tagBDSMThe Twelve Tables Ch. 26

The Twelve Tables Ch. 26


Authors Note: Thank you to everyone left comments or sent me feedback about previous chapters of this story. Thank you again to Margaret who proofread for me. ~ellie


"We probably should go in now that I have asked for an early dinner," Peri said quietly breaking the silence that had grown between her and Dante as they gazed at the stars.

"Indeed," he agreed draining his glass and placing it on the table as he got carefully to his feet and took his crutch from where he had left it leaning against the rail. He didn't really need it anymore but until his wound was healed properly, he wasn't taking any chances. He hated being an invalid and Pete had warned him of the side effects of putting too much pressure on the damaged calf muscle. He was healing well, and he wanted it to stay that way.

The romantic dining setting had been arranged on the upper deck, it was open to the night air but had an awning to protect them from the elements. Zita had organised a beautiful evening for them, and Peri smiled delightedly, as they were shown to their seats and Dante held her chair for her as she sat down.

"Would you like me to pour the wine?" the steward asked formally.

"Please," Dante nodded. "Then I would like to see the Captain before you serve the entree."

The steward poured a small amount for Dante to taste, before filling up their glasses after a single nod from him. Peri watched him carefully, his demeanour changing as he spoke to someone who worked for him. This was how he was with the staff at home, while not quite dismissive of them, he left them no doubt as to who was in charge. They made small talk about the beautiful, romantic setting and the wine until the Captain appeared and Dante stood to shake his hand.

"Dante Donati," he introduced himself.

"Ned Campbell," the Captain reciprocated.

"Can I assume that you and the crew work for Vincenzo?" Dante asked. "In short, have you signed the family loyalty contracts?" He added.

"Yes Sir," Ned responded differentially. "The crew will not disturb you unnecessarily, and the steward is very experienced at servicing romantic trysts of an unusual nature," he said diplomatically. "Full non-disclosure orders are in place for all of the crew, and we are handsomely rewarded for the unobtrusive service we provide."

"Thank you. You understand, I had to ask," Dante said formally.

"Yes, Sir," Ned said equally formally. "I hope you enjoy your evening. The Mistress was quite specific about the arrangements for your night. You will find the salon which leads from the rear deck has a vast range of music and a well-equipped bar, that can be used for the dessert course if your wish. You will find it is equipped with many delights for a romantic evening," he said, his lip curling with a suppressed smile. "The Mistress asked me to mention it should we speak."

"Did she indeed?" Dante grinned. "My thanks, Captain, I will not keep you from your duties."

"Enjoy your evening Sir. Ma'am," he nodded at Peri before turning and leaving the room.

"You may serve the first course," Dante instructed the steward and resumed his seat. He took her hand in his. "You understood what I was asking?" he cocked his head to the side as he asked the question.

"Yes," she said quietly.

"The crew are essentially, blind and deaf to anything we may or may not do during our time here together. I want you to be comfortable with that, because I am enjoying the smell and sight of the ocean and I am in no hurry to disappear below decks again, despite my need to enjoy you." He said his voice becoming deeper and husky his eyes filling with the heat of his words.

"I will try to remember that," Peri swallowed the small lump that had formed in her throat as his gaze ignited her arousal. It was like the heat in his eyes had transferred into the hand that held hers and travelled directly to erogenous zones.

She blushed slightly as the steward interrupted to place the food on the table before them and Dante withdrew his hand to make room. Without a word he refilled their glasses and faded away again. The plate looked beautiful, as it held a bed of lettuce, on which nestled bug tails and oysters artistically arranged.

"This looks good," he chuckled. "Not that I think we need the mystical aphrodisiac powers of oysters tonight, do you?" He asked.

"I don't think we do, either" she laughed at his waggling eyebrows as he said it.

"Does the age gap between us bother you?" he asked making small talk and startling her.

"Honestly, I've never even considered it," she said looking at him with wide eyes. "You don't seem much older than Josh, but I guess you have to be because there are four others between two of you."

