tagNovels and NovellasThe Twelve Vitali Ch. 34

The Twelve Vitali Ch. 34

byxelliebabex©

Authors note: Hello everyone. Well this is the second last chapter and I hope you enjoy the climax of this story! Thank you everyone for the positive feedback and comments they continue to mean the world to me and have brightened my days. Thank you once again to Paul who continues to be my second set of eyes. ~ellie.

*****

Maria stood on the tarmac facing the plane that held so many of her dreams and her nightmares. Giovanni, her twin brother, her illicit lover, her stalker and her tormentor, she felt little love for the man who had destroyed her life so completely. She had been imprisoned and cut off from everything she loved. It had taken her many years to come to terms with what she had done and what she had lost; and she had found a sense of acceptance, if not peace, for what she had been and the evil she had wrought on her husbands and children.

She wasn't that woman any longer, she knew she wasn't, but the thought of seeing Giovanni and withstanding his anger and betrayal terrified her more than the first meeting with her children had done back in January. She didn't know why he terrified her so much now so many years later. He had already taken everything from her, including her identity. She could never be the woman he knew again, and she knew she would die at his hands once he realised that.

"How long is he going to make her stand there?" Ricco hissed at Sava. His mother had been standing in full view of the plane with Leyton Papillo for over ten minutes now with no sign of movement from the people inside. Considering the lengths to which he had gone to get to Maria, it was beyond reasoning that he would make her stand there waiting for him to open the door for so long.

"Until your brother and Catriona arrive, I think," Sava said thoughtfully. "We had hoped the sight of the woman he wanted would stir him to action, but he has other plans, it seems now. Perhaps the Suebi who are guiding him have a greater hold on him than we gave credit for. Or perhaps he was never here for Maria, but only to distract us enough to give him and the Suebi access to what they wanted all along."

"This isn't what we talked about!" Ricco growled.

"The movement of a butterfly wing can change the outcome of one destiny and replace it with another. All we can do is try to grasp each moment before the most likely scenario occurs," Sava said and tilted his head as if seeing something only a few feet before him that Ricco couldn't. "Excuse me for a moment," Sava said, and turned toward the hanger where the rest of his people waited and watched.

"Fuck!" Ricco growled, seeing the spot in the sky that told him that Matteo and Cat were closer than expected. He needed a plan to keep her safe, he needed a way to ensure the people he loved survived this day. His thoughts immediately went to Cat, her image so clear in his brain. She accepted him, all of him, the good and the bad, the darkness and the light. He could be whole with her like never before in his life. With a vision in his mind and a feeling of panic deep within his gut, he turned and followed Sava in to speak with the other members of the Tater, grateful to see Stefano there with them.

"I think Giovanni has given the Suebi the true weakness of every table," Ricco announced as he approached them, looking up. "Coming here for Maria is merely a distraction; he's here for Cat and has no intention of releasing Theresa!" The six men and women stared at him. "Fuck! It's not just our mothers, is it?" He asked, looking at the serious faces who watched him. "We have to warn the other tables; they won't be expecting this with their Chairs away from home!"

Ricco immediately pulled his phone out and texted the close-knit group of friends Matteo had grown up with, thankful that he had placed them as a group in his phone after the buck's night. He hoped they would take him seriously and get their mothers to safety in time.

*Ricco: 17.48: Suebi plans to take the mothers of every table. Protect the heart of your tables, now!*

"Leyton, you have to call an alert and get your wife somewhere safe now!" he yelled from the open hangar.

"I'm here!" Lydia said loudly enough to draw Ricco's attention back to the hangar. "Rick made me come with him and put the whole family on alert hours ago. What's going on?"

Ricco breathed and looked at Rick Papillo with new eyes. He was the Oracle of the Papillo and obviously had formidable powers and the belief in himself to follow through on his feelings. Ricco knew he needed to start doing that, no matter what the odds were that he was wrong. In this case, however, he knew he wasn't, and he was glad that Lydia was here with the men who would protect her with their own lives if necessary. Now if he could just protect Cat in the same way.

