St. Dunstan's Nuns Ch. 03byNigel Debonnaire©
It was a balmy September morning in Rome when Sister Juliana and I went to shop for fresh vegetables. The market was bustling with local restauranteurs and minions of the wealthy, anxious to find the best produce for the day's menus. Walking through the market purposefully, we looked everything over before approaching a vendor to haggle. We knew several of the merchants who brought the jewels of Lazio and Umbria to the hungry city, and our banter was lighthearted as we negotiated the best prices for our supplies. Most of them are a little scared to cheat a nun, but I have to show them I'm on top of things.
Freddo Salvatore greeted us as we approached his fish stand. "Bon giorno, Sisters. Can I interest you in some fresh mussels?"
"Yes, Senore," Sister Juliana chirped. "It's been too long since we had them last."
"Ah, Sister, these were in the bottom of the Adriatic just twelve hours ago. Can you do better than that?"
She giggled nervously, and he beamed at her. Freddo was an older version of his son Rocco, who's our groundskeeper: both are tall, well built, dark hair and eyes, with a broad smile marked by a golden tooth. "Everything looks good this morning, Freddo," I said. "I think we can take enough for a nice fruitti del mare this evening. Do you think the Sisters will like that?"
"It will charm the cold heart of La Rossa herself," Freddo beamed. "I'll bring it over this afternoon right after lunch, Senora Mavis will be delighted."
"Excellent," I replied.
"Sister Juliana, you look particularly gleeful this morning. Is there a reason behind your delicious little smile?"
A bright blush overtook Sister Juliana's olive complexion and she giggled again. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Ah, I thought my Rocco had finally wormed his way into your heart."
I gave him a sharp look. "Or under her wimple?"
Freddo and I laughed as Sister Juliana turned a brighter shade. "I'm just teasing, Sister, just teasing. You both are always a lovely sight, and I'm happy you give me your business. Ciao." He turned to talk with another customer, and we made our way down the line of stalls in search of fresh bread.
After finishing our round, we were on our way to the nearest bus stop when my cell phone went off with a text message. Looking down, I said: "Shit" aloud in English.
"What Sister Franny?" Sister Juliana replied. "Is there trouble at the Generalate?"
"I'll bet," I said, switching back to Italian. "It's from La Rossa: GET YOUR ASSES IN A CAB BACK HERE ASAP. We haven't done anything questionable lately, so I imagine there's a crisis somewhere in the world. Taxi!" I shouted as a cab approached.
The cabbie was happy to take us back, acting like a perfect gentleman and helping us with our bags. Rocco Salvatore the Gardener met us at the gate to pay the cabbie off and relieve us of our burdens, leaving us free to come in immediately. "It must be an emergency," Sister Juliana sighed. "Rocco didn't even favor us with a 'welcome home' leer. Everyone must be scared."
"I hate to think what's going on," I said. "Don't think it's a problem overseas, or she wouldn't get us back this quickly while making Rocco take the groceries from us at the gate. Maybe one of the older sisters has had an attack of some kind."
"Like Sister Lucretia last month?"
"Yeah. We had to hotfoot it back from the nightclub. Oh well, no use in waiting for bad news."
We ran down the hallways of the Generalate, our wimples wobbling, skidding around the corner through the open door of La Rossa's office. She was sitting behind her desk, tapping the top with her fingers. "Were you picking out each cucumber one by one, Helen? It took you long enough to get here."
When she calls me by my birth name, I know something's very wrong. "No, Mother. You know Roman traffic; Alberto got us here as soon as he could."
"Oh, you know that lout of a cab driver by name?"
I put my hand on hers to calm her. "What's wrong?"
She stood up and started pacing the floor. "We're having a Visitation from the Congregation for Religious. Cardinal Enrico Terranova, the first undersecretary himself."
"Is he a scary man, Mother Superior?" Sister Juliana murmured deferentially.
