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Manhattan's Song

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Birmingham’s natural state was grey, dim, and melancholic. It hadn’t been long since the Changretta’s had shot John Shelby cold. Their kill count was now at two, the first one unintentional.

‘Remember Angel Changretta.’

‘Remember Vicente Changretta.’

They killed his family. They murdered his brother in cold blood and possibly tortured his father before they took him too. Luca Changretta was filled with rage. But a call early that morning from a member of the Peaky Blinders gave him information that made him see red all over again.

“Mr. Changretta, the Peaky Blinders know the location of your mother and sisters, they will not hesitate to go overseas and murder them. Mr. Shelby will be at Shelby Company Limited with a response at noon tomorrow.” The caller hung up then, giving no chance for an exchange of words, but Luca didn’t have much to say as he clenched his fists, setting the telephone back done on the receiver. He bit down hard on his teeth trying to compose himself. The Cosa Nostra would keep his family safe in Manhattan but the thought of Tommy Shelby and his family knowing where his mother and sisters lived shook him up. There was no way in hell that he would let it get this far. He would not let the Peaky Blinders step on American soil.

Luca began to pace his hotel room. It was guarded by the men Don Spinietta had let him bring along to complete the vendetta. Don Cristofano Spinietta was completely on Luca’s side, if he didn’t have to deal with the Cubans in Manhattan then he would have been right there with Luca to take down the Shelby clan. But Luca was here without him, with two of his cousins and a handful of soldiers left after chaos had ensued when they were meant to kill Michael in his hospital bed. He couldn’t successfully attack anyone at this point for at least another week. The only way to go into any combat was with hired soldiers and that wasn’t Luca’s style or anyone in the Sicilian Mafia.

Luca thought to himself for hours locked up in his hotel room. If he went to Shelby Company Limited tomorrow it could mean his death. But it was too easy and he had spoken to Tommy long enough now to know he wasn’t a man to take the easy path. Luca settled down into a chair a sigh escaping his mouth. He convinced himself that going to Shelby Company Limited tomorrow was his best bet to keep his mother and sisters safe. He truly hoped it was.


Luca was armed, one gun strapped to his left side and another on his right, concealed by his tailored coat. He had looked over all his documents on the Shelby family before he had arrived. He wasn’t planning to see Tommy Shelby unprepared. He walked into the building a stoic look on his face, there was a confident swagger in his step. What was left of his men were waiting for him outside ready to drop some kind of bomb if Luca didn’t return.

Tommy was already in the room waiting for him. Tommy was sitting at the end of the long table in a meeting room, he was lounging lazily in the chair as if his brother hadn’t just almost died a few days ago. He had a cigarette in his fingers, he placed it to his mouth as Luca moved to sit down at the end of the table. He took a long drag before he began to speak to Luca.

“Smart man,” Tommy Shelby started. There was arrogance in his tone and Luca wanted to lunge himself from the table to punch the smug look off of Tommy’s face. But he didn’t, Luca placed a toothpick between his teeth and let Tommy continue. “It’s five for two now and I don’t think you’d want to make it six, am I right?”

“What makes you so confident?” Luca chuckled. It was strange sound in the atmosphere. “You wouldn’t have called me here otherwise” Luca took the toothpick away from his lips and looked at Tommy carefully. Luca smirked as he realized what Tommy wanted, it was almost too good to be true. Thoughts began to pile up in Luca’s head, trying to think of the best outcome for himself and his family. “What do you want, Mr. Shelby?”

“An alliance,” Tommy tapped his cigarette against the ashtray and leaned into the table. His hands clasped together as if he were now planning to start the meeting officially.

“I’m asking you what do you want?” Luca’s hand was in front of him his fingertips touching each other and pointing to the ceiling as he waved it back and forth. Luca had no patience for Tommy’s vague answers.

“A blood alliance, marriage” Tommy stood up from his chair and moved to the corner of the room to pour himself a glass of whiskey. He offered Luca some, but Luca declined with the slight nod of his head. “We both know we can’t afford to lose any more family. You have your affairs in New York and I have mine here. I propose marriage.” Luca exposed a crooked smile as he placed his toothpick back between his teeth.

“You expect me to give you my baby sister.” It sounded like a joke to Luca, he couldn’t take him seriously. “I respect her too much to give her to a man who already has a child and you have a woman don’t you? The one you killed my brother over.” Luca was unamused as his expression became hostile again. Luca shook his head, he couldn’t believe Tommy had the audacity to ask for his sister.

“Michael is unmarried and would be safer for her.” Tommy’s expression was as blank as always, he wasn’t showing all his cards. Luca knew that for sure, he had done all the research.

“Why don’t you give me your sister?” Luca had only said it to mock him, but Tommy returned with seriousness. Luca couldn’t believe it, but it really seemed like the only way out before someone else died, the next one could be him, right there in the meeting room in Shelby Company Limited.

“Ada would never agree to it. I’m sure you know she has a child too” Tommy looked away from Luca and stared at the wall.

“You have another sister, Mr. Shelby” Luca had only mentioned it to bother him and Tommy’s reaction was what he wanted. Tommy turned his head away from the wall quickly, looking sternly at Luca.

“No, that’s not happening” Luca had struck a chord in Tommy.

“I’m not here to play games.” Luca took the toothpick he had been holding with his teeth out of his mouth to give Tommy a menacing look, the look that meant ‘business’. Tommy was quiet for several minutes as he paced his end of the room, his thumb rubbing his chin as an annoyed expression crossed his face.

“Fine. But– But I can’t give you an answer right now. You have to meet her first. You might not like her.” Tommy was waving his finger in the air but it didn’t seem to be directed at Luca. Luca smirked in response. “Tomorrow, same time, Mr. Changretta.” Tommy walked the length of the room to the door, leaving Luca alone to his thoughts. Luca had no idea what he had just gotten himself into.


Luca had been looking at the Shelby files for hours. He had no idea if he had made the right choice. He knew that a marriage between the Changretta’s and Shelby’s would create peace, but marriage was important to any Italian man. Was he going to live a miserable life if he married the youngest Shelby girl or would she be miserable with him? He sighed audibly at the small table in his hotel room. He was looking at her file. It was as empty as her younger brother’s, no birth record, no hospital record, no church record, a short education and a few photographs and that was it. It was as if she was a ghost, never truly existing always shielded by the rest of the Shelby’s. Luca looked at the photographs. One was a government-issued photograph, she looked about ten years old. She was visibly upset, her wavy hair reached past her shoulders, and though the photograph was sepia-toned Luca could tell that she had the same shade of frightening blue eyes as her brother Tommy. The other photographs were taken by hired men and they were difficult to come by. One of them was of her and her sister Ada leaving a shop, her hair was much longer reaching the middle of her back. She was about the same height as her sister, but it was hard to tell as they were both wearing heeled shoes. The last photo was of her in a motor car with her cousin Michael, she was upset in the photo as well. He couldn’t fully grasp her features even with the photographs in front of them. None of them were directly on her face.

Luca leaned his head back, he had to call Don Spinietta and his mother. He couldn’t continue on this path of marriage until he discussed it with the Don, and he already knew his mother would be distraught with this new information.

Don Spinietta was unsure of the offer at the beginning but if Luca was to marry the girl and bring her to Manhattan as soon as possible it would all be in their favour. Luca was needed in Manhattan, he knew that and his Don had been gracious enough to let him carry out the vendetta while he was a wanted man in America. His name had already been cleared by the Don’s consigliere while he was in Birmingham, and they were just waiting for his return. There would be no more bank robberies in his future, he was the underboss now after all. Spinietta gave his blessing on the marriage as long as they were to marry in Manhattan for the five families to witness. Luca had made up his mind now. He was going to marry that girl, he was going to keep his mother and sisters alive, and marry this ghost girl.

Audrey had been hysterical over the phone. She had asked Luca a million times over in the short period they were on the phone if he had gone mad. Luca’s mother hated the idea of her firstborn son marrying the sister of the men who killed her precious son, Angel, and her beloved husband, Vicente. It took awhile for her to calm down over the phone but when she did, she asked him if he was sure. It was he who was going to have to live the rest of his days with a woman he did not even know. She tried all she could to change his mind, to settle the vendetta in another way, but Luca was sure. He was sure that this would be the best way to stay alive, to keep his mother and sister safe and possibly even gain a business alliance.

Luca could hear the sadness in his mother’s voice but she had given in. She knew that with Vicente gone, Luca was head of the family. She thought she had raised Luca the best she could, so she rationalized herself to believe that this would not end badly.


Luca was unprepared the next day. He had no idea was he was getting himself into, but he wouldn’t dare show it. His toothpick was in his mouth, he was well dressed, his hair swept back underneath a hat and he kept his expression unreadable. As he walked to the same meeting room he had met Tommy in the day before, he could see the group assembled in the room as the windows had their blinds drawn up. He paused for a second, waiting for his two men to catch up with him. He was vastly outnumbered, he wouldn’t win a fight if it came down to it. Luca looked at the faces in the room before he entered. Tommy was seated at the end again with Arthur at his side, on the other side where Luca had expected John to sit at if he were still alive sat the girl in question. Her long hair cascading her face, she was speaking to Tommy, her body posture screamed that she was incredibly uncomfortable. Luca opened the door to the room, scanning it with his eyes. There was anger in Arthur and Polly’s eyes. The girl hadn’t even turned to see him, she was still speaking to Tommy in a hushed tone before Tommy told her to be quiet. Luca had expected that the girl was never included in the family business, completely hidden from all the crime her family committed. But Luca still didn’t understand why they kept her so guarded. Ada was already integrated into the business and made her regular visits to Shelby Company Limited. Even Finn, after John’s death, had been given a more prominent role in the family business, but the girl she was still hidden away. But why, why was she hidden?

Luca’s men took a comfortable stance behind him as Luca adjusted himself in the chair. Luca cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention, but Tommy was first to speak. The girl hadn’t even tried to look at Luca, she stared down at the table, her hair hiding her face.

“This meeting has been called to negotiate peace between the Changretta family and ours.” Tommy started as he stood up from his chair startling his sister next to him with his sudden movement. Mr. Changretta and I have proposed a marriage between our families. As John once did for us with the Lee family.” Almost all the Shelby’s turned to look at Luca except for the youngest sister as Tommy mentioned John’s name. “Mr. Changretta has offered his youngest sister, but she is far too young for any of us to marry.” Tommy looked at Michael and then at Finn who looked like he had been caught in a compromising position. “So, instead I’ve offered Rose to Mr. Changretta.” A collective gasp sounded in the room as if they already knew Tommy’s word was final.

“Are you fuckin’ mad, man?” Arthur got up first as he shouted at Tom while grabbing him by the lapel of his suit dangerously.

“Thomas, what in God’s name do you think you’re doing?” Polly had shouted at him from her seat, disgust on her face.

Ada had already gotten up to stand behind her youngest sister, Rose. Ada had begun to whisper things into her ear. But all Luca did was rub his thumb against his jaw and fix the position he sat in while he watched the entire room go into chaos. Even the youngest brother, Finn was pointing fingers around the room with an angry expression on his face. They truly hated the idea of Rose being married off to an American Mafioso. But all Luca could look at in the end was Tommy’s youngest sister, Rose Shelby; Who was sheltered from the world, too innocent for her family, too pretty, maybe even too frail. He watched her expression cautiously, he watched how her frame moved.

Once Tommy had managed to get everyone settled down again and in their seats, Rose Shelby finally spoke out loud. Her speech was foreign to Luca. Rose directed her words directly to Tommy. Luca expected she was speaking in her language, the one the gypsies spoke. Whatever she had told Tommy had made him angry, as he got close to her face and spoke back to her with a poison she hadn’t given him. Luca recognized John’s name in Tommy’s words but that was it. Polly put her head in her hands as the rest of the family sat around the table uncomfortably. Tommy had shut them all up with whatever he had said but Rose was still looking at him, pleading with her brother silently. For a split second, Luca thought about calling off the truce but he had begun to play out in his head how it would all look to them. Would they be insulted? Would they kill him then? He instead waited for Tommy to speak.

“Where would you want the wedding to be?” Tommy asked bluntly. Luca had been ten steps behind.

“Manhattan,” Luca answered casually, keeping himself composed. He discarded of his toothpick and leaned into the table, his jeweled fingers clasping together. “Members of the five families have to be present to acknowledge any truce.”

“Manhattan it is.”


Rose Shelby was sitting in front of the fireplace in Polly’s home. Ada and Polly were with her making tea and figuring out what to say to her after everything that happened at the company earlier that day. Rose could hear her aunt talking about curses and the devil. She had always mentioned it when something was going wrong, and maybe she was cursed, maybe the whole lot of them were. As the silence consumed Rose, she felt like running away was her only solution, but she was afraid of that idea more than marrying a man she did not know, let alone the man behind John’s murder. At least she knew her brother had done it for her, and she would not be to blame if anything went wrong. But the feeling in her stomach was taking over her, she didn’t know what to do, and she didn’t know why this was all happening to her.

Rose held her hands tightly in her lap, all the frustration making her nauseous. Without any words, she got up abruptly and left the room. She walked out the front door, slamming it as she left. She was being dramatic, but she wanted her point to come across clearly. She was angry and afraid. She knew she wasn’t allowed to walk outside alone, especially because of the last time she had done so, but she wasn’t going to wait for Polly and Ada to give her more reasons to be angry with Tommy. She walked for a long time until she reached Arthur’s house. Linda gave her a hug at the door but she let her walk to her bedroom without any questions. She and Finn had been living with Arthur since he had moved into the country house just outside of Small Heath. Rose liked the atmosphere and all the space for horses. But today she wasn’t going to pay the horses any attention. She went straight to bed, shedding tears as she laid her head on her pillow.


Rose woke from a dream, as the stars glittered out her window. She rubbed the sleep from her face. The skin around her eyes was swollen from all the crying she’d done earlier. She moved to the bathroom to wash her face before she quietly went down the stairs. She had expected that Billy was already fast asleep in his crib, Linda would probably be in bed too. She had no clue where Finn could be at this hour, but she hoped Arthur would be in his study.

There was no sound in her steps as she moved down the stairs. She wanted tea, but she didn’t have the patience to make any. She poured milk into a teacup and drank it with more speed than necessary. The tears were threatening to fall again. But she really wanted to be brave.

Tommy had even told her at the meeting that they needed to do this if the rest of their family was going to survive, John’s death was already too much for them. She knew Tommy would never sell her off, not if there wasn’t a good enough reason. But she knew how important this was to the family, and she had never contributed to the company before. ‘I’m not being sold off, I’m not.’ She was trying to convince herself. She put her empty teacup on the kitchen counter and gripped the edge the sink with her hands. She shut her eyes tightly as if it would help force out any courage she was hiding away. As she gave up she made her way towards Arthur’s study hoping he would be there.

She opened the door peaking inside to see if he was seated at his desk. He wasn’t, he was standing by the long window, a glass filled with amber liquid in his hand. He wasn’t meant to be drinking, Linda was trying to get him off of it.

“Arthur?” She made her presence known. Arthur turned to look at her. He waved for her to come closer. She walked to him, as he pulled Rose in for an embrace.

“It’s okay. Everything will be okay.” She didn’t have to say anything to Arthur. He always knew what she was thinking. Rose couldn’t hold it in anymore. She cried into Arthur’s shirt as he told her that everything would be fine. Arthur had practically raised her and Finn, and although she had always said he was her brother, she thought of him as her father figure too. He had saved her so many times. She had really thought she would be living with Arthur until she felt sure enough of herself to finally have someone to marry. But here she was, crying in Arthur’s reassuring arms, knowing she would be leaving soon, taken by a Sicilian mafioso to Manhattan, New York.

“Hey, listen Rose.” He moved her away with his hands to her shoulders. He held on to her firmly, looking straight at her. His cup of whiskey balanced between his fingers against Rose’s shoulder. “It’s gonna be hard for you, and I can’t tell you to disobey Tommy. But you have to try for the family. You heard what Tommy said today and the Italians won’t harm ya’ if you’re Changretta’s wife. It might be safe for you, and for us if you go with him, as much as I hate sayin' it out loud.” Arthur put his glass on his desk, struggling to continue holding it. He moved to one corner of the room opening a cabinet, and Rose watched as he did so. He was turning the dial of a safe he had, it was rather large, and Rose had never known it to be there.

Arthur pulled two wads of British pound notes out of the safe and locked it up again.

Arthur walked back to Rose and handed her the money. Rose took it and stared at Arthur confused. “If anything ever goes wrong, you use the money, ok? You get yourself on a ship and you come straight home.” Arthur patted her cheek gently, it was an attempt to lighten the mood as even more fear flooded her body. “Don’t tell anyone about it. You keep it hidden, don’t tell Tommy, and especially not Ada.” He knew how even when she was told to keep a secret she could never keep it from her sister. The situation was different this time, she wouldn’t make a sound about it.

Arthur made her go back to her room. She hadn’t slept long apparently, and Arthur told her tomorrow would be a long day for her. Was she leaving already? Rose felt dread in her stomach as she walked up the stairs in silence, her thoughts were unable to contain themselves. That night she dreamt of Luca Changretta and a loveless life she was now destined for.


Luca had all his belongings packed, it wasn’t much, he hadn’t planned on staying in Birmingham long. He had one of his men carry his suitcase as he checked out of the hotel. He was meant to meet the entire Shelby clan again that day at the Birmingham train station, at half-past one. He was ready to go home, he was tired of Birmingham.

Luca and his entourage stuck out like sore thumbs, many people made sure not to touch shoulders with them on the crowded train station. It didn’t take long for the Peaky Blinders to find them on the platform headed to Liverpool. Luca and Tommy met with a handshake and a nod of their heads. It was almost too peaceful to be true.

“You best take care of my sister. You really don’t want to know what will happen if someone harms her.” It wasn’t much of a threat, it was more of the empty words fathers gave when their daughters began to go out with men or that was just how Luca had taken it.

“Don’t expect so little of me” Luca smirked, his New York drawl could have enticed any woman, even Rose had perked up as she hid behind Arthur.

Arthur stepped forward handing one of Luca’s men Rose’s suitcase, it was just one suitcase. Luca had expected much more from a girl from a wealthy family. Arthur then turned to Rose and kissed her temple. He whispered to her in Romany, and she nodded at him, giving him one last hug in return. Then she began to hug the rest of her family. Moving from her Aunt Polly to Michael, then Finn, her Sister Ada and then Tommy last. The rims of her eyes were threatening tears but she hadn’t shed one yet. She whispered something to Tommy and then embraced him. He kissed the top of her head, and then spun her around by her shoulders to face Luca.

It was the first time Luca had looked at her properly. Her photograph he had obtained from her government files had pretty enough photos, but it definitely did not do her justice. She was a lot more beautiful then he had expected.

Rose wasn’t looking at him properly though, she was avoiding his gaze, but Luca took the opportunity to scan her body. She was wearing a loose-fitting blue dress that hung just below her knees. She had a forest green overcoat with a fur trim around the collar to catch the March breeze. Her hair was pushed back by a blue ribbon wrapped around her hairline. Luca caught his breath before he motioned for her to hold onto his arm.

“I’ll send you a call when we're in Manhattan.” Luca took one last look at Tommy standing in front of his family before he patted Rose’s hand placed between the crook of his elbow.

 

 

Chapter Text

The journey to Liverpool from Birmingham was quiet and uncomfortable for both Rose and Luca. Luca had asked her if she was okay with their choice of compartment on the train, she had only nodded not giving him her voice yet. The two hours it took to get to Liverpool she had spent twiddling her thumbs together or watching the scenery move quickly outside the window. She did her best not to cry in front of Luca, she wasn’t prepared to show that side of her to him. But Luca could tell she was holding it back, he pretended not to notice. Luca was a gentleman, all the same, not pestering her with unnecessary conversation, but still polite with her.

When they reached Liverpool, they went straight to the docks. They were crossing the ocean on the RMS Olympic. Luca had given a smartly dressed man his own ticket to board the ship and then he gave the man hers. Rose had never seen anything as extravagant as the Olympic. Luca’s entourage soon separated from the pair of them, as a porter took their luggage from them. Luca walked Rose to their room in the first class wing of the ship. The suite was exquisite and the first thing she thought about was exactly how much money Luca must have spent to have them stay there on their journey. She let go of Luca to inspect the entirety of the suite. It all seemed too grand. She walked into the bedroom and stopped right in her tracks. She stared at the queen sized bed, there was just one, her heart raced. Would they fit there together? She knew she would have to sleep with him eventually, but she wasn’t ready yet. Rose held back the lump in her throat as she tried her hardest not to panic.

“If it makes you more comfortable I’ll find somewhere else to sleep.” His voice was low, rich, and even soothing, Rose had not heard him enter the bedroom. It took Rose a second to compose herself, so she could finally use her voice again.

“It’s fine. I’m fine with it, don’t worry.” She gave Luca a soft smile, she couldn’t muster anything else under all the nerves. He nodded at her once before he exited the room without her.

Luca had left the room because he wasn’t expecting any sort of emotion from her. He thought his marriage would be serious and business-like. But he was profoundly attracted to her, even if she was a Shelby. He had told himself before he had even arrived in Birmingham that they would all die by his hand, but he couldn’t think of Rose in that way after everything that had happened. His marriage was going to be difficult, he knew it from the second he had jokingly proposed the idea. But now that he thought about spending his life with Rose, he wanted to make it bearable for her. But her smile… Her smile could make any man cry. He composed himself by taking some deep breaths, he couldn’t believe he had been caught off guard by a woman and a Shelby at that.

Luca washed his face in the bathroom in their suite. The bellhop was waiting at the door for further instructions. As Luca dried his face with a towel he walked out to ask the bellhop when dinner would be served in the first class dining hall. They had a few minutes to spare, so Luca went to see in what part of the suite Rose had made herself comfortable in. He found her in the sitting room, she was looking out the window intently at the vast ocean ahead of them. She had her hands on the liqueur bottles, her expression was blank when she noticed Luca enter the room.

He didn’t know what to say to make her feel better. But at least she wasn’t crying, he wouldn’t know what to do with himself then.

“Did you want to eat somethin’? Dinner’s startin’ soon” He met her eyes again, the startling shade of pale blue.

“Of course.”

The evening was quiet, they only spoke to each other when absolutely necessary. Luca was more stressed in the fact that they never knew what to say to each other, but also that he didn’t know what to do when she would slip out of bed in the dead of night and cry herself dry in the bathroom. Her sobbing was loud enough for him to hear and he could also hear her mention her brother's name… John.

For a split second, Luca sensed guilt, but it was soon gone when he would remember his younger brother and father. So, Luca would pretend to not notice her tears or how her eyes swelled in the morning. Three days had gone by of uncomfortable silence on the RMS Olympic. Rose had only left their suite for meals and nothing more. Luca could see she was getting more and more distressed as the days passed. It had even crossed his mind to bring her back home, but he couldn’t do it. He needed her in Manhattan, he wanted to try something with her. He had never been at a loss for words with a woman before and he was having a difficult time trying not to touch her skin. He wanted her and he was being selfish.

It was the fourth night on the ship, and Rose seemed lighter on her feet. She hadn’t sighed as much as she had the past few days after the sun had gone down.

As they both went to dinner, her hand wrapped around Luca’s arm and she smiled politely when people addressed Luca. She made conversation with a woman seated next to them at dinner. Luca had even heard her laugh, it was the sweetest sound.

It wasn’t until they were alone together in the sitting room of their suite where Luca could truly tell something had changed in Rose.

“So, Mr. Changretta.” Rose started.

“Luca, call me Luca” he interrupted. As he poured whiskey into a short glass cup.

“Alright, Luca, what exactly do you do in Manhattan?” It was a simple question, he thought she had already known the answer to the question. He smirked at her, as he adjusted the toothpick between his teeth and picked up the cup from the liqueur table.

“I do this and that,” Luca answered, he didn’t know if it would bother her or not if she knew that he was a mafioso involved in the Cosa Nostra crime families in New York. But, she was the sister of the Peaky Blinders, but he didn’t know anything about her or whether she knew much about what her brothers did.

“My brother’s— the Peaky Blinder’s— are making me marry a man who does this and that?” She smiled at him. Rose was amused at his answer.  “I’m sure you’re a gangster, like my brothers, but what else do you do?” Luca had her brother killed, she knew that much. He wanted to hear her speak again so he answered her question.

“I’m a member of a crime family in Manhattan.” He didn’t give her much emotion, it was a sign that he wasn’t ready to talk about this part of his life. The dangerous part, especially to the woman he was soon to make his wife. Besides, the women in his family and all the other crime families in New York did not include women in the business, the idea was that the business was for them and their families, there was no chance they would put the women in danger. Luca sighed softly as he spoke, it wasn’t agitated, it was content. “I own some property as well.”

Rose hummed in response, still amused by him. There was a twinkle in her eyes and a soft smile graced her face for the rest of the evening. When it was time for them to slip into bed, Luca stayed awake and noticed she had not left the bed that night to cry in the bathroom. As he turned his head over his shoulder to see her presence, he caught her staring at him, only the light of the moon shining through the windows gave any hint of it.

“What is it?” he asked her. The moment felt strangely intimate though they hadn’t even touched. She hushed him quietly and continued to look at him. Luca turned his body over to look at her too. His chest exposed slightly in the movement. Rose felt her cheeks burn as she looked away. They stared at each other for several minutes before Rose shut her eyes.

“Everything’s going to be okay” she lulled, as she fell asleep.  Luca continued to stare at her, he couldn’t tell if she was speaking to herself or to him. Either way, he had an appetite for her voice. Just any words were okay. He watched her sleep, wanting to touch her but he refrained. He went to sleep himself, waiting for the morning where he hoped she would speak to him again.


Rose woke the next day with new energy. She had showered and dressed and had greeted familiar faces as she walked with Luca to breakfast. She was done feeling sorry for herself. If she was meant to protect her family in this way, she knew she had to do it well.

She was going to marry Luca, it was practically set in stone, there was no use in complaining. Her family had grown to always be accommodating for her and now she had to do it for them. Luca wasn’t bad to look at either. She had taken the opportunity last night to look at him properly. She could see a rugged handsomeness in him and his broad shoulders, she would never get used to seeing. She had worked it all out in her head. She could make things work like John had done for Esme. Everything was going to be okay.


It was now their last day aboard the RMS Olympic, and Rose could see the New York skyline in the distance. She was nervous, she had never been far from home, but now she was going to live in Manhattan.

All their belongings had been packed and were waiting to reach the docks. But in the meantime Rose and Luca were strolling the decks of the ship, chatting about what Manhattan would be like.

“When we get to customs, they’re gonna ask you some questions,” Luca said, giving her hand a soft pat as it rested in the crook of his elbow. “They’ll ask you why you’re comin’ to America, and so on. I’ll answer for you, don’t worry too much about it.”

“Alright, what should I say if they ask me something anyway?”

“Just say that you’re my fiancé and that we're gettin’ married in Manhattan.” Luca stopped to stand against the railing as other people traveling on the Olympic stopped to watch the skyline.

“It doesn’t seem too hard.” She smiled up at him, their height difference so clear.

“We’ll be meetin’ my mother and sisters soon as well.” Luca changed the subject.

“They won’t like me, will they?” A soft frown appeared on Rose’s face. Luca moved his hand to caress her cheek with the back of his fingers. She looked like she was about to flinch, but moved into his touch as she realized what he was doing.

“Doesn’t matter if they do, ‘cause I like you.” Rose’s cheeks burned again for the second time at sea. This time Luca could see her reaction. He smirked slightly at her display of emotion. He had become so attracted to her, he didn’t care if his mother and sisters didn’t approve of her. He was going to see this marriage through.


Manhattan was much more extravagant than Birmingham and far more extravagant than what Rose had seen of London. She was in awe of all the skyscrapers and all the glamorous people who traversed the streets. She felt as if she were on a different planet as the motor car took Luca and Rose to Luca’s mother’s home. Luca’s mother, Audrey, lived in a suburban area, where row houses were in abundance. She lived in a four-story row house, with red bricks with black accents. There was even a crab apple tree outside on the sidewalk.

Rose’s nerves were heightened as Luca knocked on the door to his mother’s home. Their driver stood behind them with their luggage. A girl shorter then Rose opened the door so quickly, Rose flinched, holding onto her heart. The girl grabbed Luca quickly into a tight hug.

“How dare you be away so long! I thought you died.” She said angrily. She kissed Luca’s left cheek, then his right. Rose watched them confused, she thought that Luca was marrying her. The girl looked at Rose as she left Luca’s embrace. “You’re Rose.” She stated, giving Rose a smile. She then moved in to embrace Rose as well. Rose felt uncomfortable but embraced her back. She was taken aback as she moved into touch both her cheeks with her own. Rose watched her stand back in the doorway, her eyes wide in confusion.

“Yes, I am.” Rose had almost stuttered, but she did her best to stay composed. She could tell the girl thought her as a foreigner, and Rose didn’t want to look stupid. “Um, who are you?”

The girl quickly looked at Luca, a scowl on her face, as she punched him in the shoulder. Rose was shocked for a second before amusement took her features. “You didn’t tell your own fiancé about me?” Luca dusted his shoulders annoyed at the girl in the doorway.

“This is my sister, Bianca,” Luca told Rose. Realization hit Rose quickly, and she extended her hand out for her to shake.

“Oh, I’m sorry. It’s nice to meet you.” Rose countered, feeling like a fool. Rose pulled them both inside and told the driver to leave the luggage in the doorway. They stood in the foyer as Bianca spoke to them.

“Luca, Mamma has been a mess all week. Don’t say anything stupid. Oh! And Catarina is here too. Come,” Bianca ushered them out of the doorway. Luca took Rose’s hand in his for the first time, she felt a shiver down her spine, embarrassment on her cheeks. She didn’t want to give Luca’s mother another reason to hate her.

They moved around the house and made their way to the back where an older woman and pregnant one were sat at a small roundtable. Rose bit her bottom lip as she caught their gaze. She felt uncomfortable and out of place. Luca’s mother stood up from the table her arms outstretched for her son. Luca embraced her tenderly. He whispered something into her ear in Italian, and Rose had felt left out. But she had done the same thing to Luca on the platform in Birmingham when she spoke to her family in Romany. It then struck her that she had already been away from her family for a week now. Time had gone by quickly once she had put a stop to her misery.

Luca then hugged his pregnant sister Catarina. He spoke to her in English. “Aye! I didn’t expect you to get this big.” He had laughed so smoothly. Rose couldn’t help but smile at the sound of it and the look on his face.

“You know better to call a pregnant woman big, Luca.” She laughed back at him. Once he had finished his greetings. He pulled Rose closer by her hand.

“Mamma, Cata,” he started. “This is Rose.” It was simple but nerve-wracking. Audrey and Catarina were not planning to greet her the way Bianca had done at the door. Audrey stretched her hand out for Rose to shake.

“It’s— It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Changretta.” She had stuttered, she had shown her nervousness, but Audrey hadn’t flinched. Catarina then shook her hand, and Rose felt like the hardest part of the day was behind her.

“Coffee?” Audrey asked Rose.

“She drinks tea,” Luca answered for her, a chastising look on his face. Rose hadn’t taken offense to the offer.

“I don’t mind having coffee,” Rose told Luca, she gave him a reassuring look. Audrey moved to the counter to make a fresh pot of piping hot coffee. Bianca motioned everyone to move to the dining room, where they could all sit comfortably.

Catarina had spoken before they had even sat down. “You must miss your brothers, dearly” she had a sickly sweet tone to her voice. Bianca hissed her sister’s name, in an Italian tone Rose hadn’t heard at the door. Luca shot Catarina an annoyed glance.

“I’m sure they miss me more,” Rose answered politely, she didn’t meet Catarina’s eyes. As they all sat down Audrey brought out cups of coffee, milk, sugar and sweet pastries. As Audrey sat down, she sighed audibly before she looked at Rose.

“Do you cook?” Audrey’s tone was bored. She was going to look for any possible fault in Rose and both Luca and Rose knew that if she found one she would never let it go.

“Mamma,” Luca raised his hand slowly as if he were ready to tell her off for being rude. Rose didn’t want to cause any problems, so she answered Audrey’s question.

“I do cook. I learned a few things from my aunt and sister. My sister-in-law also taught me quite a bit as well. But I can’t say I know how to cook any Italian dishes.” Rose put her hands on the coffee cup.

“Shame,” Audrey responded. Catarina snorted at her mother’s response.

Bianca was the one to change the topic. She asked Luca if he had gone straight to their house or if he had stopped by at Anthony’s first. Rose had found out through the conversation that Anthony was Luca’s closest friend. Bianca had made a point about Anthony having been asking the family about him and when he planned to return.

Rose had finished her cup of coffee with care. It was difficult for her to swallow the bitter flavour at first, but Bianca had motioned her to pour milk into her cup and to add as much sugar as she wanted. It became bearable and she was able to enjoy a round Italian pastry.

As the conversation died down, Catarina said her goodbye’s and left the row house to her own home. Audrey cleared the table and Rose had meant to help her but Bianca took her hands away. She pushed her gently out of the way and back into the hallway. Luca followed them, grabbing their luggage as Bianca motioned Rose to walk up the stairs. They stopped on the third floor as Bianca retrieved a notebook from presumably her bedroom before she continued to walk up the staircase to the fourth floor. There were three doors in front of them, Bianca opened the farthest one and walked in. Luca motioned Rose to enter after Bianca and she walked into a spacious bedroom; again with only one bed for the pair of them to share. Bianca sat down in an armchair by a tall window. She opened up her notebook and began to speak

“The floor you bought at Tessa Tower won’t be ready for another two days. But I’ve gone to see the progress and it’s just the final touches. I’ve done some shopping for you too, furniture and such. I also stocked the refrigerator and the cabinets, as well as your closet. I visited Zio Fenacci and he gave me a lot of new suits. I went to a few boutiques for Rose, and I also went to Tocci’s, they opened last month and it’s like a dream. I bought a few things for myself, see” Bianca stood from the armchair and pointed her toe as she showed off her skirt. Rose smiled at her, Bianca was the most entertaining person she had ever met.

“Bianca is like my secretary… of sorts.” Luca chuckled as he removed his coat and waistcoat. Rose sat down on the cushioned bench in front of the bed.

“Only for the legal stuff,” Bianca rolled her eyes. “But I actually had a bit fun bossing people around this time. I was kind of mad when you said the apartment wasn’t for me.” Bianca raised an eyebrow at Luca before she smiled back at Rose.

“Do you have anything else?” Luca asked

“No, but your real secretary and Hiram wanted to know when you’d be back.”

“Alright, thanks, Bianca” Luca motioned for her to leave. Bianca reluctantly left the room and shut the door behind her. As footsteps sounded on the staircase Luca moved to stand in front of Rose. She was still seated in front of the bed. Luca crouched down to meet her eyes. His face was so close to hers a shiver ran down Luca’s spin as he steadied himself by placing his hands down on the cushions next to her legs.

“We’ll only be here two days. Then we’ll move to the Tessa. It’ll just be us then. It’ll be ours” Rose nodded at him appreciatively. “I’m sorry about my mother” Luca added.

“You don’t have to apologize,” Rose placed her hand on his chest, she rubbed for split second and then retracted her hand realizing there was only one layer of clothes left to skin. She cleared her throat and looked away shocked at what she had just done. “I’m sure it's difficult. She has a good enough reason to dislike me. I don’t blame her.” Luca sported a crooked smile. As he straightened his form, he kissed the top of Rose’s head. Rose instinctively placed her hand on her cheek. Luca grinned at her gesture, but Rose was too flustered to notice. The two days they spent in Audrey Changretta’s home would go by quickly.

Chapter Text

The two days that Rose and Luca spent in Audrey’s home in Manhattan’s suburban area was difficult, to say the least. Luca would leave in the morning, and he’d whisper in her ear that he’d be back as soon as he can. Rose knew he had a lot to do now that he was back home, so she did her best not to worry him. She spent most of her time with Bianca and she found that she had been able to make a friend in her. Bianca didn’t seem to blame her for her father and brother’s death so Rose was able to be around her comfortably. They talked about what was fun to do in Manhattan, the best restaurants and the people that hosted the best parties.

When Bianca wasn’t around, Audrey made sure to put Rose to work. She would make her clean up the dining room, and then she’d move her to the kitchen where Audrey would tell her to clean up the kitchen counter of food scraps as she finished cooking.

Luca had caught Audrey ordering Rose around and had been furious with his mother. Rose had told Luca that it was okay, that she was happy to help around the house. Rose didn’t have much to do when both Luca and Bianca were gone, but Luca wasn’t having any of it. Luca would send Rose up to their room and then he would begin to speak to his mother harshly in Italian. Rose would sit on their bed, her heart sinking into her stomach. She really had no clue how she was going to deal with Luca’s family. She wanted to be accommodating, she wanted to make everyone happy, but it was harder than she had expected. Death was still fresh in the air, she knew that much herself. John was gone, so was Grace. But to Audrey, her youngest son and husband were gone. So Rose decided to wait and hope that one day there would be less hostility toward her. Besides, Rose was weak, she’d never hurt a fly, and she’d never killed anyone before, especially not Angel and Vicente Changretta.

During the two days, they spent in Audrey’s home Luca had managed to get a hold of Tommy and told him that they were fine and almost settled in Manhattan. He had also told him that it would be best to correspond through letters, and Tommy had agreed. Rose didn’t get the chance to speak to her brother, but she was hardly surprised. She felt slightly disheartened though when Luca told her that he had hung up before he could hand her the phone to speak to him. She was over it quickly though, she didn’t plan to make Luca feel bad for no reason.


Luca had made sure to take no calls from work on the third day. The pair spent the entire day together. They started the day off with breakfast in a café in Lower Manhattan. It was far more romantic than Rose had expected breakfast to ever be. Luca held Rose’s hand atop the table, rubbing circles into her hand with his thumb. He had complimented how beautiful she looked that morning, and had made sure that she had enough to eat. They continued to talk over buttered croissants, tea and coffee.

They had gone to the department store Tocci’s, that Bianca had mentioned to them. They also went for a drive and Rose sat in the front seat as Luca drove. She had never sat in the front seat of a motor car before without being told to sit in the backseat where it was safer for a lady. She enjoyed Luca’s company more than she had once thought. He was all she had left of home, though his New York accent that casually drifted into Italian didn’t sound like home. She was attached. She wanted to be around him because when she wasn’t she felt far more alone then how she felt on the first three days she spent on the RMS Olympic.

Holding hands had become a custom between them now. They always looked for each other's fingers when they were in a crowd. Rose couldn’t grasp when these subtle touches had changed, but she loved it. Just the feel of his large rough hands, the warm gold of the rings on his fingers, and the protruding veins on his hands and arms. She hadn’t noticed his muscle before underneath all the suits. She was attracted to him, but she didn’t know how to deal with it. Was he attracted to her in the same way?

She had been attracted to a boy before, she was fourteen then, but it hadn’t turned out well. The circumstances now were too easy. She was already expected to marry Luca, and the fact that she found him attractive just made the situation better. Maybe it was too good to be true. But she couldn’t tell if Luca actually liked her back. He seemed to show affection to most of the women he knew, even his own sisters, but Rose couldn’t separate what was true affection and what was just him being polite.

The sun was setting now, and they were both expected to be at Tessa Tower in a few minutes. Rose still hadn’t gotten used to the skyscrapers. They seemed to be apart of another world to Rose and the world just felt so much larger as she looked up to see the peaks of the buildings. The pair of them walked toward the Tessa, as Rose marveled at the modern art deco style of the building. As they pushed through the revolving door, the smell of metal, smoke, men’s cologne and something floral flooded her nose. The scent wasn’t horrible, it was actually quite subtle and didn’t overpopulate the main lobby of the building. There was a man at the check-in desk. The building felt strangely like a hotel, though it was mainly residential apart from some offices on the lower floors. The man at the check-in greeted them both as Mr and Mrs Changretta. Rose had blushed once again. She still hadn’t gotten used to the prospect of being known as Mrs Changretta in a matter of months. Luca hadn’t changed his expression at all, he seemed more intimidating then she had seen him before, as he looked carefully at the uniformed man. The feeling she had when she first laid eyes on him came back before she realized it was an act to keep up his reputation.

“Mr Hiram Fenacci is waiting for you, Mr Changretta.” Rose turned her head to where he pointed, she saw a man reading a newspaper sitting in the lobby waiting area. Hiram finally noticed Luca and Rose standing at the check-in desk and walked over with a briefcase in hand. They walked without a word to the elevator. Glossy gold coloured doors opened in front of them, to a small compartment. Rose had never been in an elevator before. She hesitated at first but clutched onto Luca tightly as she stepped in. She heard Hiram snicker behind her. As they stood in the elevator, Hiram pressed the button with the highest number, 22.

Luca moved into Rose to whisper in her ear. “Just an elevator. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.” As he moved away to stand straight, Rose relaxed her frame next to him. She casually glanced at Hiram who Luca hadn’t introduced to her yet. He had a smirk on his face as he looked back and forth from Luca to Rose.

As they reached the top floor, the doors of the elevator opened to another room. There was a number on the door, 331, it was the only door in the room. There were comfortable plush chairs on one side of the wall and a fountain arrangement on the other side with live plants. Luca moved toward the door and pulled a key from his coat pocket. The door opened to Rose’s new home, the home Bianca had been working on for over a month. It seemed incredibly glamorous to her, far more glamorous than a home needed to be. Rose let go of Luca’s arm to look at the living room space they had just entered.

“Rose,” Luca called to her. “This is Hiram Fenacci.” Hiram moved in close to kiss her on the cheek. She flinched once again, before realizing that this kissing on the cheek had to be an Italian custom. “He’s my cousin and my lawyer.”

“Oh, It’s nice to meet you,” Rose said politely, her pale blue eyes watching the pair of them.

“You got lucky Luca.” Hiram nudged Luca with his elbow before receiving an unamused look. Rose felt uncomfortable and looked away from the pair.

“Look around, I have some business to do and I’ll come find you, alright?” Rose nodded in response, letting Luca walk away to a different part of the apartment with Hiram. Rose started in the living room, looking at all the windows. The living room itself looked like a glass box. The windows reached the floor to the ceiling. The furniture was plush and far more expensive looking than the ones in Arthur’s sitting room. She walked into another room. It was a dining room, with a large mahogany table, able to seat six people. The walls had a rich burgundy colour wallpaper with forest green and gold accents. There was a potted plant in the corner and a cabinet filled with China next to it. Rose took another doorway toward the kitchen and revelled in the space. She knew she was going to spend time in the kitchen, not because she was expected too, but because she wanted to. Rose began to open cabinets, and doors to see what Bianca had stocked. So far, she was overwhelmed with what she was going to share with Luca. Her heart swelled, and she felt as if she was going to cry. She had never been independent before, there was always at least one person hovering over her. She wished her Aunt Polly and Ada could see it, her new apartment. She moved into a hallway of sorts and a door opened at the very end of it, Hiram stepped out with Luca.

Hiram bid Rose a goodnight and she did the same to him. Luca approached her, his hands in his pockets. “How do you like it?” He asked giving her a crooked grin.

“I love it, it’s beautiful.” Rose smiled up at him, a dazzling smile on her face. The one that Luca came to love and craved to see more of.

“Did’ya see the bedroom?” He asked.

“No, I haven’t yet.” Luca took her hand in his, and they walked down the hall, passing Luca’s office he and Hiram had been in, they turned a corner to double doors. Luca opened the door for her to step in. Rose marvelled at the room. The floor to ceiling windows lined the entire left wall. The king sized bed against the back wall, a doorway on its left side led to another room, the light was on inside. The room was incredibly spacious. There was a vanity, a radio and a gramophone at one end. There were flowers on each surface and a table with liquor and glass cups atop it. Rose moved closer to the bed to touch the fabric, it was an off-white silk, the texture incredibly smooth. Rose bit her lip as she looked back at Luca, her mind raced as she thought of the bed she was meant to share with Luca, there very own bed.

“Well?” He asked carefully. But Rose didn’t mean to answer his question. A solemn expression captured her face as she moved closer to Luca to receive his full attention.

“Were you disappointed in me?” She asked quietly as if anyone would hear them. Luca mirrored the same expression. He touched the bare skin of her arm with the back of his fingers gingerly not to frighten her. Her question was vague but Luca knew what she was talking about. She wanted to know if he was disappointed that it was she he had to marry.

“No.” He wasn’t looking her in the eyes, but she could tell he was being genuine. He was watching his own fingers skimming her skin, he relished in the simple contact. “I’m glad it’s you.” Rose moved closer with confirmation, pressing her small body against his tall frame. She had never been so intimate with a man, she had never been so close.

“You like me enough… to not regret what we’re going to do?” Luca nodded at her slowly, his hooded eyes looking her in the eyes now. The sensation was smooth, even sensual, as he placed his hand on the small of her back. Rose’s hands were on his chest covered by his tailored suit, as they looked at each other carefully, trying to read each other's minds. It was Rose who moved in first, placing a slow chaste kiss on Luca’s lips.

He had been waiting for this moment, where their lips would touch. He would have waited longer for this moment but it was complete bliss when Rose had initiated it first. He held her tenderly, so gently, he knew that she was easily frightened. So he let her move first again before he would do anything else. The city lights were twinkling outside the tall windows now, the stars hidden behind clouds as the darkness of the evening overcame Manhattan. The only light in the room was coming from the open walkway by the left-side of the bed, which left the room in a dim amber glow.

Rose reached her hand up to place it softly on Luca’s cheek. “Is this okay?” She whispered to him, there was a slight tremble in her voice. Luca moved into her touch, he had been craving it for so long.

“Ya, it is” Luca responded as Rose moved in to kiss him again. Her lips were soft and smooth as they melded into Luca’s own. Luca teased her lips with his tongue and she opened up for him instinctively. She moved to stand on the tips of her toes so she could better reach him as she wrapped her arms around his neck and deepen their kiss. Luca picked her up from her rear end, holding her close against him and she wrapped her legs around his torso. He walked them around the front of the bed toward its edge, Rose still in Luca’s arms. He could tell that she was unsure of herself, that she was afraid, but that she wanted to continue what they were doing as she clung on to him, her lips flush to his, her tongue in his mouth. Luca then laid her down on the bed. He looked at her face carefully as they searched for air, her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were wide.

“I’ve never been with a man like this before. I hadn’t even kissed one before you.” Her hands were on the lapel of his coat, she was meaning to pull him back down to her lips to feel that euphoria again. Luca was elated with her words, but he tried not to show it. He moved in to kiss her neck and then whispered into her skin.

“I won’t do anythin’, you don’t wanna do.” Luca felt the heat in his hands. Rose was expecting to lose her virginity that night. After the short period of time together, she wanted him with her and so did he. There was too much sexual tension to live comfortably, Luca just needed to touch her.

Rose helped Luca remove his coat and waistcoat. He then moved to unbutton the back of her dress expertly letting her dress slide off to expose her undergarments. All the exposed skin turned Luca on in an instant. He quickly moved his fingers over the buttons of his dress shirt, pulling it off as smoothly as he could before he planted another kiss on Rose’s lips.

There was just so much skin.

Rose moved closer to him swiftly, running her hands on the sides of his body and onto his back, feeling the warmth of his skin on her fingers. She traced her fingers on the tattoos on his body looking at them carefully. She was already aroused by his proximity.

Rose removed her shoes and her stockings as Luca removed his dress pants settling comfortable back on top of her placing hot kisses on her jaw, down her neck, between her breasts, her stomach, and now on her thighs. Rose let moans escape her mouth that she had not expected, her own noises made her moist between her legs, but Luca’s warm breath on her thighs really did it for her. Rose shivered at his touch. She placed her hands in his swept-back dark hair, her breathing already escalating. Luca dug two fingers into the corner of her panties, watching Rose’s face as he did so. She had no idea what to do with her hands, as she grew more and more aroused by him. Her fingers dug into the silk fabrics of the bed, looking for something stable to hold on to as she watched the desire shine in his dark eyes.

Luca tugged on one side of her panties and Rose raised her body so that he could remove them completely. Luca stared at her glistening folds for seconds, admiring the view, before he pressed his fingers into the pinkness in between. Luca was satisfied with her reaction, as he moved his body up to look at her face, as he continued to rub at her most delicate place. She couldn’t contain her moans, her eyes rolling back at the sensation. She placed her hands on his neck, moving against Luca’s fingers. Luca then placed a finger delicately inside her, and then he placed two, doing his best to stretch her as much as he could. Rose panted against him, the sensation was foreign and she felt like her entire body was unravelling. 

But Luca didn’t let her finish, as he pulled his fingers away. He put each finger one by one against his own tongue, making sure she was watching. As he removed his thumb between his teeth, Rose crashed her lips against his. Moving quicker then she had before. She needed him in between her legs, her arousal beckoning her to continue with Luca. She quickly moved on top of him. She removed her brassiere herself as she hovered above him. She leaned in for another kiss, hoping he’d touch her breasts.

It was as if he had read her mind as he grabbed her there, fitting her breast comfortable in his right hand. He kneaded it with his palm as he tangled his other hand in her thick brown ‘Shelby’ hair. Their lips hot and swollen moved together like waves. She whimpered at his touch, he pulled his boxers off quickly and set her on his pelvis. She carefully set herself above his erect penis. She was wet enough to put herself on top of him, but she felt knots in her stomach as the time came to it. Luca had his hands on her hips, looking at her with dreamy eyes. She was so attracted to him, she wanted to be apart of him. She truly wanted this. She wanted her first time to be with someone like Luca, someone who was kind to her, who never pushed her into her fears, he was always so gentle. Maybe he could tell from the look in her eyes that she felt something for him, something that hadn’t been there before.

She set herself down onto him, slowly, feeling his heat as she opened up to him indecently. She bit her lip bottom lip and gasped at the sharpness she felt in her insides. She hadn’t even taken him completely inside her yet, but she placed her hand on his chest, leaning forward. The pain was far more then she had expected it to be. Luca put his hands on her face, trying to relax her.

“You’re okay. Take your time.” He whispered into her hair. She did as she was told, and she straightened her body above him. She whimpered as she pushed further down onto his member carefully, Luca’s hands back on her hips as he rubbed comforting circles into her skin.

As she took him completely the pain began to fade, leaving a strange sensation in her core. She moved up, and back down on him slowly, keeping a comfortable rhythm. She continued to move slowly, unintentionally making their coupling much more erotic than it already was. Lust was in her eyes as she looked at Luca straight on. Luca couldn’t believe such a vision of beauty was above him moving so sensually, he couldn’t stand it. He may have been far more stimulated then she was.

Her pace quickened, and Luca sat up to press his body against her. He kissed her mouth as she continued to grind against him. Rose was in a state of ecstasy as she held on to Luca, she watched him the entire time, watching groans escape his mouth as she moved. She’d even seen him bite his lower lip. Was she in love? She could fall in love with him. She felt that she could all week.

Rose felt a sudden feeling, one she was expecting but unprepared for. She felt as if she were about to explode as she was reaching her climax. She bit into Luca’s shoulder as she could feel herself release just as Luca released he load inside her. Her movements slowed down gradually as she tried to regain her awareness. Luca looked for her face, pushing her back from him gently, and moving her hair away from her face with his hands. He watched her flustered face, the sheen of sweat on her skin. Lust still in her eyes. He kissed her sensually, holding her close, as they were still connected to each other.

“Let’s go again,” Rose stated. Her hair was a mess, her body hot, but she looked enchanting to Luca. He moved her below him as they went for another round.


Luca left early the next morning. He had a business to deal with and from what Rose knew he was going to see the Don of Manhattan that day. Rose had woken up with him, placing kisses on his face. She wasn’t sure what love was, as she was never given any time to love a man in Birmingham, but she was sure that she was feeling some kind of love as she laid naked against Luca during the night. She had learned to make coffee when she was at Audrey’s house, and she tested her new skill that morning.

“Is it good?” She asked him, her hands together as she watched him drink from the mug. She had placed sweet bread on the table as well.

“It’s good, taste’s like my mothers.” He smirked before he placed a hand on her hip and pulled her in close to him as he sat at the small table in the kitchen. “Bianca will be coming ‘round at 11.” Rose nodded at him, and then he was out for the day after another sweet kiss on Rose’s cheek.

Rose spent a few hours looking around the house. She found the closet, behind her bedroom. The doorway had no attached door and just led into another room, the size of a small bedroom. One side had several suits, shoes, ties, and other articles of clothing for Luca, while the other side had things for her. It was thanks to Bianca she had such pretty clothes, she wouldn’t need to wear her clothes she brought from Birmingham. She pulled her luggage from outside the bedroom into the closet room and began to put her belongings away in the drawers. She placed her skirts and blouses inside and hung her dresses on the rack. When she reached the bottom of her suitcase, the two wads of British pound bank notes became visible to her. She had forgotten that they were there. She didn't expect to come into any reason to use all the money, especially after how perfect her night had been. But she kept it anyway. She left it in the suitcase, not expecting anyone to open it up again and tucked it underneath the dresser.

She then took a look at the things Bianca had bought her and stumbled across a drawer close to her eye-level. When she opened it her cheeks had burned red. The drawer was filled with all sorts of lingerie and negligee. She shut it quickly when she had seen enough, touching her cheek’s warmth. But then she chastised herself. She had spent the best night of her life last night completely naked, the lingerie in the drawer was nothing to be ashamed of. She opened the drawer up again and rummaged around to see what she was going to wear that night to entice Luca again.


Bianca had arrived on the 22nd floor after 11. Rose had welcomed her in and had even thanked her for making her new home so beautiful. Bianca welcomed her thanks but got to business quickly. 

“So, I’m actually on wedding business,” Bianca said as she plopped herself down on the couch. She pulled her familiar notebook out, with a fountain pen in hand. “This is honestly my favourite kind of business. But, I wanted to know who you wanted to invite to the wedding.” Bianca prepared to write down names and addresses.

“Oh, are you already preparing for the wedding?” Rose looked at her interestedly. “When are you planning it for?”

“In two months. So, I’m tight on time. But I have a team, Gina Drago, I’ll introduce you soon, but she’s helping me out.” Bianca added.

“I can help you out too.”

“Of course, I’ll bring you along as much as I can. Besides we have to get a dress don’t we?” Bianca answered her, giving her a smile. “So— about invitations…”

“Right. I think just my close family. I don’t think my brother would want too many people away from Birmingham.” Rose continued. “So, my Brother, Arthur and his wife Linda, they have a little boy that they would bring too. My brother Tommy, and his son, Lizzie Stark, John—” she stopped in her tracks, coughing at her mistake. “I mean, Finn, my younger brother. My sister Ada and her son, and my aunt Polly and my cousin Michael.” Rose evened her breathing, trying to force the memory back.

“Is that it?” Bianca pretended not to have noticed. “Are you sure you don’t want to invite anyone else?”

“I’m sure my uncle Charlie would like to come, but my brother Tommy would want to keep him close to home. So, yeah, that’s it. Maybe send him an invitation but I wouldn’t expect him to actually come.” Rose smiled at her politely.

“Alright, I’ll have eight invitations sent to Birmingham, as soon as their made.” Bianca stood up, and Rose copied her movements. “What are you doing tomorrow?” She asked abruptly.

“Oh, I don’t know yet,” Rose answered with confusion in her tone.

“Let’s go out to the cabaret. We can go have a drink!” She held an invisible glass in her hand and tipped it close to her face. Her hand gestures making Rose grin.

“Sure, why not.” Rose had felt that her life in New York wasn’t going to be bad at all. She had come to conclusions far too quickly on the ship, she knew that she could live a life here, even if she did miss her family to pieces. But life had turned out not as she had expected.

Chapter Text

The fog had descended on Small Heath bitterly. Polly Gray was walking down Watery Lane making her way toward the betting shop. She unlocked the door, looking around before she opened it. When she stepped inside there was a thin package waiting for her on the floor. Polly read the address, as her eyes crossed the word Manhattan, she quickly walked into the long hall, where the girls took bets by phone. She placed the package on the table as she pulled off her thin leather gloves. She carefully ripped the seam at the top of the package and pulled out eight invitations.

“Good lord,” Polly breathed as she inspected the envelope on top. It was addressed to Thomas Shelby. The invitation was covered by a small cream-coloured envelope, with black and gold accents, and an elegant design around Tommy’s name. Polly looked for the envelope with her name on it and opened it to see the details. She inspected the thick piece of stock paper, her finger rubbing the embossed symbol at the top.

The honour of your attendance is requested at the marriage of
Rose Shelby
&
Luca Changretta
On the 24th of May, 1925
at 5 o’clock
St. Andrews Roman Catholic Church
20 Cardinal Hayes Pl, New York, NY

The celebration continues
at 7 o’clock
Hotel Astor Ballroom
Astor Plaza, West 44th Street and West 45th Street


The preparations for the wedding were well underway. Rose had managed to weasel herself into most of Bianca’s outings, though she mainly just watched as Bianca chose the most glamorous and expensive items for the wedding.

An entire month and a half had gone by and Rose had managed to adjust well. She had Bianca to keep her company when Luca wasn’t around and she had this new found affection for Luca that she had not been expecting. Luca was perfect in every way for Rose, she always wanted to prove how much she appreciated him and how much she needed him now that she only had him. He was always gentle with her and brought her home sweets. When he’d lay her down for bed in the evening, he did it in the most loving way possible. She was in love with him, she was sure it was love, but she hadn’t told him yet. She was far too afraid to say it out loud.

The afternoon called for a regular Spinietta family meeting, where all the families under Don Spinietta who oversaw all of Manhattan had a meeting with the male members of the family to speak of business. The women were free to socialize amongst each other and weren’t included in the criminal lifestyle the men controlled. It was going to be the day Rose was presented to the family, and her nerves had peaked. She wanted to look her best next to Luca, she didn’t want to seem out of place. She had been in the closet for an hour now, her thumb in her mouth as she tried to choose between two day-outfits, one more glamorous than the other. She chose the less glamorous one, in a soft shade of pink. She wore a darker shade of the same colour for the thick ribbon around her hairline to keep her hair back and chose to use a white fur boa to cover her shoulders. She thought the ensemble was relatively modest for a New York woman, as she looked at herself in the full-length mirror. She could see Luca step into the walk-in closet through the mirror.

He walked toward her and snaked a hand around her hip, he was dressed as handsomely as ever. His hair was styled back with the familiar pomade he used, it smelled of mint, and evaded her senses before the spice and roughness of his masculine cologne could. Rose watched him as he used his free hand to reach into his coat pocket. He took out a small box, covered in a bright red velvet. Rose knew what it was, but she watched him carefully before she jumped to conclusions. She hummed into his tall frame before he moved away to stand in front of the mirror to look at her straight on. He didn’t get down one knee, but it didn’t matter much to her, their marriage was the most unconventional one she had heard of. He opened the small box with one hand and took her hand with the other.

Rose held her breath as she looked at the delicate ring within the box. It was a diamond, a diamond cut into the shape of a rose on a gold band. She breathed out as she looked away from the ring and into Luca’s warm eyes. The softness in her eyes made Luca melt, she was perfect for him. Rose placed her small hand against Luca’s cheek, the gesture spoke a million words to him. She left a smooth kiss on his cheek before Luca took the ring out of the box to place it on the appropriate finger. He then kissed her lips softly, before stepping behind her to look at her in the mirror again.

“Ready?” He said next to her ear, his eyes trained on her reflection.

“I am.” She said, turning to face him properly. “Do I look okay?”

Bellissima” He spoke to her, his voice like velvet. She didn’t understand much Italian but she loved it when he spoke it to her. Bianca had been teaching her some phrases and Rose definitely knew what he had just said. He looked her up and down before he took her hand in his. “C’mon, let’s go.”


The Spinietta Family meeting was held in a hotel partially owned by Cristofano Spinietta himself. The men were all escorted into a dining room of sorts, while the women lounged out on the patio balcony over drinks.

Luca had reluctantly parted with Rose, sensing her nervous state. He knew that Rose would gravitate toward his sister, Bianca, but while she waited for her to arrive Rose would be alone and left to deal with that stress. Luca sat next to Don Spinietta at the table, he was the underboss after his father’s death and the Don’s second in command. On the other side, Paulino Drago sat next to the Don. All the men of the Spinietta family were there, along with some of the soldiers from each of the bosses households. A few of Luca’s own men were sat further down the table. The group of men were talking about an alliance with the Galano family in Staten Island, over the Cuban crisis. The Cubans had been pestering Don Spinietta over a trade in their goods for over three years now. The Cubans specialized in cocaine, and the sex trade, selling women like cattle. The interactions with the Cubans had always been careful, the Cubans knew the kind of damage the New York mafia could do and only bothered the Don when the tensions between them were neutral. There were other minor topics discussed but it wasn’t until the end of the meeting that the tension in the room had changed too something more menacing.

Don Spinietta was giving his regular speech on loyalty. He gave a different spin every time he felt someone had gone and done something behind his back that would harm the Spinietta empire. He was standing behind one of Sartini’s men; explaining the dangers of pursuing women from different crimes families in New York.

Luca had heard through the grapevine, that the man in question had been seen with Aria Marconi and had been spilling Spinietta family secrets. Luca would have dealt with the soldier himself, but Catarina’s husband Paulie had mentioned that he would be dealt with by Spinietta himself.

Everyone at the table who hadn’t heard of the problem suddenly knew what exactly was going to happen to this guy. Don Cristofano Spinietta placed a comforting hand on the man’s shoulder before he delivered the bomb of truth.

“There are more women in Manhattan than in any other city in New York. Beautiful women, they don’t even have to be Italian. I’ll give you my blessing. But we do not pursue the daughters of other Cosa Nostra Famiglia unless I tell you too. And you especially, do not tell that girl what my family does and any business plans you overhear.”

There was no turning back now. His speech had solidified the man’s future. The man turned around to reason with Don Spinietta, but there was nothing saving him. Don Spinietta looked at Vincenzo Sartini as he pulled his gun out from his coat and shot the soldier square in the head. The man’s body fell towards the table and blood began to pool around his head.

Luca hadn’t even flinched at the blast from the gun, the splatter of blood and the pounding of weight that hit the table. He twirled the toothpick between his teeth with his fingers, as he looked for Anthony’s face on the opposite side of the table from where he sat. They had all been interested in Aria Marconi once in their life, but the family was far more important than the lust in between their legs. She wasn’t your average Italian beauty. She was mean and cursed out anyone who got in her way, but she was beautiful all the same.

Luca and Anthony had talked about her when they were just boys, they both knew that Aria wouldn’t have spoken to the soldier without a purpose.

The meeting ended in blood, it wasn’t out of the ordinary. Luca stood by Don Spinietta as the soldiers and bosses came to pay their respects to him before they went off to fetch their wives and daughters. Luca walked out of the dining room as the cleaners picked up after the body Don Spinietta had left behind.

“Now, Luca, where’s the girl?” the Don started looking at him with his usually stern face.

“I brought her along, I expect she’ll be with my sister right now.” Luca smoothed down his suit with his hand as he walked alongside Don Spinietta to the patio lounge. The Don gave a small grunt in response.

“Is she a good girl? It’s not too late to send her away.” Don Spinietta side-eyed Luca.

“I don’t want to disrespect you, Don Spinietta, but I can’t send her away and I don’t want to.” Luca kept a straight face as he gave the Don vulnerable words. He didn’t like the position he just put himself in, but he knew he had to say it to keep Rose with him, to keep her safe. To Luca’s surprise, the Don gave Luca a funny grin, one he assumed not many people ever got to see.

“Aye! You like this girl. And here I thought you were marrying her to keep the peace.” The Don gave Luca a small smirk, appearing like a child in his short stature and his almost completely grey hair.

Luca gave him an equal grin, displaying a joking nature. Luca’s father was quite close to Cristofano Spinietta as boys, he had always seemed more like an intimidating uncle figure than a mafia boss, but he also knew it was foolish to think of Don Spinietta in that way.

“Let’s see her than,” it was an order Luca had been expecting. They both continued on their path to the lounge.

As they appeared in the lounge a lot of the other men had stuck around and the patio had gotten quite crowded. Luca searched the crowd for Rose. He had found Catarina and Paul and they had pointed him to a corner of the patio that outlooked the skyscrapers and held a lot of the greenery.

He was right, Rose sat with Bianca and they were speaking animatedly, laughing at each other's words. Luca couldn’t help but sport a small smile as he watched her. Don Spinietta followed as they went to meet Rose. Bianca got up first as they came into their vision, Bianca quickly kissed Don Spinietta’s cheek, showing off her brilliant smile before she left to speak with someone else. Rose looked timider than ever. Luca took her hand reassuringly, as he tucked her into his side.

“Don Cristofano,” Luca got his attention. “This is my fiancé, Rose Shelby.” Rose shot her hand out instinctively, waiting for Don Spinietta to take it. Instead, the Don moved in closer, putting his hands on her upper arms and kissing both her cheeks.

“It’s good to meet you sir” She sounded more foreign than ever, her Brummie accent thick, in the Italian atmosphere.

Don Spinietta gave her a soft chuckle, “Rose Shelby... Rosa,” he said out loud before looking at Luca. “Bellissima.” Rose understood the word, Luca had said it to her earlier the same day. Rose could feel her cheeks heating up. He didn’t seem to be talking to her anymore, as Luca pulled her back into him. “Luca, remind me, who exactly did you talk to about her?” The question didn’t make much sense to Rose, but Luca knew he was asking about Rose’s family.

“They call themselves the Peaky Blinders, they’ve been runnin’ Birmingham for a few years now.” Don Spinietta gave an understanding frown, no sign of sadness just understanding.

“The Peaky Blinders,” the Don repeated to himself. “How is Rose related to this gang?” Don Spinietta’s hands were behind his back as he spoke.

“She’s Thomas Shelby’s youngest sister, he’s the boss.” Luca waved his hand around as he explained, his hand gestures screamed ‘Italian’ at Rose. Luca had explained the situation to him before over the telephone when he was still in Birmingham, he could tell that the Don was curious of the girl next to him.

“Ah, she’s a good girl, this one.” Don Spinietta wagged his finger carefully at Rose as she smiled at him politely. “Her family is not so different from ours. She understands what we do. She will be good for you Luca” the Don finished his words absently, as he got distracted by the people surrounding him. Don Spinietta said his goodbyes then and left with his only surviving daughter, Carla Spinietta.

“Is everything okay?” Rose spoke to him first as they got time to themselves, worry on her face. She gripped Luca’s arm.

“Yeah, are you ok? I think it went just fine.” Luca was talking about her meeting the Don, but something else was on Rose’s mind.

“I’m talking about the gunshot. Bianca said everything was okay, but I was worried. Are you hurt?” Luca softened as Rose displayed genuine concern for his well-being. He embraced her briefly, kissing the top of her head.

“I’m fine, don’t worry too much about me,” Rose just looked at him carefully, they both knew that she couldn’t agree to that proposition. He gave her a chaste kiss on the cheek before someone new was talking to them.

It was Anthony, Luca’s childhood friend. “Luca, ya know I’m startin’ to think you might think I’m more attractive than you. You haven’t even tried to introduce me to your fiancé.” Anthony gave him a goofy grin, as he mocked punched Luca in the ribs.

“It’s ‘cause you get too fuckin’ nosey dago.” Luca had responded a grin on his face as he spoke to his friend.

“I’m Anthony Drago by the way, eat your heart out.” He gave Rose a grin as they both shook hands.

“Tony, c’mon.” Luca wasn’t going to take too much of Anthony’s jokes, he wasn’t a man to share his woman, or let other men take the piss on them. Anthony raised his hands in surrender.

“So, when’s the wedding? I need a good reason to get fuckin’ zozzled,” he laughed.

“Anthony has a drinking problem, two glasses of rum and he’s drownin’,” Luca spoke to Rose, she was amused by Anthony antics.

“It’s on the 24th of May” Rose answered him politely, holding onto her fur boa as the breeze began to pick up in the night.

“Might be too far along,” Anthony seemed to be talking to himself now.

Rose had been the attraction of the evening. All the Drago’s, Sartini’s, Rossi’s and even soldiers lined up to meet Luca’s fiancé, the new addition to the family. They weren’t all kind to her though, some were confused by the fact that Luca wasn’t marrying an Italian woman, but others were kind and complimented her. By the time the stars were glittering above them the Spinietta crime family began to leave the patio lounge, Rose and Luca made their leave as well to retire to their apartment.

Chapter Text

The day spent at the hotel patio was eventful for Rose. She had spent most of it with Bianca and she was able to make friends with Carla Spinietta and Gina Drago who all gave her telephone numbers so that they could go out together. While she sat with Bianca she learned a few things, one of them about Liliana Sartini, Catarina’s sister-in-law and closest friend. Liliana had had a raging crush on Luca since she was just a teenager and she was more than hostile to the situation that Luca had come back to Manhattan in. Liliana had glared at Rose the entire time, no doubt talking to Catarina about what a mistake Luca was making in marrying a foreigner while she was there and available.

Bianca couldn’t help but snicker at Liliana’s desperation. It was later in the evening when the sun began to fall on the horizon. A gunshot shocked Rose as she instinctively reached for Bianca. It was a muffled sound, but she knew a gunshot when she heard one, she was sister to the bloody Peaky Blinders after all. Bianca had told her to calm down, that everything was all right and nothing would happen to them on the patio. But Rose’s thoughts were roaming to Luca. Was he okay? Was he hurt? Or was he the one behind the gun? She listened to Bianca and had calmed down, noticing that the women gathered on the balcony-patio were staring directly at her.

She ended the night quietly, wrapped in Luca’s arms, worrying about the kind of life she was destined to have no matter what part of the world she was in.


The wedding planning was at it’s finishing touches, as it was only two weeks away. Bianca had been walking in and out of Rose and Luca’s apartment like she owned the place, yelling at Luca and asking for Rose’s opinions on different vase shapes, fabric patterns and which cake tasted best. As Bianca’s visits died down, Rose noticed something in Luca. He was quieter than usual. Rose knew something was on his mind, it had to be mafia business. Bianca would have told her not to bother him, but she couldn’t do that. The worry would always be there in Rose’s mind, no matter how many times people told her not to worry. Rose knew that as soon as Tommy told she and her family that she had to marry Luca, she knew she would never escape the life her brothers lived. She would always be around the violence, the guns, the liquor, and drugs. But as she continued living her life in Manhattan, living her life with Luca, she knew she had to understand what he did for a living and why he did. He did it for his family like Tommy had done for them. She didn’t want to be a burden and she knew she always had been one for Tommy and Arthur, but she wasn’t going to be that for Luca. She wouldn’t allow herself, she wanted to be better for him.

Luca was in his office, the door closed. Rose had been preparing dinner, as she finished with the tomatoes, she shut her cookbook, one of many in her new prized collection and went to call Luca for dinner. But she saw an opportunity then.

She opened the door to Luca’s office, trying to be as quiet as she could. He had his hands clasped together, an audible sigh escaping his mouth. Rose walked toward him, he hadn’t lifted his head to see her, but Rose knew that he had noticed her. Rose walked around his desk and placed her hand on his shoulder rubbing gently. He put his rough hand on hers, turning his body to look at her.

“I know something’s going on, Luca. You can tell me.” Rose looked at him carefully, she didn’t want to intrude but she knew that if Luca kept all the negativity inside he would continue to struggle later. She was willing to share his troubles. “What are you planning?” Rose slipped on to his lap, her hands around his neck.

“It’s not your burden, Tesoro.” He grazed the back of his fingers against her cheek, looking at her lazily. She knew he would say that, but she wasn’t going to give up on him so easily.

“It’ll make you feel better. I know you have a lot of weight on your shoulders, I just don’t want you to have to carry it all the time.” Rose placed a soft kiss on his cheek, her hands now on both sides of his face. Luca moved in to kiss her lips slowly. Rose adjusted her body to sit on him better, straddling his legs. She faced him straight on, her chest now toward his. Luca moved the papers on his desk before he looked back at her. He rubbed his thumb along his jaw and took a deep breath as he confided in Rose.

“Don Spinietta is going to retire soon… from this life” he waved a hand next to her as if he were negotiating with someone. His words were vague but Rose presumed that he meant he was going to retire from the Mafia. “He doesn’t plan on leaving the business to Carla. He’s going to pass it down to, y’know someone in the family.” He appeared more humble then he needed to be as if he weren’t expecting for Cristofano Spinietta to pass Manhattan down to him.

“He’s going to pass it down to you?” Rose gave him a sly smile, showing off that she was excited for him to achieve this, he was the underboss after all.

Luca was meant to be the Don of Manhattan. He was dripping with the fierceness and class that belonged to someone who could be the Don of any part of New York. He was all the things that made the perfect Mafia boss, but Rose had never wanted to be apart of that kind of life. But, here she was, trapped in it. She knew she would have to make the best of it because she wanted to be with him now. She wanted to be with Luca in every way possible, and if he needed a Mafia wife she would be that for him.

“Maybe. It’s me… or Anthony… I don’t think Anthony would take this.” He looked at her carefully, as if he was still truly ruling out every possible outcome of the situation. He was being overly modest, but Rose understood this as indecisiveness, once he became the boss Rose and Luca would constantly be a target.

“We’ll be alright. If it happens or not, everything will be ok. Alright?” Rose shook his shoulder slightly to get him to look at her. Luca gave her a smooth smile, the one she loved so much. But his expression soon changed.

“It’ll get dangerous around here.”

Rose hummed before she spoke. “Well, I am marrying a gangster, aren’t I?” Rose grinned at him in amusement. Her toothy grin sent shivers down Luca’s spin.

“I know you’re afraid.” He spoke quietly as if he didn’t want to tell her that he knew how she felt. She had made her skittishness obvious since the moment they met, but they never spoke about it. She wasn’t ready to speak of it anyway, she didn’t want to tell him why she was always so afraid all the time, it was something in her past she wasn’t ready to relive. She sighed and looked away from his face.

“I know what you do, and even if I’m afraid it doesn’t matter. I know something can happen to me… or to you at any time” She looked back into Luca’s eyes. “But I’ll be here, and I’ll do as you say. I can’t change what you do like I couldn’t change what my brothers do. But I’ll be here for you.” Luca placed a slow loving kiss on her lips. The stress he had decreased ten-fold as Rose sat on his lap. He wanted to tell her that he loved her, but he bit his tongue.

“Dinner’s ready,” Rose removed herself from Luca’s body and took hold of his hand, motioning for him to get away from his desk for a while.


Bianca had been in a frenzy the two-weeks leading before the wedding as wedding guests from afar and overseas began to enter the Manhattan city limits. Bianca had been taking quick photographs with a new machine Rose had never seen before. She took pictures of Rose, of Luca and then of them together. Rose had enjoyed the moments and couldn’t wait to see the developed photos.

Catarina came by the apartment as well to discuss guest arrangements, and if Luca had done all his duties as groom yet. Catarina chastised him for a while for not taking her seriously, before Bianca had told her that everything had already been dealt with. They had taken some liberties in making the wedding less traditional than usual, though there were was still some traditions Bianca couldn’t get passed.

Catarina was still slightly hostile with Rose, but she had spoken to Rose far more now. It seemed to Rose that Catarina had come to terms with the fact that she couldn’t change her brother’s decision to marry Rose.

Luca left after being pestered by his sisters and the trio went over all the things that would need to be done on the day of the wedding and the few days before it. Bianca had received an RSVP from Polly, Linda, and Ada but no one else from Rose’s family. Bianca had assumed they were all coming anyway, and that Rose’s brothers simply didn’t know that they needed to send confirmation of their attendance. Catarina went over their relatives coming from Italy and others from Philadelphia and San Francisco. There were easily over a hundred and fifty people on the guest list, and Rose only knew a handful of them. Bianca had promised Rose that, she, Catarina, and Audrey would deal with the guests, as many of them only spoke Italian.

Rose then began to practice basic phrases in Italian with Bianca, as Catarina would mock her pronunciation. Words like “Thank you for coming”, “Thank you for the gift”,  “It’s nice to meet you” and so on. Rose had learned how to address Luca during the day as “Sposo” and had been practicing her pronunciation continuously. Except she kept the word Sposo away from Luca’s ears as she wanted to catch him off guard when it was time for her to finally say it.


There were now four days before the wedding and Rose and Bianca were waiting away from the pier as the Shelby’s were expected to arrive that day in New York. Bianca was smoking from a silver cigarette holder, as her hat covered the top half of her face, she looked like a Hollywood actress, amongst the smoke and bustle of the people leaving the pier. The pier was chaotic, many people pushing or bumping into each other as they left customs. Rose had never seen Bianca smoke before, she expected that it had become a new habit. Luca didn’t smoke cigarette’s, he only smoked cigars but never in a place as public as the pier, he always stuck to his toothpick, or if he had the need to appear more menacing he would use a match. Rose smiled to herself as she noticed her thoughts began to move away from her task and towards Luca. Bianca huffed under the sun, it was about midday and the ship had already docked several hours ago.

Rose recognized her Aunt Polly first and pulled Bianca with her as Bianca sloppily tried to discard of her cigarette. As Rose made contact with Polly she hugged her tightly before even saying a word to her, she breathed in her scent.

“Oh, Rose.” Polly touched her face happily as she moved away to look at her. “Have you been well?” All Rose could do was nod in response or her tears would threaten to streak her cheeks. Michael was behind her then and Rose pulled him in for a hug. Finn came next, looking a foot taller from the last time she had seen him. Rose had even chuckled as the tears finally began to fill the corners of her eyes.

“Finn! You’ve grown so much” Rose hugged him tightly and pecked him on the cheek.

“You look like a true New Yorker, Rose” Finn grinned at her, she could tell that he had missed her as much as she had missed him. Rose took her orange cloche hat off her head smoothing out her hair. She was wearing a white blouse and a grey overcoat. Her skirt reached past her knees and was a darker shade of orange from her hat. “I’ve missed you, Rosie.” Rose hadn’t heard Finn call her that in ages. As she looked at her little brother she noticed how much he looked like Arthur now that he had grown into himself. John had always looked a little more like Tommy then anyone else, but Finn was different. As her thoughts rambled on, Ada came out of customs clutching her son Karl tightly by the wrist. He seemed to be fussing over his mothers strong-will. Rose smiled as soon as she caught Ada’s gaze. As Ada neared the group, Rose embraced her big sister tightly, pecking Karl on the head soon after.

“I’m really happy to see you,” Rose sounded as she looked her sister straight on. Ada laughed, she seemed to be in such a delight to see her sister again. Ada rubbed Rose’s back as she hugged her again.

Arthur came bustling out with Billy on his hip and Linda close behind them. There was a wide grin on his face as he saw Rose in the crowd.

“Aw, look at you!” Arthur was her favourite and would always be. Rose ran to him holding onto him tightly as Arthur quickly passed Billy to Linda.

“I’ve missed you so much!” Rose sounded through sobs, she was full on crying now.

“I’ve missed you too. You’ve been doing alright then?” Arthur still looked at her with a grin as Rose nodded her head at him as she wiped the tears quickly off her face. Rose then moved over to hug Linda and kiss Billy on the cheek.

“Where’s Tommy?” Rose added as the tears waned and the disappeared.

“He’s not coming. He didn’t want to leave Birmingham alone, he kept your Uncle Charlie and Lizzie with him.” It was Michael that spoke. Rose was disappointed but not surprised. As they all huddled together, Rose introduced Bianca to her family. Bianca was respectful even though she knew that Arthur had killed her father. She shook his hand and made no comments, Bianca was too good to be true, and Rose knew that Arthur thought the same of her.


The Shelby’s were staying at Hotel Astor, where the party was meant to be held for the wedding. Rose hadn’t known they were meant to be staying there, but she had notified Bianca that it would be difficult to get them to leave the party at the end of the night because of it.

Rose had spent the days before the wedding either catching up with her family at the hotel or being told by Bianca which superstitions she was meant to follow. Luca hadn’t gone to the hotel or even asked whether the Shelby’s had settled in well at their hotel the week leading up to the wedding. But Rose didn’t pester him, she had no idea if he was planning on avoiding them or not. She’d lay next to him every night before the wedding with this on her mind, and whether she really was ready to marry someone at all. Was she even wife material? She’d never really had to take care of anyone before. She watched over Finn every once and awhile but they were close in age and that hardly counted. She knew that the Italian women had a standard for the way families were run. She’d have to be a mother sooner or later, and that scared her to pieces. She loved children, but could she really give birth to one, could she really call one her own? With all these thoughts in her mind as she laid in bed, she would wake up tired every morning until Bianca chastised her and told her that she would need to go to bed earlier so that she wouldn’t look like a ghost in her wedding photos.


It was three days before the wedding, and Rose was sitting in Polly’s hotel room. The entire family had gathered in the room. There weren’t enough chairs to seat everyone. Arthur, Finn, and Michael were stood by the cold fireplace smoking cigarettes while the rest of the family were around a small table close to the four-poster bed. Polly was holding on to Rose’s hand.

“He hasn’t hurt you, has he?” Polly was scanning Rose with her eyes, “You’re okay to go through with this, are you?” Rose had gotten used to the questions. Ada had asked her twice that day and even Linda asked her if she was okay with spending the rest of her life with Luca.

