Balance of Power, 57

Sabrina followed Tom and Sonny into the house. After an uneventful flight from Italy and a silent drive from the airport, they had finally arrived at the Corleone family compound in New York. The New York dwelling had a more modern feel to it than the house in Italy, but there was just as much wrought iron surrounding the compound as Sabrina had seen in Sicily.

Her footsteps were uncertain, not just because she was unfamiliar with her surroundings, but because she saw so many unfamiliar faces all around. From the narrow-faced man who'd driven the limousine to the airfield to the nameless guards who surrounded them every step of the way to the New York compound, Sabrina's mind couldn't help but wonder if they replaced men who had lost their lives rescuing her from her kidnappers.

Tom stepped forward and embraced his younger brother. He murmured something in Michael Corleone's ear and then headed for the staircase Sabrina could see at the end of the hallway. Sonny silently followed his example.

Sabrina found herself alone with her father. The ‘Don' of the Corleone family was clad in a simple gray Italian suit whose simplicity and elegance said everything anyone needed to know about its price. “Bella,” he commanded softly, his arms open wide, “come here.”

Sabrina walked into his embrace and allowed her father to hold her tightly. “You are unhurt?” Michael tilted Sabrina's face upward so that he could see her eyes.

“I am okay…Papa.” Sabrina threw caution to the wind. “I'm sorry I put you in the position I did,” she cried softly. “I didn't understand what Uncle Sonny tried to tell me!” Sabrina braced for the cutting reproach she knew Michael Corleone had every right to deliver.

Instead, Michael shook his head. “We must never speak of this,” he cautioned. “It is done. You are back and you are safe. That is all that matters.” The powerful mobster beckoned to a housekeeper hovering just out of earshot. “This is Donatella. She will show you to the room that has been prepared for you.” He kissed Sabrina tenderly on her temple. “There are matters I must discuss with Tom and Santino, but if you wish, I will have Donatella prepare us a simple supper to share when I am through.”

Sabrina gave her father a weak smile. The weight of her ordeal and the transatlantic flight were beginning to press on her. She felt as though she had grains of sand beneath her eyelids and a large bull elephant perched upon her back. “I hope you don't mind,” she said, “but I think maybe I will just say goodnight. I am really tired.”

“Sleep well, bella,” her father soothed. “Know that you are safe here among us.”

“I will try.”

Balance of Power, 58

It really was almost like nothing had happened three weeks prior. If not for the occasional nightmares she suffered, there would be nothing to say that a kidnapping had even taken place.

Sabrina put down the paperwork she held and indulged in a lazy stretch. She was working with her father and uncle Tom Hagen on the details of a benefit dinner whose proceeds would go toward one of the many charities the Corleone family privately supported. She was surprised how much she enjoyed the task. Both her father and uncle were strategic thinkers who skipped logical steps in the conversation. Sabrina had to always be alert if she wanted to keep up with the blistering pace they set. The two men weren't bad company, now that they weren't bullying or manipulating her. Sabrina guessed that was because fate had given Michael Corleone what brute force had not been able to lever away from his daughter. Maybe if either man had chosen to show Sabrina this side of themselves when they first met, things might not have taken the turn they took. Unbidden, her thoughts inevitably turned to her recent abduction.

“I'm going to go check on Uncle Sonny,” Sabrina announced, rising. She missed the way Tom's gaze flickered over to her father. She did not realize that her pattern of behavior had become very apparent to both her father and uncle. Whenever her thoughts turned to her recent ordeal, she became restless, and then went in search of Santino and the security she felt in his presence.

Neither Michael nor Tom responded to Sabrina's announcement. They knew that she did not expect – or require – a response. Almost from the beginning Sabrina had made it clear that the only member of the Corleone family whose presence she willingly sought was Santino. The two had bonded despite Sonny's gruff manner and lack of encouragement.

