Promised To The Mafia Prince
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Giulia Cavalieri grew up running from the mafia, and she always knew that one day they would find her. Fruit of a forbidden marriage between his mother, sister of a capo from Chicago, and a member of the Russian mafia, sealed his fate, and aroused the fury of the Villani family. Five years ago Giulia was entrusted to the care of the same hands that welcomed her mother, when she had nowhere to run, in the care of the sisters of a small convent a few kilometers from Rome. Now, about to complete adulthood she is awakened with gunshots in the middle of the night, and tries to escape, even knowing that it is impossible to escape from Michael Villani. Michael knew that the marriage between his parents was an arrangement, which is very common in the mafia, but what he never imagined was that his father had loved Donatella Cavalieri all his life. On his deathbed, Erico makes a last request to him, who claims Giulia, and ensures that she stays under his protection as his wife. All Giulia wanted was an ordinary life, studying, traveling, knowing the world. Among Michael’s goals, marriage would appear, and he was very happy with Carolyn, his mistress. But an agreement must be made in the name of peace between men of honor. Kept in a property and watched constantly, Giulia sees little of her future husband, until the night of her eighteenth birthday, when the engagement would be announced. When Michael kisses her, after putting the expensive ring on her finger, a spark ignites between them, in a dangerous combination of attraction and repulsion. Two sides of a story that had a tragic outcome, that can either hate each other all their lives, or allow themselves to live an overwhelming love story.
I wake up startled, a loud, deafening noise makes my heart race, because I know what it means. One shot. I look at the clock on the old bedside table next to my bed, it’s three in the morning, and the sudden urgency to get out of there makes me anxious. In the dark, I hear voices changing, and even though it is impossible to hear that distance, I try to follow the movement inside the place. I need to get out of here, or at least hide.
When I open the door, I see Sister Angela approaching, she puts her finger up on her lips and points to the robe, simple but comfortable over the chest next to the small closet. Then urgently signals me to follow her. I prayed every night that they would not find me, that they would forget me, but the truth is that in our world, practically everything goes from one to another. Money, property, trouble, hate, broken promises. And I am the legacy of a broken promise.
When I left New York two years ago, under the promise that I would not be the one to pay for my mother’s alleged mistake, I knew from the first detour of the driver to boarding a private jet that the Villani would not let me go my way. I knew they would find me, wherever I was, and even here, inside the Convent of Saint Lucia, in a village a hundred and twenty kilometers from Rome, I certainly was never safe.
I pass through the familiar corridors, as if it were the first time, almost stumbling on my feet, I am trembling, nervous and frightened, and I no longer heard the voices as I descended stairs and walked away towards the back of the old building, were etched in my thoughts. What did they say to Mother Ines? They were threatening her, it was a fact, and tears ran down my face as we hurried toward one of the cells, where the novices used to be fasting for days. Sister Angela opened a closet, and pushed away at least a dozen religious robes, and then slipped her hand under the highest shelf, revealing a false bottom, and then she broke the silence.
“Giulia, get in here, quick” she points out the dark background where a person would fit comfortably, if it was that I could find that comfortable “one of us will come get you when they’re gone.”
I almost told her that the Villani family might not let them live so someone would come and get me, but something in her sister’s tone told me that she already knew that. As she explains to me how to open the latches from the inside, I approach and hug her, and she hugs me back, we both know it might be the last time we’ll ever see each other. Villani had been looking for me for a long time, but that doesn’t mean I would stay alive.
“Child, we have little time, please go inside, be silent no matter what is happening out here” she hands me a medal of the Archangel Michael, and leaves me speechless, because she always used it “pray, have faith, that they will not find you.”
“Sister, please stay with me” I asked thinking about hearing all kinds of sounds approaching, when in fact it was just the fear of being caught screaming inside me.
“We promised Donatella” she speaks as she gently guides me to the hideout “that we would keep her safe. This was your mother’s last refuge, and while you’re in this convent, we’ll be standing between you and Villani.”
The bottom closes in front of me, and then I hear her close the closet doors, and then it’s just me, the silence that came after Sister Angela’s footsteps moved away, and the most complete darkness.
It didn’t take long for me to be found, and I have to confess that from inside that closet, shaking and trying to keep my breath contained trying to go unnoticed, there wasn’t a moment when I thought they wouldn’t find me. My mother used to say, in the years that we had to leave everything behind, and change address, city or country, sometimes without destination, Villani did not stop until he achieved his goal. When I was a child I did not understand, but when the false back of the closet was identified, and the door violently opened in front of me, for the first time since his death, I felt fear.
“Signorina Cavaliere” said the man in front of me “you have to come with me.”
