12 Baby Shower


A soft, repetitive knock on my door brings me out of sleep. It was a good dream, too. One with a blonde detective saving me from a killer. 

I groan with disappointment, squinting against the morning light filtering in through my curtains. I'll never see him again. I'll never see any of my interesting new friends again, because last night I told Theo I wasn't coming back. 

The whole Jimmy thing made me realize just how stupid I've been sneaking out without my parents' knowledge. If I want to do things out in the real world, I'm going to have to talk to them and get their blessing. At least that way, I know it will be safe. 

"Vanessa?" Mom calls through the door. "Can I come in?" 

I sit up in bed, glancing around the room to make sure nothing would alert her to the lies I've been telling. It would be a shame to have her find out about my secret double life as a bartender now when I've decided to end it. 

"Sure," I call back, voice groggy with sleep. 

She comes in, already dressed and looking beautiful. I don't understand why she doesn't sleep in once in awhile or even roam around in her pajamas. Instead, she always looks impeccable. 

"Did you forget what day it is?" She asks with a gentle smile. 

"Did you?" I chuckle and rub my eyes. "It wouldn't hurt to sleep in, Ma." 

"Not with the baby shower today!" She exclaims, walking over to open my curtains. "I thought you were going to help." 

"Of course I'm going to help. I can't wait." With a yawn, I grab my phone and check the time. "But it's not even eight. It doesn't start until one." 

"I know we haven't spoiled you so much that you think everything magically gets done by itself." She levels me with one of those mom glares. 

I could point out that aside from cooking for the family once in awhile, everything else is done for me. I'm the baby of the family. If I didn't have clothes I was hiding, I wouldn't even be doing any of my own laundry.

"Alright, I'm getting up," I groan, throwing back the covers and stretching.

"Good, take a shower. We have lots to do. I need your beautiful cake frosting ability, and there are still decorations to set up. Not to mention getting all the games ready…"

"Ma, it's going to be fine. Everything will get done." I stand up and grab my robe from the bedside chair. "In fact, it won't just be fine," I add before she can object. "It will be perfect. I'll be right down." 

She sighs and smiles. "Thank you. I'm just so excited." 

"I know," I giggle. "I am too." 

The baby shower today is a big deal, and once I'm fully awake and thinking clearly, the excitement takes over. Mom and I have been planning this day for weeks. 

My brother Luciano and his wife Rory are expecting their first baby. That would be enough to make this occasion one of truly epic proportions for the Ricca family, but that's not all. Rory's sister Raya, who happens to be married to my cousin Dex, is also expecting. 

My parents love Dex like a son, especially since both of his parents passed away. And since Rory and Raya's due dates are only a week apart, today is a joint baby shower for both of them. It's going to be a blast. 

I can't wait to see my adorable little nephew either. Well, I call Dex Jr. my nephew. Mom and Dad insist they are his grandparents, so I'm definitely his aunt, or "Auntie Nessa," as he calls me. He's only three now, but I hope he calls me that forever. 

In truth, I've probably only gotten away with being gone as much as I have because Mom has been increasingly distracted as Rory and Raya's due dates approach. A year ago, Mom would have insisted that I never leave without my guards. I might always be her and Dad's baby, but there are two new real babies on the horizon. 

When I descend the steps, I can already smell the bouquets. The foyer, dining room, kitchen, and backyard have all been transformed with sprays of pink, white, and green. There are flowers and garlands everywhere. It's magical. 

It's funny, because I know for certain that Mom already has everything covered. I'm probably mostly needed for emotional support at this point and just to share in the excitement. 

"Is it too much?" Mom asks when I walk into the kitchen and see her fretting over the kitchen island. 

"What, the flowers?" I smirk, but any thought of teasing her vanishes when I realize just how serious she is. "No, you cannot have too many flowers. It's breathtaking, Ma. They did a great job." 

She sighs in relief and comes over to squeeze my arm. "Thank you, tesoro. I don't want the girls to feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable."

"You make everyone feel comfortable, Ma," I smile. "What time did you have the florist here? Dawn?" 

"Well, I didn't know how long it would take," she exclaims, returning to what she was preoccupied with on the island. "Look at how much there was to put up! I'm surprised they finished already." 

"What's left to do?" I ask, reaching for a carrot on one of the vegetable trays.

"You need to eat a real breakfast," she says, scolding me. "And then you can decorate the cupcakes. It will give the rest of the desserts a personal touch." 

As if she's divined them into being, a parade of people passes by, carrying cakes and trays of pastries toward the backyard. 

"Isn't it too early to put those out?" I ask, eyes wide as I get a glimpse of just how much food we've arranged. 

