Sorry for the month-long wait. I just had to survive December, but I'm getting back in the saddle now. World to Come should be along shortly, too.
Many have waited for this particular chapter, and I hope I don't disappoint! And aside from the regular "I don't own Twilight" disclaimer, I'll hafta say I don't own Riina, Falcone, or the Bruscas either. Lots of truths mixed with this chapter of fiction :) Feel free to Google the gentleman and the two pigs—Riina and Brusca being the pigs—if you're interested :)
Special thanks to Lisa, Lexi, and Francesca!
"Christ, I've missed you, cucciolina." I hug Lia to me and close the door after Dani and her brother have entered.
"Dada…" Lia mumbles, half asleep.
"Yeah, Daddy's here." I kiss her on the forehead, and she settles with her head in the crook of my neck, her stuffed animal, the puppy, in a death grip against my chest. "You can put your bag in there," I tell Dani, gesturing at the bedroom.
She nods, keeping her eyes averted, and changes her direction. Nino follows, sticking to her like a Band-Aid.
I sigh and head to the little living room. "At least you love me." I sit down in the old recliner, leaving the small couch for the Ciceros, when they join us. If they do. "Long day, huh?" With my index finger, I gently trace Lia's chubby cheek and grin when she makes a noise in her sleep, as if I'm annoying her.
It hits me that I have no food here. Just a six-pack of beer—although, there are only four left—a couple sodas, smokes, jerky, and a bag of Milano cookies.
That won't last long. There is a small supermarket in town, though. I guess we'll go there tomorrow. Or today, as it is. Gotta be close to dawn already.
"Dominic…?" Dani appears in the doorway to the living room with her brother, both dressed in sweats and hoodies. "Do you mind if we sit down with you?"
"Stop acting so timid," I groan. "Yeah, sit down—do whatever you want."
Nino stiffens and tugs on Daniela's arm, to which she dips down to hear whatever he whispers. Then she straightens with a look of determination and shakes her head.
"No," she answers him softly, yet seriously. "Would you like me to ask Dominic?" Nino shrugs vaguely and shakes his head no at the same time, but Dani faces me anyway and asks, "Have I aggravated you, and should I apologize?"
My brows knit together, my gaze flicking between the two siblings.
Did Nino tell his sister to apologize for "aggravating" me?
Dani's told me Nino is wary around men, hinting that there's some violence in his background. Which would imply he's far from comfortable around me, and it's just the last thing I need. I don't want a kid to fear me.
"No," I say eventually, still frowning. "Yo, kid." Nino's head snaps up, his eyes wide. Yeah, there's actually real fear there. Christ. "Your sister's always busting my balls, but I kinda like her that way. A'ight? I don't want her to change that."
I sure as shit ain't saying that for Daniela's sake, even though it's true. But if Nino's afraid I'mma beat on Dani or him every time we butt heads, he's gonna live in a constant state of fear.
Considering Dani and her siblings have been in the country for about four years and Nino's only seven, I gotta wonder exactly what he's been subjected to, and if it only was in Italy. I mean, how much can a three-year-old remember? Right? Then again, maybe something happened here in the States, too.
Refocusing on my sleeping baby girl, I let Daniela and Nino have some privacy and settle on the small couch. They whisper quietly, Dani no doubt tryin'a reassure Nino, and I figure it's worked when his shoulders stop touching his ears.
Since Lia's out for the count and I don't got any plans to move any time soon, I grab a blanket and pull it over us, sinking lower in my seat to get comfortable. I'm tired as hell, but the bed doesn't appeal to me. I figure it's best Daniela and Nino take that.
I yawn and glance over at the Ciceros. "There's some snacks in the bag by the door if you're hungry. We'll buy real food tomorrow."
"Thank you." Dani looks down at her brother, who's looking beyond exhausted, too. "Are you hungry, ciccio?"
He shakes his head minutely as his lids begin to droop.
No fucking wonder; they can't have gotten much sleep tonight.
"Youse can take the bed," I say quietly.
Daniela seems to consider my offer as she glances between Nino and Lia. Then she stands up and leads her brother to the bedroom. A few words are exchanged, Nino mostly replying with a sleepy "yes" and "okay." The light is switched off in there, but before I can assume they're both staying in there, Dani returns for Lia.
