[center [size20 [I [font "century gothic" [tab] [tab] [tab] sweet like [b [#ffc30b h o n e y ]]]]]]
[center [size11 [font "century gothic" Every summer [b she] heads to her father’s childhood home in Southern Italy. Enjoying the shimmering heat, delicious wine and food, and the comfort of families that have lived there for generations. The small town has the charm every girl whose read a contemporary romance novel dreams of and that includes the handsome brothers that move into their mother’s home next door. Things seem to be going well and of course, romance flairs between [b her and him]. But, she soon discovers everyone comes with their own bag of secrets. [b He] is trying his hardest to protect her from a world of trouble, and [b she] falls into the deep end, with no choice but to demand he be honest with her, as she refuses her unborn to grow without a father. As summer reigns on, it’s questionable as to whether either of them have a choice.
[center [size11 [b [I this is a mafia story; plot will be further discussed via PM ]]]]
[#ffc30b ≎] 400 word min.
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“Don’t worry about remembering names, if you come around enough, you’re more than likely going to pick them up.” He said against her ear Everyone was finally heading to the table and Donovan left Jasmine in her seat as he headed toward the kitchen to get her a glass of water.
“Who’s the chick?’ Marco asked as he was grabbing a bottle of wine to bring to the table.
“House across the way, you know uh Wright’s daughter.” Marco nodded, looking out through the kitchen door to catch a Look at Jasmine.
“She’s cute.” He said, playfully tapping his brother’s shoulder. Though, Marco soon straightened up when his fiancé entered, raising a curious brow at him as she noticed where he was looking. “But not as fine as my love,” he said as he wrapped his arms around her, heading back into the dining room where the boisterous voices came from. Donovan had soon joined them placing her glass of water before her.
“How would you know if you don’t have a taste?” he told her with a chuckle as his brother was passing the bottle around. Soon his mother had finally made her appearance, which had calmed the room down. She eyed Jasmine before looking to Donovan. He knew that look; one he had received plenty of times in his youth when he did something wrong. His mother enjoyed their home and she enjoyed the peace that came with it; Sometimes his father would bring work home, but their home for the most part was sacred. His mother had always disapproved of his inability to remain monogamous or even settle down, and she certainly didn’t like the idea of him dragging an innocent girl into their mess, especially a neighbor. Especially considering she knew that Jasmine’s mother was not a fan of her boys.
His mother had said a quick prayer, thanking everyone for attending and bringing such love to their home after her husband’s passing. They’d all placed their glasses of wine up in a cheer before finally digging into their meals. Donovan was glad for jasmine’s presence, as it kept him out of conversations about business that he much didn’t feel like having at the time. Though, he knew he couldn’t hide from it forever and Big T was more than likely going to demand they have a meeting at the end of the night, which was cutting into his plans to spend more time getting to know Jasmine.
“You say that now, wait until you get to know them.” He said. He was joking of course. Donovan was lucky, there were people that were always looking out for him and his family. He knew that when it came to loved ones, protecting them meant everything and at any cost.
“You are not going to introduce me?” his mother asked then. She had come around to place a kiss on his cheek. Donovan resisted rolling his eyes but couldn’t hide the blush that crossed his cheeks.
“Ma this is Jasmine, from the house across the street Jasmine, this is my lovely mother.” He said with a smile.
“Run while you can,” she said with a. smile. “Thank your father again for the flowers, I really appreciated it. Does your father expect you home at a certain hour?” Donovan knew she was trying to protect the young girl and make sure she got home safe which meant not falling into her son’s spell of romance.
“I promise to get you home not too late,” he said t Jasmine. “If you promise I can take you out tomorrow, maybe somewhere a bit more intimate?” He said to her. His mother threw up her hands, knowing she couldn’t control her son. Though, Jasmine seemed like a nice girl: that was what worried her.
[size12 Jasmine smiled as they began walking towards his home. She could already see the line up of cars from across the street. She'd be lying if she wasn't a bit nervous. She bit the inside of her cheek, hearing about the large crowds. Usually, she was as cool as a cucumber. She was so willing to meet new people, however, this was a bit different. Judging by how luxurious the cars were, these weren't the type of people she was used to being around. She hoped she could live up to their standards. Despite her nerves, she responded with confidence. [b "Big crowds are no biggie for me."]