"When I told the Elephant, his knees started shaking. He threw on his cassock and started praying the Rosary in the Chapel immediately, after ordering Mavis to prepare a meal fit for the Holy Father himself." She fished in her desk drawer for a pack of cigarettes, then threw them on the table quickly without taking one out. "Crap, can't greet him with smoke on my breath."
"He's coming today?"
"In fifteen minutes. I expect him any moment. Mary Richard and Bernadette are getting the community books ready for him, and you'd better get the house accounts ready for him too, Squirt. Juli, you'll have to get the posh guest suite room for him: he won't be staying the night, but he'll need a room for a nap. Fresh fruit and spring water only: Cardinal Terranova doesn't drink or smoke. God only knows if the man has any vices."
"What about lunch?" I asked.
"He'll be eating with Carlo, it's only fitting the priests take their meal together. Squirt, this man is hell on wheels: the Visitation sisters got a list 64 pages long from his visit with them, and he was only there one day as well. Shoo, you two! Get to work!" As we left, Sister Mary Richard came in at double speed, gibbering, her hands outspread, and we closed the door behind her as we left, not wanting to hear what her issues were.
Sister Juliana flew down the hallway to the guest suite we reserve for the high ranking, and I ran back to my little office on the third floor. It took only five minutes to get the files and ledgers out, and I spent the remaining time before lunch dusting and making sure everything was as far from its usual clutter as humanly possible. The day was growing brighter, and fifteen minutes before lunch, Sister Juliana poked her head around the corner. "Do you think we can lay out today?"
I looked at the clock and did some math in my head. "Don't see why not? He's going to take his nap after lunch, and I'm sure it'll be close to suppertime before he gets up here. I've got everything ready here; did anyone give you a job right after lunch?"
"No, not yet. I think everyone's running around like chickens with their heads cut off. The suite is ready, and Rocco brought up some fresh flowers. We may have to line up for inspection any minute, but I don't think there's anything else I need to do. It's not like he's going to inspect every nook and cranny."
"As frightened as La Rossa was, he might." Sister Juliana started shaking and I touched her shoulder. "No, Sister Juli. Just teasing. He's enough of a terror as it is." The cloister bell rang, and we went to the refectory for our noon meal.
As we got there, we were instructed to stand along the wall in order of precedence, which meant Sister Juliana and I were at the end of a line of 25 nuns who lived at the Generalate. Cardinal Enrico Terranova was a short, thin man, with an ageless, drawn face the seemed incapable of humor, and his red zucchetto sat on a full head of dark hair slightly touched by grey. Our Chaplain, Monsignore Carlo Maria Farinelli, better known as the Elephant, and La Ross flanked him as he progressed down the line, speaking briefly to each sister. His eyes were grey and emotionless, and it took all my composure not to quiver when he looked me in the eyes. "Sister Mary Francis Xavier," he said blandly, "And what is your ministry here at the Generalate?"
"I'm in charge of the house accounts, purchases of all kinds, and the supervision of the grounds and maintenance."
"So how many employees do you supervise?"
"Just two, your Eminence. Rocco Salvatore our groundskeeper and Mavis Hazelton our cook and housekeeper."
"Yes, the handsome young man seems in need of some very strict supervision." His eyes glinted momentarily before a thought dulled them. "Housekeeper? Why do you need a housekeeper?"
"Ah, she's my housekeeper, Eminence," Monsignore Elephant cut in. "I pay part of her salary myself, and she \takes care of my apartment as well as cooking for all. The sisters take care of their own housecleaning as much as they are able."
The Cardinal's head nodded gravely, an eyebrow raising in question as he reached out to touch my chin with his index finger. "It seems you bear a resemblance to our distinguished Mother Superior, and you are from the same country. Are you related?"
"Yes, Eminence. Mother Superior Mary Rufus is my aunt, my mother's sister." Which is literally true: Patricia Parkhurst-Frazleton is my legal female parent, which would make Barbara Parkhurst-Frazleton (Mother Mary Rufus) my aunt even though she is my birth mother. The Cardinal didn't need to know the real relationship between us.
The Prince of the Church continued: "Will you have your books ready for me later today?"
