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Manhattan's Song

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Rose was dressed in a grim plain black dress, even her cloche hat was black and veiled. The weather was hot and dry, and made it difficult to breathe. Stefano’s burial was organized a week after his murder, and a large crowd of Italian Cosa Nostra members were standing around the grave site. Rose was avoiding fanning herself, she didn’t want to be rude as she stood next to Stefano’s family, the scene was just strange and grim and she didn’t want to seem out of place.

The heat didn’t seem to affect Luca however, he was unmoving and calm and it frightened Rose. He murdered Stefano and they were watching his body ascend in a casket six feet below them. Luca looked so cool but so dangerous, and it heated Rose up far more than she already was. She’d steal a glance at him when she could and remember why they were there. He didn’t talk to her about the details of the murder, but what she had heard from Catarina during the week was that the murder had been brutal. Stefano had been hit with so many bullets that there was no chance for an open casket at the church. Catarina also told her that Stefano had been killed in bed, next to a girl who was possibly his girlfriend who also died in the shootout. Catarina didn’t let on that she knew it had been Luca, she was a smart woman, but Rose knew it was Luca who killed Stefano.

She had kissed Luca goodbye before he left to commit the murder.

She knew she had to get used to the murders, everyone around her had already killed someone before. Even her brothers in Birmingham had done so, except for Finn. Her Aunt Polly also killed a man with good reason, and she knew if she was going to spend the rest of her life with Luca, she was going to have to defend herself and protect her own. As she thought about the circumstances that would make her pick up a gun, she knew she wouldn’t be able to help the tremble in her hands. She didn’t know if she was ready if matters came to worse, would she be able to kill someone, to defend Luca at least? She thought of it long and hard as the sun beat down on her aggressively. She pictured herself, holding a gun outstretched before her, an unknown assailant in front of her. Her hands would tremble as she would shoot her gun, but Luca stirred her out of her thoughts quickly.

“You alright?” He asked close to her ear as he took her trembling hand that was hooked on to his arm into his own warm hands. Rose hadn’t noticed she had been trembling for real, she cleared her throat carefully looking around them before she answered her husband.

“Yes, I’m fine.” She mustered an appropriate smile for the occasion. Luca nodded at her as he laced his fingers between hers slowly, taking time to feel her warm, smooth skin against his. Rose looked up at him. She squinted as the sun shined into her eyes, he seemed so cool, so collected, and it was no longer the heat that was making Rose melt.

Once Rose and Luca stepped inside their apartment after the funeral, Luca pushed her up against the wall and began to kiss her mouth passionately, before he moved to her jaw and then down her neck leaving wet kisses against her skin. His mind had moved to the same place hers had as they drove home quietly after the funeral that Luca was the cause of. She knew if it were any other situation, if it had been any other man, if she hadn’t known Luca the way she did, she would be afraid of him. Afraid of his strong and handsome gaze, and afraid of his bold and cool presence. She was still slightly afraid, but she was more aroused than anything else. She wanted to feel the guilt, but she couldn’t any more like she once did. Stefano had tried to kill Luca first, and it was fair game in the world they lived in, for Cosa Nostra.

Rose pulled her hat off quickly and untied her hair from the bun she had put it in. Her dark hair fell against her back. Her fingers traced lines against Luca’s neck as she held him close against her neck and she let a soft moan escape her mouth. Luca’s tongue was hot against her skin and the heat of the apartment gave her skin sheen of sweat, as all the windows were closed. Rose pulled Luca up to her lips again kissing him smoothly, as they shared space with their tongues. Luca’s hands ran down her back once before he began to unbutton her black dress. Rose’s cheeks heated red as Luca pulled her dress down for her leaving her in her undergarments, stockings, and heeled shoes. They were still by the front door, not even in the living room yet. Luca kissed the skin between her breasts before Rose pulled his attention to her face.

“Are you going to treat me well, Daddy?” Rose moved away from the wall and began to walk backwards, away from him, taunting him as she slowly slipped out of her heels and then turned her body to walk away completely. She was moving to their bedroom, and she could hear Luca close behind her as he was quickly trying to remove his suit jacket, waistcoat, tie, suspenders, and gun holster along with the two guns he kept with him when he went out. Rose turned to him as she stood in front of the large windows in the bedroom. She turned to help him unbutton his shirt, but before she could pull it off, Luca’s hands were on her breasts, squeezing over the fabric that still covered her there. “Slow down, Daddy.” Luca let out a low growl as his mouth reached her neck again.

“I love hearing you call me that.” Luca sucked at the skin of her collarbone. “Say it again, Rose.” Rose loved saying it anyway, so she happily obeyed.

“Let me help you, Daddy,” a smirk slid on to her features, she felt so powerful when she had Luca thirsty for her. She could see the rise and fall of his chest clearly, he wanted to touch her, she could tell but he was letting her take his clothes off first, pulling off his white dress shirt away from his arms, exposing a few tattoos he shouldn’t have. She then moved dangerously slow to remove his belt, she looked him deep in the eyes as she pulled the belt away quicker then he expected. She could see his erection through his trousers, and she attempted to grip him there through the fabric. She couldn’t do it much justice, so she rubbed his large member with her palm and Luca released a groan as he tried not to touch her.

