tagGroup SexThe Twelve Vitali Ch. 27

The Twelve Vitali Ch. 27

byxelliebabex©

Authors note: Hello everyone. Thank you everyone for the positive feedback and comments they mean the world to me and have brightened my days. Thank you once again to Paul who continues to be my second set of eyes. ~ellie.

*****

Cat woke slowly. She had a vague recollection of Matteo and Ricco kissing her goodbye as they left to meet with their fathers again. She stretched languorously and sighed with the pleasure of waking up naturally, feeling better for such a deep unbroken sleep. Thinking about what she wanted to accomplish today, she swung her legs from the bed, grabbed a robe and padded out toward the kitchen in search of coffee before she had her shower.

She did a double take and gasped seeing the three men sitting at the small kitchen table as she entered the space seeking out Lisa. Her hands automatically went to her hair to smooth it down as she took in the faces. Two she knew, the other was new, and she wondered why he was here.

"Good morning, Mrs. Vitali," Lisa said pleasantly.

"I just came in for coffee," she said. "I'll have a shower, and then we can have our breakfast meeting," she said, trying to work out what to do with the three men. "I hadn't expected you this morning, I'm sorry, you'll have to wait a little while until I get what I need to do done this morning."

"Whenever you are ready is fine," Arturo answered. "We were told to let you rest today. You remember Hugh, and this is Bradbury, he is one of your personal security team."

"Team? I have a team?" Cat's eyebrows shot up. "I don't need a team, no matter how paranoid my husband is."

"I will need to sleep at some point, and perhaps have a bathroom break, so having at least one other person is kind of necessary. I also wouldn't mind seeing my family every now and then," Bradbury said with a smirk.

"Oh, I see," Cat said. "Sorry, I'm still half asleep."

"Here's your coffee. Breakfast in half an hour in your studio?" Lisa asked, saving Cat from saying anything else to the men.

"Yes, please, Lisa," Cat took the cup and walked back to her bedroom, realising that the days of leaving her room without showering and dressing first were over.

She showered quickly, leaving the coffee to cool, and then gulped it down as she dressed and dried her hair. She put on a bare minimum of makeup and headed for her studio to meet Lisa. Yesterday she took control of her destiny, today she needed to put all the pieces in place to make sure she could live up to the promises she had made, not only to others, but to herself. She would not let Matteo and Ricco down, nor would she get bogged down in trivial things that other people could handle for her. She had a circle of friends to lean on and household staff to do the day to day things. Whether she liked it or not she was a wealthy and powerful woman now, and the sooner she accepted that and started acting like it the better off they would all be.

"Good morning, Arturo," Cat said, seeing him lounging near the door to her studio.

"Good morning, Mrs. Vitali," he smiled. "You have several requests for meetings today, but as your husband said, it was a day of rest for you, I have put them all off and said you would get back to them when time permitted. Once you are done here, perhaps we could sit and look at your schedule and see what you believe are the priorities for this week. As much as I like your husband, I work for you and intend keeping it that way."

"Thank you. I appreciate that," Cat said. "Once I am done here, Lisa and I will find you men an office to work out of so you aren't crowding the kitchen staff," Cat said thoughtfully. "Then we can do some shopping for what you need to do your job."

"Thank you," Arturo said simply, despite the fact that Matteo had already asked Lisa to show him the available rooms that could be converted to an extra office space. If he were honest, he would rather have a desk within Cat's studio and a separate office for the security team and Hugh. It would take some negotiating though, and he could tell from their first conversation that she was not a woman to be taken lightly or have her personal space crowded.

"I will be out shortly, this shouldn't take more than an hour, at most," Cat said with a smile, and stepped into her studio to find Lisa standing awkwardly near the main desk. "Breakfast, great, I'm starving," Cat said with a smile, taking a seat at the desk and helping herself to a piece of watermelon. "Lisa, please sit down, we have a lot to talk about, and I can't eat and keep looking up at you like that."

Lisa took a chair, but sat on the edge of her seat looking expectantly at Cat.