"Yes, your Eminence."
"Good. I will be at your office at 1730." He moved down the line and spoke to Sister Juliana, but she was so frightened she could only warble simple yes and no answers to his questions. Nothing changed in the Cardinal's expression: I figured he was used to making people want to wet their knickers.
After lunch, La Rossa took me to my office and grilled me about the books for an hour before she was satisfied I was ready. It was 1400 before Sister Juliana and I were nude in our rooftop loungers for our regular siesta in the sun. The day had grown very warm, and my skin tingled as a breeze wandered over it from time to time. Sister Juliana was in a blissful realm of her own, her skin glistening with sun lotion, her lips in a relaxed smile and her eyes closed.
We dared spend only an hour before returning to our clothes and our work. I was scouring the Internet for the latest news when the Cardinal entered my office with La Rossa in his wake.
A slight smile played on his lips as he took my seat to look through my ledgers. A forced frown replaced it quickly, and he looked through the pages methodically, touching his index finger to his mouth occasionally. La Rossa watched impassively, keeping a poker face, and tapping her fingers against her arm, a sign of her nerves. I stood quietly, shifting my weight from foot to foot
He finished the last book and looked at me over my own desk. "Tell me, Sister Mary Francis Xavier, where do you purchase the food for the Generalate?"
"I purchase it at the local markets here in Rome, your Eminence."
"No, your Eminence. I go to the markets where the produce comes in directly from the countryside and the docks. Everything I can't purchase there, I buy through a co-operative."
"Your expenses are far less than I expected them to be. Why don't you economize more, and contract directly with a local wholesaler?"
"Your Eminence, I am very particular about the quality of food my sisters have on their table. In spite of our simple fare, I feel it essential for our good health and wellbeing that we buy fresh and I inspect each item personally."
"Commendable, sister, Commendable. And your cook, Mrs. Mavis Hazleton, how do you justify adding her salary?"
"Your Eminence, I was able to create a small stipend for here by creating some economies in other categories, particularly by selling two automobiles that were sitting unused in our motor pool. Monsignore Farinelli augments her stipend, and she has a pension from England as well, so her employment here is not a burden."
"And how much does Monsignore Farinelli pay her for her. . .services?"
"Your Eminence, you will have to take that up with the Monsignore. The only expense of his that I'm aware of is the stipend for his services as our chaplain."
"Very well, Sister." He rose to leave and as he passed me by, he touched my chin and looked deep into my eyes. "You seem a little different this evening, Sister."
"How, your Eminence?"
"Something about your face has changed since lunch. What would that be?"
"I don't know what you're talking about, your Eminence."
A glint of inquiry appeared and left before he withdrew his hand and went through the door. La Rossa
gave me a strange look as she left, and I shrugged my shoulders.
Dinner went quietly; La Rossa changed our table reading from Anna Karenina to City of God for that evening, and during the course of Evening Prayer the Cardinal looked back and forth between me and Sister Juliana when he thought we weren't looking at him. A half hour after we retired to our rooms, I was summoned to La Rossa's apartment, and met Sister Juliana in the hallway. "What's going on, Sister Franny?" she said.
"I don't know. We'll find out, I guess."
"Were we wrong to go out on the roof this afternoon?"
I shook my head. "We got our work done, my interview with the Cardinal went well, and I guess you didn't get visited. What do they have against us?"
Opening the door of La Rossa's apartment, I found her sitting cross legged in her dressing gown with the Cardinal standing before her, covered by his cape. "The Cardinal has a confession to make, after which he has a request of us."
Sister Juliana and I stood before the prelate, and he gestured us to sit. "I have a confession, sisters: I have sinned against you. The sin is the sin against Susanna as recounted in the thirteenth book of Daniel, I crept into the garden of your privacy and looked upon your loveliness while you were unaware. A passing reference by one of the sisters informed me of your early afternoon activity, and I could not resist seeing for myself. I am sorry for having offended you, and desire your forgiveness."