"She can stay here with me," I argue, whispering.
"Please?" She shifts on her feet. "I would like to speak to you."
Can't really say I'm in a chatty mood, but I extend my arms and hand over Lia to her.
This time Dani stays in the bedroom a little longer, no doubt arranging the pillows around Lia. 'Cause shit…my girl's a wild sleeper, I've learned. Once, when she was taking a nap on the hotel bed at Bellagio, I forgot to place pillows around her and she just rolled over and hit the floor.
That's a mistake I'll never make again.
"They are both asleep," Dani whispers when she gets back.
I nod with a dip of my chin and light up a smoke, expecting her to take the couch again. But she doesn't. The broad has the balls to sit down on my lap, and I lean back to get a good look and raise a brow.
She stares back without wavering, but after my talk with Dad earlier, I pick up a few things that are new. Or maybe I just didn't notice them before. Like, how she twists her fingers together, as if she's nervous. Perhaps she's not as fearless as I originally thought.
"There's plenty of space over there." I jerk my chin at the couch.
She nods and looks down. "But that is not where I want to be."
I can't help but smirk. This bitch. "Yeah, well…" I take a drag and exhale through my nose. "We don't always get what we want, do we?"
She's fucking killing me.
"My papà is not a nice man," she blurts out, getting flustered. Both my eyebrows shoot up this time. "I will not apologize for trying to protect myself, but if you know more about—about me, then maybe you will understand." She looks up hesitantly. "Will you let me explain?"
I chew on my lip, my gaze hard.
Daniela's never offered anything about her past before.
"Ti ascolto," I mutter flatly, telling her I'm listening.
She releases a shaky breath and averts her eyes again. "Okay. As I said…my father is not a nice man. He was born into the mafia in Sicily, his own father being a capo." I've already guessed Daniela isn't a stranger to this life. "Giovanni, my papà, hid us—sometimes on the mainland, sometimes in Palermo, because he was always wanted for something. If not by the police, then by another Family. We were not his, ah, how you say—legitimate?" I nod cautiously. "Right. We were not his legitimate children; my mamma was his mistress." She pauses and brings my cigarette to her mouth, taking a quick drag. Which is rare; she only smokes when she's really upset. "In 1992, I was only eleven, and up until then, I had a normal childhood—somewhat. Giovanni visited when he could, and he…he was polite. He used to bring us gifts, but he never came too close. He is not an affectionate man." She takes another pull from the smoke and exhales shakily. "When I was eleven, he came to say goodbye. He didn't know when he—or if he—would see us again. At the time, Mamma was pregnant with Nino."
After taking a final drag, I stub out the smoke and place my hands on Dani's hips. It's obvious she's struggling with her words, and if I weren't so fucking curious, I'd tell her to take a break.
"A few days after he had left us, a man was murdered in Sicily. Car bomb." Her jaw clenches, and I guess it was her pops that had been killed. "A murder is nothing," she chuckles darkly. "Michael—the eldest of my younger siblings—we heard Mamma talk about Giovanni like that often. 'Gio is a pig, a swine, ruthless killer.' There was no love between my parents, and we grew up hearing we had to get as far away as possible from the mafia. But this assassination, in May that year, was different." She glances up at me. "You have heard of Giovanni Falcone, yes?"
I frown, nodding slowly. Falcone was an Italian hero, a judge who had the law on his side. He turned the most fearless mobsters into rats and managed to throw hundreds of wiseguys into prison. My memory sucks, but it's part of our history, and my parents would probably have my head if I forgot the stories about the Maxi Trial.
Daniela clears her throat. "Before that, during, ah…il maxiprocesso—the Maxi Trial?" I nod. "Si, during that time there was a shift in Sicily. It was a mafia war, and so many people were caught in the crossfire." I know this much, but I don't know what it has to do with the story. 'Cause this took place before '92. The Maxi Trial was what led to Falcone's death. A day my father celebrated. "My papà became very powerful in this war, and his boss trusted him," she goes on. "And with the war in mind, my mother knew Gio had something to do with that murder in '92. She called it her gut instinct, and she wanted us to flee."
All right, so I guess her dad killed instead of getting killed.
