When she woke it was Christmas morning and her bed was empty. Or rather, Paolo was gone and she was alone. She heard Christmas carols, the Vienna Boys’ Choir or something like that, traditional carols in Latin. Wafting down the hall she could smell something incredible–spicy, vanilla, maybe, a warm, holiday scent. Buttery. And then coffee, richer and darker. She opened her wardrobe and selected her most festive robe–a red and black embroidered kimono Alessandro had brought her from Hong Kong after he first moved there. She still had light red marks on her skin where the boning had dug into her. The silk robe felt divine–soft and smooth and cool on her skin.
She padded down the hallway barefoot, following the promise of breakfast. Paolo was standing in her kitchen, wearing his D&G shorts and his wool sweater over his bare chest, barefoot. He was concentrating on a small pitcher of frothed milk and a white cup and saucer.
“What are you doing?” Francesca asked, walking up to him.
“I’m trying to make a damn heart in this foam,” he said quietly, as if speaking any louder would disturb his art. “I’ve already had to drink two of them because I messed up.” He gestured towards the dirty cups in the sink.
“You’re adorable,” she said. “Especially in those,” she added, slapping his ass playfully.
“Hey! I almost had that one!” She had upset his cappuccino efforts.
“I’ll drink it anyway,” she said. “What else smells so good?”
“I toasted some panettone,” he said, abandoning the idea of designer foam and dumping the remaining frothed milk into his cup.
“Where did you find panettone?”
“I brought it from Torino.”
“When? Last night?”
“Yeah, I had a big bag that I brought in when we came home. I guess you didn’t notice because you were too busy devising your evil plan to make me your sex slave.”
“But look, now you’re a free man.” She kissed him. “Buon Natale.”
Merry Christmas, everyone. For more of the holiday with Paolo & Francesca, visit this compilation of Christmas excerpts.