She never answered them excitedly like any normal bride would, all she could say was “Everything will be okay,” Rose felt it would be. She didn’t need to be afraid of Luca, he was always kind to her and he never made her do something she was uncomfortable with. He was heaven sent to her, but she wasn’t going to tell her family. She couldn’t, Luca had this reputation that appeared on his face whenever he came in to contact with strangers or people he wished to be feared by. Rose knew that to her family, he needed to appear this way, as much as she wished he wouldn’t need too.

“Don’t worry Aunt Pol, everything will be fine.” Rose put her hand on Polly’s shoulder reassuringly, but Polly looked back at her quizzically.

“Something’s changed in you Rose.” Polly continued to scan her. She looked Rose straight in the eyes and then at the boys by the fireplace. Rose knew that Polly had figured something out with her second sight, but what Polly had seen Rose did not know.

Rose quickly changed the subject, she mentioned to Ada how much Karl had grown and how he was almost her height. The evening ended quietly, and Rose meant to leave before the sun had set completely. As she made her leave from Polly’s hotel room as the rest of the family retreated to their rooms or to another part of the hotel Polly caught Rose by the arm before she could exit the room. Polly watched as everyone left before she spoke to Rose.

“You care for him don’t you.” It wasn’t a question as Polly looked at Rose with a blank stare. “I can see it, you don’t have to lie to me.”

“Well…” Rose’s tongue got caught in her mouth. “I have to care for him, don’t I.” Polly gave Rose a knowing smirk as she stopped Rose in her tracks, she had lied to her. And it was incredibly obvious. “I’ll be okay, I promise.”

“Words, are just words, Rose. But, I can’t stop you.” Polly tapped her cigarette against the door frame. She looked at Rose sternly then, like she had once done when she was a child who had gotten into trouble. “Tommy wants this done, so I can’t tell you too come home. But, I see a lot of trouble in you now, a lot of hurt.” Rose’s steady expression turned sour. It was easy for her to believe her Aunt Polly’s words.

“I really don’t know what I’m doing Aunt Pol, but I have to do it. Because I want to now. Don’t tell Arthur, Don’t tell Tommy either, but I need him. And I think he needs me too.” Polly gave her a sad look as if Rose were walking into her own misfortune.

“Alright… alright,” Polly added. She pulled Rose in for a hug. “Be safe, don’t stick your head anywhere it shouldn’t be. If anything goes wrong down the line, come home where its safe. Tell Luca if you have too, I’m sure he’ll understand.” Rose nodded at her aunt before she took a heavy breath to steady the threatening tears in her eyes. “Go on home, I’m sure he’s wondering where you are.” Rose hugged her aunt one last time before she left the hotel room, and walked down the brightly lit hallway, of cream coloured walls and grand mirrors. She steadied her breathing, Polly had always been a mindful person, not always a rationalist but she was dependable when she needed to be. Rose believed every word she had said to her, like the obedient child she had once been to her.

She walked out of the hotel alone, the sun was setting in the sky leaving the sky in a purple and pink haze. The New York streets were just as dangerous as the streets in Birmingham, but there was less space to run to here, the streets were narrow and the buildings tall. But Rose made haste wrapping her thin shawl around her shoulders tightly. The air in the month of May was no different to the air in March in New York. Rose took the main road to reach Tessa Tower, and headed straight up the elevator she had now grown used to using.  When she got inside the apartment, she drank some water and then headed to her closet to strip herself of her day clothes. Luca still wasn’t home but she was completely drained by seeing her family that evening. She got into the soft silk blankets and pulled the comforter on top of her. She stuck her arm out of the sheets to touch Luca’s side of their enormous bed and she fell asleep with ease.

She woke up to Luca sliding his tall frame into bed next to her. It was pitch black outside their enormous window. Luca placed a kiss on her forehead before Rose snuggled into him.

“Is everything okay? You never come in this late.” Sleep was still in Rose’s voice and her eyes were closed.

“Just had to deal with business, everything’s fine Tesoro. Sleep,” Rose tangled her legs between his and wrapped her arm around his chest, her long hair draped out behind her. She thought about telling Luca about her visit with her family, but she decided not too as sleep engulfed her again.


Rose woke up on the day of her wedding in absolute fear. All the emotions she had been holding back couldn’t be contained anymore as she cried in her bathroom connected to her walk-in closet. How could she know if she was ready to be a wife? How could she know if she could bear and raise Luca’s children? How could she know she would be enough for Luca?

Was she enough?

Luca had been sent out of the house early that morning by Bianca, and Rose had been grateful that Luca wasn’t there to witness her in this state. But Bianca was waiting with Polly and Ada outside her bathroom door, sending consoling words through the painted wood.

When she left the bathroom after a few minutes of tears, Polly grabbed her cheeks with more force than necessary. She looked her dead in the eyes as Bianca watched on with a confused expression on her face as Ada began to prepare Rose’s things to dress her for the wedding.

“You listen to me now. You make the best of this, If you love him the way you do, you can do this. Be brave, girl.” Polly let go of her then, and Rose nodded at her. She had never said that she loved Luca out loud to anyone, not even to herself, but Polly already knew it. Rose held in her breath, pretending she hadn’t heard the word love, she wasn’t ready to admit it, not even on her wedding day. She knew she was being foolish anyway and she was glad Bianca, Ada and her Aunt Polly were there or she would have ended up falling asleep before the wedding could even start.

Rose was dressed in a white gown with long fitted lace sleeves, with a boat neckline. The dress was relatively simple, but elegant all the same. The lace above the satin truly made her look like she was worth a million dollars. Bianca fixed Rose’s face, trying to hide the swelling that came with the crying she had done earlier. She put on all her silver jewellery as well as a ruby hairpin in her hair to hold her dark brown mane behind her. When she was ready she looked at herself in the full-length mirror in her walk-in closet. She’d never get to see herself like this again, so she memorized every detail. Once she was ready to step out Ada handed her a bouquet of deep red roses. It had become Luca’s custom to comfort her with roses and she knew it had to have been his idea to use roses for the wedding. Rose found comfort in the gesture and made way to leave her apartment.


Luca had been greeting guests at the main doors of the church with his mother and best man, Anthony Drago. He was getting restless, but he kept the strong look on his face. Luca’s easy smile glided on his face as his elders addressed him. Anthony had already complained about standing so long in the sun, so they all moved inside St. Andrews Church. Luca took his position at the front of the altar and Anthony stood next to him, talking about how he had just spotted a pretty woman with long legs. Luca looked at him carefully, making it known to Anthony that he should watch his mouth in the church, but all Anthony did was snicker at him. It had progressively gotten harder for Tony to share banter with Luca after he had gotten in engaged, but he found that he enjoyed making Luca annoyed far more.

Luca looked to the left side of the church. In the second row Michael Gray and Rose’s youngest brother Finn had already taken their seats. At least they cleaned up well, Luca thought. He corrected himself quickly. He knew Rose would have been disappointed if he had said it out loud. He watched Michael for a second and caught his gaze. Luca gave him a simple nod of acknowledgement and Michael returned the gesture. Soon both Polly, Ada and her son sat down next to Michael and Finn, along with Arthur’s wife Linda and their boy. Arthur was going to walk his youngest sister down the aisle.

He looked to where his mother sat, she had a solemn expression on her face now that no one but he, Anthony and the priest could see her. Catarina and Paulie were sitting next to her, and Luca watched as Bianca made her way down the outside aisle to sit next to them. Rose had to be there by now, waiting to walk down the aisle with her brother to be handed to Luca. He truly couldn’t wait to see her.

Luca had never been nervous before. He had never dreamed that he would be nervous on the day of his wedding either, but he wanted to marry Rose. Two months ago, marriage had been out of necessity to save his mother and his sisters. But Rose was nothing like he thought she’d be. She was the one for him, he couldn’t see his life without anyone but her anymore.

The traditional wedding bells began to play in the background and the doors of the church swung open to allow Arthur and Rose to step inside the church. Luca breathed in deeply as she came into view. Her veil still over her head. She looked petite next to her brother, but she looked petite next to anyone. Luca couldn’t help but let a grin cross his face as she was getting closer to the altar, he hadn’t shown this much emotion all day and he knew that the crowd and his family had become interested in the girl behind the veil by Luca’s reaction to her. As Rose got to the altar Arthur handed her over to Luca, a stern nod from Arthur had made everything clear to him. Arthur had come to terms with Rose and Luca’s marriage even if he didn’t like the idea. Luca didn’t care too much anyway, he had his Rose with him now. Arthur lifted the veil from Rose’s face so that they could see each other before the ceremony could commence. Arthur took his leave to sit next to his family, as Luca looked at Rose in awe. He had always known that she was beautiful, but in her white gown, with her bouquet of red roses, and the soft smile on her face as she looked Luca in the eyes, he could just melt into her. She was as beautiful as ever.

The ceremony commenced with a couple of happy tears shed, and a lot of cheering and clapping. Audrey couldn’t contain her discontent in the front row, her frown had grown from the beginning of the ceremony, but she couldn’t do anything about it. It had been Luca’s choice to save his mother from the possibility of murder, but Luca knew that she wouldn’t protest his actions long, as he was the head of the family and good things were coming his way.

At the end of the ceremony the priest, motioned for Luca to kiss his bride. Luca turned to Rose noticing how flustered she had become with all the eyes watching them, and the anticipated public display of affection they were about to engage in. Luca leaned down into Rose’s small frame and pecked her lips affectionately, but still chaste. He watched as the sincerest smile graced her face, and he held onto her hand as the wedding bells commenced again for the party to leave the church. Rose and Luca stepped out of the church into the sunlight as Rose and Luca’s family tossed rice into the air to shower them with good fortune.

Chapter Text

There was an hour of free time for Luca and Rose to spend together before they had to head over to the Ballroom at Hotel Astor for the wedding party. Rose’s cheeks were flushed red as Luca stood above her. She was sat on the long sofa in her living room, blushing intensely under Luca’s gaze. Luca loved that she was still shy, even after seeing every bit of each other. 

“You’re beautiful–most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” Luca kept turning his gaze away from her as he spoke to smile about her. He looked like a schoolboy to Rose, giddy about his crush as he tried to hide his grin with his hand.

“Oh Luca, stop that,” Rose laughed as she touched the heat in her cheeks. Luca swooped down quickly to peck her on the lips.

“It’s true, Tesoro,” his face was close to hers now, his warm breath full of whisky soothed Rose’s nerves. Luca moved her hair away from her face and tucked it behind her ear. Rose watched as he licked his top lip, he always gave her that look when he was aroused by her. “Or should I say Mrs. Changretta?” Rose laughed again, and kissed him softly, this time with more feeling as she glided her tongue against his lip. Luca moved away first to get down on his knees and pull the hemline of her lacy dress up to her thighs. A mischievous smirk on his lips, he kissed her knee before he moved to kiss her lips again.

“Luca, not now–we don’t have much time until we have to leave.” Rose placed her hands on the sides of his face before she ran her fingers through his inky black hair. He loved it when she touched his hair, he had made it clear to her that he liked it many nights ago when they were naked against each other. She wasn’t making it easy for Luca to resist her.

“Aye, we have time,” He smiled at her, as he leaned down to kiss the skin of her thighs.

“Who’s going to help me get back in this dress than?” Rose chastised him, but it didn’t do much to convince him that it was a bad time to get intimate, as she lazily pushed him off laughing at him.

“Who says you have to take your dress off?” He questioned her. “I like you in this dress, you look like your worth a million clams.” Luca gave Rose the smirk she loved again before Rose covered her face with her hands and laughed at him.

“So, I’m not worth much when I take this dress off.” She didn’t mean to sound insecure as she pulled on his tie to get him close to her again.

“Naw, that’s where the big bucks are–when I see your pretty skin,” his voice came out in a whisper as he kissed her lips again. He was always so gentle with her, as he slipped one hand on her hip under her dress and the other to tangle in her hair. Rose loved every minute of it. She was already moving to his trousers, trying to remove his belt. But he held her hand there before she could pull his belt out of the hoops that held his trousers in place.

Luca was a taker in everything he did. He was a taker on the streets, a taker in the bars, a taker of bets, a taker of cold hard cash, and a taker of life. But with Rose, he was always a giver. He always gave her everything. He gave her things she didn’t even need. But he was also a giver in the bedroom, always trying to please her instead of asking for anything from him.

Luca began to kiss up her thighs again, leaning into her as he dug his fingers into the skin of her legs. He pulled her panties off her and slid them down her legs, making sure not to remove her garters that held up her stockings. He looked up at Rose looking for her approval, but Rose had already leaned her head back, her hand in her dark brown hair.

Rose’s breath hitched as she felt Luca’s warm breath on her sweet spot. She took a second to look at the clock perched on the wall, they were expected at Hotel Astor in the next forty minutes. But the fact that there were people waiting for them and Rose was sat in her apartment with Luca’s head between her legs just aroused her even further.

Luca pressed a kiss to Rose’s slit before he buried his tongue in her folds.

“Luca,” Rose moaned his name. It only encouraged Luca to continue, as he grasped the smooth skin of her thighs. Rose was holding the hem of her dress up for Luca so he could work his magic, but Rose was struggling to keep her hands in place as Luca continued to kiss, lick and suck at her bundle of nerves. He continued to look at her, but Rose couldn’t control the pleasure that moved inside her as he gazed up at her. It only kept her going, as she was nearing her peak. Rose began to call Luca’s name more frantically before he moved away to look at her clearly. Rose took her chance to sit up and remove his belt completely and pull his trousers down for him, “C’mon, Baby,” Rose sounded desperate as Luca chuckled at her and did the work himself. Rose was already riled up from Luca’s stint between her legs. His hair had already gotten messy.

“You sound American already, Mrs. Changretta” His voice came out in a purr of ecstasy as he leaned into her, his cock teased Rose’s wet folds. Rose grinned at him through the heat, and kissed him hard, tasting herself on his tongue. Luca entered her steadily, and it wasn’t long before he had quickened his pace pulling Rose closer to him so he could reach into her more comfortably. Luca began to kiss Rose’s neck and Rose had begun to moan loudly as she was reaching her climax. Luca looked into her eyes as she did so, her hand wrapped around his neck.

“Luca–” she moaned one last time as she watched Luca groan and bite his bottom lip. Rose let out a gasp as she felt Luca spill his seed inside her. Her walls clenched around him, leaving them panting in their living room.

As the pace slowed down, Rose planted kisses along Luca’s jaw down to his neck reaching the collar of his dress shirt, that was still neatly in place. Luca placed a loving kiss to her lips before he helped her off from the sofa and led her into the closest bathroom so they could clean up before they headed to the Hotel Astor for their wedding party.


 

Luca extended his hand to Rose to help her out of the motor car. Rose could already hear Bianca shouting from the lobby about how they were late. They were only five minutes behind schedule but it was enough for Bianca to start shouting at people who weren’t at fault for the delay. Bianca rushed out to meet them in the lobby and smacked Luca with the back of her hand to his chest. Luca didn’t budge as he looked at his little sister with an annoyed expression.

“I told you the time didn’t I?” She spoke to Luca first, “I thought you would at least be on your toes Rose,” She swivelled her body to look at Rose to chastise her as well. “You’re not wearing any lipstick,” Bianca crossed her arms over her chest. Out of the corner of Rose’s eye, she could see that Luca was laughing silently to himself, with a quick and rapid rise and fall of his chest.

“Oh, yeah, I forgot to put it back on,” Rose answered her nervously. Rose forced her thoughts to stay where they were and to not wander off to what she had done with Luca several minutes ago.

“I have some here,” Bianca said absently as she searched for a tube of lipstick in her handbag. She helped Rose put the lipstick on and then Bianca escorted the pair of them to the ballroom. Bianca asked for the two men in the hotels uniform to open the double-doors to the ballroom, as Bianca moved away to let the pair of them enter before her. As soon as Luca and Rose walked in they were greeted with loud cheers and claps, as their guests raised their glasses full of alcohol to them. Rose couldn’t help but smile at everyone as she intertwined her fingers with Luca’s.

The pair of them walked toward a table at the end of the room that was elaborately decorated with roses and enormous glass centrepieces with several candles adorning the entire dimly lit ballroom. The cocktail hour had started before they had got there so Luca and Rose sat at their table that faced the guest tables and asked for their drinks as everyone continued to socialize before dinner was served.

As Rose sipped from a glass of sangria, she located her family in the crowd of guests seated at round tables. When she spotted them she could tell Arthur was already drunk and trying to leave the table, he was getting shushed by Linda however and it brought a smile to Rose’s face. He was still the same from when she had left them in Birmingham. The rest of her family were chatting at the table, pretending they weren’t the only foreigners apart from herself at the wedding party.

“What is it?” Luca whispered close to her ear.

“Oh, just my family,” Rose turned to look at him. “I’m just happy they’re here.”

“It’s too bad Tommy isn’t here to see you like this,” his face was soft as he spoke to her, no blatant emotion to tell her what he was thinking.

“That’s okay, I was kind of expecting it. As long as everyone else is here I’m happy.” The proximity of Luca’s face to hers encouraged her to kiss him. It was quite intimate for a public setting, and as it dawned on Rose as her lips left him, her face heated up. Luca noticed her sudden embarrassment and chuckled into her ear before he kissed her temple. Rose was hoping no one saw, especially her family, what would they think of her?

As she gazed at her family again, she realized what she was doing. She had been doing it for over two months now. While she was engaged to Luca she had done it, and now that she was officially married to him, a wedding band next to her engagement ring to prove it, she kept on acting as if she were only dating Luca. Sometimes it felt that way to her. She had never had a proper boyfriend before, and everything felt new to her. She downed the rest of her sangria before dinner plates were passed around by waiters dressed smartly in black and white.


As the guests were finishing their dinners, one by one members of Luca’s family and the five families of New York began to line up and formally greet Luca and Rose. Soft jazz music was played by a band in the background as the line before them grew.

Don Spinietta met them first, planting a kiss on both of Luca’s cheeks before he did the same to Rose. He handed Rose a thick envelope and gave her a soft pat on the cheek. Before he left the line. Luca took the envelope from Rose and placed it in a box underneath the table. Rose had been expecting the envelope’s, Bianca had told her about this tradition weeks ago, but she hadn’t been expecting the first envelope to be so thick. Rose composed herself as she greeted the next guests.

It felt to Rose as if they had been greeting guests for hours, their box had already reached its limit of envelopes and Bianca had given them a second one. Rose felt anxious as more and more people continued to give them envelopes. Though she had to admit, people she was not expecting to meet had greeted her. Almost the entirety of the Galano family of Staten Island had kissed Rose’s cheeks and congratulated her on her wedding day. The Don Galano’s sons, Nico and Vito had made Luca incredibly uncomfortable as they complimented Rose’s figure and the colour of her eyes. Bianca had told her to expect the men to be forward with her and that most of the men were going to try and make Luca uncomfortable that night and no one would be able to say anything about it. It was one of the traditions that Bianca couldn’t get rid of even if she tried.

A few of the members of the Francone Family from Queens and the Bassano Family from the Bronx attended as well and gave Luca and Rose well wishes. Rose assumed that they attended the wedding in case Luca would take on the role of Don. They were all polite to Rose and gave them an envelope each as was expected. Who stuck out like a sore thumb to Rose, however, was Aria Marconi. She was the only person from the Marconi family from Brooklyn to attend the wedding. She looked incredibly beautiful to Rose, her high cheekbones and strawberry blonde hair was intimidating and the grin on Luca’s face as he greeted her made Rose feel cold. But she knew that if Bianca could see her then, she would tell her to smile and put her best face on because there was a good chance that Aria Marconi would tell her father everything that happened at the wedding. Rose mustered the best fake smile she could, and she let Aria kiss both sides of her face.

“It’s nice to meet you, Rose. I’ve heard many things about you over in Brooklyn,” Aria flipped her pretty hair behind her shoulder before she handed the envelope to Rose.

“I hope they are good things,” Rose answered eyebrows raised as she engaged Aria in conversation she truly didn’t want to be a part of. The old Rose would have cowered away already, so she felt she was doing well for herself.

“Well, Italian folk, they talk. And they don’t always mind their words. I’m sure you know now that you’ve married Luca.” Aria batted her eyelashes toward Rose’s husband, it was jealousy that Rose felt growing in the pit of her stomach. Rose wanted to hide after hearing her words, but all she did was look back at Luca to see his reaction toward Aria. He had an unpleased look on his face and it helped Rose continue going.

“Thanks, Aria, give your father my thanks as well.” Luca dismissed her, but he didn’t check to see if Rose was alright because so many people were watching. Rose stuck her brave face on and continued to greet the last few guests, her family.

Polly came first and kissed Luca awkwardly on both sides of his face before she moved to do the same to Rose. Polly gave Rose a knowing smile before she gave Rose a fat envelope.

“This one’s from Tommy,” it was easily the thickest envelope they received all night. Rose handed the envelope to Luca with wide eyes and then Polly handed Rose another envelope that she assumed was from her aunt this time. All her family members seemed to have rehearsed their greetings, especially Arthur as he tried to make kissing Luca’s cheek less awkward than it already was. Rose gave her eldest brother a quick hug before he kissed her cheek as well and handed a decent sized envelope from himself and Linda. Arthur was the last person in line and lingered to speak to Luca. This was the first time they were officially speaking since the Shelby’s had arrived in New York almost five days ago.

“You take care of Rose, alright?” Arthur sounded careful. Rose could tell that Arthur was trying to be as non-threatening as he could be. He was in the Italian Mafia’s playground after all. The conversation felt like a continuation of what Tommy had said to Luca on the platform at the train station back in Birmingham before she knew what Luca was like, and before she had become a woman thanks to him.

“Of course,” Luca stood up slowly from his chair. “She’s my greatest treasure” He took a pause to take a swig of his whisky. “Besides, you and I,” Luca used the hand that he was holding his glass of whisky with to point at himself and then at Arthur, “we’re family now.” Arthur nodded his head in agreement with Luca’s words. Rose wouldn’t have believed it if she wasn’t there witnessing it for herself. Luca shook Arthur’s hand respectfully.

“‘Cos y’know… Rose, she’s never had it easy. She’s a good girl, right, but bad things have happened to ‘er.” Rose stood up quickly to hold onto Arthur’s shoulder. It was meant to distract him, to stop him from talking. She didn’t want to reveal her trauma to Luca yet. She wasn’t ready to relive it all. She could smell the whisky off of his suit jacket, she knew he was drunk.

“Arthur,” It was all Rose could say to him, but he took the hint. She embraced her brother and sent him off. She hated to interrupt him. She knew that he was doing it out of love, but she wasn’t ready. So, she sat down next to Luca and pretended Arthur hadn’t said a word.

As Arthur left their table Luca kissed her forehead, before Bianca came to speak to them next. They were going to start the dance, and Luca and Rose were expected to dance alone in the middle of the ballroom before anyone else could join. They started off with a smooth Italian song, but Rose could tell that there was a hint of blues in the sound of it. Luca walked Rose out to the middle of the ballroom, and held onto her waist with a protective hand, Rose slipped her own hand onto his shoulder. The clasped their free hands together and swayed to the music comfortably under the gaze of their guests.

Rose felt as if she were flying, everything felt alright in the world. She didn’t have a care in the world as Luca whispered sweet compliments into her ear. She took her chance to practice her Italian with him.

Sposo mio, mi tratta bene,” My husband, treat me well. The words slipped out of her mouth like liquid gold. She could manipulate her tone as she wished; she was already bi-lingual. It sounded to Luca like she was just as Italian as he. He let a soft chuckle rumble in his chest and he swooped down to Rose’s height to whisper in her ear.

Sposa mia, lo prometto,” My wife, I promise. Luca pressed a kiss to her temple as the music changed to the tradition Tarantella. The party had officially started. Older women and their daughters quickly walked toward the centre of the ballroom to start dancing and singing along with the music, and the men joined soon after clapping and singing along. Rose was enamoured with the romantic atmosphere. As some of the younger girls began to hold hands and dance to the Tarantella. Luca and Rose moved away from the crowd to allow their guests to continue moving toward the centre, and that was when Rose heard the end of a conversation she wished she hadn’t.

“I have no idea why Luca has married her. Sure she’s beautiful, but she’s no good for him.”

“I heard she’s a witch, but Tonia told me she was a prostitute in England or something”

“That doesn’t even matter. If they have children, none of them will be able to take the business after Luca. She’s not Sicilian.”

“What, she’s not Sicilian? I thought she was at least half.”

“No, Mateo told me the whole thing, he’s been running around all day talking about how Luca’s marrying a gypsy woman.”

Luca had heard it all too, she could tell from the sudden change of expression on his face. Rose couldn’t pinpoint who she had heard speaking amongst the crowd, it was just loud enough for her to hear. She expected that Luca knew who it was, but Luca wasn’t going to tell the two guests to shut their traps. He was getting ready to shut his cousin Mateo down. Luca motioned for Rose to get into the crowd of guests, as he fixed the cuffs of his suit. His collection of rings on his fingers glinting as the light hit them, he looked as if he were about to get business done.

Luca looked for the closest member of the Spinietta family to call for a meeting. Marco Drago, Anthony’s younger brother was closest to him.

“Marco, call the boys out. We’re having a meeting.” Luca’s voice was sour as he spoke to Marco,  he hadn’t even looked at him properly before Luca exited the ballroom, and walked into the nearest vacant room. Slowly, a few of the men of the family, and a few soldiers walked in. If the entire family had walked in it would have caused a problem for the other four families who came to pay their respects to Luca.

“Luca, What’s goin’ on? You should be with your wife. The Galano’s take the traditions seriously. They won’t be happy to know youse called a meeting.” It was his cousin Donnino who spoke to him, he was a caporegime and answered only to him.

“I have a message–I need to get across. I have too many big mouths to worry about, and I don’t want to have to worry about it.” Luca spoke dangerously, as the men in the room remained still, and silence burned their ears. “This is my fuckin’ wedding day.” Luca brought his fingers roughly to his chest, an angry look on his face. “I don’t need my wife to hear that she’s a witch, a prostitute, or a gypsy from anyone out there.” Luca took the chance to point a finger toward the door, but he was staring at Mateo as he spoke. Mateo was one of the few men that survived the events in Birmingham to make the trip back to New York. Luca understood that Mateo could be bitter about the experience, they lost good men in Birmingham, but the circumstances now could not allow bitterness. The Changretta’s and the Shelby’s were officially family now, in law and religion and eventually through blood. Luca couldn’t tolerate Mateo’s words against his wife, the wife he actually came to love.

“Luca,” The sound that came out of Mateo’s mouth was strained. Mateo knew he had done wrong, but he couldn’t express himself properly after the drinks he had consumed. Luca looked around at all the men, most of them were younger than him except for Paulino Drago another caporegime and Anthony and Marco’s father, as well as Giovanni Rossi another caporegime, and Stefano and Lorenzo’s father.

“You all know, I went out to Birmingham over two months ago. I served the black hand to my wife’s family. A few people died.” Luca put his hands together rubbing the rough skin of his palms. “Then there was a truce. The Shelby’s gave me their youngest sister as a wife, the sister they protected most. There’s no blood on her hands, she’s probably never seen anything worse than a paper-cut. She’s too good for anyone in this fuckin’ country, she’s precious to me.” Luca rubbed his chin with the back of his fingers before he waved a hand in front of his chest in a circular motion. “So, in return, I would appreciate that all of you respect my wife. There is no vendetta, no bad blood. The Changretta’s and the Shelby’s–were family now.” Luca stepped closer to Mateo. Mateo stood stock straight trying to avoid Luca’s gaze. Luca tapped Mateo’s cheek roughly to get him to look at him. “Get my wife’s name out of your fuckin’ mouth.” Luca lifted his knee in the blink of an eye, and with great force, Luca pushed Mateo’s head down with his hand so Mateo’s nose could collide with his knee. Mateo recoiled in pain, grasping at his nose. “I have’ta say cous, I expected better of you.” Luca stepped away from Mateo as he gathered himself on the floor. Luca turned to look at the men in the room to see if they had understood what he had been saying, and with the nod of Luca’s head, they all retreated back into the ballroom. Mateo staying behind to clean the blood that poured out from his nose.

Mateo was good at getting on Luca’s nerves. But he was family on his mother’s side, he could never get rid of him even if he wanted to.

Luca returned to the ballroom and found Rose standing with Gina Drago and the Galano brothers in an animated conversation. She always looked perfect to him. She wasn’t wearing her veil anymore, but Luca took the opportunity to stare at her from where he stood by the double-doors of the ballroom. He watched as she moved her hands as she talked, she’d picked the habit up from him. He watched as she continued to move her hair from her face and how she’d laugh with Gina. Luca wasn’t even worried about whether the Galano brothers, Nico and Vito were chatting her up. Rose was a real doll, his doll.

“She is quite beautiful, isn’t she? Especially, in her wedding gown,” it was Polly who had appeared next to Luca, a glass of gin in her hand.

“Yeah, she sure is.” Luca barely turned to look at Polly, but she continued to engage him in conversation.

“She’s a timid thing. Couldn’t properly look any stranger in the eye back home, but she’s changed here. It’s good for her, Tommy couldn’t keep her locked up forever.” Luca took the opportunity to finally look at Polly. “Us gypsies need fresh air, grass, trees. If America has any of that, you should take her there. It’ll make her happy.” Luca gave Polly a curt nod of his head.

“I will. Is there anything else I should know?” Luca turned to Polly and motioned for her to sit down at one of the tables. Luca sat next to her so he could lean in to listen to her over the loud music, cheering and clapping.

“Give her something to do,” Polly said to him as she looked for a cigarette in her beaded bag.

“We don’t bring women into our business–to dangerous,” Luca wasn’t sure what Polly had meant, but the Birmingham women were just as invested in their businesses as their male counterparts, and as progressive as Luca wanted to be he wanted to keep Rose safe much more.

“Anything else–I prefer you don’t bring her into your business. She doesn’t need to see all of that.” Polly put her cigarette between her lips as she looked for a lighter. At least Luca could agree with her on that. Luca knew how skittish Rose was. He knew something must have happened to her long ago that she was not ready to tell him, and he wasn’t going to put her in any situations that would make that worse for her. Arthur had given him enough of an idea on what Rose could have possibly been through, and Rose had gone out of her way to stop Arthur from telling Luca, he wasn’t going to ask her what it was all about. But he also wanted her to confide in him, he wanted to take care of her. Luca nodded his head at Polly again as he straightened the front of his suit with his hands.

“Be good to her, she trusts you. Maybe more than she should. She spoke to me.” Luca looked at Polly carefully trying to see if he could read her. But Polly gave him a small smile, as unreadable as it could be. Luca waved his hand in front of himself, urging more conversation with his movements.

“What she say t’you?” Luca ran the back of his fingers along his jaw.

“I’m sure in time she’ll tell you herself.” Polly’s smile grew as Rose appeared in front of them.

“What are you two speaking of?” Rose grinned at them brightly, as she slipped her hand on Luca’s shoulder. Luca placed his hand on top of hers protectively, as Polly got up from her chair.

“The wedding was very beautiful.” Polly looked at Rose carefully.

“When are you leaving Aunt Pol?” Rose asked her.

“Tuesday, in the afternoon”

“Then we still have all of tomorrow to see each other.” Rose moved to hold Polly’s hand.

“Rose we're leaving tomorrow,” Luca looked up at her from where he was sitting.

“Leaving? Where are we going?” Rose looked at him with a confused expression.

“Miami, for our honeymoon.” Luca tugged on her hand gently, he wasn’t looking at her.

“Our honeymoon?” Rose bent down to his ear. “Were going on a honeymoon? Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Rose’s proximity to him turned him on, especially in such a public setting. Luca turned to her slowly as she was still in his ear.

“It was supposed to be a surprise.” Rose kissed Luca’s cheek roughly before she wrapped her arms around him from behind.

“I’ll have Bianca or Hiram see your family off on Tuesday.” Polly nodded at Luca’s words and then walked away from the pair of them. To join Ada who was dancing sloppily on the dance floor with a man much older than she.

Rose let go of Luca and walked around him to look at him properly. Luca stood up from the chair to hold her in his arms, as the crowds that were still engaged in the dance began to chant “Bacio! Bacio!” Luca hadn’t realized that they were being watched. It was the fourth time that night that their guest had chanted for them to kiss. Luca put his hands on the sides of Rose’s face before he leaned in to give her a chaste kiss that left her red in embarrassment. The guest erupted in cheer as they continued to dance. Luca brought Rose into the crowd, so they could dance together.


As the night was coming to a close the guest began to pour out of the ballroom taking their leave. but Rose and Luca were still standing in the centre of the ballroom, swaying so slowly, it appeared more intimate than it really was. Rose’s own family managed to get up to their rooms in the hotel, with a bit of force, most of them too drunk to disagree with Rose or Bianca. While Audrey, Bianca, Catarina, and most of the Spinietta family still lingered.

Bianca was walking around tables to see if anyone had managed to leave anything behind in a state of drunkenness, while Catarina was staggering around with her pregnant belly yelling at Paulie that he should have stopped drinking already. But really they had all continued drinking into the early hours of the morning.

Luca’s cousin Donnino was shouting a song in his heavy Italian drawl as his brother Mauro tried to shut him up, and Anthony was chatting Allina Rossi up as he normally did when the family was around, a full glass of rum in his hand. Anthony had gotten his wish from over a month ago, he was truly drunk. Mateo had gone home already though, he had only stayed at the reception for at least an hour after Luca’s punishment. He had stayed to save face, but he left soon after.

It was around two in the morning, and Rose was sitting at one of the tables still sipping at her red wine, and reading Hiram’s palm. She was speaking to him animatedly of when he was expected to marry according to the lines in his hand and in Hiram’s drunk stupor he listened to her attentively. Rose had never practiced palmistry and had laughed every time Polly had read her own hands. But she was reading Hiram’s palms as if she knew all the secrets of the universe. She had had far too much to drink. As Luca had gotten her away from Hiram, she was sleepily clinging to him.

“Luca, are you going to dance with me?” she slurred happily against his chest. Luca scooped her up into his arms cradling her against his chest. The length of her dress pooled beneath her. She had taken off her shoes a while ago, and they were in Bianca’s hands now as she was collecting items they could not leave behind for the hotel staff to clean up. Rose laughed against him, rubbing the palm of her left hand up and down the front of his suit.

“C’mon Rose, we’re going home.” He chuckled into her hair.

After three, the entire family had exited the ballroom and retired to their homes.


 

Chapter Text

The morning after the wedding Rose woke up with a headache. She wasn’t feeling sick to her stomach, which she was grateful for, but the incessant pounding in her head was making it difficult for her to get out of bed. Rose clutched for Luca in the mess of sheets on their bed but she couldn’t find him. She cracked one bleary eye open and noticed he wasn’t in the room. Rose whined audibly, feeling incredibly foolish for drinking on her wedding night. She knew that she couldn’t handle her liquor well, not as well as Tommy, but everyone had been drinking and she felt left out that she wasn’t drinking as much as everyone else. She must have drunk the same amount of alcohol as Luca, but he wasn’t in bed with a headache. Rose put a hand to her forehead and rubbed roughly. She shut her eyes tightly trying to force the pain away but shot them wide open when she heard footsteps enter the bedroom.

Luca sat down on the edge of her side of the bed, putting his hand on her leg that stuck out from underneath her blankets.

“My head hurts,” she said quietly.

“I know, you’ve been tossin’ and turnin’ for a while. I called Polly for you.” Luca moved closer to her on the bed to place his hand on her cheek. Rose used the hand on her face to pull herself upward to sit up in front of him. “Don’t move too much you’ll make it worse.” He said to her carefully, the volume of his voice low.

“We’re supposed to leave today, aren’t we? But, I’m like this and still in bed.”

“Hey, don’t worry Rose. I’m sure your sister wouldn’t mind helping you pack a bag, and Bianca will be here later too.” Luca soothed her with his tone. He moved her hair away from her face, as Rose clutched the blanket tightly to her chest as she noticed she was just in her undergarments. Luca grinned at her as he noticed what she did.

“Are you still shy with me, Rose?” Luca smirked at her, she loved that look on his face. It made him look so young, but somehow powerful all the same. It intimidated but it intrigued her every time. She wished for the incessant throbbing to leave her head, she just wanted to kiss Luca, but she couldn’t think properly with the throbbing.

“I’m sorry,” her words were laced with the shyness that turned Luca on, no matter what they did in bed, she still managed to have a sort of timidness when they were in a compromising position. But Luca knew better, Rose wasn’t feeling well, he wouldn’t push her. Luca kissed her forehead and moved away from the bed to grab Rose’s light-pink silk robe. He helped her into the robe, and once the knocking came at the door Luca left their bedroom and walked to the foyer.

When he opened the door, a haggard-looking Polly walked past him with a lit cigarette in her hand. “Morning,” She inspected the living room for a few seconds and then turned to Luca and Ada who had just walked in.

“Good Morning Luca, nice of you to call for us this early in the day.” There was a sort of annoyance in Ada’s words. For a split second, he expected that Tommy and Arthur felt the same kind of emotion for Ada and Polly, that he felt for Bianca and Catarina. He loved them, but they also annoyed him beyond belief.

“We’re supposed to leave in the evening,” Luca raised his hand to express himself in waves. “But she ain’t feelin’ too well. She’s in the bedroom–she drank too much.”

“Alright then, bring us to her,” Ada spoke first, as Polly continued to look around. They hadn’t seen the apartment yet and that was mostly Luca’s fault, he knew Rose was far to shy to ask him if she could allow them to come over to their place.

Luca started walking first to the farthest room they had. Rose was sat up in bed, her back against the glamorous headboard, covered in a white, velvet fabric. Her eyes were closed but she spoke to them as they entered.

“Help me,” her tone was flat and bored, she definitely seemed tired. Ada walked to her first and forced her to get out of bed, pulling Rose up by her arms before Ada clutched onto her tired frame. Polly followed behind to help Ada. Luca stood awkwardly in the doorway of the bedroom, watching them as they worked on Rose.

“You know we won’t be here to help you with this again,” Polly spoke looking at Luca briefly before she turned to help Ada gather Rose and walk her to the bathroom to start a bath. “And your sister, she's a lovely girl, but she will get bored of helping you eventually.” Luca looked away from them. He knew Polly was right, he just didn’t know how to deal with it. He wanted Rose to be happy, he maybe even loved her, but he didn’t know how to help her with these things he never had to before. So, he just watched, taking note of everything Ada and Polly did to help Rose.

“Aunt Pol,” it was Rose who raised her voice slightly to chastise her, it made Luca feel warm that she tried to protect him from her aunt, even if he didn’t need it.

The bath was full of warm water and Ada had made sure to drop lavender-scented bath salts to soothe her headache. Polly and Ada both helped her into the bath after Rose stripped herself of her robe and undergarments, Ada eyed Rose when she noticed she wasn’t wearing a nightgown underneath her robe.

Polly cleared her throat as Rose stood naked inside the tub and tried to slowly lower herself into the water. Polly was motioning for Luca to leave, but he wasn’t going to, he needed to see what was happening.

“It’s not like he hasn’t seen me before,” Rose said defensively. Luca had never seen her act this way, and he found it incredibly amusing. Normally she was so shy and careful, even scared, but with her family she was comfortable. He felt like he had just seen a new side of her, and he wanted to see more of it. Luca smirked casually as he raised a hand toward Rose so that Polly would see a reason for him to stay.

“Did you throw anything up, Rose?” Ada was asking the real questions.

“No, my stomach is fine, thank God.” Rose rubbed her head again. Polly took tablets out of her purse and gave them to Rose to take.

“You know you can’t handle alcohol well, why’d you take so much?” Ada laughed lightly at Rose’s antics.

“How come everyone else gets to drink and not me?” Rose answered her with a pout on her lips. Luca leaned up against the door frame of the bathroom as the conversation continued. His bags were packed for their Honeymoon and he had all the time to spare.

“Because everyone else can actually handle their liquor Rose, you should be responsible,” Polly answered.

“What? How are you responsible?” Rose retorted, the annoyance was thick in her voice. Polly raised an eyebrow at Rose before she recoiled into the tub. “Sorry,” Rose said carefully. Luca felt like there were unspoken words shared through the looks they gave each other.

“Have you packed yet?” Ada changed the topic.

“No, Luca only told me yesterday. It’s a surprise he says,” Rose smiled to her self, as she brought her knees to her bare chest. Luca could tell that she was looking forward to their trip.

“Do you need help to pack your things?” Ada asked her.

“Yes, please.”


It was around lunch time and Rose looked visibly better. She was moving around freely in the kitchen with Polly, Linda and Ada doing some cooking as Luca, had invited Arthur, Michael, and Finn for cigars. Karl was running around the apartment as Linda held Billy to her chest. Rose had her bags packed, and was anxiously waiting for Luca to tell her it was time to go. But as Rose waited for the time they had to take the train to Miami, she was cooking a meal for her family, with Polly over her shoulder, and Linda telling her what she was doing wrong from the table in the kitchen.

In the living room, the conversation was different. Luca was talking about where he got his cigars from, and how he would give some to Arthur so he could take them home to Birmingham. Arthur enjoyed cigars the most in the family and had this one thing he could talk to Luca about where he wouldn't feel uncomfortable. Luca would put his nose against the cigar and inhale the scent and then pass it around for Michael, Finn and Arthur to smell. Finn didn’t particularly care for the scent of cigars but was happy to be included in the conversation.

As they all sat down for dinner, the Shelby’s and the Gray’s had truly begun to notice how much Rose had changed and how much Luca and Rose depended on each other. It started with how they held hands over the table in the dining room. The table that normally seated six was crowded with eight people and the proximity of each person was amplified as Rose kissed Luca’s cheek when she finished her meal. Rose was done with feeling ashamed and embarrassed. she had told herself at her wedding that she didn’t need to feel that way, she was married to Luca after all.

When dinner was cleared Bianca had come to the apartment to say goodbye to Rose and Luca, and to take any last minute instructions from her brother. Rose could smell the smoke off of her, as she hugged her. She didn’t normally smell that strong. Rose suspected that she had been around several smokers, and Luca could tell too but he didn’t say anything about it.

Luca asked Bianca to see Rose’s family off at the docks the next day and with that, she left. Luca and Rose were finally preparing to leave and had said their goodbyes to the Shelby’s and the Gray’s.

"You'll come back and see me again?" Rose asked.

“Of course we will, besides Tommy’s given Michael a job here in New York, he’ll be here more than ye want him too. And Ada will be coming around to Boston every now and then, and she’ll come see ya too, alright?” It was Arthur who spoke to her. He had his hands on her shoulders, and he had lowered his head to look her directly in the eyes. “But Luca’s here to take care of you anyway, but ya know you can take care of yourself now too,” Arthur removed his hand from her shoulder and used his finger to tap his nose twice and wink at her. She knew what he was doing, he was trying to remind her of the money he had given her. He didn’t know for sure if she had used the money or not, but Arthur knew that Rose was smart enough to use it for the right reasons. Rose nodded her head at him, hoping no one would care too much about the secretive exchange between them.

Rose didn’t think she’d need the cash, so she planned to save it, in case she and Luca ever got into any trouble. When Rose’s family left, Luca made sure that all the lights in the apartment were off, and Rose made sure she had turned the stove off and cleared the counters. when they were done checking loose ends, they stepped outside their apartment and took the elevator to the bottom floor.


The heat in New York was bearable, as it took its peak in the afternoon and cooled down as the day grew older, but the heat in Miami was on a completely different level. Rose felt as if she was on a different planet when she stepped out of the train and onto the platform. They had travelled through the night and it was early morning when they arrived. The heat was already bothering her through the thick fabric of her dress. Luca motioned for her to loop her arm into his as he carried both their suitcases. It was the first time they were completely alone in public. Luca almost always had some of his men with him, but this time it was just the two of them, they could be as intimate as they wanted on their romantic getaway.

It was around nine o’clock in the morning when they got to their private “resort”, which was what Luca had called it. Rose had never heard of a resort before and was impressed when she looked around at where they would be staying. Their lodgings were a collection of houses, the one they were staying at was styled as a single-floor mansion. There was a large living room with light pastel colours used in the furniture, there was a kitchen with a similar colour scheme off to one side and a dining room as well. The ‘house’ had four bedrooms, not that they needed so many. But the grandiose of it all overwhelmed Rose and she stood still in the living room, facing the back wall that opened up to a private beach, with off-white sand, and the bluest ocean she'd ever seen.

“Luca, you know you don’t always have to spend so much money,” Rose turned to him, placing her hands on his biceps, and rubbing the fabric of his suit there.

“I only want the best for you, Tesoro,” he leaned in for a sensual kiss, cradling her close to him with a hand to the small of her back, and smoothing her hair out with his hand. A knock came at the door startling Rose out of their embrace. Luca kissed her forehead, and put his hand through the opening of his suit jacket, Rose knew very well what he was doing. He was grasping a gun, that was strapped to a holster underneath his suit jacket. Rose began to feel dread, there wasn’t a good reason for Luca to feel the need to hold on to his gun, and he had only done it once in front of her before. It was fear she was feeling, she was afraid. She stepped away to hide in the kitchen, but she could still hear every step Luca took to get to the front door.

Señor Changretta!” Rose heard someone greet Luca happily, but she couldn’t tell if he was alone.

“Who are you?” Luca answered the man at the door, Rose assumed it was a man from the deepness of the voice.

“My name is Romero Elizondo, I work for Don Óscar Montesinos. He asks for your attendance in Little Havana, the Jefferson Hotel at eight o'clock.” The man’s voice became authoritative as he made demands.

“I’m not here for business,” was all Rose could hear Luca say. His voice was cold, and he sounded inconvenienced, but he wasn’t wrong. They were on their honeymoon, they came alone so they wouldn't be bothered.

The bits and pieces began to click in her head. The Cubans that seemed to pester the family in New York were in Florida, and no doubt in Miami, Rose had heard people speaking a language other than English when she got off the train. It was similar to Italian, but she couldn’t understand it, now she knew they were speaking Spanish.

“Consider it a friendly dinner, you can bring your wife as well, and Montesinos will bring his.” The man paused briefly. “No bad blood, just a gesture to welcome you to Miami.” Rose didn’t hear a response, but she could just tell that Luca had agreed to the proposal. The door shut then, and the clinking of the locks prompted Rose to leave the kitchen.

“We’re going out for dinner tonight?” Rose said carefully as she approached Luca who had already moved away from the door to sit on the sofa in the living room.

“Just for tonight,” Rose sat down next to him, raising her legs onto the sofa, and then nuzzling her face into the crook of Luca’s neck. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you”

“I know,” Rose said softly as she placed a soft kiss on the skin of his neck. She breathed in his scent, “I know you will.” She was so in love with him.

Chapter Text

Rose had never been afraid to go out for dinner before. Her hands were shaking as she tried to apply a dark red shade of lipstick to her lips. Luca watched Rose tremble, trying to hide the sudden fear she had, as he strapped two guns to his holster to the left and right side of his body. He walked toward her and took the tube of lipstick from her hand, setting it down on the vanity table where Rose had set the rest of her make-up from her suitcase. Luca took her hands in his and pulled her up to stand flush against him.

“Don’t be afraid,” Luca said to her softly. “Do you trust me?” Rose nodded her head in reply and rested her forehead against his chest, inhaling and then exhaling deeply. Luca lifted her chin with his index finger, tracing a soft circle on her skin with his thumb. He could tell that she wasn’t ready for this, this would be the first time she would attend a potential meeting with other gangsters. She was going somewhere where her safety wasn’t guaranteed. Tommy, Arthur and John would have never put her in this situation, but they had. When she was brought to Shelby Company Limited the day that Tommy had told the family that she would have to marry Luca, she had felt this same feeling that entire day. Now Luca had no choice but to do it, to bring her to a place they didn't know if they would come out from. He truly wished he didn’t have to, that he could leave Rose where she’d be safe. The Cuban gangsters in Miami would not take kindly to Rose not appearing, it was all about honour and how important women were to their business. But not important in the way that most people would think.

“I won’t let anything happen to you. Nothing’s going to happen, I’ll make sure of it.” Luca looked into her pale-blue eyes intently. Rose knew he would do everything he could, the way he held onto her told her the truth.

“I know you will,” she said softly. She reached up to place the palm of her hand on his cheek, and to kiss the other. She had been so much calmer before, but as the time grew closer to the meeting an anxiety rushed up Rose’s body as she forced herself not to cry. Arthur would have told her to hide, Tommy would have told her to run, but she couldn’t do that with Luca, and a strange side of her, one she didn't know she had wanted to be there with him. That side of her wanted Luca to depend on her too, as equals.

As she stepped away from him, she moved back to the vanity and sat down on the plush stool in front of it. She closed her eyes and spoke “everything’s going to be okay,” she breathed in deeply and let out the air through her nose. She finished applying her makeup and then she moved without a word toward the door so they could leave.


Rose and Luca pulled up to the Jefferson Hotel with minutes to spare. Luca handed the keys of the motorcar to a valet so it could be parked, as Rose looked up and down the street at the exuberant neon lights that were decorated all over the exteriors of the buildings. Little Havana may have been more lively at night than it was during the day. There was loud band music sounding from each locale, and there were people who were dressed glamorously entering them.

Luca and Rose moved toward the side of the hotel where a queue of people waited to get inside the restaurant. Rose had hooked her arm into Luca’s but she still held on to him tightly with both hands. As they reached the entrance the two large men dressed in black asked Luca what his business was. “Don Montesinos invited us for dinner at eight.” Luca had said it dangerously, as the bouncers were looking Luca and Rose up and down. They had only looked out of place when Luca had begun to speak, his New York accent didn’t match the accent in Miami. Rose didn’t bother to speak as it would only arouse more confusion. One of the men stepped forward and began to pat Luca down, searching for a weapon. Rose stood stock still, as she watched the bouncer pull open Luca’s jacket to find his guns. The second bouncer pulled at her white-beaded handbag and pulled it open.

“Hey! What are you doing?” Rose said worriedly as she tried to tug her purse back into her own hands. Luca moved faster than she thought he could. He was already in front of her, pushing the bouncer away.

“Don’t fuckin’ touch my wife!” Rose collected herself, breathing in carefully. She did her best to stay calm like she needed to be. She closed her handbag and pulled on Luca to step back and away from the bouncer. His suit jacket was still open, exposing the two guns on his body. Rose moved to close his jacket, closing it at the middle button, and the smoothing his suit jacket down, she knew how much his clothes meant to him. Luca seemed to calm down from his rage, Rose was in front of him after all. He smoothed her hair out with her hands. As Rose turned to face off the bouncers again, a man in a half jog reached the bouncers, slapping one of them in the back. Luca tilted his chin-up and an unamused expression crossed his face, she’d seen that look before on Tommy.

“Let them through, this is Luca Changretta from New York and his wife, sorry sweetheart, I can’t remember your name.” She recognized the voice, he was the man who had gone to the resort earlier that day, Romero Elizondo he had said he was called.

“Her name is Rose. And I don’t appreciate your men here tryin’ to handle my wife.” The look Luca gave Romero was deadly.

“I’m sorry about that,” Romero’s demeanour changed instantly as he smacked one of the bouncers up the head. Luca straightened his suit and smoothed back his hair with his hand.

“They got weapons, sir,” the other bouncer said.

“I don’t give a damn, let them in,” Romero sounded harsh. The two bouncers stepped to the side, and Rose held on to Luca’s arm firmly as they walked past the entrance and down a hall covered in a deep red velvet wallpaper with black accents. As they reached the end of a hall, they walked past a greeter at the door that would normally escort them to a table, but they followed Romero instead. The dining hall had three floors, each of them able to look down at the other in a balcony-style setting, while the bottom floor held a dance floor and a band. The atmosphere was charming and lively, as they passed the dancers, and travelled up each level to reach the top.

A man dressed in a white suit and a white gambler hat with a black sash perched on his head was reclined lazily on his chair. A woman was whispering into his ear as he sipped from a short glass of amber liquid. There was a cigar perched on an ashtray, on the table there were four dinner plates and the assorted silverware were untouched.

As the man Rose expected to be Óscar Montesinos noticed them approaching, he got up messily from his chair, the woman next to him, who Rose assumed was his wife stood up elegantly and walked around the table to greet them. Her dress was incredibly short, much shorter than the ones she had seen in New York. She had dark brown hair that just reached her shoulders, sun-kissed skin and a strong shade of red lipstick on her lips.

“It’s good to meet you,” she had greeted Rose first, it surprised her. “I’m Jimena Montesinos. Welcome to Miami.” The woman seemed friendly, it didn’t match her intimidating exterior.

“Thank you, I’m Rose, Rose Changretta.” She almost choked when she had used Luca’s last name. She hadn’t done it before. She had been using Shelby all her life and now it was like she was someone else. Rose hadn’t even noticed the exchange between Luca and Montesinos, but she moved toward the table to sit next to Luca and across from Jimena.

Rose laced her fingers into Luca’s under the table as menus were brought to the table, and they ordered their drinks.

“We had a problem at the door,” Luca started. Rose looked at him carefully, hoping he wouldn’t say anything to provoke Montesinos. They were all alone in Miami, and Montesinos no doubt had people lurking around the restaurant to stop a confrontation.

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that. They were born big in exchange for havin’ no brains.” Montesinos chuckled as he joked about the bouncers. Rose kept a blank look on her face, she wasn’t comfortable enough to loosen up her shoulders, or relax her posture. Luca frowned at Montesinos in a strange sort of agreement to his statement.

“Everything’s good here, the salmon, the steak, we even gotta few Italian dishes if you prefer something closer to home, eh?” Montesinos seemed like he was trying to make them both as comfortable as possible.

“I’d rather a steak, no one cooks Italian food like my Rose,” Rose hadn’t expected Luca to say her name, she thought he would have mentioned his mother’s cooking because it was undeniably delicious, but he said her name. Rose looked up at him and pecked his cheek. Luca smirked in response, he looked satisfied with himself.

“You two seem so in love,” Jimena sounded giddy before she elbowed Montesinos' side. “Why can’t you compliment me like that?” Rose did her best not to smile at the man’s misfortune.

“You’ve never cooked a day in your life?” He said innocently, waving a hand in front of himself, it was similar to the way Luca talked with his hands when he was upset about something, or confused.

“Well, you’re not wrong,” Jimena pouted, as she sipped at her martini.

“How’s Don Spinietta doin’?” Montesinos asked Luca.

“The business is goin’ good, so he’s good,” Luca said calculatingly. Rose tuned out the conversation as her food appeared in front of her, she had asked for the same dish as Luca. The night went smoothly, no outbursts, no hostile behaviour, nothing that would require Luca to get violent. Rose and Luca had even danced together after they had finished conversing with Óscar Montesinos and his wife, Jimena.

But as they drove back to the resort with the windows down, the breeze cooling their faces, Luca began to confide in her.

“They knew we were comin’,” He had one hand outstretched on the wheel and the other on the shift. Rose sat close to him, listening attentively. “Someone has been talkin’ in New York, or they got their own men up there.” Luca didn’t look concerned, his face was stern.

“But we’re okay, no one got hurt,” Rose answered placing her hand on his thigh.

“They might not leave us alone until they get what they want,” Luca answered at her, glancing at her for a second before he looked back on to the road.

“But, you’re not the boss yet. Why are they bothering you?” Rose questioned.

“They know Don Spinietta will choose me. They want to see if I’ll do business with them.” He answered as the palms trees moved past them against the speed of the motor car.

“Don Spinietta might not take it well if you do.” Rose was cautious to mention her words, she didn't want to ruin the night by being nosey.

“And I won’t. I won’t ruin my chances to take Manhattan. It’ll be mine.” She saw ambition in his eyes.

“I know it will,” Rose kissed his cheek as he continued to drive. “What’s their business anyway?”

“They do things we don’t like to get our hands in. It’s too easy for the police to throw any wise guy behind bars if they're caught doing Cuban business.”

“But, what business is that?”

“They work with women, they sell women, they have brothels and such, but mostly they sell cocaine, they ship it all over the country, sometimes overseas.” Rose frowned. She didn’t know much of what Luca did, she knew he probably had a hidden distillery somewhere, and he moved liquor from England to New York, prohibition made it a lucrative business. She knew that Cosa Nostra was invested in gambling, much like her brothers were, but that was it; she didn’t know much else.

“Maybe it's not a good idea to do business with them than?” She didn’t want to force her ideas on him, she didn’t know how he would feel about her sharing her opinions on his business.

“I know,” it came out softer than she had expected. “I know,” he repeated himself as he placed a kiss on her head. Rose’s hand that she placed on his thigh glided up to reach his manhood. She tried to cup his length underneath the fabric, but it was difficult with all the clothes in the way.

“Luca?” She whispered to him. She heard him stifle a groan between a clenched jaw. He was still driving, and it was unsafe, but she had no idea what had come over her; the sudden arousal. The sudden need to please him.

She used both hands to remove his belt, and then unbuttoned his trousers. He still had a stern look on his face, as if he were trying to fight off the pleasure that Rose knew he was feeling, she could tell by his erection. She leaned down toward him and flicked her tongue at his tip. She felt the car swerve quickly on to the side of the road. She clutched on to Luca’s leg to avoid sliding away from him. As the car stopped, she looked around to see what was happening. They had stopped for sure, and they were already so close to the resort, but Luca couldn’t wait to get back to their room, he wanted her to continue. Luca looked at her with dark and lustful eyes, on any other day, it would have made Rose look away. She had never been good at dealing with intimidation or just any sort of dangerous look. But she knew Luca, she knew him better than she once did, and she was comfortable. She wasn’t afraid anymore, she just wanted him, she wanted to make him feel good. She wrapped her fingers around his erection and placed her lips against the skin underneath his ear.

“You’re so good to me, Luca,” She felt Luca shudder underneath her touch. Luca snaked an arm around Rose’s waist inching her closer than she already was. His reaction toward her words, fuelled something in Rose, she wanted to keep telling him good things, she wanted him to feel good. She leaned down again to press her lips to his hardness. She moaned audibly against him, as Luca watched her and moved her hair away from her face. She licked up his length slowly, hoping to please him further before she dipped her mouth around him. She heard him moan her name, and she couldn’t help but giggle. She pushed her mouth deeper onto him, trying to take his full length into her mouth, but she gagged before she could.

“You’re so big,” Luca was puddle beneath her touch, it made her smirk, she had never felt this kind of power before, especially not over a man. She put her mouth around his shaft again bobbing her head up and down slowly, taking what she could of him. She paced herself and sped up as she swirled her tongue around him. Luca was panting slightly trying to keep his mind in place, staring down at his wife, his Rose.

But she didn’t let him finish in her mouth. He frowned at her, as she brought her face back up to look at him. “Why don’t we go back to our room, and I’ll take care of you.” She whispered it against his lips before she dug her tongue into his mouth. He kissed her fiercely like he had never kissed her before, claiming every inch of her mouth as his own.

“You’re being naughty Rose,” he said dangerously, nipping at her bottom lip.

“Should I keep telling you how well you did today?” He didn’t say a word, he just nodded his head in approval. Rose hiked up her dress and straddled him. His hardness pressed against her fully clothed cleft. “You look so good,” She ran her fingers through his hair the way he liked. “You’re so handsome Luca.” She grinned as she felt him twitch.

“I want to feel you,” Luca said softly, the lust still strong in his eyes.

“You deserve it, you were so brave,” Rose kissed his neck, as Luca moved her panties to the side so that she could place herself on top of his erection. As he entered her, Rose moaned loudly as he filled her up completely. “You feel so good,” she breathed, every time Luca would enter Rose’s walls it always felt like ecstasy. Rose did the work as she slowly moved up and down on him, using his broad shoulders to hold herself up.

She moaned deeply arching her back. “You feel so good–so good,” Luca bit into her exposed shoulder, trying to suppress the strong moans that tried to escape his mouth. “C’mon,” Rose said through a haze of pleasure as she moved faster. “You’ve been a good boy today, Luca,” He couldn’t help it, he couldn’t hold it off any longer, Rose’s words turned an excitement on inside him he didn’t know he needed. He emptied himself inside her, making Rose gasp in surprise, she reached her climax just after him. She’d never spoke so much during her intimate moments with Luca, she felt as if she unleashed something new about herself. She enjoyed it far more than had expected. Luca kissed her neck tenderly, as she tried to calm herself down from her high. She removed herself from on top of Luca as he started the motor car up again. Rose was smiling at herself as they grew closer to the resort.

“You’re so happy,” Luca grinned. “Did you enjoy yourself?”

“I did,” Rose couldn’t help the smile on her face. She was pleased with herself, after all the times Luca had willingly given her everything she needed, she had finally done her part, and she knew Luca had enjoyed himself. She could tell by the look on his face now, and the looks he had given her when she had taken charge of him. Rose expected that they would continue when they got to the resort and they did.


Rose spent the next day on the private beach in her bathing costume. She had never worn such little clothes in public, but Luca had assured her that she would be alone and that no one else would be able to see her but him. She was wearing the largest sun hat she had ever seen, sitting on a reclined beach chair under an enormous white umbrella with a book to her side. She only read for a few minutes before the scenery distracted her. The sand was almost white and searing hot under the sun. The water was clear, and the sky so blue.

She would have never seen something so beautiful in Birmingham. She had never imagined that she’d ever see the ocean in this way. She tucked her knees into her chest and watched the waves crash against the shoreline. She’d never felt so much at peace than she did now. She breathed in deeply, and exhaled through her nose, cherishing the fresh air.

The little girl that was constantly afraid and paranoid wasn’t there, it was just Rose. Rose knew how to move between them now. She was finally comfortable, comfortable with Luca and herself. She picked up her book from the chair and travelled as quickly as she could over the hot sand toward the house. She was ready to tell Luca, this was her moment, if she didn’t do it now she wasn’t going to do it later, she knew that for sure. She stepped inside, her bare feet relishing the cold stone of the house.

Luca wasn’t in the living room, and he wasn’t in the kitchen. Rose travelled to the bedroom and found him standing in front of the window holding on to the telephone set.

“Nah, he sent cigars to the resort… Of course, I’m keeping them, they’re well made.” He noticed Rose in the room as she glided her hand over his back as she walked toward the bed to lie down. “Yeah, that’s right. I’ll see you in a few days then, Aye, also, keep an eye on Bianca” Luca peered over his shoulder to look at Rose. “Alright, ciao,” Luca put the phone back on the table and looked Rose over as she sprawled herself on the bed casually. Rose was watching him too, she liked how he was dressed, she had never seen him like the way he was standing in front of her. He was wearing a thin white short sleeve button up with matching trousers. The top three buttons of his shirt were unbuttoned, and it made Rose blush even after discovering her sexual needs.

“I have to talk to you,” Rose sounded, extending her hand out to him. Luca stepped toward her, taking her hand as he lied down next to her.

“Everything alright?” He said carefully as he intertwined his fingers with hers.

“Yes, it’s just that, I–” she couldn’t find the words, she thought she was going to choke. She never spoke about her past misfortunes with anyone. She never had to, her brothers always did the talking for her. But she had to tell him, Luca deserved to know. “I just–I wanted you to know what Arthur was trying to tell you at the wedding, and why my brothers are always telling you to take care of me, and why I’m always so anxious.”

“If you’re not ready, you don’t have to tell me. I’ll wait,” he told her, as he watched her struggle to get the words out.

“No, I want you to know. You should know why I’m like this.” Luca sat up and pulled Rose up with him so they could get comfortable. They sat on the pillows, their backs against the headboards.

“I–” she really didn’t want to cry, but she knew if she were to relive the moments she hated most about her life she was going to cry no matter how hard she tried to. “When I was six–I was still just a little girl–I was curious about everything, except for my father. I was afraid of him, and after my mother died giving birth to Finn, he was the only parent I had around. I did my best to never ask anything of him, I always went to Ada, John, Arthur and Tommy, I never wanted to go to him when I needed something. But there was one time where I–” she choked back tears as Luca wrapped his arms around her protectively. “I didn’t want to bother him, but I needed someone to help me, he was there and I asked him if he could help me, he told me to go away. He was drinking–he was always drinking. But I kept asking him,” Rose let the tears fall then, but she continued to speak through the tears. “I told him that I needed him, but he pushed me to the ground, and I started crying. He told me to shut up, and that I was a waste of space, and I just kept crying, what else was I supposed to do I was only six.” Rose wiped the tears from her eyes, as Luca hushed her. “I kept crying, and I was just sitting on the floor, and he was just fed up with me, he pinched me and picked me up off the floor by the front of my dress. He started choking me,” Rose grazed her own hands against the skin of her neck as if she could still feel her fathers hands lingering there.

“Tommy walked into the house then and he stopped my father. He was already a man, maybe twenty years old, and he started shouting at my father and tried to kick him out of the house. But my father didn’t move. Tommy picked me up and took me out of the house. He didn’t have much money then, but he bought me a few sweets, and we sat by the cut for a few hours. Until Ada found us and took us to my Aunt Polly.” Rose continued to wipe her tears that had relatively calmed down.

“Where’s your father now?” Luca asked carefully.

“I don’t know, he showed up at our home maybe six years ago and he stole money from us and then he disappeared again.” Luca frowned at her words, deep inside him, he wanted him to be dead and gone from this world. A disappearance meant that there was a chance he could come back and Luca didn’t like that idea. Rose held on to him, gripping his skin as she tried to speak again.

“In the summer, when I was fifteen, I was walking home from Arthur’s pub in Small Heath. I was walking home alone, Tommy told me not too. He told me that John would take me home, but I left the Garrison without him. I knew I wasn’t supposed to, but I did anyway.” Rose was crying again. I was just walking through Garrison Lane and the street lamps were on, I didn’t think I would get into trouble. But a man started following me. He trapped me not far from the Garrison.” Rose couldn’t help the sobs now as she stopped talking and placed her face against Luca’s chest. Luca was lulling her, smoothing her hair down and rubbing her back. He never thought he’d be in a situation like this, but he was comforted by Rose wanting to confide in him.

“I–He–” She started, but she forced herself to calm down. “He kept asking me if I was a Shelby. I told him to leave me alone, I knew he was drunk. He tried to kiss me and he put his hands up my skirt.” Rose shuddered violently. “I started kicking him–I was screaming too. I didn’t care who heard me I just wanted someone to help. When I started screaming he pulled my hair, knocked me against the stone wall.” Rose moved away from Luca as she pulled her hair back tightly, so she could expose the thick white scar underneath her hairline. Luca clenched his jaw as he traced the scar with his fingers. “He kept kicking me, and he punched me too, he called me a diddicoy whore, like my mother.” Silent tears fell from her cheeks. “I don’t remember my mother much, but I know she was a good person, and she loved us.” Rose choked. “Arthur found me, he helped me, he took me home and Tommy, John and Ada fixed me up.” Luca kissed the side of her head, where her scar ways.

“This man, dead or alive?” He was looking at Rose sternly.

“Dead,” Rose answered, rubbing his arms; up and down. “Arthur–Arthur killed him when he found me, he killed him right in front of me.” Rose put her hand to her mouth as if she were remembering exactly what the dead man looked like as he died of a gunshot wound.

“Hey, Hey,” Luca tried to grab her attention. “You’re okay here. You’re fine, I’ve got you,” Rose nodded her head as she accepted Luca’s embrace. They were quiet for ages, as they held onto each other. Rose fell asleep against him. It was the most carefree sleep she had had after leaving Birmingham, maybe the most comfortable sleep she had ever had since she was six years old. Somehow she felt free, now that Luca knew everything she had tried to hide from him. She was as light as a feather, as free as she could be.

Chapter Text

Rose didn’t want to leave Miami. She felt like a new person and though it was the perfect time to get back to New York she wanted to stay, to be by Luca’s side, to be all alone with no one to bother them. But that could never happen. He was needed in Manhattan, he had things to do, an entire city to take over. Rose watched the scenery outside the window, as she thought about how much closer to Luca she felt and how much stronger she had become during the week they had spent under the sun.

She knew that New York would have its own heat wave now that it was June, but it wouldn’t compare to the heat in Miami.

“What are you thinking?” Luca spoke into her ear quietly. They had an entire compartment to themselves on the train, but they still sat so closely together. She held his hand tightly and then answered him.

“I’m going to miss Miami, I really am.” Rose sounded, she wasn’t looking at him, she was watching the scenery move outside the window still.

“I will too, especially ‘cause I spent it alone with you,” Luca kissed the side of her head, making her look at him as he spoke. “But, we can’t stay in Miami forever, as much as I wanna be there with you.” Rose smiled at him appreciatively, he had just placed a toothpick between his teeth.

“I know. They need you in Manhattan,” Rose stated carefully. “But, don’t forget that I need you too.”

“Of course. I’d never forget that–I need you too.”


Manhattan was quieter than usual, but Cristofano Spinietta always had a good feeling as to why things got quiet. He knew something was going to happen, and he expected that much as he tried to settle his affairs before he sent his last living daughter to California. He’d lost more than he had bargained for when he took on the life of a crime boss with Vicente Changretta as young men. He lost his wife and his two youngest daughters to vendetta’s he had managed to win in the end, though it didn’t feel like much of a win with all the bloodshed and heartbreak he had endured. He protected his eldest daughter with every fibre of his being, but he knew now was the best chance he had to walk away.

Vicente was gone now, his closest friend and confidante. But he knew his son Luca, would take his job and do it well. But the quietness, the calm before the storm he had heard one of his guys saying, he knew trouble was near, and maybe it was the hand knocking at his door.

Cristofano never took outsiders into his home. Only sworn in men from the Spinietta crime family were welcomed into the private estate.

But the knock at the door continued. Cristofano allowed the maid to get the door, and she travelled to it in fear of a possible ambush. But when she opened the door, two men stood on the porch casually. It was Don Enrico Bassano of the Bronx with his eldest son, Alonso.

“Enrico,” Cristofano started off politely. “I don’t do business in my house.”

“It’s an important matter, won’t take to much of your time,” there was a half smile on Enrico’s face as he spoke. Cristofano called for one of his henchmen, and as the threatening man came to his call, Cristofano ordered him to check Enrico and Alonso for weapons. When they were clear, Don Spinietta invited them to his study to here out their proposal.


Luca left the apartment only an hour after he and Rose had arrived. He had told her that business was urgent, maybe even critical. It had been a thought in the back of his mind the entire week he had spent in Miami.

He had confided in Rose, and he never thought he would be in that sort of situation, no matter who he ended up marrying. Rose brought him a comfort he would have never imagined, and that was why he was striving to make things right, too make the first move if he needed to, to make things safe for her. The woman he loved most in the world, and he hadn’t even told her yet.

Don Spinietta was expecting him at his estate, and Luca never had much trouble getting in due to him being the underboss of the family. But as Luca reached the door he noticed Cristofano’s familiar bodyguard standing by the door. Luca kept his cool though he knew something had to be wrong if Cristofano had a bodyguard at the door.

Luca got into the house easily enough, and it was more than just a house, it was your average mansion, with too many unused bedrooms and enough space to house a small army. Luca travelled to the Don’s study.

Cristofano was sat at an oakwood desk, with his leather-bound ledger book at his fingertips.

“Luca,” the Don acknowledged him, but he barely gave him a glance.

“Don Cristofano,” Luca started, “I left information with Donnino while I was away with my wife.” Luca started calmly but he knew that something was wrong, and the Don was still withholding information.

“Yes, the Cubans, I’ll never hear the damned end of it.” Cristofano moved away from his ledger, to look at Luca. “Luca, the Bassano’s came ‘ere today, with no warning–they came to discuss business. But it wasn’t in your favour. They’re fools for coming out here.”

“The Bassano’s are lookin’ for trouble?” Luca smirked as he raised his hand to stroke his jaw with the back of his fingers.

“No,” the Don stated, “not intentionally–maybe. They was asking for the Rossi’s to take Manhattan once I step down. Fools,” Luca’s eyebrows knitted together as he tried to figure out what exactly he had just said.

“They was lookin’ to take a beating, is what they were doin’.” Luca scoffed as he searched for a toothpick to put between his teeth.

“What’d you tell Montesinos, what’d he ask of you?”

“He didn’t ask much too much that was interestin’, but he was bein’ coy with me. He asked how you were doin’, about the liquor business, he asked if we were thinkin' about havin’ our own whore houses out here. He mentioned he had spoken to the Irish.” It was the Don’s turn to scoff. He’d been dealing with the Cubans for ten years now and would never hear the end of how they wanted to be partners in the cocaine and sex trade. But when it came to drugs and whores, it was harder for his men to survive if they were caught. All five families in New York had cops on their payrolls when it came to gambling, liquor, nightclubs and casinos, they weren’t prepared to take on more problems than they already had. They were earning great money already anyway.

“You think the Bassano’s are talking to Montesinos? How else would he know when I’d be there, or how the trip went, right?” Luca was trying to put pieces together in his head, but as much as he wanted it to make sense, something still felt off.

“It’s possible, but they’re real fuckin’ dagoes for coming all the way out here. To my damn house!” Cristofano almost shouted. A gangsters home was sacred, rarely did he conduct outsider business in his home, and the Bassano’s knew that.

“Is Carla here?” Luca was only asking to make sure she was safe. He had once been tasked to watch over Carla after her youngest sister Olga had died by a gunshot wound.

“I sent her off with Henry just yesterday. Northern California, she said she always wanted to go there.” Luca nodded at his answer. “Keep your eyes open, son. Until we figure this out.” That was Luca’s cue to leave.

As he left the estate he couldn’t help but look both ways and behind his shoulder. His brief meeting with the Don made him feel like someone was after his position maybe after his head.


Not much had changed when they got back to Manhattan. Rose was happy to see the apartment when she got back, the familiar bedroom, the familiar kitchen, just the familiarity eased her.

It was late in the evening and Luca had gone out on Don Spinietta’s request. Rose was alone for the night, with nothing to do. Boredom had become her friend.

As the next three days had all included the same sort of routine. She’d wake up with Luca to make him breakfast and see him off and then she’d do work around the house, cook, or read. Bianca showed her face a few times but she didn’t stay long, and she never said why.

It was mid-day, four days after returning to Manhattan and Rose had grown tired of sitting at home waiting for Luca to come home. She was dressed in one of the summer dresses Luca had bought her in Miami, and she had a thin cardigan to cover her arms. She wanted to look modest for where she was about to go.

She took the elevator down to the lobby and began her trek on the streets of lower Manhattan. There was a flower shop nearby the apartment, so she picked up something pretty and meaningful, a single sunflower surrounded by pink carnations. Rose took a taxi then and made her stop on a street full of row houses.

She knocked at the door, half expecting Bianca to answer the door, but Audrey answered it. Rose was there to see her anyway. Rose had a polite smile on her face, as she greeted her.

“Mrs. Changretta, these are for you,” she still didn’t know how to call her, Audrey had never made it clear to her.

“What for?” Audrey took the flowers as she moved out of the way for Rose to step inside the house.

“We all deserve flowers to brighten our moods.”

“Well, you’re not wrong,” Audrey said carefully as she walked toward the kitchen to look for a vase to put the flowers into, Rose followed meekly.

“What brings you here, Rose?” It was weird to Rose to hear Audrey speak her name as if it weren’t a curse on her family. She could tell that Audrey had stopped trying to fight Rose’s existence as Luca’s wife. She wasn’t as hostile as she normally was, and it eased Rose’s heart. she couldn’t bear to be hated by someone so close to Luca.

“I was hoping you could teach me how to cook, maybe some traditional Italian recipes. I’ve been learning mostly through books, but Catarina told me that authentic Italian food can’t be found in books. So, I was hoping you could teach me–I know the basics–I’ve tried–“ Rose was rambling, she was more nervous than she had thought, but Audrey cut her off.

“You just want to learn how to make Italian food?” Audrey asked quizzically, Rose nodded her head in response. “Very well, how about we try some cookies, something simple. I have enough ingredients to make them, and I’m running out of cookies anyway.” Audrey was speaking half-heartedly, doing her best to not show to much emotion to Rose, but it had always been one of Audrey's dreams that Luca’s wife or Angel’s would come to her to learn some of their husband’s favourite dishes. Though all Audrey could think about was how she was deprived of another daughter-in-law. She knew it wasn’t Rose’s fault, Luca had told her many times how it had happened. But, Audrey could see John, Arthur and Tommy in Rose’s pale-blue eyes, she looked more like her brothers every time Audrey set eyes on her.

They baked in silence, only Audrey spoke when she gave Rose instructions. Her final product had turned out perfect, and Rose almost caught her breath when she saw a ghost of a smile on Audrey’s face.

“Are you getting bored in that tower?” Audrey asked speaking of the apartment she shared with Luca.

“It’s big so it keeps me occupied most of the time, but yes, I don’t have much to do.” Audrey had served her coffee so they could properly try the cookies Rose had made. They sat across from each other at the small round table in the kitchen.

“What did you do when you were in Birmingham?” Audrey had found it difficult to keep up the hostilities, it drained her energy the first few weeks Luca and Rose had arrived, and she was an older woman, she didn’t have the time to continue acting this way. So she was civil, and the look on Rose’s face just made it more clear that Rose was surprised to be receiving any sort of kindness from her. It made Audrey feel bad slightly, but she pushed the thought away trying to listen to her daughter-in-law.

“Not much really, Aunt Polly never let me take bets, and Tommy never let me work at the company, it attracts too many bad people they said. I’d usually go out to the dress shops with my sister, she always liked to pick out what I should wear,” Rose smiled to herself as she continued. “My youngest brother Finn, he’s good at not listening to the rules, so sometimes my Aunt Polly would have me look out for him, but he was usually in top shape when I was around. Arthur has a house in the country-side. It’s beautiful there, enough space for horses, and a garden. I spent most of my time there, and Arthur had me move in with him. Horses were always special to me, John–” Rose stopped speaking as she realized what she had said. She looked at Audrey apologetically, thinking she might get kicked out of the house.

“It’s fine,” was all Audrey said as she nodded her head for Rose to continue.

“John–he would–he would take me to the races. Tommy said he’d always take me, but he was always too busy. John would always take me to do fun stuff, he took me and Ada to the pictures in London once to watch one of Charlie Chaplin’s films.” She was doing her best not to cry, and it was working. She didn’t want Audrey to know that John’s death had hurt her, though it made sense that it would.

“Have you asked Luca to take you to the races?” Rose composed herself, as she looked at Audrey’s face carefully. Her greying hair was pulled back into a bun, and she had modest clothes on.

“I–I didn’t know there were any race tracks in Manhattan.”

“There isn’t, you would have to leave the city and go west for a proper track. The Saratoga race course is under Don Spinietta's payroll,” Audrey took a gulp of her coffee.

“Oh, I see.” Rose took a sip of her coffee as well.

“It’s good you came here today, I appreciate the flowers as well.” Rose nodded again, unsure of what to say. The atmosphere was calm and Rose left in a lighthearted mood. The sun was beginning to set, when she had said her goodbye’s to Audrey and took a motor cab back to lower Manhattan, she wasn’t sure when Luca would be back but she was hoping he’d be home soon. She was planning on waiting for him.


Luca had spent most of the week with Don Spinietta and had been at his home since the early morning that day. The sun was already low in the sky when the Don called a meeting with all the caporegimes. Cristofano had grown more irritated throughout the days Luca had gotten back, and as all the caporegimes gathered into the Don’s study, he began to speak.

“It’s unclear–well, is it really?” Cristofano glanced at Luca who was holding onto a cigar that Montesinos had sent to him in solidarity. Luca had given the Don half the box of cigars as a tribute. “The Bassano’s came to me a few days ago, and they gave me some information, enough for me to think that we might have a problem with the Cubans, or maybe even a snake in the grass on our side.” The Don looked at everyone dangerously. Being the Don was difficult, there weren’t many people he could trust, the only person he could trust was himself.

“Don Cristofano,” It was Luca’s cousin, Donnino, who spoke. “Are you implying that one of us is working with the spics down south?” Donnino looked insulted. Luca was closest to him; sat in an armchair the cigar between his teeth, and his arms rested lazily on the armrests. Luca tapped the front of Donnino's tailored suit with the back of his hand. It was meant to calm him, but Donnino kept the same expression on his face. Luca knew that Donnino was loyal, and wasn’t that stupid to work with the Cubans in secret, let alone the Bassano’s. He also knew that Donnino would never throw him under the bus, especially if there was a chance that he could become underboss after Luca took Manhattan. But Donnino still hadn’t heard the whole story, Cristofano was withholding most of the information.

“Carla’s gone, but I’m postponing my retirement until this is over.” Luca wasn’t surprised, he had felt that Cristofano would do this after he had returned to Miami with Cuban news. But Luca wasn’t worried, neither were any of the caporegimes that stood in Cristofano’s study attentively.

Luca was still looking over his shoulder everywhere he went. After the meeting with the Don and the caporegimes, all he wanted to do was go home and see Rose. To forget about the possible target on his head and to just melt into her.


The ride wasn’t too long. He watched the sunset and the stars glitter in the sky as it grew darker. He made his way closer to lower Manhattan in the front seat of his expensive motor car, with Rose on his mind.

He thought of her the entire time he drove, and he thought of her as he had the valet take the car to the parking garage. He thought of her as he walked closer to the revolving door of Tessa Tower. But a strong voice snapped him away from his thoughts.

“Changretta!” Was what he heard. Luca turned to the voice an angered expression on his face, he was practically home.