"Gio's boss had issued the murder," she says. "And Gio's boss was—well, is…Totò Riina."
My eyes bug out at that. "Your pops worked for the Corleonese Family?"
I did a paper on that in school, for fuck's sake. The Corleonesi basically ruled Sicily, and they were cold, fucking ice cold. There's no comparison—my own father would be considered a humanitarian worker next to Riina.
"Si." She nods jerkily. "The man my father killed was Falcone."
"Madonn'," I mutter, stunned. "That means…" Shit, that can't be true. Can it? I search Daniela's face, painted in shame, and look for any similarities, but they're not there. For which I'm glad, obviously. The mug shots of Daniela's father aren't what anyone would consider attractive. "Your father is Giovanni Brusca?"
"Yes," she whispers, staring at my lap.
No wonder she's ashamed of her past. Wiseguys cheered the day Falcone was finally killed, and my dad and Zio Alec toasted to Brusca. But the shit that followed…? Holy fucking shit. It was enough to make Dad remorseful for ever declaring Brusca a hero.
There was a second man who was with Brusca the day Falcone died—Santo something. A man who became a rat and sang like a fucking canary in custody. In return—in an attempt to force Santo to retract his testimony—Brusca kidnapped the man's eleven-year-old son, tortured him for over two years, before he strangled the kid and dissolved the body in acid.
Dani lights up her own smoke this time and takes a deep pull, her hand shaking. "When Riina was arrested the following year, my father became the unofficial boss."
I stare at her, clueless as to what to say. This broad isn't merely familiar with the mafia lifestyle; she was born smack dab in the middle of it. I mean, Sicily in the '80s and '90s was a dangerous place.
We visited Mom's distant family there during that time, and the bullet holes in countless Palermo buildings have always attracted tourists, but "war" isn't an exaggeration.
Speaking of wars… "Brusca started a new war when Riina got taken into custody," I recall quietly. The Corleonese terrorized the entire country. Several tourist spots on the mainland were bombed. "Did your mother manage to get away with youse?"
"No." Daniela flicks away some ash, a bitter look on her face. "We'd been hiding in Mamma's little sister's old house—Gina's mother." Ah. I've been wondering where my cousin's wife fit into all this. "By then, Gina's family was already in America, so the house was empty. But Gio found us." The next words come out in a small voice devoid of emotion. Robotically. "My mother tried to escape with us, so Gio killed her. A shot between her eyes. We all saw it. Then he brought me and my siblings to his hideout in Agrigento."
I say nothing, knowing there's nothing I can say to make shit better. Christ, the brutality she's been through.
"There were always a couple men watching us, making sure we couldn't run away." She stubs out the cigarette, still avoiding eye contact. "Nobody really knew we were his children, so we were allowed to go to school, but we were never left alone. Michael and I took care of our youngest siblings, and it was like that until '95 when Gio ordered his brother—Vincenzo—to take us to America to hide us there. Apparently, it had gotten too dangerous for us in Sicily." A hollow chuckle slips through her lips. "At first, I thought it was an act of mercy. But then I found out that if Vincenzo ever felt inclined, he could use me and my sisters for his pleasure."
Gnashing my teeth together, I remain quiet, despite the urge to shoot someone, preferably this Vincenzo motherfucker. The rage sears through me, nearly stealing my ability to breathe.
"He only demanded a handjob a few times, and it was over in minutes," she rushes out, as if that makes it better. "I am not traumatized, Dominic. I have had boyfriends since—"
"He still violated you," I choke out.
And the last thing I wanna hear about is Daniela with other dudes.
She ignores that. "We came to Philadelphia. Gio and Vincenzo had family there, and a woman homeschooled us for a while. She was nice, but the rest of that family…" She shudders. "Nino has never known security—only briefly. He only knows how to hide. He stuttered a lot before, and Vincenzo's cousins—I think they were cousins—they made fun of him, slapped him around, and scared him."
That explains it. That poor kid.
"Then Vincenzo left—a business trip, he said—and we learned later, from the news, that the police had arrested Gio in Sicily. Vincenzo had been there, as had his wife, his two kids, Gio's girlfriend, and my father's only legitimate child."
I remember that. It was before the summer of '96, I think.
"Is Vincenzo still out there somewhere?" I ask, clenching my jaw.
