Megan Kelly, a slim, wan woman with a round plain face and short auburn hair, closed the study door as silently as she could and glanced guiltily up the stairs. She could still hear Maria’s crying as she pleaded desperately to be allowed to see her child.
In her arms Megan held Maria’s new born son. However, her instructions were to take the boy to her own quarters where she had been paid to take care of him until Maria was fit to travel. Mother and son were not to be reunited again under any circumstances until the car arrived to take them all to the station.
As Megan reached her small apartment above the garage, the newborn began to stir and fuss. He was ready for a feed and Megan felt her breasts swell with milk in response to the baby’s demands.
Her own three month old son lay in his cot asleep and would be waking to take his turn at her breast in a few short hours but for now Megan’s milk was needed elsewhere. Sitting in her favourite old rocker, she cradled the baby boy in her arms and popped open her blouse allowing a plump, full breast to spill out. She guided her nipple towards the baby’s mouth then let Mother Nature take it from there, relishing the gentle tingle in her nipple as her new charge enjoyed his very first meal.
After giving the infant ten minutes on each side, she burped him and then settled him down in the Moses basket next to the cot. When she was certain that he was asleep, Megan quickly changed into her nightdress and slipped into her small bunk in the corner of the tiny room. She needed to get some sleep because before long she would be awake again and then there would be two hungry mouths to feed.
Maria stirred from her deep slumber as the first rays of bright morning sun shone in through her tall bedroom windows. Her thick mane of glossy, black hair lay across the pillow as she turned her beautiful face to the light and blinked open her big, green eyes.
Just for the briefest moment all was right with the world but then, as the soreness of giving birth made itself known, the hideous memories of the previous night flooded horribly back and she knew that her world would never be right again.
Last night she had given birth to a son. Her baby boy.
Maria had just caught the briefest glimpse of him as he was carried off by Megan, as per her father’s explicit instructions. She had screamed long into the night, begging to see her newborn infant, begging to hold him just once, just for a minute. But her screams had been ignored and she had eventually given in to sleep, too weary to fight any more after the rigours of her eighteen hour labour.
Now she had awoken and the horror of what was destined to happen caused fresh tears to spring from her huge almond-shaped eyes.
In two days time she was to be shipped off to a convent in Italy and her son was to be taken from her to be raised by monks at a monastery in a location she knew not where.
The only consolation was that she would be travelling with her baby to Italy, accompanied by Megan and her son so she would, at least, get to see him, to be with him, for the duration of the journey. However, all motherly duties such as feeding, bathing and changing her child were to be carried out by Megan and not her. Her father’s man, Salvatore, would also be travelling with them to ensure that Carlo’s instructions were carried out to the letter.
Until the day of their departure, Maria was to be confined to her room and have no contact with her son whatsoever which, in her father’s mind, would prevent any bond forming. To further preclude this he had also decreed that the child should not be given a name so she would never be able to find him.
This seemed the cruellest punishment of all. How could a mother not know her own child’s name?
But somehow, some way, before she was delivered to the convent, Maria was determined to escape with her son and then she would give him a name – a name that Carlo Liuzzi would, one day, learn to respect.
Continues tomorrow or download the complete novel here