Mafia Puppet

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61 | a deep conversation

I WAS UNABLE to talk to Antonio during the whole flight. He, Alessandro and Pietro were in a deep conversation with some of their other men.

Gianna and Amalia sat with me but none of them said anything. Just like me, they didn't know anything other than the fact that the Bianchi had killed the former Don of our Family. War was threading on a thin line here. Tension hung in the air like an iron fist.

When the flight landed, other men approached us. I recognized few from our wedding. These were his captains handling smaller states in our territory. Antonio and them briefly had a word before they left. Soon enough, we were driving home as well.

I jumped in surprise when Antonio came and wrapped an arm around my waist once we reached. He leaned down. "Stay in the manor and do not get out of the house without any supervision."

I nodded. I wasn't planning to anyways. "What's going on?" I asked.

Antonio tensed even more. "Father's been killed by the Bianchi it seems."

"Are you sure it was them? We just talked to Vincent a couple days ago," I pointed out.

"He had their logo on him," he said. "Come."

Dante, Costanzo and Omero stood the moment we walked inside the mansion.

"Where's Ruby?" my husband asked.

"In the basement," Dante instantly answered.

"Who's Ruby?" I asked.

"Raffaello's new girlfriend," Costanzo answered.

I looked at Costanzo and he actually seemed serious. It told me how severe the situation was.

"Where's Alessia?" I asked before they could leave.

"In her room," he answered.

I nodded, parting away from my husband. Antonio gave me a light peck on the forehead before walking away, leaving me with a tingling sensation.

The moment the men were out of sight, I walked up to Alessia's room and knocked.

"You're home?!" she chirped exciting.

She doesn't know anything. How can she not suspect anything?

I pulled her into a right hug. Her blonde hair was wet from a shower. The smile she gave me was filled with naivety and child-like.

"How are you?" I asked her as I sat down on the couch in her room. I grabbed the towel on her bed and made her sit down beside me so I could start wiping her hair. "Don't wash your hair at night. You'll catch a cold."

Alessia nodded. "I know, but Costanzo threw juice at me."

I chuckled sombrely.

"Are you okay?" She turned around.

I titled her head away so she couldn’t see my expressions. "Absolutely fine. Are you?"

She nodded happily. "I don't know. I'm just very happy today."

"Something happen at school?" I asked casually.

She stilled and if I hadn't been touching her then I wouldn't have known. Then she shook her head. "No. It's just like that."

I decided not to pry. She was a teenager and at this age she was bound to have some hormone imbalances and mood swings. It was a wonder at how she couldn't figure out the tense atmosphere downstairs.

"How was your week alone with the boys?" I patted down hair softly.

"Dante, Costanzo and Omero actually aren't that bad. Antonio intimidates me a lot though. He just has that mobster vibe going on which freaks me up. But the others are kinda cool. Omero scares me too. Costanzo swears a lot and Dante just can't get his nose out of the newspaper. But they took me out when I asked them to so I guess we're cool," she ranted.

I smiled. I was glad that she was finally getting along, but I worried that this kindness toward her may be manipulation. I knew many men who acted kind so they could make me agree to something. A marriage proposal perhaps? Antonio possibly couldn't be thinking of that. He himself got married late in terms of the Nostra Vita.

"How was your trip to Italy? Are you and my brother cool again?" she asked.

Were we? I didn't think so. "Yes, we are. I told you. It was just a silly fight."

She nodded, pleased. "That's good."

• • •

I waited for Antonio to come to our room so I could talk to him. Things were happening too fast and I needed to know how bad it was.

He came in with blood on his shirt. I gasped but he barely paid me any heed. He slammed the door shut to the bathroom and then I heard the shower running. How much did Raffaello's death affect him? I hadn't even known that he cared.

I waited for him to come out and eventually he did after what felt like hours. I thought he'd finally come to bed but he didn't. He grabbed his phone and made a few calls. One stood out to me in particular.