*****

"What the fuck have you done, Martino?" Tony Sartori snarled as alerts started to sound from the phones of the Chairs who remained at the Battaglia fortress. "If you think your family is immune from a Suebi attack I'd like to know why?" he made the thinly veiled accusation and silenced the room. "We all know our families will act according to the protocols we have in place, so if this is meant as a distraction for us to leave you to run and hide, think again."

"Where are your wife and daughter-in-law right now?" Alberto asked, having received the message almost immediately from his son, Phil, explaining the alert. "If the Suebi take all of the mothers because of your arrogance and stupidity, your family is done, I promise you I will see to it myself, if no one else will."

Trevino stared at them, the blood draining from his face. Giovanni wouldn't have done this to them, but he couldn't deny the fact that Giovanni had already kidnapped members of the Vitali and was flying north to expose the Papillo family and the secrets of each table. He couldn't make sense of it. After Giovanni's outburst several months ago, when he had accused Trevino of knowing Maria's fate, he had calmed down and seemed to have put the whole story Vanessa had told Mario about seeing her mother behind him. The watchers he had personally sent to monitor the man and his son had reported nothing untoward, and now Trevino wondered now about their loyalty to him over the Watchman himself, Giovanni.

Trevino hoped that whoever was sending out the warnings had alerted Theo. The loss of his wife and the new baby would break Theo, he knew, and no matter what else he had to face, he would never be able to face his son again if that happened because he hadn't controlled his brother.

*****

Twelve minutes after Ricco had sent out his text, small bands of Suebi mounted their attacks in ten different locations around the country. Those that had received the message first had moved with lightning speed to get the mothers of their tables to safety. Those that had been in the second wave of alerts, or who doubted the veracity of the message due to old enmities and feuds, were not so lucky with their delay to act.

Dante Donati was on his way home when he got the text, and not caring if it was true or not hit the alert button on his phone. He needed to ensure Peri and the children were safe, and while he knew the people at his home would ensure they were safe, he needed to be there himself. He pressed the accelerator to the floor as he dialled Josh, thinking that was the best way to let all the tables know about the warning Ricco Vitali had sent through.

Josh was unreachable, probably having called home as soon as the alert went off. So he concentrated on getting home in one piece and then texting all of his friends. He hoped one of the others Ricco had texted had been in a better position than him to warn the other families. It hadn't even occurred to him to question the text message. This wasn't something people would joke about, ever, and his gut told him it was true, and that was all he needed these days to believe it. With the family under alert precautions, all he could do was get home as fast as possible and warn as many people as he could.

"Ben," Dante answered his phone as he negotiated a corner at speed. "The Suebi are after the mothers of every Table. Get Carlo to my place, I'm on my way there but not close enough. Get everyone to Peri and the kids!" he snapped and hung up, leaving Ben to do his job and get his watchmen all streaming toward their country house.

He arrived home twenty minutes later, the gate open telling him something was very wrong as he drove up the long driveway from the road to the top of the hill. He skidded to a stop behind a large black van and opened his door, bounding up the stairs to the open front door where Dino stood with Lorenzo, looking grave.

"They came dressed as watchmen. If Ben hadn't changed the password as soon as the alert went out they may have gotten to her," Dino said in a low terse voice that showed his disgust.

"Peri is up in her tower, and the kids are downstairs with Carlo and Louisa," Lorenzo added. "She's not happy, so tread carefully." He warned his cousin with a grimace. "She threatened to do some decidedly evil things to me if I didn't take her to her children, so I blamed you and Josh and said I was just following orders."

"Thanks," Dante sighed with a grimace to match, but knowing she was safe and that the people who had come for her had been stopped was worth dealing with her wrath. He silently thanked Ricco for the warning that seemed to have arrived just in time to avoid the crisis. He hoped the other families were doing as well with protecting their mother's.

Dante opened the door to Peri's tower and called up his warning as he climbed the stairs. Peri met him halfway, flying into his arms with tears streaming down her face.

"I need to see the children, please, Dante!" she sobbed. "I need my babies close right now!" He nodded, saying nothing, and walked with her down to the basement, his arm curled about her waist pulling her close to his body, unwilling to let her go, even when the children all squealed in delight to see their parents and ran toward them for reassurance.

