We will not fulfill any book request that does not come through the book request page or does not follow the rules of requesting books. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Comments are manually approved by us. Thus, if you don't see your comment immediately after leaving a comment, understand that it is held for moderation. There is no need to submit another comment. Even that will be put in the moderation queue.

Please avoid leaving disrespectful comments towards other users/readers. Those who use such cheap and derogatory language will have their comments deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked from accessing this website (and its sister site). This instruction specifically applies to those who think they are too smart. Behave or be set aside!

Mafia Darling: Chapter 28


I couldn’t stop crying.

Five of us were gathered in the foyer, surrounded by three suitcases. Fausto was on his feet, propped up by a cane, with Zia and Marco nearby. Giulio and I stood off to the side, close to the luggage, and his arms were wrapped around me as I sobbed on his probably very expensive shirt. There was nothing left to be said. I had pushed for this outcome, hoped it would come to pass, but it hurt.

Giulio was the most composed out of all of us, which was understandable. It had been his decision to leave, after all. Fausto gave him a choice and Giulio had grabbed the opportunity eagerly. Now he would start a new chapter in his life as a whole different person. When he walked out this door, he was no longer the Ravazzani heir. Not a Ravazzani at all, in fact.

And I would never see him again.

I hated it, but I understood the reasons why he couldn’t live happily here. And really, this was best for Giulio, which was all that mattered. When he gave me the news I heard the excitement in his voice over his future, his chance to live proudly and openly as a gay man. Deep in my heart, I knew he would be okay.

Still, I couldn’t let go of him.

“Bella,” he whispered in my hair, “you will be fine without me. My father will take very good care of you.”

I couldn’t speak, I was crying too hard. He’d been my first friend, my rock here in a strange place. I would miss him so fucking much. This felt unfair, a punishment none of us deserved.

“Dolcezza,” my husband said gently. “The plane is waiting.”

Nodding, I stretched to press a kiss to Giulio’s cheek. “Be happy, G. Be safe.”

Giulio’s mouth lifted slightly as he kissed my forehead. “However you made this happen, I will always be grateful for it, matrigna. Ti voglio bene, bella.”

“Ti voglio bene,” I choked out.

Marco, of all people, put an arm around my shoulder to comfort and guide me away, his free hand holding out a pack of tissues. I took them gratefully and tried to clean myself up as Zia walked over to Giulio. She pressed a bag of food in his hands, telling him to eat and to make his bed everyday. She asked him to write her a card every Christmas to let her know he was all right. He hugged her hard, saying he would, then released her.

Fausto went over to his son and the group of us edged away to give them privacy. My husband clasped the back of Giulio’s head and pressed their foreheads together. Then Fausto whispered softly in Italian, too quiet and too fast for me to understand, and Giulio nodded in response. It went on for some time, until Giulio’s face crumpled, his composure faltering at whatever Fausto was saying.

Fausto kissed both of Giulio’s cheeks then stepped back. Giulio wiped his face and nodded at him, their eyes locked in some silent understanding. My husband had been uncharacteristically quiet in the hours leading up to Giulio’s departure, and I’d given him space to process his emotions. This was not easy for him. How could it be? His son was walking out the door to start a new life somewhere else, never to return.

Marco let me go and took two of Giulio’s suitcases. Zia cried softly at my side, using a fancy lace handkerchief to wipe her eyes, as Giulio followed Marco out the door. When the heavy wood closed with a snap, Fausto didn’t move. He just stared at the empty spot where his son had been. Zia began reciting prayers and hurried toward the kitchen. “Padre Nostro, che sei nei cieli . . .

Pain swamped my entire body. It felt like someone had carved out my chest with a spoon. I couldn’t catch my breath, my lungs struggling for air as I continued to cry. Then Fausto’s shoulders dropped, like he couldn’t bear the weight of them any longer, and my heart broke a little more.

I couldn’t stand it. I closed the distance between us and wrapped my arms around him, careful of his injury, and pressed my cheek to his shoulder blades. His big body trembled and he put his free hand on top of mine. We stood there for a long time. “Ti amo,” I said into the thin cotton t-shirt he wore.

He nodded, but didn’t speak, and that tore me apart. My man felt deep, and this was undoubtedly the worst day of his life.

“I need to go lie down,” he said after another minute.

“I’ll help you.” I shifted to his side, but he held up a hand.

“No, please. I need to be alone for a bit.”

His expression was ragged. Destroyed. Bleakness like I’d never seen haunted his beautiful eyes. “Okay,” I said, swallowing past the lump in my throat. “Ring if you need anything.”

Leaning in, he pressed his lips to my temple, pausing there for a long second. Then he pulled away and began making his way up the stairs, his movements stiff and heavy. I waited until he was at the top, then I went outside into the bright sunshine, to breathe fresh air. To remind myself that life was worth living, no matter where we were.