Rose took a hold of his attention again as she placed her thin and delicate-looking fingers on his jaw firmly. “Are you going to take them off?” He wanted to kiss her, but he obeyed her instead. Luca unbuttoned his trousers and pulled them off roughly before he smashed his lips against hers. Rose stumbled backward trying to hold on to his biceps as he gripped her waist to keep her from falling away from him. Her back crashed against the hot large window. She squirmed for a second against the heat of the window, but she got used to it. Luca’s hands were rubbing at her back and then moved downward. He moved his fingers inside her panties and gripped her ass. Luca pulled them off and Rose unfastened her brassiere, she stood stark naked in front of the large window. If anyone in a building tall enough looked their way they’d see her backside as clear as day.

“You’re so beautiful–Bellissima” The crooked grin on Luca’s face turned her on, even more, she was feeling wet between her legs already. Luca then knelt down in front of her, one of his hands moving up her thighs while the other spread her legs apart.

“You’re so good to me, Daddy,” Rose moaned as she felt his warm breath on her cunt. Luca hummed a reply, as he dug his thumb into her folds first feeling her wetness, he then slid his tongue between her folds, flicking her clit. Rose’s breath hitched as she held on to his styled hair, the pomade in his hair making it difficult to actually hold on to. She was finding it difficult to not crumple to the ground as Luca sped up between her legs. She moaned his name several times, she couldn’t count how many, she was barely in her mind as Luca lapped at her in a way he hadn’t before, fuelled by a lust he’d never shown her, and she loved every minute of it. He was being rougher than usual, the way his fingers dug into her thighs would leave bruises later. And she didn’t care, she loved him, she wanted to be with him, she felt safe with him.

Her legs began to give way, as she reached her climax. Luca helped her stay up straight, but as her body tightened and then released she couldn’t help but almost fall over. Luca grabbed her tightly as he stood up from the ground, and kissed her roughly again. She could taste herself on his tongue, she moaned into his mouth as Luca picked her up and pressed her against him. His erection pressed up against her slit, and she shuddered violently against him. She was overstimulated, but she wanted him anyway. Luca carefully moved her in his arms, he used the window to support Rose. He slid in easily enough thanks to her wetness, but his length always made her uncomfortable at first but once he slid in and out once she was back to wanting more.

“Harder,” she moaned into his ear.

“What?” He said in a curious tone, she knew what he wanted.

“Harder, Daddy,” Luca put her down quickly and he roughly spun her around, Rose was dizzy with the sudden movement. She was staring out the window now, her modesty exposed to anyone who dared look into their large bedroom window. Rose was confused however, she had urged him to keep going, and go harder, but Luca had put her down.

He had more self-control than she knew. His calloused hand was on her shoulder and then on her neck. There was fear there for a second, a hand on her throat, vulnerability, but his voice eased her away from it. “You want Daddy to be rough with you, Rose?” Luca spoke smoothly, his velvet voice made her cream. Her breath hitched before she turned her head to look back at him, Her hair was in the way, but she nodded her head in response, looking meeker than she wanted. Luca noticed the look on her face, he kissed the side of her face sweetly before his cock searched for her opening from behind her. Rose put her sweaty hands on the window but with the first thrust, she moved forward harshly her hands helped her not collide with the window. Luca had one hand on her waist and the other on her shoulders, as he thrust into her harder and faster than before. She was whimpering at the sensation, panting and moaning his name. She could hear him too when he’d moan her name and the groans he failed to keep inside. When they both reached their climax Rose felt like she was in a different world, where time was slower, and the faintest touch was like electricity. Luca picked her up bridal style and tossed her on to their bed. He was hovering above her, and she felt like someone new, she wasn’t the same girl anymore, she was a different woman of a different calibre who had waited so long for someone like him, someone like Luca. She let him ravage her the way he wanted because that’s what she wanted from him, to take her in every way possible, to know her in ways no one else ever would.

She accepted him in every way now, all the baggage that came with a man like him, someone who hid their emotions better than anyone, with an emotional trauma he always kept to himself, for someone as bloodthirsty as he, and who tried to drown everything he hated with the amount of money he had to spoil himself and Rose with. She loved him, she loved him more than anything in the world. The guilt was gone, it was just him and her, together, it was all that mattered to her.

Bianca was knocking at the door to Rose and Luca’s apartment the next day. It had been a week since Rose had caught Bianca leaving the row house she shared with her mother. Rose had urged her to come to the apartment so that they could catch up after all the time they spent apart, it was reaching over a month since Rose had last had a proper conversation with Bianca.

Rose answered the door hastily, a sudden nervousness in her hands. The door swung open, and Bianca greeted her with a pretty smile.

“Hey, Stranger!” Bianca chimed, Rose embraced her and let her in through the threshold.

“I’m so glad you’re here. I actually missed you.” Rose hooked her arm in hers and dragged Bianca into the living room.

“I missed you too. Is Luca here by the way?”

“No, he’s working,” Rose tucked her hair behind her ears as she sat down on the couch. “What do you want to do today?”