She could already hear the booming of voices coming from the house which had distracted her from the man who had approached the two of them. Her focus went back towards Donovan when she heard the start of introductions. She shined her best welcoming smile at the man named Jimmy. [b "Pleasure to meet you."] She clasped her hands in front of her, straightening her posture. She watched him head into the house and turned to Donovan. [b "Oh, it's fine. It's great to meet new people."]
She trailed shortly behind Donovan. She did her best to stay close as the number of people in the house was overwhelming. She didn't realize how enormous his family was. She was amazed she didn't know more about him considering what she was witnessing in the house. She felt fortunate enough that she was being introduced to them all now. Would she remember all their names? Definitely not.
[b "Just a glass of water will be fine."] She took an empty seat at the dining room table. She couldn't lie, the food smelled absolutely amazing. There were all sorts of different dishes and she was ecstatic to be able to taste them all! There were even some she wasn't familiar with and her dad cooked quite a variety of dishes. She could feel her mouth-watering at the sight of them and now, she was more than happy she accepted his offer. Perhaps her mother would be more pleased about her coming here when she brought back such perfectly cooked dishes.
[b "I'd love to tell you about Bordeaux. There is a fantastic wine museum there. Perhaps your family's wine will land there. I'm sure it's more than worthy,"] She said, straightening her posture as she had noticed a few eyes trailing her way. She was a stranger after all, despite all the introductions.
For the most part, Jasmine stayed quiet. She enjoyed listening to the conversations amongst the table. She allowed for those around her to serve themselves before she had served herself. She felt it wasn't very mannerly of her to just dig in, especially since she was a guest. She wasn't too sure what was a sensitive subject or subjects to avoid. She didn't want to say the wrong thing or offend so many that she just met. She leaned over towards Donovan, speaking softly, [b "You've got quite a family. You're very lucky to have them all during such a time."]
She had wished her family was bigger. Unfortunately, it was just her, her sister, her father, and of course her mother. Hence why she wanted a big family herself. Sadly, her mother's family was practically nonexistent since she had moved to Italy. Her father's family wasn't the nicest of people. They were very judgemental and didn't approve of her mother. She just wanted a big family that were accepting of one another and close, like Donovans.
[I Jasmine]. Of course, someone as beautiful as her would have a name so befitting. “Ah, I was wondering why I hadn’t seen you around,” he said with a smile. “Well, I guess I’m a bit biased if I have to disagree. There is nothing like the wine from the Moretti family.” Still, he’d enjoyed his time in France, of course he had too much pride to every think their cuisine or wine could ever come close to that of an Italian. He considered Italian men to be the most romantic and he figured his charisma had shown that as he had convinced her to come back with him to spend time with his family. He could see the look on his mother’s face now, how she would pull him to the side and chastise him. She would complain about not being told ahead of time, as though she didn’t prepare a meal that could feed a family for a whole year. Donovan shrugged his hands into his pockets, leaning against the pillar of the house.
He turned his head at the slight creaking of the screen door, looking to see Jasmine coming down the short steps, an apologetic smile on her face. He waved his hands, “It’s no worries. I’m sure me taking you away after just getting here would cause some protest. My mother will be fine with it, your m guest.” No matter how much his mother complained, she had a big heart ad she would never turn anyone away. Maybe that’s why she had stayed with his father for so long, though back then times were different. Back then you didn’t just divorce your husband after too many affairs and being with his father was all his mother had known. She hadn’t finished school, and once dating him had never worked a day in her life again.
That wasn’t to say her life was easy; it wasn’t all just shopping trips and endless bands of money whenever she needed it. She played housewife while his father was out in the streets killing and dealing. Some women didn’t have the strength to eb around that, to ice the knuckles of your husband’s hands after he’d pummeled a guy’s face in. Or lying to the cops when they came around.
