Balance of Power, 51

Step by hesitant step Sabrina made her way down the stairs, suitcase in hand. The single bag contained all the worldly possessions she had brought into the Corleone world. She paused on the landing, alerted to the murmur of masculine voices off to her right. Uncertainly she turned, steeling herself for whatever would come next.

She'd thought about what she would say to the members of her new family. Her aunt Constanzia was immediately dismissed from consideration. The resentful woman hadn't spent two minutes with Sabrina in the entire time she'd been in Italy. It was safe to assume her father's sister would not feel slighted by the lack of a farewell.

It would be almost as simple with her uncle, Thomas Hagen. Sabrina had not spent much time with him, but at least he hadn't shown his niece the kind of open hostility Connie had. He would get from Sabrina a polite goodbye, the kind given to a business associate or casual acquaintance.

Bidding farewell to the two remaining Corleone men would be her trickiest endeavor. Sabrina hadn't been able to figure out just how she could leave the door of possibility open to Michael Corleone without him interpreting the gesture as some future invitation to wrestle control of her life from Sabrina's hands. Her father, she had noticed, was an all or nothing kind of guy.

As for her final encounter with Santino Corleone, well ... there was no more time to consider how their farewell would go. Sabrina stopped a few steps from the threshold of her father's study and bit her lip. The very subject of her thoughts sat at the table reading that day's edition of the local newspaper. The sight of the uncle she'd formed a tenuous bond with nearly undid all Sabrina's determination to be impassive and unemotional.

Sabrina sighed. The sound drew Sonny's gaze up from his reading. For a moment he and Sabrina stared at one another. The spell was broken when Sonny suddenly rose and began to walk his niece's way. "I just wanted to-" That was as far as Sabrina got before Sonny unceremoniously closed the door in her face. The act so caught Sabrina off-guard that she simply stood there, mouth open and staring.

There was no pretending Sonny's actions did not hurt Sabrina deeply. She had gotten his message that none of the Corleone men would be seeing her off that day. She felt hot tears fill her eyes. Just when they threatened to spill down onto her cheeks, Sabrina heard a rustle of clothing in the hallway behind her. She turned. It was Connie Corleone. The older woman's lips were curved in a smile that was, at once, both cruel and malicious. "It is time you go," Connie said. She made no effort to disguise the triumph in her tone.

Sabrina blinked away the sheen of tears. Connie had undoubtedly witnessed her brother's unspoken message to Sabrina. She wouldn't give her aunt the satisfaction of seeing her distress. "It is time for me to go," Sabrina nodded. She shifted her suitcase to the other hand and moved toward the front door. "How very sad for you," Sabrina aimed a parting shot at Connie, "that the only way you get to be the center of my father's attention again is for me to put a whole continent between us."

Balance of Power, 52

Even the most sumptuous of meals eventually had to end.

Sabrina Corleone dined on the memory of her newfound aunt's outraged expression for nearly twenty miles. The narrowed eyes, furrowed brow and tightly pursed lips were indelibly etched into Sabrina's memory. She had the feeling that, whatever else her other memories of Italy might invoke, this particular recollection would always make her smile.

“Go around!” Sabrina's guard, Gavino, instructed the driver in Italian. Sabrina curiously followed Gavino's gaze. Up ahead, a car sat just off the gravel road on which they traveled. The car's rear tire was painfully flat; there would be no repairing it.

“We could back up and wait,” the driver offered. Their short conversation was the first words uttered since leaving the Corleone compound.

Gavino's gaze flickered to where Sabrina sat watching his exchange with the driver. “This one has a flight to catch,” he said. “No one will be happy if she misses it.”

Sabrina struggled not to react to Gavino's sneered ‘ this one' . She reminded herself that neither her guard nor her driver was aware that she was fluent in Italian. For that matter, none of her Corleone family knew either. Still, Sabrina wondered if the words Gavino spoke were his or whether he only responsible for the sentiment. She doubted that any of the Corleone men would have shared something like that with a mere foot soldier.

“Get down!” Gavino barked as the car pulled forward. His hand slid to the gun lying across his lap. “Stay there until I give you the word.”

Sabrina didn't hesitate. She curled up into a tight ball on the back seat. Breathing was difficult; fear was like a tightened band around her chest. Oh, her Uncle Santino had discussed such a scenario as this, but Sabrina hadn't viewed it as anything more than an academic exercise designed to reinforce her developing instinct to obey the men of her newfound family.

After what seemed like forever, Sabrina saw Gavino ease his hand from the grip of the gun he held. The hostile guard gave her a curt nod and then proceeded to completely ignore her – much the way he'd done before they encountered the car blocking their way.

A wary Sabrina slowly sat up. She would have bet money that her father had arranged for a demonstration designed to show his daughter the foolishness of leaving his protection. Now that the danger was past, Sabrina almost felt badly about assuming that he would go to such a degree just to change her mind about leaving. Sighing with relief, she angled around to glance at the car they'd just passed. And was thrown across the car to the opposite seat by the force of the driver slamming on his brakes.

Sabrina barely had time to right herself before the rear doors opened and hands reached in and dragged her from the car. A soft cloth hastily covered her eyes. The sounds of gunfire and chaos were all around her. She opened her mouth to scream; a sickly, sweet-smelling cloth was pressed against her nose and opened mouth. All Sabrina could do was inhale a great breath full of the smell … and then tumble into inky blackness.