“I had something in mind, c’mon were going out!” Bianca stood up abruptly grabbing Rose’s hand as she moved toward the door, her handbag swinging behind her with her quick movement. Rose laughed at Bianca’s sudden antics, as they both rushed through the door, and Rose grabbed her handbag on the stand. They exited through the door, with a slight protest from Rose.

“Wait! Let me lock the door!”

The pair of them left Tessa Tower looking thick as thieves, snickering to each other, as they headed over to Bianca’s favourite Italian restaurant in Tribeca.

They had lunch plates with assorted meats, cheeses and red wine, as they caught up together after being distant for so long.

“So, don’t tell Luca, but I had this boyfriend, right. He was tall, really handsome, he was even Italian but he stopped seeing me about a week ago.” Bianca spoke nonchalantly, as she moved her wine glass around in her hand to express herself.  She wasn’t supposed to be drinking, no one was supposed to be drinking; prohibition made sure of it. But the posh Italian restaurant they were eating at didn’t hesitate to serve Luca’s wife and sister an old bottle of wine in fear that the restaurant would be taken over by Cosa Nostra or burned to the ground.

“Why can’t Luca know?” Rose asked cautiously, as she took a sip of her wine.

“I know Luca wouldn’t approve of anyone I choose–and if he can save me until he can make a profit or some kinda alliance in like, I don’t know, me marrying someone important, I’m sure he’d rather that than some poor Italian fella. And I would hate him forever if he did,” Bianca looked slightly annoyed but she washed down the delicately sliced cheese she placed in her mouth with more wine than necessary.

“I see,” Rose didn’t want to offend Bianca, she seemed stressed anyway or maybe just passive with her situation. But what Bianca had described as her ‘worst situation’ for her life was what essentially had happened to her. Rose felt uncomfortable for a second before she pushed the thought out of her mind and downed the rest of her wine. “Well… How are you dealing with it? Have you been seeing another man?”

“No, I’m bored with male attention, I’ve been doing other things, going to restaurants, going to department stores, buying more things than I need, I’ve been going to the cabaret’s all over Manhattan and this snazzy nightclub in the Lower East Side, they’ve got good giggle water there coming in from London or something. But I’ve been going somewhere else too, having a smoke here and there, but Luca would kill me if he found out so don’t tell him, alright?”

Rose didn’t like that Bianca wanted her to keep things from Luca, but Rose had already kept secrets from him and she still had a secret left that she didn’t want to bother him with; the money Arthur had given her that still lay untouched in her old suitcase. “Alright, I won’t say anything. But are you okay? I’ve been worrying about you.” Rose added, showing concern on her face for Bianca, but Bianca still held the nonchalant look on her face.

“Yeah, I’m fine Rose, stop your worrying.” Bianca gave her a sly smile as she sat at the chair more glamorously than needed. She had her elbow resting atop the frame of the velvet covered chair and her she had one leg laying on top of her knee. Her slim skirt made her look expensive. “I wanna show you this place I’ve been going to. It might not be your style, it ain’t that ritzy to begin with, but at least you’ll know where I’m at most of my time.” Bianca laid out a table napkin with a blue sigil that belonged to the restaurant they were sitting in. She smoothed it out as Rose spoke to her.

“Show me when? Right now?” Rose asked quizzically as she watched Bianca place four cannoli’s carefully on the napkin and then wrap up the edges, securing the cannolis in place. Bianca put them in her handbag as she looked around at her surroundings.

“Are we not paying for those?” a concerned look crossed Rose’s face as she spoke in a hushed voice.

“The thrill is in the taking,” Bianca smirked. Bianca had money, but her fingers itched to steal something. Rose didn’t know this side of Bianca. It was the rebellious side she never showed her older brother, or maybe she was bored of acting like all the other women in her life. Rose quickly left money on the table that would cover their meal, and then followed Bianca out quickly before the servers could even attempt to ask them about the cannolis. Rose didn’t think the servers would say a word, as the restaurant knew who they were, but that didn’t matter. As they walked down the street Bianca hooked her arm into Rose’s. They didn’t take a motor cab, but they walked for several minutes before Bianca stuck her hand out at the road in front of them and a motor car came to a stop in front of them.

Bianca gave the driver directions as they left Soho, to the Lower East Side and soon Rose and Bianca were standing in between two buildings in a sparsely crowded alley. Bianca held onto Rose’s hand tightly, as Rose grabbed her handbag and held it in front of her to avoid pick-pockets. The door they entered was modest, maybe even a little run down to what Rose was now accustomed too. As they both entered a dark corridor, their arms still linked together, a stench in a cloud of smoke vacated Rose’s space. She couldn’t tell what the smell was, but it wasn’t the same as the cigarettes she’d grown up with or the cigars Luca liked. Either way, it was making her feel ill, but Rose continued on with Bianca as she pulled back what seemed to be a large violet drape and they entered a room clouded in thick smoke with lounge chairs and couch scattered around the room.