As he turned, he watched as a stalky man in a fedora held a gun up toward Luca. Luca moved his hand under his coat quickly, but he could hear the blast of the gun that wasn’t his own before he could even touch the gun hidden beneath his suit jacket. The people walking on the streets had begun to scream and run from the scene, it was the only thing they could do.

Luca felt a familiar pain, a bullet in the shoulder. But he was still on his feet, and he took the opportunity to pull the gun out of his jacket with his good arm. Luca took a shot and missed the assailant.

The stalky man fired back and took out Luca’s right hip. But it was the third shot that got him, right in the centre of his chest. Luca fell backward, his wounds were already bleeding profusely. The last thing he heard was the commotion of people around him and the lobby man that usually stood at the desk inside the tower stood over him shouting for someone to call the police, but all he really wanted to hear was Rose’s voice.

Chapter Text

Rose was busying herself in the apartment once she got home from her mother-in-law’s house. Luca still wasn’t home and it had already gotten dark out. She wasn’t worried, he often times came home late, she knew it was all apart of the business. But something was looming in her mind, Luca had been at Don Spinietta's home quite often the past few days.

But she was hoping he’d come home soon. Rose was cooking in the kitchen for two, wondering if Luca would wait to eat with her or eat at a restaurant with some of his soldiers. She continued to cook anyway. She felt something in her stomach, the feeling she had when her nerves heightened.

When she finished cooking she sat down at the small table in the kitchen. The food was still on the stove and kitchen counter, but Rose hadn’t served any for herself. The nervousness was settling in her stomach as she was sat at the table in the kitchen twiddling her thumbs.

She moved into the living room to look out the large floor to ceiling windows that lined the back wall. Rose pressed her forehead against the window and sighed audibly, she tried to soothe her anxieties, but an echo of a gunshot rang reverberated off the windows. Then another gunshot rang out and then another. Rose knew it, she knew something was wrong. Was Luca behind the gun, or was he in front of it? She had no time to ponder it as she sprinted out the door, not even locking the door properly and she slid into the elevator, the seconds she spent in the elevator were the longest of her life as a fear she had only felt twice before plagued her mind. As the elevator door opened she bolted out the gold case and through the lobby pushing the revolving doors to step outside. The commotion was intense, people screaming and running for their dear lives.

When Rose’s eyes finally settled on who had been shot, her heart sank. She ran to him, she ran to her husband. He was lying on the ground, blood pooling next to him.

The lobby man had bolted inside as she got there.

“Luca! Luca!” She called for him, he had enough energy to clutch onto her with his undamaged arm. The tears were spilling out of Rose’s eyes like flowing rivers. “No, no, no” Rose whispered harshly through sobs, as she pulled Luca to her tightly, trying to stop the blood from flowing out of the holes he now had. The man who stood in the lobby ran out again.

“Mrs. Changretta, an ambulance is coming, they’ll be here shortly.” The man made himself busy as Luca fell unconscious in Rose’s lap. Her tears were falling on his face, she didn’t know if he was going to make it.


Rose had gotten into the ambulance without a second thought, she was clutching at Luca’s free hand and yelling at the driver to go faster, as a paramedic did his best to stop the bleeding.

When they arrived at the hospital Luca was rushed into intensive care to undergo a surgery on his shoulder and torso, the bullets had not exited him, and had remained live inside his body. The one to hit his chest, lucky was stopped by a golden pendant that was hung around his neck. Rose had cried profusely when the doctor told her that the necklace had saved his life, and if he hadn’t been wearing it, he would have died of his injuries before the ambulance came. Rose spent three hours with Luca, it was already two o’clock in the morning when Audrey, Catarina and Bianca came rushing into the hospital.

Audrey was crying out for her son, her little boy, when she stormed into the hospital room that Rose had been crying in while holding Luca’s limp hand. He had survived, but his injuries would make him bedridden for at least a week. Rose hadn’t seen him awake since he was shot and hadn’t moved from her spot next to him.

It was already inching closer to the early hours of the morning. Hiram had come around to check on Luca and to report back to Don Spinietta. There were several of Luca’s soldiers stationed around the hospital and four were just outside the door. Audrey had been hollering out orders since she had arrived. Rose thought long and hard about how strong Audrey was, even as her son was lying down on a hospital bed completely battered by bullets.

Audrey had even sent Bianca out to get Rose shoes, as Audrey had quickly noticed that Rose had run out to Luca without wearing any. Audrey hadn’t pushed Rose at all, she was being quiet and gentle with her.

At around seven in the morning, Audrey called Rose out of the hospital room leaving Luca alone with only soldiers to guard his door.

“Will you be alright?” Was the first thing Audrey said as they stood in a long hallway, Audrey had placed her hand on Rose’s arm and was rubbing her gently, but the sudden kindness Audrey displayed only made Rose start crying again. Audrey enveloped Rose into a warm hug and began to lull her, to soothe the tears.

“Luca will be okay, he just needs rest. You’ll take care of him won’t you?” Audrey asked carefully.

“Of course, I will,” Rose stated through calm tears. There was a silence between them as Audrey moved to sit at the empty chairs that were lined against the walls. Rose followed her, her hands clasped together as she sat down.

“I’ve been quite rude to you since you’ve arrived here. I know you don’t pretend to not know why I have been. But circumstances–” Audrey paused and took Rose’s hands in her own. “Circumstances need us to be civil and trusting of each other. Alright? I know you mean a lot to Luca, and I can’t pretend to not notice how much you care for him too. So, we must start over.” Rose nodded her head in response, the load she had on her chest suddenly vanishing. “You have to be brave. If Luca is to take over after Don Spinietta. This sort of accident will happen more often. It will get dangerous for the both of you. You have to be brave, you hear me?”

“I will, I promise,” Rose answered, her eyes wide in anticipation but also fear.

“I know you will.” Audrey patted Rose’s cheek, and then stood from her chair and walked away. Rose sat quietly to herself, now that there would no longer be hostility between herself and Audrey, she could prioritize what she needed to do next, and that was to take care of Luca.


Luca woke up as the sun began to set outside the hospital window, but he chose to keep his eyes closed. He knew where he was, he knew every detail of the room and every detail of the men stood outside his door. They were under alert, and thanks to Hiram everything was going to plan. Whenever Luca was injured he went to the same hospital, the same room, and had the same men standing guard around the hospital.

He was trying to figure out what exactly happened to have gotten him checked into a hospital. He had been wary of possible murder attempts since he had arrived back in Manhattan. He was the main target and he had known that all week. It had been a while since he had been checked into a hospital, he had gotten quite good at overpowering others, and his shooting abilities were far more superior than a majority of the members of Cosa Nostra.

But Luca had been overpowered the previous night, and just outside his home too. He had his guard up all week, but the thought of Rose had sidetracked him. He could smell her familiar fragrance in the room, and then felt something shift next to him. But he wasn’t ready to open his eyes yet.

The thought of his wife had distracted him and had nearly killed him. Luca stayed as still as possible, he knew that if he moved too much the pain in his torso and shoulder would be difficult to deal with without morphine.

Luca began to think of Rose again. He knew he had messed up, even if he was just outside his home he shouldn’t have let his guard down until he was inside the apartment. He needed to be smarter if he was going to live to be with Rose another day.

He felt smooth small hands cover his own hand, and he opened his eyes to see her. He knew it was Rose.

“Luca,” she almost whispered as she noticed he was awake. Tears began to fall down her face again, she couldn’t control them this time, but they were still silent. All she could do was repeat his name, as she moved over him to place a soft kiss on his lips.

Luca groaned as he tried to move to get a better look at her. The pain shot up through the right side of his body, he winced.

“Don’t move, love” Rose tried to calm him.

“How long have I been here?” His voice was raspier and deeper than usual. Rose smoothed back his unkempt hair.

“Almost twelve hours, not long.” Rose’s tears were gone as she studied Luca, he looked helpless as he lay on the hospital bed.

“Are you okay?” He asked her.

“You don’t need to worry about me. You’re more important right now, okay?” Luca looked at Rose, he loved her so much. He had almost died, he knew it. He almost died without telling her that he loved her. Luca choked on the words he wanted to say to her.  He had just heard her call him ‘Love’, why couldn’t he say it.

He was afraid of course, but he’d never say it out loud. He was in danger and by extension so was Rose, and she would continue to be as long as he was married to her. He gripped her hand as much as he could with the pain that shot through his body.

“Do you feel any pain, should I call a doctor?” Rose rubbed her hands up his arm gingerly, trying to soothe and comfort him.

“Yeah, go on,” Luca answered her. Rose got up and walked out the door for not even a minute before she returned to sit down next to him.

“The doctor will be in, in a minute.” Rose looked Luca in the eyes, concern written all over her face. “What are we going to do, Luca?”

“You don’t have to do anything, Rose. Don’t worry about it alright, I’ll fix it.” It wasn’t rude, he truly didn’t want to worry Rose, though they both knew that wasn’t possible. She would always worry.

“I can’t do that Luca, you know that.” She was about to say it to, that she was in love with him and she had been for a while now. Luca nodded at her carefully, not to injure himself. He knew Rose, she had made it clear that he was important to her. Rose swallowed her fear and spoke clearly. “I love you, I won’t leave you on your own.” The life she had was dangerous, maybe even far more dangerous than it already was when she lived in Birmingham, but Luca was worth it, and she wanted to be there for him, to be supportive. Luca raised his uninjured arm to caress her cheek. He hadn’t expected Rose to have said it first, but he was glad. She was truly comfortable with him, he would have never imagined it be this way when they were on the RMS Olympic so long ago.

“I love you too,” He said back, looking at her with adoring eyes, though the pain had gotten worse. A doctor rushed in then to medicate Luca and Rose was told to step outside so she wouldn’t have to see anything too displeasing for a woman. Luca could tell she didn’t want to leave him, but she nodded and walked out.


Luca spent a total of four days at the hospital. Rose was by him every second, but he couldn’t stand being confined to the hospital room, so he checked himself out. Much to Rose’s protests, he thought he’d be more comfortable in the apartment, so he could carry on with his business. His main plan was to get behind who the culprit was behind the assassination attempt.

Luca was laying in bed, with several pillows supporting his back. He was in his undershirt with several stacks of paper on Rose’s side of the bed, and an almost empty glass of rum on the nightstand. Rose walked in then from the back entryway connecting the bathroom to their bedroom. Luca peered up at her as she glided through the room in her nightgown, she was ready for bed. Luca continued to watch her as he moved the stacks of paper onto the nightstand closest to her side of the bed and then slipped into the blankets.

“I love you,” he said to her with a bashful grin on his face. Rose placed her hand on his chin carefully and leaned in to kiss his cheek.

“I love you too,” the words felt so natural to the both of them and moved like liquid on their tongues. “Will you not sleep now?” Rose looked down at his papers, and then up into his eyes. She rubbed his free hand gently.

“Yeah, I will.” Luca handed Rose the papers in front of him along with his fountain pen so that she could place with the other papers on the nightstand next to her.

“Are you in any pain?” She asked him in a concerned tone, as the inner corners of her brows sunk by her nose.

“I’m alright, Tesoro. This isn’t the worst pain I felt.” His comment didn’t do much to soothe her worry over him.

“You’ve been shot before?”

“Amongst other things,” Luca looked away from her and stared at the door leading to the long corridor leading to other rooms in the apartment. “I went to France, to uh–ya’know, fight in the war.” Luca never planned to tell her about his experience in the war. He hated talking about it, and the only people who knew about it were his father and Don Spinietta. Luca had caused a riot in his decision to go off to war, but he saw it as the better option at the time, a foolish idea he now thought. He would have saved himself less trauma, less heartache. “I deal with it as best I can.” Rose still had the worried look on her face, as she grasped Luca’s hands. She knew the toll the war had taken on her brothers, and she would have never expected that Luca would have gone through the same, he never showed it.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I was crazy back then. I only did it because I didn’t want to be in prison for seven years.”

“Prison? What happened?” Rose was engrossed with the new knowledge as Luca began to open up to her.

“I was framed. Well, not really. There was no proof I’d done it. Federal Agents just wanted me behind bars. There was a bank on Wall Street, there was a failed bombing, but there were a few people injured and they blamed it all on me. Don Spinietta told me to take the jail time, but I chose to enlist, I thought I wouldn’t be there long, and they would train me and everything would be over before I saw any battle. I was there longer then I expected. I was there for two battles–really. All I could think about was my mother, and how I probably wasn’t gonna live to see another day. There was another Sicilian in my unit, we looked out for each other, but he died trynna push me out of the way of a grenade. I had hearin’ damage for a while, but it got better with time. It acts up once in a while, but its nothing I can’t deal with. I didn’t wanna be here back in America, with my family, and poor Francesco never made it home ‘cause of me.” There was a blank expression on Luca’s face, he was doing his best to suppress every bit of emotion he had.

“I wish I could thank Francesco, he was brave enough to save you.” Luca nodded slightly and then kissed the side of Rose’s head, the blank expression still on his face. 

Rose turned off the light on her side, and Luca turned the light off on his. She wanted to wrap her body around him, but he wasn’t in a proper state to cuddle with her. So she held his hand over top the blankets and whispered to him goodnight.


The next day Luca was walking around the apartment though the doctor had advised him to stay in bed for at least three more days. Nothing Rose said would convince him that the business could wait, because it really couldn’t. The shooter was still at large, and Luca would not have him injure any other person involved with the Familia.

Don Spinietta showed himself at the apartment late in the afternoon for the first time. He had looked around the apartment at first, inspecting the space and nodding at certain features of their home. Rose had offered him something to drink and he had taken everything Rose offered him.

Luca was sat as comfortably as he could in the living room, taking long gulps of his rum. He had acquired a craving for it after his injuries. Don Spinietta took a seat across from Luca, he seemed ready to speak of business.

“I’ve been looking into who could of done this,” Spinietta was waving his hand in between them. He removed his hat from the top of his head and pulled out a small tin of cigars. Rose brought a lighter to him so that he could light it, and then Spinietta offered Luca a cigar to take, Luca would never refuse a cigar. Rose lit his as well and was preparing to move away so they could speak in private, but Luca wrapped a hand around her waist, and tugged at her gently, and motioned for her to sit down next to him with a nod of his head and a blink of his eyes. Rose knew she wasn’t meant to listen to business. It was a Sicilian tradition for the safety of their women to not be included in dangerous business and it was an unspoken Peaky Blinders tradition to not include Rose in particular in the family business.

Rose sat next to him and looked at Luca carefully and then at don Spinietta, he was confused for a brief second but then he continued to talk.

“It ain’t the Cubans, well they wasn’t the ones to order a whack on you, Luca.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think so either.” Luca shook his head, as he looked out the large windows.

“It’s the Bassano’s, I’m sure, but they had to have had some dago on the inside. It was too easy–too easy to have been one of Bassano’s men.”

“You think we have a traditore?” Traitor, she hadn’t heard the word before, but she expected that that was what Luca meant. Spinietta nodded at Luca as he leaned back in his chair. They sat in silence for a few minutes, letting the possibilities meld together in their heads.

“I’m going to call for a meeting with the families,” Spinietta spoke first, his proposition worried Rose. If the Bassano’s were behind the attack, bringing them into Manhattan was not safe for anyone. “I’m going to block all of the Bassano’s ports. Don Galano will be willing to take part in this. If the Bassano’s back down, the assassin is in our ranks.”

Luca thought about all the caporegimes who had attended the meeting at Don Spinietta’s home just an hour before he was shot. Luca’s cousin Donnino Fenacci was in the room, as well as Paulino Drago, Giovanni Rossi, Vincenzo Sartini, and Leonardo Brenari. He was related to two of the capos by blood, and one by marriage. The Drago’s had always been close to Luca, as Anthony had been his closest friend since childhood. That left the Rossi’s, but they had never shown any sort of hostility toward Luca before. He couldn’t answer his own burning question yet, but now that he knew that the shooter worked for someone in the family, there was a rage in his body, a rage that Rose could feel radiating off of him. Rose placed a hand on his knee, the next few days were going to be difficult for everyone in the family.

Both Rose and Luca knew that they might be attending a funeral by the end of the week.

Chapter Text

Luca walked into the hotel meeting room at Hotel Astor, with a piercing pain in his shoulder. He was still meant to have his arm in a sling, Rose had been urging him to use it, but he didn’t want to look weak as Don Spinietta’s second at the meeting. All five families were called to attend the meeting. It was the new way of dealing with business between the familias, instead of creating plots to whack people they didn’t want to do business with any more or just generally when problems would arise.

No guns were allowed in the room, but they’d be fools if they didn’t bring something with them to protect themselves. Luca had a trusty blade lined on the inside of his suit and his suit was so finely pressed no one would be able to tell that he had a weapon hidden there. He would have brought some brass knuckles as well, but he opted for jewelling all his fingers with gold thick rings with different stylish embellishments. The Spinietta crime family, in its entirety, had congregated the day before so both Luca and Cristofano could feel their way through everyone’s composure. They both still believed the traitor was in their ranks, but the meeting they were at today would prove that to them. 

Matteo Brenari had heard everything that was going on, the Bassano’s trying to influence Don Spinietta’s choice, the attempted murder on Luca, and he had suspected as well that there was a traitor in their midst as well. He pulled Luca aside after the meeting the previous day to clear the air between them. He hadn’t been on his best behaviour at Luca and Rose’s wedding, but he hadn’t been since he had arrived in Manhattan again.

Matteo had been happy to see his mother again, even his father but he had lost a friend in Birmingham at the hands of the Peaky Blinders, and he couldn’t forget it. He couldn’t go on. As soon as he sobered up, he had gone back to the juice just so he could forget that his friend was gone, and Luca, his own cousin had brought the murderer's sister into his own home and married her.

It was his older sister Angelina, that had brought Matteo back to his senses. She had only spoken to Rose once and Angelina prided her self on being a good judge of character. Rose had been kind to Angelina and Angelina was the type of person to pay it forward, even though they had seen each other for only brief moments after then, Angelina was always kind to her, and Rose was the same to her. Matteo had heard Angelina say it to him many times over in the moments he was sober, but when the wedding came he couldn’t hold it in. Matteo had gone around telling everyone and their mothers that Rose was a ‘gypsy’ woman and on some occasion, he had even told some people that Rose was a witch, though he didn’t even know if that was true or if he had made it up. Rose had always seemed shy when Matteo was near her, he never had a reason to be threatened but he couldn’t let it go.

Once Luca had given him a good telling to at the wedding and had left him with a bloodied nose, he closed himself off and only Angelina came to see him. She was his older sister, after all, she convinced him that it was time to let go, and he met Luca after the meeting. He cleared the air and Luca had even squeezed his shoulder with his good hand. Matteo had apologized for saying those things about Rose, but Luca said it would mean more to Rose if he said it to her himself. Matteo nodded and he planned to see her eventually.

The meeting with the five families had kept Rose on edge, and Luca knew that Rose would be worried about him as she stayed at home waiting for any news. Luca was sat on Don Spinietta’s right, running his good hand down the sides of his suit his knife was under. Luca took a quick gulp of rum that was placed on the round table in front of him as he scanned the men in the room.

The Galano’s were sitting next to him, Carlo Galano and his underboss Fabio Greco. In front of Luca and Don Spinietta, were the Bassano’s, Enrico Bassano and Gavino Piazza, they seemed calm but so was Luca, they’d be stupid to show to much emotion. Next to Don Spinietta were the Francone’s who Don Spinietta had contacted late into the evening last night. Luigi Francone and Massimo Donati had agreed to back Don Spinietta at the meeting and Luca had agreed to work with them in the liquor business once Cristofano stepped down. On the other end of the table, remaining ever neutral were the Marconi’s. Riccardo Marconi, the youngest boss in history, well in the history Luca knew of, was sat next to Sergio Valentini twenty years his senior. Riccardo Marconi was Aria Marconi’s younger brother.

Riccardo Marconi took the position of boss after his father died in a blood feud the Bassano’s had with the Marconi’s five years ago. Riccardo was twenty-two years old when he took the position. Most of New York saw Riccardo as King with no power, as his underboss Sergio Valentini called the shots. While most of New York expected the Valentini’s would try to whack Riccardo to take power, it never happened.

There was something unsettling about Riccardo as he sat at one end of the table. He looked slightly lifeless, the dark circles under his eyes, and the two “cat-scratches” on his left brow mirrored an actual scar on the other side of his forehead.

Luca had his fair share of scars, but Luca prided himself on his good looks and fashion sense, instead of how fearsome his scars made him. He didn’t need to look scary to be feared he thought, but Riccardo had been young when he had taken power and he needed all the edge he could get.

Spinietta started the meeting with regular formalities, thanking everyone for coming to Manhattan when they were called and so on. The bosses around the table all had opportunities to speak about their business, any faults, any plans, or any possible alliances between the bosses in the room or overseas.

Luca had an edge here. He had been in contact with Thomas Shelby consistently since he and Rose arrived in Manhattan and Tommy’s gin was proving successful at all the establishments Luca and Don Spinietta were managing in Manhattan. Their business was thriving and the other bosses knew it. Luca knew Don Francone would ask for a business alliance with the liquor overseas, like the alliance both he and Don Spinietta already had with the Galano’s.

The average folk looking for good juice didn’t want the bathtub juice brought in by bootleggers, they wanted the real thing and Marconi’s, Bassano’s, and Francone’s suppliers got their illegal juice from who knows where.

After everyone got their piece to say about business, Don Spinietta hit the Bassano’s with bad news.

“I’m cutting off your port activity on the Hudson River, Don Bassano. I’m losing money with your access, you can petition with Don Marconi to use East River,” Don Spinietta was calm, collected and looked every person he needed to in the eyes. Luca watched Riccardo almost smirk as East River was mentioned, East River was a mess thanks to the Irish, but it had been said that the Marconi’s were putting the Irish to rest in ways the families didn’t know yet.

“Hey, hey,” Don Enrico Bassano started, “let's not get too hasty here. If it’s clams you want, I got some for you. But I can’t go through East River, no chance. I don’t got insurance on my goods, and I sure fuckin’ know Don Marconi ain’t gonna provide that for me.” Enrico spoke as if Riccardo wasn’t in the room, but Riccardo was unfazed, as he lit a cigarette and placed it between his lips.

The room was already full of smoke from several cigars and cigarettes. Luca hadn’t bothered to light one himself, he only had one good hand and if anything happened he would be at a disadvantage with a cigar in his hand instead of quick access to the knife in his coat. Spinietta and Luca watched Don Bassano carefully. He hadn’t even tried to negotiate any terms, he shut down the idea of losing his ports on the Hudson River rather quick.

It was as if they were all in a staring competition and Enrico lost as he looked away from Don Spinietta with his nose up high, trying to save his pride against Manhattan.

“Hey, if this is about my proposition,” Only the Spinietta’s and the Bassano’s knew the proposition, to choose the Rossi’s instead of the Changretta’s. “Forget about it.” Enrico stood up slowly, and Gavino Piazza followed as well, trying to look as unthreatening as possible. “Leave my port, and I’ll take my proposition back.” Bassano knew well enough that it was out of his place to give his opinion on who should run Manhattan next and with how quick he was to take back the proposition both Luca and Cristofano now had confirmation that the proposal had never been important to Bassano, it was an inside job. It was someone in the family trying to mess up Manhattan’s stable structure.

Luca already had an idea who it was but he wasn’t going to act on it just yet. The meeting ended with several handshakes and no blood spilled. It was almost laughable to some of the bosses how business-like it had turned out, they were good at spilling blood, but they didn’t need to do that this day. And Luca was saving his bullets and knives for someone else anyway.


Luca got home an hour after the meeting at the Hotel Astor, he was still walking around Manhattan with his eyes peeled. He wasn’t about to get shot again and possibly die for real this time around. Tessa Tower was quiet when he got into the lobby area, the gold accents in the decor were dimmer when he would arrive home in the evening. It wasn’t very late either the sun was only setting, but he was ready to put his arm back in its sling and to have Rose near him.

He rode the elevator up to the top floor, he was trying to rub the pain away in his shoulder, his torso had healed considerably faster and didn’t bother him much anymore. But his shoulder still ached. When he exited the elevator he came to the familiar door with the number 331 above the peephole.

He opened the door after inserting a key. He pulled out the key as he stepped in, and shut the door behind him. He could hear her humming a song he didn’t know. Rose was walking out from the hall that led to their bedroom, she had a wooden spoon in her hand, and Luca could hear something sizzling from the kitchen.

“You’re home!” Rose smiled at him happily and placed a kiss on his lips. Luca returned the kiss eagerly, but Rose moved away quickly as she remembered she had something on the stove. “I’m so glad you came home early. I’m making dinner.” Rose started as she walked toward the kitchen.

Luca took off his suit jacket carefully not to hurt his shoulder as he walked into the living room and placed it on the top of the couch. He removed his cuff links on his own and placed them on the coffee table in front of the couches. He loosened his tie, and pulled it off completely, unbuttoning the top buttons of his white dress shirt. He ran his good hand over his face to remove the tiredness and then he ran it through his styled hair before he moved into the hallway and into the bedroom to grab the sling the doctor had given him. He couldn’t put it on properly by himself, so he took the sling to Rose in the kitchen. He nudged her silently as she worked over the stove. She didn’t say a word as she helped him put the sling on correctly. She understood why he chose not to use it, no matter how much she disagreed. She knew that he was still in pain, but she didn’t pester him anymore about not listening to the doctor's orders. She worried about him still. 

“How’s the pain?” She looked at him through worried eyes, as her eyebrows knit together. The palm of her hand was against his cheek, her thumb rubbing lightly at his skin.

“It’s manageable,” he leaned into her touch, he had been craving it all day.

“How was the meeting? Did you figure out who was after you?” Rose turned away from him as she finished up the cooking.  

“It’s not the Bassano’s.” Luca moved to the side and leaned against the counter. Rose looked at him quizzically.

“Who then?” She asked carefully as she turned off the burner.

“The Bassano’s wanted the Rossi’s to take Manhattan but not because it would be easy for them to control the Rossi’s if they did take Manhattan. Bassano was asked to propose the Rossi’s as next in line, someone in the family wanted Giovanni to take my place.”

“Someone in the familia?” Rose was moving the food around on the counter and putting her delicious Italian creation on two separate plates.

“Yeah, someone in the familia,” Luca watched Rose pick up both plates and move to the table in the kitchen instead of the dining room. The table in the dining room was too big for just two, so Luca appreciated the comfort of Rose wanting to sit closer to him by using the small circular table in the kitchen.

They ate in silence for a while before Rose spoke to him. “I don’t see Bianca as often anymore. Do you have her doing work? Or has she found something to do herself?” She peered up at Luca as she placed a slice of potato into her mouth. 

“I haven’t given her anything to do in the last two weeks,” he looked at Rose curiously, as he set down his fork and used the back of his fingers to graze the skin at his jawline. He leaned back in his chair. He found it odd that Bianca hadn’t shown her face in a while, he knew how much Bianca enjoyed Rose’s company, but he tried not to dwell on it too much. “Did you see my mother today?” Luca asked as he continued to eat. 

“Yes, I went looking for Bianca. But your mum told me she wasn’t home, so I spent the day with her. We took a walk and went to the department store, and we also had lunch together. I’m glad we can talk to each other now.” Luca quickly dropped his fork again to take Rose’s hands in his own. A big grin on his face.

“I knew she would like you if she gave you the chance. It’s hard not to like you.” He pulled her hand close and then left a kiss on her knuckles.

They finished dinner quietly as they both had things on their mind. Rose took the dishes from the table and washed them up as Luca moved to their bedroom to remove the rest of his clothes, and debated on whether he should take a bath or a shower.

Rose walked into the bedroom as Luca tried to pull off his sling again so he could remove the rest of his clothes. Rose helped him silently and helped him undress in the middle of their bedroom. He showered on his own as Rose got ready for bed as well.

As Luca finished washing up, he walked back into the bedroom with a towel around his waist and his hair still dripping. Rose was already dressed in her silk nightie, the one Luca had bought for her long ago, it was in a soft shade of blue and went down to about mid-thigh. Luca watched her as she moved through the room, moving her own clothes and his into a laundry hamper that she would have someone take to the cleaners. She was picking up the general mess that Luca usually left behind in the room.

His hair was still dripping down his neck as he walked up behind Rose and wrapped his good arm around her waist. Luca snaked his hand up her stomach and placed his hand on her breast and squeezed gently.

“Luca,” Rose laughed as her own hands came up to hold on to Luca’s arm. “I’m feeling sore, Love.” She still moaned lightly at his touch. She pulled away to turn around and look at him. He looked at her with a dazed expression, as he brought the back of his fingers to caress her cheeks.

“You’re going to be busy tomorrow,” Rose was looking at the sealed bullet wound on his shoulder and the nasty bruise that was fading to green on his chest. Rose frowned as she brought her hands to touch his chest. She kissed him there, her height came around to where his bruise was. “What will happen to the traitor?”

“The traitor will get what’s comin’ to’em,” his expression changed, he seemed slightly uncomfortable. He moved away from Rose to put some comfortable trousers on to sleep in, and Rose helped him dry his hair.

“Someone in the family will die, won’t they,” Rose asked gingerly.

“Traitors die around here, Rose.” Luca didn’t meet her eyes.

“Will you be the one to get rid of the traitor then?” Now she wasn’t meeting his eyes. She didn’t know if she was overstepping their boundaries or not, but she needed to know.

“If it comes down to it, yeah, I’ll be the one. Makes sense as they tried to have me killed.” Rose nodded in response. She knew that he would have to do it, if she had been back home in Birmingham and one of her brothers had had the same thing happen to them, they would want to get rid of the attempted murderer as well.  She had to accept it, as much as she didn’t want to, because she lived in this world now, the world of the Cosa Nostra.


Luca spent the next morning with Don Spinietta and Hiram Fenacci trying to figure out the next course of action. They could now check off the Bassano’s from their list of suspects. Matteo had been struck out from the list two days prior, Anthony hadn’t been on the list, none of the Drago’s or their men were. Donnino had no reason to try to pick Luca off as he would be underboss as soon as Luca took Manhattan.

It only made sense now that the Bassano’s asked for Spinietta to use one of the Rossi’s not because they were easy to control, but because one of the Rossi’s wanted to take power from Luca. Cristofano and Luca were sitting in the apartment in Tessa Tower. They were in Luca’s office and Rose had left the apartment for the meeting, she had told Luca that she would try to get a hold of Bianca that day.

The office was full of cigar smoke and the window was cracked open as much as it was able to because Rose couldn’t handle the smell anymore.

Spinietta was sitting in Luca’s chair behind his dark-wood desk. Luca stood by the window, his cigar hanging from his lips as he adjusted his cufflinks.

“Luca, can you vouch for any of the Rossi’s?” Spinietta started.

“Just Lorenzo,” Luca started as he looked over to his cousin and lawyer, “1911, me, Lorenzo and Tony got pinched. Spent 6 months in jail together, he was a solid fella, loyal too.”

“Giovanni is too old to be this ambitious, Don Cristofano,” Hiram reasoned with the Don as Luca looked between them, he had one hand in his pocket, the one that belonged to his still-healing shoulder and the other pulled the cigar away from his mouth so he could release the smoke he had gathered in his mouth.

The Bassano’s wanted Giovanni as the next Don of Manhattan in their proposal but Giovanni wouldn’t last long, if he did become Don, his eldest son would soon take his place, Stefano.

“It’s Stefano then, that fuckin’ wise-guy. Fuck!” Luca lost his temper for a second and Cristofano slammed his fist against the table, but didn’t utter a word.

“What are you gonna do then, call’em Gimpy or whack’em?” Hiram crossed one leg over the other as he got comfortable in his chair.

“Whack’em,” Luca said dangerously. Hiram thought that Luca might have lost his edge after he married Rose, he had never seen him look so soft with a woman before, but the familiar dangerous look he had seen countless times before was invading Luca’s face and maybe he looked even more dangerous than usual.

“You need proof, Luca,” Hiram added, he looked to Don Spinietta for confirmation and when he saw no protests from him he continued. “You can’t be goin’ ‘round killin’ our own, like this.”

Luca knew he was right, but deep inside him, Luca knew it was Stefano. It was as clear as day to him now.


Anthony came to the apartment later in the afternoon when Rose got home. Rose had met him in the lobby and they both rode up the gold elevator together.

“How’s the honeymoon?” Tony grinned at her charmingly.

“It was wonderful actually, I’d never seen such a beautiful beach.” Rose smiled at him politely.

“There ain’t any beaches in England, then?” Anthony asked curiously as he smoothed his jacket down as they reached the 22nd floor.

“Oh, of course there are, Britain is an island,” Rose laughed, “It’s just I’d never had the opportunity to visit one before.”

“There’s a real nice beach nearby, Coney Island they’ve been callin' it, theyse just finished buildin’ it a few years back. But if you wanna get there you might need to give the Marconi’s a call since it’s in Brooklyn.” Tony scratched his eyebrow quickly before the elevator doors opened and brought them into the familiar room. Rose pulled out her key and opened the door as she spoke.

“The Marconi’s? Do we have to ask permission to go to Brooklyn? Why would we need to ask permission?”

“Hey, you know, with everythin’ that’s goin’ on.” Anthony waved his arms around hoping Rose would understand what he was insinuating so he wouldn’t have to explain himself. She nodded at him as she stepped inside the house. Rose could smell the nicotine as soon as she walked in. She had been fine with the smell all her life but now it gave her headaches, there was a strange warmth in the apartment that could only be explained by Luca having left the window open too long.

“You want something to drink, Tony?” Rose slipped her slippers on, and then placed her handbag and shawl onto the couch in the living room.

“Yeah, you have any gin?” Tony answered absently as he walked into the living room and sat down at the end of the couch closest to the large windows.

“You’re in luck,” Rose chimed as she moved toward the liquor cabinet. She poured Anthony a glass of Shelby Company Limited Gin and read out the label to him. “Distilled for the eradication of seemingly incurable sadness,” Tony snorted as he heard the quote.

“What a sad egg,” Rose brought the glass to Tony.

“It’s my brother’s gin. Imported from Birmingham.” Tony raised an eyebrow before he took a long gulp of gin.

“S’not bad.”

“Tony,” Luca walked from out the hall to meet them in the living room.

“Hey Luca, I got somethin’ for you, real chin music.” Tony pointed his index finger to the ceiling wagging it around lazily.

“C’mon Tony, how sober are you?” Luca sat down next to him as Rose moved to pour herself and Luca a glass.

“I’m sober, don’t worry about that. Now that the supply comes in regularly it ain’t so bad. If I have a drink a day I can still work.”

“Goodness,” Rose answered worriedly. Tony didn’t seem like an alcoholic, but he was still rather dependent on alcohol. Rose handed Luca a glass as she took a sip of her own before she sat next to Luca on the couch.

“Alright, alright, what you here for Tony?” Luca had a funny grin as he watched his friend. 

“Yeah, right–well, I was out with Guzzo this morning, ya’know doin’ rounds at the factories in Harlem and Guzzo was tellin’ me that one of Stefano’s high hat girls was runnin’ her trap about being the next Don’s wife.” Rose frowned as she noticed Luca tense next to her. It wouldn’t do his still-healing shoulder any good. Rose placed her hand on his back and rubbed gently. “Guzzo had his girl listen in on them and Guzzo’s girl was talkin’ ‘bout how she was at the wedding and how Rose was supposed to be the next Don’s wife. Guzzo says the girls got into a real catfight, youse should probably send compensation or something. Guzzo took three days off for his girl.” Tony scratched his brow again. “I don’t think Stefano’s talkin’ in his sleep.”

“No, ‘cause he tried to have me killed, Tony,” Luca wasn’t looking at anyone anymore. He was staring at the coffee table, figuring out his next move.

“Say the word and I’ll whack him for yah,” Tony was nodding animatedly as he clenched and unclenched his fist repeatedly.

“No, I got this, but you’re coming with me. Call Guzzo bring him too, Rose you’ll see Guzzo’s girl right?” Luca looked at her quickly.

“Of course, but I can’t say I remember her or her name.” Rose watched as a million thoughts raced behind Luca’s eyes.

“She wasn’t at the wedding, she made it up, but she still stood by the familia.” Luca rubbed his face with both hands for once.

“When you gonna whack’em?” Tony asked as he downed the rest of his gin.

“Tonight.”


Don Spinietta had heard the word over the phone. Luca had notified him that he was going to kill Stefano. Stefano was a made-member of the family and Luca needed permission to kill him, but it wasn’t hard to get that permission. Spinietta backed Luca in every way, that he needed. He gave Luca free rein again to take the men he needed to get the job done. He had done it when he let Luca take a handful of men to England.

Luca had Anthony, Charlie Guzzo, and Matteo on the mission, though he really only needed one person, even Donnino wanted in on the action so he came along as well. Charlie Guzzo confirmed the story word for word and came prepared for the situation at hand. They were driving in two separate motor cars towards Stefano’s apartment in Soho. It was well past midnight, maybe already one in the morning, but the time wasn’t what Luca was worried about.

The men stepped out of the cars and formed a circle to discuss the plan.

“Right, listen, me and Nino are goin’ up. Matteo, Tony, Guzzo, youse are the lookouts and backups. If we ain’t back in ten minutes, you come up, right?”

“Yeah, Boss,” Guzzo nodded, looking at Tony for confirmation.

“You got it,” Tony answered as Matteo gave a nod.

Luca and Donnino walked up the sidewalk looking dapper in their tailored suits made specifically for them by Donnino’s father. They looked far to sharp for people to suspect that they were about to murder someone. The apartment ground floor was unguarded and didn’t even have a lobby man like Tessa Tower did. They got in easily and took the elevator to the tenth floor. Luca was prepared. He had two handguns strapped to his holster underneath his suit jacket, but then he noticed that Donnino was carrying a long suitcase.

“What do you have?” Luca questioned.

“A present,” Donnino smirked, the scar on cheek crinkling. Donnino opened the suitcase and pulled out a Thompson submachine gun. Luca was never a fan of overkill and wasting bullets, but his blood had been boiling far too long now, that same rage he once felt when he was after the Shelby’s was resurfacing. Luca knew he was channeling the abrupt end of the vendetta he had with the Shelby’s now with Stefano, and there was guilt in his chest for Rose. But Stefano had to be dealt with, that was how the mafia worked.

Luca took the tommy gun from Donnino as they stepped out of the elevator. They looked for the correct door out of the handful that lined the hall. Donnino helped with the lock picking, he had been a master at it in their youth, when Luca and Nino would rob the barbershops and candy stores in Greenwich.

The lock was trickier than they both anticipated and Donnino was doing his best to not make any noise but still open the door. It took four minutes before he got it open, and they were running out of time before Matteo, Tony and Guzzo would come running into the apartment. Donnino walked in behind Luca, they didn’t turn on any lights, as it would alert Stefano that someone broke in, so they walked in the dark.

In the bedroom, they both heard breathing and heavy snoring. Luca nudged the door open harshly and with no words, no warnings, he began to fire a swift and unforgiving round of bullets at the people he suspected were fast asleep in their bed. Luca heard a woman wail, but the sound died out quickly as he moved the tommy gun erratically. Once Luca let go of the anger, and he was satisfied, Donnino turned the light on in the bedroom to see exactly what happened.

“Just makin’ sure we got the right guy,” Donnino said sheepishly and they did.

The sheets on the bed were covered in blood and Stefano was almost unrecognizable after being battered by bullets. The wail did come from a woman, a blond one they could tell by the number of yellow curls sprawled on the pillow and she was battered by bullets as well. From what Luca and Nino could tell, she was naked.

Donnino turned off the light and nudged Luca to go, they put the gun back into the case in the elevator and left Stefano Rossi, the traitor, dead with his girl in his own bed.

Chapter Text

Rose was dressed in a grim plain black dress, even her cloche hat was black and veiled. The weather was hot and dry, and made it difficult to breathe. Stefano’s burial was organized a week after his murder, and a large crowd of Italian Cosa Nostra members were standing around the grave site. Rose was avoiding fanning herself, she didn’t want to be rude as she stood next to Stefano’s family, the scene was just strange and grim and she didn’t want to seem out of place.

The heat didn’t seem to affect Luca however, he was unmoving and calm and it frightened Rose. He murdered Stefano and they were watching his body ascend in a casket six feet below them. Luca looked so cool but so dangerous, and it heated Rose up far more than she already was. She’d steal a glance at him when she could and remember why they were there. He didn’t talk to her about the details of the murder, but what she had heard from Catarina during the week was that the murder had been brutal. Stefano had been hit with so many bullets that there was no chance for an open casket at the church. Catarina also told her that Stefano had been killed in bed, next to a girl who was possibly his girlfriend who also died in the shootout. Catarina didn’t let on that she knew it had been Luca, she was a smart woman, but Rose knew it was Luca who killed Stefano.

She had kissed Luca goodbye before he left to commit the murder.

She knew she had to get used to the murders, everyone around her had already killed someone before. Even her brothers in Birmingham had done so, except for Finn. Her Aunt Polly also killed a man with good reason, and she knew if she was going to spend the rest of her life with Luca, she was going to have to defend herself and protect her own. As she thought about the circumstances that would make her pick up a gun, she knew she wouldn’t be able to help the tremble in her hands. She didn’t know if she was ready if matters came to worse, would she be able to kill someone, to defend Luca at least? She thought of it long and hard as the sun beat down on her aggressively. She pictured herself, holding a gun outstretched before her, an unknown assailant in front of her. Her hands would tremble as she would shoot her gun, but Luca stirred her out of her thoughts quickly.

“You alright?” He asked close to her ear as he took her trembling hand that was hooked on to his arm into his own warm hands. Rose hadn’t noticed she had been trembling for real, she cleared her throat carefully looking around them before she answered her husband.

“Yes, I’m fine.” She mustered an appropriate smile for the occasion. Luca nodded at her as he laced his fingers between hers slowly, taking time to feel her warm, smooth skin against his. Rose looked up at him. She squinted as the sun shined into her eyes, he seemed so cool, so collected, and it was no longer the heat that was making Rose melt.


Once Rose and Luca stepped inside their apartment after the funeral, Luca pushed her up against the wall and began to kiss her mouth passionately, before he moved to her jaw and then down her neck leaving wet kisses against her skin. His mind had moved to the same place hers had as they drove home quietly after the funeral that Luca was the cause of. She knew if it were any other situation, if it had been any other man, if she hadn’t known Luca the way she did, she would be afraid of him. Afraid of his strong and handsome gaze, and afraid of his bold and cool presence. She was still slightly afraid, but she was more aroused than anything else. She wanted to feel the guilt, but she couldn’t any more like she once did. Stefano had tried to kill Luca first, and it was fair game in the world they lived in, for Cosa Nostra.

Rose pulled her hat off quickly and untied her hair from the bun she had put it in. Her dark hair fell against her back. Her fingers traced lines against Luca’s neck as she held him close against her neck and she let a soft moan escape her mouth. Luca’s tongue was hot against her skin and the heat of the apartment gave her skin sheen of sweat, as all the windows were closed. Rose pulled Luca up to her lips again kissing him smoothly, as they shared space with their tongues. Luca’s hands ran down her back once before he began to unbutton her black dress. Rose’s cheeks heated red as Luca pulled her dress down for her leaving her in her undergarments, stockings, and heeled shoes. They were still by the front door, not even in the living room yet. Luca kissed the skin between her breasts before Rose pulled his attention to her face.

“Are you going to treat me well, Daddy?” Rose moved away from the wall and began to walk backwards, away from him, taunting him as she slowly slipped out of her heels and then turned her body to walk away completely. She was moving to their bedroom, and she could hear Luca close behind her as he was quickly trying to remove his suit jacket, waistcoat, tie, suspenders, and gun holster along with the two guns he kept with him when he went out. Rose turned to him as she stood in front of the large windows in the bedroom. She turned to help him unbutton his shirt, but before she could pull it off, Luca’s hands were on her breasts, squeezing over the fabric that still covered her there. “Slow down, Daddy.” Luca let out a low growl as his mouth reached her neck again.

“I love hearing you call me that.” Luca sucked at the skin of her collarbone. “Say it again, Rose.” Rose loved saying it anyway, so she happily obeyed.

“Let me help you, Daddy,” a smirk slid on to her features, she felt so powerful when she had Luca thirsty for her. She could see the rise and fall of his chest clearly, he wanted to touch her, she could tell but he was letting her take his clothes off first, pulling off his white dress shirt away from his arms, exposing a few tattoos he shouldn’t have. She then moved dangerously slow to remove his belt, she looked him deep in the eyes as she pulled the belt away quicker then he expected. She could see his erection through his trousers, and she attempted to grip him there through the fabric. She couldn’t do it much justice, so she rubbed his large member with her palm and Luca released a groan as he tried not to touch her.

Rose took a hold of his attention again as she placed her thin and delicate-looking fingers on his jaw firmly. “Are you going to take them off?” He wanted to kiss her, but he obeyed her instead. Luca unbuttoned his trousers and pulled them off roughly before he smashed his lips against hers. Rose stumbled backward trying to hold on to his biceps as he gripped her waist to keep her from falling away from him. Her back crashed against the hot large window. She squirmed for a second against the heat of the window, but she got used to it. Luca’s hands were rubbing at her back and then moved downward. He moved his fingers inside her panties and gripped her ass. Luca pulled them off and Rose unfastened her brassiere, she stood stark naked in front of the large window. If anyone in a building tall enough looked their way they’d see her backside as clear as day.

“You’re so beautiful–Bellissima” The crooked grin on Luca’s face turned her on, even more, she was feeling wet between her legs already. Luca then knelt down in front of her, one of his hands moving up her thighs while the other spread her legs apart.

“You’re so good to me, Daddy,” Rose moaned as she felt his warm breath on her cunt. Luca hummed a reply, as he dug his thumb into her folds first feeling her wetness, he then slid his tongue between her folds, flicking her clit. Rose’s breath hitched as she held on to his styled hair, the pomade in his hair making it difficult to actually hold on to. She was finding it difficult to not crumple to the ground as Luca sped up between her legs. She moaned his name several times, she couldn’t count how many, she was barely in her mind as Luca lapped at her in a way he hadn’t before, fuelled by a lust he’d never shown her, and she loved every minute of it. He was being rougher than usual, the way his fingers dug into her thighs would leave bruises later. And she didn’t care, she loved him, she wanted to be with him, she felt safe with him.

Her legs began to give way, as she reached her climax. Luca helped her stay up straight, but as her body tightened and then released she couldn’t help but almost fall over. Luca grabbed her tightly as he stood up from the ground, and kissed her roughly again. She could taste herself on his tongue, she moaned into his mouth as Luca picked her up and pressed her against him. His erection pressed up against her slit, and she shuddered violently against him. She was overstimulated, but she wanted him anyway. Luca carefully moved her in his arms, he used the window to support Rose. He slid in easily enough thanks to her wetness, but his length always made her uncomfortable at first but once he slid in and out once she was back to wanting more.

“Harder,” she moaned into his ear.

“What?” He said in a curious tone, she knew what he wanted.

“Harder, Daddy,” Luca put her down quickly and he roughly spun her around, Rose was dizzy with the sudden movement. She was staring out the window now, her modesty exposed to anyone who dared look into their large bedroom window. Rose was confused however, she had urged him to keep going, and go harder, but Luca had put her down.

He had more self-control than she knew. His calloused hand was on her shoulder and then on her neck. There was fear there for a second, a hand on her throat, vulnerability, but his voice eased her away from it. “You want Daddy to be rough with you, Rose?” Luca spoke smoothly, his velvet voice made her cream. Her breath hitched before she turned her head to look back at him, Her hair was in the way, but she nodded her head in response, looking meeker than she wanted. Luca noticed the look on her face, he kissed the side of her face sweetly before his cock searched for her opening from behind her. Rose put her sweaty hands on the window but with the first thrust, she moved forward harshly her hands helped her not collide with the window. Luca had one hand on her waist and the other on her shoulders, as he thrust into her harder and faster than before. She was whimpering at the sensation, panting and moaning his name. She could hear him too when he’d moan her name and the groans he failed to keep inside. When they both reached their climax Rose felt like she was in a different world, where time was slower, and the faintest touch was like electricity. Luca picked her up bridal style and tossed her on to their bed. He was hovering above her, and she felt like someone new, she wasn’t the same girl anymore, she was a different woman of a different calibre who had waited so long for someone like him, someone like Luca. She let him ravage her the way he wanted because that’s what she wanted from him, to take her in every way possible, to know her in ways no one else ever would.

She accepted him in every way now, all the baggage that came with a man like him, someone who hid their emotions better than anyone, with an emotional trauma he always kept to himself, for someone as bloodthirsty as he, and who tried to drown everything he hated with the amount of money he had to spoil himself and Rose with. She loved him, she loved him more than anything in the world. The guilt was gone, it was just him and her, together, it was all that mattered to her.


Bianca was knocking at the door to Rose and Luca’s apartment the next day. It had been a week since Rose had caught Bianca leaving the row house she shared with her mother. Rose had urged her to come to the apartment so that they could catch up after all the time they spent apart, it was reaching over a month since Rose had last had a proper conversation with Bianca.

Rose answered the door hastily, a sudden nervousness in her hands. The door swung open, and Bianca greeted her with a pretty smile.

“Hey, Stranger!” Bianca chimed, Rose embraced her and let her in through the threshold.

“I’m so glad you’re here. I actually missed you.” Rose hooked her arm in hers and dragged Bianca into the living room.

“I missed you too. Is Luca here by the way?”

“No, he’s working,” Rose tucked her hair behind her ears as she sat down on the couch. “What do you want to do today?”

“I had something in mind, c’mon were going out!” Bianca stood up abruptly grabbing Rose’s hand as she moved toward the door, her handbag swinging behind her with her quick movement. Rose laughed at Bianca’s sudden antics, as they both rushed through the door, and Rose grabbed her handbag on the stand. They exited through the door, with a slight protest from Rose.

“Wait! Let me lock the door!”

The pair of them left Tessa Tower looking thick as thieves, snickering to each other, as they headed over to Bianca’s favourite Italian restaurant in Tribeca.

They had lunch plates with assorted meats, cheeses and red wine, as they caught up together after being distant for so long.

“So, don’t tell Luca, but I had this boyfriend, right. He was tall, really handsome, he was even Italian but he stopped seeing me about a week ago.” Bianca spoke nonchalantly, as she moved her wine glass around in her hand to express herself.  She wasn’t supposed to be drinking, no one was supposed to be drinking; prohibition made sure of it. But the posh Italian restaurant they were eating at didn’t hesitate to serve Luca’s wife and sister an old bottle of wine in fear that the restaurant would be taken over by Cosa Nostra or burned to the ground.

“Why can’t Luca know?” Rose asked cautiously, as she took a sip of her wine.

“I know Luca wouldn’t approve of anyone I choose–and if he can save me until he can make a profit or some kinda alliance in like, I don’t know, me marrying someone important, I’m sure he’d rather that than some poor Italian fella. And I would hate him forever if he did,” Bianca looked slightly annoyed but she washed down the delicately sliced cheese she placed in her mouth with more wine than necessary.

“I see,” Rose didn’t want to offend Bianca, she seemed stressed anyway or maybe just passive with her situation. But what Bianca had described as her ‘worst situation’ for her life was what essentially had happened to her. Rose felt uncomfortable for a second before she pushed the thought out of her mind and downed the rest of her wine. “Well… How are you dealing with it? Have you been seeing another man?”

“No, I’m bored with male attention, I’ve been doing other things, going to restaurants, going to department stores, buying more things than I need, I’ve been going to the cabaret’s all over Manhattan and this snazzy nightclub in the Lower East Side, they’ve got good giggle water there coming in from London or something. But I’ve been going somewhere else too, having a smoke here and there, but Luca would kill me if he found out so don’t tell him, alright?”

Rose didn’t like that Bianca wanted her to keep things from Luca, but Rose had already kept secrets from him and she still had a secret left that she didn’t want to bother him with; the money Arthur had given her that still lay untouched in her old suitcase. “Alright, I won’t say anything. But are you okay? I’ve been worrying about you.” Rose added, showing concern on her face for Bianca, but Bianca still held the nonchalant look on her face.

“Yeah, I’m fine Rose, stop your worrying.” Bianca gave her a sly smile as she sat at the chair more glamorously than needed. She had her elbow resting atop the frame of the velvet covered chair and her she had one leg laying on top of her knee. Her slim skirt made her look expensive. “I wanna show you this place I’ve been going to. It might not be your style, it ain’t that ritzy to begin with, but at least you’ll know where I’m at most of my time.” Bianca laid out a table napkin with a blue sigil that belonged to the restaurant they were sitting in. She smoothed it out as Rose spoke to her.

“Show me when? Right now?” Rose asked quizzically as she watched Bianca place four cannoli’s carefully on the napkin and then wrap up the edges, securing the cannolis in place. Bianca put them in her handbag as she looked around at her surroundings.

“Are we not paying for those?” a concerned look crossed Rose’s face as she spoke in a hushed voice.

“The thrill is in the taking,” Bianca smirked. Bianca had money, but her fingers itched to steal something. Rose didn’t know this side of Bianca. It was the rebellious side she never showed her older brother, or maybe she was bored of acting like all the other women in her life. Rose quickly left money on the table that would cover their meal, and then followed Bianca out quickly before the servers could even attempt to ask them about the cannolis. Rose didn’t think the servers would say a word, as the restaurant knew who they were, but that didn’t matter. As they walked down the street Bianca hooked her arm into Rose’s. They didn’t take a motor cab, but they walked for several minutes before Bianca stuck her hand out at the road in front of them and a motor car came to a stop in front of them.

Bianca gave the driver directions as they left Soho, to the Lower East Side and soon Rose and Bianca were standing in between two buildings in a sparsely crowded alley. Bianca held onto Rose’s hand tightly, as Rose grabbed her handbag and held it in front of her to avoid pick-pockets. The door they entered was modest, maybe even a little run down to what Rose was now accustomed too. As they both entered a dark corridor, their arms still linked together, a stench in a cloud of smoke vacated Rose’s space. She couldn’t tell what the smell was, but it wasn’t the same as the cigarettes she’d grown up with or the cigars Luca liked. Either way, it was making her feel ill, but Rose continued on with Bianca as she pulled back what seemed to be a large violet drape and they entered a room clouded in thick smoke with lounge chairs and couch scattered around the room.

“It’s a reefer den. A friend showed me, I’ve been coming here for a while now to… de-stress,” Bianca half-smiled hoping Rose wouldn’t judge her. But Rose had a queasy look on her face as if she were holding back vomit. “Are you ok?” Rose put her hand to her mouth, and her other hand on her stomach. Bianca quickly rushed her back outside, but the smoke had been too much. She puked her insides out onto the pavement in the alley. Bianca held her hair back, as stragglers watched them warily. They were dressed liked high-class women, so to anyone trying to get into the reefer den the scene looked odd.

Rose caught her breath as nausea settled in her stomach, but the burn was still in her throat and the foul taste still in her mouth. “I can’t stay Bianca.” Rose started as she picked herself up, straightened her skirt, blouse and hair. “I’m glad you trust me though–I haven’t been dealing well with smoke lately. But, I think I need to rest. I won’t tell Luca, I promise.”

“Alright, if you say so,” Bianca looked at her with concern, but she helped her find a motor cab and sent Rose on her way back home. When Rose finally reached the apartment she sent herself to bed and didn’t wake until Luca came home in the early evening.


Rose kept her promise. Two days had gone since she had seen Bianca and she hadn’t said a word. She told herself it wasn’t her place to say anything, but she at least hoped Bianca was safe in her new endeavours, though she knew that she couldn’t be sure of that.

Rose was putting away the clothes that had come back from the dry cleaners into the walk-in closet. The dry cleaner several streets down had Luca on his payroll. Protection was what Luca had told Rose. There were some people in Manhattan that paid Luca for protection from other smaller gangs. The Jews and the Irish were most prominent but the African-American’s still had their neck of the woods in Harlem. Luca liked to say that Harlem belonged to Spinietta, and would one day belong to him. So, it was clear for Rose to see that they had problems to worry about on their own turf than to worry about the Cubans or gangs in different American states.

Rose hung up a few of her skirts and a few dresses before she moved on to Luca’s tailored suits that went through Hiram and Donnino’s father before they reached their closet. She felt the smooth fabric between her fingers. His suits smelled fresh, they didn’t have Luca’s strong spiced scent on it yet.

Rose paused for a moment, evaluating what she was doing. She couldn’t believe it, tears were coming to her eyes, but she wiped them away quickly. She finished what she was doing and tried to keep composed, she had no idea what had brought on the sudden tears and the intense emotions. She wiped her hands on her pale blue skirt and made her way into the bedroom, but she heard the door open and footsteps in the foyer.

Rose quickened her pace, confused by the sudden visitor.

“You’re home early,” Rose smiled as Luca removed his hat. Luca walked toward her and pressed a chaste kiss to her lips.

“Yeah, Paulie went home early. Catarina’s at the hospital, the baby’s comin’,” Luca walked past her to set his briefcase against the coffee table in the living room. He sat down pulling a small piece of paper out of his pocket, but he shoved it back in quickly. He ran his hands in his hair before he watched Rose walk from the foyer quickly to hop on the couch with him.

“What? Do you mean right now?” Rose’s hands were on Luca’s shoulder in a second. Rose felt the nerves in her stomach, she knew giving birth to a child could go two ways, and though Catarina was still often snippy at her, she realized it was mostly just her personality and that they got along well enough, especially after Bianca had ditched Rose. Catarina had needed help taking care of herself as she grew bigger. Lilliana usually helped her, and Lilliana didn’t like seeing Rose on account of her still having feelings for Luca. But when Lilliana wasn’t around, Rose quickly headed to Catarina’s call, to help her sister-in-law with her enormous belly.

“Yeah, she’s been there for two hours.” Luca snaked his arm around her waist, the expression on his face was pensive, he was thinking of something. Maybe his sister or was he thinking about Rose?

He was thinking about children, and what he wanted for his family. He wanted kids with Rose, a little piece of him and her in a child. But he didn’t know what Rose wanted, he knew that she would be a good mother, she had always been caring and just had the motherly spark he saw in his own mother within her.

They weren’t being careful either. Luca had never bothered to wear a rubber when he was intimate with Rose, and she never cared to ask him to wear one. But an idea plagued his mind often, she was so innocent when she first came to him. Maybe she didn’t know about rubbers? But he didn’t have the heart to embarrass her in that way by telling her, it was far too late anyway.

But he wanted to be a father, but only if she were the mother of their children. He kissed her temple gingerly, he didn't even know if she had spoken while he was trapped in his thoughts.

“Are we not going to see her?” Rose was running the back of her fingers against Luca’s cheek. Luca took her hand and held it in his own, he kissed the back of her hand and nodded.

“C’mon get your shoes on and we’ll go.”


Rose walked with her hand hooked onto the crook of Luca’s elbow as they passed several corridors in the maternity wing of the hospital. They knew they reached the right corridor when they found a group of people congregated outside one of the rooms. Bianca and Audrey were waiting outside with Paulie’s family, his father and mother, Vincenzo and Loretta, and his brother and sister, Michael and Lilliana. Audrey noticed them first and rushed to Luca and Rose’s side to tell them the news.

“It’s a little girl,” she smiled happily as she relayed the news of her first grandchild. She kissed both of Luca’s cheeks and moved on to kiss both of Rose.

“How is she doing? Is Catarina okay?” Rose asked quickly.

“She’s doing really well, she made it look easy. She’s resting now and the baby is fine too.”

“When can we see her?” Luca asked his mother, but he wasn’t looking at her. He was nodding his greetings to Paulie’s family.

“I’m sure the doctors could let you both in now. Paul is with her right now,” Luca took that as his cue to go so he walked into the group and began to pass out the cheek kisses and congratulations to Paulie’s parents, his brother, and then to his sister, who lingered far longer than Rose felt comfortable with. Rose did the same, following the same order Luca did, she felt awkward as she embraced Lilliana, but it happened anyway. But Lilliana only embraced her because she couldn’t disrespect Luca in front of so many people, Lilliana shot Rose a sour look as Luca looked away from them. Luca moved over to kiss the top of Bianca’s head as she was still sitting in the chairs that lined the walls and Rose took Bianca’s hand briefly before she let go to see Catarina and her newborn daughter.

The room was lit with what daylight was left pouring through the window. Paulie was sitting on the cot with his back facing the door, but he got up when he heard them enter the room. Paulie moved toward them, embracing Luca in a hug, with a clap on the back. Paulie kissed Rose’s cheek before he motioned the both of them to get closer to Catarina’s hospital bed, where she was cradling her daughter in her arms.

“Her name is Sophia,” Catarina beamed. She seemed so happy maybe even relieved. Rose moved closer to her first and kissed her cheek and embraced her the best she could without squishing the baby.

“I’m glad you’re doing well,” Rose smiled at her before she began to coo at the baby who was wide awake and looking rather pink. Luca marvelled at the look on Rose’s face as she indulged his niece. Rose offered to take the baby from Catarina so Luca could embrace her properly.

Tiny Sophia made no fuss as Rose cradled her in her arms. Rose took in her delicate features, her tiny hands, her button nose, small pursed lips and wild wide eyes that stared back at Rose, and she still made no fuss as Rose cooed at her.

Luca embraced Catarina as best he could without hurting her. “You did great Cata.”

“I think I did well too,” Catarina started in a matter-of-fact tone.

“I was expectin’ a lot of screamin’, some cryin’ but she did great.” Paulie chuckled as he looked at Catarina with admiration.

“You’re a true goddess, Catarina,” Rose chimed in, and it boosted Catarina’s already strong ego.

“Mama would kill me for saying this, but I try,” Catarina joked. Luca moved toward Rose and kissed the top of her head as he watched her cradle, Sophia. “Since you’re both here, Paulie and I have something to ask you both.” Rose looked away from Sophia to give her full attention to the new parents, Luca did the same.

“Sophia needs a godfather and godmother, would you both be willing to be that for her?” Rose’s heart swelled but she didn’t say a word. She looked at Luca for confirmation, but he was looking down at her.

“Of course we’ll be her godparents,” Rose answered for them. Luca didn’t protest, he gave Rose a soft half-smile and nodded his agreement to no one in particular. All he could do was stare at Rose cradling Sophia and hope he’d see her one day carrying their own child.


The days seemed to move far faster and Rose woke with nausea almost every morning, but it would quickly pass so she didn’t pester anyone with the strange occurrences in her health. She assumed it had something to do with her not eating well or a lack of iron.

Rose woke earlier that morning, she wanted to be ready with breakfast for herself and Luca and looking well-put-together by the time she needed to head to the pier.

She received a letter from her sister only a few days prior, that Ada and Michael would be stopping by in New York for a few days to deal with some business for Shelby Company Ltd. Rose assumed Ada was coming just to see her since she knew Michael was capable of doing the business alone, and Ada was used to doing business in Boston anyway.

Rose picked at her food, her appetite wasn’t back to normal but she was feeling full just seeing Luca finish an entire plate of the food she cooked for him. It filled her heart knowing that Luca liked the way she cooked, she prided herself in her cooking abilities, she was a far better cook amongst her family members.

Rose cleared the table quickly, the excitement of seeing her sister and cousin bubbling in her stomach.

“You seem excited,” Luca questioned, he was sporting her favourite crooked grin.

“I am,” Rose answered. “Mostly because Ada is coming and I’ve missed her company. Michael and I are the same age but he’s harder to talk to, he’s a lot more like Tommy than everyone likes to admit.”

“They should be at the pier soon, do you want to go now?”

“Yes, let’s go!”

Rose had a designer fan in her hand that matched her handbag, the dry heat was getting ridiculous and Rose knew that she needed to find ways to combat the heat. It was nothing like she was used to back in Birmingham. But Luca was dressed in a full tailored grey suit and he hadn’t even broken a sweat yet. Rose hooked her hand on the crook of Luca’s elbow as they stood amongst the crowd watching people pour out of a passenger ship that was just a tad smaller than the Olympic she and Luca had travelled on what seemed like ages ago to her. The passengers moved on to customs and then would appear through blue doors on to American soil.

Rose spotted Michael first. The smile she sported widened as he noticed her too. He walked towards them, looking cool with one hand in his pocket and the other carrying his suitcase. As he reached them he put his briefcase down and Rose embraced Michael tightly.

“It’s good to see you,” Rose spoke.

“It’s good to see you too, Rose,” Michael added. He looked at Luca smartly, somehow Michael seemed to know how to deal with business relationships well. Michael shook Luca’s hand firmly, avoiding the traditional Italian cheek kisses.

“Where’s Ada?” Rose asked.

“I lost her in customs. But I’m sure she’ll be out soon.” Michael answered, and soon enough Ada appeared through the blue doors. Rose couldn’t contain her delight as she saw her sister again. Her hair seemed shorter from the last time she saw her. She was wearing a rich blue short-sleeved blouse, blue was always Ada’s colour.

As Ada approached them, Rose’s demeanour changed.

“I sure am happy to see you, why are you crying Rose?” Her voice had started off light and then she looked concerned. Ada looked directly at Luca then, but as Ada had mentioned that Rose had started crying, Luca took Rose’s elbow and pulled her closer too him.

“What’s wrong?” Luca whispered into her ear. Ada was close to her in seconds as well.

“I’m just so happy to see her,” Rose was mostly speaking to Luca, as Michael stood awkwardly to the side, unsure of how to deal with all the sudden emotion. Ada wiped Rose’s tears away with the back of her fingers.

“Don’t cry about me,” Ada looked at Rose pointedly and motioned for Luca to start walking as Rose’s tears had made them all uncomfortable in such a public setting.

When they reached the motor car Rose was no longer crying. She was sitting in the front seat with Luca, but her body was turned to hold on to Ada’s hands in the backseat.

“How was the trip?” Rose asked both Michael and Ada.

“The food could be better,” Michael raised his chin as he spoke, he’d become a rather posh man since the money started pouring in for him. Nothing was good enough for him, and though Rose couldn’t agree with him all the time, she still admired that he wanted the best for himself.

“Nothing we aren't used too, however,” Ada chimed in. “Finn wanted me to give you these. He’s been practicing.” Ada handed over a notebook with envelopes pressed within the pages. Finn had been practicing his writing. Rose’s smile widened when she opened the notebook and Finn’s messy writing was littered through the pages. Most of the pages had repeated sentences, some of them just doodles, and near the end of the notebook, Finn was writing full structured paragraphs. There was a short laugh in Rose’s delight.

“If I write to him, will he write me back?” Rose asked Ada, but Rose wasn’t looking at her sister anymore. Rose had scooted closer to Luca and rested her head against his arm, as he continued to drive them all to Hotel Astor.

“He was hoping for that. Finn’s been working on the business more, and needs the practice.”

“I’ll write to him as soon as I get home.”


Michael and Ada were dropped off at Hotel Astor to settle down for the rest of the day. Michael would be doing business with Luca and the rest of the Spinietta family, and the alliance between the Spinietta’s and the Galano’s would be brought up. Rose was expecting Luca to be busy this week, with possible late nights.

Ada was going to have a meeting with Boston that night at the hotel on the legal business, and would then be free for an entire week to spend with her younger sister.

Ada had suspicions, Rose was showing symptoms of something Ada had only felt once before.

Ada went to visit Rose at Tessa Tower early in the afternoon. Rose had welcomed Ada in happily and had offered to make her tea from the little amount Rose had left in the apartment. Rose had swiftly converted to coffee.

As they sat together at the small table in the kitchen eating heavily sugared cookies along with the Italian cookies Rose had learned to make with Audrey, Ada asked Rose a question she was most worried about.

“Tommy told me about Luca being in the hospital, he looks fine now, but… are you okay? Something isn’t the same.” Ada took Rose’s hand on the table and the sudden affection was difficult for Rose to handle. Rose touched her own cheeks with the back of her fingers, trying to find the words to answer her. She was fine now, she truly was, but as she thought about what happened to Luca, how she picked him up off the street, the ambulance that took them to the hospital, the tiresome days she spent at the hospital with him, and how they told each other that they loved each other, the emotions welled up inside her too quickly for her to handle rationally. Rose cried for the billionth time, she knew she was being foolish but the tears came anyway. Rose began to wipe at her tears furiously, a deep frown etched into her pretty face.

Ada looked at Rose with alarm and forcefully grabbed Rose’s hands so that she could avoid hurting herself. Ada got up from her seat and moved closer to her sister. Rose wrapped her arms around her sister's waist as Ada smoothed Rose’s hair down and Rose embraced her, the tears not wanting to stop at all.

Once Rose was all tired out and stopped crying, the pair of them moved into the living room to sit down together.

Ada chimed in first, she knew Rose didn’t know what to say anyway. “Have you bled this month?”

Rose looked taken aback, she wasn’t expecting this sort of question. She stared at her sister with wide eyes before she answered carefully. “Yes, I did.”

“Was it regular?” Ada seemed to be inspecting Rose’s face and then her body looking for some sort of sign to explain Rose’s moods. Ada still didn’t know of the slight morning sickness, her new disgust with cigarette, cigar and even reefer smoke, Rose was even picky with her food too and Rose had always respected and loved trying new kinds of dishes. But Ada didn’t know that.

“Well, it didn’t last as long as usual, but it still came. It’s not a problem I don’t think. It’s been doing that for a while. It’s probably because I’m not eating well.”

“You’re not eating well either?” Ada raised her voice slightly, she was looking at Rose pointedly as if Rose wasn’t telling her sister the entire truth.

“I’m fine Ada, I am,” Rose squeezed Ada’s arm tightly before letting go and looking out the large windows in the living room.

Ada got off the couch and moved to the foyer. She picked up her purse from the stand and slid her heeled shoes on. “C’mon then!” Ada almost shouted from the door.

“Where are we going?” Rose quickly grabbed her handbag and shoes as well, and also picked up her keys to the apartment.

“C’mon, we're going to the hospital, or is it just called a ‘clinic’ here in America?” Ada sounded nonchalant as she pulled the front door open.

The pair of them walked outside for a few minutes before a motor cab picked them up and took them straight to the hospital. As they reached closer to their destination the nerves began to pick up in Rose’s stomach. She was gripping Ada’s hand harshly, and her other was placed at her stomach.

“I’m nervous,” Rose spoke.

“I’ll be with you the entire time,” Ada answered her and began to rub her back with her free hand. “Don’t worry, with whatever happens everything will be okay.” Rose nodded at her sister, and the pair of them got out of the motor cab as it stopped in front of the hospital.

Rose hooked her arm into Ada and they both walked in the double doors with their chin’s held high. When they got to the front desk the receptionist dressed in white addressed them calmly.

“How can I help you?”

“My sister, she needs a doctor to run tests on her, I think she may be pregnant,” Ada’s strong Brummie accent caught the receptionist off guard for a second, before she began to pull up some papers.

“Alright, can I have your name, Miss?”

“Rose Changretta,” She felt awkward not saying ‘Shelby’ in front of her sister, but she knew that no one knew her as ‘Rose Shelby’ here. She enjoyed saying ‘Rose Changretta’ now, there was a sort of power that she had never felt or would have felt before if it weren’t for Luca. People looked at her differently once they knew her name, not all the time but most of it. The receptionist looked at Rose carefully before scrawling her name down and taking more information from Rose.

Rose and Ada sat in the waiting room for a few minutes before a nurse escorted them deep into the hospital and into a small room. Rose took the Rabbit test and even had Chadwick’s sign looked over. It was extremely uncomfortable for her as the only other man to touch her was Luca, but Ada was next to her holding her hand. Rose was frowning the entire time, but once the doctor came in with the answer the nerves peaked at another level. Ada was standing with her as the doctor looked over a sheet of paper in front of him. He motioned for both of them to sit down as he leaned against the examination table.

“So, Mrs. Changretta, the tests came back positive.” He looked Rose directly in the eyes now. “Congratulations, you’re expecting a baby.”

“A baby,” Rose almost whispered, the worry was written all over her face, but Ada was smiling brightly at her. “Wait, are you sure I am? I’ve bled this month and the last few months as well. It can’t be possible can it?” The doctor noticed her worry and changed his tone to soothe Rose’s anxiety.

“Pregnancies vary for different women. I wouldn’t worry about the bleeding, some women still bleed in the early stages of their pregnancies.” Rose nodded carefully, trying to take in that there was a child growing inside her. Her hands moved to her abdomen slowly. What would Luca say about this? It was the first thing that crossed her mind. “What kind of symptoms have you been feeling?” Rose rubbed her stomach absentmindedly as she thought about it.

“Well, I haven’t been eating very well, and that’s out of the ordinary. I haven’t been dealing with smoke very well, standing too long in smoke has made me sick. I’ve been dealing with a bit of morning sickness as well, but it's manageable.” The doctor was scrawling notes down. “I’ve been rather emotional as well.” Rose looked at Ada for comfort.

“When did you start feeling any of these symptoms?” the doctor asked, Rose, raked her mind for the answer. Now that she was uncomfortable and knew so much more information than she wanted to it was hard to hear herself think properly.

“I, uh–I think it’s been since our trip to Miami.” The expression on Rose’s face prompted Ada to take her hand.

“Rose, it’s alright, don’t worry. I’m here for you.” Ada comforted her, Rose replied with a nod of her head.

“It’s been about three months, maybe four since then. I’m not sure.” Rose concluded.

“Thank you,” the doctor added before he scribbled more notes onto his paper. “It is important Mrs. Changretta that you watch what you eat and drink from now on, the baby can’t tolerate many things, which is probably why you can’t handle smoke as well as you use to. You’ll have check-ups to come to see the baby’s progress and to check on your health.” Rose nodded at the doctor. “So, I’ll leave you now. Have a good day to the both of you and congratulations again.” The doctor left the room swiftly and as the door clicked closed Ada hugged Rose tightly. They didn’t exchange words, and even though Rose thought that she would cry because of all the emotions surging through her, she didn’t. She just hugged Ada back tightly.

Rose was expecting a child, and though she wasn’t even showing yet she had a strong feeling she could possibly be finishing her first trimester of the pregnancy.

“Everything is going to be okay. Luca is going to be so happy, I promise.” Ada spoke into her ear. Rose moved away from her, to look her sister in the face.

“I’m scared, Ada,” Rose’s jaw was clenched tightly as she looked at her sister with a worried expression. Ada had given birth before and she needed her big sisters help.

“I know, I know,” Ada smoothed Rose’s hair down and then motioned for the pair of them to walk out of the tiny examination room and into the winding corridors. “It can be scary, but you have to be brave, for that little baby you have in there. It’s worth it, and I know you’ll be a great mum.” They exited the hospital, but didn’t bother to pick up a motor cab, they scorched themselves in the heat so they could just bond for once.

“Do you really think I’ll be a good mum? I don’t know if I’m ready to have my own, and it’s really dangerous out here. What if someone tries to use my child against me and Luca.”

“You shouldn’t worry about situations that have never happened to you, Rose, it’ll give you stress and babies don’t handle stress well. You’ll be great, I know it. You were amazing with Karl and Billy, and they weren’t even yours. It’ll make more sense once you start showing.”

“I’ll have to get new clothes then. Well–when I start showing. What if Luca doesn’t like the way I look then?”

“Of course he’ll like the way you look!” Ada almost shouted. “Rose,” Ada took her shoulders in her hands and shook her slightly. They stopped walking and they stared at each other on the sidewalk as pedestrians dodged them. “Stop being so hard on yourself. I know our good-for-nothing father put that idea in your head, but you’re enough, you’re more than enough, alright? He doesn’t matter, he’s dead and he never got to see you grow up anyway. If anything you should know yourself better now and that you’re a good person, even if bad things have happened to you, you’re still good, okay?” Rose’s eyes were wide as she took in everything Ada had said to her. Rose didn’t know how to respond, all she could do was nod her head, as she reached forward to hug her sister again.

“C’mon then, we should get you home.” Ada sounded and they both walked without a word toward Tessa Tower, enjoying each other’s presence.


Rose wasn’t expecting Luca until late in the evening and though her nerves had eased and she had grown used to the idea of carrying Luca’s child inside her, she still felt as if she needed help. When Rose got home after the trip to the hospital, Rose quickly sent Ada back to Hotel Astor so that Ada could check herself out of her suite and come stay at Tessa Tower in one of the many spare bedrooms they had in their apartment. Rose was fixing the sheets in the farthest room from her own. She knew Luca would be more comfortable if Ada took the farthest room. Rose was dusting the countertops and adding more pillows to the bed, there wasn’t a sound in the house not even the chime of soft jazz music from the gramophone.

Her thoughts roamed as she moved in and out of the room. Her baby would need a room of their own eventually. Rose hadn’t noticed that she had smiled at the thought of a small child running around the apartment. Would she have a girl or a boy? Rose bit her bottom lip, hiding the growing smile that she now sported.

She would have a little piece of her and Luca, and though she didn’t know if she was ready to have a child of her own she now accepted the fact that this baby was coming. They weren’t careful after all, and maybe Luca wanted a child. She hoped he did. That was what she was thinking of now. She was thinking of how she was going to tell Luca that he was going to be a father.

Ada arrived almost two and a half hours later with her suitcases in hand and Rose helped her settle into the spare room.

“I saw Michael at the hotel, he was about to go meet Luca when I saw him.” Ada was unpacking the clothes she brought, she even took out the framed picture of Karl and set it on the nightstand.

“Did you tell him you were going to stay here?”

“I did, he was confused, but he didn’t question it. The business might be the only thing that’s ever on his mind.” Ada raised an eyebrow as a silly smile graced her features.

They spent the rest of the evening together until Luca came home and Ada excused herself before they could tell Luca that Ada would be staying with them for the next week. Rose felt the nerves in her stomach again as she looked at Luca. He looked tired, but cool all the same.

“How was your day?” Rose asked him as she helped him get out of his suit.

“Had a few meetings here and there, and got into some trouble too,” A smirk slid onto Luca’s face as he took her elbow and pulled her closer to him. He leaned down towards her and kissed Rose softly, he was so smooth. When he moved away to look at her, Rose took her chance. She smoothed his white dress shirt with her hands and stared directly at his chest finding it difficult to look him in the eyes. She gripped his strong arms tightly, bringing up the courage to say what she needed.

“I have something to tell you, I hope that you’ll take it well,” her voice came out meeker than she hoped for, but at least it was out there already. Luca’s hand caressed her cheek slowly, and the back of his fingers brushed upward against her face. Rose leaned into his touch.

“I–” Rose started but she felt the shakiness return as the time came to tell Luca.

“What has you so nervous?” He smiled at her caringly as a soft chuckle left his lips. He pulled her towards their bed and they sat down on the edge of it.

“It’s–I–” Rose cleared her throat and her hands landed against her stomach. “I’m with child, you’re going to be a father,” Rose took a huge gulp of air as she looked for a reaction from Luca. He stared at her for a few seconds, before he spoke.

“Really? You’re pregnant?” He seemed surprised, but she didn’t understand why. Maybe he was in shock.

“I am, maybe several months along too. I went to see a doctor today with Ada. You’re going to be a dad Luca.” Luca’s face lit up as if he’d just seen the sun after a long winter. His hands were all over her, first her cheeks and then her shoulders, rubbing up and down her arms and then above her own hands on her stomach. “You’re happy then?”

“Of course I am. I’m more than happy Rose.” He kissed her gently, one of his hands still at her stomach. “I love you.”

“I love you more.”

Chapter Text

Rose knew Luca was a bad man. Almost all the men she knew by name were bad men. She didn’t even know what a good man was anymore, but as she read a page of a bible that was left behind in the pew she sat in, she wondered if she was just as bad for being with them, for being with Luca. She was sitting in one of the last pews in the long cathedral styled church. She got married here. But the church seemed different this time around. She was meant to be looking for the priest, to ask for Catarina when the baptism would be held.

But she was still at the back of the church, she thought she’d burn up like a witch on the holiest day of the year if she moved, because she thought she was no saint either. She never did anything when it came to the men in her family. She knew the power a voice of a woman had she’d seen her Aunt Polly use it before, even Ada. But why did she feel it was easier to let Luca do bad things?

Rose let the idea float in her head, it moved around like a boat on water. It could have lulled her to sleep, she had been much more tired lately due to her knowing she was pregnant. It had only been three days since she figured it out, three days since Ada and Michael arrived in Manhattan. Her stomach was still relatively flat, no one could guess she was at least 3 months along, maybe even more she couldn’t tell.

She felt a soft tap on her shoulder, and it stirred her out of her thoughts. It was the priest, the priest that married her to Luca.

“Mrs. Changretta,” he had a heavy Italian accent. “Can I help you with something?” He recognized her.

“Oh, I was– I was just sitting. Uh,” she stuttered, her Brummie accent still strong. “I came to ask a question” Rose dusted her satin skirt with her hands, she looked a little too expensive for a place meant for humble people.

“What is your question, Mrs. Changretta?” the priest was polite, an encouraging smile on his face.

“My sister-in-law has asked my husband and me to be padrini to her baby girl.” Rose suddenly felt comfortable but her issues with morality still plagued her. “I came to see when we could plan for a possible date for the baptism, and I’ve heard that I have to take classes before I can become a madrina.”