San Luca

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Polsi

The drive up the mountain was slow and bumpy. I winced with every twist and turn, but didn’t complain. The church and monastery were situated in the Aspromonte mountains in Calabria, nestled in the bottom of a gorge. I was grateful for the road, rough as it was. A few decades ago, the place was accessible only by foot.

Tradition dictated the ’Ndrangheta leaders meet here, and I had never missed Crimine. I wasn’t about to start now, even though I felt terrible.

I could endure it. I had a lot to accomplish today.

“How are you doing back there?” Marco looked over his shoulder from the passenger seat.

“Fine,” I gritted out.

“Stitches feel okay?”

They burned like the fires of hell, but I didn’t want him to baby me. “Yes. Stop worrying. You are worse than Zia.”

“Zia’s not half as bad as your wife. I already have fifteen text messages from her.”

I picked up my phone and texted Francesca:

I am fine.

We are almost there.

Stop texting Marco.

Her response was almost immediate:

Then answer my texts and I won’t have to!

If you get hurt I’ll never forgive you

Then she sent a string of emojis that made me crack a smile. It mostly included eggplants and water droplets, but I knew what she meant. I sent her back a heart.

Paparino! You sent me an emoji!

I feel so proud

I rolled my eyes, though my smile widened. My piccola monella, always pushing and teasing me.

When the car pulled up to the front entrance, I gripped my cane and got out as quickly as I could manage. It was imperative that I appear mostly recovered, not as an invalid. Mommo was there, talking to one of the monks out front, and he came right over when he saw me.

“Fausto, ciao!” He kissed my cheeks. “You are looking well. Much better than I’d heard.”

“A scratch,” I said with a shrug. “I hardly even notice it any more.”

He slapped my shoulder and I grinned through the pain. “Va bene, va bene. We need you strong, my boy. Your father, he was strong, too. I remember how he took two bullets in the thigh and kept chasing a rival dealer through the streets.” Mommo chuckled as he led me inside, and I left Marco and Benito to deal with the car.

“Is everyone here?” I asked, removing my sunglasses and tucking them in my jacket pocket. The guards patted us both down for weapons, as these meetings were supposed to be friendly. No guns, no knives.

“Sì, sì. We were just waiting on you, even though you live closer than the rest of us, eh?” He shook my shoulder roughly, jostling me.

“That’s because I’m busier than all you lazy fucks,” I teased back, though I felt lightheaded from the pain.

“Come in. We were having a drink, but now we can get started.”


In truth, I could not wait to sit down again. But instead, I made the rounds in the big hall where the round table was set up. I shook hands, kissed cheeks, slapped backs, and acted as if I hadn’t almost been assassinated three weeks ago. Someone handed me a Campari and soda, and I saw it was Marco. I sent him a grateful look and drank half the cocktail in one swallow.

Inside the room were the members of La Provincia, the board of control. The one person missing was Enzo D’Agostino. It was smart of him not to show up, because I would have strangled him on the spot.

Finally all the leaders sat, with our men standing behind us. I was sandwiched between the dons from Reggio Calabria and Platì, both men I knew well.

Pasquale Borghese was the capo crimine, also the diplomat and mediator of the group, so he called the meeting to order. “Signori, let us begin, as we are all anxious to return home. Some more than others.”

“Yes, the ones with girlfriends!” someone shouted, causing everyone to laugh.

Borghese held up his hand. “We must start with the most recent conflict among us, which has escalated and turned ugly. Too ugly, in my opinion, and I know many at this table feel the same. Ravazzani, would you care to explain?”

I pushed back my chair and rose slowly. “You all know me. You know I do not attack unless provoked. It started small, with a group of pirates stealing my shipment, hired by D’Agostino. Then D’Agostino kidnapped my wife, put a gun in her mouth.”

“Was she your wife at the time?” Mommo asked, though everyone already knew the answer.

“No, but she is the daughter of Roberto Mancini, one of our leaders in Toronto, and she was pregnant with my child at the time.” I dragged in a breath and went on. “D’Agostino also blackmailed one of my men into embezzling thirty million Euros from me.” Eyebrows went up all around the table. “And he hired an assassin to shoot me on the street.”

I let all that sink in. Every man at this table would exact retribution in my shoes. They knew what I was feeling.

“So I ask: Would any of you let D’Agostino live after all he had done?”

No one had the balls to say yes. If they did, I would call them a liar.

“Dai, Fausto,” Borghese said, puffing on a cigar. “You kidnapped and tortured D’Agostino. For days.”

I held up my hands. “I don’t deny it, but I will say I was justified. Francesca is the love of my life. If your wife was kidnapped, you would do the same.”

“He thought he was taking your mantenuta, a whore.” Mommo shrugged like this was acceptable. “We all know the Mancini girl was impure when she came to Siderno.”

My temper flared and I beat it back through ruthless willpower. This was not the time.

“Basta,” Borghese told Mommo. “That is his wife you are talking about. The mother of his child.”

Mommo apologized and I continued, looking at every face around the room. “I would prefer to handle the situation with D’Agostino myself. I am requesting that no one here interferes.”

