tagBDSMThe Twelve Vitali Ch. 22

The Twelve Vitali Ch. 22


Authors note: Hello everyone. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to vote and comment, as always I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the people who read this series. Thank you once again to Paul who continues to be my second set of eyes. ~ellie.


"Fucking control freaks!" Dante grumbled. "You're as bad as Josh, and this was supposed to be a holiday for me, not more babysitting duty."

"I know you didn't mean that as a compliment, but being compared to Josh isn't a bad thing, in my mind," Matteo shrugged.

"He's right," Phil weighed in. "There aren't many of us who could have weathered so much death and destruction and come out as such a strong leader to rebuild it all in record time. Whether you want to admit it or not, the man is a powerhouse, and I imagine you and everyone else on your table have a tough gig keeping up with him."

"What he said," Matteo chuckled when Dante looked to him for support.

"It's not so tough. You realise he doesn't do it all alone, right?" Dante grumbled.

"None of us do," Phil laughed. "But it's people like Josh and our friend, Matt, here, who push and badger the rest of us into getting shit done. Speaking of getting shit done," he looked up as Nathanael walked in.

All eight of the men who had met in Kuala Lumpur had come on the next leg of Matteo's business trip. He had been right, each family had their own agenda for being in the Australasian Pacific, if not East Timor itself. They'd spent the night there waiting for news from home about the expected attack on the Papillo, but it never came, and, with great relief, they all started departing the following day to head home to their respective families. None of them discounted any of the theories they had come up with and promised greater transparency with each other, if no one else.

"I guess I'm off," Nathanael said. "Do any of you need a lift to the airport?"

"Nah, we're good, our flights aren't for a few hours yet," Matteo said easily.

"For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure something went down, but there was enough forewarning to nullify the threat," the serious Nathanael said as if he had given it a great deal of thought. "I'll trust Phil's gut feelings over most people's, including mine anytime."

"Thanks, brother," Phil got up and embraced his friend. "Have a good flight back. We'll catch up at the wedding. For what it's worth, you were right too. We have an amazing network of friendship and trust here. Our fathers probably did want us to reconnect on a better level. It's been years since we all got together like this."

"Yeah, we'll try to do it at least once a year," Matteo got to his feet to farewell the man.

"Yeah, that's what I need in my life, more control freaks," Dante grinned and embraced Nathanael.

"Yeah," Nathanael chuckled and left the house.

"It's just the three of us now," Dante said pointedly. "So, spill it, Phil," he sat back and looked at the man who had counted his twin, Lio, as his best friend. "You have the cone of silence, nothing goes beyond the three of us from this point on."

"You believed me about the Papillo, so you know I can sometimes just..." he struggled to find the words. He hated talking about his sixth sense in terms other than just a gut feeling. His family knew about the depth of his abilities, but he rarely trusted others not to shoot him down or be suspicious of how he came by his information.

"Yeah, you can see dead people," Dante chuckled.

"I wish I could I give a million bucks to have Lio here right now," he let out a large breath. "Look, I know who you saw in Ghost Town, Matt. Don't ask me how, but I know, and you should tell him before we leave. It's important for some reason, but aside from that, if the hacktivists have, or are still trying to get into the Papillo, you have to say something." He glanced at Dante and back at Matteo.

"Who was the older of the people I saw?" Matteo asked, testing his friend.

"Your mother, Maria," Phil said sadly.

"Wait! What?" Dante exclaimed. "Fuck!" he spat at a loss to even comprehend how hard that would have been for Matteo to find out that the mother who tried to murder him was alive and living in a family facility.

"Yeah," Matteo confirmed. "Jacobi had been on a power trip since I had isolated myself, and the five of us, Maria's children, all had issues of some sort that was stopping my fathers' from naming the table. Ricco had fucked up his relationship with Cat, then I had fucked it up, Trista was becoming a sociopathic princess, like Nik, and Theresa needed to see that in full bloom. So we were all taken to Ghost Town for a reality check."

"I wondered why they told you now, of all times," Phil mused.

"When we came back from Ghost Town, both Ricco and I knew how badly we had fucked up. I still had a chance to make it right, so I came back to Brisbane and claimed my bride, so to speak. Which you know," he looked at Dante. "What you don't know is that I had closure with Nik and finally moved on and let the pain and humiliation of that time with her go," Matteo said. "How could you know, we all thought Nik was dead."

