Guarded

Chapter 21 - Guarded

Luca Giovanni looked around the room. Within were the powers of what many called organized crime. There were senior capos of many of the Families in both the old country and here in the US. There were even a couple of Dons who wanted to voice their opinions directly in the upcoming matter.

In total 13 men and 3 women would make the decision. Luca waited a moment while a few latecomers settled in and when the voices had settled he stood.

"Thank you all for attending, and lending your voice to this proceeding." He began to walk slowly before the two rows of chairs where the Family sat. "Before we start with our final judgment on the disposition of Corbin Reina, I feel the need to review how we arrived in this situation."

Luca nodded at a recently freed Stefano. The man stood and Luca stepped back to allow his senior capo to take the stage. "As most of you know, the Reina Family was one of the more violent, and brazen of our group." A number of those assembled nodded in agreement. "As concerned parties, every one of your Families tried to reason with the Reina leadership. However, this fell on deaf ears." He glanced up at the men and women.

"When this failed, representatives from your Families contacted us, the Giovanni, for information gathering. I was chosen as the one to infiltrate the Reina. I was a well-kept secret, known only within my own Family, and I was given the name of Moretti. All record of my relationship as a Giovanni was erased, and I became a competent, though simple enforcer. Attractive to the Reina as a foot soldier. My time with the Reina began seven years ago. And through necessity, during this time I had little contact with my own Family."

Stefano took up the slow walk before the men and women. "About five years ago, the Reina were being actively investigated by a man named Charles Harris. He was an agent in the FBI, and he was tenacious. The Reina threatened both him and his family. And when Harris refused to quit, they hired a squad and killed his family. This had the effect of steeling Harris' resolve, and he became obsessed with the truth of his family's death. My place within the Reina was not trusted or elevated enough for me to know this operation occurred. And so I remained ignorant of it."

Stefano's expression changed as he searched his memory. "I did find a few thoughtful, intelligent, less bloodthirsty few within the ranks of the Reina. Corbin Reina and his partner Liam Walsh both were kindred souls. And I struck up a friendship with them. Initially, this was to help my cover. Though, later, I came to respect and even," he frowned, "care for the both of them." He looked over the assembled faces. He had their entire attention.

"The Reina continued their cavalier ways. And I slowly began to build a bank of evidence against them. Should it have been required, the Giovanni could have used it as leverage to reign them in. But … Corbin ran into an untenable situation before this could occur." He smiled at the nods around the room. All had heard of the apartment fiasco, and the end of the Reina Family.

"Corbin worked with the FBI, and Charles Harris specifically. And now we know, Agent Harris was on a personal crusade against the entire Reina Family, Corbin included. How he discovered the men who carried out the hit, we're not sure. But ultimately that led him back to the Reina. And he knew for certain they were responsible for the death of his family."

He paused and took a long deep breath. "The apartment operation began. During the confusion of the operation and the Reina downfall, Harris personally killed Liam Walsh, and he framed me for the murder. This had the effect of cutting Corbin off from any support from his old life. And I was forced to flee."

He frowned. "I gave what information I had over to my Family, but it wasn't enough to exonerate me. We also didn't know for certain who killed Liam. I needed to speak to Corbin directly. Yet, that was an impossibility while the trials of the Reina continued. And as time went on Harris poisoned Corbin against me. I was certain Corbin feared and hated me. So we would need an extraordinary plan to convince him of my innocence." Stefano looked back at Luca, and the men traded places.

Luca smoothed his white shirt as he stood before the Families. "Once the trials ended I waited for word of Corbin's resettlement. Luckily, our penchant to place Family in the usual towns the FBI tends to utilize for Witness Protection paid off. I was sent word he was here, in Hailey. And I pulled my most trusted and competent people for this operation."

He gestured at the restaurant where they all gathered. "Within these very walls, you met Corbin Reina. You took his measure. Yet, you have not seen him at his best. You have not seen him truly tested." His eyes narrowed. "And that is why you are here today."

Luca looked each of them in the eyes then he continued. "I will show you the culmination of our efforts, here," he motioned at a screen pulled down before a projector. "And then you will decide the fate of Corbin Reina. Will he be judged as a traitor to his Family, and as a danger to us? Or will you take my recommendation?"