“It’s a reefer den. A friend showed me, I’ve been coming here for a while now to… de-stress,” Bianca half-smiled hoping Rose wouldn’t judge her. But Rose had a queasy look on her face as if she were holding back vomit. “Are you ok?” Rose put her hand to her mouth, and her other hand on her stomach. Bianca quickly rushed her back outside, but the smoke had been too much. She puked her insides out onto the pavement in the alley. Bianca held her hair back, as stragglers watched them warily. They were dressed liked high-class women, so to anyone trying to get into the reefer den the scene looked odd.

Rose caught her breath as nausea settled in her stomach, but the burn was still in her throat and the foul taste still in her mouth. “I can’t stay Bianca.” Rose started as she picked herself up, straightened her skirt, blouse and hair. “I’m glad you trust me though–I haven’t been dealing well with smoke lately. But, I think I need to rest. I won’t tell Luca, I promise.”

“Alright, if you say so,” Bianca looked at her with concern, but she helped her find a motor cab and sent Rose on her way back home. When Rose finally reached the apartment she sent herself to bed and didn’t wake until Luca came home in the early evening.

Rose kept her promise. Two days had gone since she had seen Bianca and she hadn’t said a word. She told herself it wasn’t her place to say anything, but she at least hoped Bianca was safe in her new endeavours, though she knew that she couldn’t be sure of that.

Rose was putting away the clothes that had come back from the dry cleaners into the walk-in closet. The dry cleaner several streets down had Luca on his payroll. Protection was what Luca had told Rose. There were some people in Manhattan that paid Luca for protection from other smaller gangs. The Jews and the Irish were most prominent but the African-American’s still had their neck of the woods in Harlem. Luca liked to say that Harlem belonged to Spinietta, and would one day belong to him. So, it was clear for Rose to see that they had problems to worry about on their own turf than to worry about the Cubans or gangs in different American states.

Rose hung up a few of her skirts and a few dresses before she moved on to Luca’s tailored suits that went through Hiram and Donnino’s father before they reached their closet. She felt the smooth fabric between her fingers. His suits smelled fresh, they didn’t have Luca’s strong spiced scent on it yet.

Rose paused for a moment, evaluating what she was doing. She couldn’t believe it, tears were coming to her eyes, but she wiped them away quickly. She finished what she was doing and tried to keep composed, she had no idea what had brought on the sudden tears and the intense emotions. She wiped her hands on her pale blue skirt and made her way into the bedroom, but she heard the door open and footsteps in the foyer.

Rose quickened her pace, confused by the sudden visitor.

“You’re home early,” Rose smiled as Luca removed his hat. Luca walked toward her and pressed a chaste kiss to her lips.

“Yeah, Paulie went home early. Catarina’s at the hospital, the baby’s comin’,” Luca walked past her to set his briefcase against the coffee table in the living room. He sat down pulling a small piece of paper out of his pocket, but he shoved it back in quickly. He ran his hands in his hair before he watched Rose walk from the foyer quickly to hop on the couch with him.

“What? Do you mean right now?” Rose’s hands were on Luca’s shoulder in a second. Rose felt the nerves in her stomach, she knew giving birth to a child could go two ways, and though Catarina was still often snippy at her, she realized it was mostly just her personality and that they got along well enough, especially after Bianca had ditched Rose. Catarina had needed help taking care of herself as she grew bigger. Lilliana usually helped her, and Lilliana didn’t like seeing Rose on account of her still having feelings for Luca. But when Lilliana wasn’t around, Rose quickly headed to Catarina’s call, to help her sister-in-law with her enormous belly.

“Yeah, she’s been there for two hours.” Luca snaked his arm around her waist, the expression on his face was pensive, he was thinking of something. Maybe his sister or was he thinking about Rose?

He was thinking about children, and what he wanted for his family. He wanted kids with Rose, a little piece of him and her in a child. But he didn’t know what Rose wanted, he knew that she would be a good mother, she had always been caring and just had the motherly spark he saw in his own mother within her.

They weren’t being careful either. Luca had never bothered to wear a rubber when he was intimate with Rose, and she never cared to ask him to wear one. But an idea plagued his mind often, she was so innocent when she first came to him. Maybe she didn’t know about rubbers? But he didn’t have the heart to embarrass her in that way by telling her, it was far too late anyway.

But he wanted to be a father, but only if she were the mother of their children. He kissed her temple gingerly, he didn't even know if she had spoken while he was trapped in his thoughts.

“Are we not going to see her?” Rose was running the back of her fingers against Luca’s cheek. Luca took her hand and held it in his own, he kissed the back of her hand and nodded.

“C’mon get your shoes on and we’ll go.”

Rose walked with her hand hooked onto the crook of Luca’s elbow as they passed several corridors in the maternity wing of the hospital. They knew they reached the right corridor when they found a group of people congregated outside one of the rooms. Bianca and Audrey were waiting outside with Paulie’s family, his father and mother, Vincenzo and Loretta, and his brother and sister, Michael and Lilliana. Audrey noticed them first and rushed to Luca and Rose’s side to tell them the news.

“It’s a little girl,” she smiled happily as she relayed the news of her first grandchild. She kissed both of Luca’s cheeks and moved on to kiss both of Rose.

“How is she doing? Is Catarina okay?” Rose asked quickly.

“She’s doing really well, she made it look easy. She’s resting now and the baby is fine too.”

