A long time ago, I started an Alternate Universe fic in which Elizabeth is the daughter of a New York mafia don (and sister to Sonny, Steven, and Nikolas) whose father (also named Michael Corinthos) is trying to barter her in return for power. I still have plans to finish it, but it’s been difficult. So here’s a chunk of the beginning of the story to hold you guys over until I start posting The Best Thing.
Brooklyn, New York
Elizabeth Corinthos was the youngest child of the man who ran Brooklyn and Queens in the late 1930s and 1940s. Michael Corinthos had emigrated from Italy in 1919 and had immediately risen in the ranks of the New York Mafia before eventually becoming the Don in Brooklyn. His marriage to Anna Gianni secured his alliance with Queens and she would give him four children. Three sons and the daughter she died giving birth to.
She was barely seventeen years old in 1941 and her father had already had eight offers for her hand in marriage-all of which were unacceptable of course. Elizabeth was the equivalent of mafia royalty-the only daughter from two of the Five Families. The Gianni line had sired only sons and her grandfather Antonio doted on her with much indulgence. Such a young woman would not marry a soldier in her father’s ranks or even her grandfather’s consigliere.
The proposal Michael had been counting on finally arrived when Angelo Morgan paid him a visit that August.
The other man reclined elegantly in a chair by the fireplace and lit a cigar. “Your girl’s getting to be quite the beauty.”
Michael sipped his brandy and tried not to let the triumph show on his face. “Almost as beautiful as my Anna.”
“My boy talks about enlisting in the army.” Angelo grimaced and shook his head. “He refuses to be talked out of it and it breaks his poor mother’s heart.”
“It’d be a shame to waste a good boy like AJ in the services,” Michael agreed.
Angelo frowned. “No, no, not AJ. He’s a boy after my own heart. We have already obtained a deferment for him should a draft become necessary. He’s set to ask for Hannah Adazio’s hand and he’ll become my second in command before the year is out. The Morgans will run Manhattan for a long time to come.”
Acid twisted in Michael’s gut and he forced himself to keep the smile on his face. “So it’s Jason who’s patriotic.”
Jason, the second son. Jason, who would merely inherit Staten Island and the Bronx. They were fine on their own but his daughter could have been the wife of the Manhattan Don. Little else would do.
His daughter would not marry a second son. Especially one who appeared to be an ungrateful bastard who would rather waste his life in the military.
“Jason is the reason I am here, Michael.”
Michael sighed regretfully. “If it is what I think it is, I will have to decline.”
Angelo sat up, his back straight with insult. “You are saying your daughter is too good for my boy?”
“I am saying my daughter is too good for a second son,” Michael said as politely as possible. His mind was already mulling over other possibilities. Miami had some promising men. It was fresh new territory and he could have a hand in building it. Texas was a flourishing enterprise and one could not discount Las Vegas or California.
“Jason is not merely a second son,” Angelo remarked, infuriated. “He is heir to Staten Island and the Bronx. You could do far worse.”
“I could do far better. I apologize, Angelo, but Elizabeth is the only daughter in the Corinthos-Gianni families. She will not marry a second son–not even a Morgan son.”
Angelo shifted in his chair and sighed impatiently. “Elizabeth is the only young woman that is suitable to marry my boy, Michael. Don’t be foolish.”
“My answer remains the same, Angelo.”
“He has agreed not to enlist if he marries before the end of the year,” Angelo finally revealed. “It was his only concession to his mother.”
“I hardly see how that involves me,” Michael said coolly. “You seem to have little control over him, Angelo. Even if you were to secure my approval, how could you even guarantee his cooperation?”
“All my boy has to do is see your daughter. He’ll fall just like the rest of them and he’ll want her.” Angelo smirked. “And the only way to have Elizabeth Corinthos is to marry her.”
“Even so, I could not in good conscience promise my daughter to a second son. Perhaps if Jason were inheriting Manhattan, we could entertain the possibility-“
“Manhattan goes to the eldest son,” Angelo interrupted sharply. “I want Jason to stay out of the army but not at that cost. How would your Michael feel if you yanked Brooklyn from him?”
“He would know I do nothing without good reason.” Michael sipped his brandy. “I’m sorry Angelo-“
“Why not put the question to your girl?” Angelo asked. “Surely she would rather marry my boy and remain in New York rather than go across the country to marry someone she does not know.”
“This decision does not concern Elizabeth and even if it did, she thinks more highly of herself than to marry a second son,” Michael remarked loftily.
“But if Elizabeth were to come to you and ask your permission to marry my Jason?” Angelo asked shrewdly.
Michael set his brandy on the table and looked at the other man oddly. “What have you done, my friend?”
