Cigars

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XXIII
Cigars

Grace woke up to her head rising and falling on Luca’s chest. Her toes were peeking out from under the quilt, but she was otherwise too content with the world to move. Luca’s hot breath was hitting her temple as she slept. She tried to curl up closer to him, enjoying the heat and comfort he was giving off.

The moment Grace lifted her head from his chest to readjust, Luca let out a deep sigh, alerting his wife that he was no longer asleep. He lifted his head off the pillow to look down at the beautiful woman settled on his chest.

“Good morning.” Grace smiled into his bare skin.

“How are you?” she asked.

“Better now that I’m looking at you.” Luca shot her a cheeky grin. Grace rolled her eyes.

“Oh really?”

“Yes, really. How many other men get to wake up to such a gorgeous woman next to them? The answer is none, Grace. None.”

Grace sat up on the bed, making sure to grab the sheets to cover her nakedness as she did.

“You certainly are cheeky this morning,” she said with a raised eyebrow.  Luca sat up next to her, making no move to cover his bare chest, a fact Grace was not going to point out. Instead she decided to openly stare at the beauty of his body.

She took note of all the toned muscles in his torso, arms and back. And his skin. Despite the occasional scar scattered across his tanned skin, she thought he was handsome. Even after everything they had partaken in last night, his body was a marvel to her. Luca was indeed a perfect specimen.

“I do believe you’re staring, love,” Luca’s face quirked into another smile. Grace felt her cheeks heat, but she didn’t turn away.

“I believe you’re correct. Does a wife not get to look at her husband if she wishes?”

“Did you not get your fill again last night, my dear?” He was teasing her now, and just to instigate her further, Luca got out of bed to look out the frosty window. He did not reach for his pants, long forgotten in the corner of the room.

Gathering all of her courage, Grace got out of bed too, forgoing her chemise. She knew she made the right move when Luca turned around and his eyes immediately filled with lust.

“Luca, I do believe you are staring.”

He wrapped his arms around her middle.

“Mrs. Venzetto, you are full of surprises.”  She kissed his shoulder.

“I figured I’ve got a new name, might as well try at least something new.”

“I like this something.”

“I thought you might.” Her cheeks were definitely red now.

Just as Luca leaned in to kiss his bride’s pink lips, there was a knock on the door, and Grace pulled away to find a robe.

Cazzo,” Luca muttered under his breath.

Luca strolled around the room, collecting forgotten articles of clothing as he did. Once he thought himself presentable enough, he went to join Grace in the living room of their cozy apartment.

“Thank you very much. This is very kind of you,” he heard Grace say to whoever was standing on the other side of the threshold.

He watched as she turned and kicked the door closed with her heel since her hands were full with gift-wrapped boxes.

“Who was that?” Luca asked, grabbing an apple out of a bowl on the kitchen counter.

“That,” she started, setting the gifts on the table, “was Mrs. Whitmore. She is a widow that lives across the hall. She sent these gifts over to congratulate us on our wedding.”

“What’d we get?” Grace decided not to mention how rude he sounded as if he were appraising instead of appreciative.

“She brought me a casserole to cook tonight for supper, and a box of Cuban cigars for you. Rather kind, don’t you think?”

Luca kissed Grace’s neck from behind.

“It was.” His thumbs were drawing circles on her hips. “We should go back to the bedroom,” he whispered in her ear.

Grace smirked. Luca was very persuasive when he wanted to be.

“W-we can’t. I promised your mother we’d be over for lunch. Its already almost noon and I’m not yet dressed. We’ll be late if we get sidetracked again.”

“My mother will understand if we miss her luncheon.”

Grace removed Luca’s hands from her body.

“If you believe that, my dear husband, then you do not know your mother very well.”

“Yes, but I do not care about that right now,” he said as he led Grace back to the bedroom.




Forty minutes later, Grace and Luca were pulling up the long drive of the Venzetto house. Gia came out to greet the newlyweds.

“Miei cari, come stai?”  She asked, wiping her hands on her apron.

“Bene, mamma,” Luca responded, enduring his mother’s coddling as she grabbed his cheeks and kissed his face.

“Good. We were beginning to wonder if you were coming. You two are late,” she noted with a raised eyebrow. Grace had a feeling Gia knew why they were late.

Luca placed a gentle hand on the small of her back when they walked into the family room to see everyone sitting around, listening to the radio. Even Valentino was there. Milo was the first to greet them.

“Bella Gracie!” he shouted, running to hug her legs.

Grace dropped to her knees to give her nephew a proper hug.

Luca went to greet his father with a handshake, and turned to face the onslaught that was his brothers.

“There he is!” Vincent bellowed. “We were beginning to think we’d never see you again. You were gone for more than two weeks!”

Russo clapped his brother on the back.

“Vince and I had a bet going for how long it’d take for Grace to grow bored with you. I think our big brother owes me some money,” he said with a chuckle.

Luca shrugged out of Russo’s grasp.

“Will you two shut up? She’s not bored. I promise,” he said with a puff of his chest.

“Maybe that’s why they were so late!”

Russo and Vincent shared a good laugh at their brother’s expense for a while before offering him a drink.

“So how’s married life treating you, Luca?” Vincent asked.

“I could get used to it. I get to wake up next to a gorgeous woman every morning. Not to mention the sex.”

Vincent laughed. “And there’s the real reason our little brother is in such a good mood, Russo.”

“Of course that’s why he’s in a good mood.”

“We should celebrate the fact that Luca’s actually in a good mood. After all, it doesn’t happen very often,” Russo proclaimed.

Luca got off the couch to grab the small, wooden box he and Grace had brought from their apartment with them.

“I’ve got Cubans.” He showed the contents of the box to his brothers and father.

To his right, he saw Nina coming up to him. She placed a kiss on his cheek.

“It’s good to see you, Luca. Don’t mind if I do.” She took one of the cigars out of the box and went to sit on Vincent’s lap.

“My, my, Nina, aren’t we in a good mood?” Russo teased, offering her a light.

“Yes Charles, I am in a good mood.” She dipped her head to light the cigar hanging from between her lips.

Nina took a drag of the cigar as Luca distributed the rest to the men.

Suddenly, Nina began coughing violently.

“Are you alright darling?” Vincent looked concerned. It wasn’t like Nina to be unaccustomed to cigars and the like.

She nodded her head. “Yes, I’m fine.”

Then, her eyes began to water, and she felt as though she could no longer catch her breath. Vincent took the cigar from her lips, placing it on an ashtray, but Nina had yet to improve. If anything, it was getting harder to breathe. She coughed into her hand again. When she pulled it away from her mouth, everyone was shocked to see blood in her hand.

“What’s going on?” Vincent shouted. Upon hearing the commotion, Gia and Grace rushed out of the kitchen.

Nina collapsed to the ground, her face turning a ghostly white. Vincent was quick to grab her, and Russo rushed to stand as well, going to call for a doctor.

“No, there’s no time. We must get her to the hospital.” This time it was Valentino who had spoken. Vincent nodded at his father, gathering his wife in his arms. Luca noticed a growing red stain on her dress just below her abdomen. He watched as the two rushed towards the front door.

“Madre, guardare il mio figlio,” He shouted behind him in flustered Italian.

Luca and Russo trailed quickly behind their older brother.

In between the Milo’s frightened crying and his father’s incessant shouting of orders, Grace heard Luca tell her to stay with his mother.

Afraid to do anything else, she nodded at her husband and held her nephew and mother-in-law in a close embrace wondering what the hell had just happened.


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SW

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