“When can we see her?” Luca asked his mother, but he wasn’t looking at her. He was nodding his greetings to Paulie’s family.

“I’m sure the doctors could let you both in now. Paul is with her right now,” Luca took that as his cue to go so he walked into the group and began to pass out the cheek kisses and congratulations to Paulie’s parents, his brother, and then to his sister, who lingered far longer than Rose felt comfortable with. Rose did the same, following the same order Luca did, she felt awkward as she embraced Lilliana, but it happened anyway. But Lilliana only embraced her because she couldn’t disrespect Luca in front of so many people, Lilliana shot Rose a sour look as Luca looked away from them. Luca moved over to kiss the top of Bianca’s head as she was still sitting in the chairs that lined the walls and Rose took Bianca’s hand briefly before she let go to see Catarina and her newborn daughter.

The room was lit with what daylight was left pouring through the window. Paulie was sitting on the cot with his back facing the door, but he got up when he heard them enter the room. Paulie moved toward them, embracing Luca in a hug, with a clap on the back. Paulie kissed Rose’s cheek before he motioned the both of them to get closer to Catarina’s hospital bed, where she was cradling her daughter in her arms.

“Her name is Sophia,” Catarina beamed. She seemed so happy maybe even relieved. Rose moved closer to her first and kissed her cheek and embraced her the best she could without squishing the baby.

“I’m glad you’re doing well,” Rose smiled at her before she began to coo at the baby who was wide awake and looking rather pink. Luca marvelled at the look on Rose’s face as she indulged his niece. Rose offered to take the baby from Catarina so Luca could embrace her properly.

Tiny Sophia made no fuss as Rose cradled her in her arms. Rose took in her delicate features, her tiny hands, her button nose, small pursed lips and wild wide eyes that stared back at Rose, and she still made no fuss as Rose cooed at her.

Luca embraced Catarina as best he could without hurting her. “You did great Cata.”

“I think I did well too,” Catarina started in a matter-of-fact tone.

“I was expectin’ a lot of screamin’, some cryin’ but she did great.” Paulie chuckled as he looked at Catarina with admiration.

“You’re a true goddess, Catarina,” Rose chimed in, and it boosted Catarina’s already strong ego.

“Mama would kill me for saying this, but I try,” Catarina joked. Luca moved toward Rose and kissed the top of her head as he watched her cradle, Sophia. “Since you’re both here, Paulie and I have something to ask you both.” Rose looked away from Sophia to give her full attention to the new parents, Luca did the same.

“Sophia needs a godfather and godmother, would you both be willing to be that for her?” Rose’s heart swelled but she didn’t say a word. She looked at Luca for confirmation, but he was looking down at her.

“Of course we’ll be her godparents,” Rose answered for them. Luca didn’t protest, he gave Rose a soft half-smile and nodded his agreement to no one in particular. All he could do was stare at Rose cradling Sophia and hope he’d see her one day carrying their own child.

The days seemed to move far faster and Rose woke with nausea almost every morning, but it would quickly pass so she didn’t pester anyone with the strange occurrences in her health. She assumed it had something to do with her not eating well or a lack of iron.

Rose woke earlier that morning, she wanted to be ready with breakfast for herself and Luca and looking well-put-together by the time she needed to head to the pier.

She received a letter from her sister only a few days prior, that Ada and Michael would be stopping by in New York for a few days to deal with some business for Shelby Company Ltd. Rose assumed Ada was coming just to see her since she knew Michael was capable of doing the business alone, and Ada was used to doing business in Boston anyway.

Rose picked at her food, her appetite wasn’t back to normal but she was feeling full just seeing Luca finish an entire plate of the food she cooked for him. It filled her heart knowing that Luca liked the way she cooked, she prided herself in her cooking abilities, she was a far better cook amongst her family members.

Rose cleared the table quickly, the excitement of seeing her sister and cousin bubbling in her stomach.

“You seem excited,” Luca questioned, he was sporting her favourite crooked grin.

“I am,” Rose answered. “Mostly because Ada is coming and I’ve missed her company. Michael and I are the same age but he’s harder to talk to, he’s a lot more like Tommy than everyone likes to admit.”

“They should be at the pier soon, do you want to go now?”

“Yes, let’s go!”

Rose had a designer fan in her hand that matched her handbag, the dry heat was getting ridiculous and Rose knew that she needed to find ways to combat the heat. It was nothing like she was used to back in Birmingham. But Luca was dressed in a full tailored grey suit and he hadn’t even broken a sweat yet. Rose hooked her hand on the crook of Luca’s elbow as they stood amongst the crowd watching people pour out of a passenger ship that was just a tad smaller than the Olympic she and Luca had travelled on what seemed like ages ago to her. The passengers moved on to customs and then would appear through blue doors on to American soil.

Rose spotted Michael first. The smile she sported widened as he noticed her too. He walked towards them, looking cool with one hand in his pocket and the other carrying his suitcase. As he reached them he put his briefcase down and Rose embraced Michael tightly.

“It’s good to see you,” Rose spoke.

“It’s good to see you too, Rose,” Michael added. He looked at Luca smartly, somehow Michael seemed to know how to deal with business relationships well. Michael shook Luca’s hand firmly, avoiding the traditional Italian cheek kisses.