In the downstairs parlor of the Corinthos home, Jason Morgan stood by a window-uncomfortable with the knowledge that his father was trying to secure an alliance with Michael Corinthos.
An alliance of marriage.
He was sure that the old man would not go for it. It was common knowledge Corinthos was set on a marriage between Jason’s older brother and his only daughter and if not for AJ’s fascination with the daughter of a Detroit Don, Hannah Adazio, the engagement would have been set months ago.
Michael Corinthos would not settle for a second son-something that Jason was counting on. He promised his mother that he would not enlist in the army if he were to be married by the end of the year. And since Elizabeth Corinthos was the only girl his father would settle for, Jason figured he was in the clear.
He heard light feminine steps stop at the doorway to the parlor. The girl cleared her throat and Jason turned to for his first glimpse of the girl in question. Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Anna Gianni Corinthos.
She did not have the tanned skin of her Italian ancestors but rather the alabaster complexion of her grandmother Sarah-a woman Antonio Gianni had been besotted with for nearly half a century. Her chestnut hair curled around her shoulders, framing a face with tiny delicate features and wide sapphire eyes.
She was tiny–so tiny he thought he might lift her with one hand and span her waist with the same hand. She smiled at him hesitantly. “Teresa said I had a visitor,” Elizabeth Corinthos said softly. “She must have been mistaken.”
Jason hurriedly took a step forward. “No–well, yes, but I–” he took a deep breath. He had not stuttered over a woman before and it would not do to let this girl affect him. He could not have her.
He frowned. -He did not want her, he corrected.
He cleared his throat. “My father is a business associate of your fathers. They asked me to wait downstairs while they did their business.”
Elizabeth nodded and looked at her feet. “Your father is Angelo Morgan,” she stated. She glanced up quickly. “But you are not AJ.”
“No. No, I’m not.” Jason shoved his hands in his pockets. “I’m Jason.”
“The second son,” Elizabeth nodded. “I have met your sister. She speaks very highly of you.”
Second son. The phrase twisted in his gut and he looked away. He would inherit territory but he would never be more than a second son. “Emily is fond of you,” he remarked, his voice somewhat rough.
Elizabeth bit her lip and clasped her hands nervously behind her back. “If your father brought you, then his business with my father is not what Papa will have been hoping for.”
Jason looked at her sharply. “What do you know of it?”
Her cheeks flushed and she cracked her knuckles. A nasty habit of hers and she was careful to do it quietly so he would not hear. Ladies did not crack their knuckles. “I know that my father has turned down eight other men hoping your father would offer his son.”
“His first son,” Jason corrected and this time the bitterness could not be hidden.
“Yes,” Elizabeth said unapologetically. “It is my father’s greatest dream to connect the five boroughs. I may be a woman but I am not stupid, Mr. Morgan. He hopes that a marriage to your brother would do that but he is shortsighted.”
“How do you mean?” Jason asked. He shifted, stepping back slightly.
“Well–he sees only the prestige of Manhattan. The honor of the first born son,” Elizabeth said, her voice small. “He does not realize that a marriage to the second son would benefit more.”
This interested him though he tried not to show it. Her father would not consent to a marriage.
His frown deepened. He did not want a marriage.
“Though Manhattan goes to your elder brother,” Elizabeth continued, her voice softer than before, “you inherit two boroughs and are automatically in line to inherit the third if something should happen to your brother before he has a son.” At the fierce light in his eyes, she shook her head, “Not that I wish harm on your brother, Mr. Morgan, I only mean to explain myself.”
“That may be, Ms. Corinthos, but the same holds true for my brother. If something were to happen to me, he would gain the other two.”
“That is true, but if nothing happens to either of you, you still have two and he only one. Manhattan is powerful, yes,” Elizabeth nodded, “but you would be more so with the power of Brooklyn and Queens behind you.”
He studied her with new interest. She was right of course. He would control four of the five boroughs if he was to marry her and AJ would have only Manhattan. He shook his head. He did not want this life. He wanted a life that he could create.
“You seem quite content to place your future in your father’s hands to barter you off like a cow,” Jason said crossly. He turned to glare out the window.
The words would have stung once but Elizabeth had long ago accepted her fate. “A woman in my world knows it is unwise to disagree with her father. Papa loves me and while his first priority is the business, I know he wishes for me to be well cared for. He thinks highly of me, Mr. Morgan, or else he might be more willing to give me to someone else. He holds out for the best because he believes that I deserve it.”
“Does your father know that you are so well-versed in the business?” Jason asked sharply.
“No. I do not think it would be a good idea if he were to know just how much I do know.” Elizabeth hesitated. “I am sorry you are unhappy, Mr. Morgan. I did not mean to upset you. You are not in any danger of having to marry me for I see that is not what you want. My father will not agree to it and I will probably be sent to Las Vegas or California.”
