The Twelve Tables Ch. 20


"Fuck it, let's get a drink and go sandbag the seconds," Josh smirked. "They have no idea what's coming, and I like the feeling of smugness that gives me."

"I say we tell them that Constantine had a secret family of nine sons, and they have come to claim the table as is their right," Dante murmured. "You should be disappointed to find out that there was another set of triplets in the family."

"I'm devastated," Josh said sadly. "I just don't feel special anymore." He and Dante walked toward the table where Ben sat with the other seconds chuckling.

Josh was surprised at the speed with which the rumour he and Dante had created sped around the room. Peri had arrived beside him smiling. "Did you hear that ours aren't the only triplets in the family?"

"Really? Gee that's disappointing," Josh said pulling her onto his lap. "Did you hear that D.?"

"Yeah, bad luck buddy," Dante patted his back and commiserated. Peri narrowed her eyes and looked at the two of them.

"What's going on?" She asked realising something was amiss. She saw them shrug almost in unison. She looked across the table at Ben, who was giving his brothers the same narrow-eyed look.

"I heard the same rumour," Dante said with a straight face. "Seems silly for anyone to believe it as Con is such a playboy and lives to tell everyone about his latest hot model girlfriend but I guess people will believe the strangest things given the right circumstances."

"Don't look at me," Josh exclaimed, "You all know what a dreadful liar I am. I'll go ask the man himself," he announced and stood up with Peri in his arms passing her to Dante. "Here hold this for me I'll be right back."

"It'll be my pleasure," Dante cradled Peri gently into his lap. Leaning forward he murmured into her ear, "I might have to think up some little punishment for the woman who ruined all our fun." He felt the involuntary shiver his words sent through her, and he smiled.

"It's as good as any reason this mob might think up for my presence at this wedding," Constantine's loud and cheerful voice sounded from behind where Peri sat a few minutes later. "How are we ladies and gentlemen?" There was a murmur in response as he pulled up a chair and poured another glass of wine. "I believe the bride has gone to change and will be leaving soon. "You should take the little mother home," he said to Josh. "The babies are surely missing that generous bosom as much as we will when it exits," he grinned at Peri who blushed. "Ah speak of the princess and she arrives," Constantine downed the red wine in one long guzzle and stood unsteadily. "Come on my boy you can prop me up as we farewell the happy couple." He stood and put his arm around Josh's shoulder. "Come on you two," he motioned at Dante and Peri.

"You two are strong men," standing between the two young men Constantine seemed to sober slightly as he spoke. "I do not think I would be as strong if I lost the other half of me as you both have. Being a twin is a double edged sword. I'm proud of the way you have found each other," he grinned drunkenly again. "With the little mother's help of course. The mother always holds the Donati men by the balls." He chuckled at some unknown joke, "Your mother is a scary woman when she wants to be, but I guess I don't have to tell you that."

"Okay Con, let's get you up to the suite," Charles's deep voice sounded behind him.

"What? I was just having a chat with my nephews," Constantine swayed a little as he protested his innocence.

"Yeah, I heard you, as did Andie," Charles sighed. "He loves to show off the fact that he finally got a hot girlfriend," he murmured to Josh but left the farewell line he stood in to go with his brother.

Peri turned her head to watch him. The Donati men drank a lot, but she had never seen one rolling drunk before. They got a buzz and became louder and more gregarious, but she knew that like Josh they rarely drank to the point of staggering or slurring. Her experiences with Lucia had taught her to look more closely at anyone who seemed too drunk to care about what they were doing or saying and as she suspected once they were a little way away from the line Constantine straightened and walked normally, laughing loudly as his brother elbowed him in the ribs. Josh saw her watching and looked after the two men frowning.

"I either need to express here again, or we need to go back to the suite," Peri whispered to Josh. "I'm a bit worried if I hug her I will make her new outfit soggy."

"Why don't you go and tell Mama and Andie that we are leaving as soon as I have hugged Maryanne and wished her well," he whispered, "I imagine she will be a little while yet."

"Okay I will come back," she hurried in the direction she had seen Charles and Constantine walk. She saw the two men standing with Andie near where Joseph and Antonia stood with the rest of his brothers and their wives.

