio.’’ Silvio gestured at the bag. ‘’I need you to come with me.’’
Giovanni dropped it on the couch and followed his father to the door.
The father and son duo proceeded to the restaurant they owned. The use of a car was not needed since the walk wouldn’t take all too long.
‘’Your mother mentioned something interesting to me,’’ Silvio mused.
His father had to say no more. Giovanni could take a good guess at the things his mother told about him and Isabella. When Giovanni didn’t say anything, his father broke the silence.
’’You are seeing someone, no?’’
‘’Sì. Is there a problem?’’ his tone was defensive. ‘’I thought we were going to talk business. Or did you find someone for me?’’ Giovanni said with a scowl.
In their world, it was common for different families to create stronger bonds by means of marriage. In the past, Giovanni wouldn’t have minded a fixed marriage if it meant cementing the power of his family. Now, however, he had other plans in mind.
‘’Find someone for you? Not at all. Making bonds with other families is the last thing we need. Speaking of the other families, we should focus on our current alliances. Especially in dire times like these.’’
Over the years, the De Reges made several alliances through marriage. There were quite a few prominent crime families in Naples – the De Reges being one of them – but not all of them worked together. Giovanni’s family allied themselves with three other families. The De Lima, Baldoni and the Licciardi family. The De Lima and Baldoni family had been close to them for decades. The Licciardi, on the other hand, was a recent addition.
Giovanni opened the entrance of the De Rege restaurant so his father could get in. Not a lot of people occupied the place. After all, it was early in the afternoon. Only when the sun began to set, the restaurant became more lively.
Silvio continued speaking, ‘’And I think that is why Antonio wanted to see us.’’
Giovanni noticed his uncle and went over to greet him. Antonio was Silvio’s older brother and the consigliere of the family. The man was a widow and his appearance showed it. In Giovanni’s opinion, it looked as if his uncle was always dressed for a funeral.
‘’Am I going to start or you?’’ Antonio looked over at Silvio.
Giovanni unbuttoned his jacket and sat with his father and uncle at the table that was closest to the kitchen. The three men kept the volume of their voices low.
‘’You are the one who called for a meeting. I’m guessing it’s about the incident.’’
The four families smuggled cocaine to other countries among other goods. A couple of months ago, one of the containers at the shipping port had been robbed of its insides. The white powder vanished right under their noses. A powder that was worth millions. The incident caused the families to silently question each other. Particularly, the De Rege family. They were in a tight spot. The robber had taken cocaine-filled packages from every family except for the De Reges. The circumstances didn’t prove to be in their favour.
‘’We risk losing the trust of the families because of the stolen goods. Even if we weren’t the ones behind it, doesn’t mean that the other families aren’t looking in our direction. Especially the Licciardis.’’
‘’That should come to no surprise. Our alliance with them is relatively new,’’ Giovanni said. ‘’Did Alessandra say something?’’
‘’I heard nothing from Alessandra and that’s exactly what I’m worried about.’’
Alessandra was Antonio’s oldest daughter and the one who married into the Licciardi family. It was an arranged marriage. Usually, she let her father in on the state of affairs in the Licciardi family.
‘’I doubt the Baldonis and De Limas would take the cargo for themselves. Our bonds with them are strong. Maybe Alessandra isn’t saying anything because the Licciardis are behind it?’’
‘’Be careful of who you’re accusing, Giovanni.’’ Silvio frowned.
‘’I apologise, Don.’’
’’Don’t make accusations on baseless grounds, Figlio. Bonds like these are strong but fragile at the same time. Do you understand?’’
‘’I understand. Either way, someone wants the other families to think that we are the ones to blame.’’
Silvio nodded at his son and faced his brother. ‘’What do you suggest, Tonio?’’
Antonio wore a grim expression. ‘’Fix this before it gets out of hand. I’d rather not say this but we should also keep an eye out on our own men.’’
‘’Anyone specific in mind?’’ Giovanni raised an eyebrow at his uncle.
‘’No, and I think it’s better we keep this in our inner circles.’’