Ricci DiAmbrossi was at his desk, his eyes going over the screen of his monitor lazily when his consigliere and his resident computer expert came in.
He gave them a short nod as they entered and greeted. Skipping the pleasantries like he always did whenever he was mad, Ricci started to speak, facing the computer expert.
"Gallozzi," he said quietly. "You have not just disappointed me by letting one of our accounts get hacked, but you've also incurred my displeasure, letting us go after the thief. You said you could trace the hacker. You did, and we went to New York. Do you realize that I am a lot angrier than I was before leaving for New York?"
Ricci knew what he wanted to say. He wanted to apologize; tell him he had no idea how Siena-anyone- could have had access to their accounts and be able to cart away their don's money. But all of that was useless as far as Ricci was concerned. Those words would further aggravate his anger. Any excuses that Gallozzi made now would only point to his own mediocrity.
"You traced her," Ricci continued, "in just a day after she stole the money. Does that seem strange to you? How someone who had done what she did would make it easy to catch them?"
Finally, a question that actually needed a response, Gallozzi thought, sighing. When Ricci was angry, little things tilted that anger over the brim, so he had to be careful with his response. "Signore, it is not uncommon for some hackers to leave their IP addresses unencrypted, making it easy to trace them-"
"-If you had done such a thing, would you have taken the necessary precautions?" Ricci asked him. His hand dangerously caressed the silver gun on the table next to his laptop.
This action more than the serious tone of his boss made Gallozzi to think very clearly about his answer.
Ricci's in-law and consigliere watched on silently. He had a non-challant, detached look on his face as he stood, leaning by a book shelf.
Finally, gravely, Gallozzi replied: "Yes I would, boss. I would make sure I wasn't caught."
Ricci's hand stopped caressing the gun, satisfied somewhat, by Gallozzi's honesty. But his anger had not dissipated.
"So did it occur to you that the thief- the hacker- had planned it all?" Ricci asked him."Did it occur to you that she had let you trace her, bring us to New York, let us catch her so that she could see me and personally scorn me: spite me after stealing from me? Does that sound far-fetched to you? Do you know that that was what happened?"
Gallozzi had no idea how to reply. All of this was new information to him. It seemed plausible that this was the case. And if that was so...then he could only imagine Ricci's anger.
"She escaped then?" It was the consigliere that said this- the first he had said since the conversation between Ricci and Gallozzi.
Ricci briefly looked at his brother-in-law before replying. "She did," he said. "Turns out she is more than we envisaged. She is the late Alessio DiSuzzi's daughter, now underboss of the DiSuzzi family."
"It was premeditated then- letting us catch her so that she would do her escape act," the consigliere said. "It was all an act of deliberate disrespect to you."
My thoughts exactly, Ricci's gaze seemed to say as they zeroed in on the hapless Gallozzi.
"This will not go unpunished," Ricci said, eyes still on Gallozzi. "I like you Gallozzi. That is why I'm considering giving you a second chance- second chances are rare with me. As you leave through the door, don't come back to this mansion until a month is up. You are suspended without pay. A mafioso should do his job with every cognition and understanding that he will pay if anything goes wrong- how's that for motivation? I will consider getting you on the payroll if a month is up and I'm in a good mood. Till then, I will have my men watch you. If you try to act stupid, you will pay with your life. Leave now."
Gallozzi bowed his head as he exited the study.
Federico, Ricci's consigliere, took a book out from one of the bookshelves and peered into it while Ricci reached for his phone to call his underboss to assign two men to watch Gallozzi for him.
He trusted to an extent that Gallozzi would not betray him. But Ricci had been taught not to trust too much and his own very nature abhorred the idea of absolute trust. It was something about assuming that people would have your best interests at heart at every single time, in every situation, that did not sit well with him.
"Take a seat, Federico," Ricci said as he raised his head from the call with his underboss.
"I sent a message to Siena's uncle, now don of the DiSuzzi family- to meet me in Sicily," Ricci started. "He has replied. They will be here in three day's time. You are my consigliere. Advise me. Advise me because I plan to rain terror on the DiSuzzi family. I will burn their family to the ground."
Federico sighed, too used to Ricci's anger streak. This was why he was consigliere- his job was to be an impartial, rational adviser to the don- so that sanity could be maintained. Sanity could not be maintained when dons went about, letting their egos make decisions for them.
Ricci's ego was bruised, he knew. Any don's ego would be. But Ricci had to make a rational decision and that was what he would ensure.
"Are you planning on wiping them off the face of the earth when they arrive?" Federico asked, finally dropping the book he held in his hand on the table.
"I will give them an option," Ricci replied. "Double the money stolen or prepare for war."
That would be a difficult one, Federico surmised. The mafia itself was all about making money- despite the lack of ethics in the process, money was the goal. Asking a family to return- by extension lose- money was like you were asking for an arm and a leg.
"Peace is always more beneficial," Federico commented thoughtfully.
"It is," Ricci replied. "But sometimes without war there cannot be peace. The DiSuzzis dared us, they should be prepared for the consequences."
"When I suggest peace, I am not being a philosopher, " Federico said, training his eyes on Ricci.
Despite being in the same age bracket, he had a wizened outlook about him when it came to making decisions and that was one thing Ricci had considered when he first met Federico with the job offer. That, and the fact that with Federico's experience in law, he could easily assist them with navigating legal hurdles as well as give them sound legal advice.
Ricci was counting on what advice he would give now.
"When I say this, I say it based on the benefits that would accrue to the family," Federico said. "Why don't you marry her?"
Ricci was not sure he had heard right."Marry who?"
"Siena. Siena DiSuzzi."
Ricci could not believe his ears.
Marriage has for years been an important, recurring decimal in mafia culture. It was through marriage that the immediate family was born- and a good mafioso cherished family. It is also common practice for warring families to unite through marriage; it was common for dons to propose marriage to stop an incoming war/mafia family clash; or marry daughters to seal the peace after a war. Marriage was common practice for the mafia in negotiations.
But Ricci did not expect his consigliere would suggest that.