I shifted slightly. “What’s this about, Dad?”
He shrugged, and those sunken, deep brown eyes, so like my own, studied me. Inhaling, his chest expanding before he cleared his throat. “You have a chance to go all the way. I see how you fight like a man possessed.” He rubbed his grizzled chin. “There’s a drive in you, Gianni boy, that won't let anything stop you-”
“Except a certain blonde who’s had her eyes on you forever.”
Dad chewed his bottom lip, finally soothing it with his tongue. “Don’t get me wrong, Gianni, I like her. She’s a decent girl.” He shrugged again, as though that was all the explanation I needed.
Breath exhaled in a rush. “She’s hungry- allowing others to push her into forcing your hand, and I don’t want to see you end up like…” His words cut off. “Don’t make the same mistake I made.”
“No, hear me out, boy.”
He rarely called me ‘boy’ unless he had something serious to say. I nodded, allowing him to continue.
“When I met your mother, I was like you- focused on boxing.” He moistened his lips again. “But before I knew what happened, she was pregnant with Vincenzo and I was delivering mail.” His eyes turned towards me from the view of the mountains below us. “That mail sack was a heavy load which I never intended to carry for as long as I have. But for one reason or another, it's tied me down.”
“Dad,” I didn’t want him to share this story that was too painful to hear. “You don’t have to tell me this.”
“I do, so shut up and listen.” He threw me a strange look. “I love all of you, you’re my children and I wouldn’t want that any other way. But I wanted things in my life, things I gave up because of other people.”
He gripped my forearm like a vice, and I couldn’t think of words to appease him.
“Don’t give up your dreams for anyone, Gianni. No matter what they tell you. If children come along, take it in stride, but don’t let those children be the reason you stop. I’m still around, boy, and I’ll always help you out.” His mouth was a grim line. “You just reach for the stars. Stretch your hand up and grab hold.” His eyes glittered with suppressed emotions. “You deserve a galaxy full, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, you hear me?”
“Dad.” I felt moved by what he’d said.
“Promise me, Gianni." His eyes bored into me. "Don't let any women who comes into your life push you along a road you don’t want to go.” He gripped my sleeve with his other hand, a grip so strong it frightened me. “Promise me?”
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