“That is true, I can give you more information. Follow me,” the priest began to walk in the direction of the altar, up to the very front of the church. Rose followed quietly behind him, taking note of her surroundings. She knew Polly was religious, and she often went to the Catholic church in Small Heath. Rose had only gone a handful of times with her, but she couldn’t remember the etiquette that Polly had taught her. Rose wondered if maybe Ada remembered, but Ada went to the church less then she did.

Rose moved carefully then, not wanting to do something wrong, and fear retaliation from the priest. But he seemed so kind, maybe even saintly but Rose still didn’t want to put a toe out of line. The pair of them walked away from the altar and out a side door into a long corridor. They continued their trek until they stopped in front of a dark wood door, and stepped inside. The priest walked around the desk and sat down in an armchair behind it. He pulled out the drawer on his right and pulled out a sheet of paper. Rose took the opportunity to sit down in one of the chairs in front of the desk.

“I’m sorry that I’m only asking this now Father, but what is your name?” Rose asked.

“Carmine,” he said politely.

“I’m Rose,” the sudden shyness was so evident. Rose extended her hand so Father Carmine could shake it.

“I know, I know,” he chuckled lightly as he shook her hand. “How old is the child?” he started.

“Oh–She’s just about a week old now,” Rose answered.

“You’re husband already took the class–long time ago–you can come tomorrow,” Father Carmine said.

“Of course, what time should I be here?”

“Whatever time suits you, I give confessions every day at nine o’clock, mass is at eleven o’clock any other time I will be here,” he smiled at her comfortingly again.

“I can be here at ten,”

“That is a good time, it will take about a month, it is best for a child to be baptized two or three months after birth. We can talk about this another time as well, as we take the classes,” Father Carmine nodded at her. He handed her a few sheets of paper before she said her thank you’s and goodbye’s and left his office. She walked back down the corridor in the church. She took a deep breath as she entered the church hall again, the altar in sight, and what was meant to be Jesus on a cross up against the wall. Rose shivered slightly as she peered up at the cross. She looked back down and then began her walk down the long aisle and outside the main doors of the church. Both her hands protective at her womb.


The room was darker than necessary. It was still bright out, not even midday, but the closed sheer curtains darkened the room in a golden glow. Several men were gathered in a meeting room in the Astor hotel, several minutes before Michael Gray would bring business to them.

Don Spinietta was seated at the head of the table, with Luca on one side and Donnino on the other side. The rest of the caporegimes were in attendance, but only so they could be kept informed on the business that was coming in. They would be made to leave once Michael arrived. Don Spinietta’s consigliere, Johnny Rizzo was here and so was Hiram. If contracts were involved, Luca wanted to be sure he was putting his name on something he could be proud of.

“We’re making good money, boss. First, we got Luca’s wife, we get good business through her and all she gotta do is look pretty and make Luca happy,” it was Marco Drago who spoke to the Don. He was Anthony’s younger brother, and he had been petitioning to become a made man.

“Don’t talk about my wife,”  Luca shook his head slowly, looking at Marco dangerously. Anthony chuckled next to him. Luca really had no shame, if his best friends brother got in the way he would push him down if he had too. Marco raised his hands in mock surrender before he wiped them together.

“Yeah, you got it,” Marco was animated with his hands, like any good Italian man. “But we all fuckin’ know they don’t need us. Theyse got connections in Boston right, Luca?”

“It’s my wife’s sister, Ada. She’s a good woman. They say she's some kind of intellectual. She’s good with words, not bad to look at, and knows how to negotiate to Tommy’s interest.” Luca answered, but he directed it toward Don Spinietta who he could barely see because of the sunlight that tried to escape the curtains behind him.

“So, we should pick up this kid, Michael, what’s he to your wife’s family?” Don Spinietta asked.

“He’s my wife's cousin, good kid, smart,” Luca said.

“We pick it up with Michael right, and we just make him an offer he can’t back out on. One too good, one he’ll kick himself if he refuses.” Donnino spoke then.

“He’s smart right? he knows money, he knows gambling, he knows bribes, so you can’t go in alone if you wanna get fooled.” Anthony continued.

“You make this kid sound like a magician, what’s so good about him?” Don Spinietta sounded irritated, as he blew his cigar smoke out of his smoke and it rose to the ceiling.

“Tommy trained him to be better than him. Like a successor or somethin’” Luca answered nonchalantly, as he rolled the cigar between his fingers.

“Why’d he make his cousin his successor?” It was Vincenzo Sartini who spoke this time, a puzzled look on his face. They all knew that the Shelby’s operated as a family, similarly too how they operated.

“He was plannin’ on going legal but the kid knows his way in and out of all the business they do. They’d be fools and loosin’ a lot of clams if they stayed out of the gamblin’ and liquor business.” Luca then took the opportunity to put the cigar between his lips. His thoughts wanted to roam somewhere else, to Rose and the baby she was carrying, his baby.

“So we keep him on board no matter what?” Luca’s uncle Leonardo spoke then, with Matteo behind him.

“We keep him, we’d be stupid to drop him” Paulie answered sharply.

“Theyse got connections in Miami right? The Jews or the Irish” Anthony directed the question at Luca.

“Probably the Irish, but they got a truce with another gangster in London who does business with the Jews in Miami.” Luca glanced at him before he answered, the cigar still held between his teeth as he spoke.

“Either way that’s a step closer to the Cubans, and if Montesinos finds any kinda connection between the Shelby’s and us, we’ll hear it from him… personally” It was Giovanni who spoke, he hadn’t taken a break from the business after Luca had secretly killed his son with some of the men in the room.

“So what’s the plan boss?” Donnino asked Don Spinietta.

“First we do business with Michael, we take up his offer. We take him to our meeting with the Galano’s, we’ll bring up their business and the liquor, and then we gotta seal the deal with Gina.” Don Spinietta nodded his head respectfully at Paulino, Tony, and Marco. They returned the gesture. “We can worry about the Cubans later.” And that they did.


Michael’s business plans always moved smoothly in New York, and most of the time he could thank Rose, as almost all the gangsters he encountered knew her as Mrs. Changretta now. And there was no chance they would disrespect the future Don’s wife, and in turn, disrespect her family.

“More than half the car parts that are sent to the ports are stolen but, they're also untraceable. Shelby Company Limited can continue to send them to the regular docks and have the parts including the liquor pass through customs, but if that is a problem Tommy is willing to move the shipment elsewhere. The car parts are apart of the price of the liquor. You can do what you want with them, sell them, break them done, whatever you want.” Michael always spoke eloquently. He always wanted to sound like the smartest person in the room.

There were five men in the room, including Michael. Don Spinietta and his consigliere, Luca and Hiram. Luca wouldn’t speak out of turn, he could speak to Michael all he wanted after the meeting. “How much does the price for the gin change?” Spinietta was tapping his cigar against the glass ashtray.

“Just 15 percent increase. The police have been looking for the parts and Tommy wants them out of the country.” Michael proceeded to light his own cigarette and proceeded to take the first drag before he began to show off his skills with smoke.

“That’s fair,” Don Spinietta’s voice was hoarse after the last puff of smoke that left his mouth. “We agree to the terms, Mr. Gray,” Spinietta concluded, receiving a respectful nod from Michael. The group proceeded to exchange documents and contracts. Tommy liked the formality, and Spinietta couldn’t afford to lose the merchandise or a partner and the contract was enough evidence for him to get Murder Inc. to whack the Shelby’s if needed.

Once the meeting ended, Spinietta brought up the Galano’s to Michael. But Michael left while reassuring them, only because he was unprepared to meet with more New York gangsters. He didn’t have a contract prepared and he hadn’t received any information from Tommy. They agreed to meet in three hours, but Michael was heading towards his suite in the Hotel Astor so he could give Tommy a call in Birmingham.


Three hours later, the sun was lower in the sky. Luca had already spent most of the day at Hotel Astor. But now he was getting into the backseat of a motor car with Michael next to him, and Hiram sitting in the front with a hired driver.

“How long from here to Staten Island?” Michael asked Luca. Luca pulled a small box of toothpicks from his pockets and placed a toothpick between his teeth. He was trying to stop himself from smoking another cigar. He wanted Rose to be comfortable when he got home that night.

“About an hour,” Luca spoke in his raspy tone. “You get a hold of Tommy?” Luca teased, a clear smirk on his face as he glanced at Michael.

“Tommy likes money, and if this gets him more, than we're happy to do business,” Luca frowned in agreement and shook his head at Michael’s logic.

Once they arrived in Staten Island, the meeting was conducted in a quick fashion.

A meeting hall was prepared on the seaside of Staten Island. It was a long room behind a motor car dealership, with an interesting chandelier that hung above them and provided a brightly lit space. Michael didn’t have a consigliere, advisor, or lawyer with him. While the most important men in the room did.

At the end of the table, Don Galano sat with his Consigliere next to him and both his sons Nico and Vito on his other side. Luca eyed them carefully, remembering the last time he saw them.

It was at his wedding, and they had done their best to make him uncomfortable by flirting with Rose mercilessly. He remembered everything the Galano brothers had said to Rose, from the shape of her body to the colour of her eyes. Luca was a smart man though, he wouldn’t get shaken up now. The Galano’s were powerful and had more manpower than the Bassano’s would ever expect from the Spinietta's if things got rough in New York.

If by the end of the meeting the Spinietta’s and the Galano’s come to a solid truce through Shelby Company Limited and Gina Drago, then they wouldn’t have to worry about the Cuban’s trying to invade them or strike up business with them.

The meeting went smoothly, Michael gave them the figures, numbers, dates and the Galano’s were satisfied. They’d received their own crate of car parts and real gin through Shelby Company Limited in the next week or so. The Galano’s and Spinietta’s were now tied together through Rose and Luca, but the next point in question was just as important.

“Now, there’s another matter we must discuss.” Don Spinietta started.

“Yes, there is,” Don Galano extended his hand toward his eldest son, Nico and motioned for them to begin.

“My son and I are still interested in the young girl. But, if my son is to marry her, that would mean the Drago familia will be connected to the Galano’s directly. I hope that my son will take my position once I retire, and if he were to marry Gina, she would have a significant position–The highest respect in our family.” Don Galano had his hands folded together in front of him on the table. Luca was pretending not to pay attention, but he was just as aware of what was happening. Gina was Anthony's only sister, and though no one at this point knew where Nico had seen Gina long enough to want to spend the rest of his life with her, it was going to happen anyway.

Anthony’s father had given his blessing almost every day to Don Spinietta. It was an honour to the Drago’s, that there would be a truce between the Galano’s and the Spinietta’s thanks to them, to Gina. But Luca would never forget the real reason. Business, smooth business, a functioning business always brought respect. Luca’s girl had done that for him, Rose had brought in smooth business, and though it hadn't been completely respected in the beginning because of the bloodshed, it did end that way.

Don Spinietta wouldn’t ever say it, but he was thankful to Luca for marrying Rose, and he was content knowing that Rose would be Donna of Manhattan once he retired, even if she wasn’t Sicilian like everyone else.

“We understand the proposition, Don Galano,” Don Spinietta answered his worries. “We will not back out on this offer.”

That confirmation was all the Galano’s needed. There would be a wedding soon, a wedding that would unite two prominent families in New York; Manhattan and Staten Island.


Dear Finn,

I’m so happy that you’ve finally found it important to start writing and reading. I’m really proud of you. I know that things have been hard for you over there, especially after John died. I promise that you're in my thoughts.

I’m not sure when you’ll receive this letter, but I hope it’s soon.

Since, you’re the only one who’ll write me, tell everyone I’m expecting. I’m pregnant, and you’ll be an uncle Finn, another baby in the family to spoil.

I hope you’ll visit soon Finn, or maybe I’ll ask Luca if I can spend a week or two.

Love you to the moon and back.

Your sister,

Rosie

 

The letter was short, but Rose was more impatient than anything. She tucked the paper into an envelope and sealed the edges. She retrieved a stamp from Luca’s study and pasted it in the corner of the envelope. She wrote her address in the other corner and stopped before she wrote Arthur’s address in the centre. Rose looked up from the envelope. She took the fountain pen in hand, along with the envelope and then walked into the spare room where Ada was sat at the vanity, fixing the make-up on her face. Rose moved in and sat on the bed, as she watched her sister for a few seconds before she spoke.

“Does Finn still live with Arthur?”

“No, Arthur moved him over to Artillery Square,” Ada answered absentmindedly as she carefully applied blusher to the balls of her cheeks. “Arthur moved too,” she finally looked at Rose, but only through the mirror. Rose got up from the bed an placed the envelope on the vanity.

“Could you write Finn’s address, so I could mail this to him.” Rose passed Ada the fountain pen, and Ada wrote down Finn’s address. “So, did everyone move away from the last time I was there.” There was a solemn look on Rose’s face as she continued to watch her sister apply makeup.

“Well, y’know Esme went off with the kids. Arthur moved closer to Birmingham, since Linda surprisingly got a job. Finn got moved to Artillery Square because the communists were acting up there, and Tommy thought it would be a good idea for Finn to start living on his own, so Arthur took him out there. I’m still coming back and forth between London and Birmingham city centre, though I’ve moved flats in London.” Ada applied rouge to her lips then, as she finished applying and pressed her lips together she continued to speak. “Polly and Michael don’t live together anymore and Michael moved to the city centre. Polly’s living in a house outside the city, really big, spacious–” Rose cute her off.

“Did Tommy move away too?”

“No, he’s still in the enormous manor that he really doesn’t need.”

“It must be lonely sometimes to have such a huge home and not many people to fill it.” Rose almost whispered. She didn’t want to think of herself at that moment.

“I think he doesn’t want to give it up because it reminds him of Grace.” Rose gulped down hard as Ada spoke. Tommy’s wife died because of Mafia business. She knew that much.

She couldn’t help it when she thought of herself then. What if she died giving birth to the baby inside her. What if the baby survived, would Luca be ok? Would the baby be ok too? Rose shook the idea from her head and placed a soft smile on her face, it was all she could muster at the moment.

“Everything’s changed back home,” Rose said.

“Not everything,” Ada smiled, as she got up from the vanity chair and took Rose’s hand briefly. Ada rubbed her fingers before she moved to exit the room. Rose followed her out of the hallway and past the kitchen and into the living room. Ada picked up her handbag on the couch.

“Where are you off to?” Rose was surprised at her sister's movements.

“I’m going to see if I can have a little fun while I’m here. I’ve done all my business, and Karl is back home. I just need a bit of male attention is all.” Rose grinned at her sister and wished her luck. Ada pocketed a key to the apartment and was then on her way.

Once Ada was gone Rose was left with her thoughts. She sat on the couch quietly, staring out the window until her back couldn’t take it anymore. She looked at the clock perched on the wall and the moved to the kitchen to make dinner. She hoped Luca would be home soon.


Rose woke up with Luca’s arms wrapped around her, her back against his chest. One of his hands was at her lower stomach in a protective gesture. Rose smiled in her sleepiness. She revelled in the fact that he was so happy that she was pregnant, but sometimes it didn’t ease the anxiety and fear she had for the child growing inside her.

Luca’s other arm was underneath her and wrapped tightly around her breasts. Her sheer nightgown didn’t protect her modesty, but she didn’t care, it was her husband she was wrapped up in. Rose struggled for a second to turn around in his hold, so that she could press her forehead on his chest, and wrap her own arms around him too.

“You’re awake?” Luca spoke in a raspier tone than usual. Rose hummed in response nuzzling her cheek against him.

“Let’s stay here a while longer, yeah?” Rose asked.

“Yeah, okay,” Rose tangled her legs with his and began to rub the bare skin of his back with her fingers. She breathed his scent in, spiced and masculine. She never wanted to let go. He was tangling his fingers in her long hair and kissing her head occasionally. It was peaceful, quiet.

“I don’t want Ada to go,” Rose whispered. The week had gone by quicker than she anticipated, she still wanted to spend time with her sister. But mostly, she wanted her sister to be there for the entire pregnancy she was in. She didn’t want to be alone, not without her sister. Ada knew well enough why she was afraid and she couldn’t say it out loud, maybe that was her superstitious side speaking, but she truly couldn’t, she couldn’t speak it into truth.

“She’ll be back eventually. She’s free to come and go as she wants.” Luca whispered back.

“She has work to do back home. What if she’s not here before I have to go to the hospital–before the baby comes.” Rose didn’t want to sound weak, but Luca knew her all too well now. He searched for her face as they lie down on their bed next to each other. He moved her hair away from her face and took her chin in his hand. He looked her straight in the eyes, his dark ones meeting her pale-blues.

“Hey, you don’t have to be afraid. I’m going to take care of you. I’m here for you, I wanna be. The baby is gonna be fine, and so are you... I won’t let anything happen to you, Tesoro.” She could feel it, his sincerity, his coolness. She wanted to cry, but she didn’t, she just watched him in awe. He was perfect for her, sent to her in a cruel way.

Rose placed her hand on his cheek and continued to look at him with so much love. She really had it all, didn’t she? She kissed his lips then, and whispered to him, “I love you more than anything.” Luca's smooth smile appeared on his face, and he kissed her quickly once again.

“I love you more than anything,” he whispered close to her ear. They laid there together for what felt like several well spent hours. When they got out of bed and were dressed up for the day, Rose went to knock on Ada’s door, but the door was wide open. Rose moved into the kitchen to get into the living room, but she found Ada sat at the circular table in the kitchen eating toast.

“Morning,” Ada said, with a mischievous smile on her face. Rose answered the same back with an exasperated look on her face. Rose thought that Ada had left without saying goodbye, for a split second. Luca came up behind Rose and looked at the expressions on both their faces.

“I’m going on my own, I’ll find Michael on the way,” Ada answered, as she finished her toast and dusted her hands with a few claps of her hands.

“Are you sure? You know we can take you right?” Luca spoke nonchalantly, mostly paying attention to Rose’s sudden distress.

“Yeah, I’m sure. Better if Rosie stays here, stress isn’t good for the baby.” Rose stood stalk still and quiet as Ada addressed Luca.

“You want me to call someone to drive you there?”

“That would be nice, thank you.” Luca left the kitchen and moved down the hall to walk to his office. Ada stepped closer to Rose, and put her hands on Rose’s arms, rubbing up and down comfortingly. “You have to take care of yourself alright? It’s not just you anymore, you have a baby to take care of.” Rose nodded in response, staring at her sister with wide eyes, hoping she wouldn’t start crying. Rose pulled Ada into a tight hug, and she received the same energy back. “I’ll try my best to come back soon, and if not I’ll send Polly. I’ll tell everyone the news and I’ll have Finn write you, alright?” Ada stated carefully, stepping back from Rose to see her expression.

“Alright,” Rose answered her shakily.

When Luca came back, they moved into the living room so they could say their goodbyes.

Ada kissed Luca’s cheek, as she learned was appropriate amongst relatives and in-laws. But before she moved to kiss her sister goodbye Ada began to list things to Luca.

“Rose is probably going to have cravings soon, just get her what she needs. She can’t drink alcohol, stop her if she tries. If she craves sweets, give her some, but that can’t be the only thing she eats. You have you keep up your health for the baby.” Ada directed the last bit towards Rose. “Don’t miss any appointments with the doctor. The morning sickness isn’t always going to be there either, but she’ll get more tired and irritable once she starts showing. Well, she’s already showing a bit isn’t she,” Ada grinned at Rose, and she instinctively brought her hands to her womb. She was showing a bit, but not enough for people to stop and ask her if she was pregnant. “Don’t stress too much, it’s not good.” Luca nodded at Ada, taking note of everything she said as he put his hands in his pockets.

Ada kissed Rose’s cheek and hugged her again before Ada picked up her suitcases and walked out the door and took the elevator down to the lobby.

Rose still hadn’t cried and she was proud of herself. She didn’t want to be so emotional all the time, and it was exhausting for her too. So, she absently started smoothing out Luca’s suit with her hands. Her delicate, manicured, hands running down his shoulders and then over his clothed chest. Luca took her hands in his then.

“You want to go out? Eat breakfast?” he looked at her carefully, watching the way she moved, the way she breathed, the way she was avoiding his gaze.

“You’re not going to work today?” Rose asked.

“No, it’s just you an’ I,” Rose finally looked at him, a smile on her pretty face, as she reached up to kiss his cheek.


After Rose and Luca had breakfast at a café in Soho, they made their way up to Midtown West to visit Catarina, Paulie, and little Sophia. They walked a length of row houses with their fingers intertwined, once they found the right house they knocked on the door and waited for someone to answer.

Paul came to the door only a few seconds later, and he greeted Luca like a brother would. He then kissed Rose’s cheek and he let them inside the long foyer, it was much longer than their own and had wedding and family photos hung on the walls. There was a spot on the wall waiting for Sophia’s photo as well. Rose liked the warm spirit of her sister-in-law's home, it was comforting and the colour scheme was inviting. They followed Paulie into the living room, where Audrey and Catarina were seated on the love seat looking at Sophia in Catarina’s arms.

They both greeted them warmly, the baby in the room making the atmosphere in the room so kind and calm. Audrey stood up to greet them properly. She kissed Luca’s cheek, and the moved to Rose to kiss hers, Luca moved to stand by his sister. He kissed the top of Catarina’s head before he gave Sophia his finger to hold on to. Catarina stood up from the couch so Luca could look at Sophia properly. Rose came around from the other side to greet Catarina.

“How are you feeling? Better?” Rose asked pressing her cheek to hers.

“Oh, far better, it was tough carrying Sophia around all the time, my feet were swollen the last few weeks. But now that she’s out in the world she cries quite a bit. Nothing we can’t handle though.” She grinned down at the tiny baby in her hands and cooed lightly.

“I’m glad to hear it,” Rose answered, trying to take a look at the baby, Luca pulled her closer and then in front of him so she could take a proper look. Catarina carefully motioned for Rose to take Sophia in her arms, and she slid the baby into a comfortable position. Catarina stretched her arms and moved to sit at one end of the couch.

Rose marvelled at Sophia’s opened eyes, and calm nature. She was spitting up a little but it was nothing that couldn’t be cleaned up. Sophia’s cheeks were round, smooth, and so soft. Rose had been staring at the baby for so long, and Luca had been doing the same at Rose. He was in awe of her, he couldn’t wait to see her belly grow, he couldn’t wait for the baby to be here, wait to hear his baby cry or laugh. He wanted that, he wanted it with Rose.

He knew that she would be a good mother, she was already so gentle with Sophia. He couldn’t imagine anyone else that would be better at being a mother than her, his Rose.

“She’s grown so much in just a week,” Rose spoke as she finally looked up to look at Catarina.

“Yeah, she enjoys her mother's milk, but I’ve been told that it’s normal, so I’m not worrying too much about it now. It’ll get harder to take care of her in the winter since she was born in the heat. Better when babies are born in the cold, it’s easier to adapt to the warmth.” Catarina spoke interestedly as she relayed the information she was given.

The group sat around the room, conversing. Mostly talking about irregular things, like the numbers for the next baseball game, or which horse not to bet on at the next derby, the new real estate in Tribeca and the handful of department stores that were opening up around Tocci’s.

They had coffee, with the Italian biscuits Rose now made at home as well. Rose hadn’t let go of Sophia for a second, and Catarina didn’t mind, she was glad to have a short break.

Bianca came bustling through the door hours later, not even bothering to knock. It was a dangerous move by her, she noticed how both Paulie and Luca looked for their guns either underneath their coat or in the drawers.

“A family reunion without me? Jeez, thought you all cared about me.” Bianca whined as she went to greet her mother first, and then went around to give everyone a kiss on the cheek. “What’s the occasion that has you all here?” Bianca sat herself down next to her mother, Rose could smell several mixtures of different kinds of perfume off Bianca from the other end of the room where she sat with Catarina and Luca.

“Nothing, Mama just came to check on me, and Luca and Rose just showed up, but you did the same too so,” Catarina leaned her head back on the back of the couch. She did seem tired now that Rose looked at her.

“Since we're all here though, Rose and I have something to say,” Luca started. He looked for a confirmation from Rose, but he stopped speaking a lot longer than planned just to look at her. Her cheeks were already flushed in anticipation, her arms still cradling a now sleeping Sophia. He was just so attracted to her. Rose’s melodic voice broke him out of his reverie.

“You want me to say it?” She smiled at him, Luca nodded at her in response and just continued to watch her, he couldn’t help himself. “So, Luca and I…” Rose paused looking directly at Audrey, hoping she’d be pleased with the news she was about to share. “We’re having a baby. I’m pregnant.” There was a wide grin on Audrey’s face, and Rose couldn’t help but mirror it. Audrey didn’t say a word all she did was get up with her arms stretched out, Rose got up immediately and let herself be enveloped in her arms. She’d never received this kind of affection from Audrey. And all she could think of was how she wished she had her own mother here to be happy with her, to hug her tightly. Audrey kissed both her cheeks, the grin still on her face, as everyone else in the room had already begun to congratulate Luca.

Audrey rubbed Rose’s arms up and down before she spoke. “You’ll be a great mother, I know you will be.” Rose couldn’t say anything, she was just so relieved by the situation. She wanted to jump up and down with joy but Sophia was still in her arms. Catarina then came in swiftly and took Sophia from her, and Audrey moved in to hug her again, with more force this time. Rose could smell her rose-scented perfume, she could feel her wrinkles on her check. She felt frail but still so strong. Audrey spoke into her ear, “I’m glad that Luca has you.” This time Rose truly had no idea what to say, she was speechless. Was this true acceptance?

Rose knew that Audrey wanted to start again, their rocky beginning wasn't easy and after Luca was shot no one had the energy to continue to be hostile with Rose. But she never received this sort of love from his family, apart from the kindness Bianca had shown her from the very beginning. She could have cried, but she was just so happy to see Audrey this way. Audrey moved to congratulate her son, and then Catarina and Bianca were on top of her congratulating her, and squeezing her in tight hugs. It felt surreal to feel so comforted, so loved.

When Rose and Luca made their way to leave Catarina and Paulie’s home, Rose couldn’t contain herself. She was sporting a satisfied smile on her face, as she hooked her hand around Luca’s arm. She hadn’t noticed him looking at her.

“You’re so happy?” he gave her that sly crooked grin that she loved. He was leaning down toward her as they walked toward the motor car.

“Of course I am,” Rose smiled. She got a kiss from him in return, he didn’t care if people on the street saw them. He kissed her soft and slow before he helped her get into the passenger side of the motorcar, and he moved around to the car to get inside.

“My mother’s right, I don’t want you to forget. You’ll be a great mom, I know you will be.” Rose put her hands on his shoulders, his proximity arousing her. Both her hands moved up, one around his neck and the other firmly around the left side of his jaw and chin. She moved in slow to kiss him, her mouth slightly open. He slipped his hands around her waist, excited by her forwardness, but also aware that they were being intimate in the motorcar, in broad daylight, with pedestrians walking up and down the street.

But he kept kissing her, and so slowly before he moved back to look at her. “I think you’ll be a great father too,” he kissed her one last time, a grin on his face as he did so. Then he turned on the car and backed up and revved forward to get himself and Rose home, to finish what they started.

Chapter Text

Rose had been taking the classes at the church almost every day for a week now. She struggled everyday stepping into the church, but once she sat in the pews furthest from the altar her heart steadied. Father Carmine would always come to sit next to her and they would talk for at least ten minutes before she had to take the class, it was a short class anyway so Rose didn’t mind the time spent.

She’d stare at the stained glass windows when she thought he wasn’t looking, but the end of the week called for confession. So she reluctantly sat inside the connected wooden rooms. There was a cushion on the wooden bench, and she could barely see. When she sat down she could hear the low breathing of Father Carmine in the wooden room next to her, the small size of the room brought back the uneasiness. Rose’s hands were at her growing belly protectively, searching for comfort. She thought of Luca then.

“Father Carmine,” she started.

“Take your time Mrs. Changretta,” his voice was calm.

“I–I’m pregnant,” she whispered not knowing if it was appropriate to say that to him. He was much older, and greying, and a holy man. She twiddled her thumbs together.

“Congratulations, but what is your worry. I hear it in your voice.” He was right to hear it, she wasn’t hiding it well. Rose took a deep breath.

“I’m trying my best, I’ll always try my best to be a good woman, to be a good wife, and I hope a good mother as well, but I worry more for my husband and my unborn child far more than myself these days.” Rose wasn’t going to hold back, she had already said so much. She trusted the priest but she knew there were a few things she would never be able to say. Rose took a deep breath and continued, “My husband always finds himself in some sort of trouble or trouble always finds him, and I worry. If we both die one day will we be together? Will I see him again?” There was a mysticism in her mind that she confused between the gypsy way she grew up with and what Tommy unintentionally preached and the Christianity Polly was afraid of.

She often confused the ideas together, but she knew one thing was important no matter what. To be a good and kind person, to lead that sort of fulfilling life. But Luca didn’t live that sort of life, he only lived that with her, when they weren’t around each other he was in constant danger, he had been shot not long ago, and she had found out later that he had been to prison three times before and had served his two complete sentences, and the other he was released to go off to war. Luca was not a good man, she knew that. He was a dangerous storm in a glass of water.

“I understand your worry,” Father Carmine started. “You want to know if you will see your husband in God’s heavenly kingdom when the time comes that you two pass away.”

“Yes, that–that’s right,” she stuttered.

“I cannot save your husband, you cannot save him either Mrs. Changretta. The only person that could do that is Luca himself. He must accept God into his heart.” It wasn’t the answer she wanted, but she understood. She knew it wasn’t going to be easy, her Aunt Polly showed her that much.

“But, is there anything I could do?” Rose asked.

“Pray… Pray for him, your unborn child, pray for forgiveness, happiness, a good life. Pray for the poor, pray for the injured, pray for people at war, pray for people who have lost their way so that they can find God in their cuore.” she learned the word before, heart. She didn’t know if she had any kind of answer, but she felt better than she had before. “Have more faith in your husband. He may be on a difficult path but he hasn’t forgotten where he came from, he has not forgotten the church.”

“What do you mean?” Rose asked, confusion on her face.

“Luca donates money to the church every week. Once you married, he began to donate money under your name as well.”

“He did?” an incredulous look appeared on her face. She had no idea that Luca donated money to the church, she had no idea how much money Luca made at all. She was starting to think that she didn’t know that much about him, and she was growing his child inside her. She had to change something. She knew she had to make more of an effort. All the women in the family were not involved in the business unless it directly affected them. But Rose wanted to be apart of Luca’s life in every way possible. She didn’t know if he would be okay with that, but she at least wanted to talk to him about it.

“He does, that is why our church is so grateful to him, we use the money to feed the poor once a week, and to pay the rent for the church. It is not easy coming to a country and starting anew, but we are a proud people, and we respect your husband. Deep inside he has good intentions.” Rose nodded at Father Carmine’s words, her heart swelled, as she thought of Luca in this new way; a champion for the Italian folk of Manhattan.


Bianca had called it a day just for the girls, as she, Gina Drago and Angelina Brenari, their cousin and Matteo's sister made themselves comfortable in their living room in Tessa Tower. Luca had his hands in his pockets, he was dressed in his dress shirt covered by his waistcoat, his jacket was discarded somewhere.

“Where you goin’ then?” Luca asked his sister sharply, he had an eyebrow raised suspiciously as Rose looked at the group with an amused smile on her face. Luca was curious about everything she did now, and every day he’d ask her if she was feeling well and if the baby had been bothering her. She had only felt the baby kick once, but she wasn't sure if she tricked herself into thinking it had happened, though her bump had grown half an inch or so.

“Don’t worry! Jeez, Luca, we’re just going out to get our nails painted. Ya’know girly things,” Bianca added annoyance in her voice.

“Yeah, yeah, right,” he waved Bianca’s attitude off quickly like any older brother would against their younger sister. Luca instead moved toward Rose and he crouched down to see her properly, "You sure you want to go, I’ll be here. I don’t want you to force yourself to go out if you don't want to.” Somehow he still managed to look much larger than Rose, with his broad shoulders and tall frame as he was crouched down. His hand was on her knee comfortingly, as he half-hearted pleaded with her.

“I’ll be fine, Luca. I won’t be alone,” Rose smiled at him, his worried nature was so endearing to her, especially because of the baby. His fatherly instincts seemed to double as her baby bump began to show more and more every day. Luca nodded his head at her response, placing his hand on her cheek gingerly, rubbing the pad of his thumb softly on her cheek before he stood up again.

“Don’t be out too long. I wanna take you out, I have a surprise for you,” Luca smirked. They were speaking to each other as if they were the only ones in the room, but Angelina and Gina were sat quietly, and uncomfortable, while Bianca had her arms crossed in front of her chest waiting for Rose and Luca to finish up with their sappy cuteness.

“A surprise?” Rose asked curiously. “Then I won’t be out too late, promise,” Rose kissed Luca’s cheek as she got up from the armchair. The girls followed her as she picked up her handbag from the table in the foyer, and they all left the apartment.

The girls headed toward a salon not far from Tessa Tower in Tribeca. Angelina was friends with the salon manager and from what Rose could tell the salon included Don Spinietta on their payroll. The walls were a cream colour, covered with large posters of different hairstyles and cuts for women, The front section of the salon was a hair studio while the nail studio was near the back. The entire salon smelled strongly of heavy hairspray, nail varnish and acetone. If Rose had visited a week ago she wouldn’t have been able to handle the smell, but her stomach had gotten stronger. Angelina raised her hand to get one of the nail technicians attention. One of the uniformed women scooted her way past her coworkers and their clients to see Angelina.

“Deena, this is Gina Drago, Bianca Changretta, and Rose Changretta,” Angelina smiled at the uniformed girl. The girl's hair was bobbed smoothly and swept behind her ears. She had a ribbon wrapped around her natural hairline which held her fringe down. Her own nails weren’t painted but she had a few different colours stained on her own hands. Her apron was a soft pink colour and was also covered in different coloured nail varnishes. The girl, Deena, stuck out her hand for everyone to shake.

“It’s good to meet you all. I hope I’ll impress you with my skills,” she said meekly, but Rose could tell that she took her job seriously.

“We all want to get our nails done,” Angelina started.

“Oh, actually, I’d like to get my hair done as well, maybe just a cut,” Gina mentioned as she touched her hair that was pinned up in an intricate arrangement. Deena nodded her head quickly.

“Of course! I’ll set you up with one of the girls, and they’ll get that done for you, Miss.” Deena answered her.

“Bianca, Rose, you want to get your hair done too?” Angelina asked them.

“No, I’m fine. I’m not ready to cut my hair short. I won’t be able to do what I want with it if it’s short.” Bianca answered. Rose looked at Bianca’s hair then. She expected that her hair was rather long, just like her own. Bianca was sporting a low bun, with careful tendrils framing her face. Rose thought of her own hair then. She knew that with the pregnancy, and soon with a child she was going to not have as much time to do hair as elaborately as she did every morning. She liked the short hairstyles young women were wearing these days. Ada had shoulder length hair, and her Aunt Polly had much shorter hair. The young hairstyle could suit her, Rose thought, she herself was young after all; just twenty-one years old.

“I’ll have mine cut as well,” her Brummie accent confused Deena for a second, but she quickly composed herself and nodded. Gina and Rose moved to the hair studio portion of the salon while Bianca and Angelina moved to the back of the salon to have their nails worked on.

A woman with mousy brown hair was working on Rose’s hair, while a blonde woman was working on Gina’s. They were sat right next to each other as they let the hairstylists do their work. Rose had given the woman directions on length and style, and Gina had done the same.

“Uh, Rose, can I ask you something?” Gina spoke gingerly, she was already wincing at the possible rejection.

“What is it?” Rose answered curiously.

“Well, I don’t want to sound rude or anything, it’s just I need some help.”

“It’s not rude, I’ll help you the best I can alright,” Rose had never asked Gina her age and she was regretting it now. She felt that they could possibly be the same age or maybe Rose was older she wasn’t sure. Gina had been kind to Rose before, she had even given Rose her telephone number so that they could spend time together. But Rose had never followed up, and she regretted that too.

“I’m–I’m getting married, and I didn’t choose too. My father and brothers did, but I don’t know how well a match it is. I’m afraid, and I just need a little advice between friends, and I know how you got together with Luca. Tony told me.” Anthony was Gina’s eldest brother, and though she was surprised Tony was speaking about Luca and Rose’s relationship with his youngest sister she wasn’t upset with the idea.

“Who are you going to get married too?” Rose asked carefully.

“Do you know Nico Galano? From the Galano family in Staten Island?” Gina spoke, trying not to move her head too much as her hair was being cut at the slope where her neck met her shoulders. Rose looked at her through the mirrors that were in front of them.

“Yes, I met him and his brother at my wedding. You’re going to marry a Galano?” Rose asked quizzically.

“It seems so. It was arranged through Don Spinietta, in some kind of deal. I don’t know the specifics, but I don’t know Nico well. I’ve only spoken to him twice.”

“What was it like those two times?”

“Well, the first time we met was on accident really. I was at a party in Queens, my papà told me not to go, but I went anyway. I met him there, I never told him who I was I just told him my first name and we danced for a while and he got me a drink.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad,” Rose interrupted.

“I guess, but I left early and I never said goodbye… The second time I met him was at your wedding. And my father introduced me to him that time. He recognized me from the party and he was really nice to me. Once he had done his greetings we danced most of the night together. He seems nice but the first time he didn’t know who I was and the second my father was constantly watching us, and if my father wasn’t watching either Tony or Marco was,” Rose nodded at Gina’s words.

“So what are you afraid of then?” Rose asked.

“I–I’m just not sure. I’ve heard he’s a brutal man, he looks to do all the street work himself. I heard he killed a man with his bare hands. I just–I just don’t know what it would be like to marry someone like him. I don’t have many experiences with men. I don’t think I’d be the kind of wife he’d want.” Gina paused for a second, to look at the work the hairstylist had done. She took a brief glance at Rose before she continued. “I’m afraid he’ll expect more than what I’m willing to give. I’m just afraid of him now.”

“What did people think of Luca before I was married to him?” Rose asked, but she answered herself before Gina could. “I knew he was dangerous. I thought that he’d take advantage of me easily, or he’d kill me in my sleep,” Rose sighed. “There was trouble between our families, a lot of death, a lot of anguish. Not everyone was happy that we had to marry, but I knew it was the only way that people would stop dying. I was doing my best to be careful, but I was really hurt. I thought my brothers had sold me off to Luca, that they were okay with the idea that Luca would use me in ways that were unspeakable. But…” Rose smiled softly, it was brief, like a ghost passing through. “I underestimated him, maybe he even underestimated me. But he was nothing like I expected him to be. He was perfect in every way, and I love him even if he is a dangerous man, and he loves me too.” Rose took a moment to look at Gina, as the hair stylist moved to grab a different pair of scissors. “Protect your heart, I know you’re a lot stronger than I am. Make him see you properly, set your boundaries and if he’s a decent man he’ll move around you until you’re both ready to move onto anything else.”

“Was that how you dealt with Luca?” Gina asked curiously.

“Well, sort of, I just did a lot more crying,” Rose laughed lightly, Gina smiled in return.

“Thanks Rose, I really appreciate it. I hope you don’t mind if I ask you for more help later, I just need reassurance. And I don’t have as many friends as you would think.”

“I don’t mind, feel free to bother me as much as you like. I’d like a new friend or two as well.” Rose smiled at her. The stylist behind her motioned for her to take a look in the mirror to see if she liked the new cut and style. Rose turned from left to right, checking her hair from different angles. Rose smiled looking satisfied with the final product.

“Thank you,” she said to the hairstylist. “It’s perfect,” she was hoping Luca would like it, since she hadn’t told him that she was going to cut her hair, and she knew that Luca liked her long hair. Her hair was just above shoulder length now, looking similar to the hairstyle Ada seemed to sport that last year or so, except Rose’s hair was looking much straighter. The hairstylist moved Rose to the back of the salon so that she could get her nails done, and soon Gina followed.

Rose crinkled her nose at the smell and then watched quietly as her nails were painted with a deep red nail varnish.


She rode the elevator up to her apartment alone, she had said her goodbyes at the salon and took a cab home alone. She was careful not to ruin her nails on the way up but suspected that the nail varnish had already dried well. When she stepped inside the apartment she looked for Luca first. He was finding reasons to stay home all of last week, and Rose was expecting him to continue this new idea he had put in his head. If he was home he would be able to know if Rose was okay, and it’d become his main priority.

“Luca?” Rose called into the apartment from the foyer. She put her handbag on the table and slid her heeled shoes off. She fluffed her hair carefully before she moved into the living room to look for him. He wasn’t there so she moved around the apartment to look for him. She pushed open the door to his study and he was there by the window blowing smoke out of his mouth, a cigar between his fingers and his suit jacket draped on his desk chair. “Luca?” she said again to get his attention. The smoke didn’t bother her anymore but she hadn’t told Luca that yet. He turned quickly, his hand out trying to stop her from coming in.

“Just wait there, Rose. I’ll–” He paused to look at her, she wondered if her new haircut made her look that much different. “I’ll get the smoke out,” she noticed him visible gulp down air, as his Adam’s apple bobbed up and down. Rose walked into his study casually.

“The smell doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m fine,” She stepped in front of him by the window and kissed his lips briefly. She looked around the office and noticed a few sheets of paper on his desk and an empty glass on there as well. “Is everything alright?” She looked back to Luca again.

“Everything’s fine, Tesoro,” he was staring at intently, watching her hair move as she turned her body.

“Do you like it?” she asked, changing the subject quickly.

“I like anything you do,” his voice was normally deep and raspy voice, but it sounded smoother than usual, like velvet. He put his hand on her forearm, holding her steady in place so he could run his fingers through her hair. He kissed her jaw chastely, she met his lips eagerly with her own, tasting the smoke on his lips that had made her feel horrible the previous weeks. Strangely she missed the smell.

“What about my surprise?” Rose broke their kiss, to wrap her arms around Luca’s shoulders. He looked up at the clock on the wall.

“Right now would be a great time to take you out.” Luca kissed her quickly once more before he stepped away from her and reached for his suit jacket so they could leave.


Rose and Luca had been in the motor car for over an hour. He had some of his men following behind them in their own cars, as they drove off to an unknown destination to Rose. The confusion grew on her face once she noticed them leaving the Manhattan borough and heading west. They encountered a lot of unused lands along with some farms, as the heat of the day was reaching its peak.

“Can I have a hint?” Rose asked Luca, who had one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the shift. He glanced at her briefly before he looked back to the road.

“You’ll know exactly what it is before you even see the surprise. I promise,” Luca gave her a crooked smile. He was rather pleased with himself, he knew Rose would appreciate his gift and especially after all the stress and the morning sickness he wanted to make her happy and comfortable again.

“Alright,” Rose said not exactly satisfied, “Can I at least know how much longer it’ll take to get to the surprise?” She put her hand around Luca’s arm, the one that was on the shift.

“It’s about a three-hour ride from Manhattan to where we're going, but we’ve already done two,” Rose nodded in response. She watched the scenery move past her through the window, an hour would fly by quicker than she thought.

They pulled into something Rose found familiar. She saw it from a distance and excitement spiked inside her. A race track as large as the ones she had visited in England was right in front of her. “Are we seeing a race?” Rose asked.

“Yeah, we are but it doesn’t start for another hour.” He smiled at her as he looked for a place to park the motor car and avoided people trying to walk toward the main building to get to the stands just outside the track.

“Oh! I’m so excited!” Rose was squirming as she kept moving around in her chair to get a good look at her surroundings.

“I knew you would be,” Luca smirked as he finally pulled into a parking space. “But that isn’t the surprise, Tesoro.”

“What is it then?” Rose was confused again.

“You’ll see.”


Once they were inside Luca took her past a ballroom, a betting shop, several food stands until they were in the farthest corner of the property. They were walking toward the stables. Rose stopped in her tracks, grabbing onto Luca’s hand. She didn’t mean to be dramatic but she was more excited than she could believe, she felt almost child-like. Luca was happy to see her this way. As they reached the stables they met a man there who seemed to be the caretaker.

“Mr. Changretta,” the caretaker nodded his head respectfully as he opened the stable doors for them to enter.

“Manny, where’s the horse?” Luca started, crinkling his nose slightly at the smell. Rose didn’t mind the smell at all.

“She’s in the last stable, sir,” all three of them proceeded to walk to the end of the long line of stables with a horse in each stall. The last stall had a palomino horse with a creamy chestnut coloured body and a white mane and tail.

“Oh, she’s beautiful,” Rose’s heart swelled as she saw the horse, she stepped closer to the stall putting her hands on the door that separated the horse from the main hall.

“She’s yours,” Luca spoke carefully.

“What?” Rose was confused as she turned to see Luca. “She’s mine?”

“Yeah, she is. You can do what you want with her, race her, keep her for yourself, whatever you want.”

“Really?” Rose stepped closer to Luca, taking his hands in hers.

“Yes, really,” Luca chuckled at his wife’s disbelief.

“Do you watch over her?” Rose turned to Manny.

“Yes, Mrs. Changretta,” Manny spoke, feeling like he was intruding in the moment. “I practically live here, just watching over the horses.”

“Do you train the horses too?”

“No, Mrs, people like to get their horses trained outside the tracks.” Rose nodded her head at his words. She wondered what Tommy would do, or what he would think of her new horse. She was so excited she wanted to train the horse so badly, but she also wanted to keep the horse for herself.

“Have you ever trained a horse before?” Rose continued to question Manny.

“A few horses here and there,” Manny answered.

“How many of them have ever won a race?”

“Out of six horses, just three, one of my horses, we called him Sargent, he won almost every race he ran, but he was gettin’ old so we retired him before we pushed our luck,” Manny spoke fondly as if he was trapped in a pretty memory. In Rose’s head, she thought of Manny as a fifty-fifty chance of getting a horse in good shape.

“Do you trust him?” Rose was asking Luca the question now.

“Manny, yeah sure, he’s loyal and practically speaks horse.” Luca was looking at Manny sternly though, making sure that Manny wouldn’t disappoint Rose. Manny nodded his head rapidly, agreeing with the statement, realizing exactly what Rose was thinking.

“Will you train her then, Manny?” Rose asked, taking another peek at the pretty horse before she looked over to Manny.

“Of course, Mrs. Changretta it’d be an honour!” Manny answered excitedly, happy to have another horse to train.

“I’d like to ride her first though,” Rose asked as she turned away from Luca and Manny completely to see the horse.

“Rose, that’s not a good idea,” Rose turned to Luca when he spoke, noticing the sudden look of worry on her face. It dawned on her then why he thought so.

“You’re right,” she looked slightly disappointed, but she knew the baby was much more important.

“You’ll be able to ride as many horses as you want, once the baby is here,” Luca reassured her, as he put his hands on her shoulders comfortingly. “She still needs a name though,” Luca motioned toward the horse still trapped inside the stall.

“Can you take her out Manny, I’d like to see her up close.” Manny nodded his head as he stepped closer to release the locks on the door to swing it open. Rose stepped back with Luca to give the horse space to step out. Rose was inspecting the horses every movement, the way it walked, the way it reacted to Manny, and all the little bits and pieces Tommy had once told her were important when looking for a healthy horse. So far she was satisfied.

“She’s thoroughbred?” Rose asked Manny.

“She sure is, Mrs.” Manny answered. Rose stepped away from Luca to look at the horse herself. She walked around it, her hand on the horses body feeling its coat as she inspected the horse. She carefully picked up the horses hoof to see the condition of the horseshoe.

“She’s young, isn’t she? Just a filly,” Rose was speaking mostly to herself as she moved to face the horse straight on carefully rubbing the horse's chin and neck. She wanted the horse to be familiar with her. “I have a name if you’re alright with it.” She was speaking to both Luca and Manny.

“It’s your horse Rose, name her what you want,” Luca answered.

“I like Daisy. She looks like a ‘Daisy’ to me.”

“Daisy it is.” Luca smiled at her, satisfied with how Rose had conducted herself. She looked serious and important, and Luca expected that she would try to weasel herself into any horse and race dealings in the future. He would have said no to anyone else, but he couldn’t say no to Rose. Manny would be seeing a lot more from them soon.


Rose and Luca were watching the race from the terrace that was always reserved for the wealthy and important. She’d never sat in one before as John had always preferred to stand closer to the track, and he had always taken Rose to see the races.

Rose was watching the race excitedly with a glass of water to her right, she would have preferred champagne for the occasion but the baby living in her womb was not prepared for something like champagne. The race went smoothly, most of Luca’s men were making sure the race went so in the stands and that there wasn’t any other form of corruption but their own taking place. They were monitoring the betting shop like hawks while two men Rose hadn’t seen before were standing behind them for protection.

Rose hadn't made any guesses as she didn’t know the statistics or even any of the horses names yet, but she watched the race all the same, waiting to see which horse would be first. A dark horse named Highlander came first, and Rose watched confused as the people in the stands began to cause a ruckus. A few were cheering while the others were yelling angrily.

Luca was rubbing the back of his fingers against his jawline, looking at the results of the race narrowly. Rose was expecting that something had gone amiss. That was when she heard someone below say, “How on earth did Highlander come first place, that damned horse has come dead last the last three races.”

Rose frowned as she stood from her chair to stand against the barrier of the balcony. There was a lot of movement beneath them as people were moving in and out of the stands. She heard a few Irish voices, some English and even a few Scottish shouting obscenities.

As Rose leaned slightly over the balcony gunfire blasted and she jumped in her spot. There was shock on her face, as fear swept over her. She couldn’t tell where the two loud shots came from but she stepped away from the balcony quickly, moving toward Luca. He already had his handgun in his hand as he pulled Rose closer to him and then behind her.

Rose had her hands protectively around her stomach, she didn’t know what place to turn to, or which place would bring her to safety. She just huddled herself behind Luca grasping for the safety he usually carried with him. The screaming from the shock of the gunfire died down relatively quickly. There was some movement and then soon the entire crowd of people had dispersed. The men who had stood protectively behind Luca stepped closer to him, to tell him what had happened.

“It was the Irish, probably settling some vendetta with a Scot,” Luca had an angry expression on his face as he heard the news. He wrapped his arm around Rose in a protective manner. He was looking around now, in every different direction.

“Where’s the shooter? and is the Scot dead?” Luca asked carefully, he didn’t want to frighten Rose but he knew he couldn’t help much as she already was.

“The Scot is dead and the boys can’t find the shooter.”

“Alright, I need to get Rose out of here.” Rose was trembling slightly as she held onto Luca. He was moving her carefully through the building and away from the race track, his arm outstretched with his gun in-hand. He wasn’t going to take any chances, he needed to protect Rose and their unborn child. He could hear Ada’s voice ringing in his head ‘stress isn’t good for the baby’. He was kicking himself for not making sure there was enough men to take down the Irish. They were out of their jurisdiction anyway. But he had heard it before.

The Irish in Brooklyn were running amuck, and their gangs were bleeding into the other boroughs, the other Cosa Nostra territories. This had most to do with the Marconi’s, they weren’t playing their part in subduing the other gangs. If something happened to Rose, he’d take down all of the Irish in New York City and the Marconi with them. But they got to the car safely.

“Stay close behind,” Luca spoke dangerously to the two other men. The three-hour ride would be an easy target to take out Manhattan’s heir.

“You got it boss,” one of the men said before they both dashed into their cars and started their engine. Luca helped Rose into the car, and he got in himself. The ride was quiet, but Rose held onto Luca the entire way, one arm wrapped tightly around his and the other on her small baby bump.

Luca was trapped in his thoughts. He felt as if he’d drown in his own sweat, he could have lost Rose, he could have lost the baby, or he could have died himself. He needed to know what was happening, but getting Rose out was more important to him. He didn’t understand why Riccardo Marconi hadn’t subdued the Irish yet, he was young but he was still capable. He had gotten himself into trouble before, but he had also gotten himself out and that was why Luca respected him as the new boss of Brooklyn. Aria crossed his mind then, but he shook the thought off quickly. There was no chance Aria could be behind any of it or be working in the business, it was the most strict rule they had, our own women could not do dangerous business.

Luca drove back to Manhattan with a carefulness he had only observed when he had thought he had had a target on his head, the day he came back from his honeymoon.


A week had gone by after the shooting at the races, there weren’t many answers, but there were more theories than anything. Ideas like a possible traitor in the family, the Cubans, the Blacks, the Jews, a rogue veteran, and just a simple Irish attack. But Luca wasn’t satisfied with theories.

Luca stayed up late every night, trapped in his thoughts. Rose was wrapped around him, she didn’t want to let go, not even for a second. Another reminder that Luca could disappear at any second or that Rose could rattled them both. Luca had his hands in her hair, relishing at the thickness in its new length. He’d miss her long hair, but he loved running his fingers in her hair now, and he loved it when she did the same to him. But she was sound asleep against him, he wanted to see her like this every night, alive, calm and with nothing to worry about.


The next day Rose was excited that she would be going out with Luca. The week after the shooting at the race track had been heavy on Luca, and Rose had tried to do as much as she could to appease him when he was at home with her. She’d rub his shoulders, she’d even set up the bath for him. She wanted to be helpful, even when Luca told her not to worry, and that he should be worrying about her because of the baby.

Rose was sitting in front of her vanity in their bedroom when Luca walked in from the hallway.

“You’re getting ready?” he asked casually.

“I am, we’re still going aren’t we?” Rose turned around in her chair to meet his eyes. He walked toward her from the doorway to stand behind her. Rose continued to work on her face, powdering her nose, and lining her eyes with a careful hand. Luca swooped down to kiss her neck.

“We are,” he said with an air of mischief. Rose smirked to herself.

“Not now Luca, let me finish up.” Luca raised an eyebrow, a smirk gliding on to his smooth features. He walked away into the walk-in closet as Rose finished her make-up. She cleaned up her vanity before she moved away from the chair and walked toward the closet as well. Luca was fixing the sleeves of his shirt, he hadn’t buttoned the top buttons; a lot of skin was exposed there. Rose stepped closer to him, and he moved his gaze up to watch her. Rose slid her hand underneath the fabric of his shirt where he had left it unbuttoned. She rubbed his skin there, looking rather pleased with herself.

“I’ll treat you to something once we get home at the end of the night.” Rose said playfully.

“You’re going to make me wait?” Luca chuckled as he nipped at Rose bottom lip with his teeth.

“I am, maybe I’ll even make it a bit hard for you.” Rose wanted to treat him to something nice, she couldn’t buy him anything without using his own money and she wasn’t planning on pulling out her own money stowed away in her old suitcase in the same room they were occupying.

“You always make it hard for me Rose,” Luca was looking at her with lust in his eyes.

“Then we’ll have to see how tonight goes then, won’t we,” Rose laughed as she moved away from him to pick out what she was going to wear to the nightclub the Spinietta familia were invited to that night.


Rose wasn’t opposed to a dress code, she didn’t have to worry about clothes, she had a lot of it. What she worried about was her baby bump. She had grown at least another inch since the last time she had paid attention and though it still wasn’t the biggest bump, she knew the bump was there. She wanted to wear a slim fitted dress that hugged her body in the best of ways, but she opted to wear one of the few flapper styled dresses she owned. It was still glamorous and beautiful but she wanted more. She knew that there were going to be pretty women at the nightclub they were going to, and she didn’t want Luca’s eyes to wander, especially if there was a chance that one of the other families of New York would be there, or even crash the party. Aria Marconi came to mind then, but Rose shook the idea from her head.

She held her head up high as she stood next Luca as they entered the club, he was dressed in a tuxedo, looking better than ever. The bouncers didn’t even bother to check them, they already knew who Luca was and they weren’t far from home, Tribeca to Soho.

Rose watched her surroundings with intrigue. The club was styled with rich looking mahogany fixings, and navy blue decor, there was velvet in almost every corner, and the club seemed bigger on the inside. There were three floors, and they all overlooked the dance floor in the centre. There were people already dancing to quick jazz music as a band played on the stage. Luca was moving away from the dance floor, however, and he took Rose with him as they moved to the staircase. They travelled to the second floor and then walked toward one of the private rooms. It was decorated like the rest of the club. The room was spacious and was already vacated with some familiar faces.

Bianca greeted them first, kissing their cheeks before she moved to sit down in the corner of the room and picked up her champagne glass to sip. All the Drago’s were already there, Anthony, Marco and Gina. Gina had gotten up to greet Rose as well. Allina and Lorenzo Rossi were there too. They were all waiting for the Brenari’s, Sartini’s, and the Fenacci’s along with a few soldiers who were planning on becoming made men under Don Spinietta before he retired.

Luca was tossing money around as if he had a gold mine in his back pocket. He purchased the most expensive bottles of champagne that were smuggled into the country illegally and he passed them around generously. They were even eating expensive food. Rose later realized that Luca booked the most expensive and biggest room for them, and he didn’t have to pay a dime for it. He really was a smooth guy. He was trying his best to look cool to Rose, and it was working. He was like a different breed of man to her, and she would have never thought she would have been attracted to a man as grandiose as Luca, or even in love with one. Rose slid her hand closest to him onto his thigh, inching closer to his manhood. Luca had his hand already wrapped around her shoulder lazily as he took gulps from his whisky. He put his glass down as he realized what Rose was doing. He didn’t change his expression as almost the entirety of the Spinietta familia was still in the room drinking and eating, while others had already moved to the dance floor or the poker tables. Luca put his hand on top of Rose’s before it got to close.

“Is this what you meant by making it hard for me,” He was close to her ear, as he whispered to her over the loud music and the noise of the group in front of them. Rose glanced at him, a smirk clear on her face, anyone would have seen it. “You’re being naughty, Rose,” Luca whispered into her ear again. Rose inched her face closer to his and pecked him on the lips.

“What’s gotten into you two?” Donnino looked at the pair of them through hazy eyes, he had drunk too much already and his mistress next to him was trying to take the glass out of his hand and replace it with a cigar.

“Mind your business, Nino,” Luca answered, a haughty look on his face, as he looked around at the group sat at the table a few of them weren’t paying attention were in deep conversations others were shouting drunk words, while a few others were getting cozy. Donnino was nodding his head slowly, as he let his head fall back and a chuckle escaped his mouth as he put the cigar between his lips.

Tony had an arm wrapped around Allina Rossi, her brother must have been on the dance floor or at a poker table. He was inching closer to Luca, raising his glass of gin in his hand in Luca and Rose’s direction.

“I’m drunk,” Tony stated flatly before he started laughing. Rose held back a laugh as she put her hand to her mouth. She wasn’t allowed to drink, as prescribed by the doctor so she had a glass of water to drink from while everyone else was getting drunk off of imported drinks.

“You wanna dance?” Luca was already pulling Rose away from the private room. Once they got to the first floor and entered a crowd, the music slowed down. Rose had a feeling it had a lot to do with Luca entering the crowd, maybe he’d paid the band.

Luca brought Rose close to him, he held her hand up and put his other hand on her back, she always felt funny dancing with him as he was so much taller than her, but Luca loved it anyway. “I’m glad we got to go out like this, especially after what happened at the track.” Rose looked up at him.

“I wanna take you out like this all the time, but work is work,” there was a solemn look on his face.

“Is it still bothering you, what happened over there?” Rose didn’t want to push the topic too much.

“I always have things like this on my mind. But I don’t want you to worry, alright?” Rose nodded at him, as he spun her around. She could dance with him forever. They danced for several songs until Marco Drago moved toward the dance floor to tell Luca something in confidence. Rose heard the tail end of it.

“…Spinietta wants you to call him when your home.” They danced for just two more songs and then they went home, Luca was quiet the entire way.


When Rose and Luca got home that night, Luca moved straight to his office. Marco had told him something he really hoped didn’t relate to the shots at the race track. “Somethings happened with the Cuban’s, Spinietta wants you to call him when your home.”

Luca called Don Spinietta as he sat down in his chair, he hoped Rose wouldn’t walk in on the conversation. He knew it would give her anxiety if she knew, and he was trying to heed Ada’s words as best he could. Stress wasn’t good for the baby. He let the phone connect to Don Spinietta’s line.

“Hello?”

“It’s me, Luca.”

“Luca, the Cubans are coming–two days. Montesinos even called ahead, but he didn’t say why he was coming.”

“Theyse lookin’ for trouble?” Luca slipped into the New York drawl win his nerves shook. He was normally good a concealing it, but Don Spinietta was as close as his own father.

“Let’s hope not, and that they're here on a sort of vacation. He’s bringing his wife.” Spinietta paused for a second. “If it comes to it, for the family, have Rose keep her company.”

“I can’t do that. My wife’s pregnant, I won’t put her in danger.” There was silence on the line, it felt like a minute had gone by before Spinietta sighed on the other end.

“You’re right. I’ll figure something out. But if his wife’s here he isn’t on business,”

“We’ll be ready for it anyway. Two days?”

“Two days.”

The line went dead. Luca rubbed his face with his hands, he knew it would be smart to have Rose speak or entertain Montesinos wife, but he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t put Rose in any kind of potential danger.

He heard heeled footsteps walk down the hallway. He turned his head lazily toward the doorway and watched Rose come into view. She was still in all her makeup and jewellery, her shoes were even on, but she was wearing a thick fur coat that just reached her knees. It was the end of July and it was too hot still past midnight to be wearing a fur coat.

“Where you going?” Luca asked, a puzzled look on his face.

“No where, just here,” Rose spoke carefully, there was that ring in her voice that Luca loved to hear, like a melody. He watched her walk toward the front of his desk, her arms wrapped around the front of her coat keeping it closed shut.

“Why are you still dressed up, I thought you’d be getting ready for bed,” Luca was still looking at her quizzically, he had his elbow on the arm of his chair. His chin rested on the back of his fingers.

“I’m surprised you’d already forgotten Luca, I said I wanted to treat you once we got home.” Luca was still looking at her confused, but his expression changed completely once Rose let the fur coat open. She wasn’t wearing anything underneath.

Luca took a steadying gulp of air as he straightened himself in his chair. He took her figure in, studying her before he spoke.

“C’mere,” Luca waved his hand slightly, motioning for Rose to walk around his desk. At least he would have Rose’s sexual adventures to keep his mind off of the pressing situation. He’d take advantage of the time he would have with her, prolonging it as much as his body would let him.

Chapter Text

It was mid-day when Rose arrived back at Tessa Tower. She had travelled carefully to and from the church. Luca hadn’t let her travel alone in the last two days since Montesinos’ impending arrival. She was flanked by three of Luca’s soldiers that now accompanied her on every outing. It made her feel comfortable but it also gave her a sense of lost freedom, but she didn’t want to blame Luca for it. She knew the situation was difficult and unpredictable so she took the extra protection gratefully.

She finished all her classes at the church with Father Carmine that day and had seen Sophia and Catarina earlier as well. Every time she went to see her sister-in-law and her soon-to-be god-daughter there was a warmness in her heart she hadn’t felt there before. She hadn’t felt it with her own brother’s kids and maybe it was because she never thought of having her own child so soon. But whenever she held Sophia in her arms, she couldn’t wait to see her own child there too. She thought of her child as a bit of herself and a bit of Luca, their best qualities in a small newborn baby. She was looking far more noticeably pregnant and didn’t even try to hide the fact that she was expecting a child anymore. She often went out with Catarina, or Gina to satisfy her cravings or to shop for less restricting clothes. Bianca often made her way around the apartment to see how Rose was doing, but Bianca’s new group of friends and her occasional wild-side required frequent outings to the private and illegal nightclubs that she haunted.

Rose saw more of Luca’s mother as well, she would ask how she was feeling, what she was eating, how the baby was doing. Rose expected that she was entirely happy that her eldest son was giving her a grandchild. Rose was just glad everyone seemed to be happy it made her happy.

Rose walked into the lobby at Tessa Tower, the familiar floral scent with the subtle cigar smoke that lingered in the air wafted over her as she entered the gold accented grand foyer, her heeled shoes were clicking on the marble floors as she respectfully greeted some of the people sat in the lobby. It still astounded her sometimes on how comfortable she had become in such a foreign country. Manhattan was nothing like Birmingham, let alone Small Heath. But Luca did well to make her feel at home here. She passed the lobby man with a nod of her head but he stopped her before she walked further down the hall towards the elevators.

“Mrs. Changretta! You have mail, Ma’am,” He handed her a rectangular envelope with a familiar messy scrawl on the front. Finn Shelby, she read. She smiled as she read the envelope and gave her thanks to the lobby man. She didn’t wait to get up to the apartment to read the letter. She opened it then in there as she stepped into the elevator.

Rosie,

It’s been a tough time. I never knew how difficult it could be to learn a new trick (I mean the writing). But it’s going well. Tommy’s run into some trouble here with some Scots but he said the problem will clear up as soon as possible. So best you stay in New York. I don’t know how soon it will be until one of us can come see you, but you’ll be okay without us. Your a strong girl, or woman, I guess.

I can’t tell if Polly is happy or not about the baby. She goes to that church all the time and talks about you. You already know what Ada thinks about it. Arthur’s cried when he read your letter. He kept going on about how you were just a kid or something. He’s gotten soft, hasn’t he?

Tommy hasn’t said much but I think its cause of all the business with the Scots. Michael told me to congratulate you, and I have to say the same though I don’t know how comfortable I am with it. I am your brother after all. I hope to see you soon, Rosie. And maybe you’ll name your baby after me!

Your brother,

Finn

Rose stepped out of the elevator with a smile on her face. The correspondence from Finn wasn’t what she was expecting but she was extremely happy to receive something from her family. She kept that light air in her steps and the content smile throughout the day, even when Luca walked into the apartment later that day with a look of contempt on his face.


Don Spinietta had Manhattan guarded with men at any possible point of entry into their territory. Luca had been on edge mostly because of Don Spinietta's constant leaning on Luca for support. Luca didn’t know if his age was finally catching up to him, or if something had changed in his head. But the Don was constantly repeating plans as if they had just come into his mind. Luca was patient like any loyal underboss would be, but he knew that the Don’s time was running short. Someone else might ask him to step down.

Montesinos came in by train, simple and unthreatening, but his wife was nowhere to be seen. He was flanked by a handful of men each carrying a briefcase and some luggage each. This was the report from a few soldiers under the Rossi’s, who were stationed at Grand Central Station.

It was only a few hours later, after Montesinos’ every move was monitored that Luca was called by Don Spinietta to join him at his favourite locale, Hotel Astor. Luca kissed Rose goodbye on his way out and he did well to change his demeanour on his way down the elevator. The stoic look he did so well to hold worked well with most of the people and crooks he had to deal with, but he had learned from his trip to Miami with Rose that Montesinos needed a different method. He needed more charm, more words. Luca placed a toothpick between his teeth as he stepped out of the revolving door and onto the street.

The sun was still high as a personal driver drove Luca to the hotel. He tried not to look nervous but after Luca had heard the news that Montesinos had left his wife at home he knew that he was here for business or to start trouble, and in Spinietta’s view those two words meant the same thing.

Luca walked into the hotel and into the meeting room that was always reserved for the Don of Manhattan with a confident swagger and that toothpick that still between his teeth.

Cristofano Spinietta was at one end of the room with his consigliere Johnny Rizzo conversing quietly before they noticed Luca enter the doorway.

“Luca,” the Don started. “I’ll need your help on this one. You know Montesinos better than us,” he was motioning to his consigliere and himself with his hands, “You already know my thoughts on his kind of business so I trust you’ll agree with me when he comes in.” Luca nodded his head in understanding before he pulled out a chair to sit on. The Don looked at Luca carefully before he spoke again. “You need more opportunities,” the Don paused as he looked for the words with his hands, “or practice, for when it becomes your turn to be Boss.”

Luca nodded again, he wasn’t expecting Spinietta to use a situation like this one to teach him a few things. He thought the Don would be more preoccupied with shutting down a business deal that he was already expecting from Montesinos and securing Manhattan’s border. But Luca decided to take it in stride, he still had no clue when Montesinos would drop his title and move away before any of his previous enemies could try and take him out when he was unguarded. Luca half expected to receive Manhattan during wartime when Don Spinietta couldn’t handle the load anymore, or even when Manhattan was in shambles, just pieces that Luca would have to pick up and piece back together.

Being Don was just as important as being Mayor of a large metropolitan city, yet being Don of Manhattan was more time consuming, more stressful, and more dangerous.

Óscar Montesinos came into the predetermined room like a hurricane. In loud words and a roaring personality. He was wearing a similar suit to the one Luca had seen him in before. Almost all white from head to toe, Luca expected that white was his favourite colour to wear. He removed his white gambler hat from his head as he shook Don Spinietta’s hand, Johnny’s and then Luca’s.

The meeting was vague, and Luca didn’t understand why. He did his best to stay two steps ahead like he normally would but since he wasn’t meant to speak unless his opinion was asked of he tuned them out slightly, his mind roaming to Rose. She was visibly pregnant, and when he had left Tessa Tower he noticed how she seemed more content today. She was still shaken up by what had occurred at the race track but Luca had made it clear to her that she didn’t need to worry about it because he was already on the case.

He knew he didn’t have to worry too much as the shooting was never meant for Rose, Luca or any of his men, and none of them got hurt anyway. He knew it was the Irish however, and he knew the Irish mob in Brooklyn was getting out of hand. The Irish mob had never been his problem before though, and neither was it Don Spinietta’s. It was always the Marconi’s job as they were within Brooklyn’s borders. Luca didn’t understand what was going on though, he knew that Don Riccardo Marconi was capable he had proven it after his father's sudden death. His father didn’t die with a target on his head, he died from a heart attack, his mistress there to scream his name as he withered away and left all of Brooklyn to his youngest child, his only son.

It wasn’t in Luca or Don Spinietta’s place to tell Riccardo how to deal with the Irish but if it got worse or got completely out of hand that the other Dons of New York City would step in, and someone might even challenge his position.

Luca tuned back into the conversation as Don Spinietta was shutting down the deal Montesinos was trying to present to him.

“I don’t see how this will benefit Manhattan and I’m sure maybe Luca has told you before we don’t indulge in this kind of business.” Luca was looking back and forth between Montesinos and Spinietta. The tension was sudden as Montesinos finally sat up straight in his chair and fixed his already greying moustache.

“I’ll have to take my business somewhere else then,” Montesinos stood up abruptly, and Luca did the same as he noticed the meeting go south quickly. This is what Don Spinietta wanted, but the look on Montesinos face made Luca feel as if this was probably not a good decision on Don Spinietta’s part. Luca nodded carefully at Montesinos and he did the same before he left the room with his entourage behind him.

Later in the day, Luca would find out that the Bassano familia was visited by Don Montesinos, and from the information gathered Montesinos received another hard ‘no’. The next day Montesinos was spotted in both Brooklyn and Queens, though Don Spinietta’s spies couldn’t figure out whether Don Francone and Don Marconi had shut down Montesinos as well. By the late evening, Don Spinietta received a call from Don Galano, telling him that he had said no to Montesinos offer though Don Galano did think it was a good offer. He had respected their alliance.

Luca was expecting that because Montesinos was done making his rounds he would be leaving soon. He sat on the prospect of meeting him alone for a day because he knew it wouldn’t be in their best interest for New York to let Montesinos walk off free.

Luca was sat in the armchair in the living room of his apartment. He was slouched deep into the chair, his arms over the arms of the chair, one hand grazing fingertips against the rim of a glass of gin.

“Are you okay?” It was Rose’s voice that stirred him out of his problematic thoughts. They were thoughts that could get him into trouble, or worse take his one chance of becoming Don of Manhattan right out of his grasp.

“Yeah–yeah, I’m fine,” He hadn’t looked her in the eyes, he hadn’t even turned to look for her presence but he knew she was somewhere behind him. Her soft delicate looking hand slid onto his shoulder and down his chest.

“Are you sure, Love?” he could feel the goosebumps form on his skin under his tailored suit. Her lips were close to his ear. Still after so long, after so much intimacy, and such a great proximity, she affected him so much. He’d never get tired of her, her voice, her skin, her affection.

“It’s best you don’t know for now. I’ll tell you everything later.” Rose removed her hand from his chest, and the sudden loss of her touch made him feel hollow. But she walked around his armchair and moved to sit down on his lap sideways. Luca welcomed her, wrapping one arm around her back, securely on her waist. Luca knew that Rose knew some of what was happening. She knew Montesinos was in town, she knew he was probably here on business. She was smart, but she also knew when was best to speak of his business. Luca assumed that was how Tommy ran things in Birmingham and she had expected that was how things were run in Manhattan too. But it wasn’t, the women weren’t meant to know anything in case any federal agents were snooping around.

The thoughts in his head, the plan he was coming up with could get him into trouble with the Feds. He had coppers on his payroll to stay safe from the local police, but with prohibition, Feds were sticking their heads in places they normally weren’t. If he got caught today, tomorrow or in the near future doing any kind of business with Montesinos, mind what Don Spinietta would think, but if the Feds caught wind of what he was doing they would try to get Rose too. They’d take her to see if she’d spill any of Luca’s secrets. She already knew far more than any of the women in the family did, and that was dangerous. He didn’t want to imagine his Rose in jail for something he decided to take a risk on.

Should he see Montesinos, he wasn’t sure. But he knew deep down they had already made a mistake letting him walk away without knowing what he was planning to do next. Luca’s arm tightened around Rose. She laid her head against him, breathing his scent in as she shut her eyes to steal that moment. When she opened her eyes, she moved her body so she could look at him properly. She took his face in the palm of her hands. Luca looked at her intently as a soft smile graced Rose’s face.

“I understand and I know that you’ll be okay,” Luca nodded at her, looking at her pale blue eyes with adoration. He kissed her chastely and placed his free hand against her visible baby bump.

He couldn’t tell the future but for some reason, he knew that Rose and their baby would be okay. His resolve changed, he’d made up his mind. Luca was going to meet Montesinos before he left New York.


Luca was able to find Montesinos through the many soldiers acting as spies. He got lucky when it was one of his own soldiers that had spotted him last. Luca was taking a short walk from his parked motor car to a café in Soho, his cousin and lawyer Hiram behind him in a state of confusion. Luca could see his target through the front window of the coffee shop.

Óscar Montesinos was sat with his right-hand man Romero Elizondo, Luca remembered him from his honeymoon. He was the one who had gone to his front door, asking for his attendance at a nightclub. Before Luca made any effort to step inside the coffee shop, he turned to Hiram first.

“Don Spinietta met with Montesinos yesterday at noon. He turned down a business deal, like the Galano’s and the Bassano’s did. Did you hear what the Francone’s and the Marconi’s answer to the deal was?”

“No, no one was able to get that information. But we’re assuming they rejected the deal to avoid any kind of problems with the families.” Luca nodded at Hiram’s answer.

“I’m going to go into the shop. I’m going to drink a cup of coffee, and I’m going to ask Montesinos a few questions.”

“Luca–” Hiram was already protesting, if one of their own spies saw them, which they probably already had and reported back to Don Spinietta they could be facing something they really don’t want. Hiram wasn’t exactly apart of the Cosa Nostra the way Luca was. He knew everything that went down, but he wasn’t a made-member, he had never made an oath to protect the family. Hiram was vulnerable here, he was easily a target.

“Don’t worry yet. This ain’t a time for worryin’” Luca slipped into that New York drawl he was a victim of when his nerves were peaked. Hiram knew this tic and it only made him more nervous. Luca rubbed his hands down his face and took a deep breath.

“Listen. We fucked up thinking that Montesinos would leave us alone. We have to reach some sort of deal or he might do business with someone we don’t want anywhere near us. Montesinos is a small fish compared to others.” Luca was thinking of someone, in particular, a bigger fish he didn’t want near New York City, but he wasn’t going to say his name out loud on a crowded street.

Hiram had his thumb and index finger on his eyes, trying to force a growing headache away with will-power alone. “Then what are we doing then? Tell me everything straight and I’ll do my best to help you, right.”

Luca nodded, “Just follow my lead. You’ll know everything once I get to it, just stay calm.”

Hiram and Luca walked into the coffee shop with that practiced confident swagger. Luca nodded at Montesinos as he noticed the pair of them walk into the coffee shop. Montesinos motioned with his hand for them to sit down with him and Romero without any words.

As Luca and Hiram pulled two chairs to sit with them, the prospects of drinking some coffee had gone right out the window. It had become a business meeting in a matter of seconds.

“Luca,” Montesinos started as he adjusted himself in the chair and leaned into the table to set his elbows atop it. “Are you here alone or on your Don’s order?”

“I’m alone,” Luca answered, looking at him carefully hopefully not giving Montesinos the wrong impression. Luca wasn’t a traitor, he never would be, but he knew it would be easy for anyone to think that he was in this situation.

“Good man,” Montesinos had a smooth grin on his face, half of it hidden by his moustache. “Are you here to make a deal or to negotiate the terms?” Hiram kept a neutral look on his face, the one he was forced to learn in law school. Any good lawyer remained neutral and did not let their emotions affect their work. Hiram finally understood why Luca had brought him along.

“I want to know where you’re headed next first. I want to know your plan.” Luca took the toothpick out of his mouth this time so he could speak properly. The way he moved his hands, the expression on his face, the way he sat on his chair, it screamed Italian, and all Montesinos did was smirk at him. It was a great risk going into New York, but suddenly he felt as if it were totally worth it. Montesinos brought his hands to his chest slowly, in a dramatic gesture of disbelief.

“You–You want to know my plans?” he chuckled heartily before he shrugged his shoulders aimlessly. He took a sip of his coffee and glanced briefly at his right-hand man. “I don’t blame you, I would want to know as well if I were you.” Luca nodded appreciating that they were both on the same page. “So, I’ll tell it to you straight. I took a stop in Atlantic City before I came here. I struck up a deal with the Irish. Two brothels, just two, in their city centre, ten percent of the earning from each house goes to the Irish. It’s more than fair. I gave your Don twenty percent for one house–fuckin’ one house–he didn’t take it. No one fuckin’ took it. I respect that though, familia, that’s important. So, I’m going to Chicago.” Luca knew it. He knew he would be going there next. “I’m gonna see an old friend of mine, Al Capone. I’m sure you know him, he’s been making a real fuckin’ mess of Chicago in the last few years, he’s good at that. I’m surprised the feds haven’t caught him yet if I’m honest.” Montesinos laughed again as if the way Capone dealt with his business was a laughing matter. Capone had no concept of familia the way the Cosa Nostra did.

Montesinos started speaking again, his voice graver than before. “There’s a saturation in the market in Miami. Too many women looking for work. It’s not good for my business, most of them are honest, respect authority where its due. Most of them are Cuban, a few Mexicans, we got all sorts of ethnic types, and a few pale ones just to even out the field. This business ain’t wrong if these women are coming to me to give’em work. They ain’t asking for any desk jobs.” Luca kept that stoic look on his face. He wasn’t going to back down, though the idea of young women throwing themselves into this kind of work was puzzling. He couldn’t imagine any women he knew trying to get into this business or was he just so detached from the outside world that he didn’t know enough women who were this desperate.

“I’ll do business with you,” Luca stated calmly, twirling the toothpick between his thumb and index finger. “But–But you need to stay in Manhattan a while longer. I need to settle somethings. I’ll talk to Don Spinietta, come up with some kinda deal–a truce.” Montesinos was quick to retort an answer.

“You want me to stay in Manhattan so you can plan to take me out. I ain’t buying that shit.” Montesinos stood up from his chair quickly, his hand inside his coat. Luca knew that he was reaching for his gun, or any other weapon he could be hiding underneath the jacket of his white suit.

Luca raised his hands non-threateningly, motioning for Montesinos to relax.

“Hey–Hey!” Luca started. “I ain’t picking any fights right now. I promise you,” Luca put a hand on his heart, “I got nothing to I fight you for, I wanna make a deal. A fair deal. I ain’t double-crossing you, I promise that.” The hand that was on Luca’s heart slowly moved out in front of them both, waiting for Montesinos to shake it in.

“Alright. Tomorrow–here–this table –this hour . I want an answer by then. Or you won’t see me again.”

“Alright.” Luca let Montesinos and Elizondo leave with certainty. No one to tail them, no one to cause them harm.

“I hope you know what you’re doing, Luca,” Hiram sounded, a hint of relief in his voice. Luca swatted him off. “Don Spinietta is gonna have to hear this from you if you don’t want to get whacked by midnight."

“Yeah, I know,” Luca spoke, narrowing his eyes at nothing in particular. He put the toothpick back between his teeth and moved to get up from the table in front of them. He was heading into a storm, Spinietta’s storm.


Luca didn’t bother going anywhere else. From the coffee shop, he went straight to Don Spinietta’s manor just outside of Manhattan, with Hiram close behind him wondering what exactly Luca had up his sleeve.

Don Spinietta was in his study when they finally reached him. His home was quiet, with a few bodyguards and a maid loitering around a home that seemed to be on the verge of abandonment. There were a few boxes here and there that only led Luca to assume that he was planning on moving out the manor. But he didn’t pay it all to much attention as there were more pressing matters at hand.

There was a possibility that Don Spinietta already knew that Luca had met Montesinos without his explicit permission. For all Luca knew he was walking straight to his death, but he hoped that Spinietta knew Luca to be smarter than to walk into a meeting with Montesinos with spies all around them and no expect to get caught.

Luca looked back at Hiram before he entered the study. He had nothing to hide, so he stepped in calmly. Don Spinietta was sitting at his desk staring at them as they entered the room, his cigar hanging from his mouth, an angry expression on his face. Luca kept his look neutral and hoped Hiram was doing the same.