"Baby," Andie said seeing her. She moved from the men toward her with her arms out as if to hug her but Peri put up her hands.

"I'm bursting Mum," Peri warned, "We are going to disappear up to our room for the night as soon as Josh hugs Maryanne and says goodbye."

"Oh, would you like me to walk you up? Josh can meet us there when he's finished here," she offered. "This was the perfect dress, by the way," she whispered. You can't tell at all that you're leaking."

"No, you don't have to leave the reception because of me," Peri said softly to match her mother's whisper. "Josh will be ready to go by the time I make it back to him. I just need to let Antonia know as well."

"Charles," Andie said reaching out to put her hand on his arm.

"Wrong again sweetheart," Constantine grinned making Peri do a double take and look at them more closely.

"Honestly, I wish you would stop swapping jackets with him," Andie sighed. "Could you ask Antonia if she can join us, please?"

"I live but to serve," Constantine gave a mock bow and moved over to Antonia whispering in her hear and making her look and then move towards where Peri stood with Andie. Peri repeated the same story to Antonia, who sympathised and reminded her of the family brunch in the morning. Antonia went back to her place beside Joseph as she farewelled family members who were leaving like Peri intended to.

Before leaving, she turned to Constantine, who still stood nearby and gained his attention with a hand on his arm. "Constantine?" she asked to be sure of who she spoke to.

"At your service," he bowed.

"So this is Charles," she touched the other man's arm who turned to her and smiled.

"Did you exchange shirts too?" she asked narrowing her eyes. "I won't say anything if you can tell me why you were pretending to be your brother and so drunk back there."

"I don't get drunk," Constantine chortled. "What did you do? Try to give Josh a clue to the enigma?"

"I was just playing with them," Charles answered with a sly smile. "I might have left little off her title once or twice." He shrugged pleased that Peri had caught him out but not showing it. He knew the boys were listening to him, but he worried that he had been too subtle in the clue he left for them.

"They have been pulling pranks since Constantine landed," Andie rolled her eyes at them, but Peri could tell she enjoyed it.

"I've gotta go," Peri finally said. "I'll see you all at the brunch." She kissed her mother's cheek and turned to walk back to Josh her mind twirling around what had been said by Charles. She made it back to Josh and Dante just in time to apologise that it was her first night away from the babies, and she was about to explode when Maryanne tried to embrace her. She kissed Maryanne's cheeks and wished her well instead.

"I'll grab the bag and meet you at the elevators," Dante said and took off at a jog before they could tell him that he didn't have to leave with them. He didn't want to be here without them they were his shield against the sympathetic comments about Lio missing his sister's big day.

"Do you think we should check on the babies?" Peri asked as they rode up in the elevator.

"No, they are perfectly fine. Bridgette and Madeline know them and will look after them just as we would. I'd like one night where I am not left in the bed alone for most it," Josh said refusing to back down on his earlier decree.

"Dante will sleep with you, then the bed won't be empty, and you two have been almost inseparable lately anyway," she said hopefully.

"Only if I can be the little spoon," Dante said seriously making Josh raise his eyebrow.

"Always took you for the big spoon type," he nodded as if considering the proposition.

"Well you're taller than me, so it makes sense. And I am not about to top and tail like Lio and I had to do when we were kids whenever we visited the relatives," Dante said reasonably.

"Nik would just take the bed and make me sleep on the floor, so this would be a step up from that I suppose," Josh said sadly.

"Poor little Wah-wah," Dante mocked him.

"I know right, you have no idea what I've been through," he looked at Peri, who was shaking her head at both of them. "It's late, let's just get a few hours' sleep and you can see the babies first thing in the morning. You don't want to wake Bridgette and Madeline if they have just got the babies settled do you?"

"I guess you're right," she agreed reluctantly. "Plus I seriously need a shower. I am soaked and sticky." She stepped off the elevator and walked past the door to the baby's room trailing her hand over it and waiting for Josh to move past her to open the door to their adjoining room.

"I'm still the little spoon," Dante announced walking into the room behind them.

"Fine with me but Peri is usually the little spoon," Josh said without even missing a beat. "She mightn't like you taking her place."