"Get every single detail about the attack on the Donna when she was coming from Sophia Magritte's house. Every single detail or you won't like the consequences if I find out you meddled with it," he told the other person on line.

I blanched. What did this have to do with me?

Antonio was all composed again. He didn't swear as he was doing when he had lost his cool in Italy. He ran a hand through his wet hair as his eyes glared down at his phone.

"The attack on you that day was because Mya was contacted by someone to help take you out," he said.

I shivered. "Do you know who?”

He sighed. "All investigations led to the Lambardi Crime Family, but now I think that it was just a facade."

I thought about it for a moment. "You think it was from the Bianchi?"

He nodded before a sinister smile made its way to his lips. The small yellow light illuminating the background shadowed his face. "Mya played us all."

I blinked in surprise at the admittance. "Now what?"

He shrugged. "We need confirmation that it was the Bianchi and not the Lambardi."

"What if it's not the Bianchi either?"

He looked me in the eyes. "That's less likely. They have the perfect motive. Carmelo's illegitimate family must've been under our territory during your attack. It has to be fucking them."

I pursued my lips. "Then why was Vincent such a chill chicken during the Nostra Pace? He couldn't act all of that."

Antonio shrugged. "He can and it doesn't matter. Bianchi killed Father so now they are going to pay."

"But what if it wasn't them, Antonio? What if we are getting led in a wrong direction? Just because of the Bianchi symbol on your father's face does not mean that the Bianchi killed them. Why would they make it so obvious? Someone else could've drew it," I questioned. It just didn't add up.

Fury danced in his eyes as he advanced toward me. I backed up on the bed, but that didn't make stop him. He climbed up on the bed and pushed me down in a laying position. I yelped as I was sprawled across the bed. He bent down, his lips hovering over mine. I gulped as I tried to look anywhere other than his lips.

"It was them," he growled out.

I narrowed my eyes. "How are you so su—?"

"Because Father raped Carmelo Bianchi's daughter!" he yelled.

I froze. "W-What?"

Antonio's forehead touched mine as he closed his eyes. "While we were in Italy, Father somehow got his hands on Valentina Bianchi. He thought it was some girl named Olivia and sated his sick needs with her. It wasn't until he killed her that he found out who she was. Ruby just spilled the truth out with one hit," he told me.

This is bad. This is terrible actually! Raffaello raped a child! She seemed no more than fourteen in the picture.

But I still needed answers. I cupped his cheek. "How is this related to the attack on me? That was long before all this. How were they so sure that their family was here in our territory? Someone must’ve led them on. They could’ve contacted us but they just attacked? It doesn’t make any sense." I needed to calm him down. I needed to divert his attention. In rage he could make stupid decisions that would not be good for our family and the Family.

He licked his lips. "Bianchi must've found out that his family was on our territory. He must've thought that we were keeping them hostage. Mobsters have high egos. Vincent won’t actually ever admit that his family ran away. The attack on you wasn't meant to kill you. It was probably a warning. But when Raffaello killed their princess, he confirmed it that we were keeping them hostage whether that was true or not. The meeting was an act by the Bianchi. They wanted to catch us off guard. It was a distraction of time." He chuckled darkly. "And they fucking succeeded."

He got off my body and I suddenly felt cold. I sat up and placed my hand on his back. He leaned onto my touch as I hugged him from behind.

"What's going to happen now?" I asked.

He placed his hand on mine. "We take revenge."

"Why?" I instantly asked.

His grip on my hand tightened. "What do you mean why?"

I moved so I could look at him. "But it was our fault. We started it. Raffaello raped their daughter, Antonio."

He glared at me and I almost flinched. "Vincent shouldn't have left his family unprotected. They vaulted into our territory without permission. If you're fucking telling me to back off after that then I'll give you my answer—no."

I cupped his cheeks. "Their innocent daughter was raped. You can see that as a punishment for the Bianchi. It was a slap to their faces." The words were bitter but it was only way to stop him. If this didn't end now, it was chaos. Everything would just get worse from her.

