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     For the first time since the abduction, Trish found herself alone with Bucciarati. Although restored to some extent, he was different than before. He had never been particularly talkative, but she was cognizant of his elevated self-isolation. In particular, he seemed especially avoidant towards her, making an effort to keep the girl at a distance. She could hardly comprehend his coldness after so many moments of warmth. Despite her best efforts, she had consistently failed to corner him with all the commotion of transiting to Sardinia, until now. In typical Bucciarati fashion, he is sitting alone in an armchair quietly reading well into the nighttime.
     “I wanted to say thank you for what you did,” Trish begins, taking care to control her nerves. Of all the men in the group, she had the most trouble speaking with their leader. “I wouldn’t be alive without you.”
     Bucciarati is silent as she articulates her gratitude, his expression providing no response. He doesn’t even look at her directly, instead continuing to focus on the book. The silence is telling of his sour mood, but she is determined to express herself after days of watching him from afar.
     Trish comes closer to his chair. Her face is reddening and her mind frantically searches for phrases to keep the conversation going. “You’re the only person who could have convinced me to step into that elevator. I felt so alone in that moment, but… You are just kinder than I ever imagined.”
     She notices Bucciarati shift his weight in his seat. She takes this as an indication to press further. Her heart rate increases as more affectionate words threaten to spill from her mouth.
     “This may be sudden, but I really like… You’re my savior, I-”
     “Do you know who I am?” Bucciarati finally remarks, tossing aside the literature and jolting up from his chair.
     He closes the distance between them in a single stride. Trish involuntarily takes a few steps back, hitting the wall in the process. She feels a nervous blush forming on her neck.
     “I'm not the savior you think I am.”
     Trish’s eyes widen, alarmed. “I don’t think you-”
     “I’m a gangster,” he says abruptly, cutting off her protest. He aggressively places a hand against the wall and peers down at her. “And you should be afraid.”
     Despite her efforts to be still, Trish is trembling. She has never seen him like this before, in such a state of disarray and frustration, that it startles her. His eyes are bloodshot from tireless nights and thankless work, the blue of his orbs overwhelmed by an abundance of red. There is a bruise above his left cheek and dried blood crusting his nostrils, all signs of wear from the confrontations leftover from her father and Notorious BIG. The frown plastered on his mouth is tight and unforgiving, made more menacing by a split lip injury. There is nonetheless something about him, a beauty so harrowing and ethereal that there are no words to describe it. As she looks more closely at the man in front of her, a ruthless leader of Passione, she realizes that perhaps she doesn’t know him at all. Her graze drops to the floor to avoid his glower.
     Bucciarati unexpectedly slams his other hand against the wall, demanding the attention of the pink-haired girl. “Look at me!” he commands. She feels her legs shaking.
     “Bruno, please,” Trish says quietly. He is so close that she can feel his heated breath on her face.
     Bucciarati ignores her plea and moves his mouth to her ear. “Are you scared?” he asks. His ominous tone sends a shiver down her spine. She is almost entirely flattened against the wall, forced into place by his arms. There is a hint of fear accumulating in the pit of her stomach, but she is determined to appear mature.
     From the corner of her eye, she sees him smile at her, but not kindly. His mouth is still at her ear, and she hears his breathing as he once again opens it to say something. Instead of words, however, he releases his tongue and places it against her skin. Trish gasps as he forcefully runs his tongue down the length of her neck, leaving behind a trail of warm saliva. He stops once he reaches her collarbone and levels his face with hers, grabbing her chin with his thumb to keep her from pulling away. She finds herself quickly flustered, the sensation of his touch burning stars into her flesh.
     “You’re a liar. I tasted the fear in your sweat,” Bucciarati states, moving his thumb from her chin to the side of her face. He cups her cheek and places his lips mere centimeters from hers. The proximity causes Trish to squirm, but she maintains her composure.
     “You won’t do it,” she starts, challenging him with her eyes.
     He smirks at her. “I could, have you forgotten that I’m a gang-”
     “A gangster,” Trish says, finishing his sentence flatly. Bucciarati narrows her eyes at her. “You may be a gangster, but you don’t want to hurt me.”
     The man gapes at her incredulously. She notices his surprise and takes the opportunity to straighten herself. She is not entirely sure what Bucciarati is doing, but she understands that he wouldn’t harm the person he wants to protect the most. The memory of being held in the elevator floods her mind as she herself closes in on Bucciarati, capitalizing on his momentary immobility. With heavy-lidded eyes and a rush of confidence, Trish collides with the capo.
     She finds Bucciarati’s mouth all at once, tenaciously enclosing his bottom lip the way she had seen in movies. He tenses slightly, unresponsive to her contact for what seems like an eternity. Embarrassed at her lack of skill, Trish hurriedly pulls away, only to be drawn back by Bucciarati.
     “Don’t stop,” he whispers urgently, taking her face in his hands and crashing into her once more. 
     A sound escapes Trish’s throat as Bucciarati’s mouth captures her own, his tongue invading the empty spaces of the orifice. The fluid movements of his lips reveal a degree of experience that make Trish’s innocence quake. His hands move smoothly down her body, first gripping the bare skin of her waist and then tickling the outside of her thighs. She laces her fingers through his dark hair and tugs, hard; she feels his mouth smirk against hers playfully. His hands continue their descent towards her core and Trish can sense herself ascending.
      It all falls apart just as he reaches her waistband. As if a musician missing an easy note, Bucciarati suddenly stops kissing her and shakes his head. He appears lost in thought as he lingers in front of Trish’s face. He is observing her, seemingly memorizing every detail of her face as if to prevent himself from forgetting. As she opens her mouth to speak, he steps away completely, leaving her alone against the wall. Impulsively, Trish reaches for Bucciarati’s suit sleeve, clutching the white fabric firmly between her fingers. He is strong enough to break away from her, but he instead opts to gaze at her. A bittersweet silence settles between the pair.
     At the tender age of 15, she was experiencing her first intimate moment, but it was not what she expected it to be. The man before her was violent and dangerous, the physical embodiment of organized crime and corruption. She had primarily seen him in a brutal capacity, as a murderer or a mobster, but what she was experiencing now betrayed her reality entirely. She then recalls memories of nights in the turtle, of shared blankets and familiar discourse. She knew his favorite singers and the seaside by which he grew up. He was aware of her anxiety about meeting a father who might not love her. In those instances, he felt almost like a lover, and, because of that, the seconds seemed to tick by even slower now.
     “I’m dying, Trish,” he says finally.
     “I know,” she rasps, her lips quivering. Her grip on his sleeve relocates to his hand.
     “I can’t be with you,” he croaks, his own voice weak. He gently lets go of her hand. “It’s only a matter of time.”
     Trish stares at the hand he just released. Her mind wanders back to the elevator, to the airplane, to all the instances when he was her crutch. After a moment, she takes a step towards him.
     “Kiss me again, Bruno.”