"I have given this a lot of thought," Cat began. "I realise you would like to keep our working relationship formal, as you do with Matteo and Ricco by calling them Master or Mister, however, you use their first names, so I would like you to call me Catriona, which I think is a fair compromise for both of us," she began. "If you must put a Miss before it, I will understand, but I would rather if you didn't and, given that most of my regular guests will also have the title Mrs. Vitali, that could become confusing for everyone."

"If you like, Miss Catriona," Lisa said, trying out the title.

"I do like," Cat said with a smile. "Now, you obviously care for Matteo, you have been with him a very long time and have been loyal and trustworthy. I would like that affection to extend between us. Matteo has been named the next chair of the Vitali table, which puts me in a position where I must prove that I am worthy of being his wife. It's important that I can trust and rely on you as well." Cat could see how pleased Lisa was with this news, and she wondered why Matteo hadn't said anything, but then he probably hadn't thought to, staff were commonplace to him, and there to fill a role, he probably thought it wouldn't matter to her.

"Of course, you can rely on me to do whatever is needed," Lisa said without hesitation. "I am very happy for you both."

"I'm glad you feel that way," Cat said. "Please have coffee at least with me, even if you won't eat, so we can chat and I don't feel awkward about eating while we talk." She picked up her bowl and spoon and sat back in her chair, watching the woman as she seemed to consider Cat's invitation. She poured herself a small glass of juice and sipped it before placing it back on the table without saying anything else.

"Here goes," Cat said, seeing the woman finally relax a little. "This will be our city home, but over the next few weeks I will be looking at renovating the house on the hill that Matteo built a few years ago. I would like your input on that, as I have no idea about what is required for such a large family in terms of staffing and appliances in the kitchen, and laundry, and those types of things. While I will have experts, none of them have ever had to run a kitchen or laundry, or, now that I think about it, a working nursery. The house on the hill will be our permanent home, so I want to get it right from the very beginning, so I will need you to travel out there with me and advise me. Look at plans and make suggestions. I understand this might be outside your comfort zone, particularly in front of others, but I will make sure we have a daily meeting to discuss household matters, even if it is only short."

Lisa nodded and took a sip of her juice as if stunned by all of the information Cat was imparting.

"I imagine that over the next week, at least, as the gathering continues, we will continue to eat in the restaurant. So, next week can you have a list of meals available for me to look at and approve, rather than expecting me to dictate that? I have so much to do, I need to delegate as much of the small stuff as possible, and, as you know, Matteo's, and I expect Ricco's, favourites I am content to leave that in your hands. If I would like something particular I can let you know when we review the menu at the beginning of each week," Cat instructed.

"That sounds very reasonable, Catriona," Lisa said quietly.

"Wonderful," Cat sighed in relief. "Now, the three men that were in the kitchen," Cat said, pausing as she collected her thoughts.

"If I may speak," Lisa said formally.

"Please, speak!" Cat said enthusiastically, sitting back and taking a mouthful of her breakfast.

"I believe the name 'compromise' is a good one, as is the daily meetings and menu planning. It will give me credibility with the rest of the staff. I would insist that the other household staff, maids and cooks and the like, continue to refer to you as Mrs. Vitali. Many are young and need that distinction. You will also need to be involved with the running of the household on some level, although I am capable of making sure it runs smoothly while we are here in the city. A large house, like the one you plan in the country, will require more staff, and possibly a housekeeper, a chef and a steward to ensure the house runs smoothly. It would be too much for one person alone, and, given a choice, I would prefer to run the kitchen," she said honestly.

"But you could work with and have seniority over a housekeeper?" Cat asked. "You will have to explain what a steward is to me I am afraid."

"A steward would handle the large budget needed for a household as large as what you are planning. They would oversee the staffing of the landscape, gardens, and maintenance, as well as the some of the household staff. The budgeting would mean that the steward would work with the housekeeper who oversaw the household staff, security would also be part of his brief, I believe," Lisa said, trying to remember, as it had been so long since she had to deal with such a man. "The steward is rarely contracted the way household staff are, they are generally trusted family members of some description due to the large budget needed to ensure the comfort of the family."