Luca nodded at Stefano, and the man started the video. The screen came to life and showed the split screen view of the video feeds in Corbin's cabin.

All of the men and women watched, fascinated as the scene played out before them. Many flinched as Corbin shot himself and there were a few gasps of disbelief as Zampa attacked. The clip ended, and soft, low conversation started among those gathered.

Stefano gave them a moment then he cleared his throat. "Ladies and gentlemen. As you saw in the video, I was there. Ask what questions you will of me and I will answer."

A man stood, his dark eyes skeptical. "Reina truly shot himself? To save … who?"

"That is his partner, a fireman named Paul Boyd. Corbin was willing to sacrifice himself for him." He looked around the room. "Corbin Reina has uncommon courage and honor. He surrounds himself with individuals who exhibit the same qualities. You knew him only as a man who ran to the FBI. As a rat." He motioned at the screen. "Yet, you see here he is not. He is more. He is a man of principal." Stefano raised his chin in a challenge. "Who among you, have a man you think would do the same for you?"

The capo that had asked the question slowly sat down. All gathered were silent and they looked thoughtful.

After about 20 more minutes of various questions, the group seemed satisfied. Luca stood before them.

"Now, I ask for your judgment. The Giovanni's voice is known, and it speaks for Corbin." He raised his right hand, and his silver ring glinted in the subdued light of the room. "Those in favor of recognition of Corbin Reina, as Don of the Reina."

Slowly hands rose into the air. Luca nodded as he counted, and a satisfied smile spread on his face. "Thirteen in favor, four opposed." Luca looked at each of those dissenting. "I trust you will abide by the majority?"

One by one nods were given by the three men and one woman who withheld their approval. Luca set his jaw. "Good." He held up the golden ring of the Reina. "I go to deliver this tonight to the man we will count in our number."

The crowd broke up into small groups as they discussed the happenings, and the implications of what it was they had decided. Luca left Stefano with them, and he went to find Jenoah and Bruce. They had a trip to make to the hospital.
____________________________________

Recovery seems slow when you have a lot of things vying for your attention. Corbin was two weeks in, and he had finally healed enough to be released from the hospital. Though with strict orders for rest, breathing exercises, and wound care.

Paul sat beside him and listened attentively as the doctor explained what would be required for his care. Corbin hated to need the help while Paul was happy to provide it.

They left the hospital and went down to the parking lot. The fireman helped Corbin get into his truck. "Paul, I'm fine." Corbin flinched a little as the movement stretched the skin around the stitches in his back. Paul noticed.

"Yeah. You're fine. And you're gonna stay that way." Paul got him up in the seat. Corbin instinctively sat forward a little so as not to press his back against the cushion. Paul pursed his lips, reached, and very gently pushed him so he sat flush against the seat. "It shouldn't hurt to just sit. If it does tell me. Because I'll need to let the doc know."

Corbin sighed. "It doesn't hurt. I'm just protective of it."

Paul stared at him a moment, trying to decide if Corbin was telling him the truth. He finally nodded, then got up into the driver seat. He shut the door and started the machine.

"Hey."

Paul looked over at the blonde man. Corbin's eyes were honest and so blue. Paul felt as if he could just look at him for hours. The smaller man smiled. "Thanks. For everything." He swallowed. "I know you didn't ask for this." He shook his head. "For any of this. And I'm sorry I dragged you into my mess."

Paul smiled. "I'm not sorry." He reached over and put a strong hand on the back of Corbin's neck. "I will pay whatever the price of admission is into your world." The silver ring of the Reina on his finger glittered in the light. "And I'll do whatever you need me to do." He grinned. "Even if you don't want me to do it."

Corbin laughed. He gingerly leaned over so as not to injure himself and the two men kissed, slow, sweet, and lingering. They pulled slightly apart and Corbin smiled. "That sounds good, Paul." He sat back in his seat. "Okay. Before anything else, I need to go see Luca."

Paul sighed. Luca and the Giovanni were a reminder of the world he and Corbin had both been mired in. The Don had been very patient while Corbin recovered, but they both had instructions to visit him as soon as Corbin was released.

