Balance of Power, 45

How exactly did a person conduct her life after discovering that everything she believed to be truthful about it was actually a lie? Sabrina Corleone sat on the edge of the bed and cradled her head in her hands. There was a vague throbbing between her eyes, the aftermath of a restless, sleepless night.

Quietly the radio alarm went off and the smooth tones of a popular Italian crooner filled the room. Sabrina gave a bitter snort. Que Sera, my ass, she thought. Nothing in her life would ever just ‘be' anymore. Not since encountering Michael Corleone.

Sabrina glanced at the time. Breakfast was not on her menu for that morning. She didn't think she could sit through an hour of heavy silence with her new family anyway. Instead, she rose, showered and dressed. With quiet footsteps Sabrina made her way down the stairs and out of the house. She headed straight for the lake.

“Good morning.”

Santino Corleone didn't bother to look around. He grunted his customary response and began walking toward the far end of the compound. Every morning while Michael and Tom were away, Sonny had headed silently there. Then, as now, Sabrina obediently followed.

“Is…” Sabrina fumbled for a suitable form of address for her father. “Is he doing all this to make a point to other people? Show them that he is still powerful? Powerful enough to make me a part of his life?”

“That's the stupidest crap I ever heard.” Santino growled. “Mikey doesn't do things ‘cause of other people.” He glared at Sabrina. “Where'd you come up with this shit?”

Sabrina looked away. “Vincent,” she answered honestly. “He said that bringing me here was just your brother's way of flexing his muscles for his enemies.”

Budiulo!” Sabrina didn't recognize the word. But from the anger and disgust evident on her uncle's face, the young woman didn't think it was too much of a stretch to say that the word was not very complimentary. Her only concern was whether the unfamiliar word was directed her way or not. “I don't know why the hell Mike lets him hang around here.”

“You,” Sabrina hedged carefully, “aren't happy to have Vincent here and a part of your world?”

Santino's dark gaze captured hers. “Vincent's an asshole. One day he's gonna make a mess that I'm gonna have to clean up. And if that mess touches Mikey…” Santino let the words hang in the air. “If it touches Mikey,” he repeated, “then bastard or not, I'm gonna clean Vincent up, too.”

“I imagine that warning goes for me, too?” Despite her determination, Sabrina's voice wavered just a bit.

Sonny reached out and gently cupped Sabrina's chin within his large, blunt fingers. The gesture was all the more frightening for its tenderness. “You see? You're learning.”


Balance of Power, 46

“Come on.”

Sabrina faltered, confused. This was the point in their normal routine where Santino Corleone grunted something indecipherable and left her to her own devices. Today, he was apparently varying his routine.

Sabrina was forced to almost run to catch up with him; he had not slowed his stride at all. “Wh-” The unasked question died on her lips. A few days under Santino's tutelage had reinforced in the young woman her uncle's number one rule – ‘ Do what I tell you and don't ask stupid fucking questions '.

“Go in,” Santino grunted. He nodded toward the closed study door.

A single glance at the somber occupants of the study told Sabrina that her days of avoiding Michael Corleone were over. She looked back over her shoulder, instinctively seeking the comfort of her Uncle Sonny's presence. The silent enforcer was nowhere to be seen.

“Come in. Sit.”

Sabrina obeyed. She sat rigidly upright, mentally steeling herself for whatever latest unbelievable declaration her enigmatic father might make. “Sonny informs me that you would like to see the countryside,” Michael Corleone said.

Sightseeing was the last thing Sabrina expected to hear her father discuss. She stared at him, making no effort to disguise the confusion on her face. “That's what you want to talk to me about?” Her gaze moved from Michael to Tom and back again. “Sightseeing?”

“I have arranged for a car to take you wherever you'd like. You will,” her father continued, “be accompanied by your guards, but I see no problem with your request.”

Tom Hagen spoke for the first time. “It would help if, before the day is through, you could give me a rough idea of the places you would like to see. Security needs to be tightened before tomorrow.”

“Ohh-kay,” Sabrina replied. She waited for the other shoe to drop. “Is that all?”

Michael Corleone nodded. “That is all.”

It was an obvious dismissal. Sabrina left the study; with each step she took she fully expected to be called back and told the true meaning of her father's summons to his study.

Sabrina hesitated at the base of the stairway that would take her to her second-floor bedroom. Despite her determination to not be thrown by Michael Corleone's silent maneuverings, she felt off-balance and unsure.

“Something wrong with you?”

Sonny's voice behind her startled Sabrina; her heart tripped on its own rhythm. “N-no,” she said, quickly recovering her composure. She risked a quick glance at her uncle. “I was just about to…Will you be with me tomorrow?” The words came out in a rush.

“Yeah,” Sonny grunted. “You're still too stupid to trust with anybody else.”

Sonny's harsh words did not insult Sabrina. On the contrary, his response, uttered sincerely, only served to somehow make her feel secure.