My friend's eyes opened wide in amazement. "You looked at us on the roof? You went up to the head of the stairwell and looked out the window at us?"
The old man looked very small as he nodded. "I am only human, Sister Juliana. I am a man and you are lovely young women, Satan tempted me to gaze upon your beauty unaware." I looked deep into his eyes: they were pleading, but in their depths there was a fire that contradicted his contrition.
"So where do we go from here?" I asked.
La Rossa recrossed her legs. "Cardinal Terranova practices mortification of the flesh. Since you were the means of his temptation, he feels you should be part of the purification of his spirit." She reached into her pocket and produce a couple of small leather flails. "You will give him 38 lashes, one less than Jesus received before he died. He will guide you."
The Prince of the Church opened his cloak to reveal his naked body underneath. Painfully thin, his skin was slightly wrinkled with calluses on his knees. He knelt before us immediately, making himself a ball while presenting his back and buttocks. As he went down, I noticed a healthy penis swinging slightly engorged. He kept his red zucchetto on his head. "Begin," La Rossa said.
Sister Juliana and I gave him very light taps at first, but at his urging increased their force until he was satisfied. His body quivered as we reddened the skin between his shoulder blades and his buttocks, but he remained mostly silent through his ordeal. We finished our count, and he spoke at last.
"Thank you, Sisters, thank you. I am free." He rose to put on his cloak, and it was apparent his mind was not entirely free from his preoccupation: his penis was engorged and red, the end budding a drop of white dew. Looking down, he blushed and unsuccessfully tried to cover himself, his cock wobbling. "I am afraid I am not free after all. The Serpent of Eden that corrupted Eve plagues me still. What can I do to escape his clutches?"
I guided the old man to a soft chair nearby and knelt before him. "I will help you, your Eminence. With your permission, Mother Superior." La Rossa gave me a solemn look and nodded slowly, Sister Juliana stood nearby and just quivered.
Taking his manhood between my palms, I rubbed them back and forth, making him hard as an iron bar. His endowment was generous, long and thin, but not as overwhelming as our own Elephant's member. Slowly I moved up and down on his shaft, spreading the essence leaking from him as lubricant. I gave his balls a light tap and he groaned in acceptance. "Oh Sister, I am such a sinner," he murmured, "you know what I deserve."
So I fell into a pattern by accident: spending several moments stroking him, bringing him closer and closer to ejaculation before favoring him with several stinging slaps with the palm of my hand. It became a game until I glanced sidelong at La Rossa, whose serious look told me it was time to finish my task. "Time to draw the venom from the serpent," I murmured, looking the Prelate straight in the eyes as I pushed him over the edge, coating his thighs and stomach with milky liquid that jetted from him for several moments until subsiding. From the corner of my eye, I saw Sister Juliana licking her lips, and La Rossa's eyebrows were raised high in astonishment.
It took several more minutes for him to leave the dimension of contemplation he inhabited, and La Rossa fetched a silken cloth to clean him. Recovering his senses, he stood up, putting his cloak over him. "As your Mother Superior agreed, we will not speak of this evening's events again. I thank you for your attentions and your help in purifying my soul." Slipping on shoes, he paused as he passed me to murmur in my ear: "I am your friend, Sister. Any thing you wish from me is yours."
It was a week later I entered La Rossa's office to find her reading a letter. "Who's that from?" I asked.
"Our friend, Cardinal Terranova."
"Our friend? Who in Rome calls him that?"
"We do now. The Visitation Sisters got 64 pages of transgressions, the Sisters of St. Rhoda got 2 years outside supervision, and the French Dominicans still shudder when you mention his name, and his visit was 10 years ago. We get a one page letter commending us for our zeal."
"I guess because we are so brave in our battle agains the Serpent of Eden."
La Rossa put the letter down and we laughed until tears came from our eyes. "Squirt, you are so damn funny. What a crock: Serpent of Evil indeed!"
I shrugged my shoulders. "People are funny in the Church."
My Mother laughed out loud again and smiled broadly, her cheeks shining. "Child, that is an understatement."