by sarAdora ~~~~~~~~~~
The doctor assured the Godfather that Francesca had been incredibly lucky and would recuperate quickly, the poison in her system had not caused serious damage. Although it hadn't been a lethal dose, it should have incapacitated her for several days, causing her a great deal of abdominal distress and fever. Instead, her stomach had quickly rebelled and her violent hurling of its contents had cleansed her system before the poison had traveled too far. Her throat was raw from her ordeal, her lips swollen, the traces of blood the result of sensitive membrane tissue - nothing more.
Giancarlo placed a gentle hand on her brow as she lay on the bed with her eyes closed. He had quickly dressed her in the soft cotton pajamas she had worn when she lived with Angelina, reluctant for the doctor to see her nude if it wasn't necessary. He had also been unwilling to explain the fiery red hue of her parte inferiore bottom cheeks&nbbsp; if he didn't have to. Belatedly, he had realized that Francesca had not been drunk, but had consumed spoiled wine... or wine that had been purposely poisoned.
Why now? he wondered. All the Familia were in accord these days; nothing untoward had happened. Did he have an enemy of his own that needed to settle a score? Was this a warning that the ones he loved were in danger? He would keep his fears from Francesca but discuss this in private with Dominick Marchetti, his consiglieri advisor. Together, they would search their memories for events that might have led to this personal attack and take steps to prevent another.
After assuring his mother and Angelina... and Paulo and Leonardo who had rushed to the compound... that Francesca would be all right, he questioned them more closely about their shopping trip. None of them had eaten anything prior to lunch. They had all ordered different salads and different desserts but had drunk the same wine. The doctor had assured him the poison was in the wine... so why was it only Francesca who had been affected by it?
"Did you have more than one glass of wine?" he asked.
"All of us had two glasses," his mother replied.
"Was the wine bottle on the table?" he questioned further.
"No," Angelina answered. "When our glasses were almost empty, the waiter brought us new glasses of wine."
Giancarlo arched a brow as did Paolo and Leonardo who had quietly listened. "Find the waiter, wine sommelier and chef and bring them to my office within the hour," he told Angelina's two lovers. All three men understood that if it wasn't the waiter, wine sommelier or chef... or someone who had paid one of them... then a man in the Batali Familia... someone leale loyal to il Padre del Dio ... someone Giancarlo trusted... had betrayed him.
After a not-so-gentle interrogation, Giancarlo declared the chef innocent and dismissed him with thanks and for his troubles, he promised to help the man finance his own restaurant. The waiter was so frightened to be in the Godfather's presence that he fainted dead away. Later, a subtle suggestion that he find work outside the city was understood to be an order and a bodyguard immediately drove the frightened man to the bus station. The wine sommelier had not been found... until the next morning... behind a garbage dumpster in an alley with his throat cut.
The uno chi denuncia traitor was still a mystery man... and loose.
Giancarlo wouldn't let his mother or Angelina care for Francesca. He felt tremendous guilt over spanking her for something that had not been her fault. If she had been inebriated, he would not have hesitated to sear her bottom daily for a week, but in this instance, he had spanked her... briefly but harshly... for something over which she had no control.
The Godfather was not a man who showed contrition except in church. His faith was strong and although he felt an obligation to go to Confession, he never implicated himself or those close to him in any act that might be considered suspicious by those in law enforcement. He was not concerned that a priest would forgo his sacred vows and report anything, but he was aware that the confessional could be bugged. He was respectful to the priest and always vague; however, his penance was always heartfelt.
Giancarlo was also not a man who apologized for his actions unless he felt true remorse. He rarely felt true remorse, confident of his decisions and his leadership in la familia. He had a reputation as a man with a swift temper, a hot one, and though he was loath to show his compassionate side, he had a great deal of it for those he loved and those who were loyal to him.
He knew he loved Francesca and he knew he had treated her unfairly. It had been difficult for him to change his ways but he was trying... a testament to how much he cared for her, how important she was in his life. For her... for his life-long companion and lover... he swore to make every effort to be more understanding, more compassionate, more... He groaned softly, thinking... I'm not good at this, he admitted to himself. Patience. I need to learn patience.
Details of Francesca's "illness" and the circumstances of the wine sommelier's death had been quietly sent to the leaders of the other reigning families. All now knew that a bastardo Judas was among them. If the traitor had pledged fealty to another familia, the Godfather of that organization knew that Giancarlo was aware of his existence.
