"Agostino is wise," Ricci replied. "He knows the benefits of an alliance with us. He was positively disposed to the idea. The opposition lies with Siena. She is either acting too immature to listen to the voice of reason or just being plain stubborn like her uncle had rightly said she was."
"Hmmm," Federico replied. "What do you think then?"
"She will accept," Ricci replied. "I know so."
"It's been three days."
"Patience," Ricci answered. "Her uncle will convince her. Left for her, she does not want the marriage. But her uncle is sensible, he will help her see reason. We've after all been wanting to expand to the US. Chicago has one of our nemeses; we need the DiSuzzi's pass to New York. We will have it."
Silence passed between them.
"Why have you come to see me?" Ricci turned to Federico now.
"I am after all the messenger," Federico said dryly. "Your mother wants to see you."
"I don't know. She probably misses you," Federico replied shrugging.
"We live in the same city,"Ricci responded. "That is hardly the reason. Did you tell her about my marriage plans with the DiSuzzis?"
"No," Federico answered thoughtfully. "Someone must have told her because she's been very happy for a few days now."
Ricci let out a deep sigh.
"Anything else?" He asked.
"Yes," Federico said."Tommaso."
Tommaso was one of Ricci's Caporegimes.
Capos were like lieutenants that oversaw a jurisdiction of territory or area of specialization in a mafia family. They were like heads of department in corporate business.
Tommaso had been a childhood friend and friend of the family; an orphan raised by Ricci's own father. Cosimo had appointed him a capo before he was assassinated. Ricci and Tommaso's relationship had been easy even though business-like when he ascended as Don. After all, they had been good friends in childhood and Tommaso had saved Ricci's life once.
"The reason I am the one telling you this is so that you can make a well thought-out decision and not do anything in a fit of anger, " Federico said.
"Tell me. What has he done?"
"Tommaso has been dishonest with remittances," Federico said. "I had the accounts checked and apparently, this has been going on for a while now."
Nothing like greed to mar a man's character.
"How long now?"
"Four months," Federico said. "We've been making more than we receive in the designated accounts. Even after his percentage is deducted, it does not still add up- profit does not add up to said supply. We're losing money."
It seemed to Ricci like people were interested in stealing from him these days. Either the fear for his response had dwindled or the wits of the thieves had.
Ricci got up then."Get a car ready and some of my men. We will pay Tommaso a visit."
"Is Donato coming with us?" The consigliere asked.
"No," Ricci replied."He is in Milan, attending to business."
Tommaso was in his villa when the cars carrying Ricci and his men cruised in. It was just a little past noon and light breeze punctuated the rays of the sun, hot as the sun was.
The small gate made purely of railings had been open as usual, but the front door was ajar.
Ricci and his men stepped inside and waited. By all indications, Tommaso was close by. When he came into the living room, he would meet them.
Ricci sat at a seat directly facing the door to the beach house-themed villa, his posture relaxed.
It was about two minutes later when Tommaso came inside, staring at the men in the living room in his brightly coloured shirt and casual blue jeans.
His eyes finally rested on Ricci who watched him with a distinctly calm look on his face.
For Ricci, like Tommaso very well knew, the idiom: "calm waters may conceal sharks," had never been more appropriate.
Ricci was not just the calm before the storm, but also the storm itself.
"Tommaso," Ricci said softly.
"Why are you here?" Tommaso asked, distinctly annoyed.
Ricci ignored his question and said instead: "You know very well that I do not like traitors."
"What do you mean?" Tommaso's gaze had hardened.
"Where is my money?" Ricci asked him.
"I have forwarded to the accounts what we made this month," Tommaso answered.
"As a caporegime of mine, I already alot ten percent to you for your work," Ricci said. "Don't test me."
"I am not-"
"-Dammit Tommaso!" Ricci said now, his voice rising higher with each syllable. "And I liked you. I did."
Ricci banged with his fist on the strong oak and glass center table as he got up now. He approached Tommaso, his eyes glinting with anger.
"Back off, Ricci."
But Ricci approached him still.
"I said back off," Tommaso said, pushing Ricci away from him.
How dare he?
Feeling utterly insulted, Ricci rolled the fingers of his left hand into a fist and punched Tommaso square in the face.
Tommaso staggered, holding a side of his face in his palm. The four armed guards and one consigliere watched on, involved, yet hardly participating.
Not quite finished with him, Ricci headed for him, the anger forming shadows on his face as he neared Tommaso.
It was then that Tommaso's mind went on overdrive and he pulled out a gun and pointed it at Ricci.
Ricci only stopped and trained his eyes on him. All around Tommaso, the men who had come with Ricci had their guns pointed in his direction.
Ricci gave a small sardonic smile. "The ultimate betrayal," he said. "You dare point a gun at your Don?"
Tommaso's hand shook slightly as he held the gun.
Despite his anger, Ricci felt a little bit bad that this was going to be Tommaso's end.
But he had to make an example. Dons only got the fear and loyalty they desired from making examples out of those who dared to mess with them.
Quick as a flash, Ricci pulled out a gun from the inner part of his suit jacket and emptied two shots inside Tommaso's chest.
Both Tommaso and his gun fell to the ground.
Ricci took one look at the limp body. "He already has a gun in his hand. He could have as well shot himself," he said.
He strolled out of the living room and his men joined him in the car.