The baby shower isn't even going to be that big. Rory and Raya are both pretty private people who don't like a big fuss. Dex and Raya were married in a very intimate ceremony in Costa Rica, and my brother somehow managed to talk my parents down from the thousands of guests they had planned for his and Rory's wedding. 

I won't be that lucky when I eventually get married. My parents will make sure it's a huge event. Mom probably already has my wedding dress picked out. 

"The baker says they planned it all very carefully," Mom assures me. "It will be the perfect temperature by the time the shower starts." 

"So they're frozen? Or…" 

"I don't know, Vanessa!" She exclaims. "Do I look like a baker to you?" 

"No," I smile, coming to her side to give her the reassuring affection that she always gives me. "You look like the beautiful, caring Nonna who would move heaven and earth for her family," I say, hugging her. "Relax, Mama. I'm sorry." 

She chuckles and kisses me on the head. "Having two daughters who aren't Sicilian… or even Italian! I just don't want to do anything they wouldn't like." 

"That's impossible. They both love you to pieces. You know that," I grin, resting my head on her shoulder as I watch her fixing three little pieces of dried pink canary grass to a place card with a wax seal. 

"These are the most beautiful decorations I've ever seen," I tell her. "Seriously. And the flowers…" I do the chef's kiss. "Al bacio." 

"They are beautiful. I'm happy with them, too," she nods. "There are a lot, but at least they look… you know, natural or something." 

I giggle and take my position in front of the cupcakes. 

"What?" She asks, looking up at me. "Why are you laughing?" 

"You're cute. That's all." 

"Me? You're the cute one. Look at you…" she gestures to my white lace dress. "Principessa. One of these days I will be doing this for you, and you will be the one with a sweet little baby bump." 

"Little?" Dad chuckles, walking up behind me. "Vanessa was a huge baby. Remember how big you got with her, Gemma?" 

"Saul," she groans, but laughter comes right after. "How could I forget?" 

My parents genuinely love each other. I've always enjoyed witnessing these little interactions between them. They tease each other and joke, and by the end of it, Mom ends up in Dad's arms giggling and pretending to object while he showers her with kisses. 

"Why are you talking about my little girl having babies?" Dad admonishes, kissing me on the head before doing the same to my mother. "None of us are ready for that. And there's not a man out there who deserves that honor, Vanessa. Don't get any ideas." 

"Any ideas for what?" I laugh and roll my eyes. I'm certain Dad would like me to stay a virgin forever. I hate the fact that so far he's winning in that regard, but it's only because I haven't found anyone whose secrets I can handle quite enough to get that intimate.

"One day she will start a family, Saul. That's what happens. I was someone's baby too once. Remember?" 

"Oh I remember," he says in a deep, suggestive rumble, wrapping his arms around my mother and making her blush. "You're my baby now, amore." 

Ugh. They're so cute, they even make me blush. Why do my parents have a more romantic life than me? 


"I'm so glad you're going to be at the shower, Pa," I tell him while I start frosting the cupcakes. I should have been smart and put on my dress afterward. 

"It's unusual," he chuckles. "But I'm looking forward to it, too. Why should the men be excluded? We're just as excited for the babies to come." 

"That's right," Mom agrees, but the little pinch of her eyebrows says something different. She thinks it's odd that Luciano and Dex want to be at the baby shower, but she would never argue—not when she gets to celebrate her family and have them all here at once. 

"I wish we knew the babies' sexes," I sigh, lamenting the fact that I haven't had the opportunity to buy more cute, miniature clothes. Not much is available in gender neutral colors, and there's only so much yellow and green a wardrobe can take. 

"I know," Mom pouts. "It's so hard waiting. I don't know how they're doing it. We knew with Luciano and again with you." 

"Because Dad wanted a boy so badly," I scoff, licking some frosting off my thumb. 

"No, he wanted a daughter first. That's why we named him Luci," Mom jokes. 

Everyone knows a mafiosi wants at least one son. Luciano was the guarantee that my father's legacy would go on. It's not common for women to lead families like ours. 

"I was blessed with one of each," Dad says, returning to my side and kissing me again.

"You're going to mess up my hair, Pa." 

"Sorry, sorry," he chuckles, throwing his hands up in apology. "Where do you want me? What can I do to help?" 

"You don't have meetings today?" Mom asks, looking surprised. 

"Not today, no. Today is only for you and my children, amore." 

I watch my mother's face bloom into the most beautiful smile. She would never ask that of him, but she doesn't have to. He knows what will make her happy, and that's as important to him as anything. 

My standards are pretty high after spending a lifetime watching these two. Their marriage isn't perfect, but their love is real and lasting. It's going to be nearly impossible for me to find someone like that.

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