Balance of Power, 41

Tom Hagen dotted the last ‘i' on the document and pushed it aside. The thin sheaf of papers represented nearly a year of effort by him. The Corleone family consigliore pursed his lips thoughtfully. The small bunch of papers represented so much more than just that, he amended. Those five sheets cemented the place of his younger brother Michael's illegitimate daughter within the Corleone family.

Not that the young woman wanted such a place. Tom suspected that Sabrina, left to her own choices, would prefer to wake up and find that her newfound family was just an unpleasant dream.

Tom could hardly blame her. Of necessity, Michael had figuratively manhandled the independent young woman every step of the journey to that point. Sabrina had no real contact with Michael Corleone, her father. She only knew Michael Corleone, the ‘Don'. And that Michael was not an easy man to love.

Life was full of ironies, Tom thought. The moment he filed the papers on his desk, Michael's unwilling daughter would officially and forever bear the name Corleone. Tom had spent a lifetime among the family – serving, loving and being loved by them – and yet would never know that honor.

Almost clinically he examined the twinge of jealousy he felt. He did not deny it or push it away. Tom knew that it was the unacknowledged emotions that were the most dangerous to a man in his position. His surrogate father Vito Corleone had taught him that.

Vito had seen the involuntary tightening of Tom's jaw one evening when the older man excused Tom from the room to have a moment with his sons. The powerful Don of the Corleone family correctly read Tom's hurt and made a point of addressing it privately when his conversation with Michael and Santino was through.

You are a good son to me ,' he'd said, cupping Tom's face in one large, callused hand. The words were Vito's equivalent of a declaration of love for Tom. Vito went on to explain that anything more would disrespect the memories of Tom's father and mother. A stoic Tom quickly realized that the knowledge of his surrogate father's love and regard for him would have to be enough. And for the most part, it had been.

Balance of Power, 42

Sabrina DuMonde finished washing her face and stepped back from the mirror. Her movements were slow and dull. She'd spent the night tossing and turning, caught in the throes of a familiar nightmare. Lack of sleep and a growing frustration over her situation left her reluctant to spend another day being schooled by her Uncle Santino on the finer points of Corleone security practices.

Sabrina let her head fall forward. Already her neck was kinked with stress. She rolled her head gently from side to side and winced with the pain of it all. If she thought that anyone within the compound would actually assist her, Sabrina would make her way to an airport and be on the first flight back to the States.

Maybe her aunt Connie would be willing to help. Sabrina had no doubt the woman resented her presence there. The question was, did she resent Sabrina enough to go against the wishes of her younger brother?

Sabrina shrugged off her mood and headed to breakfast. She was not going to sneak away. When she left this place, it would be with everyone's full knowledge that she had taken charge of her life again.

The murmur of male voices coming from the dining room made Sabrina pause. There was no mistaking her Uncle Santino's gruff voice, or Tom Hagen's clipped, precise diction. Nor was there any mistaking the soft, emotionless voice of her father Michael.

“Good morning.” Sabrina was not surprised to see Connie at her familiar place at the table. She had not attended a single meal while Michael Corleone was away. His return meant that Connie felt the need to emphasize to Sabrina her place in the family dynamic. She needn't have bothered. “Welcome home. I was afraid I wouldn't see you before I returned to America.”

“Good morning.” Michael ignored his daughter's pointed barb. “Your uncle Santino informs me that you would like to see the countryside. A car will take us following breakfast.”

Sabrina studied her father. Her limited exposure to him had shown that everything he did had a motive behind it. What, the young woman wondered, was the driving force in this case? “Us?”

“Yes,” Michael confirmed. “You and I. There are certain legal matters that we must discuss.”