Balance of Power, 43

Michael Corleone had mentioned legal matters, yet Tom Hagen was nowhere in sight. Sabrina had been surprised to climb into the big armor-plated limousine and find only her father there. Albert Neri was in place in the front of the car. An unfamiliar face sat behind the wheel.

Sabrina chose to let her father set the tone of the outing. In silence she sat and watched the quaint old-world scenery move steadily past the tinted windows.

“You are now officially Sabrina Corleone.”

“I'm sorry?”

Michael offered his daughter a thin brown envelope. “Your name is now legally Sabrina Corleone.”

Sabrina made no effort to accept his offering. “You changed my name. Without my permission?”

“I corrected your name.”

“What gave you the right to decide that Sabrina DuMonde was wrong?” The young woman stared in disbelief. Just when she thought that nothing Michael Corleone did could astound her, she was proven spectacularly wrong. “What the hell gave you the right?”

Michael's calm demeanor was a direct opposite of the young woman facing him. “I did not decide that DuMonde was wrong. I corrected your name based upon the information obtained regarding your paternity.” He calmly continued. “The name DuMonde was assumed by your mother. It is from one of her patrons. There is no trail of her life before that point, so determining your mother's actual surname has proven a fruitless endeavor.”

Sabrina slumped back against the seat. She did not care that her dismay was on display for her father to see. The very core of her identity had been calmly ripped away. Sabrina reeled from the shock of it. “DuMonde was not our name?”

“No,” Michael said. “Therefore it was fitting to correct your legal documents to reflect the name that is yours to bear.”

How many lies had Cassandra told her daughter over her lifetime? Would Sabrina even begin to know the depth of her mother's deception? One part of Sabrina wanted to snatch the brown envelope from her father's lap and see for herself the proof of her mother's lies. The other part clung desperately to the fragile hope that it was Michael Corleone who was the liar; that his words were just a part of his latest strategy to manipulate Sabrina to his will.

“May I see the envelope?” she asked quietly.


Sabrina looked at Michael in confusion. “What?”

“May I see the envelope , Papa? ” he prompted her. “From this moment on, Sabrina, you will call me Papa.”

Balance of Power, 44

All throughout her life, Sabrina Corleone had maintained a fairly realistic view of herself and the world around her. She especially held no illusions where her mother Cassandra was concerned. But seeing the details of the older woman's life gathered in stark black and white print shook Sabrina to her very core. Childhood memories came rushing back with each sentence she read.

Sabrina skimmed the list of Cassandra's male ‘patrons'. Most of the men had been in Cassandra's life only long enough to lavish extravagant gifts upon her in an effort to secure her commitment. The moment Cassandra saw a man falling, she quickly cut all ties and moved on to the next unsuspecting fool.

It made Cassandra's relationship with her father all the more impossible for Sabrina to fathom. She could not imagine Michael Corleone ever being one of those men. There was nothing weak or needy about the man who had bullied and blackmailed his way to the forefront of Sabrina's life.

Sabrina could only recall one time when Cassandra seemed on the brink of truly discussing the man who had fathered Sabrina. It was not that Cassandra shied away from the subject. She chose instead to withhold any information of substance that Sabrina might use to discover her father's identity.

~ flashback ~

It only took a single glance to confirm that the luxurious Russian sable coat was as gorgeous on her as it had ever been.

A tiny sound drew her attention away from her contemplation of her reflection in the full-length mirror. Cassandra DuMonde glanced back over her shoulder and saw her daughter staring cautiously at her from the doorway.

“You look beautiful, Mama,” twelve-year-old Sabrina offered. “Like a moving picture star.”

The girl's awestruck comment lifted Cassandra's melancholy. She had been lost in memories of the past; memories that were best left there. “Don't just stand there in the doorway!” she gruffly commanded her daughter. “You can come closer.” Obediently, Sabrina moved forward and carefully perched on the edge of her mother's perfectly made bed.

Cassandra reached into the closet and pulled out a fancy gold-trimmed box. “Here.” She carelessly placed the box on the mattress beside Sabrina. “Take two.”

Sabrina's indrawn breath made Cassandra shake her head. How simple life was when you were a child. She watched her daughter study the mouthwatering chocolate confections that filled the box before her. “They are all nut-filled,” she told the young girl, well aware of her preferences. “So hurry and pick two before I change my mind.”

“Thank you, Mama.” Sabrina reverently made her selections.

“Its just chocolates,” Cassandra said impatiently. “You'd think I never did anything nice for you!” Cassandra retrieved the box of chocolates and put it back into the drawer. She kept her back turned to her young daughter. “I do love you, you know?”

“I know you do, Mama.”

“I wouldn't have had you if I didn't.”

“You aren't sorry?”

Cassandra slowly turned around. Though she faced her daughter, Cassandra's gaze was fixed somewhere in the past. “I decided a long time ago not to ever let regrets play a part in my life.” She pulled the long fur coat she wore more tightly about her. “I accept all the choices I've made in my life – good and bad.”

“Was my father a good or bad choice?” Sabrina asked. She knew all too well her mother's opinion on the subject of her mysterious father.

The question shook Cassandra from her private thoughts. “Your father wasn't a choice. He was a head-on collision.”

The words were uttered with such icy disdain that Sabrina knew she had managed to get under her mother's skin with the question. Still she pressed on. “Even so, don't I have the right to know about him?” The young girl's voice shook with false bravado.

Cassandra's face hardened and she glared at her daughter. “The right ?” She looked pointedly at the bedroom door. “Little girl… get out .”

She watched her young daughter ease from the room. She knew that Sabrina had no fear of physical punishment from her mother. Cassandra had never once lifted a hand toward her daughter. Her visible displeasure and icy tone had always been enough to keep Sabrina in line.

For the most part, she was a good child. But she had one very irritating flaw. She kept after the subject of her father like a starving dog after a bone. Cassandra took a cleansing breath and allowed her expression to go slack.. If she were not careful, the stress of dealing with her daughter would cause worry lines about her mouth and eyes.

~ end flashback ~

An hour later Cassandra emerged from her bedroom. She no longer wore the luxurious fur coat that had won Sabrina's admiration. She uttered a curt ‘I'll be back later ” to Sabrina and swept from the house on her way to a date with her latest gentleman friend, Roy Hartley.

Sabrina never brought up the subject of her father to Cassandra again.