Chapter 17

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"She looks just like her mother," her grandmother said, gazing at Vanessa with adoration.

After the shock had faded, her grandmother rushed up to strangle the nine-year-old in a bear hug. While her grandfather and uncle approached cautiously, hardly daring to believe that they had found their lost De Luca Princess.

"Oh, don't worry about them, honey," her grandmother said, forcing Vanessa to tear her gaze away from the two men and focus her attention on the woman in front of her. Her grandmother wore a floor-length, emerald green dress with huge diamond studs hanging from her ears. She was the definition of gorgeous.

"Hi," Vanessa squeaked, unsure of what to do. She turned to look at her mother, who stood there smiling.

"Sweetie, this is your grandma, Athena De Luca," Felicity introduced.

"Oh, forget about those formalities and call me grandma," Athena said, chuckling.

Grandmother? Vanessa glanced over her shoulder at the two men who moved closer. Wait... if this woman was her grandmother, did that mean the other men were her uncle and grandfather?

Vanessa hadn't realized she had voiced her thoughts out loud until Athena laughed and replied, "Yes, sweetheart, the old man there is my husband, your grandfather," she gestured towards her uncle and said, "the ugly one is Stefano Marco De Luca and your uncle."

The nine-year-old giggled, the tension slowly vanishing.

"Only you, grandma, can get away with ridiculing two of the most powerful men in the world," Angelo chortled.

Most powerful men? Vanessa knew her family was wealthy and powerful people by just glancing at the extravagant mansion, but she hadn't realized they were one of the most powerful people in the world.

"Come on, darling, you must be starving! I told Charlotte to have a meal prepared for you." Felicity said, distracting her from her thoughts.

Anthea immediately agreed to accompany her while the rest of the family would discuss matters in Viktor's office.

"Who is Charlotte?" Vanessa inquired as the two ladies guided her through a string of corridors and to a massive living room.

"Oh, Charlotte is the head chef. Don't worry," Athena said, "I'll introduce you to the staff tomorrow morning when you are well rested."

She positioned her granddaughter in front of the steaming plate of soup. Silence resumed as Vanessa consumed the buttered bread slowly, savoring the delicious flavors as they melted over her tongue.

Anthea cleared her throat, smiling. "I've noticed that you like your stuffed animals very much."

A grin spread across the girl's face as she introduced Popcorn and Blueberry to her grandmother.

...

"Are you certain?" Casper Giovanni De Luca, the former Don, asked.

"Well, sir, with all due respect, I'm the living evidence that it was the Russians Mafia that attacked me." Dr. Reese commented dryly.

The De Luca men had gathered in Viktor's office, discussing the recent news they got.

After showing the footage of Amberly being kidnapped and Dr. Reese being attacked, it obfuscated the De Luca family about their mysterious assassin.

"So the person who captured Amberly Vacker is the same person who attacked the French's resources?" questioned Stefano. "And they are working for the Russian Mafia?"

"Yes, uncle, that is what we assume." Alessandro answered, "Matt thinks our assassin kidnapped Amberly as some kind of retribution."

"Retribution? What makes you think that?"

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