Giovanni had been summoned to the family meeting. High ranking members would gather and discuss what had to be done after the assassination attempt. The security around the mansion had become noticeably tighter. Several guards roamed the terrain with rifles. All of them on high alert.
‘’Good morning, Sir,’’ the guard standing by the front door said.
‘’Good morning. Have the others already arrived?’’
‘’The majority, yes.’’
Giovanni nodded in response and made a beeline for the Don’s office, knocking on the door before entering. His eyes scanned the room. Only his father, uncle Antonio and cousin Lorenzo were present.
‘’Little late, are we?’’ Lorenzo grinned.
‘’I really don’t need another Raffaele in my life,’’ Giovanni said even though there was a smile on him.
‘’Come on, you would love it!’’ Lorenzo laughed. ‘’Where is he anyway?’’
The door behind Giovanni opened, his brothers and Vincenzo showing up.
‘’Nevermind,’’ Lorenzo quickly added.
‘’Did anyone miss me?’’ Raffaele grinned from one ear to the other and leaned against the walnut-coloured wall.
‘’No.’’ Lorenzo smirked at his cousin.
With Giovanni next to him, Raffaele patted him on the back. In his own way conveying that they stood together and would have his back. Hearing what happened to his brother almost got Raffaele to fall into a plunge of darkness. His casual attitude had always been an effective defence mechanism for him and his smile a simple mask.
‘’Where is Leone?’’ Silvio asked.
‘’Late as usual. Nothing new, right,’’ Raffaele answered with a shrug.
‘’We’ll begin without him then. Giovanni, do tell.’’ The Don looked expectantly at him.
Word had already spread among his immediate family. This time, however, Giovanni told the events of the previous night in detail along with some suspicions he held.
‘’It doesn’t end with that hitman. The way he smiled still irks me,’’ Giovanni said with a scowl.
As the consigliere, Antonio was the first one to voice his thoughts. ‘’Any further decisions should be made with the assumption that the person behind all this is also after the rest of the family.’’
‘’And how do you plan on finding out who hired that man?’’ Raffaele arched his dark eyebrow.
‘’We could start looking into old rivals that might have a vendetta against us.’’ Giovanni suggested.
Don Silvio nodded in agreement and faced the underboss. ‘’It’s a start. I’ll let you handle it, Dante.’’
The task might have been assigned to his brother but Giovanni would do some digging of his own. After all, he held a grudge against the person who tried taking him down. He swore to return the favour. Thinking back on it, his hands clenched into fists. He wanted to hit something, or someone.
‘’Starting from today, we’ll be in lockdown. The women and kids stay at home. If you need to go out, go in pairs of two to be on the safe side.’’ Don Silvio added.
Giovanni’s gaze glided to the door as he heard heavy footsteps falling in the hallway. The doorknob moved as someone turned it on the other side. The last capo to attended the meeting had finally come.
The Don didn’t spare a greeting and gave out his order. ‘’I need you to up the security around our fronts, Leone. All of our establishments. Am I clear?’’
‘’Will do.’’ Leone nodded, knowing what needed to be done as he was head of security.
After Silvio dismissed everyone except for Antonio and Dante. Giovanni left, planning on going back to his own house.
‘’I just came here. I might as well have stayed at De Rege for dinner,’’ Leone grumbled.
‘’What were you doing there?’’ Giovanni asked.
‘’Little bit of this and that. Your friend Isabella was there as well. She seemed nice enough.’’
Now? Her timing couldn’t be any worse. Men haven’t been placed around the building yet. It’s not safe. Not right now.
‘’I need you to come with me, Leone. Don’s orders are to go in pairs whenever we go outside. I’ll even treat you to dinner. ’’
‘’Free dinner? Sure.’’
By the time the two capos reached the restaurant, they were drenched as the clouds graced them with rain. The warm glow from the window reflected on the glistening pavement. Giovanni and Leone walked the alley and made use of the back entrance. Giovanni kept to his word and handed Leone money for his dinner.
Celia noticed them and walked over. ‘’Back already?’’
‘’I’m hungry.’’ Leone winked and held the bills up.
‘’Don’t be ridiculous. You don’t have to pay, Leone.’’
‘’If you say so.’’ Leone smiled. ‘’I guess, you paid my dinner for tomorrow then, Giovanni,’’ He shouted over his shoulder and went into the kitchen.
Giovanni looked at his mother with a stern look. ’’What are you doing here? Did Papà not tell you what happened?’’
‘’Yes, albeit it was vaguely. You know how your father is.’’
Giovanni wished his father would stop trying to protect her by hiding the truth of their blood-soaked lives. He didn’t think it helped anyone. On the other hand, he was glad his mother was in the dark about it. Giovanni could only imagine his mother’s hysteria if she knew the attempted hit was on her son.
‘’I brought guards with me if that’s what you’re worried about.’’
Giovanni sighed and rubbed his temples. ‘’It’s better if you don’t come here for a while. It’s too dangerous now. Can you trust me on that?’’
Celia heard the worry dripping from her son’s voice and complied as to not fold the feeling by ten.
‘’Now off you go. She is in the staff room.’’ Without having to say anything, Celia knew exactly why her son had come.
Giovanni slid into the room on his left and was met with Isabella’s back. Her sleek hair in a neat ponytail and her head tilted to the side. He followed her gaze and noticed her checking out the framed photos. He approached her, his steps falling into silence. Giovanni cast a shadow over her as he deliberately used his larger frame to loom over her.
She shrieked and swiftly turned on her heel. Her hands on top of her heart and sighing when she saw it was him. With her back against the wall and his arms enclosing her, colour was overtaking her features.
‘’Enjoying the pictures?’’
‘’Very much.’’ She tried burying her smile.
Isabella took in his appearance. Short wet strands of black hair tickled along his forehead. His jacket partially soaked. In spite of it, heat emanated off of him in small waves.
‘’You look cute in the picture.’’
Giovanni stepped back and laughed lightly. ‘’You are the only one to tell me that.’’
While his lips laughed, the way he looked at her gave off something entirely different. Even Isabella could tell he was barely containing himself.
He discarded the jacket, tossing it on the chair and sat down on the small couch in the corner. Giovanni beckoned for her to come to him.
‘’What if someone comes in?’’ She fidgeted with the tie.
‘’They already know about us.’’
She gave him a look but couldn’t resist seeking out his warmth. Her legs began moving on their own and sat sideways on his lap, her touch flowing along his skin. Now that she was closer and got a better look of his face, creases made its way in between her brows. He had dark circles under his eyes.
‘’You look tired.’’ Her hand stroked over his left arm, unknowingly brushing over Giovanni’s wound.
He gritted his teeth, not letting a sound come out. Giovanni took her hand away from his arm and placed a kiss on her.
As soon as the spot was left uncovered, Isabella noticed a small red dot on his white shirt and drew her hand away from his soft lips. ‘’Giovanni, what happened? And don’t tell me it was nothing.’’
Quietness hung around the air for a full minute, Isabella was waiting for his answer and Giovanni debated whether or not he should speak the truth.
‘’I can’t say.’’ Giovanni saw her troubled green eyes and said, ‘’ I can only tell you that I won’t let it happen a second time.’’
In the end, Giovanni still had to abide by the code of silence – omèrta.