If the traitor turned out to be a member of his own familia... other families would automatically pass any new information on to Dom Marchetti who would inform Giancarlo. It was the Sicilian way, each familia following an ancient protocol passed down through the generations, one that worked to protect the peace between them. All the reigning families had expressed their concern that a Godfather's wife had been attacked and each Godfather was very much aware that the incident could have easily involved his own wife... All promised to aid in any way they could.
Giancarlo was satisfied. He had set events in motion; whether anything came of it remained to be seen. If things went the way he thought they would go, the traitor would remain inconspicuous until life in the Batali household returned to normal. When all was calm, he would strike again. Giancarlo would talk with Dom Marchetti and put more stringent protection in place; the challenge would be to protect Francesca without restricting her independence.
On the third morning of her recuperation, Francesca balked. "I cannot stay in this bed forever," she declared and sat up, prepared to shower and dress for the day.
"Back in bed, mia amore," Giancarlo said in that tone he used when his palm began to itch.
"I am not ill and I am not staying in bed one more minute." And with that salvo delivered, she was up and across the room entering the bathroom before her husband could stop her.
"Open this door," he said firmly when she closed and locked it behind her.
"I'm a big girl and even though you don't believe me, I am capable of taking a shower by myself. And afterwards, I'm going to shock you further when I eat breakfast without your help."
"If you don't open this door, sto andando sculaccialo I'm going to spank you," he said just loud enough for her to hear.
She turned the water on, ignoring him.
From the moment he had picked her up off the bathroom floor three nights earlier, he had nursed her back to health. He held her, bathed her, and brushed her hair. Everything she ate came from his hand, everything she drank came from a cup he was holding. When she complained that he was babying her unnecessarily, he ignored her words, rocking her in his arms until she dozed, insisting that she sleep. When she grew restless, he told her stories of his youth and of his father whom he had loved dearly and when she found it impossible to sleep, he hummed the lullabies his mother had hummed to him when he was a small boy and unable to sleep.
He knew he was being overprotective and over zealous and just plain foolish but he didn't care. She was his and his guilt at spanking her was assuaged when he pampered her. And the more he pampered her, the more he wanted to pamper her.
He was standing in front of the bathroom door when Francesca opened it, her hair still damp from the shower. Without a word, he embraced her, hugging her so tight her feet left the floor. "Innamorata, Sweetheart," he murmured as he picked her up and then made himself comfortable on the side of their bed.
"You're not going to spank me, are you?" she asked, her eyes wide at the prospect.
"Si," he murmured, turning her over his lap. "You need a firm spanking to remind you that I am not to be defied. And you," he said with a slight chuckle as he pulled her robe off, "are the most defiant woman I have ever known."
"Gianni, per piacere please."
"Please what?" he asked, his voice soft, husky and filled with love.
"Please don't spank me."
His hand came down swiftly, the spanks firm but not at all harsh and just as quickly, he turned her over onto her back and nuzzled the hollow in her neck. "You feel well enough to shower on your own. You feel well enough to eat without any assistance. So, you must be well enough for a firm reminder of who I am and who you are and..." his mouth wandered over her breasts and then up to her face to capture her mouth... "And well enough for me to make love to you. A proper loving," he murmured as his clothes went flying and his hands and mouth began the ancient ritual of lovers eager to join.
"Ti amo, I love you," he whispered as pushed into her body, slow and gentle thrusts filling her and bringing her to the edge. "Tell me you want me," he demanded, his voice still a whisper in her ear as his body filled hers, retreated until he almost left her empty before pushing back into her.
"More!" Francesca demanded. "Faster, Gianni. I want you to love me faster, harder."
"No," he whispered, denying her. "We will do this slowly until you beg me."
It was a matter of pride. Francesca wanted him but she hated to beg. She pushed up, meeting his thrusts hard in an effort to get what she wanted but he held back. When he retreated, she felt bereft, empty not only of his body filling hers, but of some elusive thing she couldn't name... some feeling that she didn't want to confront...
He teased her with his body... his hands touched her in ways that made her pant with need. His mouth... Ohhhh, his mouth.
"Gianni... please," she heard herself beg.
And when she did... the world faded as he thrust back into her womb, her petals opened wide and pink and she reveled in his seed pouring into her. And when she woke, he was holding her, the love in his eyes and in his embrace all that was necessary in this life.
Except for one thing...