I'm learning as I write and I hope I bring a unique woman's viewpoint to the whole process. I appreciate all the help that Quantum Mechanic has given me on this story. Any errors or omissions are all my fault.
Patriarch of the Milky Way, His Beatitude, Father Nicholas O'Donnell left the office of His Holiness, the Pope, bemused. Father Nicholas had just spent nearly three hours in the presence of His Holiness and was astounded at the things he had learned.
Ostensibly, this meeting had been to welcome Father Nicholas into the fold under his new title, Patriarch of the Milky Way. In reality, His Holiness wanted to gather Nicholas' impression of marriage and to let Nicholas in on some major secrets of the Catholic Church, particularly those which would need to be carried into the future.
Father Nicholas was shocked to learn that the Church had a hand in choosing the political leaders of many nations, especially the super-powers. The Church, for all of its vaunted neutrality, frequently meddled in the affairs of many countries. Sometimes the Church acted as a stabilizing influence, which Father Nicholas gathered, but just as often the Church created instability to further its own interests in a region. The Pope fully expected that Nicholas would continue this tradition, all in the name of spreading Catholicism throughout the universe.
The other shock for Nicholas came in the form of a list. The Holy Father had culled priests from twenty smaller parishes and was sending those priests with Father Nicholas into the Great Beyond. Father Nicholas had expected this would happen, especially as he knew that the Church also intended to send every child still in Catholic orphanages with the DiCatania cosca, mafiusi who were taking their religion to the stars.
Also on the list, and accounting for Nicholas' shock were names of sisters and nuns who were being transported as well. The leader of the cosca, Don Giuseppe, had lamented the lack of good Italian Catholic women and girls to be brides for the men he was taking with him. The Pope had solved this problem quite neatly. Every nun who was of child-bearing age, and who had been born into an Italian family, had been quietly offered the opportunity to emigrate to the stars. These nuns would receive a papal dispensation which released them from their holy vows and, instead, commanded them to take vows with a mortal man.
Since all Catholic men being sent to the stars, including priests, had been commanded to marry up to four women, depending on how large a family he could support, each woman would have at least 1 and up to 3 sister-wives. Nuns, being used to living in a communal manner, would be ideal as brides for these men. His Holiness also believed that the special vows made by nuns, poverty, chastity and service, would prove invaluable in the new colonies.
In all, nearly 400 nuns were going with the cosca. Most of these women had been raised in Italian families, which Father Nicholas felt would be a selling point when he met with Don Giuseppe.
Later that evening, Father Nicholas took off his collar with a sigh of relief. His new wife, Michela, brought him a drink and asked if he'd like a snack before dinner. "Sure", Nicholas growled, "I'd like to take a big tasty bite of my wife!"
He pulled Michela onto his lap and gave her a loving kiss. Michela giggled like a schoolgirl and pretended to slap his hands away from her. "You'd better quit or I'll burn dinner again!" Then she smiled, "However, I did turn the oven off before I came in here. It will keep for a little while." She kissed her husband enthusiastically.
Nicholas motioned for Michela to sit facing him so he could get to the buttons on her shirt. When her blouse was open, he leaned back a bit to admire the breasts he loved to spend time exploring. He watched her nipples harden under the bra and leaned forward to nibble a bit. Michela moaned low in her throat and let her head fall back to give him better access.
He pushed her shirt down her arms, then removed the bit of lace that impeded his access. As he suckled on her, her head fell forward and her arms came around his neck. "Mmmm, that's wonderful" she said.
She removed his collar and tossed it aside, then began undoing his cassock, which was difficult to do without making him stop licking her nipples. Finally, she made him wait while she stood up to undo the button on her skirt.
"I think you're overdressed there, Father" she teased him. She let the skirt fall to the floor, then kicked it aside, leaving her high heels on. He stood for a moment to remove his pants and Michela knelt in front of him. She looked up at her husband, "May I ask for forgiveness now for what I'm about to do?" He gasped as she slid her tongue along his dick, then nearly fell into the chair when she opened her mouth to let him slid into the silky depths of her throat.