“Where’s Ada?” Rose asked.

“I lost her in customs. But I’m sure she’ll be out soon.” Michael answered, and soon enough Ada appeared through the blue doors. Rose couldn’t contain her delight as she saw her sister again. Her hair seemed shorter from the last time she saw her. She was wearing a rich blue short-sleeved blouse, blue was always Ada’s colour.

As Ada approached them, Rose’s demeanour changed.

“I sure am happy to see you, why are you crying Rose?” Her voice had started off light and then she looked concerned. Ada looked directly at Luca then, but as Ada had mentioned that Rose had started crying, Luca took Rose’s elbow and pulled her closer too him.

“What’s wrong?” Luca whispered into her ear. Ada was close to her in seconds as well.

“I’m just so happy to see her,” Rose was mostly speaking to Luca, as Michael stood awkwardly to the side, unsure of how to deal with all the sudden emotion. Ada wiped Rose’s tears away with the back of her fingers.

“Don’t cry about me,” Ada looked at Rose pointedly and motioned for Luca to start walking as Rose’s tears had made them all uncomfortable in such a public setting.

When they reached the motor car Rose was no longer crying. She was sitting in the front seat with Luca, but her body was turned to hold on to Ada’s hands in the backseat.

“How was the trip?” Rose asked both Michael and Ada.

“The food could be better,” Michael raised his chin as he spoke, he’d become a rather posh man since the money started pouring in for him. Nothing was good enough for him, and though Rose couldn’t agree with him all the time, she still admired that he wanted the best for himself.

“Nothing we aren't used too, however,” Ada chimed in. “Finn wanted me to give you these. He’s been practicing.” Ada handed over a notebook with envelopes pressed within the pages. Finn had been practicing his writing. Rose’s smile widened when she opened the notebook and Finn’s messy writing was littered through the pages. Most of the pages had repeated sentences, some of them just doodles, and near the end of the notebook, Finn was writing full structured paragraphs. There was a short laugh in Rose’s delight.

“If I write to him, will he write me back?” Rose asked Ada, but Rose wasn’t looking at her sister anymore. Rose had scooted closer to Luca and rested her head against his arm, as he continued to drive them all to Hotel Astor.

“He was hoping for that. Finn’s been working on the business more, and needs the practice.”

“I’ll write to him as soon as I get home.”

Michael and Ada were dropped off at Hotel Astor to settle down for the rest of the day. Michael would be doing business with Luca and the rest of the Spinietta family, and the alliance between the Spinietta’s and the Galano’s would be brought up. Rose was expecting Luca to be busy this week, with possible late nights.

Ada was going to have a meeting with Boston that night at the hotel on the legal business, and would then be free for an entire week to spend with her younger sister.

Ada had suspicions, Rose was showing symptoms of something Ada had only felt once before.

Ada went to visit Rose at Tessa Tower early in the afternoon. Rose had welcomed Ada in happily and had offered to make her tea from the little amount Rose had left in the apartment. Rose had swiftly converted to coffee.

As they sat together at the small table in the kitchen eating heavily sugared cookies along with the Italian cookies Rose had learned to make with Audrey, Ada asked Rose a question she was most worried about.

“Tommy told me about Luca being in the hospital, he looks fine now, but… are you okay? Something isn’t the same.” Ada took Rose’s hand on the table and the sudden affection was difficult for Rose to handle. Rose touched her own cheeks with the back of her fingers, trying to find the words to answer her. She was fine now, she truly was, but as she thought about what happened to Luca, how she picked him up off the street, the ambulance that took them to the hospital, the tiresome days she spent at the hospital with him, and how they told each other that they loved each other, the emotions welled up inside her too quickly for her to handle rationally. Rose cried for the billionth time, she knew she was being foolish but the tears came anyway. Rose began to wipe at her tears furiously, a deep frown etched into her pretty face.

Ada looked at Rose with alarm and forcefully grabbed Rose’s hands so that she could avoid hurting herself. Ada got up from her seat and moved closer to her sister. Rose wrapped her arms around her sister's waist as Ada smoothed Rose’s hair down and Rose embraced her, the tears not wanting to stop at all.

Once Rose was all tired out and stopped crying, the pair of them moved into the living room to sit down together.

Ada chimed in first, she knew Rose didn’t know what to say anyway. “Have you bled this month?”

Rose looked taken aback, she wasn’t expecting this sort of question. She stared at her sister with wide eyes before she answered carefully. “Yes, I did.”

“Was it regular?” Ada seemed to be inspecting Rose’s face and then her body looking for some sort of sign to explain Rose’s moods. Ada still didn’t know of the slight morning sickness, her new disgust with cigarette, cigar and even reefer smoke, Rose was even picky with her food too and Rose had always respected and loved trying new kinds of dishes. But Ada didn’t know that.

“Well, it didn’t last as long as usual, but it still came. It’s not a problem I don’t think. It’s been doing that for a while. It’s probably because I’m not eating well.”

“You’re not eating well either?” Ada raised her voice slightly, she was looking at Rose pointedly as if Rose wasn’t telling her sister the entire truth.