Corbin had already called Luca to let him know they would be there this morning. Luca asked for at least two hours of warning before they came to see him, and Corbin gave it to him. But now it was time.

Paul drove them both over to the restaurant. As soon as they parked, two of the Family walked from the door where they stood as sentries. Their escorts bowed respectfully to Corbin and inclined their heads in greeting at Paul. Then they walked them over to the building.

"Luca is ready for you both." One said and opened the door.

Corbin and Paul entered, and Corbin was a little surprised that their escorts did not accompany them inside. Escort or not, he knew where to go.

He led them upstairs to a now familiar door. He knocked gently.

"Enter."

Corbin opened the door and the two of them stepped inside.

Luca sat at his desk, his hands in their familiar position - fingers steepled in front of his lips, and his chin on his thumbs. Jenoah was to the left of the desk, and Stefano was on the right.

Luca smiled. "Come, sit."

There were two chairs before the desk, and Corbin and Paul did as Luca asked.

Corbin was only mildly surprised that Luca spoke English.

"I imagine you have questions for me." Luca motioned at Corbin, sat back and waited expectantly.

Corbin glanced at Paul then looked back to Luca. "I do." He straightened and raised his hand with the golden ring. "Why did you give this to me?" He shook his head. "I am not the Don of the Reina. No one will accept that."

Luca nodded at the logical question and statements. "You have already been accepted as the Don of the Reina. The Families convened here, shortly after you went into the hospital, and after Stefano was released." He smiled. "So, you are indeed the Don."

Corbin looked at him. It was only through a tremendous act of will that he kept an incredulous look off of his face. "I … I see." He stared down at the ring then he looked back up. "I am the Don of a Family with no members and no power." He cocked his head at Luca. "Why do such a thing? Without a way to enforce my will, then I am Don in name only."

Luca nodded, pleased with the question. "The lack of the Reina left a vacuum in our power structure. Even now, there are troubles in New York, as the old Reina territory is bickered over, and inter-Family conflict approaches." His eyes narrowed on Corbin. "But … YOU are the Don of that territory. If you were to award this territory to another, the Families have already agreed to abide by your wishes in the matters of your Family." Luca held up a hand at Corbin's look of realization. "I admit, the Giovanni are interested in the New York territory. But should you wish to retain it, I will ensure you have the muscle to do so."

Stefano and Jenoah both looked at one another, the question on their face obvious. It was the same one on Corbin's lips. "But, why?" Corbin frowned. "I don't … I don't want the territory in New York. And I don't understand why you would do such a thing for me."

Luca nodded again. "Then I humbly request, Don of the Reina, that the Giovanni be allowed to take on the territory of New York. And in exchange - for there MUST be an exchange, or it will be looked upon badly by the other Families, I will turn over my operation here to you."

Again, the look between Stefano and Jenoah. They were both lost and so was Corbin. "Luca … I … I don't understand why you would do this."

"If you did understand, would you accept these terms?" Luca's hands were now clasped, his fingers entwined and he looked over his hands at Corbin.

Corbin looked over at Paul. The fireman stared back at him, and Paul smiled. "Luca has treated us well. He's kept us in the dark a lot … but ultimately, it turned out okay."

Corbin nodded at Paul. "So … you'll come along with me?" He licked his lips. "I mean, we can do whatever we wanted with this responsibility. We could go completely legit. Keep the restaurant, make it profitable. As long as all the Family are fed, paid, and happy, then there's no need to do anything below board."

"Of course. I'm wherever you are," Paul said, and his eyes told Corbin that he spoke his truth.

Corbin swallowed and nodded. "Okay." He turned back to Luca. "Make me understand why you would do this for me." He shook his head and shrugged. "You could easily have maneuvered your way into command of the New York territory without all of this. So, please, explain. And then, if I understand, then yes … I accept."

Luca took in a deep breath. "Jenoah, Stefano … you are to both leave this room." Luca looked over at Paul as well. "You too, Mr. Boyd." He smiled slightly. "You have my word, no harm will come to Corbin."

