FAMIGLIA – Part II
Online Only. Contains bad words and sex-y scenarios. Mature (18+) audiences.
Read Episode 13 here.
They all turned toward the sound of wood scraping tile. Behind them, walking in from the house’s exterior, was a group of people. Three men in the front carried wooden high chairs. A fourth carried a modified chair with an insert she knew was meant for Aleksi. There were at least twenty, with more pouring in by the handful.
She glanced at Giorgio’s hand.
It twitched, and then stopped moving.
Because of the fact that Giorgio had, in essence, “settled down” with her, it made a lot of people assume it meant that he’d somehow become normal. That she’d tamed him, so to speak. And while many of his compulsions had been quelled by having someone who cared deeply about him, the other reason was because he’d killed his father. His controller. The master behind the murder strings.
However, he’d just massacred an entire compound of people not even a month ago. Laundering his clothes could sometimes be a fucking nightmare. She’d known what she’d walked into when she first met him and had accepted that being with him wouldn’t be like the relationships she’d dreamed about growing up. In some ways, she’d been wrong. He was supportive, attentive, funny in his own way, and made her feel loved. In other ways, he was the man he’d always been.
Giorgio Pozza didn’t like surprises, and his response to large, unfamiliar gathering had historically been to “cull” the herd.
Mo reached out and grabbed his wrist. He glared down at her and she returned the intensity of the look. People wielding high chairs weren’t dangerous. He needed to better assess the situation rather than look at it as something that needed to be neutralized.
He pulled his hand away.
She grabbed his wrist again. “No, baby. Please.”
His head reared back in offense. If she didn’t pull him back soon, he’d sink to where she wouldn’t be able to retrieve him. Giorgio and Giorgio alone would pull him back up for air, and when he did rise, there would be bodies in his wake. Considering some of the guys were there, it would be less bodies, but bodies nonetheless. And based on the incidents that had been going on with them, she wasn’t certain they wouldn’t simply just add to the carnage.
The crowd continued to grow. They began to clap and sing and chant. Mo wished they would all just shut the hell up. She was in the middle of a crisis.
She looked over her shoulder and whispered, “Guys. Help.”
Julien rose from the table and moved to where Stefania stood in the crowd. Mo stood, Giorgio’s wrist still in her grasp, and eased close enough to him that Aleksi’s warm body pressed against his father’s.
“We can’t make it dangerous for him,” she said, voice calm. “Aleksi could get hurt.”
Even more people poured through the door. She could see Julien speaking with Stefania across the way, the woman’s smile falling with each word he explained to her. They needed to hurry up. Giorgio’s already dark gaze was disappearing into a black hole and, in that split second, Mo did something she never did—question whether or not it was a good idea to have pursued a relationship with him. At least, accepted. He was the one who’d pursued her. In the cutest of ways. But there were times where she did wonder whether being his wife and having a home and child with him was akin to trying to tame a wild animal. Eventually, they all returned to the ways nature had given them.
“I will hurt Aleksi,” he asked, studying her face. “This what you think?”
“What I think is that no one is here to hurt you.” She looked around, hoping she was right. It had been a hell of a crazy last several weeks. The year leading up to them hadn’t been that great either, especially for Joel.
Giorgio’s gaze fell. Aleksi had woken up from his nap, and his head was wiggling in the carrier. Mo unlatched the hooks and straps and then held him out to his father.
“Hold him,” she urged. “Hold your son. He’ll show you everything’s okay.”
His large, scarred hands wrapped around Aleksi’s body. The courtyard had gone silent. Mo looked up to find Stefania with her hands spread out in front of the gathering, whispering to them in quick yet harsh Italian. It was in that moment that it was verified, for her, that the woman had to be Giorgio’s aunt. She’d likely had the entire reunion set up, inviting people from in town to meet her nephew. However, the minute she realized her nephew had a particular aversion to large groups, she stood in to control it.
When she had the crowd controlled, she hurried over, hands flailing. “Non volevo, Giorgio. Scusate.”
“She’s sorry,” Julien translated when Giorgio didn’t say a word. “Now, she’s inviting us to eat inside where it’s quiet and more intimate.”
Giorgio’s jaw pulsed. Mo felt guilt rushing over her but she didn’t let it show. She’d made a scene over him, made a big deal over him. He hated attention and control nearly as much as he didn’t like unfamiliarity.
He didn’t say a word as he, carrying Aleksi, made his way from the courtyard. Stefania started after him but Mo stepped in her way.
“Let him go,” she said. Even if she didn’t understand the words, Stefania was able to read her expression.
The crowd dissipated. The rest of their crew remained behind, and it wasn’t until dinner had transitioned from outside to Stefania’s cozy dining nook that Mo found herself even able to start to explain.
“He’s different,” she said.
Stefania cocked her head to the side from the other end of the large, rectangular wooden table. “Different? Is it like,” she mumbled, searching for the word, “mental?”
Mo stared at Julien for further explanation.
“She wants to know if he has, like, a condition,” he said.
