Mrs P’s Lullaby
A Christmas Tale
Songs I Like Series
Text copyright © 2017 Mia Soto
All Rights Reserved
Chapter 8: 8 Maids a Milking
The carriage rolled to a stop in front of the tailor’s shop. It was a dreary day and there was a warm light glowing from the large windows that framed either side of the door. The tailor’s shop nestled in the heart of the bustling town square had the sort of allure he had come to love.
Paolo helped Natalie down noting her smile. “Does our town please you?”
“It pleases me it has not changed much in two hundred years.”
Rafa bounced down behind her and said, “perhaps we should not be as forthright with that tidbit. One never knows when prying ears are standing near.”
Natalie responded but Paolo was caught by the image in the window seated at her usual place behind the desk. He felt Natalie and Rafa surround him. Before he could say the word, Natalie spoke for him.
“Maria.” It was a statement not question.
“Yes.” He agreed and opened the door to invite her inside.
As if sensing him, Maria looked up and smiled the slowest most remarkable smile he had seen yet. In a flurry of confident strides, he cradled her face in hands and kissed her with a deep passion. Their kisses spread over each other like flutters of snowflakes.
“Why did you leave?” He said between his lips trailing her skin.
“I was confused, scared” Maria breathed. “I, I…”
“I know,” he said. A snap sounded behind them and he remembered there were others in the room.
“That hurt. Why would you do such a thing?” Rafa complained.
“Give them some privacy,” Natalie scolded.
He and Marie laughed in each other’s arms and turned toward the others. Rafa was scowling at Natalie who did not seem concerned with his ire. Paolo pulled Maria close not wanting her even a hair’s breadth away from him
“I have much to tell you. So much has happened. Meet me at the river half past the hour of one?”
Maria nodded and he kissed her again until a door flung open and a screech sounded. Then it was a flurry of confusion. Two sisters engaged in a swirl of claws and slaps and pulled hair. Paolo felt Marie clasp his head once with a vicious pull and reassessed whether she might be strong enough to best her sister in a fight.
Rafa howled in pain and doubled over when they quite by accident but with perfect accuracy kicked him in a very sensitive place. Even Natalie entered the fray unafraid to try break up the chaos. Soon Rafa had Eloisa in his arms thrashing like a wild cat. Maria heaved angry breaths as Paolo held her against him.
“Calm down. You little hell cat.” Rafa growled when Eloisa bumped him with her head.
“Take your hands off me,” Eloisa cried.
Rafa shook her a little. “I said calm down.”
“You little harlot.” Eloisa hissed at Maria, her face flush with an evil kind of anger. She looked unhinged and dangerous.
Rafa laughed at that. “You are one to speak Eloisa.”
“Eloisa, whatever there was between us has been long over.” Paolo said shifting Maria to shelter in his arms. Eloisa glared at them with shiny eyes. “Now you know why, and I could not be happier. No more lies.”
Signore Rossi called from behind the curtain. “Is that you Eloisa? Come quick. I need your help.”
She thrashed again and Rafa refused to release her. “Let me go,” she said in a malevolent quiet and Rafa relented with a hesitation. But Eloisa was calm, too calm. “Maria, I will never let you have him.” She raised a hand to cut off Paolo’s reply saying again, “never.”
The group was hushed after that exit. Rafa broke the silence. “Don’t be concerned over her. She is bravado and little more.”
Paolo was not as certain. He knew Eloisa to be shrewd and manipulative and very sure of her superiority to Maria. This would not settle well with her. He turned Maria to him, kissed her again and said. “To the river. At half past one.”
“Go.” Rafa commanded Natalie and Paolo. He flipped his head to the back where Eloisa had gone. “I will remain here to watch her.”
The house was warm after the frigid winter air. Natalie hurried to Paolo’s mother’s room to check the jewelry box. Please let there be a sign. She rushed up the stairs and flung open the door stunned to see the box half open stuffed with numerous papers. Serge!
Where are you? What kind of game is this?
I put the note in the mailbox where I found your ring and your note. It disappeared, immediately. What is going on? Answer me.
