Mrs P’s Lullaby
A Christmas Tale
Songs I Like Series
Text copyright © 2017 Mia Soto
All Rights Reserved
Chapter 3: 3 French Hens
December; Italy, Present Day
“They arrested you?” She laughed at his wild story of youthful anarchy.
He shrugged wincing against the cold wind cutting the air. “They raid a whore house and you’re in bed with three of them – you go to jail.”
“What did your father say?” She could only imagine signore de’Medeci’s reaction.
“You can believe nothing good.” They walked for a moment of windy silence.
“What is French prison like?”
“You don’t want to know.” He had a deep masculine chuckle. “But that was a long time ago. Serves them right for sending me away to school.”
“Oh, poor little rich boy,” she chided.
He frowned. “Ok, poor little rich girl, your turn.” It was her turn to frown. “So you packed everything up and moved half way across the world?” She nodded. “You Americans. You’re crazy. Crazy good. Crazy bad. Sometimes you mix that crazy and…whew.” He gave his brow a theatrical wipe.
“We’re not crazy. And I’m not rich.” She stopped with her hands on her hips.
“Yeah, me either.” He put his hands on his hips mocking her stance.
She had to smile. “Maybe a little rich.”
“Yeah, me too.” His smile was warm and genuine as he cocked his head in a silent request that they continue their walk.
“But we’re not crazy.” She refused to concede that point. After almost a year in the old world, she was tired of the old world’s relentless condescension of the new world. The wind lifted the tendrils that had broken free of her ponytail and whipped them into her mouth. It was a cold blustery day with a clear blue sky and a bright sun that was doing nothing to warm them.
“A little crazy. You don’t even speak the language.” He laughed reaching up to help her tuck a strand behind her ear. Their fingers touched and little shots of electricity passed across atom fields and fueled a sentimental thought.
She pulled away. “We’re learning.”
“Why not visit? Rent a place for a year? Give it a test run?” They strolled by unnoticed grape vines and olive trees. It had become their habit over the past few days to meet during her run and walk and talk for a minute or two before decency and angst forced them apart again.
She shrugged. That would have been a more logical way to proceed on such a monumental decision. Serge was not so logical. He got things in his head and away he went with them. “We wanted to get away.”
“It was that bad?” He held out a hand to help her across an impromptu mud slide. She hesitated before taking it. As she slid her hand into his, synapses fired out of control causing her ankle to give away. His arm slipped around her waist and pulled her across without any effort and for a brief moment they froze. They stood in their awkward embrace considering their many options. It was a moment, the kind that changed the course of a lifetime.
“No it wasn’t that bad.” Her one means out of the moment was to continue the conversation and hope he let her go and hope even harder that sanity began to prevail in her thoughts again.
He did not let go. He had strong arms and they shifted her closer. Sexy brown eyes drowned her. Their bodies were long against each other. “Then why?”
How many reasons had there been for leaving? So many. So she quoted a favorite song. “We were idiots walking the tightrope of fortune and fame.” The answer surprised him she could tell. “Now we’re just idiots.” She finished quietly and pushing away from his sure arms was suddenly easier.
Their walk continued in a contemplative hush with shards of nervous hope filtering around them. They had already gotten to the path along the road that would take her home. This was where they parted.
Every day it was becoming harder and harder to want to continue her run. That day was no different as they stood together, giving quiet looks, an uncomfortable exuberance causing her heart to pound. He reached out to sweep her long ponytail behind her.
“I’m glad you’re crazy. It put you here, right now, with me.”
Her head was swimming in a vertigo making her nauseous in that old familiar way, in that way she had not felt for so long. It was all very exciting, the idea. She was swept into it. That and the feel of his gentle hand caressing the soft nape of her neck, tugging on the wisps of loose hair. His arm slipped around her waist.
Anticipation was thick, heavy. Their bodies were lean clinging to each other’s. The excitement was palpable. It was so exciting neither noticed the beat-up SUV traveling along the road where they walked. Blue eyes were held in brown swimming deeper and deeper into each other’s wants and desires. How easy would it be to tilt her head just a fraction more and open an already open invitation?
The SUV approached with its happy passengers singing a silly Christmas song. The part for the water valve had arrived at last. Maybe they would be able to have running water again by evening.
The strong fingers clasped her neck in a possessive way. His smooth thumb massaged the ridge of her jaw. Against her will her eyes closed as she wondered how soft his mouth might be on hers or would he be passionate and unforgiving, maybe both. Their breath was uneven caught up in the instant between choice and want.
The Christmas song singing car continued past the unaware couple. Although, one of the passengers was suddenly sitting in stony silence suffocating under the mason’s block that was crushing his heart leaving him to gasp for air as a dying man.
She tilted her head away from the embrace, her voice a whisper. “I-I can’t. I can’t. I-I have to go.”
He nodded letting his hands fall away. The accent was soft and caressing, seasoned with the slightest hint of frustration. “Run away now.”
“Goodbye, Bob.” She nodded feeling rattled a little exhilarated by what had happened. How close had she been? How much did she wish she hadn’t seen that flash of Jonah on his tenth birthday smiling at the basketball hoop they had installed?
“Until tomorrow, Charlize.”
Bob’s smile was ironic as she started her jog. Tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow she would look for another route, a route a little farther out of her way, a little more challenging, a little less, easy. Maybe.
December; Italy, 1814
“Signore de Luca e signora Rossi e signora Rossi!” The servant called for the guests to hear.
Paolo’s head jerked in astonishment. Could it be? A moment later there she stood beautiful and perfect. It would have taken a blind man to miss the joy that bloomed on his face. She fluttered her eyes at him once and then with more control than he had she focused her attentions on Mario and her sister. Paolo could not tear his eyes away from her.