"Good grief, I'm going to shower," Peri said. "Would one of you get my zip?"

"I've already had the pleasure, I'll just open this bottle while we wait," he pulled a bottle of port from the bag he had carried up. Josh undid her zip, and she walked into the bathroom. Peri turned on the steaming hot water and slipped out of her dress. Stepping into the hot shower, her breasts immediately began to spray jets of milk against the glass wall in front of her. She massaged her swollen and sore flesh until the skin on her fingers pruned, and she felt like there was very little if anything left inside her. Pulling on a robe, she went back into the bedroom to find a pair of panties deciding to give herself a rest from the firm maternity bras for a few minutes longer.

"That feels better," she walked into the small living area of the suite where the brothers talked quietly. "Josh what's the enigma?" she asked as she poured herself a glass of water.

"How did you hear about that?" He looked at her critically.

"You forget I am a clever girl and can work things out long before most people. Did they give you a riddle to solve? Some sort of brain teaser?" She asked.

"Something like that," Josh nodded.

"I'm supposed to help you with that if you ask," Dante said. "Why didn't you say anything when I told you that earlier?"

"They told me not to repeat it to anyone," he said confused now. "How did you find out about it again?"

"I can't explain how I knew but I knew that the Constantine, who came to the table and acted drunk, wasn't drunk so when I said goodbye to Andie I asked him why he pretended. Oh, I did say I wouldn't say anything if he told me why but he didn't really because it was Charles who was pretending to be both Constantine and drunk," she explained.

"Wait, why would he do that?" Josh was looking at her as if she had sprouted two heads and was talking gibberish.

"I realised it was Charles who had come to the table because he had only swapped jackets with his brother not shirts and there was a wine stain on Charles shirt. Anyway, when I asked Charles why he had pretended to be a drunk Constantine, the real Constantine accused him of leaving you extra clues for the enigma," she said as if it all made sense.

"I don't suppose they told you what that clue was," Dante asked as Josh thought about the conversation he had with the drunken version of his uncle earlier that evening.

"I gather that there is something in it about a mother and that he purposely left the little out of the title they have given me. All of your uncles now call me Little Mama," she said. "He called me the little mother, though. I hope that helps."

"I did notice that," Dante said. "I just thought it was because of the babies. Maybe it's because of who she will become when Mama and Papa retire."

"It would make sense in terms of the riddle I guess," Josh spoke quietly.

"I'm exhausted, and I want to be up early to see my babies, so I am going to bed." She went to kiss Josh good night.

"Wait, don't you have to use that pump thing again?" Dante asked.

"No I expressed in the shower," Peri laughed at the look of disappointment on his face.

"Thank you," Josh said. "I love you and will always keep you safe, you know that don't you?" he asked looking up into her eyes. The words of the enigma about the mother being terrified ran through his head.

"I know silly," she said smiling despite the concern his words conjured in her. He kissed her then.

"What about me, I love you and will keep you safe, too" Dante complained.

"You better kiss him, he's very disappointed that you expressed in the shower," Josh said his mood changing, brightening somewhat.

Peri went and bent down to where Dante sat, to brush her lips over his in a light chaste kiss, but he curled a hand around the side of her neck and held her close deepening the kiss. Peri blinked and stood up once he released her.

"Well that wasn't awkward at all," Dante chuckled.

"Looked okay from here," Josh shrugged trying to name what he was feeling. He hadn't hated watching them kiss, but he hadn't exactly liked seeing them kiss that way. "I'll be in soon," he said as she walked toward the bedroom.

Peri fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow forgetting to put on a bra to stem the flow of milk that would build up during the long night without feeding the babies. When she woke several hours later, she was sandwiched between Josh, who curled around her back and Dante whose back pressed against her leaking breasts. She lay in a small puddle of breast milk, and she felt embarrassed that it had also covered part of Dante's back.

She slowly sat up trying not to wake either man but Dante lay on the edge of her robe. She began to shrug out of it thinking to make a quick dash to the bathroom to clean up and put on a bra when Dante rolled and looked at her.

"That's a perfect sight to wake up to in the morning," he whispered and leaned up licking the wet nipple of her breast.

