Hearing Francesca’s words, all emotion disappeared from Gerard’s face.
“………What nonsense are you saying suddenly?”
His voice was completely calm. Which is why, Francesca also spoke in a matter-of-fact manner.
“I think, you’re the real mastermind behind this all Uncle………after all, you were there too. At the night of the party.”
“Like I said, what exactly are you implying?”
Saying that, Gerard showed a calm smile.
“Do you really want to protect Aldini that much? You’re quite the kind and tender girl eh.”
“Serranova. If you’re going to insult my daughter, you will leave no room for any further discussion.”
“Papa. I’m fine so..”
Normally, her father would have instantly turned Gerard into his enemy for his transgressions. But because of Francesca’s request, he was still listening quietly.
On the other hand, Gerard had stopped trying to his displeasure at this point.
“If we’re talking about ‘insulting’, it’s your daughter that’s insulting me. Of all the people, she has the audacity of blaming me, the head of the Serranova family, a family that prioritizes tradition over everything, of bringing drugs into the capital, which is considered a long standing taboo? Why would we ever do something like that.”
“If you’re looking for a motive, that won’t be hard to figure out. After all, the Serranovas while sticking to their ‘traditions’ have cornered themselves to a very bad financial position, or so I heard.”
“………From Ricardo huh.”
Saying his son’s name, Gerard sighed.
“I will admit, our family is currently going through a rough patch, we are far from being called affluent. But still, we are one of the 5 great families. I can’t have you looking down on us like that.”
Combing his hair backwards as he spoke, Gerard pressed on his forehead and simply shrugged.
“Our biggest source of income comes from our consistent tobacco farms and its produce. We have very large farms as well as workshops, we emply highly skilled labour, and in fact we have even made some expansions very recently in that field as well. I heard that even you came to hang out at our farms recently as well.”
She looked upwards to her side, as her father reached into his inner pocket and pulled out one piece of paper. Taking that, she opened it up and then presented it in front of Gerard.
Seeing that, Gerard frowned and strained his eyes, as if he was looking through some mist.
“The documents regarding the distribution channels that Leonardo claimed to have really wanted. Among those, I have specifically picked out the numbers in regards to tobacco import, and arranged them by year.”
Seeing the graph, the situation was very clear.
“The brand of cigarettes most predominantly smoked in our country nowadays is mostly the one being imported from our neighbouring country. The level of imports are a proof of that, and in fact I even went around a bunch of local stores to confirm it as well.——in fact, even the one my father smokes is an imported brand.”
Francesca had talked about this with Ricardo when she was at the Serranova’s farms as well.
[I wonder if the cigarettes my Papa smokes are also made out of these leaves as well?]
[……..if it’s the ones he was smoking during the family meeting back then, then those are from our neighbouring country, albeit also a very famous brand. The leaves used for that one are different from the ones that have been traditionally popular within our country whose leaves we grow here though.]
At that time, hearing the words ‘neighbouring country’ she thought that it was probably connected to her late mother.
And while that wasn’t completely incorrect, the fact was that the most commonly smoked cigarette brand in this country was not one that was made in this country in the first place.
“The leaves that are used in the foreign brand are not the same as the ones used in yours, are they? Which means that the leaves grown in your farms wouldn’t have much demand in said neighbouring country either. And now, the same also goes for the ones sold in this country as well……..”
Gerard sighed greatly hearing all that.
“………hahaha, I give up. Nothing’s more embarrassing that someone finding out that you’re putting on airs.”
Leaning back on his chair, he somehow seemed a lot more relaxed than before.
“I’ll apologize for my previous lie. It’s true, my family’s business has dark clouds hanging all over it. The reason why we expanded was not due to good results but to find out a way to reduce our losses.”
“Calvino, I’ve known you since our school days but, you were always a pragmatic realist, not one to take interest in matters of others. But, young Francesca seems to have taken more after your late wife, her power of imagination is quite abundant, it seems.”
Hearing Gerard’s words, her father frown with displeasure again. But, Francesca quickly interjected.
“My father was also suspecting the same thing though.”
Gerard muttered in a low, deep voice.
“If I could come to this conclusion by seeing the documents, I’m sure father would have already noticed this a long time ago. That’s why he was specifically smoking that brand of cigarette during the meeting.”
“……….your father just likes to smoke when he’s in bad mood, that’s all.”
“Uncle, it seems you don’t know this..”
Even if they had known each other since their school days, and even if they met a lot as fellow family heads, there’s still things that they might know about each other.
“My father, would absolutely never smoke around me, unless something abnormal was happening.”
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Her father, was always trying to protect Francesca in every way possible.
He even goes out of his way to make sure that she doesn’t get wet in the rain. And yet, why did he smoke while sitting so closely to Francesca?
“That was meant to be an indirect message from him to you, Uncle………isn’t that right, Papa?”
Her father didn’t say anything but, his silence was an answer in and of itself.
Francesca stared directly at Gerard, and slowly questioned him again.
“In the newly expanded grounds of your tobacco farms, just what exactly are you growing?”
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