Owen looked at his grandfather and quickly jumped up to help him to a chair. “Are you alright, Grandpa?”
“Tony patted his grandson’s hand. “You don’t worry about me. I’m a tough old man. It will take a lot more than a bad year or two to do me in.”
Owen couldn’t help smiling. He hoped his grandfather still had many years ahead of him despite how old and sick he looked. He moved back as his Uncle Daniel made sure that his grandpa was comfortable.
He had to hide his smile behind his hand as he watched his grandfather slap his hands away.
“Will you stop? You are as bad as your mother.”
“I will take that as a compliment. Mother is a wonderful woman.”
“You will get no argument from me about that. Now sit yourself down.”>
Tony looked at his grandson. “I heard that you have been asking questions about what your father has done for me.”
Owen nodded his head. “There are a lot of rumors. I want to know the truth.”
Tony nodded as he looked at both of his grandchildren. “It is time for both of you to know everything. Past time it seems. The story does not start with your father. It started many years before. All the way back to when I was younger than you are, Gracie Rose.”
Grace sat smiling at her grandpa.
I was a…” He almost said a word he shouldn’t use in front of his granddaughter. “I was a brat when I was a kid. I had watched my uncle kill my father and my mother as she begged for my life to be spared. Her last words were telling me to run. My uncle was afraid that my father wanted control of the family’s vineyards and was raising me to take over. He was wrong. My father was raising me to respect the family and to do whatever was necessary to protect it.”
Raelyn had grown up listening to stories of the family in Italy, but had never heard why her father had left.
“My father had a friend who captained one of the passenger ships at the docks. I had visited the ship with my father a few times. He would always tell me to remember the ship and to remember the captain because the day may come when the captain would be asked to repay the debt he owned to my father. The day I watched my uncle kill my parents and turn his gun on me was the day that debt was paid. The captain hid me on his ship for three days while it was prepared and loaded to sail. When we landed in San Myshuno, he gave me the name of a woman who would help me here. Her name was Kamila.” Tony looked at Zaiden. “Your father’s mother.”
“Kamila took me to her brother who took me in and raised me as his own. That was how I met your father, Zaiden, and why I always said he was part of my family. We were raised as family.”
Tony thought about Izaiah and felt a fresh wave of sadness wash over him. “He was my best friend, but I loved him like he was my brother. We were both only seven when we met. Kamila brought him with her when she picked me up from the docks and took me to her brother. He taught me my first English word…friend. The kids at school teased the new kid who couldn’t talk. Izaiah would get so mad at them for that. We both got in trouble many times for fighting those kids. Then we met Colleen.”
He smiled thinking about her. He looked over at Zaiden. “Your mother almost ruined my friendship with your father. She was the cutest little girl with the saddest eyes. We both had a crush on her, and would argue about it. It was your father that made the sadness leave her eyes. Once I realized that those two were un vero amore…”
“English please, Daddy. I am just beginning the Italian lessons with Grace.”
Tony looked at his daughter and granddaughter. “Un vero amore means one true love. Once I realized they were each other’s one true love, I was was happy for them. The three of us were inseparable. She was the one who introduced me to my first wife.”
Tony had been lucky enough to have found love twice in his lifetime. It had been a long time since he had talked about Rosalita. “I was 18 when I married Rosie.” He looked at his granddaughter and smiled. “That is where your name comes from, Princess. Rosalita Grace. We were happy and in love. Our son was born five months after we were married.”
Tony wished he knew where Anthony was. He went off to college and never returned home.
“We were only married a year when she was killed in a car accident. I was left to care for a baby by myself. Kamila arranged for someone to help. Jessie had just graduated and was great with Anthony. She knew that the work I was doing was not always legal and she never judged me for it. I messed up and almost lost her. We had grown close because I relied on her for helping with Anthony. I wasn’t ready to move on though. When she told me that she loved me, I pushed her away.”
Tony looked at Daniel. She didn’t tell me she was pregnant. I never would have…”
“It’s okay, Father. I had a great life with the family that adopted me. It also gave Mother the opportunity to help someone else have a family.”
Raelyn smiled as she listened to the story. “Daniel found us and has been an amazing big brother.”
“Thanks, Brat. You aren’t so bad yourself.”
“Any time, Monster.”
Tony shook his head as he listened to his kids. “You two never change. I am glad that your mother forgave me. She blessed me with the two of you and Caden.”
He looked at the rest of the family. “Enough of this old man’s journey into the past. Zaiden, your father knew about the work that I was doing. He joined the police force so he could help me from the inside.”
Zaiden looked at Tony surprised. “Dad was a dirty cop?”
Tony shook his head. “He never did anything against the rules. Your father wasn’t like that. He just kept an ear out to see if my name or any of my men came up. Never did thankfully. I miss him.”
This chapter was turning out to be pretty long so I split it into two chapters. The rest will be tomorrow.