"Nik... alive..." Dante said as if not comprehending what was being said. "In the place where the twelve's secrets go to die..."

"Roberto said that Joseph decided not to tell Josh because of what happened to Peri, and when he died the thirteenth decided your family had already been through enough and decided to keep the knowledge of her survival from you," Matteo said. "Once I was officially chair I would have told you, but until then Roberto is the chair and gave his word."

"I think we always knew. Josh didn't mourn her the way you would expect him to. I think I put that down to Peri and what had happened, as you said. It was a relief more than anything that she was gone. We had planned to send her there, but she died before we could pull it off. I guess it doesn't matter who faked her death, that was always the end goal," Dante said calmly.

"So if the Papillo gets hacked, the monsters that scare our loved ones could reappear, or at least news of their whereabouts could get out. You're not the only family with monsters under the bed, so to speak," Phil said.

"Tell Josh or don't tell Josh, it's up to you, but you should tell Ben, at the very least. Nik still believes he will come and release her. She still claims she has done nothing wrong. She still hates Peri for turning Josh against her, and she believes Lio's death was his own fault for... well, you know what for." Matteo said, making sure Dante knew that time had not healed her narcissistic tendencies.

"That was some reality check your fathers gave you," Dante murmured. "Why now? Why did they do it?"

"Roberto is dying. He needs me to step up," Matteo sighed heavily and leaned back in his chair.

"I thought it was Stefano who had the heart surgery?" Phil frowned.

"It was. Stefano will recover with some TLC and if he takes it easy. Roberto is terminal, they are saying a year, at most," Matteo said bluntly. "No one on the tables knows, and that's how he wants it for the moment."

"Fuck!" Dante said. "Just Fuck!" He was at a loss for words, for himself, for Matteo, and even for Phil, who seemed to feel these things more keenly than the rest of them.

"So I guess I wasn't supposed to hear any of that, huh?" Nathanael asked from just inside the room. "My gut mightn't work as well as Phil's, but I knew something was going on. Don't worry, cone of silence and all that shit, I get it. Of all of our friends you know, I can keep my mouth shut."

"Fuck!" Dante said again.

"You know what I think?" Nathanael said, coming back in to sit with them. "I think we should all go to the hospital to see how our good buddy, Rick, is doing after his appendicitis. I heard he's in Broome." Nathanael allowed a rare smile to touch his lips.


"She can't talk right now, she's all tied up," Ricco chuckled.

"Put the phone up to her ear then," Matteo groaned. "And send me a picture this time."

"Hello," Cat said breathlessly.

"Good grief," Matteo moaned deeply. How was he supposed to concentrate on what he had to do now? "I miss you even more now," he closed his eyes. "I'm sorry this is taking so long."

"You'll be back tomorrow, though, won't you?" she asked, anxiety creeping into her voice. It was late even for Matteo.

"Yes, nothing could stop me coming home tomorrow!" he said adamantly.

"I miss you so much!" she said, breathing heavily into the phone.

"God, I wish I was there right now," he sighed. "I love you and miss you too. Let me talk to Ricco again."

"Photo, now!" he grumbled into the phone as he heard his brother move the phone to his own ear and the soft, breathy tones of Cat disappear. "I'll be back mid-afternoon, I hope. Get the movers in first thing so we can move into the Penthouse tomorrow night!" he commanded.

"Relax, Matt, most of it's done, we're just waiting for you," Ricco chuckled. "Lucca can't wait to get us out of here. He's already started moving his stuff in."

"Photo, then I'll get relaxed!" Matteo growled, making Ricco chuckle again before ending the call.

"He's a bit on edge," Ricco grinned at Cat, who swung from her bonds in the afterglow of a harsh scene with him. She did well to talk as coherently as she had on the phone. She had embraced his darkness, and he revelled in finding a new freedom of exploration with her. It would be different when Matt returned, not in a bad way, but these moments where he had her complete and willing surrender would be fewer. Matteo was a softer, more caring Dominant who enjoyed the lifestyle on a part-time basis. After having the last four nights with Cat, Ricco could happily immerse himself deeper into it on a more permanent basis if she would be there with him.