His hands tangled in her hair. "If you keep doing that, I'll forgive you anything!" She kept her eyes on his as she slowly suckled him in and out of her mouth. He watched as her hands trailed down across her breasts, then one hand hit her center. He groaned and pulled her to her feet.
When he turned toward the bedroom, Michela said "Why don't we try the chair tonight?"
Nicholas looked over his shoulder at the chair. "How will that work?" She pushed him backwards and said "Have a seat."
When he was comfortable, she stepped forward, allowing her knees to settle in on either side of him. "Recline it back." She whispered in his ear. She slid her tongue along his neck, making it difficult for Nicholas to find the handle. Finally, the chair reclined and Michela raised herself into the air, only to impale herself on him. "Ahhhh, that feels soooo good." He found that he didn't have to do much, and couldn't, but he caught her breasts in his hands so he could lick them both as she moved up and down on him.
She felt so good that he had to do something to distract himself. He kissed her nipple, then said "What's this position called?" Her answer was garbled because she was in the throes of orgasm. He caught something along the lines of "Oh God, yes, that's so good".
She slumped on top of him for a moment as she kissed him. Her eyes opened and she said "Woman astride". Nicholas blinked in confusion. "The position, it's called woman astride, cowgirl, woman on top".
He grinned at her. "I think you need to stop talking now." He snapped his hips upward, letting his dick do the talking for him. As he moved in and out of her, he growled in her ear "I think it's time you shut up and let me show you how this is done."
Michela marveled at how quickly her husband had learned what she liked. She felt her body gearing up for another orgasm and she started rotating her hips to match Nicholas' strokes. She locked her hands on his shoulders and felt him starting to lose the rhythm, indicating he was close to coming himself. Her head fell back as she started screaming again.
Afterward she sat with her head on his shoulder, his hands stroking her back. "You hungry?" she asked.
Don Giuseppe, aka Joe Fanelli, was astounded when he and Father Nicholas met the next day. "Twenty priests and nearly 400 nuns?! I didn't mean to take the entire clergy with me!"
Nicholas made an open-handed shrug. "You know the Pope is trying to think into the future, Joe. He's also trying to solve your woman shortage the quickest way possible, as well."
Joe sounded angry, but Nicholas had learned by now that Joe was gruff until he had a handle on new situations. "I'm not sure I like the idea of nuns being asked to break their vows. How does a man compete with their First Husband?"
Father Nicholas laughed, "By being himself, as your lovely wife pointed out to me when I was courting Michela. Not to disrespect God, but a flesh and blood man automatically has a bit of an advantage in the bedroom!"
Joe nearly choked on the brandy he had been sipping. "Father! I can't believe you just said that!"
Nicholas grinned at the Don. "I am just being practical, as is His Holiness. How on earth can you be fruitful and multiply if there are no women to multiply with?"
"Besides", Nicholas continued, "Most of these women are accustomed to working in extreme conditions with limited resources and I know that several of them have training as nurses. Listen, why don't you talk it over with Maria and Luisa and get their input? I know they'll have opinions"
Joe had been married to Maria for over 20 years. Luisa was his newest bride on his way to his four that the Pope had encouraged every man to marry. While Joseph Fanelli, a.k.a. Don Giuseppe DiCatania, was an important man in the new colony, and had been a well-respected businessman, legit and otherwise, on Earth, he knew that both of his wives would have plenty to say about this, and that they would both be much more practical about it than he would ever be. He resolved to leave that issue alone until he had time to discuss it with his women.
"In other news," Joe said, "how soon do you think we can do this wedding? I know the Pope prefers that we conduct the priests' weddings after they leave Earth. What are the logistics for that?"