He muttered something under his breath and turned to face her. “You think my father could not convince yours?”
“I think you’re afraid he can,” Elizabeth said simply. She shrugged simply. “And you don’t want this life.”
“No, I don’t. I want to enlist in the army. War is coming to this country, Miss Corinthos, and I’m not content to sit back and watch it happen.” He shifted, restless with the conversation, with the situation.
The look in her eyes changed then-a light entered them and she smiled warmly. “No, you certainly are not a man my papa would choose for me. You do not like to take orders or be told what you will do and who you will be. That is an admirable quality, Mr. Morgan.”
“My father thinks I am ungrateful because I don’t want the life he’s carved out for me. I don’t mind the business. I just want a chance to live my own life.”
“Why not enlist?” Elizabeth asked. “What stops you?”
“My mother.” Jason sighed and turned his attention back to the view of the gardens the window offered him. “She begged me not to go. I told her I would wait. If I were not married by the end of the year, it was agreed I could enlist. That is why my father is pushing for this now.”
“Papa will not agree, Mr. Morgan, I can promise you that. You will have the life you wish for,” Elizabeth said. She stepped forward and touched his arm. “I only hope that it can make you happy.”
He shifted and took her hand in his. “What if my father were to secure your father’s permission?” Jason asked curiously. “Would you marry me then?”
He’d hoped to throw her off balance–but with everything else, she had answer for that as well. “I could do worse,” Elizabeth remarked. “You seem kind and I believe you would be a good husband but we have already established that I will marry the man Papa chooses. The question remains is if you would marry me.”
“What if I weren’t a Morgan?” Jason pressed. “What if I were just a soldier? Would you still marry me?”
She stared at him for a moment and he nodded, satisfied that he’d shut her up. But then her lips curved and he was dizzy for a moment because her smile in combination with those eyes-it could make a man lose it for a while. “Are you proposing, Mr. Morgan?”
“That’s not an answer,” Jason said crossly.
“It wasn’t much of a question,” Elizabeth said simply. She tugged her hand free of his grasp. “But the answer doesn’t matter since it would not be possible. The only way you will become a soldier is if you do not marry and Papa would not allow me to marry a soldier.”
“So you don’t want to marry a mere soldier.”
There was something in his voice that made her ache for him and she looked away. When she met his eyes again, the pretense of being the dutiful daughter had dropped. “I would be proud to marry someone who believes in something so greatly,” Elizabeth remarked softly. “Someone who would protect his family and his country from the evils of this world. I am not my father and I do not see such a life a waste.”
“Elizabeth.” He took her hand in his again and kissed her fingertips. “If my father convinces yours, would you wait for me?”
“Wait for you?” Elizabeth echoed. “I don’t understand.”
“I can be engaged and still enlist,” Jason said and the more the idea settled in his head, the more he liked it. He could have this beautiful and enigmatic girl for his own and still have the dream he’d coveted. “And once I enlist, they can’t change that.”
She blinked. “You have known me ten minutes.”
“I don’t think I need longer than ten minutes to know that you fascinate me. One second you’re your father’s daughter–speaking of powers and territories. The next you’re a philosopher and then you’re just a young woman with sadness in her eyes.”
“So you don’t wish to marry me for my beauty?” Elizabeth asked wryly. “For my father’s fortune and connections?”
“Don’t confuse me with the eight men who’ve offered for you before,” Jason remarked. “You have not answered my question.”
“It would not work,” Elizabeth murmured, a little sadly for the idea appealed to her as well. “Papa would marry me off before you even arrived at boot camp.”
“Then we’ll marry after I enlist,” Jason insisted. “Before I leave.”
She shook her head. “Jason, you speak of impossible things. My father would be furious for the deception and yours as well.”
“How long can we live our lives according to what our fathers want?” Jason demanded. He drew her closer and traced the line of her jaw with his thumb. “What do you want?”
“I want…” she bit her lip and looked away. “I believe that I want the life you are offering. One that I choose. But Papa will not agree-“
“Then marry me anyway,” Jason interrupted. “I could make you happy, Elizabeth; give you more to live for than pleasing your father.”
The answer of yes was on the tip of her tongue but Elizabeth bit down on it. “Jason-“
He cut off what he knew would be a protest with a gentle kiss. She sighed and curled into his embrace, wanting to believe that she could have this for the rest of her life.
Someone cleared their throat from the doorway and Elizabeth jerked away, her cheeks flushed. “Teresa.”
“Your father wishes you join him in the study,” the longtime servant said with an indulgent smile. “Mr. Morgan can entertain himself for a short time.”
Elizabeth licked her lips nervously and looked to Jason. “If you’ll excuse me.”