"Forget I mentioned it then," he chuckled. "Josh and I have become as close as if we were born twins. I'd be quite happy for you to believe I was his age, rather than the distinguished older man, preying on the beautiful young woman."

"You're hardly preying on me," she laughed.

"Ah, but the night is only just beginning young lady," he leered at her making her laugh even more. "And you are wearing a very potent symbol of submission to me and my wicked ways." He reached over and stroked a finger over the necklace he had put on her when they arrived. Rather than sitting opposite each other, they sat on either side of one corner of the table, so that she was within easy reach of him. His hand drifted to the back of her neck as it followed the necklace's curve around her throat. Once there, he deftly undid the clasp of her halter neck with nimble fingers and pulled one side down revealing her breast to him in the soft lighting of the deck.

Peri drew in a breath looking around quickly as his fingers took hold of her nipple.

"Look at me," he instructed, "The steward will see nothing but the food and wine, I want your eyes on me and only me this evening." He pinched the nipple as if to make his point and she whimpered softly nodding. "I will never tire of playing with your breasts or what they can hold," he lamented pulling his hand away, satisfied with her nod to acknowledge his words. The material still hung from her other shoulder, and he did nothing to dislodge it, enjoying the sight of her stiffening nipple pressing against the soft fabric of the deep blue dress, as the other stood out toward him, as if begging for attention.

Dante took a sip of his wine gazing at her as she blushed slightly. She followed suit taking a large gulp of the wine. Dante resumed eating, and again she followed suit, feeling awkward in her half-dressed state as their small talk resumed. She kept her posture willing the end of the halter strap not to fall from her still covered shoulder.

"Dante," she said during a lull in their conversation as they finished eating. "What was it like growing up with both Papa and Christo? Josh is too young to remember but now that you have pointed out that you are older, I realise you would have been aware of the relationship they had with your mother. Was it strange to have two father figures?"

"It was normal for us. We had two fathers and never really questioned it when we younger," he shrugged. "We were home-schooled until we were ten years old, and part of that was learning about who we were and that we were bound by love and duty to the family. That sense of honour and secrecy about family dynamics and business was drummed into us at an early age." He smiled. "I think it was phrased in terms of tradition. The men were expected to be good providers and look after the women in their family. The girls were expected to be pretty princesses, who would grow up to be queens of their own families and produce many babies."

"That was the norm for your parent's generation though and didn't answer my question," Peri leaned back slightly in her chair. "I wanted to know how it felt for you, if you were torn between one or the other," she asked tentatively.

"It was normal for them both to be there," he said again. "If one was busy the other was available, and on good days they both came out to play soccer or ride with us. I guess the five of us were pretty lucky to have that for as long as we did." He seemed to think about the question. "It was great if I am honest, but we didn't get away with anything, and when we got into trouble, it seemed to be Papa who was the disciplinarian, while Christo pulled the whole, I'm so disappointed in you act, which seemed to hurt twice as much as a spanking."

"The five of you?" Peri asked.

"Izabella was doted on by everyone, she never wanted to ride or play in the creek," he chuckled. "She was and still is a true Donati princess. When the Valentine twins came along, they were very insular, content with their own company. Lucia could have been good value, but by the time she was old enough to roam around the farm, we had all moved onto to boarding school. She was a tomboy. She hated being fussed over and the frilly dresses Mama used to buy for her."

"So just you and your older brothers really knew Christo?" Peri asked, again still trying to make sense of it in her mind.

"I never felt anything but love for and from both Papa and Christo. They each loved us, as if we belonged to them alone. There was never a distinction, and I promise you, Peri, none of your children will ever feel that from me," he reached out to take her hand. "Blaze, Cruze, and Eden are already mine and they will never know any different. At least not from me," he reassured her seeing where her questioning was going."

Peri remained quiet for a few moments before leaning in to kiss him. It didn't seem fair that her future children might be fathered by Dante, and yet they would call Josh, Papa. It didn't seem fair to either man she realised, as she thought about it and she wondered how they were able to accept it so easily.