Father Nicholas sobered now. "I've given it some thought. I believe that the priests should marry when we get to the colony. Ideally, we'll perform the ceremonies en masse, but I'd like it to be 'an event' with as many of the other colonists present as possible."
"What I'd really like to do is arrange some kind of party or parties for as many of the men and women as possible. We'll bring everybody in and ask them to spend time getting to know one another. Why don't you put it to your ladies and see what kind of input they have for you?"
At dinner that night, Joe looked down the table at Maria. Ah, how he loved her. She was everything a wife should be, still beautiful and sexy after all this time. And her mind, yes, he could discuss anything with her. She often surprised him with her insights into impossible situations.
Seated beside Maria was Luisa, his bride of only a few months. Maria had been instrumental Joe's decision to marry Luisa. Luisa had been married to an old friend and rival, Phil, who had died shortly after Joe arranged to evacuate his cosca to a safe location off-planet. His last request had been that Joe marry Luisa and treat her as his own wife.
Joe certainly felt he'd been lucky to receive that request from Phil. Luisa was younger than Joe and Maria, in her mid-30's. She was also a beautiful and intelligent woman who loved children. Joe had adopted her son by Phil as his own child when he married Luisa and he smiled fondly at the boy now.
He also suspected, although neither woman had confirmed it yet, that Luisa would soon be giving him another child. She had that sweet maternal glow that Joe remembered from Maria's early pregnancies. It would be good to hear more little ones running around.
After dinner, the children were sent to bed and Joe asked his wives to join him in his office. He gave them a brief rundown of his meeting with Father Nicholas and asked for their input.
Luisa was the first to speak. "I think that sending nuns is a wonderful idea! They will make great second wives and the ones with medical training will be very helpful to our doctors."
Maria concurred. "I agree with the Pope that nuns, especially Italian-born nuns, will make excellent wives. Like Luisa, though, I think they'll be better as second wives since I assume they will have a tendency to be submissive, but I'm all in favor of that idea!"
Joe was stunned by his wives' ready acceptance of the idea that nuns should travel to the colonies and that those nuns should marry. His own idea of nuns came from years of Catholic schooling at the orphanage where he'd grown up. He wondered if each nun would bring her own ruler.
After some discussion of logistics, his wives lured him into their bedroom for some more convincing. Although he usually spent his evenings with whichever wife he desired, tonight the ladies had something a bit more risqué in mind.
While Luisa was changing into "play clothes", Maria poured Joe a brandy and massaged his shoulders and head. The two ladies seamlessly changed places so that Maria could put on something more appropriate to the evening ahead. Joe, relaxing with his eyes closed, merely smiled when he noticed different hands and perfume.
Maria caught Luisa's eye when she walked back into the room and Luisa pulled him to his feet, then moved around to rub his chest while Maria stepped up to hug him from the back He sighed deeply, "Ah, I see my wives want to kill me tonight. I'll just give in now. Anything you want, my loves, you may have!"
Maria giggled. "We just want to spend some time with our husband and, since you are so intimate with both of us separately, we wanted to share you at least this once. Is that okay with you?"
Since he had harbored similar thoughts, but never had the nerve to act on them, he was perfectly fine with the idea. He turned his head to kiss Maria, then looked down at Luisa and kissed her as well. "You only live once!" he said.
Luisa smiled up at him and then finished taking off his shirt. Maria quickly divested him of his pants, then the three moved to the bed. While he remained the center of attention, his wives made certain they got to know one another more intimately that evening as well.
In big families, there are no secrets. Such was the case with the cosca, as well. The sisters (nuns who had not completed their vows) and nuns were brought to the colony in plain clothes, not in habits. Joe wanted to give the former sisters as much of an advantage in the marriage sweepstakes on the new colony as he could. Soon, though, the other women knew exactly which women were former sisters and exactly where those girls had grown up.
Joe's wives, along with Michela O'Donnell, took charge of the ladies and made sure the sisters had suitable clothing, although a bit more modest than what most of the Italian ladies wore, since that was what the sisters had been comfortable wearing on Earth.