Paul looked at Corbin, and the blonde man nodded once at him. He got up and followed Jenoah and Stefano out. Then the door shut behind them.

Luca stood up and turned to face the window. His hands were behind him, and he gripped his wrist as he looked outside. His hand opened and closed unconsciously as he thought. He began to speak. "The reason I would give up my operation here - with multiple millions in assets, and even personnel, is because … I am indirectly responsible for the death of Liam Walsh."

Corbin felt a cold sensation in his belly. He stared at the back of Luca's head. "Explain." His voice snapped across the desk.

Luca actually flinched at the tone. He sighed. "I was the one to leak the identity of the killers of the Harris family to the agent. My connections are vast. And I knew their identities. I also knew it would only be a matter of time before Harris made the connection between the hitmen and the Reina. I thought he would take the information to the FBI, and your Family would ultimately be weakened, or completely removed from power." He shook his head. "I didn't know he would hoard the information, and instead begin his own private campaign to destroy the Reina himself."

He turned around. For the first time since he had ever met Luca, the Giovanni wore a look of regret. "I miscalculated. And it cost Liam his life." He brought his eyes up to Corbin's. "Stefano told me of the great love you had for Liam and he for you. And I am haunted that I destroyed something so rare."

Corbin swallowed and blinked. His mind swirled with emotion which warred with his logical self. He wanted to launch himself across the desk and throttle this man. "You … miscalculated?" Corbin stood up, his eyes bright with anger. "And, you think this," he waved a hand over the restaurant, "will fix it?"

"I don't." Luca looked at him, his hands down and limp at his side. "I have told no one of this. If my nephew knew, I don't know what he would think of me." His eyes were sad. "He truly loved Liam, as he loves you."

Corbin frowned and shook his head. He knew there was no real way Luca could have known what Harris would do. He knew that logically, but he still hated him for what he did. He shut his eyes and forced a semblance of rational thought. When his eyes opened, there was a fire there.

"I will accept the exchange of the Reina territory of New York for the operation here, the service of your man in the hot spring, ALL of the personnel here, and any others you have stationed in the state. Idaho is MINE." Luca started to speak and Corbin held up a hand. "AND, ten million dollars. Those are my terms. If you don't accept, I will go back to New York, and you will provide the personnel you promised in order to maintain the territory."

Luca breathed slowly and the two men stared one another in the eye. Corbin could tell the wheels turned furiously in his mind. Finally, he nodded. "I accept, only if you give your word, you will never reveal what it is I told you. To anyone."

Corbin set his jaw, but he nodded in agreement. He stepped forward, and the two men shook hands. Both gripped firmly and locked gazes with the other.

Luca sighed. "It is done then. I will inform the Families of the swap. They will want to verify with you as well." He looked at Corbin. "Should there be any Family who truly wish to remain with me, I assume you will allow it?"

Corbin nodded. He had no desire to keep people who didn't want to follow him. That would be more trouble than it was worth.

Luca smiled. "Good." He grimaced. "I think I may have overplayed one hand in that respect. Jenoah is bound at the hip to that boy, Bruce. I fear I will lose my great nephew to you, Don Reina."

Corbin softened a bit. "You must know, anyone left with me will be treated well."

Luca smiled, the expression not entirely kind. "I expect they will be treated how they deserve to be treated. No better, no worse."

Corbin returned the expression and nodded. "As you wish, Don Giovanni."

The men concluded their business, and Corbin left the room. He walked downstairs and found Paul sitting with Stefano and Jenoah at a table in the dining room of the restaurant. Paul stood up, his eyes curious.

"We're done. Let's go, Paul."

As they turned to leave Stefano's voice called out. "Corbin." He turned, and Stefano walked to him. Stefano gently embraced Corbin, careful to avoid his injuries. Then he pushed Corbin to arm's length. "I'm glad you're okay."

Corbin smiled. He really had missed this connection with Stefano, and he was happy to have it back. "Me too. Thanks, Stefano." Corbin gave him a knowing look. "We'll see each other again." He patted the man's arm, then he and Paul continued out of the building.

Out at the vehicle, Paul opened Corbin's door. "Here, let me help you." The strong fireman assisted Corbin while he awkwardly got inside the cab of the truck. Once Corbin was settled he got behind the wheel.