I know both Riina and Brusca are serving lifetime in prison.
Brusca became a pentito—a nice fucking word for rat—which translates to "he who has repented," but everyone knows repentance has little to do with a mobster breaking the code of silence.
"No." A small, sinister smile tugs at her lips, and she finally faces me. "Michael and I managed to escape with our siblings. We brought them to Mamma's big sister in New York. Gina had already met Nico, and her parents had moved back to Italia. But Zia Rosa took us in. She has connections, and she offered to call in favors for us, but Michael and I wanted to deal with Vincenzo ourselves."
I suck in a breath. "Tell me you fucking didn't, Daniela." At that point, she couldn't have been more than fourteen or something.
"Not right away," she admits. "Zia Rosa called her brother-in-law in Sicily to keep, come si dice…tabs? on Vincenzo—and Gio, but he was in jail. Not much to oversee there."
I caress her cheek, awed by her strength but sad that she's lived through all that. "Eri solo una bambina." I tell her she was just a baby.
"I grew up the day Mamma died," she whispers. "So did Michael. And we waited two years before we heard that Vincenzo was back in America, hiding from the law." She speaks faster, as if she's anxious to get it all out and move on. "We left in the middle of the night, took the bus to Philadelphia—Zia knew nothing." Leaning forward, she drops her forehead to my shoulder. "It was quick. We waited until it was dark the next day. Vincenzo was sleeping on the first floor. We knocked on the window so he woke up and saw us outside. Michael shot him in the head, then we ran as fast as we could."
Squeezing my eyes shut, I think of a million things that could've gone wrong. It's a goddamn miracle they got away in the first place, but to actually clip that motherfucker? God.
I would've liked to do the job for them. Slowly.
"When exactly did this happen?" I swallow past the rawness in my throat. "You was what, sixteen?"
"It was, ah…a couple of months before I turned seventeen."
"Christ, tesorina," I whisper, hugging her to me.
All I wanna do is protect her, and I realize that once again I'm at her mercy. I'd do anything she asked, and I'd do it with a fucking smile. Hell, I'd probably even thank her. Does she know what kind of power she has over me?
"I want to trust you, Dominic." She locks her arms around my shoulders and holds me tight. "If I am not too late, is there any chance you want more with me?"
I blow out a breath and bury my face against her neck, weeks of tension draining outta me. How long have I wanted those words? And I get it now, how Anthony and Dad need their women. It's insane, fucking mad, and I used to laugh about it, thinking they were crazy.
"What made you change your mind?" I murmur, inhaling the scent of hotel shampoo and Daniela.
Part of me doesn't believe it, though—that she's for real. Not yet.
"A wise woman told me the Maisano men were loyal to their wives."
I snort softly and lift my head. "My mom, huh?"
She faces me timidly, hope and apologies in her eyes. "I am sorry my past experience with men screwed with my head." She gently presses her forehead to mine. "It is ironic: in the beginning, adultery was considered a bigger crime than murder in the Cosa Nostra. It was one of the Ten Commandments followed by mafiosi, but today…" I quirk a brow, wondering if that's true. Dani answers my unasked question with a small nod. "It is true. Made men have been, ah…'expelled,' so to speak, from borgatas for treating their wives badly. My nonno was a proud man, both respected and feared, but he worshipped my nonna and he would never look to another."
Sounds a whole lot like my own nonno. After nearly fifty years with Nonna, he's still whipped.
Reaching up, I brush my thumb over her soft cheek. "I wouldn't betray you, Daniela." Guess Pops was right there, too—women need that promise. But I'm happy to give it, and honor it, when it comes to this broad. "I'm sorry, too. If I'd known what you wanted to hear, I woulda said it a long time ago."
She sighs and hugs me again. "I think that is what they call miscommunication, no?"
Yes and no. "My mood swings probably gave you whiplash," I chuckle quietly. But it's a sobering thought; I've treated her like shit, and I regret it more than I can say. "I'm sorry."
"Stop apologizing, mimmino," she whispers against my neck. "We have both been hurt."
I nod minutely and kiss her shoulder. "Okay."
It grows quiet for a while, and I both like it and find it tense. There are things left unsaid; I want this shit written in stone so I can call her mine already. I need it in order to relax. When things are all up in the air, I only get cunty.