“All I can say is I hope you don’t mind big crowds,” as they were nearing his place, he could already see the expensive cars pulling up, his father’s friends arriving finally. It could be a bit overwhelming, the loud voices and boisterous laughs as everyone talked over one another. Conversations would flow into the other seamlessly. He instantly recognized the car of his old man’s closest friend; Jimmy Foci or “Big Time” sometimes “Big T” as he was refereed to within the [I family]. He was a man towering at 6”5 with a thick upper body; Donovan used to call him the Gorilla when he was younger, since he reminded him of King Kong.
“Donovan!” he announced with open arms as he pulled him in for a hug, patting him on the shoulder as he pulled away. “You’ve been ducking my calls?”
“I haven’t been ducking your calls. You know where you can always find me.” Jimmy had been trying to get Donovan in the chair as soon as possible, knowing that a gang with no leader would lead to chaos. Just because his father was gone didn’t mean business was closed.
“Yeah, well we got to move quick, Gio has a car that needs a tune-up.” Donovan cleared his throat, which alerted Jimmy to Jasmine. Jimmy knew he didn’t recognize the girl, which meant he got the hint. You never talked about work with strangers, even if they didn’t know what was truly being said. It was hard to trust a newcomer. “We’ll talk about that later. Why don’t you introduce me to your Bellissima?”
Donovan smirked; his hand soft at the back of Jasmine’s lower back.
“This is Jasmine, Jasmine this is Jimmy. He’s a longtime friend of my father.”
“Aye, Jimmy, Donovan! Get your asses in here, ma’s starting dinner.”
“I’ll see you inside,” Jimmy said with a wink. Donovan looked to Jasmine. “Sorry about that, I hope you do god with meeting new people,” he said with a chuckle. The night would be full of introductions which had started as soon as they walked in; the general belief being that Jasmine was Donovan’s new flavor of gelato for the month. There were a good amount of people in the home, heading toward the huge dining room where the table had already been prepared with his mother’s dishes. Young kids ran through the hallways, playing with one another.
“Can I get you a drink?” He asked her. “Maybe after dinner you can tell me a bit more about Bordeaux,” he said. Of course this was how Donovan got all of his girls in bed; he’d play the charmer, show them he was a family man, flash a smile and a bit of money and eventually it went the way he wanted and expected from that point on. Most girls couldn’t handle what he did for work though, when the stakes were high, their loyalty faltered and he always knew it smart t get rid of them sooner rather than later.
[size12 Mm, that was right. How could she have forgotten already? Catrina had informed her in the car they'd sent flowers over. Was she really that jetlagged from the trip? Either way, for her a simple thank you card would have sufficed, no need to give a whole box of wine...not that she or her mother wouldn't enjoy a bottle to themselves. It was family-owned and it'd be rude not to give it a taste.
[b "That's really sweet of her. I'm sure it will be enjoyed."] She assured him as a smile spread across her lips. She took his hand, doing her best to shake with confidence. It was difficult considering his hand really enclosed hers. [b "It's certainly nice to meet you, Donovan. The name is Jasmine."]
He seemed genuinely sweet, which was a bit stunning considering how her mother had been acting. Even her sister didn't say anything which wasn't like her. She was always the first one to scream hello at everyone, even a stranger waiting for the bus. Either way, Jasmine was old enough to make her own decisions on people. Her mother wasn't able to sway her anymore and if she wanted to talk to the very attractive Italian from across the street, then so be it. [b "Speaking of this wine,"] She took the box from him. [b "I just came back from Bordeaux which is considered the Wine capital of France, some even say the world."] God, how she wished she would be able to share this wine with some of her roomies back in Bordeaux. She'd certainly have to keep a bottle if she could.
She kicked open the front door to allow herself in, she looked back at Donovan and nodded. [b "Why not? That sounds fantastic. I can always go for some homemade food. Let me just put this inside and let my ma know."] She said, giving him a smile as she headed inside. She went towards the kitchen and sat the box down on the center island.
"What is it?" Her mother asked, coming in from putting her bags in her bedroom. [b "It's just some wine, family owned."] Her mother seemed less than interested. She was about to question what her deal was when her father wrapped his arm around her shoulder. She jumped, pivoting towards him to give him a bit squeeze.