“What the fuck were you thinking,” his words didn’t come out like a question. His eyes were half open, his cigar now in the glass ashtray, his square-jaw clenched tight and dangerous. Luca knew he was clear, Spinietta had tried to put up a fight but he was expecting a good explanation now. “I know you ain’t that stupid to walk into the same coffee shop Montesinos is at while I got some wise guys watchin’ his every move.” Luca nodded carefully at his words, he didn’t want to start any problems that he didn’t need.

“Now, tell me what the fuck you think you’re doin’.”

“I’m gonna ask you to listen to everything I say. It’s important.” Spinietta paused, unmoving, callous, before he gave Luca a nod to continue. Another admittance of defeat against the underboss.

“We have no word whether the Francone’s or the Marconi’s said yes or no to the deal with Montesinos, but I know for sure now that they turned him down. He says he’s going to Capone next ‘cause New York didn’t treat him the way he expected.”

“Capone?” Spinietta raised a greying eyebrow.

“Yeah, Capone, and we both know how Capone feels about New York– about Cosa Nostra. If he went into business with Montesinos and they allied themselves together, he’s gonna get stronger. Who the fuck are we gonna be then? Capone already doesn’t like us too much, and if we shut Montesinos out he ain’t gonna like us too much either.”

“So what do you wanna do, Luca?” Spinietta’s words came out harshly as the sudden realization came to his mind.

“We take Montesinos’ offer. It ain’t that bad anyway, we can make some good money here. But when we take the offer, we add something to the deal.”

“What are you askin’ for?”

“I want twenty percent of the profit and his word that he won’t make any deals or work with Capone in the future.” Spinietta nodded once again, raising his left hand for silence.

“Alright, but if we're going to do this you’ll have to get all the familias behind you. Can you do that?”

“Me?” Luca put his fingers to his chest, his head inclined in an unsure manner.

“Yeah, it’s about time. You need to do things on your own now, I’ll guide you but you need the practice, remember? I’ll call a meeting with the families for tomorrow morning.”

“It’s better we get this done tonight, I need to meet Montesinos by lunch.”

“Alright, tonight.”

Chapter Text

Luca hadn’t gone home since Spinietta called for a meeting between the five families that evening. He had stuck around the Astor Hotel the entire day trying to figure out exactly what he was about to say to all the dons who had agreed to show their faces in their neck of the woods on such short notice.

Luca thought of calling Rose, but he always ended up talking himself out of it. He knew that if he did, he would just distract himself, but also he knew that his comfort with her would only help him relay what was happening, and he didn’t want her to worry. Worrying wasn’t good for the baby.

He spoke to Hiram instead, every few minutes he’d have another worry pop into his head and he’d share it with his cousin. Hiram always seemed to have a logical solution to every situation.

When the time came, the four bosses strolled into the meeting room at the Astor Hotel. They sat with their seconds and their consigliere in tow and watched Luca and Spinietta carefully as they tried to figure out whether this meeting would be civil or if someone was about to die.

“Thanks for meeting us here on such short notice.” Luca started with a nudge from Don Spinietta and a look from Hiram. “You all know that Óscar Montesinos has been going through New York askin’ to do business with any of us. Yesterday I would have turned away from the offer, as it goes against our moral code.” Luca nodded his head solemnly, as he placed his hand flat against his lower chest. Don Francone nodded with him.

“I ran into Montesinos before he was about to leave, so I asked him a few questions. I asked him where he was goin’ to next. And sure enough, he was headin’ out to the Chicago Outfit, to meet our old friend, Al Capone.” Luca studied the groups' reactions, there were a few side-eyes and some curious glances.

“What are you proposing, young Luca?” Luca wasn’t so young but compared to Don Francone he was. Francone was a surprisingly good-natured man amongst all the gangsters, he never felt any sort of bad bone near him, but he knew the stories about him. He looked at him as respectfully as he could, because Francone was an amicable loyal partner, and he needed more people on his side anyway.

“If Montesinos is plannin’ to do business with Capone, we’re almost done for. There’s no balance of power, he’s goin’ to come straight for us once he finds the right time to. We all know how he feels about our way of life, about the familia,” Luca was speaking with his hands now. “So, I told Montesinos to give me some time, and I’d talk it over with Don Spinietta. This deal is a lot more dangerous then we were expecting.”

“So, youse wanna make a deal with Montesinos dealin’ in prostitutes and brothels for what?” It was Don Riccardo Marconi who spoke this time, his eyes slanted, his mouth in a subtle frown. He was clearly unamused, but Luca didn’t know what for.

“We all do business with Montesinos, we take his prostitutes for a good price, and in return an alliance that stops him from doing business with Capone.”

Don Galano tilted his head for a brief second before a corner of his mouth sank dramatically. He looked at his consigliere for a second, but Luca missed the exchange. “We won’t give you a problem Luca. If we can push back Capone this way then what’s the fuss.” Don Galano stood up, moved around the table and shook Luca’s hand. Galano was on his side.

Marconi came up next and without a word he shook Luca’s hand as well. He was on his side.

Francone came third and though he was extremely reluctant to get into the sort of business Montesinos was offering, but he accepted.

Bassano came last not even looking bothered by the prospect of working with Montesinos, Luca expected that Bassano had been wanting to get into the business for a while now.

The meeting ended amicably. The Cosa Nostra was bringing Miami brothels to New York.


Luca and Hiram were at the same coffee shop the next day ready to roll out a deal to save New York from the mere idea of Capone.

Luca sat at the round table with a cup of average tasting coffee in his hand. It wasn’t as good as his Rose’s coffee, he thought. Hiram shifted in his seat as Montesinos entered the shop with his right-hand man, Romero. They didn’t exchange any handshakes or any greetings. The Cuban men sat down across from Luca and Hiram and they inspected each other carefully before Luca spoke to break the silence.

“New York will do business with you,” Luca started. Montesinos looked pleased as the corner of his lip curled and he side glanced his partner. “but, in respect to Manhattan, I’d like to make a deal.” Montesinos motioned with his hand for Luca to keep talking. “thirty percent of the earnings from each house goes to me.”

“Ah!” Montesinos raised a finger before Luca could continue to speak. “ten percent goes to you.”

“Twenty-five,” Luca countered.

“I’ll let you have twenty. You know that's solid, Luca.” Luca had intended it to be twenty percent, but he knew Montesinos would try for lower. He wasn’t going to play around, Luca needed to play his cards right to be taken seriously, though from what he gathered already he was already taken as seriously as they took his Don. People already feared him, people already know he was next to match when it came to making money and escaping the law.

“Twenty is good.” Luca reached a hand over the table for Montesinos to shake on the deal. “I have to request one last thing.” Luca looked down at his coffee narrowly, as Hiram began to move some papers around to finalize a discreet deal between the two mobsters.

“What’s that?”

“If you do business with New York, you have to cut all ties with Capone and his business.”

“Why would I do that?”

“Capone’s bad for New York business, and you’d lose your business here if you were to work with him.”

“Alright. I won’t do business with Capone.”

“Write that in the contract,” Luca pointed at the papers in front of Hiram, getting an interested glare from Montesinos.

“Any more requests?” Montesinos added with mocking smile on his face.

“No, I just have some advice. The other families don’t deal with cocaine, so don’t bother asking unless you want to lose your business, or ya’know get whacked.” Montesinos nodded his head once carefully, as he reclined back into the chair. He took a sip of his coffee, and then set it down. It took him a few seconds and a glance at his right-hand man Romero before he would extend his hand for a second-hand shake. The final one to seal the deal.

“I’ll send a few men in the next few weeks to scope the area, to buy some property off of you or anywhere else, the girls will be here in about a month.” Luca nodded at him, as they both stood from their chairs. Luca’s height towered over Montesinos, they took a last look at each other before Montesinos and Romero left satisfied with the new deal.


Hours had gone by since Luca’s first official deal as Don Spinietta’s next in line. Luca was at the Astor Hotel, after receiving a call from the Don himself to meet him at the office he occasionally haunted during the week.

Spinietta greeted him with his arms outstretched. Like a proud father congratulating their son on a good business deal. And though Luca would have enjoyed the moment far more if it had been his own father congratulating him on the deal he had sealed with Montesinos, he was content that his work was appreciated.

“Luca!” Spinietta almost shouted. “You did good, son.” He had to extend his arm a little higher than usual to reach Luca’s shoulder, to grasp it firmly.

“Thanks.” Luca didn’t really know what to say without disrespecting his Don.

“I need you to do something now.”

“What’s that?”

“I’m going to give up this spot so you need to prepare. Buy a few properties, make a few deals with some businesses.” Luca nodded his head at this, he was expecting this. He had already made plans and was ready to make some purchases, make some deals.

“How do feel about buying the Hotel?”

“The Astor?” Luca knew how much Don Spinietta loved the hotel, even though he didn’t completely own it himself.

“Yeah,” Spinietta was silent for a moment before he cleared his throat to speak again. “Buy my half, and then buy the rest.”

“You sure? I know you love this place,” Luca did his best to look unsure of himself, but truly he knew how much of a money maker the hotel was. Spinietta made ridiculous amounts of money from it, apart from the protection he had put on the hotel as well. Luca and Rose could live comfortably just from the money that would be made from the hotel, but Luca liked having more than enough money. That was his style.

“Yeah, take it. I won’t be here for long anyway. I’m going to the West Coast to see Carla after everything dies down here.” Luca also knew that Spinietta didn’t want to say that he was getting old too. Luca nodded his head again. “I’ll have Johnny make up some papers,” Spinietta smoothed his moustache down. “Is Hiram going to be your consigliere?”

“Yeah, he is.”

“Alright, bring him when I have the papers ready.”

When Luca left the hotel he knew exactly where he was going. He was off to make his first purchase. He was heading toward the Lower East Side, he knew a place there. Vacant, and ready for purchase, it was a restaurant space on the riverside. Here he would start and move his way up toward his empire.


Autumn was still relatively warm, but the cool breezes that signalled the sun was planning to set was a keen indication that summer had come and gone. October was a good month, Rose had always thought, not too hot and not too cold.

She was heavily pregnant, almost staggering around with her full belly. Her face was fuller, her hair thicker and shorter. There now seemed to be a happy aura around her as she always graced an ethereal small smile. Her hands always cradling her stomach to protect and comfort her baby.

It was becoming harder to do the things she wanted to on her own. Luca had pleaded with her to stop cleaning the apartment, that they had more than enough money to hire a maid. So, Rose spent most of her time reading, cooking, and writing letters to Finn. When she could she would visit her God-daughter Sophia, and on other occasion’s she’d make her way down to the Church and ask for Father Carmine’s council.

When she entered the Church she always unravelled herself. She was afraid. She was afraid of being pregnant, she was afraid she wasn’t strong enough to give birth to the child that was growing so well inside her. She was afraid she wouldn’t make it. She was afraid to tell Luca too, he was so happy seeing Rose this way. Her belly full with his child, that glow about her when she smiled at him, and just him knowing that he was going to have a family with her. The woman he would have never expected, he was completely pleased with himself, and where he had gotten.

She’d said a prayer in the pew after she had spoken to Father Carmine about the same worries she always had. He always eased her mind somehow. She said her prayer, stared intently at the figure on the cross, picked up her purse, secured her hand under her large bump and made her way out of the Church.


Dear Finn,

You won’t believe how big I’ve gotten. I can’t even see my own two feet anymore. It’s the strangest sight, I’m sure you’d laugh at me if you’d seen.

The weather’s changed here, it's still warm but not as warm as the summer. I’m glad, I was beginning to get tired of the heat.

Did you lot run the Scottish out of town? What’s going on over there? Write back to me soon Finn, I need things to do, I get bored very easily these days.

Things are going well around here. I don’t know when Spinietta will step down and give Luca his place, but I’m sure it’ll happen soon. I’m not sure how much I would like that anymore though. Being Don of anywhere is dangerous. The Don lost two of his girls over this business. Tommy lost Grace… I’m scared. What if I go next, or what if the baby does. I would hate it if Luca went too, what would I do with myself.

I’m getting to trapped into my feelings all alone with nothing to do. Send me some sweets or tea if you can, Finn.

Love, Rosie

 

Finn had read the letter aloud in confidence with his Aunt Polly. He had read it before, and he knew that his Aunt Polly needed to hear what Rose had said in her letter. She mostly repeated the same things almost every time, but this time she sounded more worried.

It was never a good sign if someone was talking about their own death, Finn knew that much.

“Do you think she’s alright?” Finn asked his Aunt.

“She will be. It’s normal to worry. You write her back, and tell her that I say that if she worries she’ll do more harm to herself and the baby than anythin’ else.”

“Alright,” Finn contemplated the difficulties that came with pregnancies, and for a second he was happy he didn’t have a girlfriend. “Can you pick out the tea she likes, Aunt Pol?”

“Let me know when you need it and I’ll pick it up for you.” There was silence between them for a few seconds before Polly spoke again. “Hurry on now, get to work,” she shooed Finn away.

Maybe he should have gone to Ada with the letter. She was keen on tough love, but not as much as his Aunt Polly.


Rose relished in the scent of the tea and sweets that Finn sent her. He had sent her the finest tea he could find, well it was what she had assumed. She was passing tea cups around her living room and had settled the box of sweets and her freshly baked Italian cookies on to the coffee table in front of the long couches.

Gina, Angelina, Catarina, and Bianca had joined Rose for tea that afternoon on the account that Rose had invited them all over because she believed it may be the last time she’ll be able to have friends over before the baby came.

“I can’t believe how big you’ve gotten,” Angelina answered as Rose sat down next to her.

“How big did the doctors say, huh?” Catarina asked as she took a cookie off the platter.

“They said the baby could be on their way out any time now,” Rose answered as she placed her hands on her full belly.

“How excited are you?” Gina smiled at her from the armchair.

“Oh, so excited! But, I’m just worried about going into labour.”

“You’ll be fine. You’re a strong woman.” Bianca answered nonchalantly, as she looked through the sweets.

“Is Luca excited for the baby?” Angelina asked Rose, as she absentmindedly placed a hand on Rose’s belly to feel the baby kick.

“He better be,” Bianca added.

“Of course he is, he tells me every day. I don’t hear the end of it.” Rose smiled to herself as she brought the teacup to her lips. The room fell to a comfortable silence until Catarina broke it to ask Gina a question. The question that they had all been itching to ask.

“So, Gina, how’s Nico?” It was blunt and rather gossipy, the way Catarina tilted her chin to the side.

“Well,” Gina started, Rose could see the blush rise onto her cheeks.

“Give us all the dirty details,” Bianca added, as she snorted a laugh before Catarina pinched her arm.

“Just what you’re comfortable with is fine.” Rose felt the embarrassment crawl up her cheeks as well.

“Well, I think everything will be okay. He’s very kind to me and actually sort of protective. But I don’t mind it. He takes me out to cafes and such, and only in the daytime. I think he knows I’m nervous about it all, and that we don’t know each other that well.”

“If Luca did that to me I’d run away so fast you’d see the wind cut behind me. No one is choosing who I’m spending the rest of my life with.” The mood in the room shifted as Bianca spoke. Rose settled in her chair uncomfortably. She’d heard a similar speech from Bianca before, but she never returned any words with her. Rose assumed it was because Bianca was still much younger than she, and far more headstrong than she was. Gina spoke first.

“I’m not as brave as you Bianca. I wouldn’t last five days on my own, and besides, if I stay here I can still see my mother whenever I want to and all of you as well. Everyone is just a phone call away. Besides, I might even like him.” Gina seemed pretty set with her decision. Rose was proud of her, she knew it wasn’t easy accepting a sudden arranged marriage. It wasn’t easy for Rose and she hoped that she could give Gina the comfort she needed, the comfort she didn’t get until she met Bianca.

Rose peaked a look at Bianca, her lips were pursed together. As if she was trying to stop herself from speaking again. Bianca had been relatively secretive the past few months, not to mention before then. Bianca was good at keeping secrets, but now Rose could see one dancing behind her eyes as Bianca forced herself to drink more tea to stop herself from speaking.

“We’re all here for you of course, at any time you can call upon me.” Angelina comforted Gina.

“Just a phone call away,” Rose repeated. Rose needed this. Friendship.

Chapter Text

Rose had her eyes closed as she lounged on the couch in the living room. She could feel her baby kick from inside her. She winced at the sudden movement and shifted her body over to find a comfortable position to sit in. She began to hum a song to herself, but it was mostly for the baby. It was a song in Romanes, a song Luca had heard before but didn’t know the words too. He recognized the melody as he walked casually into the living room. He kissed Rose’s inclined head as he walked past her on the couch, and moved toward the enormous windows to pull the sheer curtains closed.

It was about mid-day and Luca had planned to spend the day with Rose, but the day had turned into something else. Rose had grown irritable in the last few months, and Luca was doing his best to ease her.

“What are you doing?” Rose spoke groggily, her eyes still closed.

“Closing the curtains,” Luca answered before he moved to sit down next to her. He put a hand on her bump and his lips to her neck.

“You’re going somewhere, aren’t you?” She spoke to him in an accusing tone.

Tesoro,” he tried to cut it to her carefully.

“It’s fine, you don’t have to worry too much. I’ll call Gina, maybe she’ll be up to doing something with me.” Rose finally opened her eyes, a sigh escaping her mouth. “Where are you going?”

“I-uh- I got a call from Guzzo, there’s some trouble in Midtown East,” Luca said carefully.

“What’s in Midtown East?” Rose asked pointedly, her eyes narrowed toward Luca as she began to realize where exactly he was going.

“Aye, you know, Cuban business.” Luca scratched the back of his head as he answered her. He didn’t look her in the eyes. He wasn’t engaging in anything he would regret, he was just looking after business. Luca knew Rose was uncomfortable almost every day now and Luca’s sudden need to bail on their plans didn’t help at all.

“You’re going to a brothel than?” Rose closed her eyes once again.

“Hey,” Luca started, trying to get Rose’s attention. He turned his body to look at her, he placed a rough hand on her neck and she opened her eyes to look at him. she had a subtle pout on her lips and her eyes were wide, almost doe-like as she looked at him helplessly. “You’re the only woman for me. For the rest of my life, alright? Just me and you,” Luca kissed her lips fleetingly. She didn’t speak however, Rose just nodded her head up and down as she felt the baby kick at her again.

“I’ll be back before you know it.” Rose nodded again and leaned in for another kiss. Rose stood up from the couch to watch Luca leave. He picked up a hat from the hook. Picked up his keys, his wallet, and turned to look at Rose by the door.

“Can you call Manny? I need to know how Daisy is doing.”

“Already done, she’s doing just fine.” Luca gave her that smile she loved. It urged her to walk toward him.

She gave him one last kiss and said, “That’s good to hear,” and then he left their apartment toward the brothel, with his beautiful wife on his mind.


Gina had her arm hooked into Roses as they strolled down a crowded street in Tribeca.

“Are you tired? We can sit down for a while.” Gina looked at Rose expectantly. The breeze of the month of October kissed Rose face in the way she had longed for during the summer months. She breathed in that new air before she spoke.

“Where should we go then?” Rose asked.

“What’s your pick? There’s a tea house up this road, or we could turn over her for the café.”

“I’d like to see the tea house,” Rose answered as she rubbed at her stomach. Her feet were aching slightly already and she could use a nice warm cup of tea to soothe her.

As they stepped into the tea shop Rose was bombarded with several herbal scents. A short woman motioned for them to sit down by a window on plush chairs before their server came to the table. Rose took her chance to look around the room. The tea house was decorated in soft pastel shades of blue and yellow. There were small round tables all along the sides of the room, and an unlit candle on every table. Rose assumed that the tea house was rather popular in the evening. Overall, she enjoyed the look of the place. She drank her builders' tea with a blissful look on her face as she absentmindedly stroked her belly.

“Have you thought of names yet?” Gina asked, over her cup of tea.

“Not exactly. I think it’ll come to me once the baby is here.” Rose often thought of names, but none of them ever felt right. She didn’t know where there was a little girl or a little boy waiting to see the real world.

“How are you doing though, is Nico treating you okay?”

“He is, I think everything is going to be okay.” Gina gave her a fleeting look before she looked out the window.

“What have you two been doing?” Rose watched Gina carefully, as the blush in her neck reached her cheeks. Gina used the back of her hand to touch her cheek. she pursed her lips together and then pulled her handbag up on to the table. Rose followed her movements, expecting something interesting to happen. Gina pulled out a tiny white velvet box, and Rose already knew what would be inside.

Rose grinned widely as she reached for Gina’s hand.

“So soon?” Rose said giddily.

“I thought so too, but it’s not like I can say no.” Gina joked. “It was rather romantic actual. We still only meet in the daylight. He always comes over to Manhattan to take me out. He took me to see a film, one of those Chaplin ones and we go out to restaurants all the time. We went to a garden just yesterday, and it was there that it happened. It was near the tulips, and he just got down on one knee and he asked me there.” Gina couldn’t hide her smile, Rose could tell that she was no longer afraid of Nico. There was some affection there. Gina opened the velvet box and pushed it carefully across the roundtable. A large square sapphire was surrounded by smaller diamonds on a silver band. Rose hid her gasp, with her hand. The engagement ring was magnificent and looked incredibly expensive.

“Who knows about this?” Rose asked as she passed the velvet box back to Gina.

“I think,” she paused to drink some more of her tea. “Just me and him.”

“He must be so in love with you.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Gina’s cheeks burned red as she tried to look away. Gina folded her hands in her lap, trying not to laugh at the situation, but Rose was giddy for her.

“I truly hope that everything will be okay. I know you deserve it.” Rose reached a hand over the table, but Gina’s hands were still on her lap. Rose took her hand back, a pretty smile still on her face. They both took a sip of their tea, shared some biscuits and then left money on the table before they left.

They were walking down the busy street again. Rose had one hand protectively covering her belly and the other hooked onto Gina’s. They received a few curious looks from a few people. Both Rose and Gina suspected they were familiar with Cosa Nostra, but they did their best to not notice the stares.

“I wonder what Bianca’s up too. We should invite her next time, what do you think?” Rose asked Gina.

“I think we should, but she’ll probably say no.” Gina moved her fringe away from her face. “She’s hanging out with this new group of people, and I guess you can call them socialites.”

“Maybe she has a boyfriend?” Rose asked quizzically.

“I don’t think so, she probably wouldn’t risk the trouble with Luca.” Gina shrugged, as they crossed the street.

“I think she has all the nerve to do so, but maybe she’s just really enjoying herself?”

“She fits in really well with those kinds of people, I wish I was that confident if I’m completely honest. Imagine all the things you can accomplish with a personality like Bianca’s.” Gina sounded slightly jealous, but Rose didn’t blame her. Sometimes she wished she had even a bit of the same confidence that Bianca seemed to glow with.


The next few days were met with rain, thunder, and lightning. Rose welcomed the rain, it reminded her of England and the days she’d sit by the window in Tommy’s bedroom above the betting house so she could stare out onto Watery Lane. There was barely ever any movement on the street when it rained, but the sudden change in atmosphere was calming. She preferred sitting in Tommy’s room because he was barely ever around during the day, and her own bedroom was at the back of the house.

When it rained during the week she couldn’t help but think of her family back in Birmingham. She wondered if it were raining over there too. Was Finn looking out the window, or was it her Aunt Polly. Finn’s letters were taking longer than usual, and Rose assumed it was because something must have come up. Finn was important now and worked for Shelby Company Limited, so she expected he was trying to figure things out for himself.

After looking out the floor to ceiling windows in her bedroom. She changed into her nightgown, a sheer silk slip in a soft shade of yellow. Her belly protruding in the slim fabric. She liked the way it looked in the mirror, but it also worried her. Babies were meant to come into the world, not to stay in the womb forever. Rose sighed, it was one of several sighs on that rainy day.

Luca arrived only minutes later. Rose didn’t walk to greet him by the door like she usually did. She stayed her dressing room staring at herself in the mirror. Luca walked in on her, he took a second to look at her. He walked up behind her to take a better look at her in the mirror. He lowered himself to hug her from behind. One of his arms roaming around her belly and the other at her breasts. He kissed her on the slope of her neck and whispered into her ear.

“I’ll never get tired of seeing you like this.” He kissed her neck again, and Rose turned around to look at him.

“I think I’m tired of it already.” She lied. She was afraid. That sudden panic rushed upon her, and she turned to walk away from him. She moved into their bedroom and into the hall. She went into the kitchen and made sure everything was turned off for the night, she closed all the curtains in the living room, the dining room, all the other bedrooms and made sure the front door was locked. Luca followed her around like a puppy, confused by her sudden antics. Luca usually did all of this at the end of the night, while Rose had a midnight coffee ready for him so they could sit on the couch together and just share each others presence.

“Rose,” Luca spoke her name with ease, a sense of calm in his smooth and yet somehow raspy voice. She didn’t answer, she went about her business. “Rose, sweetheart.” His voice changed, a subtle sound of pleading hidden in the cut.

“Hmmm,” Rose hummed at the sound, but still couldn’t manage to look at him. Where the curtains closed she could see where the rain has slid down the window and like the rain a tear slid down her face, but she quickly wiped it from her cheek. She couldn’t make a sound. She knew she was over emotional, she knew it was because of the baby, but she was tired of it.

“Hey, I know you’re crying.” Soft, he was soft. “Baby, baby,” she realized that Luca was calling for her, not their child. She blinked at the thought of it, wiped what was left of her tears and looked at him straight on. “Come’re,” he motioned with his hand for her to walk toward him. He stood behind the armchair and motioned for her to sit down with his hand. Rose obeyed and sat down in the armchair. Luca walked around the chair and crouched down to look at her.

“You’re alright,” he caressed her cheek and leaned in to kiss her forehead. “You’re okay. Just cry, no shame in that.” Why was he so good to her, it was all she could think some days.

She cried, she cried as she had cried once before. Unrelenting, unabashed, she cried. She cried like she had on the MS Olympic, she cried as if she were grieving, when all she had was to gain. Luca wiped her tears away with his thumb and kissed her there, where her tears had streaked down her face.

“Now tell me, Tesoro,” he spoke to her gently, his hands cupping her face. “What’s making you like this?”

“I–” she hesitated, and she had seen it coming. It was obvious to her, but she pushed her fear aside because she knew Luca would not judge her. He wanted to know what was wrong, the man who had been given to her so cruelly, was more like heaven than a curse. She tried to sit up straighter, she rubbed the tip of her nose, and flattened her nightgown over her large baby bump. She looked down for a second there, and then back to Luca. “I’m afraid. I’m afraid for the baby, for me, for you. I don’t know if I can do this.” She trembled as she spoke the last words, forcing herself not to cry uncontrollably again.

Luca frowned but was soon back to caressing her cheek and moving her short hair away from her face. “What makes you think you can’t do this. You can, I know you can. I know you’re strong enough for this Rose.” There was silence between them for what felt like ages, an understanding silence that Luca knew Rose needed. He wanted her to speak to him, but only when she was ready.

Eventually, she plucked up the courage as the room was flooded in darkness, and just the lamp by the armchair lit the room dimly.

“My mother, she died, she died giving birth to Finn. What if I die too? What if our baby dies? Or what if we both do? I don’t want to leave you alone,” Luca looked at her intently, and how her fear came within somewhere deep in her body. Genuine fear for what was coming next for her and Luca.

“How many children did your mother have? One, two, six? She had six? She went through it six times. I know you can go through it just once. It’s to late to back out now. The baby will come out whether you want her to or not,” Rose noticed has he had addressed the baby, he expected the baby to be a girl.

“She’s waiting for the right time to meet her mother. She’s waiting to see you, who’s been carrying her around for months. If anyone believes in you, it’s our baby.” Rose leaned into Luca’s crouched figure, pressing her forehead against his.

She sighed again, but this time there was an air of relief to the sound. Luca could tell as Rose raised her arms away from her womb to place them Luca’s cheeks.

“What would I do without you?” she whispered to him.

“Hey,” he started as he took her chin between his thumb and index finger. “I love you.”

“I love you more,” Rose answered. Luca gave her that grin she loved, the one that was just for her.

“I have something for you, it’ll maybe make you feel better.” He was already moving back from his crouched position, no doubt feeling an ache in his back and knees. He pulled of tailored coat and waistcoat and tossed them onto the long couch. He pulled off his tie and unbuttoned the top three buttons of his dress shirt.

He moved to sit on the floor in front of Rose, and took her leg in his hand and began to massage her calves before he moved down to her feet. Rose pressed her lips together, trying to suppress a smile.

“It’s a good surprise, I know you’ll love it.” Luca continued his work and continued to comfort his wife, his Rose.

“Is it another horse?” Rose asked, biting her bottom lip.

“It’s a surprise. I ain’t saying nothin’. You’ll find out-” He paused, thinking to himself. “I guess tomorrow. You’ll find out tomorrow.”

“You spoil me. We’ll run out of money soon.” Luca grinned at her comment.

“No, not us. Never.”


Rose woke in the morning with the familiar groggy feeling she had been feeling for the last month or so. From the little bit of light coming from her large windows, she could safely assume that the sun was making its slow daily rise.

Rose searched for Luca next to her. Her hand hit his shoulder roughly, and she gripped his bare shoulder wanting to inch closer to him. He hadn’t stirred awake yet, but Rose did her best to carry the new weight closer to him. She breathed in the scent of his skin.

She nuzzled her body into him and tried to go back to sleep, to not feel anything but his weight next to her.

She was successful, but only an hour later Luca had to rise from bed to complete his daily rounds and business. But he assured her that his evening was meant for her, and he would be back soon to share the surprise.

Rose spent the day wondering what Luca could be so excited about. She didn’t think it could be another horse. She hadn’t even given Daisy a ride and was relying on Manny to take good care of her.

Rose had far too many dresses, handbags, shoes, and jewellery for Luca to be excited over. She stumped, what could he have up his sleeve. It had to be important, Rose thought.

When Luca came home that evening, Rose was already ready to leave the house. She wanted to go out for dinner, to a place Donnino seemed to manage, or at least offer patronage to. Luca was compliant wanting Rose to be as content and comfortable as possible. They ate dinner sat next to each other instead of across from each other so they could hold hands underneath the table. Rose hadn’t realized how much she had begun to cling onto Luca, and she suspected it had something to do with the baby.


Once they finished dinner, Luca drove the car from Greenwich into the Lower East Side, right by the shoreline. He parked on the side of the road, got out of the motor car. Rose got out of the car before he could help her out, even though she knew Luca was being fussy around her because of her size and sudden inability to walk for too long. Rose took his hand as they walked along the road. They hadn’t stepped into any of the shops, and Rose was confused as to what they were doing. She was expecting the surprise that Luca was excited about, but they were just walking along the sidewalk, the sunset ahead of them, and the East River to their left.

“Luca, what are we doing?” She asked.

“Walkin’ and talkin’,” he started, as they continued their walk. “Your surprise is just down here.”

“It’s getting late though, should we be out so late?” Luca turned his head to look at Rose as she voiced her concern. He hadn’t expected her to change her mood so quickly. It was getting late, but they were together, and no wise guy was stupid enough to try to jump Luca so close to home. He didn’t feel like he needed to worry now that his business with Montesinos was settled. He was feeling rather confident in fact. He managed to do a great deed for the Cosa Nostra, and money was pouring in now that the familias had taken to using the Brothels for income.

“Hey don’t worry ‘bout it,” his New Yorker accent slipped through. Rose raised an eyebrow accusingly, but let it go quickly. She was rather nervous to be out late, but Luca was with her and that was her greatest protection. Maybe she was worried more about the baby? “It’s just right here,” Luca pointed toward an empty rundown building surrounded on both sides by other businesses.

Rose looked on perplexed. What on earth did Luca have to show her in this building? She gave him the benefit of the doubt and let him help her up the three steps into the building. The entryway seemed to be under construction, as wood panelling and toolboxes were scattered around the entrance. There was exposed brick in the hallway and it curved in an interesting formation toward a larger hall. Rose instinctively looked up, the ceiling was high, and the lights from outside the street were shinning into the room. Luca walked toward the corner closest to them to turn the lights on. Only half of the lights in the entire hall seemed to turn on, but it was enough light to see exactly where they were.

Rose smiled at Luca politely, she was still confused. “So, what are we doing?”

“This place,” Luca motioned around with his hand. “The whole thing is yours.”

“Mine?” Rose’s eyes widened. She still didn’t understand. What was she meant to do with a place like this? She tilted her chin to the side, and pressed her lips together, avoiding another confused smile toward Luca.

“Yeah, I know you get bored stayin’ in the apartment all day. I know you love making food, and I think maybe an Italian restaurant run by you would be a hit.”

“Me? Run an Italian restaurant?” Rose had her hand on her chest, still confused at Luca’s surprise, but still touched all the same. “Luca, did you forget? I’m not exactly Italian.”

“Hey, that don’t matter. Once anyone tastes your food, forget about it,” Luca smiled as he shook his head. It turned Rose on to see him so impressed with her. She only began to pride her cooking skills once Luca had told her how well she cooked when she arrived in Manhattan. She never received such compliments on her food back in Birmingham. Polly always just got things done, Ada wasn’t interested in cooking, while Linda would always tell her what she had done wrong first before she would receive any kind of recognition on her creation. “They’d all be comin’ back for seconds. I promise that.” Luca grinned at her. He walked toward her, closing the distance from where he stood by the light switch. He swooped in to kiss her lips excitedly, Rose gave him the same affection as she smiled into the kiss.

“Now what am I supposed to do with this place? It isn’t in any shape to open a restaurant in, Luca.” Rose was looking around again. She walked toward the tall windows, inspecting her new property.

“You shoulda seen it before, sweetheart. I bought it maybe two or three weeks ago, and I’ve got some guys working on it, trynna get it ready. I’m thinking’ it’ll be done by the time the baby gets here.” Luca then began to look around as well. There was a staircase tucked into the side that led to a loft style area. Rose assumed it was just more space to accommodate customers.

As she looked around, she could really see herself running a restaurant. It wasn’t far from the things she liked to do. She could make honest money here, but a thought crossed her mind then. “Where does the money go? Once the restaurant starts making money if it ever does?”

“Into our pocket of course, but a cut has to go to Don Spinietta while he’s still here. For protection.”

“So, I’m Don Spinietta’s client now,” Rose sounded unamused. She crossed her arms above her round belly.

“Hey,” he stepped forward to pull her into his embrace. “Once I take Manhattan, you’ll be no one’s client. Everything will be yours.”

“Luca,” Rose pushed away from him to look him straight in the eyes. She took his face in her hands. “I don’t want or need everything. I want things to be normal. I want everything between us and our baby to be okay. No hidden scams, deals, none of it. I want it easy. We don’t get to live long anyway.” There was a pleading look in her eyes, but sincerity too. Luca felt a twinge of guilt, at least she hadn’t told him that she didn’t want him anymore. She at least knew Luca couldn’t give up this kind of life. He didn’t know any other. He was born into it.

“I’ll do what I can to make it easy,” he had no idea what he was saying. He didn’t know how to make it easy. But if it was for Rose, he wanted to do it. For his Rose, he’d do anything. Rose kissed his cheek then and spoke to him softly.

“Thank you, I mean it.” The warmth in her eyes said it all. Luca gave her that crooked grin she loved and in a second he was ready to tell her something else.

“Hey, I got something else to show you. The blueprints on how this place is gonna look when it’s done. I think you’ll like it.”

“Only if I get to decorate.”

“Of course you will, what kinda man you think I am? Not even lettin’ my beautiful wife do the best part of the job.” He grinned again, joking around with her. Rose smiled back, forgetting her worries, her fears at that moment because Luca was there, being himself with her. No one to put his mask on for, it was just him. “I’ll grab the blueprints in the back, and I’ll bring them out to you.”

“Alright,” Rose said as she walked away into the large hall again looking at all the details of the room while Luca disappeared somewhere in the back. Rose was looking at the wood used around the windows. She was nitpicking now, all the details had to be perfect if this was going to be hers, her very own restaurant. It was only a minute later that she heard footsteps coming up behind her.

“I’d like to meet whoever is working on this project,” She said as she turned. But it wasn’t Luca who she had spoken to. She didn’t recognize him, nothing about him. He was quick to pull her by the shoulders, but she was quick to scream as well.

Rose clutched at her stomach, protectively, not even bothering to attempt to remove the stranger's arms from around her shoulder. He had spun her around and had her in a chokehold. The man pressed his gloved hand against her mouth and now she couldn’t call for Luca again.

Luca ran out from the hallway he had walked into when he left her. He had heard her scream then. Rose couldn’t help the tears fall. This man was doing this to her because he was trying to hurt Luca. One of her greatest fears, something plucked straight out of one of her nightmares. She had her arms around her stomach tightly, doing her best not to panic but she couldn’t help the fear that was bubbling inside her.

“Get your fuckin’ hands of my wife,” Luca spoke. That’s when she felt something cold touch her neck. The man shifted his position to expose her skin there. It only took her a second to realize what was there now. A knife sharp enough to cut her throat cleanly. She burst into tears then afraid for herself, still young, and not ready to leave the world, and then she was afraid for her baby, who still hadn’t seen the world she was afraid to leave.

“Luca,” it was also she could say through her sobs. Luca pulled out a gun from underneath his suit jacket. He aimed it toward the pair of them, and Rose wasn’t sure how good of a shot he was.

She could feel the assailant’s breath hitch behind her and his heart beat faster. He was afraid too, and that wasn’t good for her.

“Vaffangul!” Fuck You. The assailant had shown his cards. As soon as Luca had pulled out the gun he had become desperate. It was then that Rose felt the knife dig slowly into her skin. She couldn’t scream this time, but she could feel the bit of blood slide down her neck, and her water spill between her legs.

Luca took his chance and fired the gun.

Chapter Text

Vaffangul!” Fuck You. The assailant had shown his cards. As soon as Luca had pulled out the gun he had become desperate. It was then that Rose felt the knife dig slowly into her skin. She couldn’t scream this time, but she could feel the bit of blood slid down her neck, and water spill between her legs.

Luca took his chance and fired the gun. For a split second, he was unconfident in his shot, and the dread in the pit of his stomach could have destroyed him, but as Rose screamed once again on impact, he thanked every muscle, bone, and inch of his being, even God then for giving him the best shot of his life.

The stranger swayed for a second after the bullet entered his forehead. His grasp on Rose wavered, and she used that moment to get away from him. Her legs staggered dangerously. She was weak, her entire body was aching. She fell forward onto her knees, and Luca rushed to her in a frenzy.

Luca was trying to pick her up off the ground, but Rose was clutching at him, panic on her face. She was sobbing, she was more worried about the baby then the thin and blemishing cut on her neck.

“Luca, Luca, Luca,” she repeated his name over and over again, not able to tell him what was wrong with her. She’d never seen him panic before either, but the state that Rose was in was completely new to him.

“Rose, c'mon,” he tried to pick her up harshly again but she was still on the ground, unmoving, on her knees, one hand holding her up, and the other protectively around her belly.

“The baby, Luca, the baby,” She finally got it out, and a blood-curdling scream escaped the depths of her body. She’d never felt such pain. She wanted to fall over, to die there, maybe. But her child was still inside her. She couldn’t give up, she had to stay strong for the baby. Luca realized what was happening, and with a rush of adrenaline and panic he scooped Rose up off the ground, leaving the dead body on the ground next to them; completely discarded.

“Hospital–we’re goin’ to the hospital.” It was a rush of words, Luca didn’t think twice if they had come out loud or coherent enough. He was worried, his wife was sobbing and heaving in horrible pain within his arms. Was their baby dying? Was their baby ready to be born? Luca rushed outside and set Rose in the passenger side of the car roughly. He got in as quick as he could and began to drive at an accelerated rate to the closest hospital, but Rose protested.

“No, no. I need my midwife.” She had her own midwife that she had been with since the beginning of her pregnancy. But to Luca, the fact that she was still trying to hold on, despite the obvious pain gave him a bit of faith. He knew in his heart that his Rose was strong enough to endure the pain while they drove at top speed back into Tribeca.


 

Luca had a hand pressed on Rose’s neck the entire ride. Rose hadn’t bothered to push him off. The pain there was minimal and the cut wasn’t as deep as she had thought. She was far more preoccupied with trying to control her breathing. It was what Esme had told Ada to do during her own labour. But there were moments when she couldn’t hold in how much the pain affected her and horrified gasps would escape her mouth.

When they arrived, Luca was back to cradling Rose in his arms, as he starts shouting at people that his wife had gone into labour. He’d shouted for the midwife as well, and several nurses were asking for him to calm down, and that he would alarm the other patients. But her Luca was persistent; she knew it was because he was worried.

It only took a few seconds for some nurses to appear with a hospital cot, ready to roll Rose away into the maternity wing of the hospital. The nurses were already shooing Luca away but he didn’t leave her side. It was an unspoken promise. She’d be okay, he’d be there right by her.

She was rolled into her room, and for a second she wanted to call for her dead mother, and then for her Aunt Polly.

Luca takes her hand then, and Rose can’t help but continue crying as she looks at him. “I’m scared,” she says, her voice trembling and small.

“I’ll be right here for you,” He takes her hand tighter in his grip and for a second he looks like he’s about to cry with her too. “I won’t leave you, I’ll be right here.”

A nurse quickly put a bandage around her neck to stop any further bleeding once Rose starts pushing. Rose is already sweating from the pain as the nurses hastily helped her into her hospital garments. A dose of morphine is then injected into her veins.

She was finally able to breathe steadily, but she could still feel the echo of pain inside her. She searches for the features on Luca’s face through her bleary eyes. She knew they were probably swollen and red by now, she could feel the sweat on her skin too. Rose could hardly pay attention to what the nurses are saying, but the midwife walked in then, calm and serene almost. She said a jumble of words to Rose, half of which she couldn’t properly process anymore, and so he moved his attention to Luca and the nurses. They waited for what felt like hours to inject her with more morphine, while the midwife and nurses checked to see how much she had begun to crown. Luca was there helping her, encouraging her with sweet words and his warmth. But with all the pain she could barely pay any attention to him in the end either.

It was when she started to push that the certainty of her living to see her child began to wave in and out of her wishful thinking. She wanted to live for her baby, but as she continued to push, she knew that if the baby came out fine and she was left behind she would be okay. Sad, but okay.

The last final pushes, her entire body was heaving. Even the air in the room stung at her skin. She was breathing hard, screaming even. She heard the cry of her baby, and she felt something horrible inside her. She smiled anyway though because the cry of her baby meant everything was okay. But she felt that drift, that greyness. She had associated it with death once, but now she wasn’t so sure. The last thing she heard was Luca telling her how well she’d done, that the baby was okay.

Then there was darkness.


Luca was sitting outside Rose’s hospital room. His head was in his hands, he was tired. Rose had given birth an hour after they had arrived at the hospital, but she hadn’t woken up after she had fallen unconscious after her labour. It was early morning the next day now. He was worried too. Why was his Rose still sleeping? He didn’t know what to do.

He didn’t even want to think of the possibility that she might not wake up. He had hope, but his heart hurt. He had seen her in so much pain, and just before that, a man had assaulted her and he knew it was his fault.

One of the nurses had disinfected her neck soon after she had given birth. She was patched up and would look brand new in a few days, there wouldn’t even be a scar. He knew Rose would appreciate that, one less scar in her life.

Luca had paced Rose’s hospital room a few hours earlier trying to figure out what happened at the restaurant. New York had been quiet after the business with Montesinos had worked itself out just months ago. So who had been at the restaurant? Who was trying to hurt Luca this time? He was still thinking about it now, as he sat in the hallway. He hated to say how close they had gotten to him, but he hated more that Rose was the target.

He hated it, he hated it so much. He shouted so loud he scared several nurses. Shouting curse words at no one in particular, or was it to himself, for letting his guard down. He began to kick at the wall in front of Rose’s room and rammed his fists into the wood mouldings of the door frame. He was hysterical, and why wouldn’t he be. His wife hadn’t woken up, she had been attacked.

He didn’t know how to process anything. He had a baby, a little baby that was taken to a room away from Rose. They told him he was born too small, he wasn’t ready yet. Luca didn’t really know how these things worked, but if his boy came into the world too small he knew it had to be his fault. His fault for bringing Rose to the restaurant, his fault for making her feel like a trip would make her feel better, his fault for not protecting her the way a husband should.

She was alive, thank God for that, but Luca was still beating himself up for it. The cut wouldn’t leave a scar on her, he was told but he would always have that memory of that look on her face. How she hadn’t cared much for herself at that moment, but for their child.

He knew that she was afraid of giving birth, and there she had done it, through sweat, tears and a lot of pain. He had felt it in the hand that she had squeezed in the short period she had gone into labour.

Luca was breathing in harshly. He was waiting for his mother. He felt helpless, and the only person who he knew to call was Audrey. She was there within minutes of being called on, looking frazzled with his two sisters in tow.

“What’s happened? Where’s Rose?” Audrey asked. Her worry for her daughter-in-law would have made her laugh several months ago when she had still disliked her. But now she was worried, worried for her, and worried for her grandchild.

“She’s in here,” Luca motioned toward the door behind him. “You have a grandson, the Doc says he came early, he’s small. So, they took him away to some other room to make sure he’s okay.” Luca sat down on one of the chairs that lined the wall. He rested his chin in his hand, looking rather exhausted. Audrey moved to sit beside him, while Catarina stood next to him on his other side to fix his hair. Bianca peaked into the room, where Rose lay unmoving.

“What about Rose?” Audrey asked, concern in her voice.

“She hasn’t woken up. Some fuckin’ bastard cut her.” He put his face in his hands and his voice became muffled. “Doc says somethin’ about stress-induced-somethin’, I don’t know.”

“It means that whoever cut her scared her, the stress was bad enough for her to go into labour,” Catarina answered, and she spoke carefully. It wasn’t often that Audrey saw her son this way, so vulnerable, so hurt.

“Catarina, Bianca, go see where they’re keeping the baby, keep an eye on him. Ask questions.” Bianca was already walking away when she heard her mothers orders, ready to see her nephew. Catarina paused for a moment, kissed the top of her brother's head and followed Bianca. “Can we go inside?” Audrey asked, and Luca nodded in response.

He stood up, opened the door and held his breath as he walked in. Audrey studied her carefully.

“She’ll wake up, I promise,” She told him, Luca needed the comfort.

Stress, stress? He had been told several times that Rose needed to avoid stress long ago. Ada had told him and repeated herself that stress wasn’t good for the baby, and here they were. Ada would kill him if she never woke up, and for a second he thought he would let her. Then he thought of his boy, his little baby. Rose had told him to take care of him if anything ever went wrong. This was what she was afraid of.

Audrey stirred him out of his cloudy thoughts. She asked questions, many of them. She asked if Luca had cleaned up the mess at the restaurant, if he had called for any of the guys to watch the apartment, the restaurant, the hospital, and if Don Spinietta knew of what had happened. Luca answered all her questions, he was prepared, he had done all the work to ensure Rose and their baby’s safety again. Audrey patted his back, as they watched Rose in her deep slumber and that wretched bandage around her neck.

They spoke for hours in Rose’s room. Luca was confiding in his mother about his relationship with Rose, why he needed her to wake up, how much he loved this woman, and how he had never expected to love someone this much, especially because he knew he wasn’t meant to since he was a gangster. A gangster in love, calls for danger. He knew that. He chose to ignore it because Rose was everything to him.

Was she going to wake up? He didn’t know what to do with himself if she didn’t.


Luca hadn’t slept for two days now. Only the most trusted people were allowed anywhere near Rose’s room. She was still in her deep slumber when Audrey had brought Father Carmine into the room to say a prayer for her. All he heard for the last two days were consoling words from the people who came to see Rose. Luca hadn’t realized the impact she had on other people. People he didn’t even know were asking if she was going to be alright or were sending flowers to her hospital room. Some to congratulate her for giving birth and the others as a sign for her to get well. Luca was staring at an arrangement of tulips next to her bedside, and his mother never left his side for too long.

A nurse had just left after moving Rose as she had told them that it wasn’t good for the bed to lay still for such a long time, and that Rose would get sores on her back if she did. But now that the nurse was gone Luca was noticing the way that she laid limply in the hospital bed, and how her small frame sunk into the mattress.

Audrey knew that he needed her while Rose wasn’t around. Audrey had Catarina and Bianca checking in on his son and they had come back with good news. The baby was doing well, there were no complications to his health and he would be okay. Luca hadn’t seen his son yet, he didn’t even know his name, but he knew he had to wait for Rose to wake up. He didn’t want to name him without her, to see him without her.

Father Carmine had been sprinkling holy water around the room. Luca could see the drops of water on the tulips he was staring at. He tried to wipe the sleep from his face with his hands, and as his eyes hit the light again he noticed the most subtle movement from Rose. He thought maybe he had just imagined it because he was hoping she would wake up unharmed. It was the softest shift of her body to one side, but when he looked at her intently now he wasn’t sure she had moved. Luca got up from the chair he was sitting at, discarding his mother’s hands that were tightly wrapped in his own.

He stepped toward Rose’s cot and looked at her carefully. He memorized the features of her face, the slope of her nose, the upturn of the end of it. The shape of her cheekbones and lips. The arch of her brows, and the blue of her eyes that he couldn’t see. He'd already memorized the colour long ago. He wanted her to open her eyes so he could see those pale blue eyes again. Luca kissed her forehead gingerly and moved her dark short hair away from her face. He looked at her one last time before he meant to sit back down with his mother. But when he looked at her again, she no longer had that serene, peaceful look about her. She was frowning, her eyes shut tightly as if she were trying to avoid pain.

“Rose?” Luca sounded careful; unsure that she would answer.

“Mmmm,” She hummed in response, but she didn’t open her mouth to answer. It took her a few seconds to open her eyes, but she looked up at him carefully through squinting eyes. Luca laughed, the happiest laugh before he buried his face in her short hair. He repeated her name for what felt like forever, but Rose relished into it. She felt like she had been sleeping for years. She felt weak, she felt that twinge of pain she was expecting in her nether region. But, she was happy to see her husband, her Luca.

She did her best to wrap her arms around him with the little strength she had. She heard him murmur in her ear, but she didn’t understand what he was saying. She hummed again at him. But he continued to murmur, she then realized he wasn’t murmuring at all, he was hiding his tears in her hair. He didn’t want her to see him like this, but it immediately made her cry too. She must have scared him, was what she was thinking. She had never seen him act this way. With the way her back was aching she knew that she must have been asleep for a long time.

“I’m okay,” she couldn’t help but reassure him, she knew how much her well-being affected him. The moments before their trip to the hospital. Her restaurant, the assailant, the knife across her neck, her blood, and her water breaking. Then the deafening sound of a gunshot, that she had expected to have already been accustomed to. It rang in her ear like the bad memory it was. She hid her own face in the crook of his neck, feeling the smooth fabric of his shirt underneath her fingertips. They cried for a long time together, keeping each other close.

Rose heard the door shut and she immediately wiped the tears from her eyes to see who had entered, but it had been Audrey who had left. Luca rose from his position to look at her again. He kissed her lips harshly, and then brushed the tears from her eyes.

She didn’t know what to say to him, but they stared at each other taking in their features. Then the realization hit her. She had given birth. She had a child, a child she hadn’t even met yet.

“Our baby?” she almost choked. “Is the baby okay?”

“Yeah, yeah” he sounded as he continued to play with her hair. “He’s okay. We have a little boy.” He smiled at her reaction to the news.

“A little boy,” she answered back. Then the tears came back, but they were different. Her heart swelled. “Did you name him?”

“I couldn’t do it without you.”

She smiled before she brought the palm of her hand to his cheek. “How long have I been asleep?”

“Just two days.” He tried to sound nonchalant, but Rose knew how he was feeling inside.

“When can I see our boy?”

The door opened again and a doctor came in. Luca moved out of the way to give the doctor and the nurse that followed him in some room. They checked Rose over, asked her some questions before they left the room again. Then came in Audrey with Catarina and Bianca in tow. Audrey had a small bundle cradled in her arms, and Rose immediately knew that her baby was there nestled in his grandmother’s arms.

Audrey smiled at them both. She moved toward Rose and then placed the baby in her arms. Rose took her first look at her child. Her little boy. He had a little tuft of smooth dark hair, round cheeks and misty blue eyes. She had never felt so much love. She had survived her fears, and so had her boy. Luca carefully pressed the back of his fingers to his son’s cheek, feeling the softness of his newborn skin. He was truly precious. Their little piece of each other.

“He has your eyes,” Luca whispered. Rose wiped a happy tear away before she kissed her son’s forehead.

She looked up at Luca then, and they looked at each other adoringly for a moment, before Rose spoke to him.

“He still needs a name, love.”

“I don’t know, what should we name him? We hardly know him, what if we pick the wrong one?”

“We won’t, we know him, you know him. I have one, tell me what you think.”

“Alright, tell me.”

“Carmine. Carmine Changretta?” Luca looked at his wife.

“After Father Carmine?” He nodded his head carefully, Luca had thought it before. It was good luck to have a religious name, and though Carmine itself wasn’t that religious, the person he was named after was. Luca had been expecting something much different from Rose, maybe even less Italian, but he liked it. There was a ring to it, Carmine Changretta, his first born son. “I like that.”

“Shall we name him Carmine then?” Luca glanced at Rose again, and she was absolutely smitten with their son as she gave him her finger to hold on to and she brushed careful lips against his temple, whispering content words to him.

“Yeah, Carmine.”


It took a few more days before Rose was released from the hospital. Luca was there every day by her side, thanks to Don Spinietta who had completely understood Luca’s need and want to be with his wife at such an emotional time.

When Rose was able to get back home to settle into her regular routine again with their baby, Carmine, Luca was back on the streets, in the basements of hotels, in dark alleys, in speakeasies, brothels, gambling dens, baseball games, racing pitches, restaurants and the like.

Rose could not fathom anymore what Luca’s job entailed as she had never thought of what her brothers did back home. All she knew was that there were races and at one point they held some sort of legality, but she could not assume that her brothers could work under the banner of 'legal' and honest work for too long. As much as Tommy, Arthur, and once John did, they lived off the thrill of being caught, of doing things under the table.

No matter how much they denied it, they enjoyed handing out pain, because Rose knew that they had felt that same pain enough before and now it was their turn to dish it out on a pretty plate.

Sometimes Rose could only imagine that Luca did the same when he would leave in the mornings, or maybe worse. America was a strange country, she knew that. She loved it of course, but she knew how strange it was. She had only been a citizen of the country for a month or so, maybe longer she couldn’t really remember anymore, but she could not deny that America was a strange mess of a country and that was why Luca, Don Spinietta, and the entirety of the Cosa Nostra and the affiliates prospered here.

Audrey had taken it upon herself to be the one to help Rose out during the first month of Rose’s homestay. Audrey had told her, herself that the baby should stay indoors for the first month of their life to avoid diseases and other illnesses. It was baby Carmine’s time to build his immunity. Rose was fine with it, whatever she could do for her little boy, she would do it.

Rose was sat on the couch as she watched Audrey cradle him in her arms as she pointed out the window and spoke to her grandson, showing him the scenery, mostly tall buildings upon buildings.

Rose took the sweet moment to search through the mail that Audrey had brought in for her. And there it was, her long-awaited letter from Finn. It had been quite some time since he had written, and she was wondering now what could have happened in Birmingham to have kept Finn from sitting down to write to her for so long.

Rose tucked her short hair behind her ears before she slid her finger under the flap of the envelope and tore the top edge open cleanly. The front of the envelope had said it was from Finn, but within the envelope, there were three letters.

Rose pulled each one out to figure out if Finn had written three pages full of words to her, or if possibly her Aunt Polly or Ada had written. Rose opted for the surprise and read the first letter in her hand.

 

Rosie,

Luca called Tommy two mornings ago. Then he called Tommy just a few hours from when I’m writing this letter to you. But, Tommy says you’ve had the baby, but there were complications. I know you’re fine now, and I’m so happy about it. I really do hope you and my nephew are doing well now. Polly says that she met some woman, you know, someone like us and she said that you’ll grow fine and old. Not sure how true she was speaking or if she just wanted Polly’s money but I think you will, even if this lady hadn’t told Aunt Polly. Grow fine and old, alright? And I'll do the same for you.

I couldn’t send you any tea this time, but I will next time around. Things have gotten dangerous here, but it’s nothing Tommy can’t fix. Arthur’s in prison right now actually, but don’t worry. Ada somehow, not sure really, got him a lighter sentence so he just has to survive the next two weeks and he’ll be back home to Linda and the kids.

I saw him yesterday too, to tell him the news about you and the baby. I probably should have told him more lightly, since I started off with how you had fallen into a coma, and Arthur was in tears surrounded by the other prisoners. Yeah, I really shouldn’t have done that, but then I told him that you were fine now and that you would be going home soon with the baby and that you had given birth to a boy. He was really excited actually. I think he misses you a lot, but he doesn’t say anything cause he knows Tommy won’t let him come see you again. I don’t think Tommy will let me see you for awhile either, since what’s going on here.

I also wanted to let you know that even though things are dangerous over here, you don’t have to worry. We’ll be alright, and Tommy has the upper hand now, so don’t worry. Take care of your boy.

Which reminds me, did you name your baby Finn, as I asked you? It’s a good name I think.

Well, I love you Rosie. Hopefully, we can see each other soon again, I miss you.

Finn.

 

Rose placed her hand over her heart. Luca hadn’t told her that he had called Tommy all the way in Birmingham, but she was happy that he had. The Shelby’s deserved to know how she was doing. And by what Finn had written to her about Arthur’s reaction, Rose knew that she still meant something to them and that she hadn’t drifted from their memory as she thought she would have when she left Birmingham for New York.

She could only picture what Arthur might have looked like behind bars, weeping for his youngest sister. Rose let out a strangled sound as if she were about to cry thinking of him. But she didn’t, she covered her mouth with her hand and composed herself. Audrey took a peek at her but left Rose be as she assumed that Rose must be reading her personal letters from her family. Audrey hushed the baby and continued to murmur words to Carmine.

Rose put Finn’s letter down and went on to the next one.

 

Rose,

Tommy told us everything and I’m so glad you’re okay. I knew that you were strong, but not this strong I must say. You’ve surprised me and I’m so proud of you. But also please be careful, as I know you will be now that you are a mother.

I had planned to come see you almost two weeks ago, but Tommy says it’s not safe to travel, and I know that it’s true now that Arthur’s in prison. Don’t worry about him too much. I talked to the right people and he’ll be out quicker then you think.

But other than that, I just wanted to write and tell you congratulations on your growing family. I knew you could do it. And I’m sending all my love to you, Rose.

Your Sister,

Ada Thorne

 

Ada’s letter was short and rather nonchalant as she wrote about the matters that were happening back home in Birmingham. Rose was suspecting now that Ada was purposely trying to avoid any stressful conversation and that something truly was going on back home, but she did her best not to dwell on it.

Rose pulled out the last letter as she set Ada’s down.

 

Rose,

I honestly cannot believe what has happened. Tommy hasn’t told the rest of the family, but you best believe that he can’t keep anything from me. I could smell the deception off him. Tommy eventually told me that you had been attacked, and it was the sole reason you had gone into labour. You can’t imagine the rage I felt knowing this.

What was that husband of yours thinking anyway? I thought he knew not to put so much stress on you and despite that, you were nearing the end of your pregnancy and still, the baby was not ready.

Tommy, of course, has been preaching to me that everything is fine, and I’ve been assuming that it is now that we know that you are quite alright and awake with the baby. But, I must say that I am truly happy that you are okay. And I’ll do my best to come see you when everything is settled over here. I’ll give Luca a call if I have to if I hear any more nonsense from you Americans.

Funny that you’re American now, is it. And your children will be American. Sometimes I wonder if this had been your path all along. Remarkable, really. But Rose, Please take care of yourself and the baby. I pray to God every night that you will live wonderfully and grow old. Michael sends his well-wishes as well. We’ll see each other again soon.

Your Aunt,

Polly Gray

 

Polly’s letter only served to confuse Rose further. What kind of relationship did Tommy and Luca have apart from a business relationship? Did they talk more often then Rose had expected? Rose hadn’t spoken to Tommy, nor had he written to her since she had departed from the train station, with that last kiss to her head. She remembered what she had whispered to him in Romanes. It was a quiet, “I’ll miss you,” despite how much she had yelled at Tommy just days before about her having to marry Luca.

And there she was, in her living room in New York, happily married despite the turbulence with her mother-in-law, she was here taking care of her after her misfortune and the whine of her baby boy.

As something was going on in Birmingham, something was going on there as well, in New York. Rose was the target, and even though Luca had not spoken a word about it but his constant apologies and consoling words, Rose knew something was happening.

Rose knew better than to be afraid now. She had someone to take care of, her little boy, Carmine. And now that Luca knew that the threat against them was immediate, he would not hesitate to run at their enemies in full force. Whoever had come for Rose had intended to kill her and her child, both Luca, and Rose knew that much. But who was behind it? Could it have really been Montesinos? After working so well in the last few months or so, Rose nor Luca could place any reasoning as to why Montesinos would do something like this. He was making his money, more then they were expecting really. So, it couldn’t be him, but then who?

Rose trembled at the thought of it. She knew she couldn’t dwell on the idea long, or she’d start crying and she didn’t want to cry anymore. She knew that if Tommy were here he would tell her that this was no time for crying, and it was time for action. So, she plucked up her courage, pressed both her under eyes gently with the pads of her fingers and she left the letters on the plush cream-coloured couch. She walked toward her mother-in-law and her son by the windows.

“Should we make lunch?” Rose asked as if she hadn’t just almost cried. She almost fooled herself there, but she knew she had fooled Audrey well enough.

“Yes, let's make lunch. Should I cook, or would you like too?”

“I’ll cook.”


Tony lit his cigar and offered to light Luca’s. They were sitting in a basement room underneath a barbershop that the Drago’s managed in Chelsea. Luca, from between his fingers, held up his cigar for Tony to light.

“What do you think we should do?” Tony started before he set the cigar between his lips. He let it rest there.

“I don’t know. You sure the guy had no ID on him, not even a union card?”

“He had nothing, Luca, I’m telling you. He was ready for whatever came, I guess he just wasn’t expecting you to pull a pistol on him. Maybe that’s why he shit himself. Or maybe whoever sent him prepared him, but he had never done something like that before. Had to be someone unstable.” Tony was good at theorizing but sometimes if he talked long enough he ventured into conspiracy territory and that was where someone usually told him to shut up. Luca had nothing to lose with Tony’s theories, maybe because, with everyone he had discussed it with, including Spinietta, they were at a loss.

The Spinietta crime family had already crossed Montesinos off their suspect list, and they were happy too because of how well business was going. But someone was obviously trying to upset the Spinietta family hierarchy. They attacked Luca with purpose. To hurt him, to incapacitate him mentally so when it came time to draw him out, Luca would be less of a threat, though Luca’s mind didn’t work that way. He was more distraught now then he would have been if Rose and Carmine had died. If they had, Luca would have gone into a murderous rampage, not befitting of someone with his status or wealth.

Luca was caught trying to put puzzle pieces together, though more then half the pieces were missing.

“I need to talk to Spinietta.”

“Again? Are you sure?” Luca had already stood up from his chair and was walking towards the stairs. “Wait, what for, Luca?”

“I’m gonna ask him to call for a meeting.” Luca walked up the stairs two at a time, Tony was just behind him, following.

“You think he’ll agree to it? You’re pushing your luck here. How many times is Spinietta gonna just let you do things through him.” When Luca reached the top of the stairs he turned around to face Tony straight on. Tony stopped just at the edge of the top step.

“Even if he’s still the boss, he knows he’s too old to do anything for himself in this business. Everyone knows now that the family will be mine as soon as he says the word if anything he can’t deny me. I’m doing him the courtesy of letting him know when I do things because at least I show him that I still respect him.” Tony was quiet when he spoke and still after Luca finished. He could see how desperate Luca was. He had almost lost his wife, and from the years Tony had spent as Luca’s best friend and the abundance of women he had seen him with during the years, Luca had never treated any of them or even looked at any of them the way he looked at Rose.

Rose was special to him, Tony knew, and Tony could tell she was special. There was something about Rose that he liked, and he couldn’t tell what it was, but he knew Luca was lucky to have a woman like her.

So, Tony followed Luca out the barbershop front doors, both with a stern look on their faces, walking with purpose.

They soon arrived at Don Spinietta’s frequent haunt, he wasn’t difficult to find. The Astor Hotel was far too obvious, and Spinietta was getting far too predictable for a good crime boss. Luca thought the same, but there was no chance he would voice this opinion. Spinietta’s laziness and mistakes were all in Luca’s favour anyway.

The pair of them walked to the space that Spinietta had made his office and they were greeted by him like some jolly old businessman, with no ties to the mafia. Tony shifted as if he were speaking to different man, not the one his father had been working for, for years.

Luca looked on as if nothing was wrong and made his purpose known to the Don.

“Sorry to bother you again, Don Spinietta, But I’d like to call a meeting with the familia,” Luca spoke carefully, he knew Spinietta’s jolly attitude could change in a split second.

“What for?” The Don looked at Luca in a confused manner. His furry brows leaned inward and knitted together. He looked almost comical to Tony, but he knew better than to laugh. He made stupid decisions, he knew that, but not that stupid.

“I want to discuss the possible intruder and the attack on my wife.” Luca was blank and stiff as a board. He could have fooled anyone that he had a clear head about what had happened to Rose, he almost fooled Tony now.

“Alright, call it then. Must I be there for you?” Spinietta rubbed the side of his wrinkled cheek with his ageing fat fingers.

“Well, no.” Tony could see the split second of confusion on Luca’s face before he composed himself. “Not if you don’t want to be there.”

“Good, I have an appointment in an hour or so.” Don Spinietta was barely paying attention to Luca and Tony who stood before his desk now. He was more preoccupied with himself.

“An appointment?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, a dinner appointment with my physician.”

“Is there anything we should be worried about, Boss?” Tony spoke slow to the Don, his hand moving with the rhythm of his speech. It wasn’t a good sign when their elderly crime boss was meeting with his doctor.

“No, just my annual check-up.” Spinietta’s face was stern for a moment, but then he motioned to his telephone.

A few hours later Luca was surrounded by the Spinietta capos, made-men and several soldiers. They were in that same barbershop basement Tony and Luca had been at earlier in the day.

There were whispers here and there, whispers about the sudden unrest within the familia, the Don’s absence and the fact that Luca had taken his place at the head of the table. Once the chatter died down, Luca came out straight with what he needed to discuss.

“I know that what happened to my wife was meant as an attack on me. And so far I have done well to cross Montesinos and every member of the family off my list of suspects. But I’m still not okay with leaving this alone.” Tony nodded in agreement at Luca’s word, and a sort of hum left Donnino’s throat.

“If you don’t mind me adding, young Luca.” Giovanni Rossi spoke up. He was much older than Luca, nearing Don Spinietta’s age, but soon he would work for Luca. “Since it’s not one of us or Montesinos, it must be someone from New York at least. Close enough to know where you’re going, where your wife goes, but only that much. The man wasn’t trained well enough so, he couldn’t be one from Murder Inc either.”

“It might not be too smart to–say–someone from the other familias might be the suspect.” Mateo interjected, looking sort of sheepish at the topic of conversation.

“Mateo is right, we can’t enter some war now while the Don can’t even be at these meetings. If it’s the Bassanos, Marconis, Francones, or Galanos were running in unprepared with no solid leader.” Paulie spoke now, and Luca almost rolled his eyes at his brother-in-law, but he knew better. If he was going to assert himself as the leader of the Spinietta crime family he wasn’t going to fight this sort of annoyance, he had bigger things in mind that he needed to get out of the way.

“It’s not the Galano’s. Wedding plans have gone through and they wouldn’t dare back out now. What would they even gain from goin’ after Luca anyway?” It was Paulino Drago who spoke this time, and with a stern voice too. He felt solely responsible for the alliance between the Galano’s and the Spinietta’s for complying with offering his daughter to the eldest Galano brother, Nico. Truly it had been masterful negotiations between Don Galano, Don Spinietta and Luca himself thanks to Nico's obvious offer and personal suggestion to him to be there. No one knew that much, not even Tony's dad.

Paulino was right anyway, which was what Luca had guessed. The Galano’s had nothing to gain from attacking Rose. But that still left the last three families, the Bassano’s, the Marconi’s, and the Francone’s. But Luca still couldn’t put his finger on which family had decided this.

“What we know is that someone, a New Yorker, has to be behind it. Someone who is obviously afraid of the familia, of Luca.” Donnino spoke last, and his word sounded final. He was good at making his words count, and he knew it too. Donnino slid his jewelled fingers along the sides of his tailored coat.

“You’re right, it is a New Yorker. But who?” Luca was stumped. The Bassano’s were known for trying to keep the upper hand when they really didn’t have it too begin with. The Francone’s though usually agreeable with the Spinietta’s had been quiet for quite some time, and no one could keep this quiet in their world. But that left the Marconi’s and though Luca didn’t see any obvious reasons for the Marconi’s to want to attack Rose or Luca, he truly couldn’t rule them out as a suspect either.

“Hey, Luca, I hate to tell you this, but, I think we need to wait this one out. We have no idea who it could have been and we have too many suspects now even if we’ve narrowed it down to three families.” Tony was being careful because he knew that Luca didn’t want to wait around for the culprit to strike again. That wasn’t Luca’s style to wait around. But Luca took it well. Well… Tony wasn’t sure if he had.

Luca was still, quiet, maybe he was contemplating his next move. While the rest of the room was quiet, waiting for Luca’s response. “What we should do is–whoever decided to attack your wife, to think that since we haven’t done anything–which we won't for now–that we’ve forgotten and will think we’re off guard. Maybe that way we can ya’know investigate more. Cause if not, forget about it, they’ll take another stab at you or one of us and we won’t see where it’s coming from.” Tony was reasoning now, trying to tread carefully on the vast and dangerous ocean that was Luca. But he was also steadily heading to his theories territory. But Luca looked up from his blank state.

“Yea-yeah, you’re right. What we're gonna do then–is–we’re gonna keep this quiet. No more talking about what happened to my wife, not to your own wives, not even to mine. You only discuss it with me, in private spaces–and when I bring it up to you. No one talks about it on the streets either, but keep your eyes open. You never know when this fuckin’ wise guy will have the balls to send some other good for nothing dago after me or my wife.” Luca was stern, or angrier than anything. Tony could see it in his eyes, well, everyone could. But it was understandable. No one was going to go after Luca’s Misses again, not on his watch.


 

It was the beginning of December now and Christmas was quickly approaching. Luca was sat on the couch as Rose and Catarina discussed what they were going to prepare for Christmas dinner and the party that would obviously follow, in the dining room. Carmine had only been home for two weeks now, and despite the obvious trauma that Luca knew Rose now carried, he was surprised with how well she hid her once obvious fears.

Sometimes he even forgot about it with the way she acted, but when it came back to his mind, it rushed in like a flood and Luca felt sick to his stomach. He was sat at the couch now, a short glass of gin in his hand. He could see his sister and wife from the entryway of the dining room and they were writing away everything they would need to host the party that they had been talking about for over a week now.

Luca watched Rose closely, she was so relaxed, so content with herself as she talked to Catarina about a possible location for the party. Luca took a sip of his gin then and rubbed the pads of his fingers together in his free hand. A sudden lust filled him as he watched Rose shift in the chair she sat in as she began to talk with her hands. It was a habit she had picked up here in America and would have probably never had done if she had stayed in Birmingham and not married him.

Luca felt the arousal in his trousers, but he didn’t move. His sister was there next to Rose, and it wasn’t like he could relieve himself now anyway. Luca shut his eyes, willing it to go away. That was when Carmine’s cry broke the somewhat relative calm of their apartment. Luca took the opportunity to walk off the arousal. But Rose stood up as well, still talking to Catarina as Carmine’s cry could be heard all over the apartment.

“I got it, sweetheart.” Luca started, walking in the same direction towards their room where Carmine was currently staying until he could sleep on his own. Rose stopped walking, and Luca turned to see her before he reached the hallway.

“Are you sure?” Rose asked before she noticed his dilemma in his pants. Luca watched her wide-eyed, curious expression change to that of a playful smirk. And for a moment he thought he wouldn't be able to get rid of it because of the way she had looked at him. But he waved her off anyway.

“Yeah, I got it. Don’t worry.” Luca walked into the bedroom and moved toward the bassinet that Rose had kept next to her side of the bed. Carmine was still wailing but, as soon as Luca came into the tiny baby’s view and Luca began to hush him, Carmine began to whimper ever so slightly. Once Luca scooped Carmine’s small infant body into one of his arms, Carmine was quiet as he stared up, wide-eyed, at his father.

“Yeah, you’re a good boy.” Luca lulled at his son, a smile on his face as he used his other hand to rub Carmine’s cheek with the back of his fingers. He found it so strange, so wild, but so incredibly moving that Carmine was his, his son, that he helped make. He often thought of how odd it was that Carmine was a small person that would one day grow up and look something like him or Rose. He wasn’t sure if he’d be a good father, he knew his own father had been good to him, but would he be the same?

Luca thought of how much he had too loose, his previous thoughts already gone out the window and the obvious arousal completely gone. He sat down on the edge of the bed, and lightly bounced Carmine. He was meant to sleep for a while longer before he needed to be feed again. Luca had already memorized the schedule Carmine and Rose had seemed to have naturally made with each other.

Often in the dead of night, when Carmine would awake, crying for Rose, Luca would wake up too, obviously completely tired, just as Rose was but he’d sit up next to Rose in bed as she fed their baby, they were both half asleep, but they were together there, holding each other, and holding Carmine so that he could finish his milk, be burped and then off back to bed.

Luca did have so much to lose, and he thought of it now as Carmine faded in and out of sleep as Luca rocked him in his arm.

Luca couldn’t bear the thought of losing Carmine or Rose, but he knew that it was completely possible that he could lose either of them. It tugged at Luca’s heartstrings just thinking about that possibility. So, he had resolved, if he already hadn’t, but he made it clear to himself that if anything were to happen; if someone came running at his family, his wife and child, knife first or guns blazing, he’d put himself first no matter how much the familia preached that the business was most important and that the immediate family came next.

Was he a traitor to the cause? Maybe, but he couldn’t risk it. Rose was the best thing that had ever happened to him, and now he had Carmine to top the cake with icing. Rose and Carmine came first, always. But there was no way he would tell anyone that. He was going to be Don of Manhattan, for Rose and for Carmine.

Chapter Text

Rose cracked open a panelled window of the ballroom.

Money, money, money. It was all Luca had thought about in the last two years since Carmine’s birth and today they were at the Astoria Waldorf hotel celebrating their son’s second birthday. Rose had told him numerous times that the Astoria Waldorf was too much for a two-year-old’s party. But Luca begged to differ.

The end of the room was filling with cigar and cigarette smoke, and Rose didn’t want that for her son despite how much Luca told her that they lived in New York, and they could never truly escape it. When Rose swung the window open dramatically, she gave all the men at the corner of the room who seemed so out of place at a two-year-old’s birthday party an annoyed look with a dash of fierceness that was ingrained in her bones. She had been far too afraid before to use that Shelby fire within her, but here she was now looking at a bunch of murderers like she had the same idea on her mind for them. If anything happened in the last two years, Rose became what she needed to be, for herself, for Luca and most importantly for her son.

Carmine was growing into a smart and sensible boy. He was already toddling around and speaking, though it wasn’t enough to hold full conversations. He was like any another young boy. He had a fascination with boats and trains, he liked to be read to before bed, loved spaghetti more than anything, and kissed his mother's cheek whenever he could. A real mommy’s boy. He truly was so charming, and all the other women in the family never failed to tell Rose or Luca how much of a charmer Carmine was.

In the two years since Carmine was born, Rose had become more and more restless with Luca’s antics no matter how much she loved him. He was constantly talking about money, where they should spend it, when they should save it. It drove Rose up the wall, and she knew that something wasn’t okay. Don Spinietta still hadn’t stepped down, but he was deteriorating. Everyone could see, it was so clear, but still, he hadn’t stepped down and Rose knew that there could possibly be a plot on Spinietta’s life in order for the family to run smoothly again.

Spinietta was now in the way of the family, and this was a danger to him. Rose often wondered if Luca would do it himself, murder his own mentor. Though she knew how much Luca respected him and saw him as a father. But Rose had seen worse betrayals.

A large blue cake with swirls, upon swirls of white icing, was the centrepiece of the ballroom. Rose was playing hostess and had gathered all the other young children she had invited with their mothers to gather around the cake so that they could sing Carmine ‘Happy Birthday’. Catarina was then there next to Rose to help her cut the cake and to hand out slices to all the children. Sophia was now three-years-old and she stuck to Carmine protectively as if she had the power to take care of him despite her age. She was a delight to watch, constantly laughing and playing jokes.

Gina was even pregnant too, with her first baby and despite her now living in Staten Island she often came back home to Manhattan so she could see her family and Rose. She wasn’t showing yet but she revelled in showing Carmine and all the children affection as she was so excited to have a child of her own with Nico.

Rose had heard much about Nico from Gina, about his romantic antics, how he liked to show her off, and buy her all the things he knew she liked. Even the incredibly unnecessary things. Gina even had a large house, something Rose could never get unless she left Manhattan, and that was out of the picture. She knew she couldn’t leave, and she knew that she couldn’t ask that of Luca either.

She lived vicariously through Gina that way, and now she was her closest confidante.

Bianca had drifted off Rose’s radar again, and half the time she did Rose couldn’t tell if Bianca was doing it purposely to avoid her or if it truly was her personality to be so flighty. Bianca liked having work, but she didn’t always have the work she liked. Rose knew that much, and Luca didn’t always offer Bianca secretary work anyway, she was a mystery.

Bianca had shut down the idea of being a shop girl, Rose couldn’t understand why. Money was money and honest money was better for women anyway. She couldn’t picture someone like Bianca being put into prison.

Rose knew Luca had been in prison twice already and she hated to imagine that. Bianca wasn’t here. Not at this birthday party for her only nephew. Rose had left an invitation with Audrey, she had even tried calling twice but Bianca made herself scarce. Rose wanted to be annoyed with her, but she couldn’t. She had a feeling Bianca was getting herself into trouble, unknowingly or willingly, either one. Bianca liked the wild side, with whatever type of danger. And this was unsettling to Rose. Catarina thought the same, but she knew that if she spoke to her sister, Bianca would shut down and Catarina’s words would go in one ear and out the other.

Carmine’s birthday party continued on with no problems and just a general excitable attitude from the children there, who were now running around playing with each other.

When the party ended. Rose and Audrey were packing up the leftover cake and were gathering all of the presents Carmine had opened in front of his guests. When everything was taken away, Rose scooped up Carmine into her arms as he giggled at her. Rose laughed back at his cuteness, and he kissed her cheek hard, before they both shared goodbye’s with Audrey, Catarina and Sophia.

“Did you have fun, sweetie?” Rose asked Carmine as he wrapped his tiny arms around her neck, over her long hair.

“So, so, so fun,” there was a lull in his voice, he was tired. “Mamma–” he started, waiting for Rose to answer.

“Yes, Carmine?”

“Papá? I have boat.”

“Papá is waiting outside for us.” Rose hushed at him, rubbing his back. He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand and then he hugged Rose again comfortably. “Did Sophia get you a new boat?”

“Yeah, big boat,” Rose could feel the subtle rise and fall of his steady breathing and she knew that he was now asleep. She carried him out of the empty ballroom, down the elegant halls of the Astoria Waldorf and into the main lobby as slowly as she could, doing her best not to stir his sleep. When she came into Luca’s view he quickly reached her and took Carmine out of her arms and settled him in his own.

The driver drove them all the way home, with leftover cake and Carmine’s presents with them.


Only a week had gone by and Bianca was ringing the apartment up. Rose was genuinely surprised for a moment that Bianca had decided to call, but she was relieved too. At least she had made an effort to get back, despite the fact that she missed Carmine’s birthday.

“Rose, I’m so so so so so,” she continued her song of “so’s” for emphasis and after a few more Rose couldn’t help but soften up. “–so sorry,” Rose couldn’t cut off her sister in law, how could she. Bianca hadn’t hurt anyone, and she already knew how flighty she could be. Rose laughed into the telephone.

“Sorry about what?” Rose teased her.

“What do you mean what? For missing Carmine’s birthday. I really am sorry. It slipped my mind. Promise. But I can’t say I had missed it for anything, ya know, important.” Bianca was as honest as ever.

“What were you up to? You do know that I tried calling twice.”

“Yeah, I know, I know, I really am sorry okay? Please accept my apology. I’m planning to come by in the next hour or so, will you be home? I have a gift for Carmine and I have to tell you something too, I’d rather say it in person. It’s the whole reason I haven’t been around as much.”

“Oh, so you’re actually going to tell me then?” Rose laughed. “I hope the story is interesting. Carmine and I will be here. Come by, we’ll wait for you.”

“Alright, I’ll be there soon.” Rose heard the click and then the ring that signalled that the line had disconnected. Rose put the telephone down and then moved to see if Luca was still around. She left Carmine in the living room with his toys and moved around the apartment in search for him.

“Luca?” She called for him as she entered the hallway.

