mafiosa - Page 14


When my father pulled back from me, and the cold air rushed into the space between us, drying icy tears on our cheeks, everyone else was crying too, and Luca Falcone was gone.

That was the greatest gift he could have given me. The willingness to walk away. And I knew, had I been faced with the same dilemma, I would have failed.

CHAPTER NINE

WARNING

‘Who told you?’ I was trying very hard to keep my voice under control, conscious of the prison guard hovering nearby.

My father patted the empty seat beside him. ‘Can you sit down and we can talk about this properly?’

I kept my arms folded across my chest, my feet planted in the grass in front of the granite slab. ‘Who told you?’ I repeated.

He tilted his chin so he could see my whole face, the entirety of my disgust. His eyes were impossibly large from this angle. ‘Ursula wrote to me,’ he admitted. ‘She was afraid you had forgotten to tell me about it.’

‘If I wanted you here, I would have told you.’

‘I know.’ He had knitted his hands together on his lap, and was digging his fingernails into his knuckles.

‘And yet you came. You came and you made a scene out of it.’

‘She was my wife,’ he said, as if I needed to be reminded. ‘I love her and I grieve her. And you are my daughter, and I have every right to be here with you.’

‘No,’ I said, leaning closer and dropping my voice to barely more than a whisper. ‘I’m the daughter of Michael Gracewell, and Michael Gracewell is gone. I am not your daughter, Vince.’

My father jerked backwards. ‘Don’t act like this, Sophie. This isn’t like you.’

‘You don’t know me,’ I snapped. ‘And evidently, I don’t know you. All I know is a collection of lies you told me, and all those horrible things you did. All those lives you took!’

‘Keep your voice down!’ Colour rose to his cheeks; his eyes, just like mine, grew dark with warning. ‘Are you trying to get me locked up for the rest of my life?’

I could have punched him. Right then, I could have punched him, but I didn’t because some stupid, vulnerable, childish part of me was still seeing my dad in front of me. The one who used to read me Dr. Seuss before bed, the one who would lift me on to his shoulders and spin me around when I needed cheering up. ‘Do you realize just how much you’ve hurt me? How much you’ve betrayed me?’

He slumped in his seat, the black suit seeming to swallow him up. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘I understand what I’ve done. What I’ve lost.’

No. Not this conversation. I was already teetering on the verge of tears, every last emotion from the day lining up inside me, pressing tiny hands against my heart. I stood back, widening the gap between us. ‘Where’s Jack?’

He looked up at me, something sparking in his gaze. He knew. He knew.

‘Do not lie to me one more time.’

He raised his chin, defiance meeting my own. ‘Sophie—’

‘He killed Mom.’

‘I know what happened, Sophie.’

‘He’s the reason she’s dead!’

He flicked a nervous glance towards the prison guard.

‘I know what happened, Sophie. Your uncle—’

I bent at the waist, bringing my face close to his. ‘You weren’t there!’ I hissed. ‘You don’t know. You have no idea. Now tell me where he is so he can pay for what he did!’

And then I saw it. A smoothening of his brow, his eyes dulling, his lips resetting into a thin line. Commander mode. Here was Vince Marino, the skilled assassin. Finally. He was showing himself to me. He was showing me his steeliness, because he had no intention of ratting his brother out.

‘Sophie,’ he said, emotionless now. Calm when he should have been immersed in rage, like I was. ‘Where have you been staying? I know you haven’t been at home.’

‘How do you know that?’ I challenged. ‘Because your scumbag family killed Mom and then came back for her car to burn it out at the entrance to Felice’s driveway?’

Something flickered across his face – a chink in his armour. ‘So you are at the Falcones’,’ he said, distaste curling his lip.

‘I’m not at the Falcones’,’ I returned evenly. ‘I am a Falcone.’

He dropped his head into his hands. I watched him fold over on himself, and tried to quench the tiny flame of anxiety that sprang up at the sight of his anguish. ‘Oh, Sophie,’ he said, raising his head and dragging his palms along his cheeks. ‘What have you done?’

‘Now, there’s the question of the hour. I’ll tell you my answer if you tell me yours.’

‘They’re going to hurt you,’ he said, leaning towards me. ‘Don’t you understand that, Soph? They’re going to hurt you.’

‘They can’t hurt me as much as the Marinos already have.’

‘Why?’ he asked, crestfallen. His voice was weak, his commander facade seeping away like water. This was my father, the man I knew. ‘Why did you go to them?’

I dropped my shoulders, my anger petering into resignation. ‘Where else would I have gone?’

His silence was answer enough.

Nowhere. There was nowhere else to go.

A furtive glance over my shoulder showed me the prison guard was more interested in his phone than in us. Millie was waiting by the car. Everyone else had gone home.