Family Ties Ch 15
It was not until Sonny's plane was lifting off into the late afternoon sky,
that he allowed himself to think of what was ahead. The trip was not as safe
as he would have Carly believe. He'd asked for a convocation of the council,
a loosely knit federation of the heads of the most powerful organizations on
the east coast.
Sonny was going there to tell them his intentions of not keeping the
moratorium between him and Sorel. True, the council only advised, but when
one went renegade against their word on a grand scale, then the others would
and could band together to bring the outlaw down, like a pack of wolves
bringing down a wounded prey. He had to cover all the bases. At the very
least, he needed their neutrality. Whichever way this went, he was going to
handle it face to face.
It wouldn't do any good for him to rehash what he had to say to the council
any more than he already had, so Sonny forced his mind to other matters. He
shut his eyes and images began forming his closed eyelids. Then he was
remembering the talk he had with Jason back at the warehouse office the first
day he'd visited Eliana at Jason's penthouse
Sitting in his office, he couldn't concentrate on the papers before him.
Eliana's attack was still too fresh, all too real. The day after she'd
settled into Jason's apartment, he'd stopped in to see her. He was shocked by
her appearance. Her bruises had darkened. The first sign of healing true, but
the sight of them, marring her flawless light honey skin tone, froze Sonny in
his tracks. Jason had already told him that she'd slept badly that first
night and it showed in the circles under her eyes. Her own reaction was just
as painful. Before he could conceal it, she'd seen the look in his own eyes
as he looked at her and had quickly turned away, arms wrapped tightly around
herself in protection.
"Is there anything I can get for you?" he'd felt so helpless. Sonny reached out
a hand in an effort to comfort her. She jerked away, her whole body reacting
as she nearly jumped in an effort to get away from him. Her eyes went blank
for a moment and he knew she wasn't seeing him at all.
She blinked and her eyes cleared. "No...nothing." her voice was strained, as
though words were an effort. Even her voice was different now. But it was
something. Something was wrong now, changed forever, and they both knew it.
Sonny looked at her and saw Sorel. Gloating and spiteful. Inflicting pain on
an innocent woman, all because of family ties neither he or she had known
about. He wondered what she saw when she looked at him.
Sonny glanced over to the still figure leaning against the wall by the office
window. Jason was quiet as usual, watching him, but saying nothing. That was
Jason, friend -- almost-son - brother. This man, the closest person on the
earth to him. He knew that Sonny had to find his own way through this. When
he was ready to talk about it, he would be there to listen, never pushing,
never judging. Just being Jason by being there.
He didn't think he could even talk about this with Carly. He splashed some
brandy into a glass, then set it down without tasting it. Not even the
familiar burn of alcohol could sear this pain away.
Sonny stared at his office wall, not really seeing it, unable to shake the
memory of Eliana's face out of his mind. He saw her face when he'd first saw
her at the Grille and all the times before Sorel had kidnapped her. Those
images clashed violently to when he'd found her then in the small room where
Sorel had held her, in the hospital, at Jason's apartment. He saw the joy of
life, the confidence that had been ripped out of her gaze and hated it, hated
himself. It was all because of him. In a sudden sickening surge of anger, at
the attack, at Sorel, at himself, Sonny turned and sent his glass
splintering against the far wall.
"She'll be all right, Sonny." Jason said. He knew what was on Sonny's mind
"Will she?" His voice was bitter. "This isn't a broken arm. It's not a clean
wound, like bam! A gunshot, or a knife, and you heal. She was raped.
Because of me. Because she's my sister." Sonny sank back into his chair. "Why
doesn't she hate me? How can she not hate me? All of this happened because of
"This is not because of you. This is because of Sorel and she knows it."
"Sorel." Sony said. "I am going to pay him back tenfold for this.
"What about the council?"
"I know that there are some on the Council that will advise that I back
down, that I compromise with Sorel, let him run his drugs through my
territories, use my conduits. That it's win-win situation and the profits to
be recognized are worth it. Not to me. Never. I made a promise to...to
someone and to myself long ago. I broke it once. I will never break it
again."If he's going to be in this life, then he had to be the best, be
strong. And let no one cross him. Let no one dare. Sonny hadn't realized that
he's spoken the last two sentences aloud until Jason answered him.
"No one will, Sonny. Together, we can handle anything that anyone sends
The pilot's voice announcing their arrival broke through his reverie. There
was a car waiting for him at the airport when he arrived, that took him first
to his hotel, then returned an hour later to transport him to the meeting
place, a lodge on the outskirts of the city. A silent guard led Sonny into a
conference room where six of the most powerful men on the east coast stood
waiting for him.
Conversation stilled as he entered. He nodded in greeting to each of them.
Once Sonny had arrived, the room and each of them were swept for safety and
security a final time. Then they all seated themselves at the long polished
table, Sonny being shown to a chair at the far end of the table. The others
ranged themselves, three to each side along the length of it. Formalities
swiftly dealt with, they came straight to the heart of the matter.