Mo shrugged. “I don’t really know. He’s just . . . let me start from the beginning. Tell me, first, about your sister, Giulia.”
Stefania pushed up from the table, disappeared, and then came back with a handful of photos she lay on the table between hot dishes and crocheted doilies. She then indicated one, and Mo picked up the black and white photograph of a woman with dark hair. An ornate veil covered her head, and a bouquet of flowers was perched high on her chest.
“My mother,” Stefania said, in English before returning to Italian. “Can you see him in her?”
Mo shook her head, swallowing. “No ma’am.”
“He doesn’t look like his mother either,” Stefania added. “Does he look like his father? Have you met him?”
Mo handed the picture off to Tayler on her right so it could make its way around the table. Shortly after Giorgio, Gage had also left. While they all knew Giorgio didn’t need anyone checking on him to make sure he was okay, he was still their friend. Their family. All of them were close but the guys more so because of everything they’d gone through, even before there was a Mo, a Tayler, a Larke, or an Ari. She liked to think of Gage as the closest thing her honey had to a best friend.
“Um . . . in a way,” she said.
“My sister never told me how she got pregnant,” Stefania went on. “She ran away with a man when she was sixteen. When she came back, she confided in me that she was going to have a baby, but things didn’t work out with the man so she came home.”
That solved the mystery of how Otto had been able to lure the girls.
They’d all been young and from small towns, inexperienced about the world and the devils that hid among its shadows. All it would have taken was the right person to say the right things, promise her a life where she could see the world. He’d probably sent out his own sons as sentinels to seek them out. The girls would then end up walking right into his trap, a snarl of a smile on his wolfish face as he removed his coat made of sheepskin.
She’d left Australia with the same stars in her eyes, and Australia was hundreds of times larger than the towns most of Otto’s women had been torn from.
“What happened after that?” Mo prodded.
Stefania’s mouth turned down, her eyes darkening in sadness. “She left again. In the middle of the night. I never saw her after that.”
Mo took a second picture the woman handed over.
“Giulia,” she said. “At sixteen.”
Still, there was no Giorgio anywhere on the woman’s face. She did see someone else, however. Sophia, the girl from Helmine’s.
Son of a bitch.
“I think there’s been a mistake,” Mo said, heart aching for her husband. “I think your sister had a girl.”
A girl whose ass I just destroyed.
Stefania’s brow furrowed. “What?”
It was Otto’s last hurrah. His last “fuck you.” He’d named his sons after the towns where their mothers had been kidnapped. All save for Giorgio. He’d named him after this place, this dead-end, as a way to bury his golden child’s identity for the rest of his life so that Giorgio would never be more than “Otto’s son.”
The story Helmine had told wasn’t Giorgio’s and likely not even Helmine had known that.
Mo stood. “I’m sorry, Stefania. We have to go.”
The woman’s eyes widened. “What’s happened? What’s going on?”
“I don’t think Giorgio is your nephew,” Mo informed her. “I wish he was. I wish with every fiber in my being he was, but—”
A realization suddenly dawned on her.
“We have to go,” she quickly finished. “Thank you for all of this. It was lovely.”
She wished she could have given the woman more information about her niece, but she probably wasn’t the best person to do so.
Tossing apologies behind them, everyone made their way from Stefania’s back to the villa. On the way, Mo called to make sure it was where Giorgio had gone, and Gage told her that it was. They were “hanging out” on the backyard terrace.
When they arrived, Mo found him still on the terrace. Gage made his way inside to give them some privacy. She pulled up a chair next to Giorgio but when she went to sit down, he grunted and tugged her over to him, onto his lap.
“I thought you were mad at me,” she said, situating herself so she could ease her head into the crook of his neck.
“I am upset with you.” He brushed his cheek over the top of her head. “You cannot fix.”
She cupped the side of his face and kissed his jaw. “I’m sorry, baby. I love you.”
“You are forgiven,” he said, simply.
She smiled, shaking her head.
“You are back soon. Why?”
“The better question is, why’d you leave?” she countered.
“The people, Bez. The noise.”
“You really think you couldn’t stay without hurting at least one of them?”
The way he looked down at her gave her the answer.
“I saw a picture of Giulia,” she said.
“And she does not look like me.”
“No. In fact, she looks almost exactly like Sophia.”
His brow lifted. “Who?”
“Sophia? The one I fought at Helmine’s? Giorgio, I believe I learned her name from you.”
He shrugged, as if it had no importance when she’d been in a battle to the death with the woman he’d so easily forgotten.
“Giulia’s not your mother.” She squeezed him tight when she revealed the news. He’d never show her he needed the extra affection, but she knew him well enough to know it would help.
“Okay,” he said.
“But I know who is.”
#15 – THE END
Who is Giorgio’s mother?
I have THREE $10 giftcards from Amazon for the first three people who get it right. (If you’ve read the book, this should be pretty straightforward, IMO)
Comment below with your guess and why you think you’ve got it!
Mo and Giorgio are from the book, “Angels and Assassins: The Dark Knight.”