Part Thirty Four
by sarAdora ~~~~~~~~~~
When it came to secrets, Mama Batali could keep them guarded better than the gold bouillon at Fort Knox. Except... when it came to her future grandchildren. Within an hour of hearing of Francesca's morning sickness, her maid knew. The maid in turn told Giancarlo's manservant who told the kitchen staff. Giancarlo swore Dom Marchetti to secrecy. The consiglieri, happy for his friend and the pretty ragazza girl rushed to tell Paolo and Leonardo and was disappointed that the two men had already learned the happy news from Angelina who had heard it from Mama Batali before she even told her maid.
By the time Francesca made it downstairs to have her morning caffè con latte and a piece of dry toast to settle her stomach, the entire household knew she was incinto pregnant.
The cook, whose kitchen was sacrosanct and whose loyalty was to the Godfather and to no one else - not even the Batali matriarch - served the morning meal to the Godfather's wife himself. "Hot cocoa for you," he smiled as he placed the cup in front of her. "And Farina with sugar and cream," he added. "Mangi, Signora. Piacere. Eat it, Mrs. You need to eat. Please."
"Caffè con latte, please," she asked.
"Cocoa is better," he said as he patted her shoulder with a paternal air and went back to his kitchen, leaving Francesca puzzled. The cereal smelled good and after a taste of it, she found her appetite.
Everyone smiled at her... no matter what she said or did... they smiled. Mama Batali hugged her. Angelina came for a visit and embraced her as if she hadn't seen her in weeks. Paolo and Leonardo found reasons to touch her hand, cup her chin and place gentle kisses on her brow. Francesca rolled her eyes - it was only a flu bug, wasn't it?
The morning hurling ritual in the bathroom finally came to an end and she felt better than she had before it had begun. She told Giancarlo she was feeling well again and would like to go dancing when he could spare an evening.
"We'll go tonight," he told her, hugging her close, his face in her fragrant hair. "We'll dance until the band is too exhausted to play one more song."
"No, we won't," she laughed, pinching his arm. "You'll dance one set with me and then hurry us home so we can dance in bed. I know you. We'll be home early."
"Such a disrespectful woman I married," he said in that tone he used when he was about to upend her.
"Hush, bambina. I was only teasing you," he smiled as he cupped her chin and kissed her. "I will dance with you and if you behave..."
"Behave?" She arched a brow, thinking a gauntlet had been thrown down.
"Behave," he clarified. "If you behave... and don't rub your sweet body against me like a cat in heat... I will dance two sets with you."
"A cat in heat?" she sputtered. "You! You're the one who..."
"Mia amore," he laughed, swinging her into the air and then pulling her into a tight embrace, his hand entwined in the silk of her hair. "You are hot for me. I know you are." When she would protest, he laughed again and then bending her back over his arm, he placed a large hand on her breast and murmured that he was hot for her, too. "I cannot get enough of holding you, of touching you, of kissing you, of loving you. Bambina, I love you more and more with each passing day."
They danced two sets before Giancarlo took her home. She fell deeply asleep in the car and was unaware that he carried her into the house and undressed her before tucking the covers under her chin. When she woke after an hour's nap, he was next to her, watching her sleep.
"Love me, Gianni," she whispered as she reached for him, the covers slipping down as her arms went around his neck. Her bare breasts were exposed and he couldn't resist nuzzling them, his lips seeking her taut nipples as his arms went around her.
"Ohhh..." she moaned softly, suddenly aware that her breasts were tender.
"Bambina?" he queried, concern in his voice. "Did I hurt you?"
"My breasts," she blushed. "Sore. They've never been sore before. I... Gianni?" she inhaled sharply and pushed him away from her so she could look at him while she spoke. "Gianni, do you suppose...? I could be... I missed my cycle this time... I mean it's late and..."
"And?" he smiled, placing a gentle palm on her flat belly.
"How long have you known?" she sighed settling back on the pillows and disgusted with herself for not realizing her condition sooner.
"I suspected but I did not know," he lied.
"Everyone knows, don't they?" she said with resignation. "Everyone in the house, but me. You must think me such a sciocco fool."
"I think you will be the most beautiful madre in the world and I pray all our bambinos will be beautiful like you. When I go to church this week and light the candles, I will ask the saints to make them look like you. And," he added in a hushed voice, "I will ask our Lady to deliver you safely."