"We've been indoctrinated our whole lives on tradition, honour and duty to family. I realise it is hard for you to understand, but I know Josh feels the same as I do. Your children will be ours, not his and mine." His hand stroked down over her cheek and neck to her bare breast. He smiled as he fondled it gently. "I can't wait to have more children with you and fill our home to overflowing with love and laughter."

"The ones we have are only four months old," she exclaimed wide-eyed.

"Okay so another month or two of practice before making the perfect baby," he grinned. "Practice does make perfect," he laughed at her expression. "Or so they say."

"You think we need practise?" she teased. "I thought we sort of had the baby making side of things under control."

"Maybe Josh isn't the only perfectionist," he murmured kissing her softly. As they came apart once more, the steward appeared clearing their plates and ignoring Peri's half-dressed state turned his full attention on Dante as he tilted his head.

"You may serve the next course," Dante said with a half-smile watching Peri's reaction to the intrusion on their solitude. The steward faded out of sight again leaving them to their conversation.

"Now that you have stopped breastfeeding will you be coming back to work?" Dante asked.

"Part-time," Peri smiled. "I guess we need to discuss it as a family with Josh. The commute is certainly easier from the penthouse but I think Josh would like the House to be our main home, and I think I agree. I'm not sure I want to have to make the babies travel between their homes twice a week, but I don't want to be so far from them either." She voiced her conflicted feelings about returning to work.

"The representatives from the other families want to deal with you personally, not your team," Dante told her. "Once you'd had the babies they went off to continue their research with their families. Most of the information comes in the form of emails and phone calls, now. You could come in one day a week and do the rest from home to start with, if you wanted." He gave her the best option, because even though he wanted her back at the auction house with him, he had already handed over much of the running of the business to his trusted advisors and managers and knew he would not be there every day himself.

"Maybe the team could come out to stay with us for a few days, to formulate a plan of action," her mind began ticking over in regards to changes she would need to make and how she might go about it, in light of what Dante had said.

"Come back to me," Dante murmured, reaching out to tweak her nipple, holding it pressed between his fingers. "It was a simple question requiring a simple answer. There is no need to start planning anything," he saw her refocus on him, and her eyes grow wide as the discomfort in her nipple turned to pain. "You're right, this is a discussion for all of us, as a family." He released the pressure of his fingers and stroked his hand over it gently moving it down to cup her breast and rub the nipple with his thumb.

"I'm sorry," she said breathlessly.

"You will be," he murmured and dropped his hand to hers pulling it onto his lap. "You have no idea what knowing that you are finally mine does to me every minute of every day." He guided her hand over the loose shorts he wore to his erection.

"Again?" she teased. "I thought we took care of that when we came on board."

"Always," he said huskily feeling her fingers curl around his cock through the soft fabric of his shorts. He hadn't bothered with underwear knowing he wouldn't need it here with her. He lowered the other shoulder of her dress, that she had hitched up more than once during their conversation and watched the soft globes of flesh sway before his eyes.

Peri smiled and caressed his cock stroking it as best she could through the soft material. She kept eye contact with him and was surprised when he pushed her hand against his groin and whispered, "Don't move."

It was only then that she realised the silent steward stood behind her with hot plates and food on a tray. He placed them carefully on the table and from his wide satchel like belt he pulled a fresh bottle of wine and opened it. Dante went through the act of tasting it as Peri remained with her back to the man and her hand curled around Dante's cock. Though she doubted he cared to look and was not shocked by their behaviour from the earlier conversation with the Captain, she still blushed deeply, as he poured the wine into fresh glasses and silently left them to their meal.

Throughout the meal, they spoke of the family expectation that women would stay home and be the perfect mothers and while they were all taught similar traditions of duty and honour they were also taught that their place was behind or under their man supporting him rather than being side by side with him. Even Mama who had more power than most women never flaunted the fact that she was anything other than a wife and mother.