*****

Nathanael and Oscar moved quickly as soon as the message came through. Their mother and Ally were together at the family depository with their younger brother's new wife, helping her pick some statement pieces for their new home. Hitting the alert, they ran to their car and sped toward the depository, aware that watchmen raced after them, not understanding why they wouldn't have stayed where they were to be collected and taken to safety.

They arrived at the depository and raced inside to the women they loved, followed by the men in black and gold suits that denoted their station as watchmen. They were heading toward the exit when several more watchmen arrived, claiming to have been sent to retrieve the mothers and take them to safety. There was something wrong, even though they had the right passwords. Nathanael could feel the wrongness of it, and he turned to Oscar and Ally.

"If you have ever trusted my gut feelings, now is the time, go to the office and lock yourselves in. Go now!" Nathanael said urgently, and turned to face the half a dozen men who had come to take his mother and Ally from them, prepared for the fight that was about to ensue.

"That was a mistake, Gambaro," one of the fake watchmen said, pulling a gun from his shoulder holster. "Give us the mothers and we will let some of you live."

"Look around you, fellas. How are you ever going to get out of here if you hurt me?" Nathanael asked, calmly holding up his hand and trying to speak without a tremor of the panic he felt in his voice. From behind him came a gunshot, and the man, obviously the leader, went down, shooting at Nathanael as he went.

The fight was short, and when the dust settled two more of their number had been shot, and Nathanael lay on the floor with several people leaning over him screaming to their phones. Darkness encroached on his awareness, and he tried to ask about Ally before he finally passed out, needing to know she was safe.

*****

Carmella Martino sat and sobbed as she listened to why her husband had been taken into custody by the thirteen and held at the Battaglia stronghold. Marina Battaglia had held her older sister's hand and sympathised before turning to Audrey Martino and reassuring her that Theo would be allowed to lead the family through this crisis until the judgement on Giovanni and the family was passed down by the family Chairs who made up the thirteenth table.

Audrey had taken the news stoically. She believed wholeheartedly in her husband and Archie, who she loved almost as much. They were good men, and they couldn't be condemned by the sins of their fathers. She held her baby son tightly to her chest as he slept in her arms, and said nothing through the whole sordid story. She hadn't ever met Catriona Vitali, having missed the wedding, but she knew that Theo counted Matteo amongst his closest friends, and couldn't imagine what he was going through, as not only his family crumbled around him, but his life-long friendships as well.

The three women gasped in surprise as an alert sounded on their phones, and they stood, preparing to move into the panic room with the rest of the household. They jumped as the door to the sitting room was thrown open to show several of the uniformed watchmen standing there. The men looked behind them and moved into the room, closing the doors on the rest of the family who were racing to ensure their safety.

"Move!" one of the men growled, and indicated the large French door that lined one wall of the room letting in light. Another moved to open the doors and immediately closed them again.

"Someone gave them a warning. What do we do now?" One of the men asked.

"What we came to do," the oldest and obvious leader said, pulling a gun from his shoulder holster.

"No!" Marina cried out, and threw herself in front of Audrey and the baby who had begun to cry now.

Gun's fired, the doors burst inward as their own people tried to get to them, and chaos broke out.

*****

Just before six O'clock the jet carrying Roberto, Matteo and Cat touched down and taxied through to stop, facing the other jet like two prized fighting cockerels' ready to battle. As soon as the engines stopped and the door opened, Matteo's phone sprang to life.

"You barely made the deadline! Bring your wife to stand beside your mother and tell the Papillo to back off and worry about their own mothers!" Giovanni snarled and ended the call. Matteo looked toward the front of the plane where Cat stood with Bradbury, talking quietly.

"My mother is out there," he said quietly as he approached her. "Giovanni wants you to stand with her. Are you up for this? You can always say no and just stay on the plane. He doesn't even have to know you're here," Matteo said.

"He's right," Ricco said from the open doorway, and looked at her carefully. He knew at that moment she would insist. Giovanni had her brother, and she had always done whatever was needed to look after him. He bent his head to kiss her and smiled. "Hello."

"Hi," she smiled. "I missed you." Then she kissed him back properly, not caring of who stood around them in the plane.