Ricco picked up his phone and arranged Cat's hair and body in such a way that he could take a few shots to send Matteo without revealing her identity. He would hate for anyone, especially Sebastian, who already thought badly of him, to recognise Cat and keep the photo's themselves. Matteo sent back appreciative expletives, and Ricco went about releasing Cat carefully from her bonds and going through the routine of washing her and caring for the marks he had left on her body.

"What's wrong?" he asked into the silence, noticing the strange look on her face, not for the first time, as he smoothed a healing cream over her bruised skin.

"I'm nervous, I mean, I get it on some level, but it will be weird to have you both here in bed, together," she spoke softly. "Now that we..."

"I guess, at first, it will be strange for all of us, but as long as we love and trust each other, it will all fall into place. Trust me, I won't push Matt past his limits. I love him, I would never do anything to harm that," He said easily, because that was honestly how he felt. "This stuff, the rope, it's not his thing, but he's curious enough about it to want to explore it with us, and that's all I ever wanted. A relationship where my needs are just as important as his where you are concerned."

"What about what I need?" she asked.

"Your needs outweigh both us, you only have to ask to receive," he said, moving up the bed to kiss her. "If it gets too much, you have safe words, and we stop, regardless of what we need. If you want something more, different, softer, darker, you just have to ask, mainly because we aren't mind-readers," he chuckled. "We're pretty typical men, and subtlety doesn't always work with us, so you're better off just telling us what you want."

Cat laughed with him. It was so easy to believe everything could work out, but she was still anxious and didn't think that would ease until they were all here together again. She closed her eyes, feeling Ricco's arms drift around her, and fell into a deep exhausted sleep.

The following day both she and Ricco were busy all morning as they supervised the last of their belongings, as well as Lisa's equipment being packed and moved. Lisa went ahead to the penthouse to take charge of where everything went, especially in her kitchen, and by lunchtime they were done. Without Matteo there, however, neither of them lingered, wanting him to be there when they officially made it home, so they delegated to Lisa for the final touches and went to have lunch with the family, who were gathering in the restaurant downstairs, because, as usual, Ricco was starving.

After taking Theresa into her confidence regarding her wedding dress, the wedding plans went smoother, and rather than spend time looking at things she had no interest in, Theresa was able to narrow down options for her and the major part of the planning seemed to be over. Cat didn't know most of the people attending, so she left the seating arrangements in Theresa's hands after asking that the Donatis' be given premium seating. She knew Matteo would have his own wants where the seating was concerned, but she hadn't had the chance to talk to him about that yet.

Cat had also been making a solid effort to get to know all of Matteo's siblings and found that Ricco had been right in his appraisal of everyone having a thing that they loved to do. His youngest brothers she found she liked immensely, on the surface they were funny and smart and liked nothing better than to try and get one up on their older siblings by clowning around. Getting to know them, however, she found they both had very different personalities and outlooks on life. Raphael was cynical and dry-witted, always seeing beyond the obvious to what lay beneath, and Cat loved to people watch with him as he judged and found most of the people wanting. Leonardo, on the other hand, was warm and open and as understanding of peoples faults as his brother was cynical.

She saw Lucca every day, and he seemed to seek her out when he was moving into the apartment or when she visited Ricco's office. He reminded her a lot of Matteo in that he was funny and charming and more often than not happy to drop what he was doing to help her with something. Zion and Aria had taken a day trip to Brisbane to view her portrait of the Donatis' and had given her unadulterated praise for the work she had done in such a small amount of time.

Trista and Mia, she bonded with over the wedding plans while she saw Vanessa all the time at the HQ building as they finished off the penthouse and remaining apartments. Only Jacobi and Maryanne seemed to be stumbling blocks for her, although each time Lucia visited, Maryanne defrosted toward her a little more. Still, she was happy with the progress she had made, now she just had to get the Aunts and Uncles and cousins straight, and she could truly claim to be part of this family.


Matteo wasn't surprised to see Josh sitting with Dante and Ben. He felt the need to talk with Ricco just as badly. Phil and Nathanael arrived within fifteen minutes as well, and Matteo realised they were all anxious to get some answers.

"I need to do this alone," Rick Papillo gripped his brother's shoulder.