"I need to go to the bathroom," she whispered blushing at the lewdness of his actions. "Let me up please."

"Let her get up if she needs to go," Josh groaned, pulled the covers up and rolled over, "and leave enough milk in those beauties to feed my babies. I made her wait long enough."

"Fine," Dante groaned rolling out of the bed and helping her to her feet. "I guess I need a shower," he looked at the puddle on the bed.

"I'm so sorry. I forgot to put a bra on before bed last night," she apologised.

"Don't be sorry. That's the best night's sleep I've had in months," he whispered as he walked with her to the bathroom and gave her a crooked smile. Unabashed he stripped off his boxers and turned the shower on as she stood by the sink to clean herself up. She couldn't help but look at his reflection in the mirror. "So do I measure up?" he chuckled noting her check him out as he did the same to her. She nodded silently, and he reached around her to weigh the heavy, leaking globes in his hands.

"These really are the most magnificent things to wake up to," he grinned as she looked from her breasts to his face in the mirror. He leaned forward and kissed her neck murmuring in her ear, "I call dibs on any leftovers."


Josh continued to limit her night time feeds, and Peri found at her ten-week check-up that the babies were thriving despite not getting up through the night to feed them herself. The babies continued to gain weight and were alert for longer amounts of time. Despite their early arrival, they were reaching each of their milestones, lifting their heads and rolling during their playtime on the floor of the nursery. She had to admit that she felt better and able to enjoy those special moments after a good night's sleep. Josh and Dante both made the time to go with her to every doctor's appointment whether it be for the babies or herself.

Josh asked a myriad of questions during these visits and had reluctantly agreed to a dose of Depo-Provera when she was finally cleared to resume having sex so that she didn't immediately become pregnant again. The doctor explained this would allow her body to heal more completely before risking another multiple pregnancy.

Since the wedding, Dante had slept with them each night and had practically moved into their bedroom. Dante's presence had seemed just to be accepted by Josh, who didn't seem concerned at all that she and Dante were becoming more intimate. Peri felt like he encouraged it at times and this confused her because he had a jealous nature even where the babies were concerned.

It was after the ten-week appointment with the paediatrician that Peri and Josh drove back to the house by themselves. The babies and nannies travelled in a van with a driver and at Josh's insistence, she travelled with him. It was one of the few times they were truly alone because Dante had stayed in the city to attend a meeting, and she took the opportunity to talk to Josh about how he felt about all the changes in their lives since the babies arrival and the visit from his father and uncles.

"Now that the doctor is certain that there is no risk of infection, and we can start Umm," she hesitated over the words she wanted to use. Having sex seemed so clinical after hearing the doctors refer to it like that and making love seemed strange and not complete enough for what she was referring to.

"Fucking?" Josh asked, a small smile curling his lip.

"Well, yes, that," she gave a small laugh. "I'm a bit worried it won't be the same. I mean three babies came out of that little tunnel, and even my belly hasn't returned to normal after all the stretching. What if..." she left the words hanging and looked out of the window.

"You heard the doctor, women's bodies are amazing when it comes to healing after such a trauma as giving birth to triplets naturally. If you keep up with the exercise program the physiotherapist gave you everything will be as it always was," he reassured her reaching over and placing a hand on her thigh.

"Josh what about Dante?" she asked quietly.

"He won't notice any difference he's never been there before has he?" Josh took his eyes off the road to look at her. "All I've seen is a bit of kissing and fondling, it's hardly what I'd even consider foreplay," he chuckled.

"No, not that far," she said immediately defensive.

"I sense a but in there, it's okay you can tell me," Josh said. The truth was that at the wedding he had turned a corner and come face to face with several realities he hadn't wanted to contemplate. One was seeing Dante and Peri in intimate situations. The days following that initial letting down of his guard he had watched them together, even encouraged them to be together and found that he liked the voyeurism it afforded him and the different view of his wife's body and how it reacted to intimacy.

"It's a little embarrassing but in the mornings when my breasts are so full if he," she paused but wanting, to be honest, went on, "if he licks or sucks a nipple I feel like I could orgasm. Sometimes I'm not sure I don't in a small way if the milk lets down at the same time." She rushed the words and blushed looking down at her hands.

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