Borghese puffed on his cigar and leaned back in his chair. “Does anyone object to Don Ravazzani’s request?”

Another older don said, “What happens if it turns into a conflict like the ’80s? We all barely survived.”

“That is a good point,” another don said. “We cannot afford to draw the attention of the Guardia or lose our soldiers.”

“I promise to keep the violence limited to Napoli. You have my word, on my oath, it will not bleed out into any of your territories.”

That seemed to satisfy the room. Borghese nodded. “We are in agreement, then. Ravazzani and D’Agostino will settle this amongst themselves. Let’s move on.”

“Wait,” I said, remaining on my feet, using my cane for balance. “I have two more related items of business.”

“Related to D’Agostino?”

“Yes.” Borghese gestured for me to proceed and I nodded my thanks. “It occurred to me,” I said, “as these things unfolded that D’Agostino could not be working alone. Enzo, he is ambitious but he is not smart, capisce? There had to be someone older, perhaps wiser, giving him advice. Convincing him I would make the perfect target. After all, I control the most here at this table. And in the end this was really about money, not my wife.”

Every eye tracked me as I began limping around the table. “So I began to think. Why would someone help D’Agostino? Who needed more money? Maybe someone was in debt from too much gambling or had an ex-wife demanding too much alimony? Or maybe a wife that constantly overspent her allowance.”

When I was directly behind Mommo, I said, “One thing my father taught me was never trust the friend who comes to you wearing a smile during a crisis. Because he is plotting your murder behind your back.”

Mommo froze, cigar half-way to his mouth—and that was when I pounced.

With a whoosh, I pulled my cane apart to reveal a thin blade, which I shoved directly against Mommo’s throat. Chairs scraped and a scuffle behind me signaled that Marco was holding back Mommo’s man. Ignoring everyone else, I kept the sweaty fuck in my grasp, the steel at his windpipe. “It was you, Mommo, my father’s friend, who turned against the Ravazzanis to help that miserable piece of shit.”

“I would never betray you,” Mommo choked out.

“Cazzata. You did—and the man in my crew, the one D’Agostino was blackmailing, confirmed it.”

Mommo tried to look at Borghese. “Let us settle this amongst ourselves. Let Ravazzani and I speak privately.”

“No,” I snapped, then leaned to whisper in Mommo’s ear. “Remember when you advised me not to let a woman make me weak?”


“But you let your wife make you weak, Mommo. She spends more than you make, doesn’t she? It’s never enough and you don’t have the balls to tell her no. So you decided to join with D’Agostino to steal from me, kidnapping my woman to distract me. Allora, does that sound like something a strong man would do?”

“You are a fool,” Mommo hissed. “Fucking that whore in your father’s house.”

“That is the difference between us, you miserable pig. My woman doesn’t make me weak. She makes me stronger, so strong I am willing to slit your throat right here in front of all these men.”

I jerked my arm and sliced through his throat, making certain to cut both carotid arteries. Dark red spurted out all over my hands and the table, a fountain of death, but no one moved as Mommo slumped forward. No one came to try and save him. They knew better.

Blood pooled onto the floor as I put my cane back together. Mommo’s gasps grew fainter as I returned to my seat. By the time I sat down, Mommo was dead.

Borghese’s eyes were big and round. “Ravazzani, you can’t—”

“Mommo and D’Agostino were working together, which means Mommo knew of the attempt on my life. That makes us enemies. And let me say this now, any other man who betrays me will be dealt with in a similar manner.”

The room was silent, except for the dripping of blood onto the old stone. Clearing my throat, I said, “I have one more matter for discussion, then I must return to Siderno.”

“You are not staying for the rest?” Borghese asked.

“No. However, I have something to tell all of you.” I forced myself to relax. “My son, Giulio, is gay.”

Disbelief stared back at me from every angle. Some of the expressions quickly turned to pity, because they knew what my revelation meant.

I continued, “He has chosen to leave, to live a life outside of our world. Though I continue to love him very much, he is no longer my heir, and has nothing to do with my family or our business. I ask that you all let him go freely, safely, to build a life he can be proud of.”

The men shifted uncomfortably. “Sì, sì,” one mumbled, while another said, “Certo.” Round and round it went, with every man agreeing to let my son live free of the ’Ndrangheta.

Borghese came to his feet and addressed the room. “I think we can all agree that times are changing. No one at this table should cast a stone unless they can be certain their house is not made of glass, eh? And besides, the business is what really matters.”

“The money is what really matters,” someone said, and chuckles erupted around the room.

I stood and pulled on my cuffs to straighten them. “I vow here, in front of all of you, that any gay members of your families are irrelevant to me. As Borghese said, what matters is business.”

Without waiting another second, I strode out of the meeting room, Marco right behind me. The monks had a collection box near the front door, so I took out my wallet and removed all the cash I had, like seven or eight thousand Euros. I shoved it all in the collection box, then walked out and got in my car.

It was time to go home.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode