Trouble in the Rocchetti Home
Set 2 years after The Rocchetti Queen epilogue
A flash of dark gold was the only warning I had of my son’s arrival before he dove under the closest piece of furniture, disappearing into the shadows and dust. His soft little giggles quietened into heavy breathing as he tried to hide his position.
“Enzo,” I mused, leaning back in my chair. “Do you want to tell me who you’re hiding from?”
Silence, then, “Enzo’s not here.”
My grin widened. “My son, you have to become a better liar.”
His head stuck out from beneath the desk, already the dark golden strands of his hair dampened with soot and cobwebs. Two near-black Rocchetti eyes peered at me, both of them filled with cheekiness. Sophia believed our son was chaos-bound, that he was cursed by the God or something to be trouble.
Now at seven years old, Enzo’s two favourite activities included picking on his sisters and getting kicked out of class. Sophia and I had been called down to the school many times to wrangle our wild son. Though, the school preferred it when Sophia answered the phone.
Apparently, I made them jumpy.
The thought made me nearly laugh but my son kept me from doing so. It was serious dad time, not fun dad time.
“Are you hiding from your sisters?” I asked.
Enzo shook his head. “Nooo.”
“No?” I grinned. “Your mother?”
He shook his head.
“Ah, then who–?”
The door whipped open and my eldest son strode into the room. Twelve years old and on the brink of becoming a wiseguy, Dante was quickly growing into the man and Rocchetti he was destined to be. Whereas my youngest son carried some of his mother’s lightness, her good humor and her charm, my oldest son did not.
His seriousness showed now when his eyes immediately cut to where Enzo was hiding.
“Dante,” I said, catching his attention. “What’s the matter?”
“Enzo broke my bed,” he said matter-of-factly. “I told him not to jump on it, but he did anyway.”
That sounded like my youngest son. “Are you certain it was him?”
Dante looked to me. “It wasn’t Mom, and it wasn’t Caterina. Pia is not heavy enough to break it. Unless it was you, it could have only been Enzo.”
“Watch your tone,” I told him. “Let’s go and look at this bed.”
Dante led the way, but he wasn’t fooled. His eyes kept skidding back to the study, like he could see Enzo still hiding beneath the cabinet. It didn’t help that Enzo giggled as I closed the door–the same giggle of a mischievous little goblin who thought they had gotten away with the chaos they had wrought.
That’s what Sophia said his laugh sounded like anyway.
Dante’s room wasn’t empty. My nephew, Adriano, and oldest daughter both stood at the end of the bed, leaning over the wreckage. The bedframe had split in two, now leaning awkwardly and tipping the mattress. Little footprints stained the white bedsheet.
I almost sighed. If Enzo was going to commit crimes, he needed to cover his tracks a little better.
Caterina looked to me as soon as I entered, dark eyes inquisitive. “I heard a loud crack,” she explained. “I came to see what happened.”
I hadn’t been too impressed when the midwife had asked what to name our daughter and my wife had said Caterina. It had annoyed me that Catherine still held such a grip on my wife–but the universe, in all its glory, had made Caterina my twin. She was the only one of my children with dark hair and olive skin–making her look more like a Rocchetti than the rest of them.
It was what Catherine deserved, having her namesake look just like the family she had tried to destroy.
And it wasn’t like Sophia didn’t have the same grip on Catherine. Sophie Dupont, firstborn of Catherine and that fucking FBI Agent, was proof enough of that.
My wife had denied it plenty of times, but I knew the Padovino sisters were too intwined together to ever truly separate. They might hate each other but blood and love linked them together. I knew the connection would be needed again in time–only a fool would believe the FBI was done with the Outfit.
Adriano nodded in agreement. “I saw Enzo bolting from the room.” He glanced briefly at me, trying to gauge my reaction, before turning back to the wreckage. Adriano wasn’t naturally uncertain, but he had never been sure about his position in the family. Especially his position with his Don, and the man who killed his brother.
Dante looked to me. “It was him.” He said. “After I specifically told him not to.”
What teenage boy said specifically? I was certain I didn’t even know what that word was until I was 30. Or until I met Sophia. It did sound like a word she would use.
I patted Dante’s shoulder. “We will get you a new bed. Let me speak to Enzo.”
“I want to talk to him,” he growled.
“Discipline is not up to you,” I reminded him sternly. “Your mother and I decide on punishments.”
Dante was the oldest child so maybe by default he assumed the role of third parent. Whatever the reason, Dante believing it was his right to discipline his younger siblings had proved to be a problem every and now then. Sophia said it was because his natural disposition was to be in charge.