“I’m in here.” He spoke calmly from his study. Rose walked down the hall and into the room. He was stood up with documents in front of him. Rose recognized the stamps on the corners of each page. Union things, Rose pressed her lips together before she walked around his desk to stand next to him. She leaned into him, wrapping her arms around him, while he instinctively snaked an arm around her waist.

“Bianca’s coming in an hour or so,” Rose spoke.

“Bianca? Here? Must be a miracle,” he huffed air out of his nose as if his joke had truly been funny.

“Are you going out?”

“I will soon, I have to go upstate today.” He hadn’t looked at her yet, he was still looking at the papers on his desk and his right hand.

“Union work?” Rose asked as she glanced at the sheets herself. Luca took that moment to look at her properly.

“Yeah, union work.” Rose nodded in response, looking away from him. He kissed the top of her head, soft. That was all he gave her.

“Kiss me like you mean it, or don’t kiss me at all.” She tilted her chin up at him and unwrapped her arms from him. Luca looked rather amused at her now. He rubbed his thumb against his bottom lip, looking at her from head to toe. Rose crossed her arms in front of her chest, looking at him a little more defiantly now.

“I love it when you talk to me like that,” Luca bit the bottom corner of his lip before he stepped closer to her to touch her. Rose stepped back, and he missed.

“What does daddy like?” Rose grinned devilishly. That always got him.

“Rose,” He was trying to speak now, but he was turned on more than he wanted to be in that moment. He needed to get ready to meet the union delegates he was meant to be sitting down with, but here he was in his study, and the only thing he truly wanted to do was pick Rose up and set her on his desk to finish what she was trying to start. “Rose, c’mon.” He couldn’t say much else. He motioned for her to step forward, but she nodded a “no” at him.

“Carmine’s in the other room, not now.”

“Rose, you started it. C’mon, help me finish.” Rose laughed, as she placed her hands on his arms.

“What if Carmine calls for us?” She hummed. “What would you do then? What if he decides to walk in and your trousers are on the floor?” Luca pretended to think about it, and Rose could tell he was faking it. She found it amusing.

“A quick one then?” Luca sounded slightly desperate now, and as Rose stepped closer to him she could feel why.

“Daddy wants a quick one?” Rose whined. It riled Luca up further. He picked her up quickly and Rose yelped as he set her down on the desk.

“Be quiet now or our son is going to come and investigate,” Luca whispered into her ear before he began to kiss down her jaw and leave hot kisses on her neck. Rose hummed at him again, as she hiked up her own skirt, then helped Luca unbutton his trousers, and pull down his pants enough for him to get the work down.

They were kissing each other messily now, desperately. That was how it had turned out after Carmine had been born. Stealing long enough moments to appease each other, to fill their needs. They still wanted each other more than ever, but finding the time had now become a game they constantly wanted to play.

Luca rubbed his cock against Rose’s slit dangerously, she was biting onto her hand so she wouldn’t make a sound. But Luca was the one making the loudest of breathing noises, and when he slid into his wife, he couldn’t help but moan. But Rose slapped him hard on the mouth and kept her hand there so he wouldn’t make a sound. Luca was shocked for a moment, and Rose almost laughed out loud but then she slapped her own mouth before she could. They hadn’t moved yet, but they were still connected to each other. Rose calmed herself, and then slid the hand that had slapped Luca right in the mouth down his neck and onto his chest. Rose took her other hand then pulled him closer than he already was.

“And you were telling me to be quiet?” She chastised him. “If you can’t keep quiet, I’ll leave you here.” Rose tilted her chin at him. He nodded at her quickly and then thrust once inside her, Rose pressed her lips together as she leaned back. Luca was pulling the short sleeve of her blouse aside and for a moment she thought that he was about to remove her blouse completely but instead he placed a kiss to her bare shoulder and then bit into it as he began to thrust quicker and harder into her.

Rose thought she would bite her tongue if she kept quiet any longer. She let her mouth hang open, and did her best not to make a sound as the room grew hotter and hotter, and the slap of Luca’s body against her own riled her up further. Rose could have cried at the ecstasy of it all, and once she reached her climax just a second after Luca and she had never felt such a glorious release. She could tell Luca had felt the same from the look on his face.

Discipline? Is that what it took? The sex was great between them, almost always when they could finish, but it was better when they were forcing themselves to be quiet or when they played games with each other.

They sat there quietly, still connected as they caught their breaths. Rose took a peek at the throbbing on her shoulder, and clear teeth marks and the V-like shape of Luca’s incisors were there indented into her skin. It would bruise, she could feel it.

Luca looked at her calmly before he frowned. He rubbed her shoulder where his teeth marks were with his thumb. He looked uncomfortable for a moment.

“It’ll go away,” Rose whispered. “Don’t worry, you stayed quiet,” Rose smirked at him. “I did slap you in the mouth too,” Rose almost laughed, but she thought better of it. She grinned widely.

“I have’ta say, I was shocked. But it worked.” Luca smiled with his eyes before he leaned down into her and kissed her jaw.

Rose loved the attention, but she knew better than to continue going at it.

“We can start this up again later,” She made him look at her, she kissed his lips fiercely, before she straightened her sleeve and pulled her knickers up and straightened her skirt. “Fix yourself up, love. You have work to get too.” Luca watched her leave, gobsmacked.

Bianca was there in just forty minutes time.

She had given Carmine her gift, a plush teddy bear dressed in a sailors outfit. As Carmine was sat on the floor paying his toys careful attention, Rose and Bianca sat down on the long couch behind Carmine. Luca was still in the apartment and Rose hadn’t even thought of letting Bianca know that he was there, before she began her tale that she had been so excited to tell Rose over the telephone.

Bianca rubbed her hands together and then moved her short hair out of her face. Rose hadn’t seen it this short before. Bianca’s nails were well manicured and she had a simple bracelet around her wrist, it was actually very simple. More simple then Rose knew her taste was. Rose suddenly had an idea of what Bianca was about to tell her.

“So,” Bianca started, almost looking nervously as she rubbed her hands together in her lap. “I–uh, so it’s been a while since we’ve gone into town together or just seen each other really.”

“Well, yes. I was beginning to think you moved away or you were actually trying to avoid me.”

“No, I would never.” Bianca looked at Rose apologetically before she spoke again. “I’ve just been caught up with something.”

“What’s this something?”

“Well, a man, he is. A real looker too, and he’s so kind and he really cares about me. And you know, I just wanted it to be just me and him before I introduced him to anyone.”

“A man? Really?” Rose looked excited, and not the surprised look Bianca was expecting. “Who is he? What’s his name? Are you going to introduce him to the family than?” Rose bombarded her with questions. Gina and Rose had once suspected this much, but now that Bianca had spoken it into existence she was excited to finally be in on Bianca’s secretive life.

“I–uh–I don’t think I’m ready to introduce him to the family. I’m just telling you for now cause I know you’ve been calling and I didn’t want to leave you in the dark.”

“Well, if I’m not going to meet him just yet, will you tell me about him? How did you meet him?”

“So, I met him at a nightclub actually. Surprise, surprise, right.” Bianca laughed. “I saw him a few times before at a speakeasy in Soho, but we didn’t talk until the nightclub. He asked me my name and if he could buy me a drink. And you know me, I can’t say no to a drink. So we had a chat for a moment and then he asked me to dance. So, I danced with him, but we danced the entire night. And Rose,” She paused a moment and then her hands were at her chest as she looked dramatically into the distance, with her eyes looking as if she were in love for the first time in her life and hadn’t expected such a blissful magic. Rose knew that look well enough. “He is just the most perfect man, and I think I might be in love with him.”

“Oh! That’s so exciting. I’m so happy for you, you look so happy. But will you tell me more? Like who is he? what does he do?”

“Well, his name is Miguel and he’s Cuban, and he has a really normal job too. Nothing to do with the family business. He’s come into Manhattan from Philly for work. He’s a union delegate. And you know what, it is so nice not having to date other Italian boys or people Luca knows. It’s almost freeing.” Bianca sighed contently, but Rose was trapped in deciphering her words. Cuban? Manhattan to Philly? Union delegate? Something felt off, but Rose wasn’t about to ruin Bianca’s good mood. But something was telling Rose to keep asking questions.

“Will you tell Luca? I think it’s important he knows.”

“No, I can’t tell him. He’ll probably send some of his bone-heads to see him, and maybe scare him off too. He’s a normal guy, he can’t know about this side of the family. I won’t let Luca ruin this for me.”

“I don’t know Bianca. Luca is your brother, he should know. And if not him why don’t you tell your mum or even Cata. Cata has been worried about you too, she tells me all the time.”

“Rose, I told you. I want this private for now. If everyone knows it won’t be the same. You know how our family is, they’ll scare him away, and I want him near.”

The pair of them heard footsteps then. And Rose immediately knew that Luca had been listening the entire time, and a pang of hurt hit her heart. She knew Bianca would be angry with both of them, but mostly Rose for not telling her that Luca was home.

Bianca had a shocked expression on her face for a split second but it quickly changed to an angered one. She didn’t have to explain herself.

“You just upped and disappeared. You made Mamma worry about you. And the whole time you’ve been seeing some Dago.”

“Luca, please,” Rose tried to counter him. But Luca raised his hand slowly, demanding Rose to not intervene this time.

“You’re going to stop seeing this good-for-nothing spick, alright?” Luca looked at Bianca, he tilted his head down at her from his height as he stood still in the hallway away from them, and Bianca still sat on the couch beside Rose.

“No,” Bianca started. She stood up from the couch. “I will not. I will keep seeing him, and you can’t tell me what to do, Luca. You’re not my Papá.” Bianca was incredibly angry, and all Rose could think to do was pick up Carmine from the floor who suddenly seemed interested in the grown-up conversation that was occurring before his eyes.

“Even if Papá were here you wouldn’t listen to him either. So, you’re gonna listen this one time, because it’s for your own good.” Luca was pointing fingers at his sister now, and Bianca was not having this sort of treatment. Rose knew that Bianca would never sit idly by while Luca dictated her life to her. Bianca was nothing like Rose, Catarina or Gina. She knew what she wanted, and she knew that she had to go out and get it herself.

“Stop! I won’t let you do this. I’m going to see whoever I want, and you can’t tell me otherwise.” Bianca was picking up her handbag from the couch and it looked as if she was about to leave. But Luca stopped her. He stopped her by grabbing her upper arm.

“You’re not going anywhere. You’re staying right here. You’re going to stop seeing this man, and you’re going to do as I say.” Rose hadn’t seen Luca this angry in a while, and she was beginning to suspect that Luca’s intention came from the right place or the right hunch at least. Nothing had gotten him this angry without there being a purpose for it.

“You can’t keep me here.” Bianca began to hit Luca on the chest with the side’s of her fists, but Luca grabbed her other arm and tried to restrain her. Rose set Carmine back down in front of his toys, hoping that he would find them interesting again. Rose rushed to both Luca and Bianca and intervened despite Luca’s previous demands.

“Please, stop this now.” Rose tugged on Luca’s arms and planned to stand between them. “Let’s discuss this in a civil manner, away from the baby.” Rose had a stern look upon her face. Rose didn’t even have to deal with this type of behaviour at her restaurant even if her employee's voices were constantly at a raised level. Luca looked at Rose pointedly for a moment, and then towards Bianca.

“You’re going to stay here tonight, and you’re going to stop going to nightclubs, speakeasies, or whatever the hell it is you do with your time.”

Bianca looked as if she was about to cry, but not a single tear fell from her eyes. “Why do you think you can do this to me?” Her voice was broken, she looked heartbroken.

“Just listen to me this one time, I’m doing this for you. Just this one time, please.” Luca looked just as hurt for a second when he noticed the look on his sister's face. But he rushed to put that stoic look on his face. “Stay with Rose and I’ll be back in a few hours to talk.”

Bianca looked at a loss for words, broken. She couldn’t even fight his words anymore, as much as she felt compelled to do so. She didn’t answer him but that alone was enough for Luca to level his head so that he could leave for the sit-down he was about to embark to. Bianca sat back down on the couch defeatedly, leaving Rose and Luca in the hallway. Rose had a concerned look on her face, but now she didn’t know who she should be concerned for.

Luca looked at Rose for a moment, and then pulled her in for a hug. She wasn’t expecting it. But she hugged him back tightly, as he kissed the top of her head. Luca gave her a nod in Bianca’s direction and she knew it meant that he wanted her to keep an eye on his sister. So, Rose nodded back and then he was out the door.


Bianca had ended up staying over in their apartment at Tessa Tower for two nights now. The only times she would leave were with Rose. They had first went over to Bianca’s own house to pick up some of her things so that she could be comfortable in one of the guest rooms. They later went to Rose’s restaurant for a few hours but soon went home after. Rose knew how unhappy Bianca was with her.  Rose understood that it wasn’t her she was unhappy to be with but the fact that something could happen to her boyfriend, Miguel, or the fact that she was never allowed to see him again without explanation.

The radio was on loud enough in the living room for Rose to hear in the kitchen. Carmine was running up and down the hall entertaining himself, while Bianca was dramatically lying down on the couch. The back of her hand was against her forehead, as one of her legs was off the couch and stationed on the floor. She would sigh ever so often, in a loud fashion, just loud enough for Rose to hear. But, Rose continued to make dinner. She had begun to feed an extra mouth now and needed the extra time to prepare. Rose knew that Luca would be home soon, and so she was making enough for seconds.

Once Rose was finished, Luca walked into the apartment just on time. Rose went to greet him with a kiss to his lips. She took his hat and hung it up while Luca fixed himself up. Carmine went running to his father and asked to be picked up. Carmine wrapped his little arms around his father’s neck and Luca gave him a tough kiss to the cheek.

Bianca didn’t stir, however. She had made it clear that she was ignoring Luca as much as she could. And so, Bianca took her time before she moved to help Rose set the table. Luca sat at the head of the table once it was set. Bianca was sat on his left while Rose sat on the other with Carmine in his high chair beside her.

Carmine was eating on his own now. He’d avoid using the fork or spoon his mother would set for him, and opt to use his hands though. But now that Rose knew Carmine could feed himself, she knew that she needed to play the mediator during meals when they would all sit down.

This time Bianca didn’t start an argument at all. She spoke to Rose as if Luca wasn’t there.

“Rose, how come I can’t see Miguel anymore? I need an explanation, this just isn’t okay if it's not explained. Please tell me.” There was a pleading look to Bianca’s face, and Rose gave Luca a side-glance before she uncomfortably tried to answer her sister-in-law.

“Well, I’m not exactly sure, if I’m honest. But I think it might have to do with his job or maybe the fact that he is Cuban. You know Luca does business with the Cubans, and though they are business partners they don’t always see things eye-to-eye. There is familia in Philly, isn’t there?” Rose asked the question mostly to Luca, but she didn’t wait for him to respond. “I’m sure Luca just wants you to be cautious. This man could be working for the Cuban’s and maybe he isn’t the right man for you? I don’t know. We–you just need to be careful with who you make friends of. Not everyone will understand what the familia does.”

Rose could see Luca staring at her from the corner of her eye, but she didn’t pay him any attention.

“But, just because he’s Cuban doesn’t mean he is a part of the mob. That is prejudice. He’s a good person, he was kind to me, he would never hurt me.”

“I know it is prejudice, but we can’t be unguarded. Your name says it all. The Cubans have a sad look upon the worth of women, what if this man–well I don’t know, decided to pimp you out to the men of the city. Or what if he starts giving you snow to deal. Women can get away with snow far more often then men can, but that doesn’t make it any better or safer. My brothers have done all of that nonsense, and sometimes I can’t even tell who they are. Snow has done horrible things. You’re not really you unless you’re sober.” Bianca scoffed, a thick annoyance radiated off of her as she slouched in the chair. She had stopped picking at her food.

“It’s not like I’m ever sober anyway. Gin goes into me like water.” Rose glanced at Luca for a moment and watched him roll his eyes at his sister. Rose wanted to roll her eyes at him, he smoked as if it were his job and he drank gin, rum, whisky as if it were water too. But she wouldn’t say a word on it yet, because it only bothered her when he pretended like he was saintly when it came to alcohol and smoke.

“That’s not the point, but Luca is just looking out for your well-being. I’m sure that when Luca finds out that this man is in tip-top shape and is as kind as you say he is, he will let you see him again. Right, Luca?” Luca was taking a drink from his glass as Rose included him in the conversation. He gave the pair of them a simple nod, and Rose continued.

“See, just wait it out a moment. I know it’s hard and I am happy that you’ve found someone who treats you the way you should, but we should be on the safe side. Just in case.” Bianca sighed and shut her eyes hard. When she opened them she downed the wine that was in her wine glass and ate her food quietly.

Rose pressed her lips together, wondering if she had made the situation worse or not. But she occupied her mind by making sure Carmine was eating and then she fed herself.

When dinner was over Luca took Carmine from the high chair and took him to his bedroom for a quick change and a bottle. Rose took the bottle to them and then left to continue cleaning up the table and the kitchen.

Bianca stepped close to her in the kitchen. “I’m going to bed now,” She almost whispered. There was a glass of gin in her hand, it was almost empty.

“Already?” Rose soaked a dish in the sink.

“Yeah, I don’t really want to see Luca right now. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.” Rose shook her head, a funny smile on her face.

“It’s not my brother’s gin you’re drinking?”

“Ha,” she laughed unenthusiastically, as she played with the embroidered sleeve of her dress. “Well, maybe I just want to sleep and never wake up.” She looked at Rose unapologetically, and Rose stopped in her tracks. She put the dish down into the sink and dried off her hands on the rag. She turned to Bianca and looked at her carefully.

“Bianca, I know this is an awful situation. And I know how you must feel. But, we both need to wait it out, no matter how we feel about it. I promise I’m on your side,” Rose didn’t understand the new look on Bianca’s face. “I truly want you to be happy.” She didn’t answer Rose. Bianca kissed her sister-in-law’s cheek and said good night as she walked into the hallway to the guest room she had chosen almost two nights ago.

Rose stood for a moment unmoving, wondering what exactly was going on with Luca and this man that Bianca had begun to see romantically. It had been over two years now that she was attacked inside her restaurant, and nothing had come of the private investigation she assumed Luca had put in place. She did her best to forget it had ever happened. But whenever she thought of the day she had given birth to her precious little boy, she couldn’t help but think about how she had gotten there. It made her shudder violently every time, as she remembered the fear she had endured at that moment. She still had nightmares that Luca would wake her up from, he would never say that he knew what her nightmares were about, but he comforted her the best he could when she’d wake up crying.

She was doing her best to forget it, she really was.


When Rose finished the washing up and cleaning the countertops, she dried off her hands and she walked to the bathroom inside her bedroom. She took out her earrings, removed her necklace, rings, and bracelets. She washed her face, removing the rouge and powder from her skin and then she stared at her face in the mirror for a moment. She noticed how much she had changed, despite the fact that she was twenty-three. She pressed her cheeks down with her fingers, fixed her brows, and opened her eyes wider. She was uncomfortable but she didn’t know why. Something felt wrong in the pit of her stomach, and she couldn’t tell if it had to do with Bianca’s love-life or her own life.

She then moved into the walk-in closet and began to strip herself of her clothes, down to her undergarments. Luca walked in then and was removing his clothes as well.

“Carmine’s sleeping,” he started.

“Good,” Rose answered. “He looked tired.” Rose looked for a nightgown out of her collection of many styles, colours and patterns. She pulled out a white silk nightgown, with a bold white floral pattern on the hem. She removed her brassiere and exposed herself before she pulled the nightgown over her head and onto her body. Her breasts were fuller than they used to be, and she could have only expected that this occurred once a woman had given birth to children. She fussed over how they now got in the way, but Luca enjoyed the handful that they now were. All she could do was scoff at him.

He kissed her neck from behind, and she almost jumped in shock. She hated that he had so easily startled her when she already knew that he was in the room.

“You alright, Rose?”

“Yes, of course, I’m just lost in my thoughts I think.” He kissed the top of her head for a moment and then she turned toward him. He was still getting out of his clothes. So, she picked up the clothes she had discarded and put it in the hamper. She then picked up Luca’s and did the same, while he went into the bathroom. Rose walked into the bedroom and closed the curtains half-way before she got to her side of the bed and slid into the blankets. The lamp next to her nightstand was on and she took the moment to read from the book she had been slowly making her way through.

She opened the book, and could only read two lines before her thoughts began to wander despite her eyes still following the words on the page. When she caught herself, Luca had walked into the room. He wasn’t wearing his undershirt, but he stood by the door a moment until he had Rose’s attention on him.

“Thanks for talking to Bianca, ya’know, the way you did.” Rose didn’t see why he needed to thank her, she would have done it either way.

“Of course,” she replied, still looking at him blankly by the doorway.

“I know something’s going on, I don’t know what,” Rose assumed he was talking about Bianca and Miguel. “I can see it in your face,” He moved closer to her and put a knee on to their bed and leaned close to her. “I’m here for you, you know that.” He wasn’t talking about Bianca. But somehow he always knew what to say, even if he didn’t know what was going. Rose barely knew either, it was just a feeling she couldn’t explain.

“I love you,” Rose whispered as she leaned into him. Luca pressed his forehead against hers, and Rose instinctively put her hands on his cheeks.

“I love you more,” he grinned. Rose kissed him then, it was soft and chaste. For a moment she thought she needed more, but Carmine had just gone to sleep and Bianca was in the apartment as well. Luca kissed her again, a bite to it this time, and she knew she wanted it more than ever. Rose set her book aside and pulled off her nightgown quicker than she needed too. Luca had already made himself comfortable on his side of the bed, but he hadn’t expected Rose to react this way. Rose moved to straddle Luca, and she began to kiss him harder, fiercer, then before.

“Bianca’s still here, babe,” Luca whispered through heavy breaths. She kissed him again before she answered him.

“Then we’re going to have to be quiet.” Rose left hot kisses against Luca’s jaw, his neck, and swiftly ran her tongue along a bit of his collarbone. Luca stifled a groan between his teeth, but she had heard it all the same. He put his hands on her upper arms and grabbed her hard enough to flip her over on to her back. Rose gasped as Luca took his turn to kiss, bite and suck on her neck. She couldn’t suppress the moan that came out of her mouth at that moment as Luca grabbed her breasts and fondled them roughly.

“You said we needed to be quiet.” Luca chastised. He raised an eyebrow at her before he leaned back down to kiss her collarbone, and then kiss her down the valley of her breasts. Rose knew where he was headed, and she couldn't hurry him up anymore. He had pulled her underwear off swiftly, leaving her completely naked. And then that delicious purr that came with him he dipping his tongue into her wet folds, sounded in Rose’s ears. She moaned loudly again, and this time it was Luca pressing his palm to her mouth. He crawled up her body, to look her in the face. “Carmine might not wake up to you, but Bianca might.” Rose nodded at him. She needed the release anyway, so she knew she needed to be quiet.

“And you know what,” Luca continued. “She wouldn’t say anything even if she did hear something.” He smiled at her dangerously, and it only aroused her further. She had made up her mind and so had Luca. It was a dangerous game they were playing. Be loud, but not loud enough for Bianca to make complaints. Rose pulled him closer and kissed him, tasting herself on his lips. Luca was then back to peppering kisses to her apex, and licking and sucking at her clit. She could barely breathe at the ecstasy of the feeling. She felt her climax reach her fast and hard, and it left her jolting at the exhilarating pleasure. Once her body and breathing had calmed down, she pulled Luca up to her.

“Let’s take it slow?” It came out like a question, as Luca quirked his head at her. They were both bathed in the yellow light from both the lamps from their nightstands.

“You want to take it slow, Daddy?” Rose smirked, she had climaxed already, she was satisfied, but she wasn’t done yet. Not done with him. She would never fully be done with him no matter what happened. Luca grinned at her crookedly, he loved it when she would speak to him that way. It did things to him that no one else could.

“Yeah, slow,” he pressed the palm of his hand to her cheek as she now hovered above him.  She turned her face toward his palm and kissed him slow there. Watching him as she did, she took his wrist in her hands. She dipped her mouth on his finger, giving him a taste of what was to come. He watched her with lustful eyes, doing his best not to touch her because he knew that she would push him back if he did, and she would make it harder for him. Luca was aroused as ever, and his boxers were still on his body, but Rose could see how excited he was.

Once she finished teasing him, she put his hand down next to him and gave him a slow kiss, biting his bottom lip too. She began to inch down slowly, riling him up before she would pull down his boxers even slower.

“Too slow?” She smiled, she grasped his erection by the base with a firm hand. She massaged him with her thumb for a moment before she blew air against the tip. Luca didn’t have the strength to answer her without making too much noise. He gritted his teeth, as he continued to watch his wife work her magic. A magic he could never get over. Magic that he had not expected from the shy woman he had met a few years ago. She was an enigma, and so ethereal, Luca sometimes didn’t understand how she could exist and be all his.

She dipped her tongue against him, watching him as she did before she bobbed her mouth onto his erection slowly, taking as much as she could. She went slow for a while, but she could feel Luca become breathless underneath her. She knew she had already done more than enough, so she quickened her pace without letting him know. He moaned her name, and she wanted him to finish in her mouth, but he grabbed her arm roughly before she could finish him off. She had already got that first taste of him. But he pulled her up, rough and quick, and they pressed their lips against each other's, kissing as if they’d been deprived of it for years.

Rose set herself above his cock, moving it the way she needed too so she could take him inside her. She moaned a slow breathy sound, her hair matted against her face, she was hot and feeling sweaty. She could feel a clean sheen of sweat against Luca’s chest as well, and she gripped him tightly so she could stay upright. She went dangerously slow at first, enough for Luca to whine at her. She kissed him again, chastely this time, and she pressed her breasts against him, holding him close as she continued. Their lips almost touching, their arms wrapped tightly around each other, as Rose grinded her hips on him faster and faster. Rose could feel the burning sensation in her thighs, and it only forced her to go further. She put a hand on the bedroom, feeling the electricity in her apex. And she couldn’t help the moaning anymore, she couldn’t keep quiet, but Luca didn’t stop her and he may have been just as loud as she. She never knew how to explain the feeling, the euphoric feeling that started at her core and travelled all over her body once that sweet release came. That familiar feeling of Luca filling her with his seed overcame her, and she took the moment to slow down for both their sakes. She was breathing harshly, but she put her face against his neck, her hands in his dishevelled hair. She breathed in his musky scent.

There was no chance that she would ever let this go.


Time had passed and two figures were in a dimly lit room, in the basement of a nightclub. One of the figures was sat behind a desk, and the other stood tall on the other side.

“What’s the deal then?” the standing figure spoke.

“It’s none of your business.”

“Of course it’s my fuckin’ business. I’ve done more for this God damn deal than anyone out here.”

“Who makes the calls around here then? Fuckin’ me. No one else does. You got lucky this time. And I ain’t gonna ask you to do shit for me. Fuckin’ try me again, and I’ll blow your mouth off.”

“You ungrateful shit. I’m the fuckin’ reason were still afloat here. I’m the reason we got this fuckin’ deal. I have the spies, I have the strategies.”

“I’ve had enough of this. I’m the one who runs this fuckin’ business.”

“What business?” the standing figure laughed, the situation wasn’t funny, however.

“All I’ll do is give you a cut, just stop bustin’ my balls. I’ve had enough of it.”

“Right,” the standing figure meant to walk around the desk, but they stopped before they did and said one last thing before leaving the room. “I’m about to do something, something for this shit business and you’ll see who runs things here when I’m done.”

 

Chapter Text

The wind was colder in December, but Luca didn’t show it. He had a thick overcoat on of course, and his leather gloves, but he’d fool anyone with the snow still falling to the ground. The first snow of the year had only fallen a few days ago, and Luca was now walking through two inches of snow in his fine Italian leather shoes. He never liked the winter, or the snow, apart from the festivities he now enjoyed with his family.

That evening he had already dropped off Carmine with his mother and Bianca. Audrey always insisted that she have time to spend with her grandchildren, and though Sophia was her first grandchild, she always would ask for Carmine to be brought over to her home. Audrey would tell Luca to take Rose out to dinner alone and that she would watch Carmine for them.

Maybe it was that fact that Luca was Audrey’s eldest, and she had been expecting a child from him for a while but that time hadn’t come until recently.

But that’s what they were doing that evening. Carmine had been dropped off, and Luca was making his way back to Tessa Tower where he was expecting Rose to be waiting in the lobby for him. She hadn’t been ready to go out before, but when Luca pulled up he could see her speaking to a woman before she waved something to the bellboy, and then Luca saw her clearly as she pushed through the revolving doors. She was dressed in white and silver sequined covered flapper dress that reached the floor. Rose picked up the bottom of her dress so it wouldn’t drag against the snow, and pulled her fur coat as tightly as she could around herself. Her heels made no sound as they hit the snow-covered sidewalk. She hadn’t even looked at Luca properly yet, to preoccupied with her dress. But Luca was marvelling at her. She was a vision of beauty to him, and he couldn’t hide the grin on his face.

When she looked up, she smirked at him playfully. She put out her hand so he could help her get to the motor car just behind him. They were going out for dinner at a club and then dancing as per Rose’s request.

Prohibition was still at large, but knowing the right people could get you to the right places. Luca didn’t need to to know the right people, because he was one of them. They didn’t drive far from Tribeca. They went to a lavish club of three floors. A waiter sat them down on the second level in a dark corner solely lit by a candle. The table was round, small and meant to be intimate. They both asked the waiter for their best white wine, and as the waiter left, Rose took Luca’s hand over the table. She grazed her fingers against his skin, relishing the feel of him. Luca leaned in to kiss her jaw gently.

“It’s nice we still get to do this, don’t you think?” Rose spoke once the wine had gotten to the table, and their waiter was pouring the fine liquid into their glasses.

“Thanks to my mother, we’ll have many more of these to look forward too.” He smiled contently at Rose.

He was planning on taking Rose out until they were old and grey. Their dinner came out next, and both Rose and Luca ate their hors d’oeuvre and an expensive dish of salmon and sauteed vegetables.

“I’m glad Bianca is back home too, I knew she was feeling restless living out of our guest room.”

“Yeah, I know. But, Mamma is keeping an eye on her.” Rose nodded, at Luca’s statement not sure how much it mattered that Audrey was barring Bianca into her home. Rose wouldn’t be surprised if Bianca had managed to sneak out already, but Bianca was safe at least.

Once they finished eating they poured themselves another glass of wine and brought their chairs closer together. They leaned into each other and spoke about their future.

“I’d like to see Birmingham again soon, with you and Carmine of course. I don’t think I could go back without you there with me.” She looked up at him. Luca moved her fringe to the side as much as he could. A wide ribbon was wrapped around her head, keeping her long, thick hair in place. Luca smoothed it down, it was a habit of his to touch her hair.

“I’ll go with you anywhere. Maybe we’ll see Italy together, or Spain, even Greece. I’ll take you where ever you want to go.”

“I don’t mind being here of course–don’t think that I want to leave as well. Manhattan is home.” Luca hadn’t expected her to say that much. He knew how much Rose had missed Birmingham and her family there. But Manhattan really was her home, her family was here now too, and her future children, if she decided it or not, would be born in Manhattan. She already knew that much.

A thought came into Rose's mind then. One that she had, had before in the days before she married Luca. She was meant to be here. She was meant to be Luca’s wife. This had been her destiny all along. And she had almost stopped it from happening. Now she couldn’t even imagine herself living her life in Birmingham, or how her life would have been if she had never accepted Luca affection.

She thought that she would still be that shy girl, always sheltered from the world, afraid of her own shadow, but still angry inside. She was none of that now, and somehow she had become the person she had wanted to be. She thanked herself for growing up, and then she thanked Luca for helping her get there.

She hadn’t spoken a word in the last five minutes. She was absentmindedly sipping at her wine, as her hand snaked around Luca’s arm.

“I love you, Luca,” she spoke out of the blue. Luca looked at her tenderly and kissed her forehead.

“I love you too, Rose.”

They spent the rest of the night dancing, and laughing with each other. Rose and Luca despite the events of their messy, crime-infused life hadn’t a care in the world in those moments. Complete bliss it was.

By midnight, Rose’s motherly instincts got to her. Luca would have continued to dance to the slow songs played by the band to wind down the night if it wasn't for Rose's need to see her son. Just to stand close with his wife, to sway gently in time with the music gave him a rush he did not understand. But now Rose wanted to take Carmine home so that he could sleep in his own bed.

They took their time to pick up Carmine from Audrey’s house. Bianca had answered the door, at least she had been home, was all Rose could think. Audrey and Carmine were fast asleep, so Bianca made herself able and helped Rose take Carmine from her home so they could leave for the night. When they got home they set Carmine down to sleep in his bed and then they were off to get ready for bed also. Once the doors and windows were locked and shut, and every light in the apartment was shut off, Rose and Luca climbed into bed together. Rose nuzzled her cheek against Luca’s shoulder before he turned on his side to embrace her completely. Their legs tangled together and their arms wrapped around each other, they whispered sweet things into the night before they fell asleep.


 

The first week of December was always hardest. Luca hated the first stretch of snow that came and the adjustments to his health he had to make. But his work had to go on, no matter how drowsy he felt.

Luca was on his way to a meeting. It wasn’t like the others. No numbers were involved in this meeting, no bets, no gambling, nothing. They had investigated the Bassano’s just only a month ago, and had decided to skip the Francone’s, who seemed to be more busy with the Irish then to be working against the Spinietta’s or giving them a reason to hide an Italian boy and disguise him as a Cuban man just to spy on Luca.

That was a bad mistake, of course. Family was always off limits, but whoever was attacking him did not care and was not letting him rest. Luca knew that this boy definitely wasn’t Cuban, but who did he belong to then?

Luca hadn’t forgotten what had happened to Rose two years ago, and now that Bianca suddenly had a mysterious boyfriend, he wasn’t going to let the search go.

The meeting today was to discuss the Marconi’s. They had been awfully quiet in the last three years when they had absolutely no reason to be. It irked Luca more than anything. He knew Riccardo Marconi was a bloodthirsty man, maybe even psychotic, but still, he had made no visible moves, hadn’t even reached out to Luca when everyone else had when Rose had been attacked more than two years ago.

It was simply just odd. A man like Riccardo Marconi could not sit still for long. If anything he was far more vicious than any of the men Luca knew first hand; if he didn’t include Murder Inc. But still, Riccardo was as quiet as a mouse.

There were a few men sitting in the room. They were sitting inside Paulie and Catarina’s dining room. Catarina had served them all Italian biscuits with there coffee, leaving them enough milk and sugar if they needed any. Once she left the room, Paulie began to speak to the small group who had gathered.

Luca was sat next to him, and around the circler table was, Donnino, Tony, Lorenzo Rossi, and Mateo with his brother Danny.

“I’ve got some information, don’t know how helpful though,” Paulie started.

“Any information is good information,” Tony added as he dipped a biscuit into his coffee.

“The Marconi are low in manpower. From what my guy is telling me, we outnumber them five to one.”

“Five to one?” Luca hadn’t paid attention to who had spoken, he was more confused as to why the Marconi’s numbers were so low.

“When you were gone,” Tony started, as he noticed Luca’s confused expression. “Ya’know. In England, avenging Angel and your father the Marconi’s and the Bassano’s were on a full out war here. Only lasted a few days but it was pretty bloody. The feds even those Volstead fuckers were around here. It blew off really quick, don’t know what Marconi or Bassano did, but it worked and we were back to normal. Though, Marconi’s numbers went to shit.”

Luca liked knowing this, but what was its purpose? Why did he need to know Marconi’s numbers? Would it even benefit him?

“You think they would have manned up since then. That was almost 3 years ago, maybe more, right? What’s he playing at?” Mateo questioned.

“I didn’t think Marconi was this unstable, he always acted different. Like everything was fine or normal at least. For all we fuckin’ know, he’s probably abandoned his business if he’s not getting his work done.” Tony looked rather cross, but he calmed as he continued to drink his coffee.

“He wouldn’t abandon his business. You ever meet this fucker?” Donnino glared at Tony for a moment before the memory in his mind made him more worried. “If Marconi weren’t born into that family I’m sure he would have made himself a member or worse joined Murder Inc.” Donnino didn’t explain any further, but all Luca could assume was that he must have witnessed something frightening, frightening enough to scare a gangster like Donnino who couldn’t count on both hands how many people he had injured or murdered in his life.

“What I heard was that they were brawling with some Jews who were pinching their pockets. I have a buddy in Brooklyn, he’s Italian-Irish, and he doesn’t work for Cosa Nostra.” Lorenzo started. He sipped his coffee as the men around the table waited for him to finish. “He’s a jeweller I guess. Not a professional, sit at a desk kind. He does street things, works for whoever has the right kinda clams. One of Marconi’s guys was getting some diamonds looked at by him and he was looking for the fugazi’s, but when they were chatting Marconi’s guy was telling my guy that one of theirs was murdered and stuffed into a cold box at some meat shop. No one knew about it until the Coppers were on the scene. It was blown over in about a week and the Marconi’s didn’t even have to dig their hands into it.”

“So what are you saying then?” Tony asked Lorenzo.

“I’m sayin’ is, yeah, they’re low on men, but they got back-up hidden somewhere. Maybe an ally from out of state?” The men in the room were quiet for a moment. Could the Marconi’s really have someone helping them out? Who did Riccardo Marconi talk to? Could their partners be after the Spinietta crime family instead of the Marconi’s so their own hands don’t get dirty? Luca had a million new questions in his head.

“Should we call Philly?” Mateo looked at Luca with a concerned expression. If it were true and Marconi had an ally unknown to them, it could explain several things but also dismantle all of their other theories.

“Call Philly, don’t give them any ideas though,” Luca pointed a finger at Mateo, and his cousin nodded back at him.

“Lorenzo, keep in contact with your friend. Tell him we’ll give him some clams for his work.”

“You got it boss,” Lorenzo added back.

“Paulie, keep in touch with your guy. Ask around, see where these guys are coming from.” Luca was talking to his brother-in-law now, Luca needed things to be done.

“And if they say they’re Cuban?” Paulie asked.

“Then they’re lying.” Luca rubbed his chin with the side of his finger.

“How do we know they’re lying?” Donnino asked.

“Montesinos ain’t that stupid.” Luca spoke.

“What if he is that stupid?” Tony interjected.

“I’ve got it covered leave that to me. Now, just keep your eyes open. Protect your women, give your men the head’s up.”

“We got a war comin’ don’t we?”

“Yeah, we do.”


 

“You look tired, love. What have you been doing lately?” Rose moved toward Luca who was sat sluggishly on the couch. He hung his head back, as he breathed in deeply.  He had his eyes closed, but when he opened them he saw Rose to his right, a concerned expression on her face. She placed the palm of her hand on his cheek.

“It’s the same thing every day. Don’t worry about me, I’m just tired.” Luca placed his hand on top of hers on his cheek and shut his eyes again. Rose nestled herself against his side, using her free hand to run her fingers through his hair.

She was taking note of many things. She didn’t know what was going on with him, but she noticed he had no pomade in his hair. He always wore pomade in his hair when he went out. Rose continued to run her fingers through his clean dark hair, as she studied him in silence. He wasn’t wearing his usual cologne as always. She could smell cigarette smoke off his waistcoat and on closer inspection she noticed that he had worn this same outfit the day before.

She didn’t have to tell him that he looked tired, or that he should go to bed. Because he knew that, and she knew that he would go to bed if he could.

She didn’t know if it was a good idea to pry more information from him and if she did, would he even have the energy to cooperate with her? She was at a loss for words, and she felt lost too.

Rose kissed his cheek, and then the telephone rang. Luca’s eyes opened wide and he was about to get up to reach the telephone on one of the side tables in their living room, but Rose put her hand in front of him. She made him stay where he was on the couch, a demanding but well-meaning look on her face. She walked to the telephone as it rang two more times and then picked it up from the receiver.

“Hello, Rose Changretta speaking,” she answered.

“Rose! Rose? It’s me Bianca. I need help,” She was sobbing, crying into the telephone. Rose felt dread fill her. Every possible horrible situation filled her mind.

“Bianca, what’s wrong? Are you okay?” Rose almost shouted. She couldn’t tell if Bianca could hear her over her own sobbing.

“It’s Mamma, come quickly! I don’t know what to do,” Rose willed herself not to cry, as she still didn’t know what was going on. Luca reached her in seconds and was motioning for Rose to hand him the phone. Rose did as she was told and gave Luca the phone roughly. She turned to walk away.

“Bianca, what’s wrong?”

Rose didn’t hear the answer.

“I’m coming I’m on my way.” Rose was reaching Carmine’s room. He was still fast asleep, but she picked him up as carefully as she could and grabbed her son’s woolly coat to cover him up with.

Rose was out in seconds and grabbed her purse that was already packed up with anything she needed to care for Carmine.

But Luca had stopped her from reaching the door.

“Stay here, I’ll come back later,” He started. There was a mixture of that tired look and deep concern on his face. She could see it clearly in his eyes. He had already pulled on his coat, and his hat was in his hand.

“I’m coming too, Luca. I’m going,” Rose felt her cheeks burn, there was an emotion spinning in the pit of her stomach that made her sick. Something was truly wrong, Bianca would never call sobbing the way she did if there was nothing. The look on Luca’s face confirmed it.

“No, you have to stay here. I’ll come get you soon okay, keep your coat on and get Carmine’s things. I’ll be back, I promise.” A tear slid of Rose’s cheek, and she clutched Carmine closely to her chest as he lay still, fast asleep. He was about to turn away, but Rose tugged on his arm harshly. She pulled him back close, a slightly angered look on her face, but still, she understood. She kissed him hard on the lips, for some reason feeling like she needed to as if she might not get to do it again.

It hurt her deeply, it was a cut along her chest, enough to keep her intact, but also enough to wound her. Luca looked at her once again, a steady silence between them before he pecked her forehead and turned for the door. Rose watched him leave, and the dread didn’t leave with him. It stayed there with her. Dancing around her and Carmine, taunting her. She felt completely wrong.

Something was wrong with Audrey, and she didn’t know what it was.

Rose sat on the couch, her arms tired from holding on to Carmine so long. He was still sleeping, but she couldn’t put him down because it gave her something to do.

Her arms burned, but the rest of her was numb. An hour had already gone by, and she still sat there. Carmine woke not long after, and he sat on the couch with her, silently at moments and then at others he played with his sailor bear. Rose was quiet.

Luca came just another hour later. Rose heard the door swing open, and she didn’t even think to greet him. She picked Carmine up roughly, grabbed her handbag and walked past him out the door and into the elevator. She took her chance to look at Luca as the rode the elevator down twenty-stories stories. Rose couldn’t read his expression. It was blank as if there was never any emotion there. Dead inside, was all she could think, and she hated herself for thinking it too. There were no words in her mouth, despite how much she wanted to speak to him. The elevator doors opened, and the trio moved through the lobby effortlessly, looking more dangerous and yet more heartbroken than before.

Luca wasn’t driving, there was a car already outside waiting for them. Rose got in on one side, and Luca got in on the other. It was time now, and Rose spoke, hoping her voice wouldn’t disappear in the harsh winter wind.

“What happened? What’s going on now?”

“Mamma, she– uh–she died.” Luca didn’t look at her when he said it. Rose felt as if she was going to throw up, she could feel the tears welling up in her eyes.

“Don’t lie,” Rose almost said angrily. She’d lost her mother before, and then her brother, John too. Luca had lost his father and brother. He would never lie about it. And still, she had said it, because she didn’t want to believe him. The tears spilled down her cheeks relentlessly as she looked at Luca’s side-profile. He still hadn’t looked at her.

Carmine hadn’t paid attention. He was tucked in between the pair of them, and he was far too young to understand his grandmother was gone.

Luca looked at her then and watched as the tears spilled down Rose’s cheeks. There was no emotion there, he wasn’t there. Not her Luca. It only made her cry more.

“She’s gone.” He spoke again, and those were the final words spoken in the motor car all the way to the hospital.

When they arrived at the hospital, Bianca and Catarina were already there. Standing outside a hospital room weeping uncontrollably. Catarina was sat in one of the chairs lined against the wall, sitting beside Paulie who had their daughter in his lap. Once Catarina saw Rose approach, she got up quickly, and rushed to Rose and hugged her tightly; Carmine between them. She sobbed into her shoulder. And Rose couldn’t control her tears anymore either.

Had this really happened? What had even happened anyway? Why was Audrey gone?

When Catarina took a step back Rose fixed her hair for her and saw Bianca in the corner. Her forehead against the wall, her face in her hands. Her shoulders shuddering with her sobs. Rose set Carmine down on the chair next to Paulie and walked to Bianca. Rose rested her hand on her shoulder, and as Bianca turned around her crying began louder and more violent. She wrapped her arms around Rose tightly and began to stumble over her words and tears.

“It’s my fault, I didn’t know what to do,” She repeated herself over and over, before Rose hushed at her.

“It’s not your fault,” Rose choked out some words. She still didn’t know what happened, but she wasn’t going to let Bianca believe that it was her fault her mother had died. She was still young, only twenty. Audrey was a far older woman, and though Rose had once willed it for Audrey to live forever, it would never be that way.

They all stayed there for several more hours until Audrey’s body was moved. Luca still hadn’t taken in any emotion. He was blank, and not in the way she had since him several times before. She didn’t know how to help him, how to console him when he was this way. Why was he this way?

Rose had only seen him cry once before, and it was when she had woken up from a coma and Carmine was there with them. Why didn’t he cry now, now that his mother was actually gone? Rose was brought to tears just thinking about it.

It was late in the evening. They had missed dinner, but the Changretta’s were at the funeral home. Catarina and Luca were making arrangements while Rose further consoled Bianca. The night was rough, and Bianca couldn’t go home knowing her mother wouldn’t be there and she wouldn’t be returning ever. Catarina took her in, knowing she would need her big sister.

So, when it came time to go home, they took a motor car back down to Tribeca and up to their apartment. They were quiet the entire way there.

Rose had put the coffee on the stove and had placed her tin of Italian biscuits on the round table by the kitchen. Luca was sitting blankly on the couch, unmoving. Rose then picked up Carmine from the floor and got him ready for bed. She set him down to sleep, and he was dreaming away in minutes, the long day had taken its toll on him. When Rose returned, she checked on the coffee, which was done cooking. She turned off the stove and poured the coffee into big mugs. She knew that Luca would not be in the mood to eat, even if they had missed dinner. And she was fine with that, because after everything that had happened she wasn’t up to eat or cook anything either. She set the mugs on the round table and opened the tin of cookies. She then walked toward the living room. Luca was still sat there, his head hung back as it was earlier that day. Rose rubbed the tired from her eyes, but really she was hiding the tears that threatened to escape again.

She walked toward him and he didn’t stir.

“Come now,” she whispered gently, her Brummie accent sounded rough in the air between them. She took his upper arm in one hand and his hand in the other. She pulled him up gently, and he did the rest of the work. He walked sluggishly next to her to the round table. He sat down quietly when he got there and had a few sips of his coffee and one bite of a biscuit. Rose could see he wasn’t going to eat anymore. She closed the tin and left the mugs on the table. She stood up from the table and took Luca by the arm again, he still hadn’t uttered a word yet. They walked together to their bedroom, shutting off the lights on their way there.

When they reached their closet. Rose helped him undress. She pulled off his coat, waistcoat, suspenders, dress shirt, all of it. And he just watched on silently, blankly, he was looking at her but he wasn’t paying her any attention. Rose took him to bed before he could do anything else, skipping his regular routine.

He laid down in bed on his own and then turned away from Rose. She then went back to the closet to strip herself of her clothes. When she was ready she went to bed and laid down next to Luca, the lights all off in the room. She could tell he was still awake, and how could he sleep knowing his mother wouldn’t wake up.

She inched her body closer to Luca’s, he felt cold. Rose rubbed his arms and his hands with her own, trying to warm him up. He didn’t move, but she could tell he had finally let out his emotion. She could tell he was crying, even if he was as silent as he could be. She could see the rapid rise and fall of his chest in the shadows. He wasn’t heaving, but he was breathing steadily either.

Rose wrapped her arms around him then, hushing him, lulling him to sleep. She couldn’t let herself cry now as much as it pained her to see Luca this way. He had lost his mother, she knew how horrible that could be. She knew how important Audrey was to him, and Audrey had become some form of an adoptive mother to her.

After all the trouble that had happened between them, Rose knew that she would miss her; her mother-in-law.

Rose didn’t remember falling asleep. But as she felt around the bed for Luca, she couldn’t find him there. Just the warm spot where he had been. She heard weeping then, and for a moment she thought it was Carmine, but it was coming from outside the room, but it was coming from her bathroom. Rose walked to her closet quietly, and from her closet, she could see Luca in the bathroom with the light on. The door was only opened a crack, but it was enough for the sound to travel. He was crying in there, away from her, hidden, and broken. She’d done that to him once before too when she was on the RMS Olympic.

She didn’t have the courage to go in there and console him. She knew he was hiding it from her purposely. Like she once had. Tears slid down her face again, and she quietly walked back to bed. She slid in as carefully as she could and then wiped her tears away. She willed herself to sleep, and she did, feeling horrible still.


 

It was less than a week later when Audrey’s body was lowered into the ground, after a quiet and calm church service. Rose stood next to Luca dressed all in black and had Carmine on her hip. Luca hadn’t spoken to her properly since the day his mother had died.

The service was small. Only the people who had known Audrey personally had been invited to stand with them as they watched Audrey ascend. Nothing Cosa Nostra related would occur, though Audrey knew many people apart of it.

Mateo and his family were there, and so was Donnino and his. The Sartini’s were there, and so was Don Spinietta. There were a few soldiers standing nearby, but they weren’t apart of the service. They were there for protection, even though they weren’t sure they needed it. Audrey had died of natural causes. She was old and sick. She couldn’t wake up from the stress of it, and she passed in front of Bianca.

Luca would have wished it to be far quieter. Just him, Rose, Carmine, Bianca, Catarina, Paulie and Sophia. Yet, Catarina had not allowed it.

Luca felt numb, more numb than he had ever been in his life. He didn’t know what to do with himself, and he just wanted to sleep, but he couldn’t. He didn’t know how.

So many times he just wanted to embrace Rose, to hug her so tightly, to cry on her shoulder. But he couldn’t do it. He kept it inside until he was alone, and he built up this sadness, this anger, and it was getting worse and he didn’t know what to do with himself.

He felt Rose tighten her grip on him. She had been holding Carmine on her hip for a while. Luca took his son from her arms and fixed up his winter coat. Luca could feel Rose relax her limbs next to him, but her grip on his arm remained.

Father Carmine was saying the final words before Audrey would be buried, and Bianca moved next to Rose. His sister clutched Rose’s arm and then the first bits of soil were thrown on top of the casket. Father Carmine was about to make his retreat before the guests, but a gunshot blasted so close to them it stung Luca’s ears.

Rose and Bianca screamed right next to him, and the entire group ducked looking for shelter. Luca was horrified. He couldn’t let this happen at his mother’s funeral, not today. Another gunshot blasted, and then another. Luca handed Carmine to Rose, and he was crying at the sudden blasts. Luca looked around and Donnino was already on the scene, a gun in his hand. He was always breaking the rules, but this time Luca was thankful his cousin had. Another blast shattered the air and screams rang around the area. People were fleeing left and right and Donnino tossed a handgun toward Luca. Luca could see in the distance, two soldiers were down, dead. Two more shots blasted into the air, and Luca saw another man fall. Luca couldn’t tell who the assailants were, but his gut was telling him they had to be connected to the bastard that tried to kill his Rose.

Luca and Donnino were racing towards the scene, but Luca watched the assailants get into their getaway car and drive away. Leaving four men down in their trail. A few soldiers, Luca and Donnino shot at the getaway car, but they barely did any harm. Luca was fuming, furious, he couldn’t control the anger inside him. He balled his fists and began to huff out air from his nose.

“Well get’em, I’ve got a clue now,” Donnino spoke to him before he walked away to see if his own wife and kids were fine.

Luca had his goal clear in his mind. Whoever was after his family, would be dead as soon as he figured it out. He didn’t care if they were apart of the family, or Cosa Nostra or any other nobody. They were dead to him, and he would not rest until they were as deep into the ground as his mother.


 

It had only been a few days since Luca had buried his mother and he hadn’t been home properly since then. He would only be there to sleep, but when he tried to he couldn’t. He’d wallow around the apartment for a while, sit in the bathroom, check on Carmine, watch Rose sleep, eat a biscuit or two, and by then it would be morning. He hadn’t had a proper sleep since then. All he had on his mind was the thought that someone was after his family, Rose, Carmine, Bianca, his mother and soon it could be Catarina too or the rest of the Familia.

He had a migraine playing in his head, as other men were discussing things in circles or over desktops and coffee. They were in the basement of one of Luca’s clubs, it was mid-day and quiet. Luca was entertaining a mug full of coffee and a glass full of his brother-in-law's gin. He’d take turns at it until he finished and then ask for one of the young guys to fill his glass and mug with more. He was a mess, and he looked it.

Facing the Shelby’s several years ago was nothing like this, but at least he knew Rose and Carmine were okay, and that Catarina was now watching Bianca and she would often check on Rose. But he knew it wasn’t the same as himself checking on her. But he couldn’t, and he didn’t know why. Would he break down if he saw her? Possibly, he didn’t know, but he rather not find out especially because of how things were now.

Luca downed the last bit of gin in his glass, when Paulie walked down the stairs and into the basement with his brother Michael, in tow. They were quick and stomped down the stairs as if someone were chasing them, but when Luca saw a wolfish grin on Paulie’s face as he approached him, Luca sat up for whatever his brother-in-law was about to tell him.

“I know what the fuck is going on with the Marconi’s.” Paulie started with a huff as he pulled a chair closer to Luca, and the other men in the room gathered around to hear what Paulie had to say.

“What is it then?” Luca asked, growing impatient as Paulie caught his breath. He must have run quite a bit to be this much out of breath, Luca glanced at Paulie’s brother who stood behind him. He was patting Paulie’s shoulders excitedly as if whatever information Paulie was holding in was incredibly important. It only irritated Luca more that Paulie wasn’t speaking.

“C'mon spit it out,” Lorenzo Rossi seemed just as irritated as he.

“Alright, alright,” Paulie started. “You know my guy, yeah well Mikey and I were just out in Brooklyn of course. And my guy gave us the answer. The only reason these assholes are still working, still functioning is because all their women are involved, doing the same work we do.”

“What?” It was Mateo, and he looked disgusted maybe even concerned.

“They got their fucking women working? Are you fucking kidding me?” Lorenzo quipped.

“What kind of self-respecting fucker is Marconi playing at. Putting all his women in danger.”

“What if, what if?” It was Charlie Guzzo who spoke, he wasn’t family he was a soldier, good enough to be a made-man, but he was usually quiet in these things. “Maybe the women took over? Maybe Marconi never told them to get in on the business? He doesn’t seem that much of an idiot. Maybe they just took over?” Charlie looked around sheepishly, but it made sense in Luca’s head. Marconi wasn’t that stupid, he was smart, fuelled by blood lust and alcohol, but if this was the case maybe he wasn’t in charge anymore. Luca voiced his thoughts.

“If the women took over, Marconi isn’t in charge anymore.”

“Who would even be in charge then?” Lorenzo asked, a confused expression on his face.

“Who do you think would be in charge?” Mateo almost shouted sarcastically. Luca shot him a warning glare.

“Aria Marconi has to be in charge, she has the balls, the smarts right?” It was Paulie who spoke this time.

“Yeah, it’s Aria. I’ve seen her around Brooklyn, doing suspicious things, not your average mob-wife or daughter shit. She has to be up to something.”

“But what would Aria want with Rose or Bianca.”

“My wife doesn’t like her.” Luca started. “And I don’t think Aria likes my wife either. That might be enough of a motive.”

“What about Bianca, or the attack at your mothers funeral?”

“Maybe she’s just more ambitious then we expected,” Luca stated, as he reached into his pocket to grab a cigarette.

“Maybe she’s doing it for you?” It was Donnino who had spoken. He hadn’t uttered a word the entire time the conversation had started.

“Me?” Luca questioned his cousin.

“Hey, don’t play dumb this time, Luca.” Luca shot Donnino the same glare he had just given to Mateo. “You know Aria has had a thing for you since we were kids. And at one point you even entertained that idea.”

“Entertained Aria Marconi?” Lorenzo said.

“I did at one time, yeah, but I’ve turned her down several times after. And she knows it.” Luca protested. He really didn’t want it to be his fault.

“Hey, you fuckin’ no how girls are. They’ll hold a torch for you even if you kill their entire family. Look at fucking Paulie’s sister.” Donnino fought back.

“Don’t fucking talk about my sister,” Paulie interjected.

“You know what I mean Luca,” Donnino looked at him pointedly now, a lot was at stake and Luca needed to realize that this was about him and no one else.  And if they were all correct, this was it. Aria was after him. And because of him, his family would be hurt or worse killed. He felt sick to his stomach, but he had no choice now to accept Aria as boss of the Marconi’s and the one behind all the attacks.

“I know,” Luca stated, and he brought his hand to the side of his face, and rubbed his skin with the back of his fingers. His cigarette balanced between his lips as he pulled in a drag. He looked at all the faces in the room. He was consumed with the pressure, the obvious problem at hand, and this had to be his fault. He had turned Aria down before, despite showing her affection when they were much, much younger. He always knew Aria was off limits, she wasn’t really his type really. But still it had happened. There was one point in his life where women flocked to him, and he let him. It was but a memory to him now, but still a part of him.

Aria, however, was not like those other women he had left in the past. She was frighteningly beautiful and had a sickly sweet threatening tongue. He found it distasteful now, now that he had Rose and he knew what he liked. But still it happened, and it was happening now too. The sudden rush of bile in his throat snuck up on him again, but he kept composed and calmed himself.

“What should we do about her than? Women are off-limits, especially Familia.”

“They broke our law first, so who fucking cares. Didn’t this bitch try to kill Rose, and they’re probably the ones after Bianca. For all we know Allina, Liliana, Angelina or even Gina could be next.”

“Now that you say that, we have to figure out who was behind that shit with Bianca? Or maybe it was nothing. That sucker could be innocent, we don’t know that.”

“No, I’m sure.” Luca was tired, and he sounded like it. “We keep looking into that scumbag.”

“Alright, but what are we doing about Aria?” Donnino was growing impatient, Luca could tell. He knew that his cousin wanted all of this to be over, but who would want it to be more over then Luca did.

“Give her what she wants,” Mateo spoke sheepishly. Everyone turned their heads to look at him. His hair was a mess, but he was sipping at a cup of coffee, they could all tell from the steam that floated in the air above it.

“Are you crazy?” Lorenzo looked shocked that Mateo would even have the balls to say something like that, especially in front of Luca.

“I’m not jokin’ around. If Luca gives her what she wants, we’ll get her off-guard and we’ll have our chance then to take her out.” Mateo’s plan sounded fair at the moment, but the group of men grew silent in contemplation.

“So, then we’ll whack her? Shit, that sounds weird. Whacking a woman?” It was Mateo’s brother who spoke, and he looked rather sick about the prospect in front of them now.

“We can’t have Aria’s blood on our hands. Luca, we gotta hire some guys or we could get Murder Inc. They're a mess, but they’ll get the job done.” It was Tony who spoke this time. For a bunch of gangsters, so many of them decided to lean into their morals at the wrong time. Luca could scoff, but he didn’t think it right. Could he kill Aria Marconi? He didn’t want to, not a woman. Rose would be disappointed no matter who the woman was or what they did. But he knew he had to get rid of Aria. She was bad for business, and who knew what else she had up her sleeve or who she had allied herself with.

“Doesn’t matter who kills her, we’ll still have her blood on our hands.”

“So that’s it then? We’re gonna whack her?”

“Yeah, just not yet.”


 

Christmas came so slowly, and Rose was dreading it. Luca had almost shut her out completely, and now she only had Catarina and Bianca to rely on, and she still she couldn’t tell them what was going on between her and Luca. She was embarrassed but she knew if she said anything she’d just burst into to tears and she was tired of crying.

Rose was drinking gin now and before she only entertained a glass when it was socially acceptable. But now she always had a glass of her brother’s gin at hand, even when no one was around the house to drink with her.

Rose was setting the table with Catarina. Catarina had transitioned to muted grays in her wardrobe after her two weeks of constant funeral attire. Bianca was quiet too, but she didn’t shut Rose out like Luca did.

It had been almost two months since she’d last since her boyfriend, and Rose could tell Bianca hated everything about her life now. And Rose was well onto her way there too now that Luca barely spoke to her, barely shared anything about what was going on, and he barely slept in their bed together too. Rose was hurting, but she knew Luca was hurting more, so she faked a smile and kept her gin close to her and doted on Carmine.

Catarina called the men to the table, they were spending Christmas Eve at Catarina’s and Christmas day would be at Rose’s.

Rose sat at the table, she left Carmine to sit with Sophia at the kids' table. Rose didn’t bother getting Luca to come because she knew that he wouldn’t look at her, maybe he wouldn’t listen either. But when Catarina came back Paulie, Mikey, Luca and Paulie’s father, Vincenzo, came into the room. Paulie sat at the head of the table, it was his house anyway, and Luca sat down next to Rose. Liliana sat down on Rose's other side and though Rose wanted to be surprised about it she wasn’t up to more emotion. She didn’t say a word, and neither did Liliana. Liliana had been tolerable, maybe even nicer since Audrey had died and Rose was beginning to think that Liliana had noticed that things weren’t okay with Rose and Luca. But she hated to think that way, she really didn’t know what Liliana was like, or what her life was like either. So, Rose didn’t say a word.

The rest of the group sat down at the table. And Paulie made a toast to everyone’s health and a good last few days of the year. Everyone raised the glasses of white or red wine and said, “Salute!” and then everyone began to dig into the food Paulie’s mother, Catarina and Rose had prepared. Rose picked at enough food to keep her satisfied for a few hours, but she didn’t finish. She was upset and didn’t know how to deal with it. She drank all of her white wine and then excused herself from the table. She picked up her plate and headed for the kitchen with her plate and wine glass.

The kids were eating just fine, but mostly they were chattering away about something Rose didn’t pay attention too.

She threw out the food she had left into the trash can and then filled her wine glass as she began to wash the spare dishes that were already in the sink. She finished up and then drank some of her wine and she was about to leave, but Luca was in the doorway of the kitchen. He didn’t move for a moment and Rose thought she would cry then and there if he didn’t move in the next few seconds. But he did, he walked toward her slowly.

“I’ll take that.” Rose croaked, her voice was harsher then she had expected, but she knew it was only because she had choked back tears. She turned away from him, not knowing if she could bear to look at him and she began to wash his empty dish. She didn’t hear him walk away, but he was silent as Rose let the faucet run water. When she turned it off and put the dish in the drying rack, Luca walked to the counter and filled his glass. Rose didn’t move from where she was but she took a gulp from her wine.

Luca picked up his glass of wine and made his way to leave the room. But before he did, he kissed the top of Rose’s head. Rose didn’t move a muscle, but she relished in the briefest touch from her husband. She didn’t turn to look at him, she just heard him walk away.

Rose felt the heat in her face prick at her from the inside of her cheeks. She still wore a frown, her eyes tired and upset, she took a swig of her wine again, and then wondered if she had just finished a honeymoon phase with Luca and if it was all over now. She wanted to throw up, but she wasn’t a lightweight anymore. She downed the rest of her wine and filled it up again.

Last year’s Christmas Eve was spent at their apartment, but Christmas day was spent at Audrey’s. Rose had been to the house since then, to clean things up with Catarina and Bianca after she had left the restaurant for the day. No one had spoken any words when they were there. Rose was there to console her sisters-in-law as they wept and looked through Audrey’s things. Rose couldn’t help but weep too. Would it always be like this now, a bit of life with a hint of sorrow?

For a moment she wondered what the Shelby’s were doing that Christmas and if they missed her still?

Chapter Text

Luca and Tony left Hiram’s apartment late that day. They were following every possible lead they could find when it came to Bianca’s estranged boyfriend, Miguel. They had versed and repeated everything Bianca had told Luca and Rose throughout the day. Making sure that they didn’t step over any obvious facts. But they felt trapped. The new year had rung in with the most melancholic chime of a bell. They didn’t have time to dwell on how the air was stale around them, and their clothes were cold as it clung to their bodies.

Tony knew Luca wasn’t in his right mind, but Tony wasn’t either. He thought about his sister, Gina, every day and she barely ever called him now. Tony’s mother had to call her, and still, she was rather flighty whenever she spoke to him on the phone. Maybe she was drunk on love, that was what he was hoping. Tony knew that by the time Nico had come and swept his little sister right off her feet, she had let him. He couldn’t think of it now, he shook his head, and his body followed as he remembered the cold.

“Shoulda wore a scarf or somethin’” Tony’s voice was hoarse. It could have been all the cigarettes he had smoked through the day before, or maybe it was a cold, making itself known. His throat was rather dry. Luca acknowledged him, but he didn’t say a word. Luca jutted his chin out casually, to signal that they had arrived at their destination.

Normally, when Tony and Luca were out and about the town they would visit several locations a day, and that was still the same, but the circumstances were different than usual. Tony and Luca didn’t do collections anymore, they did deals and large scale gambles. But today there was no deals or gambles on their plates. They were standing in front of a dress shop that had Don Spinietta on their payroll, but the Drago’s provided protection. It was a loyal set-up and Luca and Tony found it unlikely that they would be ambushed here. Luca was reciting the information in his head as they waited in front of the shop.

His name is Miguel, close in age, Cuban (supposedly), Union delegate, from out of town.

It still felt weird to Luca. There were too many coincidences. Two men soon approached Luca. One of them had their collar up and his hands in his pockets. Tony almost flinched before he realized that he was fine.

It was Charlie Guzzo, and Tom Neri, they called him “Tommy” when he wasn’t fucking around. They were both soldiers under the Drago’s and Guzzo had a good history with helping Luca out.

“Guzzo,” Tony called for him, and both Guzzo and Neri picked up the pace to meet them in front of the shop.

“I got somethin’ you might be interested in.” Guzzo started, and Luca had an inkling of what it was.

“Me and Tom checked the house in Soho,” the brothel. “One of Montesino’s guys calls him regularly and he keeps tabs on all his guys in Manhattan. He has other guys in Brooklyn, but he doesn’t keep tabs on them, just checks in with one of them and they do the work from there.” Luca nodded, but he hadn’t heard what he needed to hear. Tom interrupted Guzzo then.

“They say they got a few guys named Miguel, but none of them is our guy. All of them are too old or haven’t been around long enough to be Bianca’s boyfriend.”

“It ain’t the Cubans then.” Tony looked at Luca when he spoke, he was looking for reassurance.

“I knew it wasn’t them,” Luca stated blankly.

“We still needed proof.”

“Right, but here’s the good stuff. This Miguel guy has been leaving a trail of clues. Guess what it is, you’re not gonna be too happy about this.”

“Just tell me, Neri,” Luca spoke sternly, he didn’t have time for guessing games. Guzzo elbowed Neri roughly.

“The guy, he has another girlfriend. We followed her, and she didn’t have a single problem with telling us his name. It’s Francesco. She calls him Frank, Frank Scudera.”

“He’s Italian, boss,” it was Charlie who spoke, and he looked at Luca almost apologetically. Luca didn’t show any emotion and though he could have fallen into a pit of rage at that moment he didn’t let himself. There was work to do, and he had people to kill.

“You two did good,” Luca motioned to Guzzo and Neri. Soon the group of four split and walked in opposite directions. There was still work that needed to be done that day.


 

Luca didn’t bother to consult Hiram before he telephoned Montesinos. Luca had seen Hiram that morning, and he knew that Hiram was expecting him to do this anyway. No business was involved, just a favour, a staging like nothing he had ever dreamt of doing before. Montesinos had left to Miami soon after his business had finished in Manhattan. It had been almost over two years since he had seen him last. Montesinos still had his men roaming around the city of course, but all of them knew not to step out of line in Spinietta territory. Luca knew that well now, that somehow they were all still following the rules.

Whoever Bianca’s boyfriend had been, he had lied to her. Either for information or to hurt her and his family. It made Luca’s nerves fire up, and so Luca did what he had not expected of himself.

They were walking up to Tony’s apartment. They both quickly stepped under the arched black, canopy in front of the main doors. Stepped inside the arch doorway, passed the lobby man that gave a curt nod to Tony and then they both stepped inside the elevator, to ride it up the floors to Tony’s apartment. There were only fourteen floors, not as many as the twenty-two at the Tessa, but the apartment was rather nice anyway. They stopped on the tenth floor and walked down a hall before Tony pulled out some keys from his pocket and rammed them into the lock. There was shouting on the other side of the door. Luca couldn’t tell what for, but by the way, Tony had shoved his key into the lock and turned it with vigour. Luca was expecting to walk into a domestic quarrel.

Tony jammed the door open, expecting to see someone there in the living room. It was the first room to see when the door opened. It was only the radio. It was playing very loudly, and it seemed like some sort of skit was playing through the speakers.

“Anna? Anna?” Tony called out. A woman, maybe as tall as Rose with, with sleek, short bobbed hair appeared in the hallway leading to bedrooms. There was a perplexed look on her face.

“What is it, Tony?” She walked towards Tony, putting her hands on his upper arms, giving them a squeeze as she looked him in the eyes.

“Nothing, just thought something was going on. You shouldn’t have the radio so loud.” It was Luca who moved toward the radio to turn it down. The girl named Anna kissed Tony’s cheek, and then turned around to find Luca and kissed his cheek too.

“Are you doing business here then? Should I go out?” She was already reaching for her coat, hooked on the wall by the door. 

“Yeah, that’d be a good idea.” Luca watched as Tony helped her into her coat, and then he kissed her forehead as she stepped out the door.

“I’ll make sure to pick up something, any preferences?”

“Not really, get what you like.” Anna smiled at Tony, and with that, she left.

“I wasn’t expecting to see her here.” Luca sat down on the couch, as Tony shut the door.

“She’s different,” Tony said blankly. Luca nodded, understandingly. Tony had had many women in his life, many of them had passed through that same door that Anna just did. But still Anna didn’t follow the unspoken rules the family had for what made-men should have as wives, but Rose didn’t follow those rules either. She wasn’t Italian. Luca didn’t argue, he wasn’t in any way able to judge Tony either. They were one and the same.

Tony moved to sit down on the other end of the couch with Luca. “So, what do we do now?” Tony asked as he slouched down into the couch.

“I have a plan.”

“Well then, tell me.”

“I’m gonna make a call.”

“To who?”

“Montesinos,” Luca rubbed his jawline with the back of his fingers. “I’m gonna give him a call.”

“What are you going to tell him?”

“You’ll see.” Luca could have easily called from his apartment, but Rose would most likely be there if she wasn’t at the restaurant. He still didn’t know what to say to her. He had dragged it out far too long. He was hurt still, but he had a lot to do to keep his mind away from the thoughts in his head. All he wanted to do was hold Rose, but would she refuse him? She had stopped trying to show him affection, and it made complete sense to him after he had shrugged her off so many times since Audrey had died. It just wasn’t right for him to take back the space he had left empty now that Rose was comfortable with it, or was she? He wouldn’t do that to her, he had already done too much to hurt her.

Tony picked up the telephone set from the table across the living room and pulled the cord along with him. He handed the receiver to Luca so that he could turn the dial to make the collect call to Miami. Tony handed the handset to Luca once he finished and Luca waited for Montesinos to pick up the telephone.

“Hello?” The voice was gruff, raspy, but familiar.

“Is this Óscar Montesinos?” Luca started.

“It is, who is this?”

“It’s Luca, in New York. I got a problem over here.”

“Hey Luca, it’s been awhile, happy new year. But, I have to say, if you have a problem with the business take it up with my guys stationed there. They only call me on the weekends. I don’t know what they’ve been doing this last week, but they’ve been good at staying on track.”

“It’s not that. The business is fine.”

“What is it then?”

“I had a problem, almost two months back now. This wise guy, maybe twenty to twenty-five years old. He claimed to be Cuban, working for the Union. He was seeing my sister, but it turns out he’s not Cuban and has been spying.” Montesinos hummed in response on the other end of the line. “Someone’s trynna plot something out here, and they think that I’m a fool enough to believe you would double cross me.”

“You have an idea on who’s doing this?”

“Yeah, the Marconi’s. But they ain’t doing this alone. That boy that was seeing my sister. We know his real name, Frank Scudera, he’s Italian, but we’ve looked into it. He doesn’t work for the Marconi or any of the families in New York.”

“How about your friends in Philadelphia?”

“We don’t want to make it obvious that we have a problem.”

“But you’ve called me, Changretta.”

“I have. With good reason.”

“What do you want then?”

“I want you to tell your men that you’re at war with the Spinietta familia.”

“You want me to tell my guys that were at war? But you want me to tell them to not speak a word about it either too right. Because we’re not at war, you just want the Marconi’s to think we’re at war.”

“That’s right,” Luca was stern, and Tony was only getting half of the conversation, but he knew exactly what was going on.

“What do I get out of this?”

“What’s your price?”

“I want another house.”

“And you’ll have one.”

“Make it ten percent this time, not twenty.” Luca paused, it was worth it. A brothel in Manhattan where Luca had ten percent of the revenue, it was fine. He had twenty percent in all the others run by the Cubans, it was worth it in the end.

“Fine, it’s a deal. But you can’t start building or bringing women into the city until the problem is over. Then the cover will be blown.”

“Yeah alright, I got it. I’ll let my men know.”

“Thanks, Óscar.”

“You got it, Luca.” There were a few seconds of silence on the line before Montesinos spoke again.

“Who do you think is working for Marconi?”

“I don’t know yet, but I’m working on it.”

“It could be anyone. Maybe it is Philly, what’s your relationship with Atlantic City? Or even Chicago.”

“I’ll figure it out. I’m moving in, I’ll be seeing what Aria Marconi is getting up too.”

“You want me to do some digging?”

“Does it come at an extra charge?”

“Nah, not this one. I’m feeling generous today.”

“Alright, I’ll call again soon to check in.”

“Right, good luck.” Then the line went dead. Tony took back the telephone set and put it back down on the table across the room from where Luca was sitting. He grabbed two glasses and filled them up with gin, he was abundant with alcohol now, but Anna made sure that he didn’t drink too much. He could barely function as a drunk.

He brought a glass over to Luca and took a sip of his own before he sat on the couch next to Luca.

“So we're going to war, a fake war of course, with Montesinos?”

“Yeah,” Luca was blank again. He really wasn’t himself.

“Right, so what’s the game plan with Aria?” The Aria situation made Tony uncomfortable, especially because he knew how much Luca loves Rose, and the awkward situation they were currently in. But he couldn’t talk Luca out of it, the plan was stable, maybe wrong, but it should work.

“I’m going to Brooklyn, show her that I’m interested. Then I’ll bring her to Manhattan.”

“You’re bringing her here? That sounds like a bad idea, Luca,” Tony was concerned again, and with good reason. Word spread quickly in Manhattan, and Rose had enough friends that cared about her to rat Luca out if he was spotted with Aria Marconi. The plan really was messy. Rose was going to get hurt no matter what, that was how it seemed to Tony.

“It’s risky, but we have to do it. If I don’t bring Aria here, she’ll find it suspicious. She’ll probably insist that we meet in Manhattan.”

“What are you going to do if Rose finds out.”

“I’m gonna make sure she doesn’t. I’ve hurt her too much already, I don’t think she’ll be able to take this, especially because it’s Aria.”

“I don’t know what to tell you. It feels like you’re walking into a trap.”

“I won’t let it be a trap, I have the upper hand here.” The phone began to ring and for a moment they both that it could be Montesinos calling back. Tony stood up from the couch and picked up the phone.

“Hello?” Tony answered.

“Jesus Christ. Where the fuck is Luca?” It was Tony’s brother Marco, he could tell from his voice.

“Calm down, Marco. He’s here with me.” Tony looked over his shoulder to peer at his best friend.

“I’ve been calling fuckin’ everywhere. I called Luca’s and Rose said she hadn’t seen any of you, I called the club, a called Paulie’s house, I fuckin’ called everywhere, ok?”

“Alright, alright, whaddya want then?”

“I was just out with Charlie and Tom in Harlem, and we saw Bianca’s boyfriend there.”

“Well, what happened? Did you follow him?”

“We sure fuckin’ did and we were so stealthy we should be working for the country.”

“That’s traitor shit. Don’t talk like that.”

“Okay, whatever. Anyway, we overheard this dago talking to someone you won’t fuckin’ believe Tony. We’re so fuckin’ screwed.”

“Alright, already. Spit it out, stop playing around Marco, this ain’t funny.”

“Sorry, right, this guy was talking to Capone! Al Capone in Chicago. Can you fuckin’ believe it?” Tony felt his hand go numb for a moment, he squeezed the receiver tighter in his hand and then turned his entire body to look at Luca. He was watching Tony, trying to fill in the missing side of the conversation.

“Al Capone?” Tony was mostly saying it for Luca. But he knew they were in trouble if the Marconi’s had employed the Chicago Outfit into their ranks. Luca put his face into his hands and began to rub. Tony knew he was tired. And after all the revelations on what was going on, the stress was bound to kill someone.

Had it been Capone’s men that had tried to kill Rose almost two years ago? Bianca’s boyfriend surely was apart of the Capone crime family. But what tied everything together was the fact that Aria Marconi had demanded all this be done. Just so that she could get back at Luca? It seemed almost foolish. Was jealousy really that strong for a woman? What had Luca done to her? Had he even done anything? Tony sure as hell didn’t know that much.

Marco had continued to talk, but Tony cut him off quickly.

“Hey, I’ll call you later,” and then he hung up the phone. “It’s Capone,” he directed it to Luca now.

“I had it in my head but, I was hoping it wasn’t him.”

“We should get to work then?”

“We should.”


 

Luca’s game plan was almost non-existent. He knew what he needed to get done, and how to get started, but what came in between he could barely fathom. The last person he had flirted with was Rose, and he had wanted her to be the last, but he was stuck here trying to protect his family by flirting with a cold woman. Luca didn’t know if he would even be believable.

He had to recall how he had been with women before he knew Rose. They all came and went, and some of them were more enjoyable than others. But he never kept them too long, hoping that they wouldn’t get any ideas that they would be around for the long run. None of the girls he had gone out with or had paid any attention to had he ever thought of keeping them around longer or having them meet his mother. No one would ever compare to Rose, he couldn’t help but compare Rose to all of them that had come and gone. None of them were as good as her. None of them, and Aria would be another, maybe even less because he truly did not want to do this, but he had to.

Luca felt sick thinking about Rose finding out about what was about to transpire between him and Aria. Aria wasn’t a kind woman, he knew that, and Rose knew it too. But here he was, about to break Rose’s heart even further… if she found out.

Luca had made the trip to Brooklyn casually, he couldn’t let anyone think that he was on business, especially the Marconi’s. They had to fall for the trick for it all to work.

Luca had never been nervous for a job before though, there were occasions where he had to settle his nerves before he walked into a job, but he was still nervous now and he was doing his best not to look like he was. He was regretting not bringing Tony with him this time.

He had an idea of where Aria could be, but if he would have to walk around long enough to find her, or maybe she’d find him. Luca did his best to calm himself down.

Luca walked into a jewellery store and immediately walked to a counter where rings of every shape of diamond and gem were displayed. He let his mind be occupied with the idea that he would be buying a ring for Rose, and after moments of staring at Ruby’s adorned on gold bands, and an entire set of jewellery that came with the ring, Luca didn’t think it was a bad idea. He could apologize to Rose for being so distant, for letting his feelings get in the way of what they had. Would Rose appreciate it? More jewellery, she had more than enough, she was rich in jewellery. Maybe she wouldn’t appreciate it as much as he thought. Luca knew how much she didn’t care about money, she would always tell him that he didn’t need to spend so much on her, but he always did anyway, because he liked too.

Maybe he just needed to talk to her. To tell her that he loved her, that he still does, and that he was ready to be a man again. A man again? He was being childish, ignoring her just because he didn’t know what to say to her, what was wrong with him. He would lose her if he didn’t say anything. He knew he would, and he had to put an end to it.

“They don’t have jewellery shops as fine as this one in Manhattan?” The strangest, most whimsical voice sounded in his ear. It was like velvet sitting on sandpaper. Luca turned his head as casually as he could, she had found him first and he needed to keep his cool.

“My wife knows every shop in Manhattan,” Luca started, he was trying to be charismatic and though he didn’t know if it was working he had to try his best. “And I can’t have her knowin’ about every purchase I make.” Luca took a moment to scan her frame. She was beautiful, a wicked kind, that preyed on weak men, weak married men, the one he was trying to portray now. She was a temptress and Luca could tell she wore that same title with pride. She wasn’t wife material at all, she stepped on men with her heels. And maybe there were some men out there that loved that sort of thing, but not him. Luca loved his Rose and that was it.

She was wearing a velvety blue dress and a purple cloche hat that matched the colour of the clutch bag in her hand. What stood out was the darker colour around the lid of her eyes, and the vibrant red of the rouge on her lips. Luca wouldn’t be tempted, he couldn’t be, Rose was all he needed he knew it from the moment he’d figured her out. But he needed to make it believable, he needed Aria to fall for the bait.

“A surprise for your wife, how sweet,” he couldn’t tell if the smile on her face was genuine.