While they waited for his arrival, they've taken the time to review the
long-standing rivalries between he and Sorrel. Tensions had been mounting
between them for several years now, and it was time for the council to decide
whether or not to take a more involved interest in their conflict. Sonny was
an independent concern, one of few. But he acknowledged the more powerful men
"Long standing on his end, not mine's. I have always been content with what I
have. He wants what I have. He can't have it."
There were dissenting opinions about that; Sonny could see it in their faces.
Some thought accommodations should be made but others held the opposite view.
After the debate had gone on for more than twenty minutes, Sonny decided to
speak his mind.
"It all comes down as to whether or not my territories are mines." His eyes
traveled to each man at the table, meeting and holding their gazes in turn.
Even while respectful, the possessiveness and pride was in his voice and
Sonny didn't care who knew it. He'd paid too high a price for what he was.
"Either I run them as I see fit, or let someone stronger come and try to take
them. That is not going to happen. Who here would allow it?"
"How can you ensure that this vendetta stays between you and Sorel?" The
question was asked.
"Yes," said another. "How do you guarantee it. Stefano Barton, based in the
DC area, with influence stretching from Virginia to the Florida Keys looked
up from the glass he held in two hands. "You've already shut down a
profitable conduit. How long before that impacts on my profits?"
"Let Sorel put himself before this Council as I have, lay out his defense to
his breaking his word and I'll lift my shut down. Otherwise, it stays in
place until I have him."
"And when you get him?" This was from Marchese's successor, Alberto Falconi.
He had taken over when Marchese had been killed in a drug war and had
expanded his empire until he was one of the more powerful men on the council.
"He's done." Sonny answered shortly.
"You still haven't said how you will keep this battle between you and he."
Another man asked.
Sonny shrugged, showing nothing but cool and calm. "Nothing is guaranteed. I
have no intentions of involving any of Sorel's connections. No one's
interests or associates will be impaired by my actions. But Sorel himself is
out of control. He broke the agreement first. He went after noncombatants, he
went after a courier."
"A courier that turns out to be a blood relation to you. Could we say that he
was - provoked?"
"His actions have no honor." Sonny reined in his temper. "Do you condone what
he has done? Did he come before the Council and lay out his grievances, as
we've all given our word to do? If you know that about Eliana Salazar and
myself, then you know the rest. Neither Eliana Salazar nor I had prior
knowledge of the fact that we were - are - related. It was a family secret
that was withheld from her until the death of another family member.
Irregardless, he dishonored the word of the council when he acted against one
of your couriers. What will the other couriers think if and when this comes
out? If they become convinced that they are no longer inviolate, what will
they do? If they feel that they can't trust the council's word, then what
kind of loyalty do you expect from them in return. If Sorel is allowed to go
on without retribution, then it will spread dissension and discord throughout
everyone's organizations. The fact remains that Sorel's like a mad dog, rabid
and uncaring about who he savages in his anger, and there's only one way to
deal with a mad dog."
The questioning went back and forth for a length of time. And then: "We will
be in touch with you at your hotel when we've made a decision. This meeting
As the other members filed out, one of them caught his eye and nodded almost
imperceptibly. Sonny got the message and remained by his chair. He looked
each man in the eye as they passed him, trying to gauge their temper. Most
were deliberately neutral. No matter, Sonny decided. His path was chosen.
The last man but one had left the room. Albert Falconi turned back from the
"Do you think to old friends have time for a drink?" He said as he walked to
the end of the long table and picked up a heavy crystal decanter. "Brandy,
"You remember right." Sonny said, a small smile passing over his face.
"I remember a lot of things. We young bulls should." It was a nickname he and
the other young toughs that hung around the capos and bosses of New York had
called them. Falconi picked up his glass and brought the decanter back to
where Sonny still sat. He poured them both a drink, then lifted his glass.
"To the Young Bulls. May they roar forever."
The two of them touched glasses and drank deep. "May they roar forever.."
Sonny repeated. It was their old toast. "Man, we were something back then,
Falconi looked at him. "You could have come back and be his successor you
know. Or Joe Scully's."
Sonny shrugged. "What I have, I built with my own two hands. And I'm content
with what I have."
Falconi nodded. "I can respect that." He took another drink. "I don't have to
tell you that the council is pretty much split down the middle about this
"And where do you stand?" Sonny asked. It had been a long time since the two
of them had been what you could call friends. Loyalties change, shift with
need in their world. Sonny knew that as much as anyone.
Falconi clapped one hand on his shoulder. "What do you think? We're still the
"Not so young, anymore, Falcon." Sonny called him by his old street name.
"But we still got the cojones, right?" Falconi laughed. He sobered quickly.
"The others are waiting for me. Corinthos, be careful. They can't understand
why you can't come to a compromise with Sorel. Not me."
He stood and slipped on his jacket and started to walk towards the door. He
stopped by Sonny and put his hand on his shoulder again. "I see you're still
keeping your word to her, Sonny." Falconi walked out the room.
Back in his hotel room, Sonny looked out over the city. Then the phone rang.