Online Only. Contains bad words and sex-y scenarios. Mature (18+) audiences.
Read Episode 12 here.
Giorgio cocked his head to the side, studying the woman in front of him. He looked too much like Vater for him to see any similarities between his and this woman’s face. He wondered how much she looked like his mother, or if she was lying. People were more often liars than they were honest. He couldn’t imagine what these people, in their small farming town, would have to lie about, but the only reason he was here was because of a story Helmine had told him. The entire thing could have been subterfuge; a last-ditch effort by the witch to try to take what was most precious to him because he’d bled her dry of every penny and asset she was worth.
He blinked. Stefania was no longer looking at him but at the blade he didn’t remember reaching for never mind pulling out. She didn’t look afraid even though he could tell she knew exactly why he’d brandished it. For the sake of the rest of the people in the osteria, which he had already figured out was her restaurant, she was trying to keep everything calm and cool. It made him wonder if his mother had had a similar temperament.
“Da.” He sheathed the knife. “Yes. Sometimes.”
She gestured behind him. “What are your friends’ names?”
She switched to heavily-accented English. “Come, okay. Dez. Gage. Eat.”
“We will have to come back later,” Giorgio cut in.
“The food is good,” she protested, back to Italian. “I make it myself. You can eat authentic Italian cuisine while I tell you about your mother.”
“I have a wife and son. I want to bring them to meet you.”
Stefania’s hand flew to her mouth. Happy tears built in her eyes. He knew they were happy tears because his Bez had them all the time, especially when it came to something Aleksi did. Right after he was born, they would come at least three times a day.
Stefania reached into her pocket, pulled out a small spiral notebook, and spun around, fingers wiggling. One of the restaurant patrons handed her a pencil. She scribbled something on the pad, returned the pencil, tore the sheet from the metal loops and then handed it to him.
“My house,” she said. “It is very easy to find. Please, bring your friends and your wife and your son for supper. How old is your son? Does he like pizza?”
Just thinking about Aleksi brought a surge of pride to Giorgio’s chest. Now that he had his own son, it made Vater’s depravity that much more salient. He couldn’t imagine harming a hair on his Little Fish’s head when Vater had done so much worse to his own seed.
“Aleksi is a baby,” he told her. “He drinks only milk.”
“A baby?” She turned and rattled something off so fast to her patrons, he couldn’t follow a single word. Whatever it was, it made everyone happy and start to clap while chanting a song. In the song, he made out the word famiglia.
When the ruckus faded, she faced him again. “Please, bring them tonight. Everyone. How many?”
He did a quick count in his head. “Thirteen. Five are children.”
The happy tears returned, this time spilling down onto her ruddy cheeks. Before he could stop her, she drew him down for a hug. She was a short, buxom woman, her height probably just gracing five feet. Yet, she’d gotten him to bend against his will as she wrapped him in a tight embrace. She smelled like oregano and flowery perfume, and the gesture felt authentic.
He didn’t return the hug, primarily because he’d been caught off-guard and random bouts of affection from anyone other than his Bez made him uneasy. She didn’t seem to care as she gave him one last tight squeeze before she released him.
He started to turn, prepared to leave, but he had one last question.
“Do I look like Giulia?”
Stefania studied his face, more intently taking in his features. “Not very much,” she revealed. “You must look like your father.”
Which he already knew. It was what he’d heard his entire life, what he’d seen. He wasn’t sure if her seeing his mother in him would have changed anything or helped to lessen the blow of what he’d been through.
“Okay. We will come back.”
Stefania nodded. “Good. Thank you . . . ” Her brow wrinkled when she realized he hadn’t given his name. “What did she name you?”
“She didn’t name me,” he said. “I am Giorgio.”
She smiled. “Beautiful. See you later, Giorgio. My nephew.”
* * * * *
Mo bent her body in half in a downward dog position. Aleksi was fed and fast asleep and the view from the balcony outside her and Giorgio’s room was the perfect backdrop for a quick yoga session. She’d stopped doing them after their son was born, never really taking much time for herself. Everything was a moment she’d wanted to capture—on her phone, a professional camera, in a professional studio. She hadn’t been able to convince Giorgio to take photos in a studio but the ones she had on camera were just as beautiful. She didn’t even have to wait long to get the iconic snap of Aleksi, at four weeks old, on Giorgio’s chest while they both slept. It happened the day after a particularly long, colicky night.