“It’s not for my wife,” this was the beginning of something he knew he would regret. Aria moved her hair over her shoulder, it was almost as long as Rose’s.

“Not for your wife? I see, would you like a woman’s opinion?” She gazed at Luca for a moment, with her feline eyes, before her gaze landed on the arrangement of rings on display.

“Sure, why not,” Luca dug his hands into his pockets, he tried to stand as tall and casual as he could. He had to remind himself several times to look relaxed and not ashamed.

“I personally like sapphires, but I don’t think a ring is a good idea unless you plan on keeping this woman around.”

“I don’t plan too,” Luca looked at Aria intently, hoping she would get a clue of what he was trying to insinuate. Luca had already made it clear to Aria that he wasn’t a faithful man, and though he had a wife he was sleeping around. If Aria was interested, it would be easy, she just needed to take the bait.

“Right then, maybe you should look into bracelets or necklaces.” Aria walked away toward another counter, and Luca followed. “This one’s beautiful, but you can’t have that one. I’ve put it on hold until they get the gem I want.”

“It’s all yours,” Luca held his hands up playfully. She cracked a smile, and he hoped his trickery was working. “I’m not really liking these. I might have to go somewhere else.” There was a silence between them for a moment. Just the silent hush of the other buyers and employees speaking to each other could be heard. It was unsettling to Luca, but Aria seemed far too comfortable with him already.

“I’d like to see your pretty face in Brooklyn more,” She started, not really continuing his path of conversation.

‘Me? My pretty face?’ Luca thought maybe she had begun to speak to someone else, but she was still looking straight at him, with her hooded feminine eyes. It seemed for a moment like she was trying to seduce him more now then he was trying to seduce her. So he took his chances because maybe this was the only chance he would get. He knew that she was fierce, stubborn, and coarse.

“If you’re not busy right now, I’d like to take you somewhere,” he was picturing Rose like it was some fantasy where everything had gone differently and they had met in a different way; this way. It wasn’t Aria who stood before him anymore, it was Rose. That was the only way he would get through it. But the guilt lingered like a bad memory.

“I am busy,” she started, she looked positively egotistical as she looked at him through narrow eyes, her lashes like full feathery fans. “But, I don’t have to be busy. I could drop a few things for you.” Her voice was soft, subtle, was it real emotion? It was, and now Luca felt even more guilty. Aria would drop everything she had to do just for Luca, she was a mess of a person, but Luca knew it was a bad idea to get her hopes up, but he had to do it. The familia was counting on it.

He smirked at her playfully, it was so well practiced that he barely made an effort to use it with her. He extended his bent elbow for her so that she could snake her hand through it. Once she did, they walked out into the mid-day sunlight of a snowy January day.


 

The days felt so incredibly long, despite the days getting darker much sooner than she would like it too. Rose had come to terms with her loss. Her loss in Luca’s affection still affected her, and it seemed even more now that he would avoid being in the same room as her. She couldn’t tell what she had done wrong anymore. It couldn’t all be just about Audrey.

She did her best not to dwell anymore. Carmine was toddling around the apartment as Rose fixed her handbag and then pulled on her thick coat. She found Carmine in the hallway and picked him up to put him in his winter coat, and hat.

Rose had made a habit of going out during the day when she knew Luca would not be home. It was dangerous to go out with only Carmine and her driver, but Rose knew that if she stayed home all day and wallowed in her despair, instead of making herself useful, she would die from the despair. Luca wasn’t ever around to tell her it was a bad idea, so she took her chances, she had been taken her chances for the last two or three weeks. She’d already lost count on how long she had been alone.

When Rose is finally satisfied with how bundled up Carmine is, she calls for the driver, and makes her way out of the apartment, taking the gold elevator down to the lobby.

“We're going to the restaurant, okay, and then we’ll pick up something from the department store. Something fun,” She spoke aimlessly to Carmine, but all she received was a nod in response as he stared at the warped reflection of himself on the golden elevator walls.

They walked out of the lobby, and the brisk cold air hit her face roughly as she stepped out the revolving doors. She did her best not to fall as she was wearing heeled boots despite the temperature.

“Good morning,” she greeted the driver. She could tell he was apart of the familia when he looked at her. He gave her a nod and opened the door for her so that she could slide into the motor car with Carmine. When the driver got into the car they took their time getting to Rose’s restaurant. Rose let her mind wander. Last winter had been almost a dream to what it was now.

The restaurant no longer had any signs of being under construction. Everything in the restaurant had been completed to Rose’s standards and requests. The stone wall that curved in the entryway, had been her idea, the shades of red on the walls, along with the types of candles that could be burned, the table clothes and of course the entire menu. The restaurant had been called Rose’s Paradise at one point, as Luca had gifted it to her. But Rose had changed the name before it opened, Bella Notte, Beautiful Night. Luca had told her that it was a good choice, and Rose was expecting to create an unforgettable dining experience. The least she could really say was that she was proud of what she had created, and all on her own. She was truly in her element as she walked through the stone entryway. She was greeted by a hostess.

“Mrs. Changretta, it’s good to see you. How are you today?”

“I’m fine Dorothy, how are you?” Rose put Carmine down gently, as she began to shrug her coat off, and Dorothy came to help her hastily.

“How are the staff doing?” Rose asked.

“Just fine actually. They’re just prepping right now. I didn’t get to tell you but a reporter came in yesterday, it went very smoothly.”

“Really? Did you pay extra special attention to him?” Rose was testing her.

“I treated him like all the other guests, Mrs. Changretta,” Dorothy answered confidently, as she brushed a stray strand of ginger hair behind her ear.

“Excellent,” Rose smiled at her. Rose began to walk past the entryway, and into the large dining hall. There were busboys fixing tables still, who she waved to as she passed by, and then she walked toward the double doors she had installed that led to the kitchens. She took Carmine by his hand and let him do his best to walk all the way to the kitchens.

She continued the day looking at papers in the main office at the back of the restaurant, and then looked over the inventory of the refrigerators and the pantry with her head chef, Jeremy. The day went on as it normally did the past few days. There was a break just before they would begin to open the doors for lunch. Some of the cooks were sat around a radio, as they ate their own lunches, paying close attention to what was being said. Rose didn’t bother to listen because she knew at least two of the five boxing matches that the radio presenter was talking about had to be rigged.

Arthur liked to box, so did Finn. She shook the thought from her mind, and then went back to the front room where Dorothy was no doubt cleaning her station before the doors would open for lunch.

Rose pulled her coat back on again and made sure Carmine was bundled up before the retreated out into the winter wind. It was colder by the restaurant since they were closer to the river. When Rose and Carmine were in the car again, she asked the driver to take them to the department store, Tocci’s.

The car rides seemed to be her bane, as the quietness between herself, the driver, and even Carmine only helped her dwell on her sad thoughts. The day had been uneventful, her new kind of normal, but her stomach turned still. Rose could see the department store from outside the motor cars window now.

“Mrs. Changretta, all the parking is taken on the other side of the road. Would you like to wait?” the driver was rather accommodating.

“Oh, no that’s fine. Park right here, and I’ll just cross the street at the light.” The driver nodded at her, and Rose stepped out into the cold once again. She put Carmine on her hip and secured her handbag on her arm. She walked toward the crossing and waited with a small crowd for the light to signal for pedestrians to walk. The cold sent a chill up her spine, and she shivered slightly, shaking Carmine in the process. He giggled at the quick movement, and Rose smiled at him for his innocence. Rose looked to see the light again, why was it taking so long? She let her eyes roam the other side of the street. The entrance to Tocci’s wasn’t as crowded as she was expecting.

But she noticed a familiar face off to the side. She’d recognize Luca anywhere, he was her husband after all. She could recognize him from the sounds he made in the dark, or his breathing alone. Her heart began to hammer in her chest, as she noticed a woman stood next to him, Rose couldn’t see her face, but her throat tightened, and anxiety began to scream at her.

She watched the woman turn only half-way around, and just her side profile gave away everything she needed to start crying then and there. Aria Marconi was stood next to Luca, with a seductive grin on her face. Rose thought for a moment that she would run over there and make a scene. To throw her fists at Luca and pull at Aria Marconi’s stupid blonde hair. But, she didn’t. She was frozen in her tracks. The light signalled it was safe to cross, and everyone around her began to move, but she couldn’t. Carmine fidgeted for a moment, but her eyes were trained on Luca and Aria. Luca took Aria’s hand as he had once done to her. Rose wouldn’t cry here, she wouldn’t let herself. But as Luca placed a kiss on Aria’s hand, Rose had seen enough and had begun to walk back toward the motor car. She could tell Carmine was confused, but she couldn’t say anything at the moment. Rose got back inside the car and sat in silence as the driver began to ask her rapid-fire questions.

“Is something wrong? Do you want me to park on the other side? Where should we go?” he went on, he seemed a little worried, but Rose felt lucky that the driver hadn’t noticed Luca across the street. Maybe he wasn’t apart of the familia after all. It took Rose a while to say it, but when she did. She already had a plan formulating in her head.

“Take us home.”


 

Rose walked into the apartment in a blur. She didn’t set Carmine down until she had gotten to her bedroom. She put him on her bed and then began to pace back and forth, the heels of her shoes scratching the carpet as she reached it. The moments that had tightened her throat on her excursion finally replayed in her head and she began to tremble. Why? Why was this happening? After all this time, after Audrey’s death, Luca couldn’t confide in Rose, to seek comfort in her as they once did. When he once loved her, did he still love her? Rose let the tears spill and she turned away from Carmine, she knew he would be confused or even scared if she showed him any tears.

She walked out of the room, leaving Carmine on his own as she travelled to his bedroom. The first thing she did was pick up one of Carmine’s old diaper bag’s from his closet and she began to pull out folded socks, nappies, trousers, shirts, jumpers, shoes; they couldn’t all fit in the bag. But she slung a full bag over her shoulder and piled the rest of the clothing and shoes she had pulled out of Carmine’s closet into her arms. She walked back to her bedroom, her tears still falling down her cheeks, but there was a fire burning inside her as she continued to move and then drop Carmine’s things a top of her bed. Carmine watched his mother and began to pull out some of his own clothes, unfolding it and holding it out in front of him. She couldn’t hide the tears anymore, but he wasn’t paying too much attention.

The fire inside her fuelled her next move and she walked toward her own walk-in closet. She grabbed her leather suitcase dyed in a dark purple tone, but as she pulled it out from where she hid all the suitcases away, she saw her old suitcase. The suitcase that had first travelled with her here, to Manhattan, New York. It was old, dusty, but for the most part still in good condition. But the condition of the old suitcase was not what she had in mind, but the memory that had played in her head. She quickly pulled out the suitcase and banged it on her knee accidentally. She yelped for a moment, but she knew she had something more important to do. She placed the suitcase on the floor and began to open it.

It was still there, all of it. All the money Arthur had packed along with her when she had first been betrothed to Luca. Her heart sunk as the memories flashed through her mind.

Arthur was speaking to her, his voice echoed in her mind as she felt the crisp cold cash in her hands. “If anything ever goes wrong, you use the money, ok? You get yourself on a ship and you come straight home.” That fire inside her was telling her what to do now. She picked up both suitcases and brought them to Carmine who was still on the bed. She was no longer crying, and she no longer had the energy too as she sped in every direction in her bedroom filling the suitcases with the rest of Carmine’s clothes and some of her own. She packed all the documentation she needed to get herself and Carmine on a ship to sail across the ocean and then she brought each bag and suitcase one by one to the front door.

Her eyes were sore and puffy, but she put Carmine on his feet and held his hand as they walked down the hall into the kitchen. Rose let him toddle off as she began to fix up a bottle of milk for him to drink, and once she had done that she didn’t sit down. Next, she walked to the armchair next to the telephone and she picked it up and dialled the main lobby of Tessa Tower.

The bellboy answered the phone after one ring.

“This is Tessa Tower’s Lobby, how may I be of service?”

“Hello George, this is Rose Changretta from the Penthouse. I was wondering if you could do me a favour?” Rose’s voice was steady, and through the telephone, she knew that the bellboy would never know that she had been crying.

“Of course, what can I help you with, Mrs. Changretta?”

“I have some suitcases I need to take down to the lobby, and my husband isn't here to do it himself, would you be willing to take them down for me. I don’t want to leave my son alone, and my husband won't be back for a while I think. If it doesn’t trouble you.” She lied so easily that it barely felt like a lie. And though she hated lying in any other situation, she felt somewhat at ease with this little lie. George did not need to know that she was leaving Luca, no one needed to know.

“Of course, I can do that for you. When would you like me to pick up the cases?”

“Right now would be great, can you store them safely by the main desk?”

“Yes, I can, Mrs. Changretta. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“Oh, yes actually, Do you have any drivers waiting? I’m not sure exactly when I’ll be heading out today but I’m going to need someone to drive me to the shipping terminal in Brooklyn.” She choked on the last word. That woman, Marconi, she lived in Brooklyn. But it was the only terminal she knew, when she arrived in New York she came in through Brooklyn whenever her family visited they came in through Brooklyn as well. But nothing had ever happened to them then. Had it been because of Luca? Had he been having an affair with Aria since then? Since before they were even married? Had he been playing with her emotions the entire time. She choked once again and the tears fell silently as she stifled a sob behind her hand.

“I can make sure there is a driver for you today, Mrs. Changretta.” She pressed her hand hard against her mouth as she heard her surname by marriage. She wanted to fall into a hole and never emerge from it. She was humiliated and heartbroken. How could he have done this to her, she had given him everything she had and more. She had told him that she loved him so many times, and even now she still loved him, but that fire inside her was telling her not to.

“Thank you,” she spoke as carefully as she could, but before she hung up she formulated another idea. “Actually George, do you know if there are any ships leaving from Manhattan instead of Brooklyn, or even from Staten Island instead?”

“Many ships leave from Manhattan, or Staten Island during the day miss. Do you have a particular destination in mind so that I can give someone a call to figure that out for you?” His words were careful as well, but not in the way that she was. He was calm, maybe even soothing.

“I’m trying to get to Liverpool, in England.”

“How many are travelling, Mrs. Changretta?”

“It’s–” this would give her away. “It’s just myself and my son, he’s only two.”

“Alright, I’ll give you a call back once I’ve inquired to the docks in Staten Island and here in Manhattan when I find a ship for you to sail from today. Once I call you back, I’ll come to your floor and pick up your bags.” Rose nodded quickly, though George could not see her.

“Thank you, thank you, George. I truly appreciate it.”

“It’s no problem Mrs. Changretta,” his final words were different from all the other words he spoke to her, they were knowing, understanding maybe? But he hung up then and Rose took the time to go to the kitchen and feed herself. She wasn’t going to let this tragedy kill her. Not today.

She blamed the fire, the fire that kept her moving. She still hadn’t sat down, and though her calves were beginning to ache, maybe even burn, now as she still stood in the heeled boots she loved. But she knew that if that fire hadn’t been there she would have been a mess, possibly in her bed, maybe even calling Ada bawling her eyes out, maybe even neglecting Carmine in the process. But she was still going despite all the hurt that had taken over her body and was unravelling her like a sad plush doll made of loose threads. She could bawl her eyes out, she really could. But she wasn’t letting herself, the more she cried the more real it was. And it was real enough as it is.

She made a cheese plate, with some of the sliced meats she still had portioned away in the refrigerator. She had maybe two bites before she walked away from the half-hearted attempt she had made to be kind to herself. She found Carmine on the floor with his boat and his sailor bear. His bottle had been discarded on the floor, but Rose didn’t bother to pick it up yet.

Instead, she crouched down on to her knees, tucking her skirt underneath her, and she took Carmine’s attention away from his toys quite easily.

“Carmine?” she started, unsure of what she was about to tell him. He smiled at her, and she knew that she needed to be careful with what she was about to say.

“Mamma?” he responded funnily. She couldn’t help but continue to hurt, he was too young to be dragged into any problems, she had to tread lightly.

“We're going on a trip today, maybe in the evening or in a few hours.” She made sure to always speak to him as if he was an adult, he would learn better this way. “It’s going to be just me and you, on a ship. I know you like boats and ships,” careful, careful, careful.

“I like ships.” He may have only paid attention to the last bit, but that was good enough for Rose. “Papà?” Rose paused, she wasn’t sure how to answer him, but she had too.

“Papà can’t come with us this time, maybe next time, okay?” Carmine frowned for a moment, and he looked at Rose quizzically.

“Okay,” he finally spoke, and then he was quickly back to his boat and his bear.

Rose stood up and she thought she would cry again, but the telephone rang. She moved toward the telephone and picked it up quickly, hoping it was only George with news and no one else she would have to entertain without arousing suspicion.

“Hello? this is Rose Changretta,”

“Mrs. Changretta, it’s George from the lobby.”

“Yes, George do you have any information for me?”

“Yes, I do. Unfortunately, there are no ships left heading out today from Manhattan to Liverpool. But there is one leaving Staten Island in four hours. Is the timing alright?”

“The time is just fine George. Did you inquire about ticket price?”

“Yes, Mrs. Changretta, I reserved two tickets in first class. It was the last room they had available luckily. I’ve reserved it in your name, so all you must do is visit the ticketing booth before you board and they will set you up there and you will be able to pay for your tickets there as well.”

“That sounds easy enough. Thank you, George.”

“It is no problem, Mrs. Changretta. I will be up in a few minutes.”

“Alright, see you.” She hung up then and quickly moved to the front door where her bags were. She quickly unpacked the British pounds Arthur had given her and then closed up the suitcase then. She moved to stuff the money into her handbag. She had a few bills in her own purse, American dollars, but she suspected that a lot of the money Arthur had given her would go straight toward the tickets. Would she have enough to take the train in Liverpool to Birmingham and then the cab to Arthur’s, Ada’s or Polly’s?

She thought long and hard. Even if she didn’t have enough for a train ticket she would still have enough money to make a phone call and that was good enough for her. She did her best not to worry about money, though it was looking bleak and she couldn’t go into the safe, that was Luca’s money, not hers as much as he once claimed it belonged to the both of them.

George came up in minutes and took the bags down without questions and then Rose was stuck again to the apartment she was beginning to hate, because now it all felt like lies. She was there for another hour or so, and she entertained Carmine as best she could, and in a way, it was helping her. There was less time to worry about what Luca was doing now with Aria Marconi.


 

It took that hour for Luca to mysteriously enter the apartment. In the last few days, maybe weeks, he barely, almost rarely entered the apartment when the sun was still out. He walked in sluggishly, placed his hat on the bench by the door, his top coat on a hook and then walked into the living room where Rose was finally sitting, and sitting attentively she was as Carmine was still toddling around with his bear. He moved to the liquor table and his hand moved over the gin. He grabbed the neck of the bottle of Shelby Company Limited gin, and he seemed to change his mind as he instead picked up the almost full bottle of rum and poured himself a glass. Rose was fuming now.

Luca was hovering, taking gulps of his rum, in Rose’s presence, as if she really wasn’t there. He went back to the liquor table and poured himself another glass of rum. If only Rose knew that he was feeling more guilty then he ever had been before and he couldn’t bring himself to look her in the eyes without throwing his entire life out the window, down those twenty-two floors. If only Rose knew what was going on, was the thought plaguing his mind now, but he hollowed himself. That stoic presence, the one he once stopped using around her, he stopped using it maybe only days after meeting her was back. She hadn’t seen it in ages. It hurt her, but it hurt him as well.

Rose picked herself off the couch, knowing that she would cry and probably fall into weakness if she stayed any longer. She pulled her handbag over her shoulder, heavy with British pound notes, and then she picked up Carmine and placed him on her hip.

She almost began to pace back and forth almost mirroring his actions, the actions that were infuriating her now. But instead, she was preparing herself for a war of words.

“I’m going home, Luca.” She spoke resolutely, she hadn’t shouted. Luca looked at her and truly looked at her for once. Her pale blue eyes bore into his dark hooded ones. For a moment she thought she was about to crumble, he hadn’t looked at her properly in weeks.

“You are home,” his brows knitted together in confusion, and then he looked away as if he had seen something he shouldn’t have, like a creature burned by fire, her fire. Rose was still fuming, of course, he had brushed her off this way, what was she expecting, an actual conversation between themselves?

“I’m going back home to Birmingham, and I’m taking Carmine.” She wasn’t going to break anymore. There was to much hurt and so much betrayal that she couldn’t stay there anymore. She really needed to leave. Just before she was about to turn away from him, from his back, he spun around almost aggressively.

“What the hell are you talking about?” He looked angry, and Rose noticed that his second glass was already empty. Maybe it wasn’t so good that he had finished it so quickly, but she had known him to be able to hold his liquor down well. He had already turned around to pour another glass for himself.

“I saw you today with that Marconi woman.” Rose set Carmine down on the couch, she knew it wasn’t smart if she was about to yell at Luca to have Carmine in her arms. “I knew something was wrong between us too, but I never thought you’d be that kind of fucking bastard.” She was livid, she was pointing fingers, and stepping closer to him aggressively. Her expression was like nothing he had ever seen in Rose before, and for a second he was taken aback by it, but she had all the right to be angry with him and he couldn’t fight her about it. He couldn’t tell her what was going on without ruining the stupid mission that he now regretted more than anything in his life.

Luca calmed himself, he had already given her an angry look. He softened his features and took another gulp of rum. “Don’t talk like that, Rose,” it was far calmer than she would have liked, it only made her angrier. “ You didn’t see anything. Relax already. Take your shoes off, have a drink.” If she were to take off her shoes she would only do it so she could pick them up and throw them at him.

“No! Fuck you! I’m going home, I’ve had enough.” She turned around to pick up Carmine from the couch, the little boy had a concerned look on his face though he didn’t know what was going on. As Rose picked up her son and made her way to walk around the couch to leave, Luca grabbed her arm forcefully, stopping her in her tracks.

“You’re not taking my son away from me, woman.” He was seething through his teeth, to Rose, it appeared like he was holding back what he really wanted to do, but to Luca, he was trying to ease the pain he felt. His words were cold, bitter, and harsh. It wasn’t even close enough to convince her to stay, but she didn’t think anything could convince her anymore.

“He’s my son! I gave birth to him! Let me go, I hate you!” Rose pulled her arm away with more force then she was expecting, feeling his rough hands over her long-sleeved blouse. It was the most contact she had had in a while, and it only hurt more that everything had turned out this way, as they were arguing. Rose could have cried right now as Luca’s expression changed he was shocked as if he didn’t understand what was going on, or maybe he just didn’t know how to handle it. But Rose wasn’t going to help him, no matter how much it hurt him, because he hurt her too.

“Rose, Rose,” He was following close behind her as Rose struggled to put her coat on without letting go of Carmine and her handbag. “You can’t,” he choked out. Rose couldn’t look at him, she couldn’t bear it, she could barely move as she heard his voice and the hurt there. It wasn’t fair. Why was he hurt, it was all Rose could think, he seemed content with Aria Marconi earlier that day, what did it matter to him what she did now. Rose finished tugging her coat on, and then put Carmine in his own coat. He reached for Rose again, but he was too late, she had stepped away before his fingers could latch on to her. He was desperate for her now, he only wished that it could be like it use to be between them before his mother died. “Rose, fucking stop this right now!” he was so desperate.

Rose didn’t answer him. She pulled the door open harshly. Stepped through it, and slammed it behind her.

He couldn’t move, he was frozen, shocked. Had it really come to this, between him and his Rose. She was gone and he barely had the strength in his heart to run after her and stop her from leaving. He kicked at the bench by the front door and knocked down as many things as he could on his way to the bedroom. He smashed his glass of rum on the floor knocked a lamp that was still connected to the wall down as well before he locked himself in the bathroom and cried. It was his fault.


 

He fell asleep in the tub, dry and still in his day clothes. It was already the next day, his body ached, his eyes burned along with his throat. But his heart held the most pain, he was in the tub still, and it made sense to him. How could he sleep in the bed he shared with Rose, without her?

Luca placed his hands on each side of the tub to push himself upright. He stumbled out of the tub and took his leave from the bathroom. He didn’t even bother to look at himself in the mirror as he passed the sink. He stepped into the walk-in closet and then into his bedroom, taking note of everything he had destroyed and thrown over on his way to the bathroom the day before. Glimpses of his sudden madness came to mind, he took note of the shattered glass and the stain of rum on the wood floor in the hallway, there was glass again further up ahead but he didn’t remember doing that. He walked toward the living room and dropped himself down on the couch.

Rose was truly gone, and far out into the ocean by now. Luca could only weigh the pros and cons of the situation. How could he not have expected for Rose to react in this way if she had found out? Rose had always been a kind, caring, loving, everything good in the world when it came to him. But he knew that when she harboured no love for someone that she could spit fire if need be. That was the woman she had become, and Luca had done something that was not expecting of love. He had betrayed her, broken her heart, and she left without knowing the truth of it all.

That he had gone to Aria Marconi because he knew that she would pay him attention, and she was most definitely behind all the attacks, especially the one on Rose’s own life. But would the excuses have mattered? He had told Tony before and Tony had told him how much of a bad idea this was, Rose was not a person he could play with. He loved her too much, and there was so much between them that Rose could only have taken this betrayal in one way.

He wished she were still here so that he could profusely ask for her forgiveness, to hold her once again, to kiss the tears away. He had deprived himself of that little bit of humanity for so long, and just how much she made him feel whole, made him feel good, was gone.

He thought about her, he had memorized her face, the sound of her voice, the way she moved. It was like a dream and it was the only thing he could be drunk on now.

He tried to think of what good could come from the situation, though it looked all too bleak. It was going to get dangerous in Manhattan, and maybe all of New York. And maybe he could cruelly justify it all if Rose was as far away from all the danger as possible; kept away safe like she had once been before he had married her and dragged her into this mess.

The guilt was strong, so incredibly strong.

It would be dangerous and he couldn’t tell when the next gunshot would be fired. Luca picked himself up off the couch and walked toward the armchair. He threw himself upon it sluggishly and then reached for the telephone on the stand right next to it. He turned the dial several times, communicating Catarina’s telephone number.

“Hullo?” Someone spoke tiredly into the phone. Luca looked out the large windows then. It was dark out, he had been asleep for quite some time.

“Yeah, Paul, it’s me, Luca,” Luca spoke through the phone just as tiredly as his brother-in-law.

“What’s wrong? I haven’t seen you all day,” he seemed more alert at that moment.

“Rose–I–Well,” he stuttered for a moment, and then he settled himself as he rubbed the tiredness from his eyes. “Rose is on her way back to England. I need to send Catarina and Bianca there. It’s going to get too dangerous. We should send away as many people as we can before it gets ugly out here.”

“I think you’re right. I’ll set everything up in the morning. You think we should separate them all, you know for protection?”

“Yeah, that might be a better idea.”

“I’ll send Liliana too, I’ll let everyone know in the morning.”

“Yeah, alright,” Luca was tired despite how much he had already slept.

“Yeah, I’ll–I’ll see ya tomorrow.”

“Yeah, tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

From what Rose knew, steerage passengers weren’t even allowed to show their faces in the second class wing, no doubt the first class. But a woman and her sleeping newborn child were on her tail and were now tugging on Rose’s arm. And for once Rose understood completely what the woman was saying, she was speaking in Italian, and her the gauntness in her face was enough to tell her what she wanted. Please, could you spare any food? My child needs food.

Rose had spent half of the money Arthur had given her on a first class suite for her and Carmine and food for the week that they would spend on the RMS Mauritania. She had kept her handbag close at all times, despite the fact that first class was guarded and handled quite well. But a thousand different situations were crossing her mind now. Why was this woman on board to Liverpool, and leaving Staten Island on steerage? Had she been deported from the country Rose had come to love and call home? Her heart hurt as she peered down at the bundle in the woman’s arms. The newborn’s nose was wet and cheeks red, and Carmine looked down at the small baby from Rose’s hip. Rose didn’t wait any longer as she opened her handbag uncomfortably keeping Carmine on her hip from falling.

But before she pulled enough money out to buy the woman food for at least the next two or three days, Rose spoke to her in broken Italian, the Italian she picked up from Luca.

I hope that where ever you may settle, that you and your child may find comfort and… and… good fortune. Rose handed her a few British pound notes and watched as the woman gratefully and with a few tears streaming down her dirty cheeks took the money and stuffed it away quickly within her clothes.

The woman profusely thanked her, and took Rose’s hand and began to kiss it as if she were some kind of God-sent gift. Rose couldn’t even fathom herself in the same situation, and they parted then, Rose felt heavier than ever. She wondered what Luca was doing, despite everything that had happened. They had already been out at sea for several days now, and Carmine hadn’t failed to ask for his Papá every morning and night.

She and Carmine took walks along the decks of first class, the corridors, the staircases, anywhere they could explore, just so that Rose had something to do to keep her mind off of Luca; who she had left in fury back in Manhattan. Her strategy always came back to bite her, and each day she continued to make the same mistake. She and Carmine would walk for as long as they could, and soon Carmine would be begging to sleep. When she would return to their suite, she would lay him down and she would then sit in the suite or look out the circular windows with nothing to do but think of everything that had happened to her in her life. First, she thought of her mother, then her father, then of Arthur, Tommy, John, Ada, Polly and Finn.

Uncle Charlie, Curly, Michael, Johnny Dogs, Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Then Luca, and where her life seemed to turn upward and brighten. How could it have changed so quickly, she didn’t understand, she couldn’t understand.

Why hadn’t Luca tried to defend himself? If he was guilty, guilty of the crime she had shouted at him for, he would have defended himself as much as he could. But all he did, in the end, was begging her to stay. He hadn’t even said her name, that horrible woman’s name. She wanted to fall into a hole and never emerge, but the ocean was waiting for her just out the door. But every time she thought of it, she had more guilt in her heart than before as her little boy slept soundly on the bed.

Rose would always get up and grab a drink then, sometimes it was water, sometimes wine, other times it was rum. That day it was water, and there were only three days left before they would reach port in Liverpool. She was tired of thinking about Luca, tired of thinking about how he was a traitor to her, and then she began to shift her blame. It was Tommy’s fault, Tommy had married her off to him anyway. They had all made it clear to her that Luca would never harm her if he married her, and still, he had harmed her emotional, maybe they hadn’t expected Rose to be hurt by this. Maybe it was her fault because she had fallen in love with him, it was still all her fault because she still loved him.

She had memorized his face, each dip, scar, tattoo, and stubble. She could smell him now, like spice, leather, pine soap and his favourite pomade. She could feel his rough, calloused hands, how and where they had touched her and left traces on her body. She would never be rid of him, and in her heart, she didn’t want to be.

As soon as she stepped on the RMS Mauritania she felt regret, she didn’t want to leave him, but how could she stay?

The routine had stayed the same until they had docked in Liverpool. And when Rose had stepped foot again on old soil, she breathed in a harsh scent that could only mean home. Liverpool wasn’t home, but England was. As soon as she and Carmine had reached their luggage, cab drivers waiting for first-class passengers to arrive were waiting to make their pay. Rose had a cab driver drive her and Carmine to the train station in Liverpool so that they could make the long trip to Birmingham. She did it mostly for Carmine, he wanted to see the train, now that he had seen the ship. They had spent a few hours on the train and then they were in Birmingham, standing in the terminal, with two suitcases, Carmine’s bag and Rose’s own handbag to hold.

She hadn’t thought of it until then, and she cursed herself for it. Ada had once told her that she had moved, Arthur had moved, she couldn’t remember where Finn was living now, and she had no clue whether Polly had moved either. But Tommy would never move, he would not move away from the house he had made with Grace. She clenched her jaw, she didn’t want to go to Tommy’s, she had been planning to go to Arthur’s in the first place and if something went wrong she would make her way to Ada’s. But that wasn’t going to happen now.

“Miss,” a strong Brummie accent sounded, she relished it, the familiarity. A bearded man came from behind, “Are you needing to get anywhere? I have a motor car just outside the terminal.”

“Yes, how far are you willing to go?” Rose answered, a stoic look about her.

“As far as you need, miss, uh, ma'am,” the driver took note of Carmine who stood behind her, holding on to Rose’s leg.

“Alright, then, can you help me with my luggage?”

“Of course,” he took the two suitcases on the floor. Rose picked up Carmine and tried to comfortably carry his bag and her own as she followed the driver to the motor car. When they were sat comfortably in the motor car, Rose gave the driver Tommy’s address and they began the journey. They were silent for quite some time, only Carmine would ask questions or begin to sing a song.

“Ma’am, you do know where you're heading exactly?”

“I don’t understand what you mean.” Rose looked at him unamused, what could it be now?

“That address, yes, that’s where Mr. Thomas Shelby lives.”

“Yes, that’s where I intend to go?” She didn’t know if she should be wary of the driver now, maybe Tommy was in trouble. Maybe the Scots were still giving him trouble? But it had been quite some time since Finn had mentioned her about it.

“Are you in trouble, M’am?”

“I don’t believe I am,” Rose looked out the window, and only wished that Tommy lived closer to the city centre.

“I could take you elsewhere if you wish,” Rose resolved that the driver was well-intentioned, but still rather pushy.

“No, I need to see my brother. Besides, I have nowhere else to go.” Rose didn’t want to step foot in the betting house and have to wait for someone to pick her up from there. She was tired of travelling.

“Brother? You’re a Shelby, M’am?” he looked very confused from the mirror Rose was looking at him through.

“Yes, brother. But I’m not a Shelby anymore.”

“I did not know that Mr. Shelby had two sisters,” Rose felt bored, but also a tad uncomfortable now.

“People usually tend to forget about me.”


 

The smell of Birmingham wasn’t as she remembered, it was a lot like Manhattan. It was a flooding of piss, petrol and smoke, but she had remembered it mostly for its countryside, for its grass, hills, and trees and for the chicken coop Arthur kept. He finally achieved that feeling when she grew closer to Tommy’s home.

The rest of the ride was quiet. When they arrived, Rose watched Tommy’s enormity of a house, more like Manor grow bigger before her.

“Mamma, castle?” Carmine watched with wide eyes, he had never seen a home so large before.

“No, sweetheart. This is your uncle Tommy’s house. It’s very big, isn’t it?” Carmine’s eyes stayed wide, as they got out of the motor car and the driver helped Rose take her luggage to the front door. Rose paid the driver and then watched him leave before she hit the knocker on the door.

The housekeeper answered the door, but Rose did not recognize her. The housekeeper looked at Rose and Carmine quizzically, scanning their luggage and clothes.

“Hello,” Rose greeted. “Is Tommy home?”

“He is, M’am,” she seemed confused. “Do you have an appointment?”

“No, I don’t, but I’m sure he’d let me in.” The housekeeper seemed uncomfortable with the idea. Rose thought of telling her that she was Tommy’s sister, but she wanted to see the look on her face when Tommy would tell her himself.

“I–uh–Sorry, M’am. I can’t let anyone in without an appointment, and unfortunately, I don’t recognize you from any of Mr. Shelby’s previous appointments.” Tommy had to be in some kind of trouble if he wasn’t letting anyone through his door.

“That’s fine, could you get him to come to the door then?”

“Of course, it’ll only be a moment.” Rose nodded at her, and then the housekeeper shut the door in front of her. Carmine was playing with Rose’s dark hair and seemed to be unfazed by the situation. How could she not have noticed the similarities in her face compared to Tommy’s? She was a striking mixture of Tommy and Ada, the same pale blue eyes, and dark hair.

The door opened again abruptly, and it made Rose jump in her spot. She looked up and there he was her brother, Tommy. The one who had neglected her for so long.

“Rose,” he looked confused for a moment, and then he looked around at the surroundings behind her. “Why you here?”

“Can I just stay, no questions?” It was quite a bit to ask of her brother, who always seemed to want to be two steps ahead of everyone. He paused for a moment and looked down to the stone step the separated them.

“Yeah, alright.” He outstretched one arm and then pulled her in tightly for a hug.

“I missed you, Tom.”

“Yeah, I missed you too.”


 

It was already a week into February and now that Rose had time to herself, she fell into the worst depression of her life. Carmine was kept with his cousin Charlie almost all day as a nanny watched over them. It only gave Rose more time to wallow in her own despair and sleep most of the day and walk around Tommy’s manor of a home at night.

No one had come to see her, not Ada, not Arthur, not even Finn or Polly. But she knew why, and she almost felt relieved for it. Tommy hadn’t told anyone she was here, and maybe it was because he knew that Rose was in no state to entertain others, when she could barely do it for herself. Tommy only came to see her once, maybe twice during the day and Rose understood what he was trying to do. He was making sure she was still alive. Making sure that her mental state hadn’t killed her, or if she had drowned herself in the enormous tub in the en suite.

She could never do it, no matter how many times the thought ran through her mind. She was being selfish too much already, and she hated that feeling. But, she could barely bring herself to do regular tasks. It was dark outside the windows. She crawled out of the bed and sluggishly walked over to the window sill. She perched her knee up on to the ledge and climbed up. She sat down as comfortable as she could, and watched the stars twinkle outside through the glass.

She could never see something like this from her penthouse in Manhattan, but she couldn’t see this from Small Heath either. She began to wonder about Luca again, was he as much of a mess as she was right now? Or had he gotten on with his life? She couldn’t believe that he would be okay after everything that had happened. He had pleaded with her to stay anyway. He had to be just as distraught as she was. She could no longer believe that the years she had spent with Luca had been a lie, he had truly loved her once. She knew it deep inside her, all the loving gestures, the way he’d hold her when she was upset, the way he would hold her hand or put his arm around her waist in public, whenever he would just stand behind her while she cooked and rest his head against her shoulder. The way he made love to her, it was no lie. She had only made love to one man, but she knew that Luca had shown her everything. He had told her everything. He had confided in her when he didn’t have too. No women in the Cosa Nostra knew what their husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons were up to when they left their homes. But Rose knew more than once because Luca would tell her, because he trusted her with his life. He loved her, and despite telling him that she hated him, she still loved him too.

Rose pressed her forehead against the glass window, feeling its coolness tingle against her skin. The tears slipped down her cheeks as she shut her eyes tightly.

If anything, Luca still loved Carmine, and that was enough for her.


 

Tommy Shelby stood just outside Rose’s door with the head maid of the house, Frances. He peered in through the thin opening Rose had left in her wake. He couldn’t see her, and there was no sound from the room.

“I’m worried about her, sir. She hasn’t left her room in a while, and the baby keeps asking for her. I’ve seen it before, she’ll kill herself this way.” The maid told Tommy in a hushed tone.

“She’s smarter than that, she would never leave her boy behind, she wouldn’t leave her husband behind either.” Tommy didn’t know if she’d leave Luca the way Frances had alluded too, but the way she composed herself the day that she had arrived changed Tommy’s perception of his youngest sister. She wasn’t the same, she was grown, she looked brave, strong, even with her boy on her hip. She wasn’t the young girl he had given away on the platform. He had regretted it the moment he had watched Luca motion for her to hook her arm in his. He had horrible things cross his mind, and he hadn’t told a soul. But soon he grew used to the idea that his youngest sister was suited to the life he had forced her in to. She was young, weak, afraid at the time, but she became the person she was meant to be.

Tommy opened the door slowly and stepped inside Rose’s room. He scanned the room carefully, as Frances followed him inside. There were several glasses scattered around the room. There was a dinner tray by the door on top of the low cabinet next to a potted fern. There were clothes on the floor and a pillow on the window sill. The bed was empty, but the bathroom door was open. The worst possible thing came to Tommy’s mind, he quickly made his way to the bathroom, but at the corner of his eyes, as he passed the bed, he couldn’t help but stop in his tracks. He was looking at the bed from the opposite side now, and Rose’s arm was poking out from underneath the bed. Tommy moved toward her and knelt down, and eyed his sleeping sister carefully. She seemed fine, alive, but he could see that she had been crying. Her cheeks were tear-stained and the edges of her eyes were red. She was wrapped tightly in a thick white blanket.

Tommy pulled her gently by her arm until her upper body was out from underneath the bed, then he picked her up as best he could without having her stir awake. But as he had her completely in his arms, and before he set her down on her bed, she woke and the first thing she did was cry. Tommy was uncomfortable for a moment, but all he could think of was the little girl he had sat with by the cut, the little girl that had been mistreated by their own father. The little girl that relied on him, who only craved his affection, his approval, the little girl he had sent away to America to save the rest of the family. The guilt returned, but he forced it away quickly. He knew he didn’t need to feel guilty. That this problem he still did not know the full details to would resolve itself in due course.

But his sister was crying against his chest, and he just wanted to fix it. Like he had all those years ago.

“You have to stop crying,” it came out gentle, but he knew it wasn’t the proper way to start. She didn’t stop, how could she? “You have a little boy wondering about you, he needs you.”

Tommy set her down on the bed, she was sat upright. Tommy wouldn’t let her go back to sleep. She had been sleeping for far too long now. Her routine couldn’t just be this.

Frances slid out of the room then.

“I don’t know what to do with my self, Tom,” Rose started through weak sobs. “My heart hurts so much, and I–I just want to sleep forever, I just want to forget everything.” She didn’t want to forget everything she wanted to remember most of it. Audrey’s death had left something behind, something that hurt both Luca and Rose, and continued to hurt them still.

“You’re not going to solve anything that way.” His voice was rough, stern, just what she needed. She didn’t want to be coddled, and she knew she wouldn’t receive that from Tommy anyway. He was staring at the painting hung up on the wall in front of them, she was looking at it too.

“I don’t know how to solve this one. Everything’s ruined,” a loud sob escaped her mouth. Tommy peered at her. She was only in her nightgown underneath the blanket that she had wrapped herself in. “The funny part is, that if I hadn’t seen it all for myself I would have stayed there, and probably done all of this in front of him anyway. Like I did before.” Tommy didn’t know what she was talking about, she was trapped in her world, an American one.

“What’s ruined?” Tommy still didn’t look at her.

“My marriage,” she sobbed.

“How?”

“I hate to say it,” Rose looked away from the painting, and down to her lap, covered in her blanket. Tommy didn’t press her any further for answers, he was coming up with all the reasons Rose’s marriage to Luca Changretta could be ruined. In his mind, all of the reasons were Luca’s fault, and there were no excuses. But he didn’t say anything out loud. Rose would just keep crying if he said anything more. It was silent between them, as they sat inches apart. The room was grey, the sun hidden behind clouds.

“You can’t stay in this room forever,” Tommy did his best not to be harsh.

“I know,” Rose answered, he couldn’t read her face anymore. She looked as stoic as he could be, but her face looked worn, tired, and young still. “Do you think I should go home?” Tommy thought about it, home wasn’t Small Heath to her anymore, neither was it in Birmingham.

“Get yourself together, and see everyone before you make a decision. I won’t force you to leave, you should stay.” Rose nodded in response. She inched closer to her brother, and then rested her head on his shoulder.

“You should have seen us, Tommy.” He assumed she was talking about Luca and herself. “He’s everything to me. There’s no one else in the world I could be with or love more.  That’s the worst part.” Tommy nodded, he understood her, because he had once felt that kind of love for someone too.

They sat together for a while, and that evening Rose finally came down to dinner and kissed Carmine cheeks gratefully.


 

Two days had gone since she stopped lying in bed all day and staying up all night. She was deep into the house, where she was told that she shouldn’t be. She was in the kitchens, standing next to the chef, and she was helping him cook the dinner. There were many protests, but Rose had put her foot down, and she had gotten her way in the end.

She felt normal cooking, she felt good, though the thought of whether Luca was eating properly, or if someone else was cooking for him had crossed her mind. She pushed it away and did her best to enjoy herself.

“What are you doing?” She jumped, startled by Tommy’s voice after the kitchen had settled into a quiet murmur of sounds.

“Cooking,” she answered nonchalantly after composing herself.

“Why? There are cooks here to do that.”

“Just let me cook, I like cooking.”

“Luca made you cook?”

“No, I like cooking Thomas.”

“Right, well,” he looked around the room with a suspicious eye. He’d killed one of Luca’s men just down the hall deeper into the kitchens. 

“I’m good, I love it, it–it helps,” it was only half a lie. “You know Luca bought me this building in Manhattan, you can see East River from the windows. He told me I could do whatever I want with it, but he already knew what I would do. He bought me that building as a gift, and I turned it into a restaurant. It’s good, excellent maybe, I created the menu too. And it’s all mine, my own restaurant.”

“So, you like to cook now.”

“Yes, I do.”

“What’s it called?”

“What?”

“The restaurant, what’s it called?”

“Bella Notte,” Rose almost smiled as she thought of it. “It means beautiful night.”

“You speak Italian well now?”

“Well, not completely. I understand it well enough, and I sometimes forget what words to say, but I'm sure if you dropped me off in Italy I would survive.”

“Right, let’s see what you cook then.” Tommy nodded, the blank expression on his face and then he exited the room, leaving Rose to work on dinner. All she wanted to do now was make sure that dinner was truly impressive.

After dinner, Tommy called Rose into his study. For a moment she thought he might compliment the meal they had. But instead, he’s stood by the fire, a letter in his hands.

Rose stepped toward him reluctantly. He turned to look at her and showed her the envelope before he gave her the letter in his other hand.

It was addressed to Tommy, and there was no return address. There was a stamp in the top left corner, indicating it had been sent through air mail. But the writing had given it away already, it was Luca’s familiar scrawl. Rose trembled for a moment and Tommy noticed her handshake. But she composed herself as quickly as she could and then asked to see the letter.

“You’ve read it already?” Rose asked.

“It was addressed to me,” it was, he was right. But it was from Luca, her husband. Tommy gave her the letter then, and her eyes spun in a commotion as her eyes scanned the letter as quickly as she could. She took a deep breath looking away from the paper in front of her, and then tried again slowly.

 

Tommy Shelby,

Watch after your sister for me. It’s gotten too dangerous out here in New York for her and our son. Don’t let her come back if she tries. Before she left, something happened between us, something I regret. She saw a few things she wasn’t meant to see and I know she isn’t happy with me, no one in their right mind would be. I have to say business got between us. Don’t let her do anything to out of your way. If she goes out, she needs protection, two or three of your best men will do. She may not even be safe in Birmingham, but let her see the horses or the countryside, I know she loves it. I’ll be in Birmingham when things settle down.

Your brother-in-law, Luca Changretta

 

Also, burn this letter. It’s just a precaution, and don’t write back or call.

 

Rose read the letter once, then twice, and then a third time before she chucked it quickly into the fireplace in front of them. She had a million thoughts racing in her mind, her chest was rising and falling heavily as she tried to digest what was going on. If it was true, and there was trouble back in Manhattan, Luca wouldn’t have time for an affair with Aria Marconi, she rationalized. But that was exactly what had sent her back to Birmingham.

Maybe something was really wrong? Rose shut down the idea quickly, maybe he just didn’t want her to come back. But then she thought about it more as she paced the room. Tommy watched her. Luca hadn’t addressed the letter to her for a reason. He knew that she wouldn’t take it well, maybe he was expecting just that. And if there truly was trouble, he wouldn’t send it to Rose. He needed Tommy to know, to set up protection for her. It had to be true then, she had concluded. Something was going on in Manhattan, and Luca was in the middle of it. Her mind raced back to the moment she had gone into labour, the night Carmine had been born.

She shook the idea from her mind, but she resolved that she couldn’t hate Luca. That maybe there was a reason behind the madness in her life, she hated rationalizing his infidelity, but she had no choice now.

He knew her well though, he knew that being in the countryside, getting on the back of a horse, all of that would make her feel better. Maybe she could forgive him, no it was too early for that just yet.


 

Carmine put his tiny hands on Rose’s cheeks, and she pressed her forehead against his. They were staring at each other with blank expressions before Carmine spoke to her. “Papà?” She didn’t know how to answer. “Mamma, we go home?” How could she answer him?

“Don’t you like being here? You can play with your cousin Charlie and Ruby all you want, and soon we’ll see your cousin Karl and Billy, and the rest of the family.”

“Papà!” Carmine squirmed for a moment, and Rose moved her face away from him. She looked at him with concern, while Carmine only looked more frustrated than ever. She knew the travel had affected him, and he was too young to understand what was going on. He was even too young to understand the lie she had come up with to cover her tracks, but Carmine loved Luca, he loved his Papà and he missed him.

“We’ll go home soon, don’t worry sweetheart. Papà will come to us, we just have to be patient, okay?” He didn’t look happy with Rose’s answers but he soon softened his look and squirmed again so Rose would put him down. Carmine was about to toddle off before Rose picked up his attention again.

“Maybe someone might want to come with me to see the horses? I want to go for a ride and see the hills, and the trees, Mamma hasn’t been on a horse in a while and she doesn’t want to go alone,” Rose did her best not to look in Carmine’s direction as she acted the part of a lonely mother searching for her sons affection. Carmine perked up as Rose mentioned the horses. He bolted back toward his mother and wrapped his arms around her leg, tugging at her skirt roughly. Rose laughed at him and then picked him up quickly making Carmine cheer with laughter.

“Come now, we have to ask Uncle Tommy if we can go out today.” Carmine wrapped his arms around Rose’s neck and they moved outside of the parlour toward the main hall. Frances was walking away from them, her back towards the pair.

“Frances?” Rose called toward her. Frances turned swiftly toward them.

“Yes, Ma’am?”

“Is Tommy around? I just wanted to see if he could take us to see the horses. Tommy doesn’t have horses on the property, does he?” Rose looked at Frances suspiciously, and completely unnecessarily, now that she was becoming more and more like herself she found her American personality awkward in Tommy’s English manor. Her Brummie accent helped her out a tad, but she expressed herself with touch, and hand gestures and facial expressions more then she did when she lived in Birmingham before.

“No, no Ma’am, there aren’t any horses on the property.” She looked confused, and Rose felt weird that Frances had taken her words in an accusatory manner. She knew she had to change her words to fit in. But, she found it funny that she even needed to try to fit it, Birmingham was the place of her birth, how strange. “Mr. Shelby should be here. He could be in his study, but all of Mr. Shelby’s horses are kept with their trainer further into the country.”

“Oh, right, I can remember her face but not her name. I wonder how she’s doing.”

“Miss Carleton is planning to get married, is what I heard last,” Frances answered with a polite smile on her face.

“Is she really? How wonderful for her.” Rose smiled brightly, “Well, I’m going to see my brother now, hopefully, he can spare the time to let us out today.” Rose sighed and then stepped away from Frances making her way down to Tommy’s study on the main floor.     

The next few days Rose and Carmine got to visit the horses every day, along with two Peaky Blinders for protection. Seeing them stationed close by, and constantly watching she and Carmine and their surroundings were uncomfortable for Rose. Rose didn’t have a bodyguard in Manhattan, and mostly because no one in their right mind would dare to attack Luca’s girl. Of course, there were moments, but Luca was always with her at those times.

May Carleton had become her friend. She was a soft-spoken, but clever woman, and she knew more now about what had happened with her and Luca, then Tommy did. She was easy to talk to, and Rose knew that she wouldn’t be judged for any of the thoughts she had had since she left Luca.

Luca and Carmine were constantly on her mind when May would ask her how she was doing, and she felt guilty for bringing it up each time, to pester her with the same troubles she had the previous day. But May was gracious and all she could do was thank her for being supportive despite them only knowing each other personally for a short period of time. She really was a good friend.

But that day Rose and Carmine would not be going to May Carleton’s estate. Tommy had told the rest of the family that she and Carmine were in Birmingham and staying with him. She had to greet her family of course, and now that she was for the most part level-headed, she knew that she could at least see her family again and explain that everything was fine and hide behind a fake smile because nothing was really fine. She had more questions now than when she left Manhattan. More questions she didn’t know the answer too. But she couldn’t stay any longer in Birmingham without seeing Arthur, without seeing the rest of her siblings.

She was sitting in the parlour with Tommy, Charlie, Ruby, the nanny, and Carmine. The boys were looking out the window, waiting for the family to arrive. The nanny had Ruby in her lap as Tommy and Rose tried to get their story straight.

“The boys won’t be able to lie for us. Carmine doesn’t even know what a lie is yet.”

“Then we’ll just tell them that you were too sick to see them when you arrived. That you picked up something on the travel.”

“I guess, but they’ll ask why I didn’t write before.”

“We’ll tell them it was a last minute trip, Luca put you there for your safety. Not too far from the truth, it's easier that way.”

“Polly, maybe even Arthur they’ll know something isn’t right.” Tommy sighed as he looked away from Rose.

“Then you’ll have to convince them. You’re the one that doesn’t want to talk about what happened. This one’s on you Rose, I’m just playing the game for you.” Tommy looked annoyed and he had all the right to be. Rose’s vagueness wasn’t helping him or herself. It just trapped her, telling May was like a weight off her shoulders, but maybe it wasn’t enough.

“I don’t want to say, Tommy, because, despite everything that Luca’s done, I still respect him.”

“So, he disrespected you.” Tommy looked at her through narrow eyes.

“I didn’t say that.” Rose looked cross and she clenched her jaw uncomfortable as she noticed Tommy’s demeanour change.

“But you implied it, Rose.”

“Please, I don’t want any problems. I already have enough. And if any more fuss is made about me or my situation it won’t help, it’ll get worse. It’ll make me feel worse, and I can’t have that.” Tommy nodded at her, he still didn’t seem at ease but he still allowed Rose this secrecy.

“Someone’s coming, daddy!” Charlie shouted from where Carmine and he sat by the window. Tommy stood up to look out the same window. He was taking his precautions too. He watched until the figures in the distance became clearer. It was Arthur and Linda, in their motor car. Tommy turned around to Rose.

“It’s Arthur,” he gave her a look that she didn’t understand. But Rose walked to the window, looked out briefly and then picked up Carmine. They walked through the house and then out the main doors to wait for Arthur and Linda as they made their way along the long path toward Tommy’s main roundabout.

Arthur was shouting, but when they finally were in the driveway, in front of the fountain, everyone was quiet. Linda looked at her with a sympathetic smile as she got out of the car and helped Billy out. Arthur slammed his side of the car door. He looked older than before, and his hair was greying. He had his peaky cap in his hand and he was walking with an aggressive stagger.

She didn’t know what he had been yelling before he reached the roundabout, but he didn’t speak now. He walked straight up toward her and then enveloped her and Carmine into a tight hug. He rested his chin on her head and sighed. She knew it was going to be difficult to talk to him. They hadn’t even exchanged words and he already knew something was wrong.

He moved back to look at Rose’s face and then at Carmine. “This is my nephew,” Arthur spoke in his familiar raspy tone.

“Yes, this is Carmine.” Rose smiled at him, almost in relief as he didn’t mention anything else about her sudden arrival in Birmingham. “Say hello to your uncle Arthur,” She bounced Carmine on her hip slightly to get his attention. Carmine gave Arthur a meek hello.

“Come on then, son,” Arthur took Carmine into his arms and Carmine stared up at Arthur with wide eyes. Rose then hugged Linda hello and kissed Billy’s cheek. She received and gave her greetings and she normally should. Still, there was no sign of questions against Rose’s arrival. Rose turned back to Arthur and Carmine and caught Carmine brushing Arthur’s moustache with his fingers as Arthur began to laugh. Carmine didn’t know many people with facial hair, and in such close proximity, his curiosity must have taken hold. Rose smiled and then hooked her arm into Linda’s as everyone walked into Tommy’s home.

It only took an hour for the rest of the family to trickle into Tommy’s home to see Rose. Drinks and food were passed around and Rose was caught playing hostess even though it was Tommy’s house. Tommy would disappear from time to time as the family spent the entire day together. Almost each family member tried to grab Rose’s attention to discuss her arrival alone.

Ada had come to her first. She pulled her out of the parlour, and into a hallway. A maid walked by them before Ada opened her mouth to talk to her.

“What brought you here Rose? Where’s your husband?” She was gentle, though the question hurt.

“He’s busy, you know how it is.” She wouldn’t answer all her questions, she didn’t have the energy.

“Are you alright?”

“I’m fine, I was ill, but I’m fine now. You don’t have to worry about me,” Rose took Ada’s forearm gently in her hand to reassure her sister. But she was mostly reassuring herself with this touch.

“I know, you’re a grown woman now, a mother too. But still, you’re my sister I’ll always worry about you.” Ada pulled Rose in for another hug. Rose embraced her tightly, breathing in her perfumed scent.

“I’m glad you do, but don’t give yourself any more stress then you need.” They released each other and smiled.

“I should have visited more in the last year. Carmine has grown so quickly, and I barely got to see him.”

“Where have you been?”

“Tommy’s sent me to France a few times, and I’ve been to Miami. It’s scorching hot, and the coast is beautiful of course. I can see what you were saying before.” Rose forced herself not to frown. Miami was important to her once. It was the place she’d been on honeymoon with Luca. Where she bared all her secrets to him, and he had bared all his to her. It meant everything to her. But now she could feel the sting at her heart. What did Miami mean to Luca now? Rose gulped down hard.

“It is beautiful, isn’t it.” Ada then pulled Rose back to the parlour, but as soon as she stepped back inside Polly pulled her out.

They walked for a moment, Polly hooked her arm into hers until they reached the enormous staircase. They walked up a few steps together in silence before Polly turned around carefully and sat on the steps. Rose sat down next to her wondering what her aunt was up to.

“I know somethings wrong, you can't hide it from me, Rose.”

“I know I can’t,” Rose looked at her hands blankly as Polly continued to speak to her.

“I still hear the spirits, I keep getting back into what I shouldn’t, but I know it’s there for a reason.”

“Have you tried going to church?” Rose was still a blank slate, she had to keep it that way in front of Polly because she could read her like a book without even trying.

“Have I tried going to church,” Polly scoffed. Rose knew that she would have. She didn’t realize that she was being rude, but she felt the sting of it now, she kept her blank look on.

“Something’s wrong with Luca. I know he’s in trouble.”

“What?” Rose dropped the curtain, and confusion graced Rose’s face. “What do you mean he’s in trouble?”

“I thought you would know since you’re here.” Polly raised an eyebrow at her before she rubbed her hands together absentmindedly. “That’s all I know, trouble.” Rose went through several ideas in her head. She knew what it was like to have Luca be in any kind of trouble. He had been shot before and had escaped death. But that still had been a lot for her to cope with. She didn’t know what she would do if Luca would get hurt or worse, die while she was safely tucked away in this small corner of Birmingham. Rose thought about it for the rest of the evening. How could she live with herself if Luca died, and her last words to him were full of hate? She knew that she couldn’t hate him, but now she just thought she should go home. Even if everything was still awful and wrong between them, she needed to know that he was alive, that he was okay.

Rose was pensive for the last few hours. The sky was dark, and almost everyone had gone home. But Arthur was still there sitting in Tommy’s parlour, with a glass of whisky in his hands and his body facing the fireplace.

The nanny is picking up Charlie and Rose is kissing Carmine goodnight, promising him that she will go up to see him as he sleeps. He kisses Rose too and then allows the nanny to pick him up. As they leave Rose walks toward the liquor table Tommy kept well stocked. Just as Luca kept theirs well stocked.

She poured herself some gin and then sat down across from Arthur. She took a gulp of her drink, and as she set it in her lap comfortably before Arthur spoke to her.

“You drink now too, Rosie?” it came out quiet.

“It’s an acquired taste,” Rose hadn’t been a casual drinker when she had seen Arthur last. She suspected that Arthur thought of her as a different person. In some ways she was, but inside after feeling so scared, hurt, and heartbroken, she could still feel the remnants of the shy and sheltered girl she use to be still inside her.

“How’d you get here?” it was a simple question, and Rose knew what the right answer was. But the answer was either going to set Arthur off or would make him stop the conversation altogether. She didn’t know if she was prepared for it, but she answered him anyway.

“With the money you gave me.” Rose looked down at the glass in her hands. Arthur shot up from his chair and began to pace quickly. He set his glass down on the table and soon walked toward Tommy who was at the other end of the room looking out of the window.

Arthur pulled Tommy around to look at him and grabbed him by his shirt. Tommy looked at him confused before he grabbed his brother's hand that had taken hold of him.

“You made her go, and now she’s come back. It’s your fault she went in the first place.”

“Stop it, Arthur,” Tommy said in an annoyed tone. His tone wouldn’t sit well with Arthur. Rose set down her glass quickly and moved toward her older brothers. She pulled Arthur back and stepped between them.

“I fucking gave her the money. I bloody fucking told her to come home if anything ever went wrong if she were ever in trouble if Luca ever fuckin gave her trouble. And now she tells me she used that same fucking money to get here. If she was fine she would have gotten here first class with Luca with her or with Luca’s money.” Arthur turned to Rose next, grabbed her by her upper arms roughly. Rose was spooked for a moment before she stared up at Arthur with wide and chastizing eyes. “Why are you here? What did that fucking wop do to you?”

“You need to calm down now,” Tommy spoke before Rose could. Tommy was always level-headed. He was good at holding onto his patience. Tommy put his hand on Arthur’s shoulder carefully, and then he let Rose go.

“Tell me what he fucking did, Rose, now!”

“Stop it!” Rose shouted at him.

“Rose,” Arthur started. “Just tell me. if he hurt you, he fucking deserves what's coming to him.” Rose thought she might cry at that moment, but she held it together. She glanced at Tommy a moment before she smacked Arthur on his chest. It wasn’t hard enough to hurt him, but it was enough to confound him.

“You’re not doing anything.” Rose chastized him. She paced a moment like he had done before by the fire. “Something is wrong, but it’s nothing I can’t deal with. You have to let me do this on my own. I thought it was a good idea to come here, but now I’m starting to think otherwise.”

“Why can’t you just say?” Arthur looked pained to be in the dark, it was a habit of everyone in the family to do that to him. Now she hated that she was a part of the mix. She contemplated in her head if she should say anything. If she should tell them that Luca had cheated on her. That she had seen it all happen and the woman he was having an affair with had even attended their wedding. She wanted to throw up just thinking about it again.

“It hurts,” was all Rose could say.

“She’s been here for two weeks already Arthur, and I haven’t gotten anything out of her.” Tommy suddenly had a glass in his hand that Rose hadn’t noticed before. She took a gulp of its contents casually.

“You’ve been here two weeks?” Arthur’s eyebrows knitted together, he looked hurt.

“I’m sorry I didn’t say, I’m sorry I can’t tell you why I’m here. It just hurts.” She hated herself. She hated herself so much for crying again. She thought she was done with it, but now she felt like any mention of Luca and his affair could squeeze every tear she could harbour inside her.

“Of course it hurts, you looked like you were doing so well the last time I saw you. It was the strangest thing seeing you next to him, holding his hand, kissing his cheek, looking all in love.” Arthur looked like he was about to weep to. He bowed his head and then covered his eyes with his free hand for a moment. When he looked up he spoke to her again, her heart racing. “But, if you’re here now if you used that money, I know you’re asking for help. You just don’t know how to say it.”

Maybe she was asking for help, she didn’t know her own emotions well enough anymore. What had she been thinking of taking Carmine so far away from home? She thought she would have been allowed to get her old bedroom back in Arthur’s house, she thought that she had to start over without Luca, she thought the humiliation was going to kill her. But really, just maybe she needed a hug from her family, maybe she just needed someone to tell her everything was going to be okay, and Luca had made the biggest mistake of his life for being with Aria Marconi.

Rose began to sob uncontrollably. She put her hands against her face, weeping loudly. Tommy wrapped an arm around her shoulder and made her walk back toward the fire so she could sit in a chair. Tommy took the chair next to her, and Arthur crouched down in front of her. He put his hand on her knee and shook it gently.

“Don’t cry,” he said in a whisper.

“I caught Luca having an affair,” Rose sobbed. She didn’t know where it had come from. She thought that she had convinced herself into silence. She thought she was going to go back home eventually with no one knowing what she was truly going through, why she was feeling the way she did. But it had all unravelled right there in Tommy’s parlour.

The room was dimly lit, the fireplace giving the room the greatest glow. Rose moved her hands away from her face. First, she noticed Tommy, he had a twisted look on his face, something on the fence of guilt and anger. Arthur moved his hair out of his face and sighed harshly. He pulled her in tightly for a hug.

“Everything’s going to be okay,” he whispered into her ear. She wept quietly, that was all she needed, to know that everything was going to be okay. That Carmine would be okay, that she would be too.

“I want to go home,” Rose’s voice cracked as she wiped a tear quickly from her face. Her makeup was ruined now. Arthur moved away from her, a reassuring look on his face.

“I’ll take you home to my place. It’s not the same as before but it’s good enough.” Arthur still thought Birmingham was home for Rose.

“No, I want to go home. Back to New York, to Manhattan.”

“You can’t go back there,” Tommy was curt. They had both read Luca’s letter, and though Tommy knew what had happened he was still going to listen to Luca’s words.

“I want to go home, Tommy. I need to see him again, I can’t stay here.” Arthur looked confused for a moment.

“He said he would be here once it was safe. You’re staying here.”

“Why on Earth do you want to go back?”

“Aunt Pol says he’s in trouble, and if he’s hurt if he dies out there, I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t see him again… if I don’t tell him I love him again.”

“Even after everything, he’s done to you.”

“Even still, because I still love him.”

Arthur nodded, he sat down on the floor in front of Rose and pushed his hair back again. “What else did Luca say, Tom?” Arthur glanced at Tommy before he looked into the flames of the fireplace. 

“He said he’d done something he regretted,” now they knew what that was. “He said that, uh, business got between them and that New York wasn’t safe for her and our nephew. He said he would come to Birmingham when things settled down.”

“And we have no idea when that is.”

“No, we don’t.”

“Listen, Rose, you’re going to be okay. This’ll blow over soon and then Luca will be in Birmingham for you to yell at him as much as you like. And you’ll be able to give him a good right hook, and tell him how much of fuckin’ bastard he is.” Arthur shook her knee again from where he sat on the floor. Tommy handed him his glass of whisky. “What you should worry about is yourself and your boy. Luca will be fine, and so will you.” Rose’s eyes were tired, but she was glad Arthur and Tommy had come around, and that they knew her dilemma. They were all silent for a few minutes as they sat by the fire.

“Please don’t tell anyone the truth, I don’t think I could deal with the constant reminder.” Arthur and Tommy both nodded. When Rose had had enough of sitting around, she kissed Arthur’s cheek and then Tommy’s the Italian custom hadn’t worn off even after the two weeks she had now spent at Tommy’s.

She walked toward her room, feeling lighter than usual. She was hoping when she fell asleep that night, that she would dream of Luca when they were still loving when all they wanted to do was be with each other at every waking moment. She wished for it hard, and clear because she wanted it to be true again.


 

The days go by, quiet, no words from Luca. Rose knew she couldn’t lose hope in Luca. But the constant thought of whatever was going on in Manhattan worried her. It wasn’t just Aria Marconi’s presence, but the fact that Manhattan was too dangerous for her to return to alone.

Rose knew that the Cosa Nostra didn’t threaten women and children when they didn’t need to. She had been attacked before, but it had blown over after a year or was it two? Still, whatever threat it was that Luca was dealing with had to be serious, and Rose was afraid for him. The feeling made her feel sick in her stomach. If something happened to Luca she wouldn’t know. She wanted to throw up just thinking of that outcome, but she kept telling herself to shut the feeling, the thought out of her mind. She only felt remotely content when she took Carmine to see the horses on May Carleton’s estate.

She had already dressed Carmine for the trip, but she still needed Tommy’s permission to go. Rose had dressed in one of the trousers May had lent her. It was in a shade of navy and she paired it with her favourite healed boots, a white blouse and her green coat. She found it strange wearing trousers, she never thought of wearing them in New York, and she enjoyed the flowing nature of her skirts and dresses. But trousers were a new realm, and she was enjoying that fact that she could comfortably ride with them.

Rose was planning to wait outside the front door for Tommy to come home. She knew he had business in the city that day, and though early that morning he had told her that he would be back soon, it was already well after lunch now. She took Carmine by his chubby little hand and they walked slowly to the front door to wait, but along the way Tommy strode toward them, intending to pass them by.

“Tommy!” Rose started.

“What is it,” he kept walking for a moment past them, and then stopped and turned around.

“I want to see May–” she paused uncomfortably. “And, uh, the horses.”

“Right, I’ll come to. Just give me a moment.” Rose blinked at him and then nodded. He retreated again, and Rose pulled Carmine along slowly toward the front door to wait for Tommy there.

When he arrived by the door several minutes later, he walked outside without a word. Rose knew that look, she’d seen it several times before she had married. Then she had seen it again on Luca, whenever something was bothering him in his line of work. Rose knew not to ask him, he wasn’t like Luca when it came to work. He always hid that from her, and Luca had never done that. Luca trusted her with it all, she sighed unintentionally. She had experienced enough, she had heard enough to not fear what Tommy’s occupation consisted of, she liked being a support to people. And though she needed the support more in the past few days, maybe even weeks, she knew that asking Tommy about his problems would make things feel more normal. But she kept quiet at that moment.

There were already two Peaky Blinders waiting in the car. They were both sat in the front of the motor car waiting for them to join. Rose picked up Carmine and slide into the back seat. Tommy slid in next to her, and Rose set Carmine right in between them. They started on the roundabout and then headed on the long road from Tommy’s estate to the main road. 

She took her chance then to speak to them properly as they drove down the long road.

“Is everything alright?”

“Yeah, just fine.” He had that familiar blank expression on.

“You can tell me. You can trust me,” Tommy nodded his head at her, but he still didn’t say anything. His expression changed and Rose followed Tommy’s gaze to see another car approaching them on the lonely long road to Tommy’s estate.

“We’re you expecting someone?” Rose didn’t want to seem worried, but Tommy had made sure that there were no house calls especially because she was here and needed protection.

“No,” Rose could see Tommy’s jaw tighten and it only gave her an anxious feeling in her stomach. But she clutched Carmine close to her and watched as their own car and the one in front of them came to a slow halt. Before Tommy got out of the motor car. Rose pulled Carmine out and set him on the driver's lap.

“Watch him,” she said quickly and the driver nodded at her. The other blinder who sat in front waited for Tommy to walk in front of him, Rose could see that he was adjusting the gun hidden beneath his coat. Tommy gave Rose a curious look as he glanced at her, he was probably expecting her to stay in the motor car. He could have told her to turn around but he didn’t. She let him walk beside him.

Rose watched a woman dressed in a pale yellow skirt stepped out of the motor car. She was surrounded by three other men, she looked familiar but Rose couldn’t tell from the distance.

As their faces grew clearer, Rose recognized the familiarity. Her heart began to quicken, and so did her pace. She walked ahead of Tommy, and he pulled her back fiercely by her wrist. He gave her a chastising look and Rose returned the look with a frown.

“I know her,” Rose tugged her arm back. “She’s–She’s family.” She technically was family, but they had never treated each other as such. In fact, the girl approaching treated Rose like a blight to her existence. But as Rose grew used to Manhattan, the woman grew used to her too, Rose knew that for sure.

Rose didn’t even know what to do, or what to say. Should she hug her? Should she stop walking? Why was she even here? Why had she come all this way? Something must be terribly wrong if she was here on her own, visiting the Shelby estate.

Rose stopped walking when there were a few feet of distance between the two groups.

“Rose,” the woman spoke.

“Lilianna,” Rose acknowledged her. She was confused, this couldn’t be a good sign. “Why are you here?” It was rather blunt, but Lilianna understood. Tommy stood right next to her, assessing their surroundings.

“Paulie made me come, said Luca needed everyone to leave New York.”

“What? What do you mean?” Rose had worried all over her face, and for once it appeared like Lilianna understood her and they were on the same side.

“We should speak in private. It’s a sensitive topic.”

“I’m on my way out actually.” Rose watched as Lilianna looked Tommy up and down and then scanned the blinder behind them and the one still sat in the car with Carmine.

“I can see,” Lilianna said uncomfortably.

“I–uh–This is my brother Tommy.” Both Rose and Tommy closed the space in between them, and Tommy stuck his hand out for Lilianna to shake.

“Good to meet you Tommy Shelby, Lilianna Sartini. Rose is–uh– a sister-in-law, I think? Is that what we are?” Lilianna looked at Rose quizzically.

“I believe so,” Rose directed her attention to Tommy. “Luca’s sister is married to Lilianna’s brother.” Tommy shook his had blankly again, but he meant to show understanding.

“Right, Ms. Sartini, how’d you know where to find Rose, how’d you know to find my house?”

Lilianna didn’t answer Tommy, she directed her answer toward Rose. “Paulie had all the women and children leave New York two days after you left. I only know that you left because I went to see Catarina and she and Bianca were worried about you. Paulie was planning for everyone to leave soon after you, but we had heard what happened between you and Luca.” Rose felt sick when she heard the words. She didn’t want anyway else to know, let alone Lilianna and Luca’s own sisters.

“Tony almost confirmed to us what happened, he looked rather guilty. But I didn’t get to see Bianca or Catarina before I came so I don’t think they were sent here. I saw Angelina a few hours before and she said Matteo had told her that she was being sent to Palermo. They haven’t come to see you have they?”

“No, they haven’t”

“I guess they're not in England then, they could be in France maybe. But, I knew you were here, and I spent an entire week just trying to remember your maiden name. I couldn’t have gone around asking anyone if they knew a lady called Rose who had gangster brothers, right?” Rose smirked for a moment, she hadn’t expected Lilianna to joke with her, especially concerning the situation.

“I did remember eventually, and it took a while but someone at one of your brother’s factory gave me this address, they told me not to come but I thought I could break the rules just once.” Rose smiled softly, she looked down at the ground. She knew Tommy was probably bored with the conversation, but just seeing Lilianna, seeing someone from home felt like a relief. Then the pressing questions came to her mind.

“Have you heard from home, do you know if Luca is okay?” it came out in a jumble, but Lilianna understood. She frowned for a moment and then sighed.

“I haven’t heard from anyone back home since I left. I was actually thinking of going back home, but no one is letting me do that. So I came to you, mostly, too–uh–I,” Lilianna looked at her uncomfortably.

“What is it?”

“I just wanted to ask for your forgiveness.” Tommy stepped away as soon as the conversation took the turn.

“Forgiveness?”

“Yeah, I was very unpleasant was I? You didn’t deserve it either, you didn’t really get to choose who you were to marry. And though I was incredibly jealous, I had once hoped that Luca would treat you horribly and that you would want to divorce him and go home. But then I realized how stupid and awful I was being, I knew Luca would never treat you like I wanted him too. Luca is a good man, despite his profession. I acted like a child, and I was rude.”

“You don’t have to apologize–”

“But it’ll make me feel better if I do. I feel guilty. I loved Luca more than I loved myself when I was a girl. I was so set on marrying him just because he treated me with kindness and just this tenderness that no one else gave me that I wasn’t related to. I really thought he was meant for me, but I know that I was wrong, and it was wrong of me to take it out on you when it wasn’t your fault.” Rose nodded her head, and then closed the gap between them, she hugged her tightly.

“I forgive you,” she breathed in her scent, and then pulled back, but Lilianna took both her hands in hers.

“I need to say, Rose. I want to make it clear, to make amends I thought I’d tell you what I saw before I came. Tony made it clear that Luca had been seen with that Marconi woman, and he just looked so sorry, you’d think that he was the one caught cheating on you. He didn’t say much, but I found out on my own that the Marconi woman was behind the attack on your life. The one that put you in labour with Carmine,” Lilianna spoke as if Rose had had multiple attempts of murder on her. “Luca is not a stupid man, and he knew that Marconi was the one behind it. I don’t believe that Luca was seeing her without a reason, I don’t think that he was sleeping with her. I’ve seen the way he looks at you, even after all these years he looked so in love every single day I saw him with you. Maybe that was why I was so jealous. What I’m trying to say is–what am I trying to say?–well, you should hear Luca out. I don’t think Luca and Paulie sent all of us away just to cover up an affair, do you?”

“No, I don’t.”

“I don’t either.” It was silent between them for a moment, and Rose thought over what Lilianna had said to her. Maybe she needed to give Luca the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she had acted too soon. It did make sense that Aria would have her killed, it seemed like her, but why? Maybe Aria was just like Lilianna, except Aria could not come to the same terms as Lilianna now had.

“Well, I think I’ve taken up a lot of your time. I’ll leave you alone now.” Rose looked at her blankly trying to figure out what to say, but Lilianna turned around and began to make her way to her motor car.

“Lilianna!” Rose shouted for her. “You’ll come by again?”

“Tomorrow?”

“Yes, Tomorrow,” Rose nodded and then Lilianna continued her retreat and soon their motor car turned around and then drove away.

Tommy approached her from behind. “Well then,” he dropped the cigarette he had been smoking onto the ground “Are we going out still, or do you have any more appointments today, Mrs. Changretta?”

“Oh, shut up.” Rose snorted. It was real, genuine, she hadn’t felt that feeling in a while. But as “Mrs. Changretta” rung in her mind she wondered about Luca again. What trouble had he gotten himself into?

They arrived at May’s estate just about an hour later. Tommy made a beeline directly inside, for who knows what, but Rose and Carmine took the trip around the perimeter of the manor-sized house along with the two blinders who followed along at a good distance. They made their way toward the stables, and Mickey, May’s stable hand greeted them as they arrived. Rose put Carmine on top the horse first, she set him down carefully as he giggled the entire time. She walked alongside him and the horse and they walk for a while, Luca came to her thoughts again. She never thought she would be friendly with Lilianna before, and after a load of information she shared with her, the information she didn’t even have to share Rose knew that she could trust her. Lilianna came to her because she was lonely because she didn’t know what else to do while she was forced out of the country by the famiglia.

Somehow Lilianna instilled a hope inside her, a hope that maybe it was all a misunderstanding, that it was okay for her to still love Luca despite everything that had happened. Because it wasn’t just her who had felt Luca’s love, everyone had seen it too. Everyone knew that Luca loved Rose.

But she still had more questions, more questions that she couldn’t put into words.

Rose brought Carmine around the field and then headed back to the stables. Tommy and May were there waiting for her. But as soon as Rose arrived with Carmine on horseback Tommy retreated far into the stables.

“How are you this evening?” May looked at her curiously.

“Pensieve, as always.” Rose gave the reins to May to hold as she stepped onto the stepping stool to sit just behind Carmine on the horse. May then handed the reins back to Rose, and May got on the back of another horse. They began the same trek as before and fell into a comfortable silence.

They were far out into the fields, and the sun was dipping into the horizon. It looked beautiful, something she would miss when she would get back to Manhattan. An open field, filled with grass, trees and rolling hills, and an expanse of untouched land that the sun could kiss the greenery with ease. She sighed contently.

“You’ve been a good friend to me, and I was not expecting it.”

“I tend to treat people with kindness if they have treated me so.” May pressed her lips together, holding back a smile.

“You’ve listened to me ramble, rant and just outright complain about my life. I couldn’t have done so with anyone else. Just this one last time I hope you’ll listen again.” May nodded, and then Rose began to tell her about Lilianna, and what she had told her. May stared into the distance as their horses trotted. Carmine fell asleep sat on the horse, and Rose made sure to keep him up straight and against her so he wouldn’t fall. When Rose finished relaying the new addition to her life story, May nodded and they sat in silence again.

“You take it all in and respect my boundaries, I don’t know anyone else like you, but just this once tell me what you think. What should I do, I–I just, maybe I need advice?” Rose looked at her sheepishly, not knowing if she had stepped over their boundaries herself.

“You want my opinion?” May raised an eyebrow, but her steady voice didn’t tell her that she stepped out of line.

“Yes, if you have one about me.” May nodded and then sighed.

“You should at least hear your husband out, you do have a son together after all. If things go wrong, I don’t think you want to separate your son from his father. I don’t think you’re that kind of woman, even though his profession isn’t one that makes it easy for anyone to walk in and out of.

“If I were you, I’d listen and then I’d figure out where I stand. If what you say is true and this woman is not lying to you, then both you and Luca deserve to hear each other out. It may not be easy, but still, it’s important.”

Rose sighed as the darkness descended on them. They were riding back to the stables now. “You’re right, even if I’m still angry, still heartbroken, I should listen to for once. I don’t know when I stopped listening, but he does have a lot to explain for, maybe make excuses for, but–” she paused and her eyebrows knitted together. “I should give him a chance because I know that he’s going to try to get me back anyway.”

May nodded at her again, and as they got to the stables May helped Rose take Carmine out of the saddle with her, and Rose carried Carmine carefully as May brought the horses back inside the stables. There was a quiet hum outside and the sounds of crickets chirped in the distance. Rose breathed in the air, there was nothing like it.

But somewhere inside her, she craved the familiarity of Manhattan. The scent of the Astor hotel dining room, the smell of central park, the restaurant, Catarina’s home, her own home; the penthouse in Tessa Tower.

She wanted to go back, she needed to.


 

Luca hadn’t slept properly in three weeks, and he had found himself falling asleep in the strangest places when there was just too much quiet in the room or too much smoke to breathe properly. he hadn’t returned to Tessa Tower since the day he had slept in the bathtub. He had someone go by and clean the apartment up for him, but he didn’t return to see if they’d done the job right.

Tony had woken him from the short sleep he had on his couch. Anna had been kind enough to let him stay despite her fear of the mob. Tony had made it clear to her that they wouldn’t do business in the apartment, but there was no way of guaranteeing that promise. Tony had been the one to wake Luca up from each fitful sleep he fell into, and Luca was in need of a good rest, but he simply could not find it.