"As long as our children have all of their parts and are healthy, I will be happy. Of course," she added with a sassy grin. "It would be nice if they do not inherit your quick temper."
"My quick temper?" he huffed, instantly pulling her nude body over his lap. "I do not have a quick temper," each word punctuated by a gentle swat across her bottom cheeks, his other hand slipping under her to tease her until she begged him for release. And when it came... they stayed close, their bodies touching while they whispered their delight about the bambino that was growing inside her.
The doctor was not Catholic and he confirmed Francesca's pregnancy. He cautioned her that she was only in the first trimester and that there were no guarantees in life. She took his advice to heart and agreed to a regimen of prenatal care. Giancarlo had attended the examination with her and was satisfied that the doctor would give Francesca the care she needed.
The doctor was not a member of any Mafioso familia but he knew who Giancarlo was and showed the proper respect to the head of the Batali Familia. "I beg your pardon, Don Batali," he said as they were leaving his office. "You honor me by bringing your wife to me but I cannot help asking why you did not choose a doctor from your own circle."
"My wife chose you and I am indulging her," Giancarlo replied.
"I will do my best by her," the doctor smiled.
"I'm counting on it," said the Godfather who had thoroughly checked the man's medical pedigree and reputation.
Everyone she knew indulged Francesca. Her pregnancy was a blessing in the Batali household, even the staff rejoicing that a bambino would soon run up and down the stairs and through the halls. Giancarlo's manservant had dragged a rocking chair down from the attic and polished it until the wood shined and took the liberty of asking the Batali matriarch to purchase a new cushion for the seat. Mama Batali smiled at the request and fulfilled it.
The Sicilian cook called his sister to get a list of special foods to feed the expectant mother and some tips on what babies should eat. He wanted the Godfather's wife to eat healthy but he also wanted to indulge her with a few culinary treats. He even asked Mama Batali what Giancarlo had favored as a babe. Mama Batali smiled at the questions and answered in great detail.
Paolo and Leonardo, as expectant nonnos grandfathers, purchased the baby's crib and baby carriage that Angelina had selected. And as expectant nonnas grandmothers, Mama Batali and Angelina redecorated and furnished the bedroom attached to the master bedroom suite as a nursery. Both nonnas-to-be indulged Francesca's every whim and reveled in her pregnancy.
In the weeks and months that followed, Francesca blossomed. Giancarlo accompanied her to each prenatal examination and was only satisfied when the doctor pronounced her and the baby in good health. He framed each sonogram film and in no time, he had a small collection of photos that gave him great pleasure. Francesca's appetite was good and she glowed with expectant motherhood.
Every morning, Giancarlo placed his hand and then his ear on her growing belly to feel his child. Now and then, the baby kicked, delighting him. Every night, he sang to his child, humming the lullabies his mother had hummed to him. When Francesca grew restless, he interrupted his work and held her hand as they took short walks in the compound. When she grew uncomfortable sleeping, he held her on his lap and rocked her until she slept. And while she slept, he whispered his love to her and gently rubbing her belly, he whispered his love to the Batali figlio o figlia son or daughter soon to be born.
At the end of the 34th week of gestation, Francesca complained that she felt like a beached whale causing her husband to laugh. "I am so large I cannot even see my feet," she fretted.
"They are very beautiful," her husband assured her and peeled a peach for her as they sat at the dinner table.
"My breasts are so huge I think I can feed six bambinos and still have milk to spare," she groaned.
"Then you'll share that with me?" Giancarlo grinned, gently lifting his still slender wife onto his lap.
"Bambina, to look at you from the back... no one would know you are incinto pregnant. You have a basketball here," he smiled as he cupped her round belly. "Everywhere else, you are as you have always been."
"Except my breasts," she reminded him.
"I love your breasts," he told her, his hand moving to caress them.
"You are very fresh to the mother of your child," she said softly as she cupped his cheek.
"If you don't stop teasing me with your luscious body, I am going to spank the mother of my child..." One hand slipped under her to cup her rounded bottom as he spoke. "And then you will see how fresh I can be."
"Promise?" she couldn't resist asking.
"Si, a promise," he vowed as he covered her mouth with his own.
Dark eyes narrowed... watching them from the shadows, the old pain returning full force. Dormant for twenty years, it stubbornly remained alive, persistent like a tumor that refused to metastasize or to be absorbed. Giancarlo Ruggiero Batali, il Padre del Dio, could not be any happier. He truly loved his wife and he loved il bambino soon to be born. It was time...