I disagreed. My son was preparing to become the Don of the Chicago Outfit and his training started in the home, especially when it came to controlling his rambunctious younger brother.
Dante’s natural ability to lead wasn’t all bad. He took Cat to the bookstore and helped her set up her desk, he made soup for Pia when she was sick and always included Enzo when he was with his friends.
But he was not Don yet. Not for a few more years.
“Fine.” Dante relented like he had a choice, a muscle in his jaw twitching at the wave of a white flag. The boy’s pride would get him into trouble one day. Especially with women. Or woman. There was only one girl who Dante had been destined for since day one.
Sophia often expressed concern over the betrothal. Especially as offers for our other children came in. But I told her not to worry. Dante would take good care of the Di Traglia girl and the girl, herself, was infatuated with Dante. Hopefully that childhood crush developed into adult fondness instead of bitterness.
The Rocchetti and Di Traglia alliance was one of the most anticipated events on the calendar. Since Aurelia di Traglia had taken her first breath of air, the countdown to the big day had begun.
If it broke…the entire Outfit would come apart at the seams. But if it was successful? Then the Chicago Outfit would be the strongest it had ever been. The dynasty would remain golden and glorious.
I gave Dante another clap on the shoulder before leaving.
I wasn’t surprised when I found Enzo curled up on his mother’s lap. He knew he was in trouble and had gone to the one person who would defend him.
Whenever I laughed at Sophia’s softness towards the boys, she replied that I was just as bad with the girls. She was right. However, Caterina and Pia were angels; my sons wanted to cause trouble.
Sophia spotted me immediately as I entered and whispered something to Enzo. He giggled and buried himself further into her lap.
“What’s going on here?” I asked leaning against the doorframe.
“My son claims he has been wrongly accused,” she mused, eyes gleaming.
We may have our biases but neither of us were stupid. If Enzo was accused of something, chances were, he did it.
“I didn’t do it, Mommy,” he said, voice muffled.
Sophia hushed him and asked me, “What’s the crime?”
“Dante’s bed. It’s been split in two.” I approached the pair and sat down. Caprice, my wife’s Italian greyhound, immediately leaped up onto my lap. She was less affectionate than Polpetto had been but had always liked me. “He claims Enzo did it.”
“Nuh-uh.” Enzo said.
Sophia smiled. “The proof?”
I leaned closer to my son so he could hear me. “The small little footprints on the mattress match Enzo’s small little feet.”
He peaked up at me, dark eyes sparkling in mischief. “It was Pia.”
“Is that right?”
“That’s quite impossible, my love,” Sophia said. “Your sister is over at the Di Traglia’s house. How could she have broken it from here?”
Enzo sighed dramatically. “I did it!”
Half of the fun for Enzo was getting caught. He liked the trickery and lying, but he also liked confessing. It was a habit Sophia and I were trying to squeeze out of him–you couldn’t have a Made Man who enjoyed getting caught.
I patted his head. “Alright. Let’s go apologise to your brother and then you can sleep with Pia. Dante is having your bed until he gets a new one.”
Enzo grinned. “Pia?”
They might enjoy each other’s company for a few nights, but eventually they would grate on each other’s nerves. Caterina was my only patient child–I had never seen her snap, growl or grow sick of someone. If she was upset, she removed herself quietly and went to calm down.
Sophia and I had no idea where she had learnt that.
Enzo scrambled off his mother’s lap and darted away, his laughter carrying through the house.
When he was gone, I stretched an arm over the back of Sophia, bringing her closer to me. She always felt so cool to the touch, like the gold she emulated. But she warmed in my arms, melting like puddy.
“Damn kids,” I murmured into her hair, breathing in the sweet scent of vanilla.
I felt rather than heard her giggle. “Damn kids,” she agreed.
“What are we going to do with them?”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth there was a loud crash upstairs. Seconds later, I heard Caterina call, “Dad? You might want to come up here.”
I grumbled, but my amusement stopped it from sounding scary.
Sophia leaned up and pressed her lips to mine, the softness of them distracting me from the chaos upstairs. “Go and deal with your children and then come back to me,” she murmured.
“How did I let you convince me to have so many?”
That made her grin. “Stretching the truth, my love?”
Before I could reply there was another loud bang upstairs. This one was followed by Dante yelling something at Enzo. If Dante was raising his voice, then nothing good was about to happen.
“Oh my,” Sophia said. “That doesn’t sound good.”
I sighed. “Rocchettis. What are you going to do with them?”
Copyright © Bree Porter