"I've missed you, my little meatball." His accent was thick as they embraced for a few moments.
[b "I've missed you too. I, uh,"] She pulled away from her dad but still in an embrace. [b "Donovan actually invited me over there to get some food for the family! I think it'd be nice to mingle with the neighbors and just, give my condolences to his mother myself."]
Her father smiled with approval while her mother simply walked out of the room with no comment. "Sounds like a good idea. You'll be back tonight, right? I've got a few new recipes to teach you!" Their embrace broke and she nodded. [b "Promise. I've got some recipes to teach you too!"] She called out to him as she walked back out the front door. [b "My apologies for taking a moment. Are you sure that your mom won't mind me coming over unexpectedly? I'd hate to be a nuisance."]
Honestly, she was excited to head over to his place and get to know them, him, a little better. She had roommates that she conversed with but it was usually about their studies or other things pertaining to French culture. It was never personal. She didn't get to really know anyone or them her. That and the men over there weren't her type. They hardly cared for conversation and just wanted what was in the pants and under the shirt. Jasmine wasn't that easy and that became a problem when it comes to dating over there. She'd prefer to have someone from back home anyhow.
Donovan had turned his head at the sound of a car pulling up. He looked to find that it was his neighbors wife. He had always been terrible with names. Though, it didn’t really matter as they really didn’t talk with one another, which she suspected was at the suggestion of the wife. Of course, his reputation followed and not everyone was okay with the activities he and his family were into; though, nothing had ever been proven. That didn’t stop the gossip, some of which was only half the truth which was a terrifying thought.
He turned as the door closed the woman’s eyes judgmental from a far. She made sure the teen stuck close to her as though Donovan were the big bad wolf, ready to snatch her up.
“Hey,” Donovan said with a smile. The girl walking toward him looked familiar, but he couldn’t remember her name which was a pity, she was a beautiful sight. He was a bit caught up in his thoughts then, slowly catching up to the conversation. “Thank you, my mother and us we really appreciate it. I know they weren’t really that close, so the flowers were nice. She really appreciated them.” He looked down at the box in his hand, nearly forgetting about it had he not have to tighten his grip when the girl’s mother brushed by. He could tell his presence wasn’t wanted but would only be tolerated for so long. “It’s wine, family owned. My mother thought it would be aa nice way to say thank you.” Donovan adjusted his hold and extended his hand. “Sorry, where are my manners. My name is Donovan.”
The sun was hitting her perfectly, creating this glow around her. She didn’t look like her sister from what he could tell, but she had that exotic look about her that drew you in. Certainly, if she had been around, he would’ve seen her and remembered her. Though, a flash memory of a young girl running through the fields played in his mind. He remembered her as a kid, but he can’t remember saying anything to her, maybe a wave every now and then. He heard the door open, looking over his shoulder to find her mother’s figure looming. “I guess I should let you get inside, looks like you’re just coming back from a trip?” He was curious where from, now no longer minding his mother sending him over. “Hey, if you want some good food, my mother’s making dinner. You can maybe grab some for your family?” He suggested as he handed the box over. Of course, it was his attempt to get her alone, maybe talk his game without her mother wiling him mentally to get off her property. Donovan didn’t think of himself as a womanizer, but of course it wasn’t secret that he didn’t really [I settle down].
[size12 Right when Jasmine stepped off the plane, she could smell that sweet Italian air. All those childhood memories bursting through; her mother baking fresh cannolis, her father cooking up his special double meat lasagna. Her mother brought her over to Italy shortly after she'd met her step-father from a business trip. According to her mother, it was love at first sight. Jasmine didn't really believe in all that nonsense but her step-father treated her well and she hardly would call him a step. He was more like a real father than her biological one. So, the relationship was approved and the move certainly was too. Soon after, her mother fell pregnant with her sister, Carina. She was blessed with the beautiful olive skin color and her mothers gorgeous blue eyes that Jasmine lacked.
Her mother really appreciated the Italian culture and in turn, taught her children to appreciate it just as much. Jasmine hardly missed the traditional American foods she ate for the first six years of her life. She basked in the freshly made desserts and meals. They hardly ate anything that was pre-cooked. She couldn't stand to think of the day she might have to return to the enormous portions and pre-packaged goods from the USA.