Paul looked over at him. "So … are we mafiosos?"

Corbin sighed then laughed. "I guess we are."

Paul shook head and smiled. He started the truck. "You know, my best friend, the police officer is going to love this."

Corbin looked at him, his face shocked. "You cannot think you are going to tell Chad!"

"What?" Paul looked at Corbin, his face innocent. "We share everything." Then he slowly grinned at Corbin's expression.

Corbin laughed, and the two men drove away, on the way home.

__________________________________

Corbin lay, warm, and snuggled up to his hairy heater of a man. At least he had been. He woke because that man had gotten out of bed. Corbin made an unhappy noise and Paul laughed. "I'll be back. Jeez, can't a guy pee?"

He watched as a perfect, hairy ass disappeared around the bedroom doorway. He heard Paul relieve himself in the toilet, then the sound of the flush. Corbin grinned to himself. He turned and lay on his side, facing away from the door and waited for his big spoon to come back.

Zampa stood up from her spot. She had come in sometime last night and wedged herself between their feet. Now she stretched in that very cat-like way. She even walked up close enough for Corbin to give her back a good scratch. She allowed him to touch her for about five seconds, then she jumped off the bed and padded off down the hall.

Last week they installed a pet door. Zampa now roamed between Paul's house and property. She had also stopped eating the mice they provided her. It was obvious that she was hunting, and doing well. Paul was sure they would never see her again, but, so far, she had returned every day early in the morning to sleep for a few hours with the men.

Paul patted her as she walked down the hall, then he entered the bedroom. After a moment Corbin frowned. He hadn't gotten back into bed. He looked over his shoulder, and Paul stood there, looking down at him. Corbin rolled onto his back. "What?" He reached and took hold of Paul's hand. "Something wrong?"

Paul shook his head. "No. Everything is … it's perfect." The fireman peeled back the blanket and sheet and gingerly climbed on top of Corbin. Corbin was still healing, and Paul made every effort to avoid hurting him. He sat on Corbin's groin, and he leaned down. The men kissed. Corbin's hands roamed over Paul's chest, sides and his powerful legs. Then invariably they found Paul's thick member. The fireman made a breathy noise when Corbin's hand closed on the shaft.

Corbin's own cock was hard, and his hips unconsciously began to move against Paul's backside, sliding it back and forth against the tall man. He did this for a bit then he laughed. "Ah, this is just torturing me." He patted Paul's legs. "You better stop teasing."

Paul reached and grabbed the lube. "Let me do the work." He lifted himself and applied a generous amount to Corbin's dick, and the blonde man inhaled at the slick, warm hand as it slid back and forth. Then Paul did the same to his own rear. All the while he looked down into Corbin's eyes.

"Paul … what are you …" Corbin licked his lips as Paul positioned himself against his erection. "Ah, Paul …"

The fireman closed his eyes and exhaled. Corbin could feel him try to relax, and Paul pressed down with his hips. Paul frowned at the pressure, then after a moment, Corbin entered him. Paul breathed again.

"Paul …" Corbin felt the incredible sensation as he slowly entered the fireman, bit by bit. "Are you okay?"

Paul nodded and opened his eyes. He smiled down at Corbin, and he finally settled fully on Corbin's hips. He began to stroke himself, and he used his legs to raise himself slightly. Then he allowed gravity to pull him back down. Corbin groaned and Paul's eyes closed.

The fireman opened his mouth. "Ah. Ah god." He breathed heavily. Corbin ran his hands all over Paul's body. He stopped at his nipples, and Corbin gently gripped both of them. Paul gasped, and then his eyes shot open wide.

"Ah fuck." He stared down at Corbin's face. "I … I love you." Corbin watched as his eyes fluttered and his back arched. He let gravity pull him all the way down, and as much of Corbin's cock as possible was inside him. Then he released with a moan. Semen shot from him and landed in a streak from Corbin's chest to his groin.

Corbin followed quickly, as Paul's muscles clamped down on his penis. The blonde man gripped Paul's legs and pushed his hips into the fireman as he got off. He looked up at Paul, and he finished with a euphoric shiver.

