Dinner Guests

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XVII
Dinner Guests

Later that night, Grace found herself in the kitchen chopping vegetables with Gia. Vincent and Nina had just arrived back from their day in the city. Nina had gone upstairs to collect all the dirty laundry from the bedroom, and to put clean sheets on the guest room bed. Valentino had telephoned earlier in the evening, saying he and Russo would be bringing a guest to dinner that evening.                    
Grace was too busy watching Luca in the other room to notice all the sly glances Gia had been sneaking. He was sitting in an armchair opposite Vincent as they conversed in low voices. His face fell into a serious line with whatever his brother was telling him.                                                              

 “I think you’ve cut that potato enough times, don’t you?” Gia said with a smirk on her face.   

Grace’s eyebrows furrowed. She looked down at her cutting board to see that she had indeed cut the same piece of potato several times instead of the whole thing like she thought she had.  

“I guess I’m just a bit distracted this evening.” Grace bowed her head in embarrassment.         

“Why would that be, dear?” Gia asked with a mischievous glint in her eye.          

Grace thought back to her kiss with Luca earlier. She felt a blush tint her cheeks.                   

“I don’t know.”                                                                                                                            

“Well, if you aren’t more careful, you will end up chopping your own finger off.” Gia chortled to herself, as though Grace’s discomfort was the funniest thing in the world.       

 After thinking about it for a minute, Grace realized what Gia found so funny. She had been the one hiding behind the wall this afternoon. Grace knew there had been someone there, and now that she knew it had been Gia, she was unsure whether to be mortified or relieved.                      

Just then, Grace felt something grab her waist. She dropped her knife with a thunk! It felt as though her heart was going to fly out of her chest.  She spun around to see Luca a few feet away, popping a sliced tomato in his mouth.                                               

“Smells good in here.” He was grinning like a schoolboy.                                                         

“Ah! Mio figlio Stop eating those. I need them for supper.” Gia swatted another tomato segment out of her son’s hand as he gave a playful laugh.       

“Honestly, Luca, mio figlio, have you no manners?” Gia gently berated.            

 “Did you have a good day in the city, madre?” Luca asked, skillfully deflecting her scolding. Grace laughed at the confrontation. Clearly, this was not Luca’s first time getting out of trouble with his mother.                                  

Gia placed her hands on her hips, and stared her son down in a way that said “You’re lucky you are my son and I love you.”                        

“I did. Thank you. Grace, dear, I bought the most beautiful lace today. I think it will make a lovely veil.

“I’m sure it will Gia, thank you.” Grace smiled at the woman and her kindness.        

“But of course! Now, there’s just one more thing I need to ask the two of you before the wedding-“ Gia was cut off by the strong, front door slamming shut behind the frosty, November air.

“Gia? We are home,” Valentino’s strong voice boomed through the house.  

Luca, Grace and Gia all stopped their conversation and walked to the entryway to meet Valentino.

The men were shedding their overcoats and hats, enjoying the warmth the house offered.      

Grace watched the third man intently as he shrugged his coat off his shoulders, deliberately. He exuded a confidence Grace had not seen present in a man in a very long time. It made her weary.

Luca must have felt the same way, because he sidled up behind her, till his hand was resting protectively on her back.                                                                                                                          

“Luca, Mother, Grace, I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Alphonse Capone,” Russo announced.                                                                                                                                                    

Luca stuck his hand out to shake the guest’s.                                                                                        

“It’s a pleasure,” he greeted with a tight, polite smile.                                      

“Likewise, and please, call me Al.” He turned to Gia, “Thank you, Mrs. Venzetto for having me in your home. It’s so grand.”                                                                                                                            

“Well of course, Al. Any friend of my husband and sons is welcome in my home.”                                              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

Ten minutes later, everyone was seated at the long dining room table, eating Gia’s homemade Bolognese.                                                                                                                                    

“So, Al, tell us about yourself, dear,” Gia said in her motherly tone.                                            

“Well there’s not much to tell. I live in Chicago and work for a man named Johnny Torrio. Every now and then, my line of work crosses paths with Russo’s, and I ‘spose that’s how I came to know him so well,” Capone answered, wiping his mouth of any red sauce that may have slipped out.    

