Balance of Power, 10

Michael Corleone stood in the corner of the run-down little pool hall and watched her undisturbed for nearly an hour. No one approached the place where the darkly silent man stood. His very demeanor gave off warning signs that the inhabitants of the little dive were quick to recognize. Many were old acquaintances with the wrong side of the legal system and therefore had a kind of sixth sense where dangerous men were concerned.

The regulars there were careful not to demonstrate too much curiosity about the two strange men who had silently entered their domain. They were equally careful not to focus too much attention upon the object of their attention.

Michael was aware of their attempts at covert observation. His gaze nonetheless remained fixed upon the young woman he had traveled to engage. She was lively and flirtatious, with an open and mischievous smile. Her fine features and tawny complexion were nearly duplicates of her mother's; and when she turned to flash a sassy grin her Latin companion's way, Michael was struck by a sense of déjà vu.

The head of the Corleone family gave an almost imperceptible nod to his traveling companion. Obediently Vincent Mancini heeded his uncle's cue and left his place among the shadows. He quietly crossed the room and caught the young woman's attention as instructed.

Michael watched their exchange with interest. The young woman immediately went onto the defensive and showed neither fear nor apprehension at Vincent's bold approach. Her fearlessness was a quality that both pleased and worried Michael. In his world such a lack of caution could easily be fatal.

Vincent and the young woman were not near enough for Michael to hear their conversation. It was evident, though, from her body language that young Miss DuMonde had taken exception to Vincent's intrusion. Michael stepped just out of the cover of shadows when he saw his nephew Vincent glance his way. Steadily he met the young woman's gaze.

Her reaction to his presence made Michael pause.

For the briefest of seconds, there was both shock and recognition in the young woman's eyes. The significance of such expressions was not lost on Michael. Sabrina DuMonde had taken a single look at Michael Corleone and known him for who he was – her father.

The moment did not last. Sabrina hastily averted her gaze and with shaky hands placed the pool cue down upon the table. Michael watched her mutter what was no doubt an excuse to his nephew Vincent before grabbing her jacket and making an almost desperate escape from their presence.

With a curt shake of his head, Michael forestalled Vincent's attempt to follow the young woman from the pool hall. There was no need for such actions. Michael had all Sabrina's pertinent information, including her dormitory address. “That is not necessary,” Michael explained.

The head of the Corleonesi headed for the door and his limousine. After witnessing young Miss DuMonde's unsettling reaction to him, Michael considered that the best thing for them both was a few moments of quiet thought.

Balance of Power, 11

The long dormant austere Upper Valley mansion began to stir with discreet signs of activity. Neighbors housed on both sides of the estate noticed the arrival of several heavy black limousines with darkly tinted windows. Two quiet inquiries later, their questions had been answered and their respects paid.

Vincent Mancini stared blindly out of the plate glass window on the eastern side of the house. He had accompanied his uncle Michael to New Hampshire on a personal mission. They'd made initial contact with the object of their search, but since then had sat around the big mansion waiting for Michael Corleone's next move.

Inactivity went against everything Vincent was. Hot tempered and often impulsive, he was just like his father Santino. It was that very fact that led Michael Corleone to keep Vincent close at hand. His behavior required tempering if the young man hoped to survive the life he so desperately sought.

“Patience, Vincenzo.”

Vincent turned and shrugged his shoulders. “I don't get it, Uncle Michael.” As he spoke, some portion of his body remained in constant motion. His hands gestured, his head nodded… He was an ideal portrait of the stereotype attributed to the Italian people. “She already knows we're here. Why don't we just go knock on her door and be done with it?”

“And what would that accomplish?” Michael Corleone asked softly. His body, like his expression, was still and unrevealing.

In every way ‘Don' Corleone was the polar opposite of his nephew Vincent. He was judicious in his actions and even more so his re actions. He had not risen to the power he possessed by accident. His ascension was the result of careful and deliberate planning and execution.

“I'm just saying that there's no reason anymore for everybody not to put their cards on the table.”

“She is not the enemy,” Michael reminded him.

With a shrug of his shoulders Vincent conceded his uncle's point. He turned to the window and once more stared blindly out onto the horizon.

Michael Corleone sighed inaudibly. He felt a twinge of sadness as he considered his nephew. Despite all his efforts to curb Vincent's natural tendencies, they remained just that – natural and instinctive.

The ‘Don' reached over and picked up the telephone. Briefly he glanced at a set of numbers lying next to the phone and began to dial.