Now, she would make sure she carved out as much time as possible for herself. She’d scoffed at the parenting books she’d read while still pregnant that warned taking care of a newborn could make her inadvertently push her own needs to the backburner. She’d sworn it wouldn’t happen to her when she saw Tayler, Larke, and Ari fall victim to the same thing. Then, she’d gone and done just that. Maybe she could warn Xara while there was still time.
She transitioned into a high plank, facing the mountain range in the distance. When she pushed back into another downward dog, she felt hands on her hips.
“Hey, baby.” She looked down through her legs at Giorgio’s behind her. He’d been home long enough to change into sweats. “How’d it go?”
“My mother, her name was Giulia,” he said, positioning his pelvis against the curve of her behind. “I meet her sister, Stefania.”
Mo lowered down to her mat, faced him, and sat cross-legged. He’d paired the gray pants with one of his MMA T-shirts he usually wore at the boxing gym back home. She’d brought entire workout outfits, most with the tags still attached. Today, she was wearing a rose-patterned white crop-top with its matching leggings.
“I know that look,” she said.
The right side of his mouth pulled back.
“Join me.” She patted the mat. “It’ll help us both unwind.”
He started forward. “You want me to stretch you.”
“Wait.” She held up a hand. “I want you to stretch with me. I have a second mat, and I really need this dick-free time, babe. Tell me about your visit while we’re going through a quick session. That is, unless you don’t think you’d be able to do it.”
A brow lifted. “Why do you need, as you say, ‘dick-free time,’ Bez?”
“What I meant was—”
“You are not happy.” He looked down at his crotch and then back up at her. Murderous intent darkened his already pearl-black irises. “You have another.”
“No.” She pulled in a deep breath, chest rising with the movement. “Jesus, no. You’re being ridiculous, Gio. I don’t want anybody else but you. I simply just need a moment to relax that doesn’t require your penis. I love it. It’s beautiful. But mama misses her yoga.”
He studied her for an hour-long second and then disappeared through the slatted balcony doors, returning with her second mat. She smiled at the contrast of the mat’s deep purple-pink against his clothing. She’d recently gotten him to step out of his comfort zone of gray, white, and black with a forest-green T-shirt that, stretched across the expanse of his wide chest, had looked as good as a tailored suit. At least, to her. Ari said she was obsessed but it wasn’t unusual to be obsessed with your husband . . . was it?
He lay the mat across from hers, and she unfolded her legs to restart the sequence.
“Okay, first, we’re going to start with some easy poses. We’ll start with downward dog.”
She transitioned into a series of warm-ups that Giorgio easily replicated. He even had the nerve to look bored.
She upped the ante, slightly, to an Eagle Pose. “So, how’d you find your mother’s name?” she asked.
He answered, not yet out of breath. “There is osteria inside town.”
“That’s like a small restaurant, right.”
They moved into Triangle Pose. When he spoke again, she heard the first indication that his body was being challenged.
“Woman who own osteria is Giulia’s sister.”
“So that would make her your . . . what?”
He looked her way. She hid her grin.
The flowed through a few more positions, maneuvering between challenging and easy so she could lull him into a sense of comfort. He was able to fully execute a handstand, which didn’t surprise her because he did them often during his own workouts. Some of his stretches were very yoga-esque, but when she tried to bring it up, he would wave it off.
“Okay, now, this is Crow Pose.” She lowered her palms to the mat and then used her core muscles to pull up her lower half. “Was Stefania able to tell you anything about your mother?”
There was no response.
“Gio?” She looked up.
He was in the position, but his face was red and covered by a sheen of sweat. His shoulders rose and fell in quick breaths.
“Deep, slow breaths,” she coached, her voice unshaken. “Now, about Stefania.”
He groaned. “She invite . . . everybody . . . for supper.”
Another groan. “Da.”
She extended a leg out behind her and tilted it up toward the sky, still balancing on her palms. “That sounds lovely. When you say everybody, you mean even the rest of the group?”
She heard what sounded like a struggle between him trying to pace his breathing and hold onto the pose.
She switched legs and decided to lead with an open-ended question. “What is Stefania like?”
He muttered a curse.
“What was that? I didn’t hear you.”
“You doing okay?”