“Are you married Mr. Capone?” Nina asked politely, fixing Milo’s plate so the pasta was no longer falling off the edge.                                                                                                    

“Yes. I’ve got a wife and a son back home in Chicago.”                              

“Well, that’s lovely! Luca and Grace are getting married at the end of the week. Will you be able to stay for the wedding?” Gia asked.                                                                                                

Luca pulled his lips into a hard line. He did not want someone that worked for Torrio at his wedding.                                                                                            

“If it’s alright with the happy couple, I’d love to attend.” He smiled Luca and Grace.        

Luca’s hand found Grace’s knee under the table and squeezed gently.                          

“We’d love to have you,” Grace smiled.                                                    

“How come you have those scars on your face, Mr. Capone?” Milo asked, pointing his fork toward the man’s scarred flesh.                                                                                                            

Vincent’s face twisted in anger, Nina blushed with embarrassment.                

“Mr. Capone, I am so sorry. Milo knows better than to ask people about such things,” Nina apologized.                                                                                                              

“It’s no problem,” Capone shrugged it off as though the subject wasn’t one of embarrassment at all. Then, he turned back to Milo. “Do you really want to know how I got these scars?”        

Milo nodded his head vehemently.                                                                                              

Capone leaned in like he was about to tell the little boy the biggest secret ever. Milo leaned forward in response.        

“Dragons,” Capone whispered across the table.                                                                      

“Dragons?” Milo shouted.                                                                                        

“Well sure! Haven’t you ever seen one?” Capone leaned back in his chair, enjoying the awed expression on Milo’s face.                                                                                                                  

“No, Sir.”                                                                                                                                        

“Ah, well, count yourself lucky. They’re nasty creatures. Luckily, I was the one that made it out of that fight.  I hope you never have to encounter one, but if you ever do, you gotta get ‘em right here,”Capone pointed a finger right between his eyes. “That’s the only way to get rid of the nasty creatures in this world.”                                                                                                                

Everyone at the table aside from Milo caught Capone’s subtle double entendre.  

Grace watched Vincent and Nina share a look of apprehension. Hers was anxious, His was angry.

“Well, Mr. Capone. That was quite the story. Unfortunately, Milo won’t be around to hear any more tonight. It’s time for his bath. Please excuse us.” Nina grabbed her plate and pulled her son’s chair away from the table.                                                                                                                                    

“Aww, mamma, I want to hear more about the dragons,” Milo pouted.                                

“Listen to your mother, figilo. I will be up to read to you in a while,” Vincent ordered, not taking his eyes away from their visitor.                                                                                                            

“Yes, papà.”                                                                                        

Milo slid off his chair and sulked his way up the stairs.                                                                              

“I think that if there is any business to be conducted tonight, now is an appropriate time. Don’t you, padre?” Vincent asked, once his wife and son were otherwise occupied.                              

Valentino wiped his mouth one last time and threw his napkin atop his empty plate.                

. Mr. Capone, will you please join me in the study so we can discuss some things over a glass of bourbon?”                                                                                                                                

“Of course,” Capone said, standing. “Please lead the way.”                                            

Valentino began walking out of the room, undoubtedly towards his study.                      

"Boys,” he called out behind him. Vincent and Russo both excused themselves from the table to follow their father and guest.                                                                                                              

Luca’s chair scraped against the hardwoods as he made to get up. Before he left, he leaned down to Grace, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear.                                          

“I’ll see you later,” he whispered. Grace nodded.                                      

With a gentle press of his lips to her temple, Luca walked out of the room to join his father and brothers. 

Alright, there it is, Chapter 17. I realize I have been on Hiatus since summer. I don't really have a good excuse aside from being busy with work and school, and when I did have down time, I wasn't really in the mood to write. 

I had half of this chapter written almost 2 months ago and never came back to it, but I was out with my friends earlier today and got an email that I'd gotten a new comment on this story telling me it'd be a shame for me to give up on this story, so I came home, finished and uploaded this chapter. I hope you enjoyed it. I will try my best to update on a regular basis again. 

Thank you to all of you who have stuck with this story and encouraged me to keep going even during my long break. 

you. rock. 

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thanks. 

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