Luca had brought Tony’s crew to the docks in Manhattan, the ones that overlooked Brooklyn. They had found a body that morning after one of the guys from Tony’s crew claimed that one of his buddies hadn’t been seen all evening and morning. It was out of the ordinary for any crew to not check up on each other after a few hours, the mob was a family despite all its rough edges and bloody hands. So the search began. Luca had people go out to find the crew member hoping he had fallen asleep in the back of a car or had spent the night with a prostitute or girlfriend, but it didn’t take long for them to find the man stuffed inside a wooden crate with a bullet wound between his eyes.

Luca was angry, how couldn’t he be. Someone had murdered one of Tony’s guys, and Tony was his guy. How could a large business like the Italian-American mob function without all its parts? Luca breathed in a large amount of air, and his chest puffed up wide before he released it. Yes, he was angry, because now he knew what was going on, now he knew who was behind all the murders, the assaults. They were a message, a message for him. He had to do something, but he had never been in this situation before. A full-fledged gang war, with no guidance.

Don Spinietta was sitting down comfortably in his home, seemingly disappearing in his own mind. Luca had no choice but to do it all on his own. It was his fault anyway for taking the reigns so quickly without asking Don Spinietta for advice before he withered away in his old mansion.

They removed the guy's body from the crate and put him in the back of a motor car. Luca had a few guys drive upstate to bury the man and Luca sent compensation to the murdered man’s family with one of Tony’s made men to pay their respects.

Then the rest of the men gathered in the back room of a bar, on the Lower East Side.

Slowly as the room began to fill itself with made men, capos, soldiers and cigar and cigarette smoke, Luca cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention.

“We have a problem,” he started, his voice gravelly and his look intense and dark. “We took one of there's, and then they took one of ours.” That was the way of the mob, the murders would go back and forth until someone backed down, until someone could not afford to lose anymore. But that rarely ever happened. Instead, entire gangs would be wiped out, or people would trade this mob life for a life in another gang. Either way, the outcome was never a good one.

“Those fucking cock-suckers took junior, and we still haven’t done one fucking thing to get them back.” Tony’s brother Marco spoke, and out of turn as well. Tony elbowed him in his side, letting the room hush down again for Luca to speak.

“There’s no doubt that,” Luca paused for a moment, as Rose came to his mind, he willed the thought of her away as best he could so he could get on with his speech. But he couldn’t deny that he wanted her here with him, by his side, to have her counsel. His train of thought returned. “That our friend—Al Capone is in New York right now. He could be in Brooklyn, maybe even here in Manhattan, but what’s important is that we find this good-for-nothing fat fuck and put him down like a sick dog.” The room begins to murmur with sounds of agreement. There was no doubt that everyone was on the same page, and that everyone knew what to do.

Luca didn’t even have to say a word about it, but he truly was the acting Don of Manhattan.

Another few days pass by and men are murdered left and right. There’s enough murder to go around for the police to begin to suspect something deeper then a murderer running around was going on. But they were at war, and Luca could bribe the police department, but before he could he was already getting a notice of another murder coming in. Capone and Marconi’s retaliation was strong, but Luca’s would be stronger.


 

Rose sat with her head against her knees on the bathroom floor in the ensuite. Carmine had been taken out of her room by one of the nannies, just minutes earlier. There would be a knock at her door for a minute, gone the next, and back another minute.

“Misses Changretta,” it was one of the maids. “Are you alright in there? Should I call for Mr. Shelby?”

Rose had spent the last thirty minutes over the toilet bowl hurling her breakfast into the porcelain. She hadn’t felt this sick in a long time, not since… she didn’t want to think about. It would make her sicker if she thought about it.

“No, no,” Rose grumbled as she tried to get herself up off the floor and failed. “I’m fine, please, just look after Carmine for me.”

There wasn’t another word on the other side of the door, and Rose felt the bile rise up her throat again. As the sickness past and she slumped back against the wall, still sat on the floor, she found another reason to cry.

She knew she was pregnant, this time she wasn’t so ignorant to the idea that it was possible that she could be. When she had found out she was carrying Carmine, the tiniest things would irk her. Too much smoke in the room, the smell of cheese, early morning rises. But the smell of fried tomatoes and the subtle hint of basil, the smell of Luca’s pomade, and the fresh linen that came in from the cleaners gave her a sense calmness she needed to keep going.

Luca wasn’t here to celebrate, she didn’t know if she could celebrate anyway, not without him. Would Luca celebrate even if he knew? He had too? Once she thought she would give him a big family, because she knew that was what he grew up with, no matter how frightening Carmine’s birth had been to her. But another little one was on the way, and she had to protect herself more fiercely than ever.

And still, Luca wouldn’t know she was carrying his child. Would he ever come for her, like he had promised Tommy? Like, he had truly promised her? She found the strength to pick herself up off the tiled floor. She washed her mouth out and fixed her make-up and then her hair. She then went back into her room and changed her clothes. Ada had bought her some more clothes when she had run out of clothes to wear from not having her other items washed.

She fixed herself up, and in the same moment threw all her clothes into her suitcase. She quickly did the same for Carmine and left both suitcases and a bag by the bedroom door. She found a maid in the hall and redirected her to the parlour where Tommy was supposedly at.

Rose made her way down and walked into the parlour abruptly. Tommy was shaking a mans hand, as the man took his leave. For a moment Rose regretted barging in.

“Who's this?” the man asked Tommy.

“This is my youngest sister, Rose. Rose, this is Mister Mosley.” Tommy motioned to the well-groomed man, he didn’t look much older then Tommy, maybe they were the same age. Rose shook his hand politely, remembering her manners when she had meant to storm into the room for a bit of dramatic flair.

“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Mosley.” Rose was about to step out of the way, giving Mr. Mosley the way to leave the room so she could speak to Tommy alone. But instead, Mr. Mosley had different plans.

“If your brother wasn’t here, I’d ask you out for a drink.” The man smiled at her mischievously, almost forgetting himself as he stood next to Tommy. Tommy had a blank look on his face. Before she was married, she knew that Tommy would have kicked him out in a heartbeat, but now that she was married, and Luca was her husband she knew that Tommy expected much more from Luca then just a man being kicked out of a room.

“My brother is here, and it sounds like you are asking me,” Rose almost smirked, but she tilted her head upwards and wrapped her arms around her, just underneath her breasts. Mr. Mosley gave Tommy a side-glance, and then looked at Rose suggestively when he got no response from Tommy. “I’m married mister Mosley,” Rose did little to hide her wedding ring, along with her engagement ring just underneath it, rubies and roses of gold.

“Shame,” Mr. Mosley said with an eyebrow raised, and half a frown. “For me that is.”

“Rose, walk Mr. Mosley out please,” Tommy said as he was already settling himself back down in an armchair taking a drink of gin, and snatching the newspaper from the coffee table. Rose gave Tommy a glare, but it went unnoticed.

Rose walked next to Mr. Mosley silently all the way to the front door. He stepped out and Rose took the door frame in her hand ready to shut it, but he turned around to speak to her instead, much to Rose’s chagrin.

“I know you’re married, but if you’re ever up to a little fun, maybe just for the thrill of it, I’d like to have you by my side.” He was insistent, and Rose had never had this much attention from another man in England before. She had been a quiet recluse then, many people only saw the top of her head when she went out, as she walked around the city with eyes glued to the ground.

“I’m happily married, Mr. Mosley.” Rose tried to smile, but once she had said it, it felt wrong. Was she happily married? She wanted to say yes a thousand times, but she knew her marriage was on the rocks, as much as she didn’t want it to be.

“You don’t look as confident with your answer as your words suggest.” He pressed on. This wasn’t her. She was no adulterer. But he was looking at her in a way she couldn’t deny, she wanted Luca to look at her like that, but he wasn’t here.

Would he ever be here?

“I–” Rose started, but she didn’t know how to finish it. She gulped down some air and attempted to finish her response. “I’m married.” It sounded so cheap, but at least it was true.


Rose was frazzled. She didn’t like being put on the spot, but as she returned to the parlour to speak to Tommy the look on her face and the feeling in her stomach along with the baby she knew was there was so evident on her face. She couldn’t control it anymore.

Tommy was sat in the armchair still, and she waited for him to look up at her from his newspaper. He folded his paper back up, placed it on the coffee table, cleared his throat, took another gulp of gin and then settled back down in his armchair. He looked at his sister intently, as she got comfortable in her own armchair.

“I–uh, I need to go home.”

“Home?”

“Yes, home. Back to Manhattan.”

“Right, I thought Birmingham would be your home forever.”

“It’s–It’s not the same. Not like before.”

“You can’t go back home. I don’t know how many more times I have to tell you that.”

“I know, but it's different now. I need to see Luca, I need to tell him something.”

“What’s so important that you can’t wait until he comes to get you?”

“I–I’m, well I’m pregnant.”

“What?” he paused and looked at her closely and then down to her stomach where her hands cradled her almost flat belly. “How do you know?”

“It’s just like when I had Carmine, though I’ve been dealing with it better. It might just be the cleaner air. But, Luca needs to know. I just need to tell him, I can’t go on without him. The only reason I was able to keep my head up when I was carrying Carmine was Luca. I can’t do this without him.”

“Don’t say that. Of course, you can, because you have too. You can’t leave.”

“I do things now Tommy. I go to church ever so often, I visit May and her horses. Ada takes me out when she can, and I visit Arthur and Linda. Polly’s even here more than you want her to be.”

“That doesn’t matter, you know what Luca said, what he wants. Why would I let you walk into danger? Don’t be foolish Rose. You’re safe here. Think about Carmine. Luca will be here when he’s able.”

“Tom I truly can’t wait anymore. Please, you have to let me go.”

“Stop it, Rose. If you don’t want to think about anyone but yourself and what you need in your life, you’re going to put yourself into trouble. You’re going to put Carmine into trouble, and you’re going to put your baby in trouble. You live in New York, I don’t know how much Luca exposes you to his way of life, but whoever is after him, whoever is causing him the trouble that made him want you to stay here,” he paused to take a breath, but he looked more angry, more annoyed then he was before. “They will kill you, I know about everything that happened. I know about how you went into labour, I know about Luca’s problems with the Cubans from before, I know that he had problems with Al Capone in the past too.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I had business with him.”

“Of course you did, but a business relationships doesn’t include what Luca’s been up to.”

“I asked about you. I worried about you every day after I sent you with him.”

“Then why did you send me?”

“I thought I could save the family. I didn’t want to, but I had to. I hated letting you go, but I knew you’d be safe with him. I knew he would never cause you harm.”

“Why couldn’t you talk to me then, tell me this before.”

“Because I couldn’t. Because I–” he stopped speaking. He looked at his hands, he couldn’t look Rose in the face anymore. Rose got up from her chair and in a swift motion moved toward Tommy and wrapped her arms around him.

“I forgive you.” Tommy nodded his head, but he didn’t look her in the eyes. “Before I was afraid, I was afraid of Luca when I met him, but he is a good man, well at least to me and his family. I wouldn’t want to be married to anyone else, I didn’t get to make that choice but it doesn’t bother me anymore. Because I love him, and though I don’t know if it’ll be the same when I see him again, I’m still glad I had that time where everything seemed like a dream.” Tommy kissed the side of her head and walked out of the room without another word. Rose took his affection with all her heart, she knew that emotion was difficult for him, especially in front of her. She didn’t expect him to start crying in front of her, because that wasn’t him.

She was staying, but for how long?

Chapter Text

A gathering of great necessity occurred in a place Luca was not expecting to see again in the state it was in. Don Spinietta, Cristofano, his father-figure after his father’s passing seemed so much more raggedy then he had ever been before. 

Luca knew that Don Spinietta wasn’t the same as the last time he had seen him, but now Don Spinietta had gathered almost every capo, made-man and soldier along with his consigliere for a meeting of sorts. 

The stately mansion just upstate of Manhattan was once so ornately decorated and smelled so richly of power and fortune that Luca still felt as if Don Spinietta’s deceased wife and daughters could be seen around the halls of the house then, but time had changed the manor. The walls were bare, there were cobwebs in several corners, spare boxes were left all around the manor, with no furniture but his desk in his office, his bed in his bedroom, and the liquor still in its designated cabinet.

Luca inspected the place carefully, feeling rather guilty that Don Spinietta was living this way. Why had he stayed here so long, Luca didn't know, his only living daughter was waiting for him in California. 

Luca noticed the interested and nosy looks on some of the men’s faces as they walked about the manor, waiting for the meeting to begin. Luca didn’t dally, he knew where the office was, but as Luca made his way he noticed that Don Spinietta was not there, but sitting on a lonesome chair in his domed, glass parlour. It was damp and green outside the windows, and the smoke from Spinietta’s pipe signified this was the place for the meeting. The men of the Spinietta famiglia crammed inside the room as tightly as possible. They then waited for Spinietta to speak.

“I’m not well,” Spinietta croaked. No one responded; the silence was out of respect. Don Spinietta slouched slightly in his chair, the white of his hair was snowy, the wrinkles all over his face were noticeable, he was old, but that was nothing to be ashamed of. 

Johnny Rizzo, Spinietta’s consigliere stood close to him, urging him to continue speaking as lightly as he could. 

“Sometimes, I don’t remember, if I’ve eaten anythin’, sometimes it’s if I called Carla yet, other times I can’t remember my name.”

The guilt sunk deeply into Luca’s gut. He never knew what he was going through, but he felt like he should have. Luca couldn’t get that out of his mind. 

“I kept delaying my leave, sometimes because I forgot, other times cause I didn’t wanna leave. I love the family, this was my first famiglia above all others. But now I’m not as- you know- as good as I use to be at my job.” There was a bit of murmuring in the back of the room but it quickly died out.

“I’m stepping down as boss.” The murmur grew for a moment but soon it quieted down once again. “I nominate Luca Changretta, as next boss.” All the men around Luca turned to look at him. 

“I second that,” Anthony spoke from the other side of the room. It was rightfully Luca's. He was the underboss, but he still needed support, if he didn’t have it for sure, there would be someone to come knocking and shut him down with a knife or a bullet. 

“I second too,” Donnino spoke from just behind him, and then soon all the capos and made-men spoke in support of Luca. 

Don Spinietta, motioned for Luca to step forward to stand with him. Don Spinietta spoke to him in a hushed tone, but still loud enough for some of the members in the front to hear. Luca knew that it was meant to be a private conversation, but he didn’t want to move Don Spinietta from his place.

The war between the Chicago outfit and Manhattan was still going strong, and if Don Spinietta was giving Luca all the reins he was ready to take them, but take them as quickly as he could so he could finally get started the way he wanted to. 

“Son, it’s time. There was one time your papà said, ‘you know my Luca, he’s a smart boy, maybe he’ll go to college, maybe be a doctor or a lawyer, but when you took this life instead, your papà was worried, he said, Cristofano, if one day I am not here to watch my boy, please you look out for him’. I’ve tried my best, but now is the time I stepped down, now it’s time on your own, to look over the business yourself. I trust you’ll do a good job of it.” Don Cristofano Spinietta pulled Luca into a firm short hug and when they released each other, Don Spinietta gave Luca a kiss on the hand, a final step to becoming the Don of Manhattan. The former Don stepped back, and men, Luca’s men, all began to line up to congratulate him and kiss the many rings on his hand. 

It had finally come, the time he had expected for his ascendence into the position of CEO over the greatest criminal organization in the world. But Rose wasn’t here, to kiss him, to tell him that she knew it would come to him, that she was proud of him. She was back in Birmingham, probably loathing him, his biggest nightmare. 

Luca kept a straight face, as people continued to file into a single line, but all he could think was that Rose wasn’t here, the love of his life, wouldn’t congratulate him this time. 


 

It only took Spinietta a few days of moping around his stately manor before he finally took the ride to Northern California to meet his daughter. Manhattan had now become the property and location of the Changretta crime family.

The beginning of Luca’s reign held all the problems Don Spinietta had failed to properly deal with, but mostly it was Luca’s fault, he had become the acting boss before he had truly been sworn into the position.

Capone wasn’t a thorn to Luca’s side but an enormous wall in his path. Aria Marconi had been the thorn, and he hadn’t heard anything about her or her brother in weeks. Luca didn’t know if that was a good sign or not.

A week after Luca’s rise to being Don of Manhattan, he was walking down a street in Soho with Charlie Guzzo and Tony by his side. Luca could tell Guzzo was definitely uncomfortable with him now that he was the boss.

They were meeting an associate of Guzzo’s who wasn’t a soldier but was loyal to the Changretta family for the right amount of cash. Luca pushed the door open, and watched as people minded their business and continued on with their work, Luca didn’t need a commotion to start anyway.

Guzzo did most of the work, he got the attention of the right people, and soon the front room of the dry cleaners they stood inside was clear. A tall tanned man walked in from a back room and walked around the counter to shake Luca and Tony’s hand. Guzzo gave the man a friendly slap on the back and then told him to tell Luca what they were here for.

“My brother works on a shipping dock in Staten Island, the early morning shift. His girlfriend is the secretary there. She’s Italian,”

“Where you from?” Tony interrupted, looking at him with more suspicion then necessary.

“Here,” the man answered, “but if you wanted a different answer, Puerto Rico. I’ve never seen it though.” Tony nodded, but Luca was more annoyed that they were now off-topic. “Anyway, his girlfriend’s been saying that there are more Italian men in town, then she later finds out that there are two men sticking their noses around the docks. She was able to find out who they worked for after bothering them for a while, and she told my brother and my brother told me.”

“So, who are they working for then?” Tony asked. Luca already knew the answer.

“Al Capone, an Italian guy from Chicago, apparently he’s rich and runs a gang or something.”

“Thanks, do you have any more information?” Luca kept a blank look upon his face.

“He’ll be in Staten Island, same docks tomorrow night. We think he’s stealing a loot, or a few boats and sending his own men off, but we're not exactly sure. But he’ll be there.”

Luca pulled out his wallet, took a few bills out, and shook the guy's hand with the bills in between their hands. The man took the money when they let go, and nodded his head at Luca.

Guzzo nodded at the guys and then retreated from the building with Luca and Tony. They got into a car, Luca in the driver’s seat.

“What now, boss?” Tony asked Luca with an eyebrow raised and a smirk on his face.

“For once we’ve got the upper hand. Gather the capos, were hitting him tonight, in Staten Island.”

“We should call the Galano’s,” Tony says.

“Get Gina out of there if she’s still there.”

“She’s not listening to me, she says she’ll stay there, where her husband is, fuckin’ crazy.”

“Aye just leave it then, she’ll be fine, they’re after us in the end, not the Galano’s.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

They broke off. For the afternoon they planned to re-group just before eleven o’clock, so Luca took the alone time to grovel in his loneliness. He didn’t go home, though he thought of it. He went to his mother’s house, no one was there, of course, all of the furniture still in its place. It still smelled like his mother lived there, but she hadn’t… not for a while.

Luca stood in the hallway for a while just imagining the liveliness it used to have. He could see his mother and Catarina walking back and forth into the kitchen to the dining room. He saw Bianca running after all the children, keeping them entertained.

Luca walked further into the hallway, he could almost imagine the smell it used to have. All the food that had passed through the halls and the candles his mother used to burn. He looked at the etching on the wall, the white paint where it chipped, the dent in the corner of the stove, and the hanging calendar stuck on last December when his mother had died.

He could smell Rose, her perfume, the scent of her skin after she had just bathed, he craved her, he wanted to be wrapped in her, to feel her comfort. Then he thought of his son, Carmine, he had not seen him for quite some time now, for all Luca knew he could look different, he could be taller.

Luca walked into the dining room and took a seat in the chair. He took off his hat and put his arms on the table and placed his head on his arms.

He was tired but more lonely. He wanted Rose back, he wanted his son back too. But he knew it wouldn’t be easy. He had to get rid of Capone first, and that was no easy target either. But convincing Rose to come back to him, after everything that she had said, after everything he knew she believed about him, he didn’t know if she would listen, or if he could change her mind.

But he had too, for his own sake. He was only still going, still waking up after terrible fits of sleep, eating not as much as he normally did because he needed to give himself the chance to see her again, the love of his life.

Luca moped around the house for what felt like five minutes but truly had been several hours. He had reached the base of operations, the basement of a diner in Staten Island just a few minutes before eleven o’clock.

Tony did most of his calls, and Luca felt a tinge of guilt for it. He should have been the one to call the Galano’s, he was boss now, it was his responsibility to get in touch with the boss of Staten Island.

In that dinner, on the basement floor, a group of men gathered, some real soldiers for the family, either carrying a tool or pistol. Tools were easily concealed, and a cop couldn’t put someone in prison for it, the pistols were more discreet but they were supplied by the Galano’s, driving around with a pistol was a bad idea, especially on the bridge. Today was not the night to be stopped by the police, because tonight was the night they’d finally get their hands on Capone after all the shit he had put them through.

Luca was purposely riling his self up now. Rose has almost died because of him, Bianca was being watched because of him too, there was a possible chance he could have died too, but had almost died on the job for many things and that was fair game, he worked in a cruel business, but it was different once family was brought into it. The Cosa Nostra had rules, and Capone had already broken several, but Luca had too, he was reminding himself now, it wasn’t an opportune time to feel sorry for himself, but he couldn’t help it. Rose was gone with Carmine, that was his fault, but if Capone hadn’t pushed him to figure out what was going on he wouldn’t have looked at Aria Marconi twice.

It felt weird that he was justifying himself because he knew he shouldn’t.

Carlo, Nico and Vito arrived with their crew and soon the basement of the little diner was cramped.

“Don Luca,” Carlo, the boss of Staten Island greeted him. They shook hands, and then Luca shook hands with his sons, Nico and Vito, the last time they had spoken face to face they were arranging an alliance for Gina’s marriage to Nico.

“Don Carlo, thank you for helping Manhattan tonight.”

“Anything for the famiglia.”

“How’s my sister?” Tony butt in from behind Luca.

“She’s great, we're trying for a baby,” Nico answered, with a subtle nod of his head.

“We should have sent her away with the rest of the women.” Tony had worry etched on his face.

“It’s too late for that now, it could get dangerous tonight.” Luca countered.

“Where is Gina tonight?”

“With my mother, safe, upstate.”

“Good, we don’t need any more bodies,” Tony said with a blank look on his face, Nico frowned at him just for mentioning it.

But it was true, the bodies had been piling up, enough for the police to notice. And if tonight was the night, they needed to end it quickly, no need for survivors to continue this war between Manhattan and the Chicago outfit.

“Hey, the Bassano’s,” Carlo broke the tension in the room as Don Enrico of the Bronx entered the basement with a group of his soldiers in tow.

“We’re here for the party,” Enrico laughed heartily, before sensing the grim mood in the room. The basement was now more and more cramped, but it would soon be time for everyone to head out.

“Alright, listen here,” Luca started and the room went hushed, he didn’t have to raise his voice that much.

“The tip is, Capone and a few of his men are planning to steal a few things, from the shipping dock in the east yard, he could be taking some boats and putting his men on them. We are not letting them get that far, were going to take them out when they enter the warehouse, its secluded and meant to be closed. This way we have no witnesses. Don’t fuckin’ die, your main target is Capone if one of his men get in the way get rid of him too. The Bassano’s are coming in through the back,” Luca looked over to Enrico and nodded. “The Galano’s are coming in from the dock,” Luca nodded at the Galano’s “and Manhattan is coming in through the front.”

“Just your standard ambush,” Tony smirked.

“Yeah, ready?” it came out like a question, but it wasn’t meant to be. They were going in regardless. The men kept silent, they needed too, too much sound from an unsuspecting diner in Staten Island was not a good sign. Several nods were shown, and then they all went out in droves to the warehouse they were expecting Capone to loot.

While the men were all making their way to the warehouse, Luca took the opportunity to ask Carlo Galano about the warehouse.

“Don Carlo, do you have business in this warehouse or this dock?” Luca had his toothpick to his mouth again, it was no time for a smoke.

“We use it frequently, along with another just four miles south,” Carlo answered.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what do you have here?”

“We get your brother-in-law's juice here, that Shelby gin. It’s delicious, we make good money from it.” Luca nodded his head at Don Carlo. He felt uneasy, is that why Capone was here? To steal the Galano’s supply of Tommy Shelby’s gin.

Luca cleared his mind and continued to the designated destination.

It was dark outside, only the small lights outside the building helped them get inside, luckily the docks were well lit for passing boats and ships.

Luca’s men walked in as quietly as they could they’re tools and pistols in hand. They hid behind crates and posts, waiting to be alerted by Luca.

Luca had his hand on the gun holster inside his tailored coat. He could hear someone speaking, and he was hoping it was Capone or his men and not his own, or the Bassanos and Galano’s. Luca stepped forward out of the shadows, giving Tony the look to hold back his men.

Luca walked silently, but casually. It was dangerous for him to do so, he could be outnumbered, or he could scare Capone and his men into firing without thinking first.

Luca stepped well into the light, he could see Capone’s bigger silhouette amongst the stalkier frames of his men.

“You’re out of your jurisdiction,” Luca spoke. Capone and his men turned around, guns up, but still, they hadn’t fired.

“Come into the light.” Capone's voice was low and squicky at the same time, Luca couldn’t put his finger on it. Luca didn’t want to move any further but he did. “Luca Changretta.” Capone laughed, with a mock about him. Luca kept his blank look, menacing and blank all the same. “It appears your out of your jurisdiction too, my friend.”

“I have friends, here,” Luca said in a low tone.

“You don’t want to make the wrong step here, I’m coming back home, I’m getting what I want.”

“Did Chicago dry up?”

“No, I’m getting ready to water it actually.” Capone swung out his gun and fired so quickly Luca was shocked that he hadn’t jumped out of the way.

Capone had missed his shot, the bullet flew past Luca’s shoulder, he knew a man like Capone was too confident in himself. Luca took out his own pistol and fired back, and he could hear his own men appearing from out of the shadows, and then the Galano’s and Bassano’s made themselves known. An intense brawl ensued, several gunshots fired, and Luca fought off one of Capone’s men that challenged him in hand to hand combat. Luca hooked his arm around his neck, and dug his hand in his pocket for his brass knuckles, he struggled to get them on. He let go of the man, and the stranger gasped for air before lunging at Luca again. Luca gave him a quick right hook with the metal between his fingers and knocked him out. Luca quickly grabbed a tool nearby and hit him three more times against the head and chest. It was sheer anger, he hated it. He knew not to waste his energy, to only give what he needed, but Rose was on his mind, so was his mother and he was livid.

Luca felt sick, there was something about touching and fighting a wounded man that brought him back to the war. With a pistol, there was no emotion he could kill anyone, and that was what was wrong with him. He took out his anger, his frustrations on that unknown man. But it wouldn’t help. Luca got up groggily, his second pistol in hand.

“Capone,” Luca shouted as men continued to fight all around him. Luca spotted him, leaving through the back, and the Bassano’s had already made themselves busy enough to put him down. A man slammed into Luca from behind, making Luca lose his footing for a moment. Luca turns around to punch the man in the face with his knuckles and pistol in hand. The man punched Luca in his gut, knocking the wind out of him and then right on the mouth. Luca could taste the blood in his mouth. He wiped his lips with his free hand, and quickly slammed his pistol against the man’s neck, the man stepped back in shock and Luca took the moment to shoot him. He fell quickly and Luca turned back to find Capone.

Capone was wounded, he could tell by the limp he had as he was leaving. “Capone,” Luca shouted again. Luca fired three more shots from a distance, Capone fell to the floor but he couldn’t tell if all three shots had gotten him.

“Luca!” it sounded like Guzzo. His voice was frantic, and Luca forgot about Capone. He knew whatever Guzzo was shouting at him for was more important. “Luca!” Guzzo shouted again, and Luca went into a half run and clutched at his aching rib. He couldn’t remember if he was hit in the ribs but it didn’t matter to him at the moment.

He spotted Guzzo crouched on the floor, a body next to him. Luca felt sick to his stomach, but he moved around the body, feeling chills run along his limbs. He wanted to cry, but he knew he couldn’t.

“Luca,” blood was spilling out of Tony’s mouth as he spoke, he had two gunshots to the chest. Luca put his hands on the wounds.

“Tony,” he spoke, Luca’s face looked pained. Tony was Luca’s best friend, there was no chance he was going to lose him too. Luca was trying to pick him up by the shoulder. “Guzzo, pick him up.” Guzzo tried, but Tony protested.

“You’ll kill me faster,” Tony gritted through his teeth, Luca could tell it hurt him to speak.

“I’m sorry, Tony,” Luca almost cried.

“It’s not your fault, did we get him at least?”

“Yeah,” Luca lied.

“Hey, tell Anna I love her. Tell her not to forget me–tell her I tried.” Luca held Tony, bruised, battered, wounded, and soaking in his own blood.

“I’ll tell her,” Luca answered him, holding back a sob.

“Love you like a brother,” Tony said through a wounded smirk.

“Love you too.” Tony nodded at Luca’s response, giving him one last smile before life left his eyes. Luca choked on a sob, as he held Tony tightly in his arms. A few men had gathered, and another to break the news.

“Capone escaped.” Luca’s head shot up at the news.

“I shot him three times.” Luca clenched his jaw tight, pain in his eyes as he remembered the punch to the face he received.

“He escaped wounded.” The soldier responded.

“FUCK!” Luca screamed so loudly it reverberated off the walls of the warehouse.

There were bodies everywhere, his men, Galano’s men, Bassano’s men and Capone’s.

Luca didn’t feel like he had won anything.

Don Enrico lost his son, Alonso, Don Carlo lost of few of his men, and so did Luca, but from what they could tell, Capone lost all his men, and somehow still managed to pick himself up and escape while he mourned Tony.

What Luca had left to do was pick up the bodies, send Capone’s men away in an unmarked grave somewhere and have proper funerals for his own.

There wasn’t much relief left within him, just a hollowness he didn’t know how to repair.


 

Luca attended several funerals in the week after the ambush at the warehouse in Staten Island.

Tony’s funeral was the last one he presented himself to. He didn’t take his hat off, as it sat low on his head to cover a black eye that had festered there, on the same side a bruise had also appeared on his jaw. Luca had several bruises, but that was as bad as it got, apart from the small cut on the bridge of his nose.

Their friends were dead, men who didn’t do much but present themselves to the famiglia with loyalty and honour that sometimes Luca felt he no longer had.

The Cosa Nostra had ten rules for its members to follow, and Luca hadn’t broken any, but he knew Rose and the rest of the famiglia believed he had.

He didn’t know Aria Marconi’s whereabouts for the last three weeks or so, or what kind of gossip she was spreading. He had absolutely paid her a special kind of attention he never wanted to, and attention he had only reserved for Rose. He had shared a kiss with her, touched her hands, the small of her back, and bought her jewels, but nothing more. How could he make her believe that he was interested in here without taking his and her own clothes off? That was the best he could do with the guilt he had. 

Anthony’s casket went into the ground, and a few members of their family picked up soil from a pile near the opening in the ground and tossed it on top of his casket which had settled deep into the ground. Luca took a side glance at Tony’s mother and Gina who stood close to her with Nico by her side. Anna, Tony’s girlfriend, wasn’t near the front of the small congregation.

It was then Luca’s turn to pick up the soil from the pile. He moved forward carefully, bent down slightly, cringing at the soreness in his ribs. As he set himself up straight he breathed in air from his nose and out. It hit him then that he was never going to see him again, that Tony was never going to be there again to tell him what he was doing right or wrong. That he’ll never have his best friend again. He clenched his jaw tight and tossed the dirt onto the casket. He turned around and walked away from the service, toward his car parked on the side of the road.

“Luca,” he’s stopped by a slender hand pulling him back before he reaches his prefered destination. Luca turns to the voice that stopped him. It was Gina.

“Gina,” he responds. “I’m sorry.” He didn’t know what else to say.

“I know, I know you are. This is what I’m afraid of, with this kind of famiglia. I know it’s possible almost every day of our lives.” She pauses as she wipes a tear away from her cheek. “You know, sometimes, if it were my perfect world, I wouldn’t let Nico leave the house, I wouldn’t want him in this kind of business, but it’s not my world, it yours, and his.”

Luca didn’t know what to say, he felt kind of sick, but maybe that was the fact he hadn’t eaten anything in the last 24 hours.

“Rose,” Gina continued, and Luca brought his head up to look her in the eyes. He hadn’t heard Rose’s name spoken out loud in quite awhile. “She told me the same thing once. She said that she should be used to it by now after she lost her brother to the famiglia, but she says she’ll never sleep right knowing one day you might be taken from her.” Gina was right, Luca knew how Rose had felt about the business, but she never said a word, because it wasn’t her world. Rose knew that Luca was in the business to better his chosen family and support the family he loved most.

“Do you still love her?” Gina asked gingerly.

“You heard?” Luca looked ashamed as Gina nodded her head.

“I never stopped loving her. I only did it because I had too, and I never went far with it. I couldn’t.”

“I believe you,” Gina whispered. Luca was making his emotions clear and only because he couldn’t help it. Gina hadn’t really seen such a vulnerable side to him, but she wouldn’t press him. They were both hurt.

Luca was pensive. What was he fighting for now that Rose was back in Birmingham with their son, away from him, thinking the worst of him, when he was here providing for his family. He couldn’t stomach it. Luca brought his hand to rub it down his face, carefully avoiding his bruises. He needed to see Rose, he needed to go to Birmingham.

Gina gave him a reassuring smile, the best she could muster with her tired eyes and rosy cheeks. She stepped on the tips of her toes to kiss Luca’s cheek and then said goodbye as Nico appeared and took her arm to take her home, to Staten Island.

Luca put his hand back to his eyes, he felt hurt in every inch of his body, he wanted to cry, cry for Rose, cry for Carmine, cry for Tony, and cry for himself. He breathed in deeply and then removed his hand. He looked back at the people still lingering by Tony’s hole in the ground.

Then he finally spotted Anna. Luca walked back to the group that slowly began to leave. He watched Anna gain the courage to walk closer toward Tony’s grave and finally begin to weep when she thought she was alone.

“Anna,” he spoke gently to her. She turned to him, eyes red, tears streaming down her cheeks. She started crying more as she saw noticed him.

She shook her head as if she meant to say no to him, but she looked away and back to the grave that was almost full of dirt. Luca approached her and wrapped an arm around her and she instinctively shoved her face into his chest and began to sob uncontrollably. Luca began to hush her, rubbing her back, he didn’t know what to do so he spoke.

“I’m sorry,” he had said the same words so many times in the last few days, he was beginning to think they didn’t have the same meaning as they used to. Anna stepped back as Luca let go of her.

“I don’t blame you, I should, probably–I don’t know really. But he told me, I don’t know if he was just excited or not, maybe he was drunk, but he said he would leave your way of life, your business. He never told me what you two did, but I could guess well enough what it was. But,” she sobbed again, suddenly unable to control herself. Luca put his hand on her shoulder and rubbed her comfortably until the sobbing subsided. “I believed him, I thought we’d get married one day, we’d have kids, a family, that we’d die together, old.”

Luca still didn’t know what to say, and he couldn’t bring himself to say sorry again, he knew if he said it, it would come out as an insult.

“Did you see him go?” the words flew over his head, as he tried to clue into what she said. “Was it instant?”

Luca rubbed his face again before he spoke. “It wasn’t instant, I won’t lie to you. He was in pain, but he wanted me to tell you something. He spoke through a lot of pain so I know it was important that I tell you.”

“What did he say?”

“He told me to tell you that he loves you. That he wants you to not forget him, and he said that he tried.” Anna began to sob again, this time Luca let her cry to herself. They stood there looking over Anthony’s grave for at least an hour. The soil had been filled in quickly, there was no chance to see his face again.

They stood there for a while. Anna had resorted to sitting on the grass in front of the fresh soil. Her tears had left a stain to her cheeks, her eyes were swollen, but she had stopped crying. Luca helped her up off the ground.

“If you need anything, just let me know,” Luca said to her as she steadied herself.

“I’ll be fine,” she murmured. She fixed her hair, rubbed her eyes, looked at the soil on top of her dead lover’s casket and walked away with a different air to her.

She had grieved, and she would continue, but she grew. Luca had learned from her.

He was heading home now, to Tessa Tower. He hadn’t been there since Rose had left. He wondered if it would look different, or smell different.

Of course, it would be different, because Rose and Carmine would not be there.

Luca walked into the lobby and was immediately greeted by a man at the check-in guest. Luca didn’t recognize him, but he had been away from the building so long he expected things to have really changed.

The man in uniform greeted him politely, and then Luca walked in past the desk and into the hall with the elevators. He rode the elevator up to the 22 floor, and then appeared in front of room 331, the only room on floor 22. He breathed in deeply.

The last time he was here, Rose had told him that she hated him, and with good reason, she believed he had cheated on her. The thought of it still made him sick to his stomach. But he picked up his keys from his pocket and put them into the door to unlock it. He swung the door open then, and strangely it smelled the same as he had left it. The smell of alcohol was gone too. He closed the door behind him after he entered and stood in the foyer for a moment, just to breathe in what reminded him of Rose.

He walked around the apartment. the living room was the same, the couches looked as they had left him. Luca remembered Carmine sitting on the couch when Rose had yelled at him. He could see his son there still. He wondered how he was doing, he had never been apart from Carmine this long.

The liquor table and cabinet were stocked, though Luca didn’t move any closer to grab a drink. Instead, he moved into the dining room and looked around. It was the same apart from the centrepiece on top of the table had no flowers. It made sense though, Luca would just let them die if they were there. There were no flowers throughout the entire apartment. It was strange.

Luca moved into the kitchen then and it was unstocked, completely empty. The plates, bowls and silverware were in their place but everything else was empty. There were coffee and tea in the cabinet but Luca wasn’t in the mood for that either. Maybe because Rose wasn’t there.

Luca walked down the hall from the kitchen, first the spare bedroom, then the next, and then Carmine’s bedroom. Carmine’s bedroom still smelled like him too. Most of his clothes were gone, he had left almost all of his toys though. Luca picked up a toy car and ran his hand underneath the wooden wheels before he put it back down in its place. He walked out of the room and then moved to his own. The room he shared with Rose. It was the same, apart from the missing flowers. The sheets on the bed were clean and smooth. Rose’s side of the bed was the same. She had a photograph on her bedside table, there was a book inside the drawer, along with a notebook, two fountain pens, a set of earrings and a hairbrush. Luca opened the book and a dry flower petal fell to the floor. Luca picked it up and put it back in its place, a white rose petal.

Luca plopped himself down on the bed, he put his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. He was the Don of Manhattan, one of the most powerful, most fearsome, maybe even most expensive man there was in New York at the moment. But he was sad still. He knew he had fucked up, royally, first Rose and then Capone.

Nothing felt right. Luca threw himself back on the bed and stared at the ceiling for a while. He stared so long, he didn’t remember falling asleep until he heard knocking on the apartment front door. He picked himself up looking out the window first. The sun was beginning to set on the horizon.

Luca went to the door sluggishly, feeling the sleep still in his eyes. He opened the door to Donnino, Mateo and Paulie. They barged in without many words. Mateo went straight for the liquor table while Paulie and Donnino sat down on the couch.

“Luca,” the tone of Donnino’s voice was drawn out as if he were speaking from far away. Or maybe Luca was far away, mentally.

“What? Why are you all here?” Luca sounded, his eyes were lingering on the liquor cabinet where Mateo was haunting. Was he thirsty? Or did he just want to drown his sorrows? The reason didn’t matter much to Luca, so he moved to the table and looked through the selection underneath the tabletop.

“We wanted to check on you, see if you were okay,” Pauline answered. Luca’s eyes scanned the selection of alcohol, his eyes hovered over the Shelby Brothers’ Gin. But Luca opted for some rum instead.

“I’m fine,” Luca said after he poured himself a drink.

“No, you’re not.” It was accusatory, but it was careful and worried. The expression on Mateo’s face showed it so. Luca drank the rum in his short glass, and then put a hand on the cabinet to lean against before he put the glass down. Luca’s expression was blank, unreadable, stoic. Mateo had seen the face several times before, Donnino and Paulie more times then they could count.

“Tony’s dead,” Luca spoke. He didn’t let on his emotion, but the men in the room knew Luca was upset, hurt, broken. “Rose is gone, my son with her.” Luca took another gulp of his rum and set the glass down again. He ran his hand over his face, to rub away the sleep, but it only made him more tired. “My mother is gone, my father, my brother. I’m tired.”

Donnino stood up slowly, he had a cigar placed smartly in his pocket. He took it out and give it a sniff against its length. Luca expected him to light it, but instead, he got very close, so close they almost touched noses. Donnino grabbed Luca by his collar, a little rougher then the situation had suggested but Luca didn’t move, his expression didn’t change either.

“You’re feelin’ real sorry for yourself right now. Fuckin’ stop,” Luca pushed him off with one of his arms, it was a feeble attempt but it didn’t take much to get Donnino off of him, he wasn’t trying to get on Luca’s nerves, he was trying to make him listen. “You’re my boss now, Don of Manhattan. You’re gonna fix this Capone problem, get the business back up to pace, then you’re gonna go to England and get your girl back.”

Luca nodded, he was looking at the floor. Donnino handed him the cigar then, and Luca took it. Paulie pulled a matchbox from his pocket and tossed it to Luca. Luca tossed it back quick, catching Paulie off guard.

“Rose doesn’t like smoke in here house.” Paulie nodded.

Mateo handed drinks around the room. They were all lonely men, children and wives away from Manhattan.

They sat around the room and shared stories about Tony until it got dark. There was a knock on the door again, and Paulie got up to answer the door. Hiram barged in with his briefcase, he nodded at his brother, Donnino and then moved closer to Luca and opened up his briefcase.

“What’s this?” Luca asked, setting his glass of rum on the coffee table.

“I was doing a bit of digging. On Capone, couldn’t find where he was staying, if he checked into a hospital, none of it. I’m sure the Marconi’s are hiding him somewhere. But, I was able to find something better. Something to take him off your hands.”

“What is it?” Luca asked, almost impatiently.

“Capone, he hasn’t filed any of his taxes for several years. I have a contact in Chicago right now willing to give Capone up if we offer them protection.”

“We can’t protect him if he’s in Chicago.”

“It’s a woman, Luca.”

“His wife?”

“His mistress.” Luca didn’t answer Hiram, he went deep into thought. Luca could easily have become Capone, but he was smarter. Luca eyed everyone seated around the living room for a few moments before he chose to speak again.

“Always pay your taxes,” Luca started. “Never cheat on your wife.” Luca wasn’t guilty, he kept telling himself, he really didn’t cheat, he just wanted it too look like he did.

“Are you going to bring her here?” Paulie asked.

“If that’s what it takes,” Luca answered.

“We’ll have the Chicago police investigate him for tax fraud, and he could easily go to prison for longer then the fuckin wop has left to live.” Hiram seemed to have a strong opinion on Capone.

“Okay, get it started,” Luca said, his word being final. Hiram began to pack up quickly.

“What’s the woman’s name?” Mateo asked before Hiram moved away from them.

“Wendy,” Hiram answered, and then he walked out of the living room, into the foyer and out the door.

“What’s with him?” Paulie asked Donnino. Donnino shrugged.

The men continued to drink through the night, sharing stories or sitting in silence before Mateo turned the radio on.

The clock on the wall showed fifteen minutes past two in the morning. But no one showed signs of whether they were going to get up and leave. The telephone began to ring, and all the men looked at each other quizzically. It was two in the morning, and Luca wasn’t expecting any calls.

Paulie got up to answer the phone.

“Who’s this?” he didn’t even bother to say hello. Luca couldn’t hear what was being said or who was on the other end.

“It’s Marco,” Paulie said to them over the phone. Luca wondered if Marco was okay. Luca never spent much time with Marco, but he knew that Tony’s death had to affect him too, they were brothers after all.

“Calm down, it’s me, Paulie.” Marco was always the same over the phone, angry, asking too many questions at once, and speaking faster than any Italian ancestor they had. “Yeah, Luca’s here.” Paulie rolled his eyes. “No, it’s just Mateo and Nino here too.”

“Say it straight, why are you calling it’s two in the morning. –What? –Speak slower. –Aria? – Are you sure? – Who’s your contact? –Is Guzzo with you?” Mateo got off the couch then to nudge Paulie for not telling the three of them anything. Paulie covered the phone with his mouth.

“Police found Aria Marconi dead,” Paulie said to them. The three men on the couches looked at each other shocked. 

“Marco, Marco, Listen. –Where was she? –Guzzo? –What did Guzzo say?” Paulie covered the phone with his hand again. “Guzzo’s contact says her body was found outside her apartment, she threw herself out her window, ten stories high.”

“She killed herself?” Donnino asked quizzically.

“Okay, thanks yeah, I’ll tell them. Okay, later.” Paulie hung up the phone, and then he stuck his hands in his pockets. Stared at Luca, Donnino and Mateo and then took a long gulp of his gin.

“So?” Mateo asked. Luca hadn’t said a word yet.

“The police say it’s a suicide, everyone else said she was dead before she fell out the window. You think it’s one of Capone’s guys? She never seemed like someone to kill themselves.”

“No one is ever someone to kill themselves,” Luca said. They all looked at him. “Someone must have killed her.”

“Someone must be scared if they killed little Aria Marconi.”

“She’s not so little. If anything, she was the Don of Brooklyn.”


 

Rose sat in Tommy’s parlour uncomfortably, cradling her small baby bump. Lilianna had her tea to her lips as she watched Rose squirm in the armchair.

“Are you alright?” Lilianna asked, with a concerned expression on her face.

“Not really, I can’t find a place to sit.”

“Is it the baby that’s making you feel this way?” Lilianna asked, putting her tea down. She had been a coffee drinker before, but Rose had gotten her hooked on Earl Grey.

“I think so, Carmine wasn’t this bad though. It was only uncomfortable the last few weeks before I had him.”

“How are you doing apart from that?” Lilianna asked. They had been seeing each other at least once a week since Lilianna had shown up at Tommy’s house with a white flag.

“I just,” Rose stopped herself from crying. She knew it was the baby that was making her feel that way. She hadn’t gotten used to knowing that Luca was far away, not knowing that she was pregnant with his baby. “It’s hard to sleep, and my body aches and Luca was always so good to me when I was carrying Carmine.”

“Don’t worry, Rose. It’s been quite sometime now, I’m sure things are already resolved back home and Luca is planning his trip over here already.”

“I could only wish for it now.” Rose frowned. Rose squirmed again until she sunk herself a little lower in the chair. It wasn’t very polite to sit that way, but Lilianna smirked at Rose once she sat still. “I’m sorry, this feels comfortable.”

“Don’t worry,” Lilianna laughed lightly before picking up a tiny tea cake.

“So, what have you been up to in the city?” There was a knock on the door to the parlour. Rose looked to see who was interrupting, sitting up straight in her chair.

Finn opened the door gingerly and slowly shut it behind him. Lilianna sat up straight as well and set her tea on the table. She looked slightly nervous, but she always looked nervous when the Shelby men were around. She was only ever comfortable when Rose was nearby.

“Finn,” Rose started. “What is it?” Finn walked to them slowly, his cap in his hand. He took a tea cake and stepped back.

“Oh–nothing, just wanted to see what you were up too. But you're busy, so I’ll leave.” Finn nodded at Lilianna, acknowledging her presence, stuffed the tea cake in his mouth and swiftly left the room. Rose watched him leave quizzically.

“That was strange,” Rose stated as she slouched down in her chair again.

“How many brothers do you have again?” Lilianna asked with an odd shy smile on her first.

“I had four, now three.” Rose got up again, realizing she had forgotten her tea on the table.

“Oh, right.” Lilianna continued to sip at her tea. They chatted the rest of the day about how they missed New York and their families there, they missed going shopping, the missed good old Italian food. There was so much to miss, but while at first, it seemed to appease Rose that she could talk about the things she missed, it was slowly becoming not enough. She wanted to go back home, back to Manhattan.


 

There was no longer any evidence that winter had seen the light of day in Manhattan. It was April, and all the weather seemed to want to do was pour rain down in buckets. The rain mimicked Luca’s mood. He had a lot to hope for, but too much despair already built up.

Luca was sitting with Hiram in the office he had in his apartment. Luca had a telephone set up in there for private calls, and that was what they were doing in there now. It had taken about a week to get Capone’s mistress into Manhattan and in a secure location. It took another few days for her to settle and tell both Luca and Hiram every bit of information they could use against him to tip off the Chicago Police department. Luca was desperate and though he hated ever having to use the police for his own gains, he knew his brother-in-law across the ocean used the police to his advantage in many occasions and it always seemed to work for him.

Besides Luca wasn’t revealing his name, and neither was Hiram, an anonymous tip to the Chicago Police about their most notorious public enemy would surely make them happy.

Hiram had a legal notepad in front of him and several sheets of paper scattered on Luca’s desk. He was making short notes on the legal pad from the notes he took when he spoke to Capone’s mistress. Luca watched him intently, he had propped a window open earlier, letting the cool spring air inside. Hiram had a mug of coffee, while Luca was sporting more rum. He had a cigar perched between his lips too.

Once Hiram finished making his notes he pulled the telephone number he had scrawled on a scrap piece of paper out from underneath all the papers and pulled the telephone closer to him. He rolled the dial on the receiver and waited for the phone to ring. It took only one ring before someone answered on the other side and Hiram began to speak.

“I have an anonymous tip, about Alphonse Capone, it’s important.” Hiram hummed in agreement and then was silent for a while. Luca watched Hiram’s expression as he waited for him to speak again. “I have good reason and a substantial amount of proof that Al Capone, who you have branded as a public enemy has been evading taxes for the last decade. He claims to own and run several establishments but has a revenue much larger than all those establishments combined. I have reason to believe that he owns seven brothels in the Chicago Outfit alone and ten more in the surrounding cities,” Luca stood up and walked out of the room then. He didn’t wait for Hiram to finish his conversation. He didn’t know if Hiram’s plan would work or not, and the sudden idea of hope hurt him deep in his chest. He moved to the living room, opened up some of the windows and then sat down blowing smoke from his cigar. He realized he had forgotten his drink in his office but he had no motivation to pour himself some more. But it only took another ten minutes before Hiram walked out of the office.

He sat down on the couch next to Luca, taking a drink from his coffee and then setting it on the coffee table. Hiram slouched back on the couch, mimicking Luca. “I think it worked.”

“Yeah?” Luca answered.

“Yeah, let’s just wait a few days. See what the police do with the information.” So they did.

A week went by, and then another. Hiram received bits and pieces of information from time to time but Luca was as impatient as ever. Tony had died, and several others. Luca was Don, but he was too busy trying to get rid of Capone then doing the daily business he should be doing. He wanted to go to Birmingham, he wanted to sleep properly for once.

Hiram came to Luca after those two weeks with news. Luca was in his apartment then, these days he rarely ever left.

“Luca,”

“What is it?”

“I got a tip that Capone’s been in and out of the hospital from his wounds, apparently there were complications and he’s still in pain or something, other than that. I found out that there had already been an investigation going on for Capone, but there on it, somethings going to happen, but apparently it’s so confidential I can’t find any dates, times or what exactly is going to happen. I’m sure they’ll get him soon, if not the gunshot wounds will take him out eventually.”

Luca hummed in response. Hiram had a drink, and then soon left, leaving Luca to wallow all alone.

It took another week for Hiram to come back with more news, but Luca had found out what he was going to say before Hiram even got to the apartment. It was all over the newspapers and even on the radio, Capone had been detained by police and was now going through several trial dates, all the evidence stacked against him. Luca had breathed several sighs of relief all throughout the day. He and Hiram had a few drinks to celebrate and soon, Donnino, Paulie and Mateo were back at the apartment celebrating as well. There was no chance Capone could get out of it.

It was well past midnight and the group of men had drinks and cigars at hand, the radio was playing a comedy sketch and they were all talking over the sound of it.

Luca was silent. The Marconi’s were incapacitated, they’re acting Don deceased. If anything they were preparing to choose someone new to be Don, and there was a good chance even Riccardo Marconi would be snuffed out. Capone was down too, they wouldn’t be hearing from him, he was too busy trying to avoid prison, but they knew that would be where he was heading.

“Hey, you’re alright?” Donnino nudged him with the hand he held his cigar with. Luca nodded at him not saying anything for a moment but then decided to speak anyway.

“I need to see Rose and my son.” He couldn’t help the sudden pained expression, but he fixed himself quickly.

“I need to see my wife too.” Donnino raised both his brows, all of the women had been sent away. It wasn’t just Luca who missed his wife and son. “So, what are you goin’ to do about it?”

“I have to go to Birmingham.”

“Do it then,” Donnino said while he puffed out a cloud of smoke. “What are you waiting for?”

“She hates me.”

“No, she doesn’t.”

“That’s what she said to me when I saw her last.”

“Well, even if she does, you won’t know until you’ve tried to see her. You wrote her that letter, didn’t you? She’s expecting to see you. If anything she’ll definitely be mad at you, because you took so damn long to go see her.” There was a ghost of a smile on Luca’s lips, but it soon faded.”Go to her.”

“You’ll watch things for me.”

“What kind of underboss would I be if I didn’t?” Donnino smirked and then moved the cigar to his lips again.

Luca was ready to see Rose again, he had been ready since she had left him. He had only been scared this whole time. He was ready to make the trip across the ocean in the morning. His heart had never pounded so hard in his chest.

Chapter Text

The trip to Liverpool wasn’t easy for Luca. He was a mass of nerves, and he confined himself mostly to his suite in first class. He had never made a trip over the ocean before without at least a few men with him, and a task or business deal waiting for him at his final destination. He didn’t know what to do while he was alone on the ship. He wanted to catch up on his sleep, but he still woke up every few hours, never sleeping soundly as he should. He was eating very poorly, and mostly because he just didn’t want to get sick on the journey. He spent most of his time smoking cigarettes and cigars in his room, gathering more smoke in his lungs then he knew was good for him.

 

Luca was sitting on the edge of his bed, he had no energy to move that morning. It was the last morning he would spend on the ship as they were set to dock in Liverpool in the late afternoon. He looked around the room, he had made a mess of the place. He had no one to worry about on the boat, Rose wasn’t there to ask him if he was fine, and Donnino couldn’t say anything to him, neither could Paulie, or Matteo. Tony came to his mind then. Luca shook his head as if to shake the memory of Tony off him. He didn’t want to feel bad now that he was so much closer to Rose and Carmine. But, he still felt bad, he couldn’t shake it as much as he tried. Tony knew the kind of life he was in, he had even told Anna that he was willing to leave it all for her.

 

Luca wondered if Rose would ask the same of him. And if she did, could he do it for her too? Luca had never known anything but the mob, he’d grown up in it, had never known normalcy, but neither had Rose. Rose had grown up with it too, no matter how sheltered she had once been. She knew it was dangerous, she knew what he did, that sometimes he would come home late, that there would be blood on his shirts or bruises on his body, that money would come into their household quickly from places she did not know of.

 

Was she really okay with it all? Luca had never bothered to ask her, he had only assumed she was fine with it because she never told him to not go to work or to stop doing whatever scheme he had going on.

 

He had so many things to ask her, so many things he wanted to know. He had one thing he needed to tell her first before he could say anything else. ‘I never had an affair with Aria Marconi… also, she’s dead.’

 

Luca threw himself back on the bed, completely horrified that this was something he had to deal with. He had told Rose that she could trust him, and then broke that same trust with Rose with a woman Luca knew that Rose did not trust nor like.

 

He was angry with himself, but there was no use in being angry still. He just needed to fix the problem.

 

It took him about an hour to fix up his luggage that had been tossed all over the suite. He finally ate a full meal at lunch and then a man in uniform came to take his bags so Luca could wander the ship before they completely docked in Liverpool. Luca did a bit of walking on the deck as the dock and buildings grew closer.

 

It took only forty minutes after the boat had safely docked for Luca to exit the ship with his luggage and head over to customs. Luca had all his papers of course and went through with little hassle this time around.

 

He looked for a taxi to take to the train station and then took the train all the way to Birmingham. He got into another taxi when he got to Birmingham and went straight to Tommy’s home. Luca didn’t know exactly where Rose was, but he had sent a letter to Tommy hoping that he would protect her in his fortress of a home. Luca knew that Rose would prefer to stay with Arthur or Ada, even Polly, but he knew none of their addresses and Tommy was his safest bet.

 

He took the long drive down the countryside, and he began to realize why Rose loved it so much. The tranquillity, the silence, and the fresh air and greenery. He was silent the entire ride, as he looked out the window from the back seat. For a moment he thought of himself as a horrible person to take Rose away from her home, the place she loved, the place she seemed to still look for in New York. He rubbed the palm of his hand down his face to remove the thought from his mind.

 

Tommy’s grand manor of a home loomed before him. He had no idea how he managed to fill all the rooms when all he had was himself and his two children. Luca thought hard about it. Don Spinietta had a grand mansion for a home. It was nowhere near as big as Tommy’s home but it was still massive. Don Spinietta lived alone for quite a bit of time. Tommy surely had maids, and cooks, and his brothers and sisters were bound to come around.

 

Luca was accustomed to his penthouse apartment, it was big, as big as anyone could get in the centre of Manhattan.

 

But maybe he needed more, maybe a new start?

 

The driver dropped Luca off at the front gate without a single word. Luca took his bag from the trunk, not expecting the driver to help him. The driver got his pay and was then gone. Luca stepped up to the front door dropped the knocker three times and waited for someone to answer.

 

A maid opened the door and sized him up. “Can I help you?”

 

“I’m here to see Tommy Shelby, is he around?” his voice came out very hoarse, he hadn’t spoken for a while. He didn’t bother to ask for Rose, he couldn’t speak her name yet without it hurting.

 

“Mr. Shelby is here, do you have an appointment?” the maid asked.

 

“He’s my brother-in-law, I don’t need one.” Luca could see the gears turning in the maids head as he finished speaking.

 

“You are Miss Rose’s husband?”

 

“Yes,” Luca was growing impatient. He needed to get inside. He forced a grimace away from his face, ‘Miss Rose’ did she think her unmarried? Luca pushed the idea aside as he knew he was overreacting.

 

“She’s not here right now,” the maid moved aside to let Luca in, and the closed the door behind him. “She went into town with a friend.” Luca looked at her curiously, a friend? “–A female friend,” the maid corrected herself quickly, though Luca didn’t need the correction, he just wanted to know if Rose had protection with her, and who that friend was. He trusted Rose more than anyone in the world, but now he thought that the maid thought him as untrustworthy as Rose thought him to be.

 

“Right,” Luca answered, no longer paying any attention to the maid.

 

“Best you wait for Mr. Shelby in the parlour, Mr. Changretta, and I’ll fetch him for you.” Luca nodded, still not looking at her while he was deep in thought, but he followed her when he heard her move toward the parlour. When he got there, he stood by the window looking out onto the grounds of Tommy’s estate. They were vast, green for what felt like miles, it was a fantasy land. Luca stared out into the field until he heard the clink of a glass. Tommy had entered the room so quietly Luca hadn’t even heard his leather shoes scratch the rug in the centre of the parlour.

 

Luca turned around to face Tommy, he hadn’t seen him in almost three years, and he still looked the same.

 

“Rose isn’t here.” Tommy started.

 

“Right, good to see you too.” Tommy looked at Luca stoically and with that single blank look, Luca already knew that Rose had told him what had happened. He instantly regretted his words. “Where is she?”

 

“She went to see a horse race, with a friend of mine, May Carleton”

 

“A friend of yours?” Luca took a toothpick out of the small box he kept inside his coat pocket, next to the matchbox. He placed it between his teeth. Tommy didn’t answer him, but Luca wasn’t expecting him too. It was silent between them for a long moment. Luca had gone back to looking out the window. It felt strange to him to see Tommy again, the last time he had seen him was on the platform where he took Rose away from her family, and now they were seeing each other again as a family.

 

“I send at least two men out with her everywhere she goes, all of them are men who’ve served. I make her take four when she sees your family. I can’t remember her name. Lilian or—” Luca cut him off quickly.

 

“Family?”

 

“Yes, well that was what she said.” Luca was silent again. Lilian? Who was Lilian? Was it Lilianna? Luca knew that Lilianna didn’t have a good friendship with Rose, but he didn’t know much about what Rose had been up to in the last month that she was in Manhattan, he had neglected her so greatly that he felt guilty looking at Tommy. They had the same colour hair, the same cheekbones, the same shade of striking pale blue eyes. Luca tried not to look at him anymore.

 

“When’s she coming back? Is my son with her?”

 

“She’s been there a few hours she’ll be back soon, and she took your boy with her too. She doesn’t leave him here anymore.”

 

“What do you mean anymore?” Tommy didn’t answer.

 

“I’ll have a maid send you up to her room.” Luca heard Tommy leave the room. He knew that Tommy was cross with him just by the way he spoke as he left the room. A maid came by only a few seconds later to show Luca where Rose slept.

 

When the maid left him to himself, Luca spent the entire time standing around the room wondering how Rose had been since she left him.

 

Did she move on from him? Was she done with their marriage? Maybe she was still waiting for him? Tommy had left the impression that he wasn’t too happy to see him, but would any sane man be okay with seeing the man who broke his baby sisters heart? Luca knew he would have reacted the same or worse if it had been Catarina or Bianca.

 

Luca didn’t know if he could unpack his belongings or not. Would Rose be okay if he stayed in the same room as her, he wasn’t sure. He left his luggage by the door and went in search for Tommy again. He had forgotten to tell him about Capone, but with good reason.

 

Rose was more important, he had learned that the hard way.


Luca was in Tommy’s library when he got the news that Rose had arrived and that she was in the parlour. He had almost raced out of the room before the maid could get out before him. He had slowed when he got to the stairs and he noticed himself straighten his shirt and then his coat, he made sure his hair was back and sleek. He still cared if she thought of him as attractive. He still wanted her to be interested in him, he felt strange. He felt as if he didn’t have her still.

 

When he reached the door of the parlour he didn’t think to knock. He stepped in carefully and quietly, enough that she didn’t hear or notice him. She wasn’t alone. She had Carmine on her hip as she looked out the window with him as they watched a car leave along the long road and then the gardener walked across the lawn with his assistant.

 

Carmine noticed him standing still and staring at them from the doorway. Carmine squirmed out of Rose’s arms and Rose put him on his feet.

 

“Papà! Papà!” Carmine shouted gleefully, and for a second Luca thought Carmine would have forgotten his face, forgotten his own father. Luca picked him up swiftly and embraced him tightly.

 

“Bambino! Have you been a good boy? Papà missed you.”

 

“I miss Papà,” Carmine said back to him as he rubbed his little hands on Luca’s cheeks. Luca then looked at Rose. She looked just as hurt as the last time he had seen her. She choked as she spoke. He missed her voice.

 

“Frances can you take Carmine, please.” Luca hadn’t heard the maid behind him, but she plucked Carmine out of Luca’s arms and left the room without any words.

 

Luca turned back to look at Rose and he could see the heavy rise and fall of her chest, she was holding back tears, and Luca just wanted to embrace her but his feet wouldn’t move.

 

“Rose?” he called for her.

 

There were ten feet between them and she closed the space quickly, smacking his chest with the palm of her hands and then the side of her fists. “What took you so long?” she managed to blurt out before she started crying. Luca grabbed her wrists and picked her up before she crumbled to the floor from the pressure. Rose buried her face into his chest, into his familiar scent, and sobbed all over again. She thought that she had cried herself out but here she was, feeling the hurt again now that he was there to see her.

 

“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry.” He kept repeating it over until he finally changed his words. “I had to, Rose” he wasn’t explaining himself, but he just wanted her not to be hurt anymore. He moved her over to sit her down at an armchair and he crouched down in front of the chair to look at her.

 

“Had to what?” she says through shaking sobs. “You had to go on and have an affair, did you sleep with that horrible woman? I saw you plain as day, and you made me feel like it wasn’t a problem.”

 

“I didn’t sleep with her, I will tell you everything. Please don’t cry Rose, I promise you all I did was lie about why I was doing it, I never did anything against our marriage. I was just trying to do the right thing, I was–I was trying to stop Capone, to stop the Marconi’s.” Rose shook her head at him, but he couldn’t tell if it was because she didn’t believe him or if she was trying to force herself not to cry anymore.

 

“I’m–I’m a bad wife,” she almost whispers. Luca takes her shoulders in his hands and pulls her in roughly to embrace her.

 

“No, no, not ever Tesoro, I should have told you everything in the beginning. I never wanted to hurt you. It made me sick having to lie to you.” Rose wiped the tears off her cheeks.

 

“I wanted to go home a long time ago, but Tommy wouldn’t let me. He told me to stay here and wait for you because of the letter you sent.” Luca nodded at her, and he was glad that she had actually listened to the letter after giving her so many reasons not too. Luca knew how smart she was, even with the bit of information he had given her through the letter.

 

“I need to tell you–” Rose cut him off, he could see the worry in her eyes.

 

“Tell me what?”

 

“It was Capone the entire time, all the murders, the missing cargo, other things too, things I couldn’t tell you without putting you in danger. He used the Marconi’s to get inside New York” He noticed her flinch at the name Marconi, it wasn’t the first time she had done it. “He tried to have you killed the night Carmine was born, he got one of Marconi’s men to do it.” Rose shuddered and then stood up and stepped away from Luca, she couldn’t look at him at that moment. It hurt him, that she didn’t look to him for comfort, but he didn’t want to force anything either. As much as he wanted to smell her hair, kiss her, wrap his arms around her, feel her skin, he couldn’t initiate it again.

 

“Why are you here now?” she asks as she is still looking away from him. “Did you finish what you needed too?” she looked at him again, there was a sense of business to her, she was poised and she stood tall. Luca could tell she was different, but the kind of different he didn’t really know. Luca reached his hand out to her, he couldn’t help it anymore. She looked at his hand for a moment and then reached out to him too. Luca’s heart leapt in his chest, but he continued what he was doing. He took her hand gently and motioned her over to the sofa where they could both sit together.

 

Rose spoke before he could. “Where’s Catarina and Bianca?”

 

“They’re in France, they’re fine. Paulie’s taking care of them. You don’t have to worry.”

 

“Lilianna’s in Birmingham,” Rose added quickly.

 

“She’s supposed to be in London.”

 

“She’s here, we see each other almost every other day. She was lonely and she looked for me.” Luca knew that there was an unspoken hostility between Rose and Lilianna before, but now he wasn’t sure.

 

“Is she the friend Tommy talks about?”

 

“Maybe, I spend a lot of time with May Carleton as well. She trains horses, I–I wanted Carmine to see them.” She stuttered and for a moment Luca thought she might cry again, but this time he didn’t know what about.

 

“What’s wrong?” Luca asked

 

“It’s–I’m sorry, I was horrible, I didn’t understand. I’m a bad wife,” she sobbed again.

 

“No, you’re not. How could you understand, when I didn’t say a word. You’re right about me being a fuckin’ bastard. Remember that? I hurt you and I’ve never regretted anything more in my life. I don't know how many more times I’m going to have to tell you before you’ll believe me, but if I have to say it the rest of my life, that’ll be fine with me. I just want to be with you again, I can’t stand being without you.”

 

“Luca–” the palm of her hand was on Luca’s cheek, stroking him gently.

 

“I love you more than anything. I’d do anything for you. I’d risk everything, I’d risk everything I have with the famiglia for you because you’re more important to me.” Rose leaned into him to close the space between them with a rough kiss. He was so deprived he melded his lips against his wife’s hungrily, wanting every last bit in case he was deprived of it again, though he didn’t plan for it.

 

“I love you more.” She whispered against his lips as they looked for air to breathe. “You don’t have to give anything up or risk anything for me. I’m here with you, I’ve told you before. All I need is you, just let me be the only one for you, okay?” Luca nodded at her, his heart hurt still, but he moved in to kiss her again.

 

“I need to know,” Rose started again once they moved away to look at each other intently. It had been a long time since they had looked at each other this way. Luca was ready for any question she had now. “Is everyone okay, back home?”

 

Luca hesitated for a moment, not everyone was okay. “I–Tony’s dead.”

 

“What? Our Tony?” Rose had a look of disbelief on her face, Luca tucked her loose hair behind her ear and nodded at her. As a single tear slid down her cheek.

 

“Yeah, our Tony.” Luca wasn’t looking at her anymore. He was looking down at their hands.

 

“Love, are you okay?” she wiped her own tear with her free hand. She put the back of her fingers against Luca's cheek to soothe him gently. He moved his face to kiss her hands.

 

“I’m better then I was before. I’m better now that I’m here with you, Tesoro.” Rose continues to cry quietly.

 

“Carmine asked for you every day. I found out I was pregnant and I knew I needed to see you again.”

 

“Pregnant?” Luca looked at her carefully, and then to her hand placed on her stomach. Rose nodded at him.

 

“We’ve never argued before Luca and I felt horrible. I just wanted us to be okay, but when Mamma died it wasn’t the same. I know you are hurt.” Luca wiped away Rose’s stray tears and then placed his hand on top of her stomach, against her own hand.

 

“I’ll work on it, I promise.” He says to her, kissing her cheek. “How long have you been like this?”

 

“I’m not sure, maybe four months.”

 

“That’s a long time already.” He chuckles at her.

 

“Are you okay with another baby?”

 

“Of course I am, the more children the better.” The grin was back, the grin she loved so much. “Mio amore, ti amo”

 

“I love you too.”


Rose opened her eyes. The room was the same. Tommy’s house, the same picture was on the wall, the bathroom door was open, but her bed was warm. Rose turned over, and Luca was fast asleep. It was the first time in a long time that he had been able to sleep so soundly. Rose nuzzled herself into his chest and breathed in his scent. She felt strange, to be so close to him again. The months before she left him in Manhattan were difficult, they barely spoke. But she couldn’t do that anymore, not speak to him, all she wanted to do was talk to him, look at him, remember the good things.

 

She had spilt so many tears in the bedroom at the Tessa that she didn’t know if it would feel so good to return there either. But the newness of Tommy’s home felt as if that moment between them, as they lay in bed together, that was their new beginning, their restart. She thought she could cry again, she was overwhelmed, Luca was really there with her. He had told her everything as he should, he’d give it all up if it would make her happy. But she didn’t need all that. She just needed to know if Luca would be by her side forever. She put her hands on his chest, then on his arms, on his neck, his face, he looked the same, but tired still as he slept so beautifully. He stirred for a moment, and she kissed his jaw. It was really him, it wasn’t a dream.

 

Luca stirred again and slowly opened his eyes, he instantly had a smile on his face when he noticed her there with him. He kissed her deeply, and then they took a moment to relish in each others company. They looked at each other so intently, as if one of them would blink and the other would disappear.

 

“Good Morning,” Luca started.

 

“Good Morning, my love,” Rose was grinning widely too.

 

“I’ve missed this, waking up to you, your scent, your hair, your skin.”

 

“I’ve missed the sex,” Rose spoke blankly, and then began to laugh. Luca grinned devilishly at her.

 

“The sex, eh?” Luca tickled her sides, and Rose shrieked.

 

“Luca!” she almost shouted, between a few gasps. He stopped tickling her to take a good look at her. They locked eyes, and everything for once felt brand new, intense, and enlightening. Luca gently grazed the back of his fingers across her cheek. She leaned into his touch and closed her eyes. He moved his body slightly on top of her, and dug his hand behind her ear and into her hair. He kissed her gently for just a passing moment. He smelled her skin, felt the plushness of her lips against his. It felt like he had never kissed her before for just a moment, and he kissed her harder to feel that feeling again, to feel that excitement.

 

Rose knew where Luca’s mind was heading. She wrapped an arm around his clothed back, and she placed her hand around his neck to pull him deeper into their kiss.

 

They separated for a moment to take in some air. Rose made her next move then. She reached for the hem of Luca’s undershirt and began to tug it up his body and over his head, he complied so easily, in this state he’d do anything Rose told him to.

 

She sat up and pulled off her own nightgown over her head, and she left her breasts bare, her panties still on. Luca moved back from her slightly and took in the vision before him hungrily. He hadn’t realized how long he deprived himself of her. He could have kicked himself, but there was no time for him to when Rose was looking the way she was right before him. He moved in to kiss her again, and then began to trail kisses down her neck down to her breasts, he took one perky nipple in between his teeth nibbled lightly for a second. She moaned deeply, and he took her breast roughly into his mouth, he moved his free hand to pinch her other nipple teasingly. She moaned again.

 

“I missed you, daddy,” she purred close to his ear. A flame that flickered with excitement inside him blazed into a roaring fire at the sound of her voice. He moved away from her then and stood up from the bed they shared, lust, and a sort of adoration some people conveyed to gods or goddesses was displayed in Luca’s eyes. He tugged his trousers off and then his underwear. Then he pulled Rose by her left ankle closer to him. She yelped from the sudden pull. But she knew what she had done, what she had started. It was what she intended.

 

He almost tore her panties off, but Rose helped him. She sat up and lifted herself so that he could pull them off easier, and the first thing he did when he saw her bare there was to slide his thumb against the fleshy pit of her apex. He had a hunger in his eyes that Rose missed, that she thought she might never see again. It made her feel five years younger.

 

Rose grabbed his cock before he could stick his face in her cunt. She held on possessively and looked him right in the eyes. She looked at the door to make sure it was closed, she knew that despite it being closed it would not help the sound she was going to emit that morning. But it would at least fend people away from the immediate area, Tommy’s house was large enough where if anyone walked far enough the maids or whoever else was perusing around the house wouldn’t hear the loud panting and moans that would begin to escape Rose’s mouth in just a few moments.

 

Rose got up from the bed, Luca’s erection still in her hand. She glanced to see that one of the curtains was wide open, but it didn’t bother her now.

 

“I really missed you so much daddy, you better not leave me again.” Rose’s thumb glided across the tip of his member, as she pouted at him. Luca was struggling to keep his cool as he became a puddle at the fierce yet caring hold she had on him.

 

She began to stroke him ever-so-slowly looking at him with her pouty lips and sad eyes. Luca didn’t know what to do with himself but stare back as she dominated him in a way he wasn’t expecting. She moved her hands faster, and then faster again until Luca took her wrist roughly to stop her. Rose knew that Luca didn’t like to spill his seed in the cold, that he’d rather release himself within her warm walls, the way it had always been.

 

He picked her up gently, slowly, and she wrapped her legs around his torso and kissed his lips, his cheek, his jaw, his neck. He placed her down on the bed, and kissed her back passionately, the way it should be.

 

He slid his cock teasingly against her clit, and he watched her shiver beneath him. Before he went any further he moved her hair away from her face.

 

“I love you, Rose. More than anything.” Rose looked as if she might cry beneath him, but she held it in. “I want to take away the pain,” Luca couldn’t help but look hurt as well, despite being the stoic man she knew could hide his emotions from anyone. A tear slid down her cheek, but she wiped it away quickly.

 

“We’ll work this out.” She answered, and pulled him closer and kissed him deeply. She couldn’t hold back the tears, and she cried but didn’t make a sound eluding to it.

 

Luca slid inside her then and made love to her gently, wiping her tears away and kissing her softly as she should be kissed.

 

They fell asleep in each other's arms again and didn’t wake until the afternoon.


Rose sat in Polly’s sitting room with a cup of tea in her hand as Luca sat next to her with Carmine on his lap.

 

Polly returned with a maid behind her carrying a cheese and ham plate. Rose raised an eyebrow at her aunt. Rose had noticed that Polly liked to flaunt her wealth, and she understood why as well. They never had this kind of money before, she had never been able to have a maid or afford a ridiculous cheese platter to entertain guests. Rose picked up a biscuit and planned to pick up a piece of cheese but her stomach turned and she picked up one of the many pieces of ham.

 

Polly had watched her do so.

 

“Thank you for inviting us to mass earlier,” Luca stated as he played with Carmine’s small and stubby hands.

 

“Of course, why wouldn’t I?” Polly was still looking at Rose as she drank her tea. “Finish that up will you,” she motioned to Rose impatiently.

 

“Are you trying to read my leaves?” Rose only slightly rolled her eyes, and then looked at Luca to show her annoyance to him.

 

“It’s important, why else would I read them. Hurry then,” Polly was impatient. Rose swirled her teacup before she drank the last bit and then handed it to Polly. “A baby of course,” they already knew that, but it was a nice confirmation. “You should name the child after his father, he’ll be a lot like him, independent, troublemaker, uh,” Polly paused as if she saw something she wasn’t expecting. She raised an eyebrow and she rolled the teacup in her hands. “Just keep an eye out for your boy, he’s going to be a lot different from his brother.”

 

“Another boy,” Rose sighed but in the most relaxed way. She knew how to deal with a baby boy, she already had one. But naming him after his father was something she was not planning to do originally. Arthur had been named after they’re father and now the name was blacklisted from the family.

 

“If we don’t name him after me, will we be cursed?” Luca joked, Rose hadn’t expected him to and she snorted a laugh.

 

“Just do as I say.” Polly seemed sure of herself, so Rose didn’t question her further. Her bump was growing more and more by the day. This time she felt ready to bring her child into the world, and it felt all the more real now that Luca was by her side again.


Luca stood by the fireplace, the room was lit by mostly candles and an electric lightbulb from a lamp on top of Tommy’s desk.

 

He drinking an amber liquid from a short glass, he relished in the sweetness of the drink as it was difficult to get something so pure in America. Prohibition had gained him millions from mass-produced alcohol that often became a little tainted from the long ride overseas. Otherwise, it was still great amongst all the bathtub gins that were making their sad rounds in New York and the rest of the United States.

 

Arthur was sat on the couch a drink in his hand as well, his eyebrows were knitted together, and his eyes were gazing intently at the crackling whips of the fire. He wasn’t as angry anymore. He had taken a few swings at Luca when he had got through the front door. Only one of them connecting with Luca’s jaw, as Luca stumbled back in surprise. It was broken up quickly by Tommy and Rose, and then apologies were exchanged and stories were retold.

 

If Arthur had punched any other member of the famiglia, he would have been dead on site. But he couldn’t kill Arthur, even though it had crossed his mind once upon a time. Rose would hate him forever if he did, and he was never going to be in that realm again.

 

It was now late in the evening after dinner. Tommy was writing something at his desk, as Luca and Arthur looked like statues finding it too awkward to speak.

 

Luca cleared his throat, took a gulp of the alcohol in his cup and then turned to look at Tommy, who was already looking up at him from his desk.

 

“I have a proposition,” Luca started. Tommy took off his glasses and laid them on the desk, he sat back in his chair and crossed his arms in front of his chest. “After what I’ve done to protect my family, I’ve finally crippled Capone. But the problem is he’s still alive, and though my second keeps telling me that we won’t have to worry about Capone again I want to make sure that I really won’t.”

 

“So, what is it then?” Tommy asked. Luca looked at him, and then at Arthur before he spoke.

 

“Marriage, between my youngest sister and your youngest brother.”

 

“It’s not necessary, what you and Rose have is enough for me.”

 

“I insist on a new truce, Capone could escape criminal charges or prison and who will go to where it’ll hurt me most first.”

 

Tommy nodded and thought about it for a moment. Tommy looked up at Arthur and then back at Luca and nodded his head.

 

Tommy stood up from his chair and walked around his table to meet Luca and then they shook hands in agreement. Capone would never touch the Changretta’s or Shelby’s again.

 

As they separated to sit down in silence again, Luca spoke. “I plan to give Solomons a proposition as well. I’ll pay him a visit before I leave.”

 

“Solomons is dead.”

 

“Dead?”

 

“Cancer.”

 

“Well, that’s one less person to worry about.”


The last week they spent in England was in a hotel away from Tommy’s Manor. Luca spent a majority of the time trying to make it up to Rose, but Rose didn’t care for the past anymore, she was looking for her future, her future with Luca, Carmine and their unborn baby.

 

They went shopping, to the pictures, the went out into the country to see the horses, but then they knew that they needed to return home. Not just because Rose was now homesick for a home she would have never thought she’d be homesick for but Luca was now Boss of Manhattan. Boss of his own crime family, a leader in the Cosa Nostra. He’d done it.

 

“What are you going to do now, love?” it was early morning on a Monday, the sunrise was peeking in through the large balcony windowed doors. Carmine was still fast asleep on the rollaway bed brought in by a few maids several nights before.

 

“I gotta go home, yeah know, lay the groundwork down. Make sure all my contacts know who the boss is now. But I’m sure Nino has started most of it for me.”

 

“Is Nino underboss now?”

 

“Yeah, I made him underboss,” Luca wiped the sleep from his eyes as he turned his body toward Rose’s. Rose’s nightgown was pushed to the side, exposing more skin than necessary. Luca fixed her nightgown for her and kissed the top of her head. She moved in to hug him, and tangled her legs with his, her baby bump separating them more then she wanted it too.

 

“I’m glad we're going today.” She changed the subject, she knew it was what he wanted. “I miss Manhattan, and though it was great to see my family again, to see the countryside, I think I’ve gotten my fill of it.”

 

“I’m gonna make some changes when we get back, you’ll see.”

 

“You don’t have to do anything, you know that.” Rose brushed her fingers against his cheek, and then into his clean, dark hair.

 

“I have to, for my own state of mind, but I know you’ll appreciate what I’m planning.”

 

“So, you won’t tell me?”

 

“No, it’s more of a surprise.”

 

“We should get home then, I hate waiting.”

 

“Yeah, I realized you do.”