The Friendship Diaries Book 2 – Pimlico House
Caitlin – Feb 1978
The day after Mario’s proposal Caitlin flew with him out to the States. They landed on time at JFK and she had been dispatched with an affectionate kiss to her father’s house. Mario had meetings all day and would dine with them that evening. He didn’t seem ever to be tired.
Ariel greeted Caitlin warmly and suggested she took a bath and a nap before lunch, which they would take together. The baby was sleeping and Frank was out at work. Caitlin thought that Ariel was looking amazing dressed simply in a tie-dye smock top and blue jeans with her hair pulled back into a messy up do. She looked effortlessly chic; Caitlin wondered if the top might be hiding a baby bump. She would find out soon enough.
Caitlin made her way up to her old room that was just the same, and following Ariel’s good advice drew a bath and soaked for a while with her eyes closed. It was ironic that the only night she had slept with Mario was on an airplane. He had been very attentive, tucking her up in a warm blanket and planting a kiss on her forehead. They had been plenty of room in first class with few other travellers. Mario had worked through most of the night. Whenever she stirred and opened an eye he was engrossed in his papers.
Ariel was feeding the baby Sebastian when Caitlin descended freshly bathed and dressed for lunch.
‘He’s so adorable!’ she remarked inspecting her baby half brother closely. A layer of downy hair covered his head and his big blue eyes looked at her blankly as he jiggled and chortled sucking at his bottle.
‘I’ll just need to change him before we eat.’ Ariel disappeared with the child for a few minutes. ‘That’s better’ she cradled him on her shoulder rubbing his back until he drifted off to sleep again. ‘OK grown up stuff now’ She addressed to Caitlin, ‘what’s going on with you and Mario Ferraro then?’ Caitlin grinned at Ariel, her look speaking volumes. ‘It’s the real thing then?’ Ariel responded with warmth. She was so happy in her marriage to Caitlin’s father and wished equal good fortune for his daughter. She was also aware that Frank would like to see Caitlin happily married with children of her own. Although she also wondered whether Frank would ever think anyone good enough for his Princess.
‘How did you guess?’ Caitlin asked, already knowing the answer.
‘Well a call from you arranging your visit and an invitation for Mario to dine with us was a bit of a clue.’ Ariel countered dryly, ‘It did rather give us the impression that it wasn’t just filial responsibility!’
‘No! And I’m sorry for it as I’ve been thinking about planning a visit anyway’ she excused, ‘but Mario has rather sped things up.’
‘Frank says he’s like a whirlwind.’ Ariel responded, ‘Also I think that he likes him, which will be a good start as Mario will have a hard job convincing your father that he’s good enough for you. Your papa thinks the world of you, you know.’ Caitlin smiled with the comfortable assurance that it was true.
‘I know he does, thank you Ariel. He does of you too.’ She changed the subject momentarily, ‘Do you have news to tell me too?’
‘Very observant!’ Ariel responded with a big smile, ‘Yes we’re expecting again. No reason to delay.’ She patted her stomach as she answered. ‘Tell me about Mario though. I see you’re sporting a rather divine ring, may I see?’ Caitlin held her hand out for Ariel to examine and was gratified with the genuine admiration that was bestowed.
‘Isn’t it gorgeous?’ Caitlin gloated, ‘I love it and he chose it himself. He has great taste.’ Caitlin told Ariel about the earrings he had bought her and their meetings in Venice where she had been so impressed with his knowledge of design and his ability to plan how a room should look. Ariel was a talented, though amateur, interior designer herself so the discussion of Mario’s ability interested her. Frank had told her about the boutique hotel chain that Mario was establishing and she had been taken by the concept. She remarked that a talent for interiors was unusual in a man. Caitlin agreed not having considered this before and added that he was also clued up on clothes and designers.
‘Lucky you!’ remarked Ariel, ‘Frank doesn’t have an idea; although that’s quite good in some ways because he leaves everything up to me.’
Ariel had planned a formal dinner for Mario. It would be just the four of them but she had arranged for Juan’s mother to cook (Frank had sent her to Paris to learn at the Cordon Bleu cookery school some years before) and Juan would wait at table; Hughes would perform his usual Butler role. Caitlin and Ariel would dress for dinner; the men would be in suits anyway after their day at the office.
Mario arrived with a huge bouquet of yellow tulips for Ariel and a bottle of vintage Prosecco ready chilled. He greeted his hostess with the polished manners of their own set. Ariel was suitably impressed by his manners and his good looks. Frank arrived soon after and the men shook hands formally. They had known each other for some time but not intimately.
Frank had guessed the reason for the invitation and although he had no reservations about Mario he was, as Ariel had predicted, not so comfortable with the thought of Mario with his beloved daughter. He was not to be allowed to procrastinate the moment however. Mario made it clear that he would like a word in private with Frank and reluctantly he had to concur. A few moments later Frank was shaking hands with Mario once more offering his congratulations for he had no reason to demur.
The two men returned to the drawing room. Frank held his arms open for Caitlin and hugged her tight,
‘Well little one, I hear you are to be a married woman soon.’ He dropped a kiss on the top of her head and smiled into her face searching for assurance that she was happy. That was all he wanted really he knew. Ariel joined in the congratulations and Hughes was called on to open the bottle that Mario had thoughtfully provided for the occasion, though Frank had a cellar full of his own. A toast was made to Caitlin and Mario. Hughes cleared his throat and added his own words of congratulation. He had adored Miss Caitlin since she was a toddler.
The dinner was a triumph with all Caitlin’s favourite dishes being served. The conversation flowed freely with exchanges between the men, between Mario and Ariel and between Caitlin and her father. Towards the end of the meal Caitlin and her father were deep in conversation, she telling him about their wedding plans and asking his agreement and advice.
His conversation with Ariel paused Mario became aware of the servant, Juan, gazing at him lasciviously. Mario was uncomfortable and on his guard immediately. Juan, who had polished off a couple of glasses of wine himself during the course of his duties, couldn’t stop ogling Mario. He was gorgeous. Mario became acutely aware of the attention and his face burned with shame as he felt his cock harden in response. Ariel sensing that something was wrong asked Juan to clear the table after which he wouldn’t be needed further.
She must have a word with Juan. Hughes brought in the coffee after which Mario, declaring that he was beyond tired, brought the evening to an end quite swiftly. All of them concurred that he must indeed by wiped out having working all day after the flight from the UK. Mario said his thanks and farewells, kissing Caitlin on both cheeks and squeezing her hands promised to call her the next day.
That night Ariel pondered what she had observed between Juan and Mario and wondered if she should mention anything to Frank. He would discover anything untoward about Mario soon enough if there were any skeletons in his closet, so to speak. She fell asleep determined to reprimand Juan the next day.
It was unforgivable to behave in such a way as to make a guest uncomfortable. She also wanted to know why he had hit on Mario.
The Friendship Diaries Book 2 – Pimlico House