"Before you go, the writers of the letters were not your family or your grandfather, but I have found a man who is your cousin and can prove it," he spoke in hushed tones. "You do have another family who would like to know you when you have time to meet them properly."

"I do?" she stared at him in astonishment.

"Yes, I can explain it all to you after you rescue David," he smiled and looked at Matteo's worried expression. "You need to trust me here," he said to his brother. "Trust that I love her just as much as you do," Matteo said nothing but nodded. "Stefano is in the hangar, he will fill you in on what you need to know." Matteo's phone buzzed to life again.

"Keeping me waiting does not bode well for you or yours! Get Cat out onto the tarmac, I know she flew with you!" Giovanni demanded and ended the call.

"Cat, they want the mothers of the tables because they are the heart of the tables. Giovanni is just a puppet for the people who are really behind this. Get David off the plane and then run back to us, we will be ready," he said. "Don't stay on that plane if they are going to take off, okay?"

"I'm a survivor, you both know that. I am fine, don't worry," Cat said calmly, reaching up to cup a hand on each of their cheeks. "I love you both very much," she smiled and turned toward the stairs, walking down ahead of the other occupants on board, closely followed by Bradbury. She turned at the bottom of the stairs and smiled. "We talked about this, you can't come with me. You need to make sure that Matt and Ric don't do anything stupid now. You promised me you would look after them the way you have looked after me."

Bradbury nodded, looking unhappy, and moved away toward the hangar as she watched for a moment, then she walked toward the lone woman and two men who stood before the other jet.

"Hello, Rick," she said, recognising Matteo's friend.

"Cat, I'm sorry we had to meet again like this," he said softly, taking her hand. "This is my brother, Leyton, I'm not sure if you met at the wedding, and this is Maria Vitali."

"Don't be sorry, you didn't make this mess," Cat said pleasantly. "Hello, Leyton," she inclined her head toward the second of the Papillo brothers. "I believe Matteo needs to see you, Giovanni has been giving him directions via his phone. Maria and I are to wait here." She told them before looking at Maria. "Hello," she said, offering her hand in greeting.

"Hello," Maria took her hand and looked the self-possessed young woman up and down, marvelling at the fact that she seemed so calm. Maria knew she looked and sounded as terrified as she felt.

"Well, this sucks," Cat sighed. "I don't know whether to automatically love you because you brought the men I love into this world or hate you forever because you tried to take them out of this world again before I had the chance to meet them," Cat said, her nervousness making her honest. She watched as Maria's eyes widened at the statement.

"I guess I can't blame you for that," Maria sighed. "I can offer you a multitude of excuses and blame many people, but at the end of the day I was sick, and I got the help I needed with the Papillo. I don't want to be here in this place right now, however, or see him," she looked at the plane.

"Yet you are here," Cat said, tilting her head.

"I am, but I am terrified and would rather be anywhere but here," Maria confessed. "I'm not sure I can make my legs work to board the plane if we have to," she admitted.

"It's going to be okay. I can do this. I have to do this. Your sons saved me, and now it's my turn," Cat said firmly, resolved to end this situation, and looked toward where the door had opened on the jet holding her brother and the madman Giovanni. David appeared and began descending the stairs slowly, with Mick just behind him.

"David!" Cat ran toward him and threw her arms around him. "Thank god you're okay! Mick!" she released David and hugged the second man with the same ferocity.

"They have guns on us. They want you to get on the plane," Mick said, shielding her from the jet as he spoke. "The crazy one who has been texting Matt is just about frothing at the mouth to get to that other woman, but he's not in charge up there."

"Who is?" Cat asked, looking at Mick and her brother.

"A guy called Frederick, he's got his own agenda, and it involves you, Theresa, and that woman," David said.

"Who is the mother of the Martino's?" Cat suddenly asked Maria.

"Carmella, or at least she was. They may have a new mother now, I don't know," Maria said.

"Yes, her name is Audrey," Cat smiled, remembering that Audrey had just had a baby who kept her from the wedding. "I remember now." She took a breath. "I know what I need to do now. Can you take Maria over to Matteo and tell him what you just told me? I will stand here and wait, so they have someone to point their guns at," she lied.

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