“I’m fine Ada, I am,” Rose squeezed Ada’s arm tightly before letting go and looking out the large windows in the living room.

Ada got off the couch and moved to the foyer. She picked up her purse from the stand and slid her heeled shoes on. “C’mon then!” Ada almost shouted from the door.

“Where are we going?” Rose quickly grabbed her handbag and shoes as well, and also picked up her keys to the apartment.

“C’mon, we're going to the hospital, or is it just called a ‘clinic’ here in America?” Ada sounded nonchalant as she pulled the front door open.

The pair of them walked outside for a few minutes before a motor cab picked them up and took them straight to the hospital. As they reached closer to their destination the nerves began to pick up in Rose’s stomach. She was gripping Ada’s hand harshly, and her other was placed at her stomach.

“I’m nervous,” Rose spoke.

“I’ll be with you the entire time,” Ada answered her and began to rub her back with her free hand. “Don’t worry, with whatever happens everything will be okay.” Rose nodded at her sister, and the pair of them got out of the motor cab as it stopped in front of the hospital.

Rose hooked her arm into Ada and they both walked in the double doors with their chin’s held high. When they got to the front desk the receptionist dressed in white addressed them calmly.

“How can I help you?”

“My sister, she needs a doctor to run tests on her, I think she may be pregnant,” Ada’s strong Brummie accent caught the receptionist off guard for a second, before she began to pull up some papers.

“Alright, can I have your name, Miss?”

“Rose Changretta,” She felt awkward not saying ‘Shelby’ in front of her sister, but she knew that no one knew her as ‘Rose Shelby’ here. She enjoyed saying ‘Rose Changretta’ now, there was a sort of power that she had never felt or would have felt before if it weren’t for Luca. People looked at her differently once they knew her name, not all the time but most of it. The receptionist looked at Rose carefully before scrawling her name down and taking more information from Rose.

Rose and Ada sat in the waiting room for a few minutes before a nurse escorted them deep into the hospital and into a small room. Rose took the Rabbit test and even had Chadwick’s sign looked over. It was extremely uncomfortable for her as the only other man to touch her was Luca, but Ada was next to her holding her hand. Rose was frowning the entire time, but once the doctor came in with the answer the nerves peaked at another level. Ada was standing with her as the doctor looked over a sheet of paper in front of him. He motioned for both of them to sit down as he leaned against the examination table.

“So, Mrs. Changretta, the tests came back positive.” He looked Rose directly in the eyes now. “Congratulations, you’re expecting a baby.”

“A baby,” Rose almost whispered, the worry was written all over her face, but Ada was smiling brightly at her. “Wait, are you sure I am? I’ve bled this month and the last few months as well. It can’t be possible can it?” The doctor noticed her worry and changed his tone to soothe Rose’s anxiety.

“Pregnancies vary for different women. I wouldn’t worry about the bleeding, some women still bleed in the early stages of their pregnancies.” Rose nodded carefully, trying to take in that there was a child growing inside her. Her hands moved to her abdomen slowly. What would Luca say about this? It was the first thing that crossed her mind. “What kind of symptoms have you been feeling?” Rose rubbed her stomach absentmindedly as she thought about it.

“Well, I haven’t been eating very well, and that’s out of the ordinary. I haven’t been dealing with smoke very well, standing too long in smoke has made me sick. I’ve been dealing with a bit of morning sickness as well, but it's manageable.” The doctor was scrawling notes down. “I’ve been rather emotional as well.” Rose looked at Ada for comfort.

“When did you start feeling any of these symptoms?” the doctor asked, Rose, raked her mind for the answer. Now that she was uncomfortable and knew so much more information than she wanted to it was hard to hear herself think properly.

“I, uh–I think it’s been since our trip to Miami.” The expression on Rose’s face prompted Ada to take her hand.

“Rose, it’s alright, don’t worry. I’m here for you.” Ada comforted her, Rose replied with a nod of her head.

“It’s been about three months, maybe four since then. I’m not sure.” Rose concluded.

“Thank you,” the doctor added before he scribbled more notes onto his paper. “It is important Mrs. Changretta that you watch what you eat and drink from now on, the baby can’t tolerate many things, which is probably why you can’t handle smoke as well as you use to. You’ll have check-ups to come to see the baby’s progress and to check on your health.” Rose nodded at the doctor. “So, I’ll leave you now. Have a good day to the both of you and congratulations again.” The doctor left the room swiftly and as the door clicked closed Ada hugged Rose tightly. They didn’t exchange words, and even though Rose thought that she would cry because of all the emotions surging through her, she didn’t. She just hugged Ada back tightly.

Rose was expecting a child, and though she wasn’t even showing yet she had a strong feeling she could possibly be finishing her first trimester of the pregnancy.

“Everything is going to be okay. Luca is going to be so happy, I promise.” Ada spoke into her ear. Rose moved away from her, to look her sister in the face.

“I’m scared, Ada,” Rose’s jaw was clenched tightly as she looked at her sister with a worried expression. Ada had given birth before and she needed her big sisters help.