Where else would I go? Not far from there I heard voices, outside the convent more shots and even if I refused, even if I protested, kicking, I did not know what was happening. If I answered that I would not go anywhere, he could throw me on his shoulders easily, and take me wherever he wanted. Or he could take the gun I saw him holster up before he said anything when he saw me, and hit me. The only certainty I had was that he would not kill me. If this was his mission, he would have already accomplished it.
“Signorina, per favore” he reached out his hand, while another man entered the cell, holding his cell phone in his pocket “we need to be quick.”
“Levi, the Russians” this one seemed in a bad mood, as if it were the last place where he would like to be “someone was following us, they are coming in the dozens!”
The man who now I know is called Levi, looks apprehensively in my direction:
“You must come with me, or you will fall into their hands if they do not kill everyone first!”
“Mother...” I was able to speak “sisters... What did you do to them?”
“They’re all right!” the other man said gruff “if you care about them, we have to get out of here now!”
“I promise that nothing will happen to Signorina” Levi insisted, pointing the door.
I felt Levi’s hand guiding me down the hall, going to the back of the old building, my bare feet on the icy ground and the night air invading my senses as soon as the door opened. I heard gunshots again, making my heart race, and then I turned quickly to the building, it was not like that I should leave the place that welcomed me for years, after the death of my mother, I felt a grip on my arm and the other man dragging me to the car, to which Levi would drive, cursing me in good Italian!
“Get in soon” he pushed me on the leather seat and then moved away, going back to the night, while Levi went to the iron gate that was already open.
He sped up, and I saw men talking on their cell phones, ordering that the others should keep the Russians occupied nearby, and that security in Rome Province should double, in the background Mother Ines and some nuns in front of the main door, looked towards the car, I raised my hand to wave, but I knew they couldn’t see, and that’s when I heard Levi talking to someone on speaker.
“I’m on my way, boss.”
“We are sending reinforcements” said the voice across the line, which made me realize how determined he was, Levi said the word boss, it was him, Michael Villani himself talking “good job, Levi.”
Then he hung up. I thought about what should be the Villani, because despite knowing exactly why I was taken to him, I tried to ignore his existence until now. The cursed Villani, who had invaded the convent, tormenting everyone, with men everywhere, searching the place that was of peace and tranquility with his inadequate presence there! I felt a trembling go through my body, anger and indignation, that’s why my mother fled, that was not a fair world for a woman. After that I take a deep breath, and I start to be really afraid of what can happen to me, I can’t cry, Rome is a few hours away, and now I know he’s waiting for me.
I just want to maintain the minimum of dignity, but the fact is that since the time I woke up I understand that the minimum control I still had over my life and decisions was left behind, in the small room I occupied, from where I liked to see the countryside from the window, and wake up with the singing of birds. Everything was left behind, I had brought nothing with me. Personal objects, documents, photos with my parents, letters from Nikolai. Given the circumstances I wonder now if I should have taken seriously when Nik said I should run away with him, knew that if I had accepted, he would have found a way, but would return the same life he had with my mother for years, and did not want to run forever.
I thought if in Chicago, my uncle already knew what had happened. Joe Cavalieri, my mother’s older brother, who had been covering tracks for years and providing resources to keep us out of sight of the mafia, especially the Sicilian, well represented by the name Villani in New York. The situation was worrying, the conflict between the Villani and Cavalieri families had been going on for decades, and I learned very early that I did not need to have killed someone to have blood on my hands.
“Soon we will arrive at the Villani residence, Signorina” I heard Levi’s voice, calm, and realized that he was looking at me in the mirror “I know that you must be afraid, but tomorrow morning will return to your country.”
“Did your "boss" decide that, or Joe Cavalieri?”
“It was Mr. Villani, thinking about what would be best for you” he turned his eyes to the road, little busy in front of him.
“He has no idea what he did’ I spoke closing the matter, with the impression that Mr. Villani and I would not like each other.
If there is silence inside the car, my head seems to be about to explode. I can’t think of anything without remembering another important situation, or previous conversation, message, letter or phone call, and I needed to at least know how to behave, what to say, since I would soon be face to face with one of the most dangerous men in the mafia. My mind was teeming with innumerable possibilities of what might happen when I met Michael Villani, and though all that time I sought to know as little as possible about him, and his "family business," whenever I heard his name, people always called him impulsive, ruthless, cruel.
“We arrived” I heard Levi, and looked at the big gates in front of the car as we approached. He lowered the glass for a moment, intending to rush the man into the guardhouse, and those near the gates, which were quickly opened.
We passed quickly entering a path leading to a beautiful mansion, little lit, but very elegant. Levi parked in front
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