ask her. You just assumed. Who cares what Haven wants, right? We’ll all just claim to know better than her and make her decisions and pretend it’s what she needs when only she knows.”
“She wants a future, Dominic. She wants to be free .”
“But she isn’t, ” he said. “Not as long as people like you are making decisions for her. I thought you were better than that, Carmine, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe you don’t love her, after all.”
The moment the words came from his mouth, rage ran through Carmine. He jumped up, drawing his arm back, and hit his brother with as much force as he could. Carmine’s fist connected with Dominic’s jaw, which made him stagger a few steps, but he lunged for Carmine the moment he gained his balance. Carmine tripped over the duffel bag, his foot tramping on the guitar and smashing through it as Dominic shoved him into the nearest wall. Vincent tried to come between them, but Dominic was too strong. He pinned Carmine there with his left hand as he drew his fist back. Carmine waited for the blow, blindly striking back at his brother, but before Dominic could follow through, a firm voice echoed through the downstairs.
Corrado started toward them from the kitchen. He shoved Dominic away, physically coming between the two brothers.
“He doesn’t know what he’s saying,” Carmine spat.
“Me? You’re the one fucking up!”
“I said enough ! Neither of you know what you’re talking about! Are you boys so dumb that you can’t grasp the concept of cause and effect?”
Dominic scoffed. “This isn’t just some unfortunate side effect.”
“Yes, it is,” Corrado said. “It doesn’t matter what Carmine does—Haven will always have choices taken from her. I’ve taken choices from her! It can’t be helped! Certain things were determined the moment she was conceived and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that. You can’t rewrite history!”
The commotion drew Celia’s attention. She slowly descended the stairs to the foyer, carrying her luggage. Her eyes scanned the room, frowning when she saw Carmine’s things on the floor.
“ All of us are forced to sacrifice,” Corrado continued, turning to Dominic, staring at him pointedly. “And isn’t this how most breakups go? One walks away while the other has no say. Or are you insinuating Carmine has no right to end the relationship? Isn’t that hypocritical, given your rant? The fact is, Carmine isn’t deciding Haven’s future. Carmine’s deciding his own .”
He turned to Carmine, the anger in his expression staggering. “And you need to grow a backbone. You’ve been sitting here all morning feeling sorry for yourself, and it’s wearing on my nerves. You either go back up those stairs or you walk out that front door, but there will be no more wavering in between. You belong in Chicago now, so be a man and do what’s expected of you. Either take her along or don’t, Carmine. She’s going to lose something regardless. The only question that remains is what she loses.”
The foyer grew quiet as everyone stared at Carmine, whose stomach churned with nerves. “I can’t bring her to Chicago. Those people fucked up her life enough.”
Dominic threw his hands up in exasperation as Corrado nodded. “Then pull yourself together and meet me in the car in five minutes. If you aren’t there, I will come back in here for you, and I assure you—you don’t want that to happen.”
Corrado pulled his keys out of his pocket and headed for the door, motioning for Celia to follow him. She smiled sadly at her brother before giving Dominic a quick hug, merely casting Carmine a look as she followed her husband outside.
Carmine took a deep breath and glanced at his father as he reached into his pocket for his keys. He took the key for the house in Chicago off before holding the rest of them out. “Give my car to Haven. She’s gonna need one. If she doesn’t want to keep it she can sell it or
Joanna Blake, Pincushion Press, Shauna Kruse