She always thought Italy would be her home forever however, all good things must come to an end. She scored the opportunity of a lifetime and that was to study abroad over in France. She couldn't pass up this opportunity what so ever! The new cuisine she'd be tasting, the new language, it was just the burst of the new culture she was hoping for. She'd promised her mother and father she'd come to visit every chance she got and she kept that promise. She'd come ever summer and on special holidays. Now, here she was, back again.
Her smile could light up the room the moment she saw her mother and sister holding up that sign welcoming her home. It was something they did every single time yet, it never got old. She dropped her bags on the airport floor as her feet carried her into their arms. Her grip was tight around both the shorter women as they embraced tightly. [b "I've missed you so much,"] She breathed out shakily, attempting to contain her emotion.
Her mother kept planting kisses on her cheek allowing for her own mothers tears to drip onto her skin. "Oh, my Jassy," She pulled back, both hands cupping her cheeks. Her mother's blue eyes beating into her chocolate ones. "You're home, baby. You're home."
She blinked through the joyous tears, wiping them away with the back of her hand. [b "Yes, mama, I'm home."]
It didn't take long for them to arrive back home and when they did, her mother scoffed out. "Well, look who it is." Jasmine pulled herself up from the backseat, popping out from between her mother and sister. "It's that Donovan boy, from across the street."
[b "Oh,"] Her lips pursed as she thought long about who he was. Spending time across the country and having such a protective mother, most backgrounds didn't stick in her brain. [b "Didn't you say his father passed recently?"] Her mother let out a mumbled [i mhm] and nodded, slipping out of the car without another word. She looked towards her sister who shrugged her shoulders in response.
"Papa sent them flowers," Her sister, Carina, explained as she slipped out of the car with Jasmine. "Honey, why don't you go see what he wants?" She said to Carina but before she could respond, Jasmine spoke up.
[b "No, no, ma. I got it. You guys have my bags right?"] She joked, sticking her tongue out at her mother who retorted by rolling her eyes. God, how she missed that woman. [b "Hey there!"] She chimed out, stepping up from behind him.
When she saw him, there was a bit of familiarity with him. Perhaps she'd had a run-in with him when she was a kid? That, or perhaps she had seen his late father before and he just resembled him so well. She remembered her manners as she looked past him and at her mother. [b "I'm sorry to hear about your father. I couldn't possibly imagine losing my own."] She spoke with ease and a gentle yet, cautious tone. Her smile had even faded to show that she truly was sorry. There was something different about losing a parent than any other relative.
There was a silence that she found to be unbearable. Lucky for her, her mother came over with her bags, pushing past us. "Sorry for your loss again, Donovan. My condolences to your family." Carina and her mother waddled inside as they carried her bags in, her mother certainly over exaggerating at how heavy they were.
She turned her attention away from them and back to who her mother called Donovan. She looked at the box in his hands and quirked an eyebrow. [b "May I ask what this is for?"] She tilted her head to the side, curious as to why they'd be receiving anything if it was their family in a grievance.
From the day Donovan was born, it was made clear that you never went against the Family. as he grew up, he learned that family wasn’t always blood. He’d cousins, aunts and uncles with different last names, but had been bonded into the Moretti family after showing years of loyalty to his father Davide Moretti, the boss of the Moretti mafia. It went without saying that many respected him because they feared him, but during his childhood, Donovan and his brother had only known him to be the sweetest man there ever was. They didn’t know of his father’s wrongdoings until they’d reached young adulthood when it was hard to ignore the blood splatter on their father’s clothing, or when they’d take trips to their aunt’s to stay for the night when his father and his friends came over to play [I poker]. By the age of sixteen, Donovan’s curiosity along with his brother’s Marco soon caught the eye of his father and against his mother’s wishes, the inevitable happened. There’s no how to on how to be a part of the mafia, no little cute guidebook and it’s nothing like the movies. They don’t tell you how hard it is to wrap a man up in a carpet, or the fact that there’s no magical fairy digging their graves.