Please answer me. I was so scared last night when you disappeared. I thought ‘this is it. She’s left’. I was angry. I was hurt. What more could I do? Why can’t you be happy? I don’t understand what’s happening right now.
She huffed to herself. She felt rankled, annoyed he would think she might be so impetuous and childish that she would abandon her family, at Christmastime no less. The notes were a small window into their inability to communicate on any level anymore. What happened to the couple that would sit on the hood of his Camaro in the middle of a country night looking at the stars and talking about anything and everything? She was pretty sure those two dreamers had been systematically killed by the serial killer called time and marriage.
I don’t care. Be miserable. Be happy Be whatever but come back so we can speak face to face.
She pressed her lips into a tight line. He always found a way to make her the instigator of all their troubles. As if he had floated along on rainbows and sunshine. She went to the desk and took the quill again. The greatest strike of them all against nineteenth century living – trying to write like this!
Serge – I haven’t left. I don’t know what is happening and I’m confused and scared. I would appreciate not being blamed for all of our problems. Feel free to take at least one of our failings on your shoulders. I don’t have time for this. I’ll write when I know more.
As she put the note in the box, the door flung open and in strode a short, fat man. She eyed him with calm quite certain this was Paolo’s father. His eyes glittered and he was swaying. She could smell the stench of drunkenness from across the room.
“You are not my wife,” he slurred. He walked toward her with a measured gait trying to look composed while staying upright all at the same time. “And I thought my misery of a wife had returned early.”
His hand fell like a heavy paw on her neck even as she strained away from his stench. He really stunk. He leered into her face, spitting. “What a wonderful gift instead!”
A fat hand dove into her dress knocking the handkerchief away as he fumbled in his excitement over her cleavage. She struggled against him and for all of his drunkenness he was very agile with those fingers. In less time than she could fathom he had half unlaced her, exposing her chest and drooling down the front of her gown.
“So beautiful. My eyes have never seen anything so beautiful!”
Something snapped, maybe her frustration with Serge, maybe the absurdity of this bizarre reality she was in, maybe just everything. In a smooth, fluid motion her right hand came up clanging his teeth together so hard his eyes rolled in his head. In another moment, she took his pinky and flipped it so far back that he howled in pain.
Paolo and Rafa flung open the door in haste and stormed into the room just as she swung his father’s arm back crumbling him into a kneeling prayer on the ground. It was at this moment that Paolo’s father learnt the hard lesson that ten years of social ostracism had materialized a Tae Kwon Do fourth degree black belt and years of Krav Maga training while she searched for things to fill her days when her willing hands were snubbed as not good enough for the charitable works of the local Junior League.
With a resounding thump, he fell onto his back. Dazed and bleary eyes stared up astonished as she dropped from her height with a knee bent. It slammed into his chest knocking what was left of his wind out of him. He groaned in pain unable to lift one finger to stop her.
“Don’t touch me.” Her voice had an ominous calm. “Or any other woman like that again.” She leaned over him so that he could stare into her blue eyes. “Because if you do I’ll turn you from a man to a woman with one swift kick. Do you understand?”
The sounds of his labored breath filled the space between the silence in the room. Allesandro gave a weak nod. She looked up to see Paolo’s and Rafa’s slack jawed. Their fearful eyes floated back and forth from his father writhing on the ground to her.
“If I take you to my room, will you do that to me? Only naked?” Rafa broke the ice. Paolo backhanded him in the chest and Rafa threw up his hands. “What?”
“Hehehe, hahaha.” The laughter filled the room from the doorway. Natalie, Paolo, and Rafa turned to watch nonno crying in laughter as he hobbled over to peer down at the stunned face of his son. “Oh ho, figlio, I might consider who I attack from now on.” The old man gave Natalie’s chin a playful pinch. “Your match was met in this angel.”
“Nonno,” Paolo tried to explain.
The old man waved him away. “I am having a most entertaining Advent. Most entertaining.” He smiled at Natalie offering his arm. “Come with me beautiful angel. Entertain me some more.”
Rafa called after the pair. “You know nonno? I saw her first.”
“Bambino, you must know,” The old man asked. “Beauty before youth.” Then he cackled again.