"Ah, I see," Cat said, considering if Matteo already had a steward at his house. She knew he had what Ricco had called 'caretakers' there. "Well, that is in the future and not to be worried over for now. Right now we need to find an office for the men who were in the kitchen this morning. I would like to be able to walk around my own home in the mornings without facing them each morning."

"Master Matteo asked me to show them several small rooms at the other end of the house this morning. I believe Hugh, the driver, Bradbury, and the two others that will work in shifts, will be happy in the staff quarters. Your personal assistant, however, has expressed his wish to be closer to where you will work. In his case, I believe he may be correct, and that would be for the best," Lisa said. "As you said, you are going to be an extraordinarily busy woman, especially over the next few weeks while everyone wants to see you."

"Point taken," Cat nodded. "Thank you for speaking so honestly with me, that's really what I need more than anything. People I can trust and rely on to have Matteo and Ricco's best interests at heart."

"And yours, Catriona. They would be devastated if anything happened to you," Lisa said with a smile. She liked the young woman who was now mistress of his house, and she would do anything Cat wished of her, despite her misgivings at being so informal with her.

"That is kind of you, but they are the priority, and it is them we have to support right now. I'm afraid they are going to be facing some tough challenges this year," Cat said, thinking about Roberto's illness and why everything in her life was happening so fast. "Now tell me about the new staff and how they are working out, and if we need more, given the events this weekend," Cat said, needing to make sure the people she wanted to support her were well supported themselves.

They spoke for another twenty minutes while Cat finished her breakfast, and Cat realised she would have to ask Matteo about the household budget and how she accessed it. If she had to live like this surrounded by servants and protectors, she needed to make sure they were looked after properly, and she had no money of her own, except for the small little nest egg she received from the Donati family for the portrait she did.

Lisa left the room, and minutes later Arturo tapped tentatively on the door and moved into the room as she acknowledged him with a wave of her hand.

"Before we begin, could you call your husband, please?" Arturo grinned. "He's been quite persistent this morning to find out how you are feeling."

"Persistent is a good way to describe my husband," Cat laughed, and picked up her phone from the drawer she had placed it in so she and Lisa wouldn't be disturbed.

"If I may," Arturo took the phone from her hand and passed her a new phone. "Here is your new phone. All calls to your old phone will come through me, unless you have given the people calling your new number. It is unlisted, so only your husbands and your brother will have your new number, and me, of course. I can transfer any calls to your phone, if needed, and you can share the new number with your friends, but I would suggest you do that sparingly to avoid spending most of the day on your phone instead of seeing to family business."

"That seems a bit extreme," Cat frowned.

"You are in a unique position now, much like someone who wins the lotto. There will be many who seek to take advantage of that. You have already had many calls requesting some of your time this morning. I would never put your true friends off unless you asked," Arturo said, maintaining an air of professionality, despite talking to her like a friend. "People will get used to it, and it is my job, now," he reassured her as she looked at the new phone sceptically.

"Okay, we will talk more about this," she said carefully, and called Matteo.

*****

Lisa tapped on the studio door, and Cat laughed as Arturo rolled his eyes at yet another interruption to their meeting. They'd been discussing what was needed and finding the necessary space, both in her studio and the house, for all of the extra staff for several hours. The time had flown by, but Cat felt she accomplished a lot, despite the constant interruption of the phone and Lisa, who was managing to the installation of the new staff into the staff quarters and security office next to Knox's office, which he would now share with Hugh.

Arturo, being a distant cousin, had grown up with the family laws and a great understanding of the table and all of its roles. He admitted that he was more than happy to be part of Cat's trusted inner circle, and that his loyalty would always be first and foremost to her. He listened to her, but had firm ideas of his own, which he wasn't shy about sharing. Like her, he realised she needed to trust and respect the people around her, and he was determined to be all she needed in a personal assistant. This position would give him access to everything he had wanted throughout his life. The family, and, by proxy, the wealth and power that came with being part of the first family without the pressure of the real work of the table. Or so he and most people believed. After all, how hard could it be to be the assistant of an artist who would likely be pregnant for most of the next few years?