She decided to go easy on him with a few easy poses again and then jumped right back into Shoulder Pressing Pose. She amazed even herself that she still had the core strength to hold each position. It felt wonderful in her stomach, back, and shoulders which made her wonder why she hadn’t jumped back into it sooner after pushing out a kid.
“Did she recommend that we bring anything to dinner?” she prodded.
“Gio?” She looked up. “Gio?”
He was sitting cross-legged on the mat, face flushed, damp hair stuck to his forehead, and brows knitted as he watched her. Realizing she’d won their impromptu competition, she finished her series with a couple more relaxing poses before mirroring Giorgio on her own mat.
She grabbed her water bottle sitting nearby, took a couple long drags, and then squeezed some of the cool liquid onto her chest.
“No,” he said, expression changing. “She said only to come to eat. She will love Aleksi.”
She squeezed more water from the bottle, letting the streams hit where the water would spill over her nipples, perking them up.
His gaze lowered, and he started to push off his mat.
She did the same. “What are you doing?”
“You are teasing me,” he accused.
She gasped. “I’m not. I’m just hot.”
This time, she squirted the water directly onto her breasts.
“I cannot obey your wish, Bez.” He pulled the edge of his bottom lip into his mouth. “How many ‘pose’ you can do on my dick, you think?”
She hopped up and ran toward the patio doors. He caught her in a couple of steps, hooked her around the waist, lifted her off the floor and walked them to the bathroom. She didn’t have a name for this pose, but she did enjoy being stripped, propped up against the shower wall, and fucked with her legs wrapped around his middle.
She enjoyed it very much.
* * * * *
Stefania’s home was quaint with a very traditional, rustic style. Inside was mostly stone, and a brick archway welcomed everyone into the living room from the entryway. The floors were cool tile. The smell of spices and seasonings perfumed the house. She greeted everyone with a hug and kisses on the cheeks as if they’d known each other for decades.
Mo watched Giorgio as Stefania embraced him. He wasn’t the most comfortable with touch, but he did an excellent job masking it, in her opinion.
Stefania nearly crushed her in an eager hug and would have probably done so if Aleksi wasn’t strapped to her chest in a baby carrier.
“So many little ones,” Stefania said, looking around. “I have missed these days. So much.”
Giorgio and Julien took turns translating. When Stefania first heard Julien speak her native tongue back to her, she’d all but swooned.
After introductions, they followed her to a wide-open terrace where a large table had been set up with enough chairs for everyone, and then some. A tablecloth with a handstitched floral pattern covered it from end to end. Sprigs of herbs were strategically placed, as decoration. Mo smelled sage and mint.
“Do you have any children, Miss Stefania?” Ari asked, helping her and Julien’s oldest child, their daughter Thandie, into her seat.
“I never married,” Stefania answered, gesturing for them to sit. “I did not want a husband to hold me back from my dreams. Plus, there are only so many men in my town. I think, if the men in my town had looked like you all, I would have married too much.”
While they sat and mingled, Stefania disappeared to the kitchen. She refused any help, telling them all to sit tight. With each trip, she brought out dish after dish—lasagne, ribollita, osso buco, bruschetta, and pizza topped with cheese, fresh greens, and a scattering of olives and tomatoes. Mo’s mouth watered at the sight of the crust alone. The best pizza she’d ever had was when she’d visited New York for the first time, but something told her this experience was about to move into that number one slot.
She returned with two bottles of wine which Giorgio offered to open. While he did so, she studied is frame and profile.
“When my sister ran away, I knew she was pregnant,” she said. “Not a day went by where I didn’t think about her and her baby.”
“She did not run away,” Giorgio said.
Stefania tilted her head to the side. “What do you mean?”
Mo tapped him on the leg beneath the table. It wasn’t time yet for that discussion. The woman had a nephew walk into her life she barely knew existed. Vater’s torture and deception wasn’t exactly dinner conversation.
“Non importa.” He shook his head. “Later.”
They all turned toward the sound of wood scraping tile. Behind them, walking in from the house’s exterior, was a group of people. Three men in the front carried wooden high chairs. A fourth carried a modified chair with an insert she knew was meant for Aleksi. There were at least twenty, with more pouring in by the handful.
She glanced at Giorgio’s hand.
It twitched, and then stopped moving.
#14 – ONLY A COUPLE LEFT!
Vote HERE For Who Should Be Next.
Mo and Giorgio are from the book, “Angels and Assassins: The Dark Knight.”