Part Forty One
by sarAdora ~~~~~~~~~~
As the weeks and months passed, Francesca began to blossom again, her body renewed and healed, her mind reserving the dark shadowed memories of the past, dwelling on them only occasionally. She knew her recuperation was due in part to her mother-in-law and Angelina and others who loved her, but mostly, it was Giancarlo who made her life whole.
He spent an inordinate amount of time with her each week, his responsibilities to la Familia sometimes taking him away from the house in the evening, other times in the early hours before dawn. When he was away from her, she spent time with her extended family and friends and when he was home, she craved time alone with him. He indulged her, happy to take her dancing or to spend a quiet evening together enjoying each other.
One afternoon while he was away, she announced that she was resuming her volunteer work at the women's shelter.
Madre Batali arched a brow, wondering if Giancarlo would allow that.
Angelina groaned, certain the Godfather would forbid it.
Paolo and Leonardo shook their heads, worried that Don Batali would object and Francesca would find a way around his edict and then...
"Go back to the shelter? Why?" he asked when he returned from a brief business trip and they were seated at the dinner table.
"I enjoy being there. I feel like I'm doing good things. Why shouldn't I go?" she asked as she sipped her wine.
"Because..." he paused in thought, and couldn't come up with a decent reason why she shouldn't volunteer.
That "because" and pause made Francesca purse her lips. When she folded her arms across her chest and stared directly into his eyes, he couldn't help smiling.
"You have an adorable pout, mia amore," he chuckled and surprising her, reached out and pulled her onto his lap. "Do you know what happens to the Godfather's wife when she pouts?"
"Do I want to know?" Francesca asked, pushing back from his embrace.
"Si, you want to know," he insisted as his mouth covered hers in a hungry kiss. "Have you had enough to eat?" he asked when he let her up for air.
"We haven't had dessert."
"Let's go up to our room; tonight, you will be dessert."
"Gianni... the shelter? You will not deny me, will you? Sal can go with me, of course, but I..."
"Deny you? If I could give you the moon and stars..." he murmured as he swiftly carried her up the stairs.
His mouth teased her as his hands removed each article of clothing she wore. His lips kissed, then suckled the sweetness of the hollow of her throat, the rosy aureoles of her breasts, making her moan until she couldn't stand it a moment more and then held his mouth to her taut and aching nipples.
When she arched into his body, he moved further down and tickled her belly with his tongue. "You are teasing me on purpose," she said as she inhaled as much oxygen as she could."
"Si," he agreed. "I love teasing you."
"Now," she begged.
"Soon," he smiled.
"You'll what, bambina?" he lifted his head to ask.
"I don't know," she admitted. "But I'll think of something."
His laughter rumbled against her belly and then he lifted her legs to his shoulders and gave her what she wanted. When she came back to him, she was sated and her eyes were glazed.
"Let me love you," she said softly and reached for him.
"In the shower," he told her, dropping his clothes and hurrying her into the bathroom. "Bambina," he groaned when she stroked his manhood, her hands and fingers alternating with her lips and tongue. "Bambina, you are killing me. Ora! Now!" he demanded when she slowed her movements.
"Soon," she smiled.
"You're pushing your limits, mia amore. Love me right or..."
"Or what, Padre del Dio?" she teased as she kneeled between his thighs.
"Or I'll warm your natiche butt," he promised. "And I think I'll do that, anyway," he decided as he lifted her into his arms, upended her under the shower's spray and spanked her gently and with lust.
"Gianni," she gasped, the unexpected spanking startling her.
"Francesca," he answered, turning her to face the shower wall and thrust into her so fast, her head spun. Her warm bottom bounced against his groin as he moved within her, one hand cupping her breast, the other spread across her belly. It was a heady feeling for both of them and Giancarlo thought he had achieved nirvana when he exploded inside her, his seed hot and plentiful, her ova fertile and receptive.
"Yes, you may go to the shelter," he told her later, Sal will accompany you as well as Petey Petrale and your driver will call in when you arrive and when you are on your way home. No argument, capite understand?"
"Si," she agreed, eager to resume all of her activities.
Mama Batali knew life had returned to normal when she chanced to pass their bedroom suite one evening and heard her daughter-in-law arguing with Gianni. The mild epithets Francesca uttered when she was frustrated... "Maiale Pig!" she heard shouted and Gianni's laughter that followed. She smiled listening to them and moving on to her own suite of rooms, sent a silent prayer heavenward that another bambino was in the making.
When Gianni solemnly told her that Francesca had spent a great deal of time in the bathroom in the morning... her heart filled with joy and her eyes overflowed. "Mio bambino," she grasped her son's hand. "Let it be so."
"Si, mia madre," he smiled as he kissed his mother's cheek. "We are going to be blessed with a child."
"Does she know she is incinto pregnant?" his mother asked, remembering that Francesca had been the last to know she was carrying a child the first time she was pregnant.
"She knows but she doesn't want to announce it until we see the doctor."
His mother nodded; every aspect of Francesca's pregnancy would be suspect until confirmed. Her fear of losing the child was a realistic fear not only for her but for all who loved her and they would respect her wishes not to get too excited about the babe too early.
"I will tell Angelina and swear her to secrecy," his mother said, knowing full well there was no way she could keep this delicious secret to herself.
"And she will tell Paolo and Leonardo and swear them to secrecy," Giancarlo chuckled, knowing his mother was bursting to leave the breakfast table and rush to the telephone.
By evening, all the prospective nonnas and nonnos grandmothers and grandfathers knew there was a chance Francesca was pregnant. They gathered in Giancarlo's living room and toasted the unborn child and each knew they would light candles and say more than one prayer that all would go well.
Giancarlo had already given thanks to his personal saints for blessing them and only asked that the child would be born safely and in good health. When he rose to his feet, he was content, knowing Francesca's health and the health of their child was in God's hands. He had faith and every confidence that all would be well.
This pregnancy differed from her first one. Francesca had craved milk and cheese and eggs and hot pane bread, and the Sicilian cook made sure those foods were always available at any hour of the day and night, but now she wanted other foods. It wasn't her food choices that alarmed the cook or turned her husband's face a pale shade of green... it was the food combinations she craved and at the oddest hours of the day and night.
Steamed cauliflower mashed and smothered with butter was plausible until Francesca followed that dish with sections of grapefruit. Fresh apricots with her very rare steak was odd but not unpleasant to look at... until she dipped the apricots in horseradish. Honey baked ham washed down with hot chocolate made everyone gag, and the worst combination she seemed to crave was chocolate mousse mixed with tiny slivers of pickled cucumber. Those who watched her eat with gusto often left the table, their own appetites greatly diminished.
Surprisingly, the cook kept a level head, muttering that it was a long nine months and that he deserved sainthood for preparing these meals but everyone in the house knew that he was extraordinarily fond of the Godfather's wife and always indulged her, treating her like a beloved daughter.
Giancarlo shook his head as he related more of Francesca's latest culinary choices to his mother and to Angelina.
"We took her to lunch, yesterday," Angelina smiled. "Do you want to know what she ate?" At his nod, thinking it couldn't be worse than the chocolate mousse fiasco, Angelina continued. "She ate li scampi prawns in garlic butter.
"That's good," Giancarlo sighed with relief. "Maybe she's going to eat normally again."
"Con i lamponi With raspberry sauce," his mother added, laughing softly and continued to laugh when Giancarlo suddenly turned pale and hurriedly left the table.