"I'll just invite Ben and Josh to tour the facility," Leyton nodded. "That'll give you an hour to explain to your friends why you're not in the hospital."

"Leyton, this is a surprise," It was Josh who stood from the table first to greet the two brothers who walked toward them.

"Not as much as hearing that you were here, I'm sure," Leyton laughed. "Ben, how you doing?"

"We know," Ben said abruptly. "So, we can either air our dirty laundry here, or you can find somewhere where the other patrons won't have to see me hit you."

"Yeah, alright," Leyton looked at his brother and frowned. This had not been what they were expecting. "Let's go to my offices."

"You recovered quick," Dante eyed Rick with a raised eyebrow as he fell into step beside him.

"Yeah, miraculous, isn't it," Rick said in a resigned voice.

An hour later Matteo felt better about the breach of the security systems that had occurred at the Papillo's known facilities. The hidden ghost town, however, had no computer records. Everything there was done by hand, and any correspondence was coded with the prisoner's pseudonym, which was always a colour. Still, a breach had occurred, and even though it appeared that the hacktivists hadn't retrieved any data of value, it was still cause for concern.

"Since when did we make Phil the grand poohbah of our gang?" Rick asked teasingly, as Phil once again began to question all the things that had happened recently.

"From what I can work out he always was, it just that he doesn't have Lio taking all the credit for him anymore," Matteo chuckled.

"Fuck, I miss that guy," Phil reiterated. "Sorry, D., but..."

"Don't be, I already told you, I'm glad to know someone aside from me misses him so damn much. Especially at times like this," Dante gave a sad shrug.

"We all miss him, D.," Rick said genuinely. "But you were always destined to be the Oracle, just like the rest of us."

"We're not all Oracles," Matteo said.

"You would have been if Cat hadn't dumped Ricco's ass," Dante chuckled. "Same with Mo and the rest of them. It was about the mother every time. Personally, I think Lio was destined for the job, but I was lucky enough to be loved by one amazing woman."

"They're all amazing women," Matteo chuckled. "It's us who have the hang-ups." He looked pointedly at Nathanael. "Take the advice and date your brother. Sit around a bottle or six of Sambuca and lay everything online, then, once he trusts you, do the same with the mother until she trusts you. It's what works, and you can trust me on that."

It had been late when they finally went back to their hotel rooms, and Matteo woke with an overarching need to get home. He got up, showered and dressed in record time and headed down for breakfast where he had organised to meet his friends. Not being able to shake the need to get home as soon as possible, Matteo farewelled his friends, promising to catch up with them all at the wedding, and called his pilot. It was still a four-hour-plus flight, and he had an unsettling feeling in his gut. He'd probably just been around Phil and Nathanael for too long, he reassured himself, but he couldn't help the nagging feeling he had now.


Cat sat through lunch in the crowded restaurant trying to take in all of the different people she had met, and was glad she had taken the time to change into a nice dress before coming down to lunch in the restaurant on the ground floor of the HQ building.

"This must be the delicious Catriona I have heard so much about," a deeply accented voice said, and she turned to lock eyes with a tall, imposing, dark-eyed man who was obviously part of the Vitali clan. He picked up her hand and brushed his lips against her knuckles. "There is still time to change your mind and marry a better choice," he winked at her.

"I'm afraid I did that whole cross my heart and hope to die thing with Matteo, so it's marry him or die, I'm afraid," she said sadly.

"Ah, best you go through with it then, it would be such a shame for one so beautiful to die so young," Danilo Vitali held back his smile. "My shy son will be most disappointed I couldn't steal you away for him."

"Ric, you're a lawyer, right? How do I go about divorcing my parents?" Arlo Vitali asked, shaking his head at his father and pulling up a chair from the next table to squeeze in beside Ricco. Danilo laughed raucously and moved away to greet his brothers.

"Hey, man, it's good to see you," Ricco greeted his cousin and introduced Cat. "I already called dibs on being her second choice though, man, sorry."

"But does she realise that I come with the bonus of living and travelling in Europe for most of the year, good food, wine, museums, art galleries..." he winked at Cat, making her laugh.

"You know what Europe doesn't have?" she asked with a smile. "Matteo and his cute butt." She winked back at him, making him burst out laughing.

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