She woke the next morning to an empty bed and the scent of coffee. She struggled into her kimono robe, finally managing to tie the sash with one hand, and walked barefoot from the bedroom to the kitchen. There was Paolo, in boxer briefs and nothing else, manning her espresso machine.
“Why, hello,” he smiled broadly. “I was going to bring you breakfast in bed.”
“You are not,” she said. “Really? What are you going to make for breakfast?”
“You’ll just have to be surprised,” he answered. Francesca’s mind raced to remember what else Federica had left for her in the refrigerator. She knew all of Francesca’s favorite foods. “Go back to bed,” Paolo insisted, pushing her playfully back towards the bedroom.
She sat obediently in bed, propped up against the headboard, flipping casually through a magazine she’d left on the side table. When Paolo returned, carrying a tray piled with food, she moved over to make room for him.
He brought her steaming hot cappuccino, toast, prosciutto, soft ricotta, some fruit. The perfect breakfast.
“Look at all this,” she said, picking up an orange segment with her fingers.
“At least we know one of us can cook,” he teased.
“I think it’s more preparing than actual cooking,” she countered.
“It’s more actual cooking than you’ve ever done.”
“Fair enough,” she said, feeding him a strip of prosciutto. He nibbled at her fingers.
“What are you doing for the rest of the day?” he asked.
“Hm, I have to take it easy with this broken arm, the doctor told me.” She climbed onto his lap, nestling herself into his crossed legs. “I’m not supposed to go out. I’ll probably just watch American movies on TV.” She turned and kissed his bare chest. “What about you?”
“I have to go back to Torino at some point,” he murmured into her hair. She shook her head. “I do,” he said. “We have a team dinner on Sunday nights, and early practice on Mondays.”
“Where do you play this week?”
“Napoli,” he said, “so I’ll get to see my dad and my sister. They’re coming to the game.”
“What about your mama?” Francesca asked, tracing the heart around Lucia’s name on his biceps.
He was quiet for a moment before answering.
“She’s dead,” he said, stroking her hair. “She died eight years ago.”
“My father’s dead,” Francesca said. They sat in silence for a minute; Francesca was reluctant to say anything else, she could sense Paolo was, too. She shifted to face him and brushed his hair away from his face. “It’s ok,” she said. “It’s ok.” She kissed him gently, first his forehead, then the tip of his nose, then his chin, each of his cheeks, finally his lips, just brushing against them at first, then wrapping her arms around him and pulling him deeply into her.
He pushed her robe off her shoulders to reveal the tops of her breasts and he reached for them, holding and caressing them. He laid her back on the bed, untying her robe and opening it to reveal her naked body, then he silently slipped off his shorts. He kissed her and entered her slowly, gently, and she kept him inside her and felt him growing and hardening there. She touched her lips to his shoulder and he began to move just a little at first, tenderly but deliberately. They didn’t speak, but he held her eyes with his and continued to make love to her. It didn’t make up for her father, or, she imagined, for his mother; it didn’t mean that they could in some way fulfill the gaping hole of need each of them felt, it just meant, for this moment, they weren’t alone. They had this modicum of intimacy that existed beyond the rest of the world, in her bed, in her room, in her apartment.
He came with a sudden thrust against her, and he stayed inside her and reached down to touch her until she came, too. She curled up in his arms and pulled the sheets over them.
“You ok, baby?” he asked her.
“Yeah,” she said, burrowing further under the covers. “I’m ok.”
“This thing with Inter,” he said, encircling her with his legs. “It’s important that it stays quiet.”
“I know that,” she said. “You still don’t trust me.”
“I trust you. I just need to say it.”