But I force myself to let go for a few minutes. Dani's in my arms, where she fucking belongs, and I'll settle for that right now. It's more than what I expected after I told her I love her and she…didn't.
Wanting to feel more of her, I give the hem of her hoodie a tug, and she scoots away enough so I can pull it over her head. A snug tank top is left, clinging to her sexy curves, and before I can draw her close again, she tugs at my own hoodie. I yank it off, leaving me in a black beater.
"C'mea." I hold her to me, spending some quality time breathing her in, tracing her body with my hands, and absently kissing her shoulder and neck.
After a few beats, I focus on her little touches instead. Her fingers draw slow, mindless patterns over my chest—or maybe they're not so mindless at all? I furrow my brow, concentrating. Then my mouth twists into a smile when I feel the shape of a heart. But the smile fades when it gets more significant. A short line, topped by a "v." A circle. A curve.
I hold still—fuck, I'm even holding my breath—as she starts over.
A vertical line. A heart. Short line, a "v" above, creating a "Y". A circle. The curve shaping an "U."
Before I can demand to have that spelled out—with her fucking voice—she shifts away a few inches to look me in the eye. Nervously. Dani's definitely nervous.
"I am sorry I couldn't admit to it sooner." She swallows and tries to avert her gaze, but I grab her chin. There's no way she's looking away for this. "It is true, though. I do love you, Dominic—"
"Thank fuck." My breath leaves me in a whoosh, and I cup her neck to crash our mouths together. Thank fuck, thank fuck, thank fuck. She's stuck now. There's no taking that shit back. "Say it again." I taste one of her Lip Smackers in the kiss—pineapple, I think.
She giggles, outta breath. "That I love you?"
"That's the one." The relief is bigger than my fucking dick, which is…well, I'm not gonna brag. "Say it."
She hums and drags her teeth along my bottom lip. "I love you."
I nod. "You're gonna tell me that every day for the rest of our lives. Capisce?"
"Are you already bossing me around?" She raises a brow and smiles wickedly. Pressing her tits to my chest and rolling her hips over my stiffening cock, she diverts my attention for a beat, but I wanna get this outta the way before we knock boots. "Maybe I will not take every order perfectly."
"I fully expect you to break my balls." I smirk and still her hips, 'cause I'm serious. "I wouldn't have it any other way." I mean that shit. Call me a twisted bastard, but there's just something about Dani when she gets going. When her claws come out, my cock wants to play. "But I meant what I said. I wanna hear those words often."
Her gaze softens and she leans forward to kiss my chin. "Non lascerò mai che lo dimentichi." She tells me she'll never let me forget.
"Bene. Right back at'chu." I release a breath and nod, another wave of relief washing over me. "And you'll, uh, help me stay sober?"
Or at least the drugs. Alcohol has never been an issue. But I gotta know Daniela won't accept a man who throws his family away for coke.
No doubt understanding the seriousness of the moment, she stops seducing me and places a hand along my jaw. "Dominic, I am all in, as you say. I will take this risk, because I know you are worth it. You are an incredible man, and I will do my best to deserve you."
"You're serious about this?" I gotta make sure.
If Daniela walks away—well, I'd hunt her down. Maybe that makes me more like my father; he'd never let go of Mom, but so be it. I wouldn't be able to deal with Dani denying me.
"All in," she repeats.
"Okay." I swallow, my stomach a knotted mess. Perhaps because, for the first time in my life, I have so much to lose. "This makes us a family. You know that, right?"
"Oh, Dominic…" She smiles tenderly. "I do not want to insult you, but Lia took my heart before you did. I could never leave either of you."
Finally—at fucking last—I feel calmer. I needed those words as much as I needed to hear she loves me.
"I love you." Cupping her cheek, I capture her mouth with mine and kiss her deeply but slowly. Setting the pace I want. My kinky bitch can make an appearance tomorrow, but I want it unhurried now.
Thankfully, Dani seems to want that, too.
I don't know what my pops has planned, but it looks like we have some time out here in the middle of nowhere. Time to talk—I don't know, play house? And I think we need it.
"I missed you," she breathes out as I pull off her tank top.
