The Reluctant Mother

She doesn’t want to be a mother!


Note: This sample is pre-publication and is subject to change.

Abruzzo, Italy

The Abruzzo is a place in the world that falls under the mantle of “outstanding natural beauty”. Nestled in the Apennines on the Adriatic coast, it is one of those areas of Italy with villages and farms sitting atop seemingly inaccessible peaks. Winding roads and hidden valleys litter it. In essence, the perfect location for a secret meeting.

Midway between the villages of Scanno and Villalago, there is a small restaurant back from the main road, sitting on the side of the small lake, which takes its name from the village of Scanno. Shortly after the death of Rosa Matriacarto, the restaurant was full of men smoking Havana cigars and talking in low voices. Dirty plates littered the white cloth. Half-empty bottles of limoncello added colour to the scene. Plumes billowed from their cigars, creating a smoke screen, which would hide them from The Law if any arrived.

‘Do we have any idea who?’ Savio asked.

Two years before, he’d been on the lowest rung of the clan management ladder in Lago Patria. He would have considered himself out of his depth in the afternoon’s exalted company if the old bosses had been present. They were not. After the Secret Service sting operation, they were sitting in La Casa awaiting trial, or more probably, hoping they would get a trial. The Secret Service was not known for its adherence to the rights of Habeas Corpus.

Savio looked around the room at the sea of bemused faces. There was not a recognizable boss among them. The Secret Service had culled all the senior clan members. Although not a scholar of the ancient world, Savio recognised the similarity with the story where the hero, Hercules, killed the many-headed beast, The Hydrocarbon, or something similar. Many heads had sprouted to replace those lost, but as he looked around at the new Hydrocarbon heads in the restaurant, he did not think Hercules would have quaked in his leather-thonged sandals at the sight of them.

‘Common theory. It was the guy who ran the cheese shop, Guido.’

‘I heard Guido’s dead. Someone blew his brains out above Bar Revolution.’

‘Yeah, that rumour has been scotched by one of the guards in La Casa who saw him being transported away from the prison.’

‘What do we know about the man? Where does he come from?’ asked one of the men gathered around the table, who Savio didn’t recognise.

‘He was a mozzarella maker. Ratted on his friend, the guy from the Moschin, Nico Di Cuma. He’s definitely gone. Someone blew his brains out in Lucrino. There’s no trace of this cheese maker. All our sources have come up blank. It’s as though he never existed.’

‘Scortese’s old crew, are they back in the fold now?’

‘No, they’re in hiding. Seems they’re expecting reprisals because they did nothing to avenge the death of their capo.’

‘What about Rosa’s daughter? Was she involved?’ Savio asked the question they all wanted to be answered. ‘I heard that Nico was giving her one, which is why he was killed. Orders of Rosa before someone clipped her in the prison.’

‘Yea, I heard that too.’

‘So, who gave Rosa to the Secret Service?’

Again, there was a communal shrug around the table. No one knew who had betrayed the padrona.

‘What about the daughter? She’s the one who benefits. Did she do it?’ Savio asked. Once again, the question was met with silence.

‘It would be difficult to see how. She’s very young. True, she runs a classy restaurant, but that was bought with the proceeds of an inheritance from some distant relation. Stateside, I heard.’

‘Can we find out?’ Savio persisted.

‘It’s a little complicated, considering no one knows who to trust.’

‘There must be someone we can trust.’

Savio looked at the men around the table. None of them would trust each other, never mind someone from outside the organisation. During the cull, brothers had died, and friends had died. They would need someone neutral if it was going to stand any chance of success. He thought he knew someone who’d never really made it in any of the clans and could be considered neutral.

‘I have someone who could act as a go-between until we’re back on our feet,’ he said.

‘Who?’ asked simultaneously.

‘Name’s Beni Di Cuma. Never ranked, so he’s as neutral as they come.’

‘Is he one of yours?’

‘No. He’s the brother of that mercenary who had his brains blown all over the station bar in Lucrino.’

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