Balance of Power, 18

An opportunity to delve into the various thoughts of the four passengers would have been a psychiatrist's dream come true. Not a single word was exchanged during the ride from the University grounds. Whatever thoughts they each entertained remained a mystery to the others.

That same silence reigned now. Sabrina sat back in her seat and allowed her gaze to roam over the three enigmatic strangers who had invaded her life. Safely ensconced within their sprawling mansion, the three men seemed no more relaxed than they had been inside the big armor-plated limousine.

Through the windows Sabrina watched discreetly armed guards patrol back and forth across the grounds. She'd gotten her first glimpse of them when the limousine turned onto the sprawling driveway of the vast estate. As they passed each man, he paused to offer up a respectful nod to the three men within the car.

The guards' attitudes were decidedly more … reverential than the men who worked for the local ‘businessmen' in the neighborhood back home. Criminal figures like Bobby Texador commanded respect of the men that worked for them, but nothing quite like the deference given to Michael Corleone.

“These men are all yours?” Sabrina asked, finally breaking the silence.

“They work for me, yes.”

“As… soldiers ?”

“As bodyguards for the Corleone family,” Michael corrected.

Seated opposite them, Tom Hagen took in the exchange with interest. Michael's newfound daughter had elected to subtly inform him that she was not ignorant of his reputed lifestyle. Sabrina had chosen to go on the offensive with her father. Tom was curious to observe Michael's reaction to her decision.

“The media,” Michael acknowledged Sabrina's probable source of information, “chooses to portray the Corleone family as something other than we are. For them, our wealth and influence can't have been earned through hard work. It was either stolen or coerced.” Michael continued. “As you learn more about our ways, you will see that public perception about the Corleone family is often incorrect.”

Tom hid a smile. Sabrina's pointed question had provided the perfect opening for Michael's announcement.

“Learn more about you?” the young woman repeated warily.

“Yes,” Michael responded. “As you spend the next year in Sicily with the family.”

Balance of Power, 19

‘…As you spend the next year in Sicily with the family.'

There it was – the sound of the other shoe dropping. Sabrina had been expecting some new development, but certainly not the bold statement uttered by Michael Corleone.

“No!” Sabrina bolted from her seat. “No, no, no!” She looked wildly about the room. “Look, this whole experience has been really . . . interesting,” the young woman said carefully. “But there is no way that I am going to follow three strange men to a foreign country just because one of them says so.”

“It is time you met your family.”

The calmly uttered statement made Sabrina exhale in frustration. “My family! You keep saying that!” She visibly gathered herself and fought to rein in her growing irritation. “Look, it was really nice of you to show up here for my graduation, all of you. Although,” Sabrina addressed her words to Michael, “I really don't understand why you did.”

Michael Corleone undid the button of his suit jacket, leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs. It was a very casual gesture that on him appeared anything but. “I am here,” he explained simply, “because you are my daughter.”

His face was unreadable to Sabrina. But there was no denying the undercurrent of intensity to his words. Sabrina glanced at Tom and Santino, hopeful that either man would expound upon his younger brother's statement.

It was quickly apparent that the pair would remain silent.

“Because I am your daughter,” she repeated slowly. “Tell me, Mr. Corleone, exactly how long have I been your daughter?”

The ‘Don' did not appear disturbed by his daughter's acid tone. “Four years?” she prompted in reference to President William Campbell's recent assertion that Sabrina's college education had been bought and paid for by the head of the Corleone family.

“Seven years?” The young woman thought back to her fifteenth summer, when Bobby Texador, a local ‘businessman', inexplicably befriended her and kept her safe from the dangers of the neighborhood. “Just how long have you been standing in the shadows making plans for my life?”

“Such matters are inconsequential.”

“Maybe to you,” Sabrina replied. She straightened her shoulders and thrust out her hand. “Goodbye, Mr. Corleone. If it is all the same, I think that I will take back control of my life now.”

After several seconds, Michael rose from his seat and clasped his daughter's hand in one of his own. “This is your decision?”

Sabrina stared in silence.

“Very well,” Michael nodded. “Remember that all decisions bring about consequences.”