Oh man, this one was perfect! A beautifully paced reminder of the strength of the connection between Stefano and Silvio.
Stefano's life is starting to crumble around him, but as it does he seems like he's becoming more himself. There were a number of lines that made it even more obvious that Stefano isn't cut out for/doesn't want his job. My favorites: when Stefano realizes how free Franco is and we get these lines "that complete independence was something Stefano envied bitterly. If he could live like that, too, what would he do with his own life." And then when Stefano is talking to Donata and she says "Stefano, you ARE soft ... You are gentler than a great many men in your position or the family."
The decisions Stefano makes in these three stories, I think, also show the shifting of his priorities. My favorite (and one of the sweetest, imo) was when he sees Silvio and Donata talking and he immediately is more concerned for Silvio, asking if he's okay because he "wanted him to know he was watching, taking an interest. Guarding. There for him." Interesting that Stefano chooses to guard Silvio rather than Donata.
Then, we get to watch as Stefano moves from assuring his capos
in the first story that Silvio is there temporarily, to him trying desperately to find a way to keep him and make him belong.
Also, it was fascinating and enlightening and touching that instead of staying with Donata and trying to win her back after she says she's moving him to the guest room, Stefano chooses to go find Silvio and stop him from hooking up with anyone else. Silvio getting away on his motorcycle when they both knew what he was heading out to do was heartbreaking and I can't say how much I loved that Stefano found him and stopped him.
I think my favorite thing about this volume was how strong the emotional connection between these two is getting, now that the Russian threat is over and they're able to focus on it. I LOVED how Stefano is more and more able to read Silvio, to understand his actions and the motivations behind his words. That he realized Silvio was trying to push him away and didn't let him get away with it was so beautiful!
The ending couldn't have been more perfect, or at least the way I interpreted those last few lines, anyway. Silvio bringing up Stefano's question "What if it does mean something?" and then answering "Then we're both fucked," seemed like as close to a declaration of his feelings as he's capable of.
My biggest worry is that I interpreted that wrong and that everything's going to fall apart in the last book. Erm, well. Stefano's life is already falling apart, so I expect that--I mean that these two won't be able to get past everything and be what the other needs.