“I'll bring a pitcher of juice when I come back.” Sabrina unconsciously fell into the role she'd seen her aunt Constanzia play. Thankfully Connie had not made the trip from Italy to New York. Aside from the housekeeper Donatella, Sabrina was the only female in the house.

"You needn't bring the juice." Michael stopped Sabrina just shy of the doorway. "We have gone as far with the details of this event as we are able. All that is left is to confirm our guests." He handed Tom a sheaf of papers. "See that the names at the top of the list receive a personal invitation from the Corleone family."

Tom nodded. "I'll take care of it."

"So… we are through with the project?" Sabrina's disappointment did not escape the two Corleone men.

"We are through with this project," her father explained. "But it is only one of many left to be done. Thank you for your assistance on this one."

"I enjoyed it," Sabrina replied honestly. "And I keep thinking about the faces of the families this fundraiser will help."

"Corleone Industries will profit as well." Michael's honesty surprised his daughter. "The positive publicity will be invaluable as we move forward with plans for the new sports stadium."

Sabrina shrugged. "It doesn't change the fact that all those people will be helped. That's all that matters."


Balance of Power, 59

They were seated around the table after sharing a simple lunch of Insalata Caprese. The lunch dishes had been removed and a tray of meringue cookies placed in the center of the table. Michael Corleone sipped a freshly brewed cup of coffee and watched the scene unfolding across from him.

"Uncle Sonny?"

"Well… It ain't crap."

Michael watched the dubious pronouncement bring a shy smile to his daughter's face. With the cook Donatella's help, Sabrina had prepared for her Uncle Santino one of his favorite desserts. Each bite Sonny took strengthened the already considerable attachment Sabrina felt for the family's enforcer. Of that, Michael had no doubt. The 'Don' was equally certain that both Sonny and Tom had begun to wonder how long Michael would allow Sabrina's dependence on Sonny to last. He hadn't missed Tom's sidelong glances each time Sabrina made her way unerringly to Santino's side.

Sabrina's attachment to Sonny was understandable, Michael acknowledged. His older brother had a way with females that neither he nor Tom possessed. In his youth, Sonny's charm and sexual prowess were well known among their circle. But it was more than that. In Sonny, females of all ages found a sense of security that not even his gruff behavior or harsh language could dispel.

"If it tastes different, maybe I did something wrong. I was sure I followed the recipe Donatella gave me."

Sonny snorted. "One of you, tell her." He shook his head but did not cease his eating.

"Recipes are a closely guarded secret among our women," Michael explained to his daughter. "They are passed on in their entirety only among family members. Donatella no doubt left out an ingredient or two when she gave you her recipe."

"Really?" Sabrina was intrigued. "Does the Corleone family have any recipes to pass down? I don't mean to me," she quickly amended. "I meant in general."

"Our mother's spaghetti sauce." "Sauce." "Mama's sauce." The three men answered at the same time.

"You called her 'Mama'?" Sabrina latched onto Tom's response. "What did you call him ?"

Michael saved his consigliore from having to respond. "Tom's relationship with our father interests you?"

"It would help answer something I don't understand yet." Her internal debate whether or not to explain was plainly visible on Sabrina's face. Having decided, she turned to Tom. "I'm trying to understand where you fit in this. They," her eyes flickered briefly to first Sonny then her father, "always refer to you as their brother. They introduce you that way. And I can believe it when I watch you with Uncle Sonny. The two of you act like brothers. But…"


Sabrina did not flinch from her father's succinct demand that she continue. "But I'm wondering how I am supposed to believe that you ," she ever so slightly emphasized the word, "can love me just because I share your blood, but still be so distant from someone who has been a part of your life forever, somebody you say is your brother."

"That's just Mike's way," Tom softly defended him.

"And being an outsider has nothing to do with that?"

"No," Tom quietly responded. "It doesn't."

Sabrina stared at her uncle for several long seconds. "If you say so." She picked up Sonny's empty dessert plate. "I'm gonna go in the kitchen and wash this."