“At least pretend like she might be nothing but your whore.” Elizabetta hissed next to him. She glared at Eloisa.
He looked away thankful for her ignorance. “I’m only surprised she is here.”
“Indeed, signore Moretti has no boundaries to the kind he will suffer graciously.”
“’Tis the merry season, cara.” Paolo’s endearment fell flat. Elizabetta gave him a tight smile turning her back on him to join a group of ladies nearby.
He watched Maria from across the room. Her flaxen hair was tied back and curled with delicate ribbons running through. The white dress she wore floated around her in a cloud of silk. Every swell and curve were magnified under the cut. She looked like Venus and Juno and Diana and every goddess he could recall.
He glared at Mario. If the man took one more leering gape at Maria’s swelling breasts Paolo was sure he would lose all composure. Eloisa batted her eyes and curtseyed low as Paolo passed by. She was the height of fashion and womanly reveal and he would spend a lifetime wondering how she had ever caught his fascination. He smiled at the group, bowed and continued away always watching his love from afar.
Maria floated around the room like an angel attracting every male imagination. It was a special kind of hell to see her laugh and flirt and charm those interested eyes surrounding her. Then at supper he was seated as far from her as possible. While Eloisa sat opposite him never missing an opportunity to smile or bat an eye. He choked on his wine when her stocking foot snaked up his leg.
With mercy, the music began. He watched from the back knowing she would grow bored with the concert. He smiled when she leaned over to whisper something to Mario. Mario’s hand came up to rest intimately on her naked shoulders and Paolo’s body surged with a jealous rage.
His ire cooled when Maria shifted away from the touch. She said something that brought a frown to Mario’s lips and Paolo calmed a measure. Moments later she slipped away and Paolo seized his chance. The halls were empty when he stepped out of the music room but he knew where she could be found.
The library was warm with a roaring fire. She was deep in thought staring at the shelves of volumes decorating the walls. Her profile was soft in the light. He leaned against the door to watch her remove a volume and read for a bit before putting it back. She took another and he realized he could watch her all night in such mundane activity.
“You have no idea how beautiful you are, do you?”
She jumped at the sound of his voice. “Signore, you startled me!”
He strolled in closing the door behind him. “More books?”
She glanced at the books and then back at him. “Admiring.” She raised an eyebrow and asked, “what are you doing lurking about?”
His arms snaked around her waist pulling her into him. “Admiring.”
“And are the sights pleasant?” Her pliant body leaned on the support of his without quarrel as she continued studying the shelves of books.
“They are bellissima.” His gaze was focused downward on the swelling mounds and the enticing crevice between them. He buried his nose in her perfumed hair.
Her eyes narrowed as she glanced upward. “Are you ogling me, signore?”
“I am. Like every other man here,” he muttered.
“Are you jealous, signore?” She turned in his arms to rest her hands on his chest looking pleased by this.
“I am. As you well know. I am a jealous man – where you are concerned.” His hands roamed along her body molding to her bottom.
“Signore!” She bounced up on her toes in surprise. “No!”
“And why not? They are occupied. I would like to be similarly occupied in something I enjoy.”
Her mouth was open ready with a retort that he silenced for better things. His kiss invaded her mouth and found no resistance. His tongue pulse against hers and his breath caught when hers pushed back with equal desire. He cupped her head and pressed her bottom deeper into him.
The sigh she breathed was followed by her hands gliding into his hair tickling the back of his neck. He lifted her and settled her on his lap in a high backed chair. Heavy, probing kisses mingled between the crackles of the fire. She shivered when his hand slipped beneath her gown, upward along her soft leg until it rested familiarly between her thighs.
“Signore! We cannot.” She whispered into his mouth even as she curved against the slow massage he began.
“We can.” His eyes claimed hers in an unflinching unspoken order to not look away or deny him. Her breath was hot on his skin. With a ragged surrender she opened into the pressure of his hand. He rested his mouth on hers again chasing it like a rabbit through the arch her desires.
“So beautiful.” He reveled in the bliss on her face, writhing under his hand’s seduction. “Beautiful, Maria. Please, I cannot live without you.”
She gasped when his fingers hunted into her warmth leading them to where she would open like a petal for him. He could feel her ache and the confusion that unfamiliar desire was bringing.
“Signore.” Her eyes were wide and incredulous, her words breathless. “Are you trying to seduce me into saying yes?”
“Yes.” He answered in all seriousness. She laughed out and could not stop laughing and soon he was laughing with her.
“You are a rascal.” She admonished him with a kiss pushing his hand away and situating her gown to a more modest level. She nestled herself into the cradle of his arms resting her head against the side of the chair to gaze at him.
Resigned, he mollified himself by letting his hands roam her body learning the plateaus and hills. They settled on the mound of her lush bottom caressing it. His mouth bathed her face, neck, those soft full lips with kiss after kiss after kiss tilting her head to the direction of his whim. So many kissed that he knew if she were standing she would be dizzy and giddy.
“Is my seduction working?”
“It is.” She laughed against his lips. He smiled and moved his hand up her leg. “Oh, no. The music is ending. Curb your enthusiasm.”
He grimaced always a clock ticking biding what little time he had with her. The music was drifting in from the far away room. A moment later applause sounded. With a suddenness, she clutched his face kissing him and wrapping her arms around his neck. She whimpered as his arm’s returned her fierce clasp.
Then he pushed her to her feet and led her by the hand to the shelves. He chose two books, led her back to a sofa and situated her on one end and he on the other. They looked down at the open books on their laps in pretense of reading.
He put his hand out in the middle of them and she entwined her fingers with his. A long kiss to the back of that hand was his last stolen touch before the voices sounded and washed away his moment in front of a fire, in a library, holding Maria.