Giovanni’s head hung low as he stared at the mess he had created in his bedroom, glass that was thrown earlier out of anger laid scattered on the floor. He had been in the same position for over an hour, despair replacing his anger. The place that had once given him comfort felt strange to be in. To Giovanni, the mansion was empty in the absence of his father.
When a knock sounded, Giovanni didn’t have to look up to know who it was. Before Isabella stepped any further into the room he warned her of the glass, telling her to be careful. Instead of sitting next to him on the bed, she opted to stand between his legs. Normally, Giovanni would have risen to his feet and given her a kiss but there was no energy left in him. Instead, he rested his head against Isabella’s stomach, a sigh leaving him as she stroked and ran her hands through his hair.
‘’Don’t get near Leone,’’ he said to which she merely nodded, not questioning him.
Having Isabella by his side had a calming effect on Giovanni, he wouldn’t feed his anger nor drown in his grief. All of it would be focused on hunting Leone down and avenging his father.
Isabella parted her lips, pausing out of hesitance before saying, ‘’You can cry; let it all out.’’
She wasn’t able to gauge how Giovanni was feeling as he made sure not to show it, but she knew he was just trying to stay strong in front of his family. Now that they were alone, she hoped he could allow himself to properly process his loss; that he trusted her enough to show another side of him.
Before long, Isabella felt something wet falling onto her feet and while she only saw the back of his head, she knew what he looked like. His shoulders weren’t shaking, there were no hiccups coming out of him and his breathing wasn’t loud either. Isabella found herself thinking that even when he was crying, he was quite silent.
The calm inside Giovanni left again, a mixture of pain and hate taking its place. Another tear escaped his eyes, travelled down his nose and fell down.
‘’Do you want some water?’’ She brushed along his ear.
‘’Is there anything else I can get you?’’
‘’Just stay here.’’
The next morning, all capos of the family gathered in Silvio’s office per request of the consigliere, Antonio. With the death of Don Silvio and absence of the underboss Dante, the family needed someone to step up and take the lead.
‘’You have to do it, Giovanni.’’ Antonio looked in his direction. ‘’I can’t think of anyone else who could.’’
Giovanni met the gaze of his uncle, not surprised by the decision he had made.
Antonio never had the charisma to be the Don, unlike his younger brother, Silvio. Raffaele and Lorenzo were also not fit for the role because of their inability to remain calm and keep a cool head during a crisis. The only other person currently left was Vincenzo but despite his steadfast loyalty, the current situation didn’t bode well for him.
Accepting the role that the consigliere was putting on Giovanni’s shoulders was no light matter but he would do it. For now, he had to be the acting boss of the De Rege mafia.
Giovanni stood up from the armchair and went to stand near his father’s desk, sweeping his eyes over the other men in the room. ‘’Is there anyone who objects?’’
When no one came forward, it was clear they shared the same opinion as the consigliere.
’’The day before, I told him who the rat is. He was supposed to die today.’’ Giovanni gritted teeth as he thought back on his last conversation with his father. ‘’Leone is the one behind it.’’
Everyone looked to be in disbelief as the words came out of Giovanni’s mouth. All except for one. Giovanni watched a deep frown etch into Vincenzo’s features, no comment was made by him.
‘’Leone?’’ Raffaele asked his brother to make sure he wasn’t hearing things.
’’And Papà knew?’’
‘’He did.’’ He lit up a cigarette. ‘’I don’t know for how long he knew but he did.’’
‘’How can you be certain?’’ Vincenzo voiced his thoughts and lifted his gaze off the floor.
Giovanni explained what led him to believe that Leone was the traitor whilst reading the subtle changes in Vincenzo’s expression. In his mind, there was a chance Vincenzo was conspiring with his younger brother against the family. If Vincenzo was indeed on Leone’s side, Giovanni was fine with letting Leone know that he was after him. Giovanni wanted the man he once considered a brother to hide fear; run the other way like a rat would when he rounded the corner.
‘’Stupido fratellino,’’ Vincenzo said in a low voice, his hands covering his face.
(Stupid little brother)
A guard knocked on the office, breaking the conversation and informed the new boss that Carmine Licciardi waited at the front gates of the mansion. Once Giovanni gave out an order to let him inside, the guard left.
As soon as the Licciardis heard of the tragic news, Don Carmine came with his wife, Alessandra, to give their condolences. While Alessandra brought a basket of fruits and wine to the kitchen, Carmine joined the men in the Don’s office.
‘’Who do I speak to from now on? Is what I want to ask but I have a good hunch on who it is.’’ Carmine cut his gaze over to Giovanni. ‘’And? Anyone here who knows which vacation resort Leone is staying at?’’
Even though Don Carmine didn’t address Vincenzo, he knew that the question was directed at him.
‘’I don’t know,’’ Vincenzo said truthfully. ‘’But he’ll stay in hiding for the time being. He’s careful when he wants to be.’’
‘’We’ll keep an eye out for him. If I find anything, you are the first one to know,’’ Carmine said to Giovanni.
‘’I’d appreciate that, Carmine.’’