“I know, I know,” Ada smoothed Rose’s hair down and then motioned for the pair of them to walk out of the tiny examination room and into the winding corridors. “It can be scary, but you have to be brave, for that little baby you have in there. It’s worth it, and I know you’ll be a great mum.” They exited the hospital, but didn’t bother to pick up a motor cab, they scorched themselves in the heat so they could just bond for once.

“Do you really think I’ll be a good mum? I don’t know if I’m ready to have my own, and it’s really dangerous out here. What if someone tries to use my child against me and Luca.”

“You shouldn’t worry about situations that have never happened to you, Rose, it’ll give you stress and babies don’t handle stress well. You’ll be great, I know it. You were amazing with Karl and Billy, and they weren’t even yours. It’ll make more sense once you start showing.”

“I’ll have to get new clothes then. Well–when I start showing. What if Luca doesn’t like the way I look then?”

“Of course he’ll like the way you look!” Ada almost shouted. “Rose,” Ada took her shoulders in her hands and shook her slightly. They stopped walking and they stared at each other on the sidewalk as pedestrians dodged them. “Stop being so hard on yourself. I know our good-for-nothing father put that idea in your head, but you’re enough, you’re more than enough, alright? He doesn’t matter, he’s dead and he never got to see you grow up anyway. If anything you should know yourself better now and that you’re a good person, even if bad things have happened to you, you’re still good, okay?” Rose’s eyes were wide as she took in everything Ada had said to her. Rose didn’t know how to respond, all she could do was nod her head, as she reached forward to hug her sister again.

“C’mon then, we should get you home.” Ada sounded and they both walked without a word toward Tessa Tower, enjoying each other’s presence.

Rose wasn’t expecting Luca until late in the evening and though her nerves had eased and she had grown used to the idea of carrying Luca’s child inside her, she still felt as if she needed help. When Rose got home after the trip to the hospital, Rose quickly sent Ada back to Hotel Astor so that Ada could check herself out of her suite and come stay at Tessa Tower in one of the many spare bedrooms they had in their apartment. Rose was fixing the sheets in the farthest room from her own. She knew Luca would be more comfortable if Ada took the farthest room. Rose was dusting the countertops and adding more pillows to the bed, there wasn’t a sound in the house not even the chime of soft jazz music from the gramophone.

Her thoughts roamed as she moved in and out of the room. Her baby would need a room of their own eventually. Rose hadn’t noticed that she had smiled at the thought of a small child running around the apartment. Would she have a girl or a boy? Rose bit her bottom lip, hiding the growing smile that she now sported.

She would have a little piece of her and Luca, and though she didn’t know if she was ready to have a child of her own she now accepted the fact that this baby was coming. They weren’t careful after all, and maybe Luca wanted a child. She hoped he did. That was what she was thinking of now. She was thinking of how she was going to tell Luca that he was going to be a father.

Ada arrived almost two and a half hours later with her suitcases in hand and Rose helped her settle into the spare room.

“I saw Michael at the hotel, he was about to go meet Luca when I saw him.” Ada was unpacking the clothes she brought, she even took out the framed picture of Karl and set it on the nightstand.

“Did you tell him you were going to stay here?”

“I did, he was confused, but he didn’t question it. The business might be the only thing that’s ever on his mind.” Ada raised an eyebrow as a silly smile graced her features.

They spent the rest of the evening together until Luca came home and Ada excused herself before they could tell Luca that Ada would be staying with them for the next week. Rose felt the nerves in her stomach again as she looked at Luca. He looked tired, but cool all the same.

“How was your day?” Rose asked him as she helped him get out of his suit.

“Had a few meetings here and there, and got into some trouble too,” A smirk slid onto Luca’s face as he took her elbow and pulled her closer to him. He leaned down towards her and kissed Rose softly, he was so smooth. When he moved away to look at her, Rose took her chance. She smoothed his white dress shirt with her hands and stared directly at his chest finding it difficult to look him in the eyes. She gripped his strong arms tightly, bringing up the courage to say what she needed.

“I have something to tell you, I hope that you’ll take it well,” her voice came out meeker than she hoped for, but at least it was out there already. Luca’s hand caressed her cheek slowly, and the back of his fingers brushed upward against her face. Rose leaned into his touch.

“I–” Rose started but she felt the shakiness return as the time came to tell Luca.

“What has you so nervous?” He smiled at her caringly as a soft chuckle left his lips. He pulled her towards their bed and they sat down on the edge of it.

“It’s–I–” Rose cleared her throat and her hands landed against her stomach. “I’m with child, you’re going to be a father,” Rose took a huge gulp of air as she looked for a reaction from Luca. He stared at her for a few seconds, before he spoke.

“Really? You’re pregnant?” He seemed surprised, but she didn’t understand why. Maybe he was in shock.

“I am, maybe several months along too. I went to see a doctor today with Ada. You’re going to be a dad Luca.” Luca’s face lit up as if he’d just seen the sun after a long winter. His hands were all over her, first her cheeks and then her shoulders, rubbing up and down her arms and then above her own hands on her stomach. “You’re happy then?”

“Of course I am. I’m more than happy Rose.” He kissed her gently, one of his hands still at her stomach. “I love you.”

“I love you more.”