"I'll come out, Lisa, I need a change of scenery," Cat said pleasantly, as Lisa announced that Frankie, Sebastian, Zion and Aria had arrived.

"You can deal with Sebastian for me and take notes, it will be more technical stuff, I'm sure," she continued to talk pleasantly, but Arturo caught the undertone and tilted his head, though he said nothing as they walked out into the living room.

"There she is," Frankie chortled and wrapped Cat in a large embrace. "How are you feeling? Did you get enough sleep?"

"I'm good, and I did," she grinned. "Thank you for coming here rather than making me meet you at the finance house," she said. "It's been nice just to relax and deal with the day to day stuff at my own pace today." She stepped back out of Frankie's embrace to look at the others who had arrived. "Aria, I am so glad you're here, I need your help in the worst way," Cat grinned. "especially with Vanessa out of commission for a few more days. Have you seen her today?"

"Yes, we went and saw her this morning to tell her the news," Aria smiled. "She's recovering well, but she's quiet, and that worries Mama. It was nice to get a word in, on the other hand."

"And you are both happy with the way things worked out yesterday?" she asked Zion and Sebastian.

"There were a few surprises, that's for sure," Zion chuckled. "Logan will be here in a few minutes, he had to pick up someone first."

"Oh, Logan is coming too?" she asked.

"Matt's asked him to act as a temporary steward because of the project he's working on with you," Zion nodded.

"That's great," Cat smiled, "I had wondered about that, and I have a few ideas I need to run past him once I have talked to Aria. My studio is a bit small for so many of us. Would you like to come through to the dining room? Or we could use Matteo's office if you like?" she said.

"Wherever ou are most comfortable," Frankie said.

"Dining room it is then," she grinned and walked through to the large room and imposing table. She took a seat halfway down one side.

Lisa came in offering refreshments. It was mid-afternoon, and she offered tea time treats, which were accepted gratefully by the men, who looked as if they had been in meetings all day. Arturo sat close by Cat with his tablet in his hand, ready to take notes.

"How's the new phone?" Sebastian asked, addressing her for the first time since arriving.

"I haven't had time to play with it, but it's very similar to my last one, from what I can see," she said, swiping its screen and looking at it as it came to life.

"We'll be upgrading all your tech, Arturo already has one of the new tablets that can be networked with yours, Ricco's, and Matteo's. That, however, is your personal phone, and won't be networked to anything or anyone," he explained.

"It has a tracker in it, though, not just the product one, but one of the families design?" Cat asked.

"Matteo insisted," he said tentatively.

"If he hadn't I would have, weird stuff has been happening lately, and I have taken his warnings seriously," she said, surprising Sebastian. "I also spent a lot of time with the Donati; I know what happened to Peri and the table there." She explained further.

"Smart girl," Frankie nodded and patted her hand. "I've had Callista set you up with an account at the family finance house. Like the phone, you will have a personal one and a corporate account that are linked. Arturo and Logan will be given corporate cards for anything they may need that will be linked to a steward account for the households, anything else can be worked out later."

"If it helps, I went through the corporate card process with the Donati family, so I have some understanding of it all," she said lightly.

"Sebastian and Henry are working on some new software that should make reconciling the expenses easier for all," he looked at Arturo when he said that, making sure he knew he would be held accountable for his spending. Cat could have whatever she wanted, of course. Even without the family fortune, Matteo was a very wealthy man, but Frankie didn't want anyone taking advantage of her generosity.

"Henry is lovely, it must be nice to have some help with all the projects you have going on. I expect Matt and Ricco will want you to consult on the house when we renovate," Cat tried hard to speak in a friendly way with Sebastian, despite feeling like he still judged her as not being good enough for Matteo or to lead the family.

"Lovely?" Sebastian's mouth quirked up at the corners. "That's almost as bad as adorable, Logan and Henry aren't puppies, you realise," he chuckled.

"Oh dear," Cat blushed. "Logan didn't seem to mind that I called him adorable."

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