The two men stayed in position and panted. Paul looked at Corbin's injury on his chest. "Are you … you okay? I didn't hurt you?"

"I'm great." Corbin grinned up at him. "You didn't hurt me. Though you did surprise me." He smiled gently and rubbed Paul's face. "Didn't know you were going to let me do this."

Paul smiled and he nodded. "Sorry, it took me so long." He bit his lip. "But I think we can switch off if that's what you would like."

Corbin smirked. "I don't know." He reached and shook Paul's half-soft cock. "I've come to really like having this thing inside me."

Paul laughed. "Either way is fine with me."

The men got up and took a nice long shower. The sun was out, and so their hot water was essentially unlimited.

They got out of the shower and were drying off. Then Corbin's phone buzzed on the vanity. He looked at the number and frowned. "Luca. Hang on."

"Ciao, Luca."

"Ciao, Corbin." Luca's smooth voice came over the receiver. "The Family has accepted the swap, and there is no longer threat of violence in New York."

"Good to hear." Corbin dried his hair with one hand.

"Your fee for the swap has also been transferred. Please, keep the line of communication open between our Families. I foresee a healthy partnership in our future, so long as we both work toward that end."

Corbin nodded, even though Luca couldn't see that. "I will. And thank you." He had a little more time to think about Luca's involvement in Liam's death. And he knew there was no way the Don could have known his scheme would go so badly. Corbin had largely forgiven him for his part in the event.

"Till next time, Don Reina."

"Till next time, Don Giovanni."

Paul finished drying and pulled on his briefs. "Things okay?"

Corbin put down his phone and nodded. "Yeah. Though I think I need to go to the restaurant today. I need to check in on everyone, make sure they're all really okay with me running the show."

Almost all of the men and women Luca had with him had stayed on with Corbin. This meant Luca had eyes and ears on the new Don, and Corbin had no illusions about that at all. As expected, Jenoah stayed in Hailey. And Stefano flew to New York to take on the day to day affairs of the new Giovanni territory there.

Now, he was in charge of a group of about 40 people statewide. They had various positions. Some in real estate, some in government, healthcare, the hospitality business, and even a few in law enforcement. It meant Corbin had his fingers on the pulse of what happened in the state. Their combined skill sets were vast, and there was next to nothing he couldn't eventually get done. So long as he had patience, and used his resources intelligently.

Timothy was assigned as his new handler. The young man seemed to know Corbin wasn't entirely free of the influence of the mafia, but he had no idea how deep the connection remained. Corbin was amused that he had an FBI bodyguard, and was the head of a crime family.

The guys dressed, then Corbin let Paul help him up into the truck. As Paul boosted him up he smiled. "There you are, my Don."

Corbin laughed as Paul walked around and got in on the other side. "You don't have to call me that, Paul."

Paul looked over at him, and his smile dropped away. In its place was an affectionate, but serious expression. "Do you want me to?"

Corbin frowned. If he were to keep the respect of those he commanded, then it was a good idea. "I … if you wouldn't mind when we're around the others?"

Paul stared at him and he nodded. "Yes, my Don." He said the words seriously, and he didn't laugh. He put the truck in gear, and they started on the drive to Hailey. Then the tall man sighed.

"What?" Corbin looked at him, worried he may have pushed the fireman too far.

"Oh, I'm just annoyed." He laughed and shook his head. "I'm gonna have to learn Italian."

Corbin laughed. "Yes. Yes, you will." He looked over and smiled. With a thrill of happiness, Corbin put his hand on Paul's warm leg as he drove.

They arrived at the restaurant and Paul got out. Corbin waited while Paul walked around. The fireman let him out. Jenoah met the two men, and then he and Paul fell into place behind Corbin.

As he walked toward the building … HIS building, Corbin felt something new. He felt the power he now possessed, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do with it.

He would keep those he loved safe. He would keep them Guarded.


Author's Note: Please let me know your thoughts on the chapter at the following email address link.   Wayne Gray

And thank you for reading! 

If you'd like to be on a list specifically for notification of updates to my stories onThe Story Lover's Home, email and let me know. I'll add you on. Click on the following link Update List