Dante confided that he had once walked in on his parents in the middle of a bondage session. "It was the first time I realised that the Donati Princesses could be just as submissive as the Kept. That I could have a wife who would have all the beauty, poise, and grace of a lady and still be a wanton slut in the bedroom," he chuckled shaking his head. "It took me a long time and Lio's counselling to get over the initial shock and come to that conclusion, though."

"Was Cherise submissive?" Peri asked in a whisper wanting to know but not sure if mentioning the woman who broke his heart would spoil the atmosphere of the evening.

"She was willing to try most things, but it didn't come to her naturally," Dante admitted. "I thought she submitted because she loved me, but she loved the money and prestige of the Donati's, not me. In the end, she said she would have done anything, slept with anyone, endured whatever I wanted, but she would never sign a prenup or agree to be put on what she called the budget of a pauper for a year before we could marry. Papa had read her well and shown me what I could not see myself. She'd fallen pregnant to trap me. It was not breaking up with her that broke my heart, but the loss of the baby that could have been."

"He never mentioned money or a prenup to me," she admitted thinking about it. "I guess he needed to know that his power and influence over his family would extend to me. That my love for Josh would mean that I would obey the family laws and traditions even if I didn't like or agree with them." She mused considering the encounter.

"So no prenup then," Dante turned a confused look on her. He had assumed she had been through the same ordeal as Cherise and didn't care about the money.

"Josh never asked what occurred, and I never offered the information, because I didn't know how he would react. He was so happy to have his father's blessing, anything that came before that, didn't seem to matter," She said softly.

"I need to know," Dante said in a strange tone. "I won't force the information onto Josh, but I need to know."

"He talked to me a lot about the family, particularly the Kept and their necessary role. I think he was gauging whether we were in love or lust. He was testing me on a few things, not just the sex side of things, but I imagine it was obvious that it was a big part of our relationship, that I was submissive to Josh. So to test me and whether that obedience to Josh extended beyond him to the family and into the trial I would have to endure," she swallowed and looked up at him before going on. "He had me kneel at his feet and worship his cock. I gave him a blowjob. He was as aggressive as Josh during it, but I did it without balking, because I love Josh that much. I consented to the original trial that both Joseph and Antonia were going to oversee, because I loved Josh that much. I boarded the plane that took me to the Battaglia instead because I love Josh that much." She knew this was not what he wanted to hear, but she said it anyway as if that justified everything she had done, to become part of this family.

"I am glad you loved him that much and I hope in time you can love me with the same passion and commitment," Dante said measuring his words. He felt the bite of jealousy which hadn't plagued him for months but he didn't resent his brother, how could he? He had barely known Peri at the time, and if they hadn't shared such a great love, he wouldn't be here with her now. He found himself wanting to know more about their relationship, the how and the why she had submitted to Josh in the first place. She was an intelligent woman and while not a great beauty in the eyes of mainstream society, to him and obviously Josh, she was beautiful and infinitely desirable. She didn't seem the type to submit easily he thought.

"I do love you that much, silly," she laughed lightly. "Do you think I would let just anyone into what I have with Josh, so completely, if I didn't feel the same way?" She took in his stunned expression. "I would have accepted you as the Oracle and welcomed you warmly when the table asked that I love you as a second husband, so to speak. But we had history and a gentle love born of true friendship and family, long before they asked. I knew then that if Josh allowed it, I could love you as a woman loves a husband. I would never have acted on my feelings if he had any reservations because, " she smiled as Dante cut her off.

"Because you love him that much," he finished for her.

"I do," she admitted. "I love you now too and I would have that same interview with Joseph for you and submit to the same trial if that was what was asked of me by the table, but it wasn't. The challenge for me has been how to show you that I love you that much. That I love you as I love Josh but for all our history we had it at arm's length, and our present includes Josh. We didn't have that time of growing together into our relationship. We have in some ways, but our courtship, if you could call it that, has been so different. I feel like we have loved each other for much longer than the reality of our relationship."

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