It’s not something you naturally seek to be apart of, you’re born into it. Still, being under the leadership of their father, it was expected that they learn the ropes quick because there would come a day such as this: staring into an expensive white casket with gold trimmings and luscious silk cushioned lining. There’d be a day when the boss died and the question as to who would take his spot would be raised.
“Shit, I can’t believe Ma’s got us lugging this stuff around. Why doesn’t she just sell it?” Marco, the youngest brother, grunted as he dropped his side of the trunk onto the cement floor of the basement of their family home. It was a week after the funeral, and they were trying to clear up their father’s office.
“You know Ma wouldn’t sell this house even if [I she] passed on,” he said, making a sign of the cross. “God forbid.” His mother was getting old in age, but she had been ten years younger than his father when they met. He was a fast-talking hustler, thirty years old with an eye for two things: beautiful women and money. His mother was from a poor family, working as a waitress to get by and Davide Moretti had what she wanted: good looks and money. Surprisingly, it’d taken them a while to get married. His mother had always thought that she was infertile, but when his father turned fifty, they had conceived Donovan and two years later Marco.
Donovan’s hands ran through the dark thick strands of hair. He normally styled it to keep the long strands out of his face, but with the heat and moving around, he didn’t see the point. Both brothers had begun up the stairs, the aroma of basil growing stronger as they reached the top. There was never a time their mother didn’t make anything from scratch. It was Sunday, family dinner and as it was a week since the passing – everyone was expected to attend.
Marco headed to the couch to crash. He headed into the kitchen, spying freshly made bread and reaching to grab a piece.
“Mani!” His mother yelled, smacking his hand with a wooden spoon. Donovan raised his hands in surrender, walking over to the sink to wash them. He could tell his mother had been crying, but like most women he knew, she was strong. She loved his father, despite all his faults and even his infidelities. He had always been the love of her life and he knew that would remain the truth.
“Did you finish?” She asked, brushing back the small curls that escaped the bun on her head. She still miraculously had the luscious dark brown curly hair, but the peeks of grey were showing. She started to stir the sauce before turning the heat down.
“Yes, we cleared his clothes and everything. You should be resting. Where’s Maria?” His mother clucked her tongue at the mentioning of Marcos fiancé. She of course was not a fan of her, but it was hard for any of the women to gain her mother’s blessing.
“Oh, the airhead? I wouldn’t trust her to put butter on bread.” Donovan chuckled, leaning against the counter and taking a bite of the bread. He didn’t even know why he asked, every time anyone was in her kitchen, she was ushering them out, which was why he wasn’t surprised that she was already shooing him out with her rag.
“Oh wait,” she said. Donovan sighed, that was always a sign that his mother had a task for him. She reached for a box near the fridge that had a couple bottles of their family wine. “For the neighbors to thank him for the flowers.”
“I got it. I got it,” he said as he grabbed it himself. “You know we sell these for $800 a bottle, these aren’t just to be passed out like favors.”
“Shush, he’s always been nice.”
“Yeah nice,” Donovan muttered. His mother leaned forward, cupping his face in her hands. She smiled into his warm brown eyes, kissing him on both cheeks.
“You’re okay?” His mother knew how close he was to his father and she was worried about him considering it was expected for him to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I’m okay,” he said softly, leaning in to kiss her on the forehead.
“Good, hurry back.”
Donovan left the room then, passing his brother who was lip locked with Maria. He shook his head, heading out and heading toward the house across the way. They still lived in a cute little town of Italy where the homes where the homes had been standing for years and everyone did really know everyone and usually by their last name. [I ‘Oh that’s Jimmy, Francisco’s boy – you know the Caprisis.’] When it came to them though, everyone knew their name. He rang the doorbell then, grateful for choosing to wear the white shirtsleeve dress shirt as the sun was beating down on his olive toned skin. He lived in Venice, but once news of his father being sick came into play, he had moved back into the family home to help his mother out and his father, who was finding it hard to keep up with the business in his condition.
“Come on,” he said under his breath, stepping. A little further toward the doo to take advantage of what little shade the roof provided.
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