He pushed me down and leaned over my body, his hand covering my throat. "Bambola, you know I really like you but you're testing my patience right now. They shouldn't have killed Father without consulting me first. They killed a made man in the Giordano Family. Letting them go unscratched would make us look weak. If they had talked to me first, I would've punished Raffaello myself," he hissed before closing his eyes and letting out a deep breath. "I don't want to talk about this anymore. How’s your pregnancy going?”

I stared at him for a moment but then I realized that he was serious. I already knew too much.

“There aren’t any changes but I’m only few weeks in. I would need to see a doctor soon for a check up.”

He nodded before leaning down to kiss me.

"No," I refused. "I don't want to." What if he would discard me once he was done?

"How long is this going to go? You are my wife," he said calmly, still on top of me.

I narrowed my eyes at him. "Exactly. I am your wife so this is going to go on until you give me the respect I deserve."

"How?"

"What do you mean how?" I bristled with anger.

He held himself up on his elbows. "How else am I supposed to give you respect?"

"How else?" I hissed. "When have you given me the respect I deserve?" That was a lie. He had never humiliated me in front of others.

He narrowed his eyes in confusion. "The respect you deserve? When haven't I? I'm much more lenient with you than any other mafioso would be with their wives. I should've killed you for what you did but here you are under me."

"Then kill me!" I yelled.

He growled. "I can't! I would of if I could."

"Lies," I said even though my heart leaped at his words. "You're lying just like you always do. You're messing with me and my feelings."

Nothing could scare me any more than it already had. He scared me to death. He could no longer scare me of anything else. I understood the fear of death and I didn't think anything was more scarier than that.

"Listen to me and listen to me very carefully, Francesca," he grounded out in low whisper. "I have never messed with your emotions, and I have never stimulated emotions for you either.”

Stimulated emotions?

"What do you mean 'stimulated emotions'?" I dreaded his answer.

He looked away. I gripped his chin and brought his eyes back to mine. "What do you mean, Antonio?"

He stared at me for a moment, pondering. "I don't want to talk about it," he snapped.

I glared. "I don't care! What did you mean?"

He glared right back. "You won't like what you hear."

"Try me."

He fumed before looking away. "I'm not good at feeling."

"What do you mean?"

He clenched his eyes shut as if he had to physically calm himself from attacking me. "I mean I have trouble feeling. Anxiety. Anger. Guilt. Empathy."

"Love," I said in realization.

"Love," he repeated, staring right into my eyes.

I swallowed the lump in my throat. I hated him so much, and I hated myself even more for wanting him.

"Is it impossible?" I asked with a slight tremble in my voice.

He pressed his forehead onto mine. "No. I just can't form an emotional bond too quickly and that makes my choices more logical but I can feel."

"What do you feel for me?" I asked, my heart thumping.

"Pride," he whispered. "Adoration. Desire."

"Pride?" I questioned.

"You are my pride, Francesca," he said, his coal eyes meeting my hazel ones.

I shuddered. "Then why did you test me?"

He cupped my cheek softly. "Because if I hadn't I would have never been able to trust you. I would have never been able to feel for you. I would have never been able to move on. I don't forget, Francesca, but I wanted to forget what happened and I tried. I really did until I couldn't. I had to do it for me to move on."

"Was it worth risking me?" I questioned.

"I didn't know you felt for me. If I had, I would've tried harder. You matter to me."

I blinked in confusion. His words sounded sincere. Or was he acting? How could I trust him?

"I may have had gained your trust, but you have lost mine."

"And I'll do anything to gain it back. I told you that," he told me fiercely.

"Anything?" I asked. "Do you give me your word?"

He looked down at me. "I give you my word."

This was my chance. This was the only way. I sucked in a sharp breath before speaking my next words. "Then give me my freedom, Antonio."
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