Unlike the births allotted to them on the Super Chief, the arrangements on the ship were exactly as they should have been. Both Maria and Salvatore had been assigned First Class cabins adjacent to each other and Megan and the children had been allocated a small but private Second Class cabin two decks below.
This suited Falcone extremely well. He had long had designs on Maria, even when she was nothing more than a child in her early teens. However, even though she had been a very pretty girl she had matured into an incredibly striking, very desirable woman and Salvatore craved her with every fibre of his being.
Originally it had been his hope to marry her, thus securing both her affections and her father’s money but this had been a problematic plan. Firstly, it was abundantly clear that Maria found him nothing short of abhorrent and secondly he seriously doubted if Carlo would ever consent to a union between him and the much younger, much more deserving, Maria.
Now, however, neither was an issue. Maria was completely under his control and would be for the immediate future so he could take her whenever he pleased. Furthermore, once she was ensconced at the convent, her inheritance would rightfully be his upon Carlo’s death – especially as the bastard grandson would no longer have a claim to it.
The monastery where Maria’s child was destined to spend the next eighteen years of his life was the same one that Salvatore, himself, had been brought up in, although the monastic life had proved too restrictive for a man of his needs.
Salvatore had known he was not cut out for the pious life of a monk since the first stirrings of puberty, when wandering through the village close to the monastery he had seen the young girls of his age playing in the streets.
Visions of their freshly sprouting bodies; firm and slender and ripe for the plucking had infiltrated his sinful dreams for many nights afterwards, giving him regular cause for self gratification.
When he was of age he had left the monastery in a bid to find fortune and perhaps a girl with whom to satiate his sinful desires. His search led him to a small town in the hills just south of Rome and a sweet, young, thirteen year-old girl named Lucia Tartaglia.
Unfortunately, his feelings for her were not requited. Yet, one night, unable to bear the humiliation and the thought of never being able to touch her in the ways that he so desperately wanted to, he had followed her to town and spied on her with her friends.
Afterwards, as she made her way home, alone, Salvatore sprang out from behind a tree and dragged her off the road and into a shallow gully. He clamped a hand firmly over her mouth to prevent her from screaming, then pushed open her legs, ripped off her underwear and forced himself upon her. But Lucia would not stop struggling, would not stop kicking and trying to throw him off.
Scrambling around in the dust, Salvatore’s hand fell upon a small rock and his fingers closed around it. Then he hit her with it, hard, knocking her unconscious. With her finally silent he had his evil way with her, the thrill of it all the more gratifying because she was powerless to stop him.
When he had finished he studied her for several minutes, taking a mental photograph to keep in his memory for all time, ignoring the blood oozing from the deep gash in her forehead above her ruined left eye, lingering instead over her bare thighs and exposed breasts which were now clearly visible through the torn gap in her ruined sun dress.
Then, without so much as a backwards glance, he ran.
He ran to Naples and to the sea, boarding the first ship he could find that was bound for America. The ship upon which he would meet Carlo Liuzzi and change the course of his life forever. But he knew it would be foolish to mention what he had done to the girl he had left for dead in the hills of Rome to anyone – including his new friend.
But Lucia Tartaglia would never forget the name Salvatore Falcone for as long as she lived.
Nevertheless, it had been Salvatore’s memory of the monastery and its tight restrictions that had made him bring it to the attention of Carlo. Indeed, it was upon this suggestion that Liuzzi had chosen to send Maria’s illegitimate offspring there – a decision that had worked out rather well for Salvatore, all things considered.
Continues tomorrow or download the complete novel here