"You have no idea, baby." I shake my head, not wanting to think about these past couple'a weeks. Dipping down, I kiss her slender neck and palm her tits, groaning at the way she arches into me.
"Do—" She gasps when I pinch her nipples. "Do you have protection?"
That causes me to stop, not to mention frown. "What? No. Why would I?"
A faint blush spreads over her cheeks. "I haven't been able to refill my prescription—we have been hiding. I took my last pill the day before yesterday."
"Oh." I feel a crease forming on my forehead. "Well…" Refusing to let disappointment seep in, I kiss her again.
I pretend the last ten seconds never happened.
"Dominic." She gives me one of her sexy-as-fuck moans, all breathy and full of need. "What about—"
"Shhh." I slip a hand between us and find her smooth pussy slick and hot under her sweats and panties. "Lemme have you, tesorina."
She melts into me and lets me finger-fuck her to orgasm.
As I suck her juices off my fingers, I watch as the seductiveness reappears in her eyes. She slithers down my body, humming between open-mouthed kisses, and ends up on her knees on the floor.
I lift my hips when she gives my pants a tug, and she pulls them down with my boxer briefs.
She kisses the insides of my thighs, which is just fucking maddening. I groan when she lets those fingernails come into play, dragging them along my thighs. It makes my cock rock-hard, and I grip the base, hoping she'll take the hint.
"What do you want?" She cups my balls, massaging. I lick my lips and buck my hips. "Hmm? Tell me, mimmino."
I grunt. "I want you to suck your man's cock. That's fucking what."
"Mmm, my man does have a perfect cock to suck." She's killing me. And with her accent…? Goddamn indecent. Pushing away my hand, she grasps the length and licks the underside. "This is my cock now, Dominic."
I nod jerkily, sucking in a breath. "Knock yourself out."
"I am the only one who gets to touch it, see it, fuck it." Her luscious lips close around the tip, her tongue soaking me in wetness. God-fucking-dammit, she owns me. "No one else."
"No one else," I gasp. Her possessiveness is a massive turn-on. "Suck it, baby."
She answers by swallowing me whole.
I groan and curse, staring at her hungrily for several minutes. Her cheeks hollow out, and every now and then she leaves a thin trail of saliva between her mouth and the head of my dick. Whenever that happens, the beast in me roars to life.
"Stop," I growl, too close. "I wanna come inside you." I yank her up to straddle me. "Gimme that sweet pussy." My fucking pussy. "Madonn', you're finally mine, Daniela." Burying my face in the crook of her neck, I guide my dick inside her, inch by inch.
"All yours." She weaves her fingers into the hair at the back of my head, pulling me forward. Oh yeah, she smashes her tits to my face. "Oh…oh, so good." She moans and rides me slowly as I suck on her nipples.
Fucking tit heaven.
I grin when she loses her English, then spit out a curse when her pussy tightens around my cock. With each push, her clit rubs against my pubic bone. She's so fucking hot and wet, our connection making those noises that drive me insane. So much for unhurried. I can't take it slow with this woman; I want her too much.
Slamming her down on me, I make her whimper and bite down on my shoulder. With a tight grasp on her hips, I thrust upward and drill into her over and over. Tiny drops of sweat trickle down my chest.
"Close?" I murmur, outta breath.
She nods quickly and clings to me, her nails digging into my shoulders. "Please."
Knowing I won't last much longer, I bring a hand to circle her clit, rubbing and massaging. At the same time, I fuck her deeper.
The second she stiffens in my arms, I know she's coming. Right after, her pussy pulses around me, and I struggle to keep the same pace. My own orgasm builds up rapidly, but I don't let go until she's finished. Then I pump my dick into her in quick, shallow thrusts before I ram as deep as I can and come hard.
Afterward, it's quiet. And I can take it. The silence is, for once, welcome.
I breathe in and out as my heart rate slows.
"It will be light soon." Dani rests her head on my shoulder.
I feel her soft breaths against my neck.
"Yeah…" I bring her hand to my mouth and kiss her fingertips. "You think we'll fit on that couch over there?"
Lifting her head, she smiles lazily and nods. "If we get very close."
Sounds perfect to me. "It's where I want you."
Next up: Junior, Julia, and I think Gabriella has some shit to get off her chest.