Still, they were distinguishable by their simple dress, simple hairstyles and lack of makeup. Such was the case with (former) Sister Mary Grace. Mary Grace had answered the Pope's call for sisters and nuns to immigrate to the new colonies for many reasons, the chief one being that she had developed a yearning for children of her own. Mary Grace had become a sister at 16, after four years spent in an orphanage following the death of her parents in an automobile accident. The nuns had been wonderful to Mary Grace and it was only natural that she would want to emulate these Sisters of Mercy.
Sisters of Mercy was the Order she had belonged to on Earth. They specialized in caring for orphans and, for nearly 10 years, Mary had been happy taking care of the orphaned or abandoned children of others. Her Order had worked in one of the deeply Italian areas of Pennsylvania, which suited Mary's upbringing fine. Her parents had been second generation Sicilians and had adhered tightly to the old traditions. Their only regret had been that Mary was their only child.
Recently, however, Mary Grace had begun to feel a sense of something missing, as if she were supposed to do something more than care for other people's children. One night she dreamed about children, which was not unusual, but she dreamed about children with dark hair and eyes who called her mommy. After that night, Mary Grace had seriously thought about leaving the Order, but where would she go? The Pope's missive regarding the new colony had come at the perfect time for her. She immediately volunteered to go to the stars.
Mary Grace's arrival on Catania was low-key. She came out of suspended animation feeling somewhat groggy, but well-rested. The ladies who helped her get dressed and eat a meal were kindness itself, but they were very chatty. Mary Grace was used to quiet, low voices, not the seeming chaos going on around her.
She found that she and many of the other single women who had come without family were sheltered dormitory-style in one of the buildings on Catania. The accommodations weren't much, just some cots in a big room with a double-bathroom at one end, including small showers. Most of the girls kept their clothing in the trunks that had been provided on the journey to their new home.
Mary Grace loved the camaraderie of the other women and tried to make friends with the others, but was inhibited by her shyness. Most of the other girls were just roommates to her. She didn't know how to really mingle with the other ladies.
Meals were eaten family-style and a kitchen was provided for their use, although the girls were definitely encouraged to accept all invitations to dinner from the established families. Mary Grace ate dinner at Don Giuseppe's house one evening and at the home of other families on other nights. She saw other girls leaving the dormitory almost daily, moving in with their new families. The twenty priests sent by the Pope were doing a brisk business in weddings these days!
Mary Grace was everything she had been taught a woman should be, quiet, obedient, pleasing to speak to, but she didn't get a flicker of interest from any man she met even though she'd been on the planet over a month. She determined to find out why she wasn't finding a man when girls who weren't much personality-wise were being plucked away at record speeds.
She decided to visit one of the clothing "stores" that had sprung up on Catania. Of course, there weren't any actual store-fronts yet. These stores were typically operated in someone's living room or a spare room. Several of the more enterprising women had brought their entire wardrobes to Catania, and then set about making the clothes over and selling them to other women. Of course, money was useless now, but the barter system was alive and well.
The other girls told Mary Grace that Mama Sortino had a gift for picking out the right clothing for each woman. Mama Sortino would look the woman over, and then pick out two or three outfits that made the woman look like a million dollars. Every girl Mama Sortino had dressed married soon after.
Mama's reaction to seeing Mary Grace step into her shop was extreme. "Madre de Dios!" she cried, "Why are you wearing such shapeless clothes girl?" Mama bustled over, "Take off that ugly brown sweater and where did you get those horrible shoes? You dress like my grandma! Off! Off! Off!" Soon, Mary Grace was wearing nothing but her undergarments, and even these made Mama Sortino nearly cry. "What do you need such a huge brassiere for? You don't even have a handful! Ugh, and those panties ... for shame, someone should have burned them instead of shipping them!"
Mary Grace, while embarrassed at the woman's frank assessment of her body, determined that she would take the woman's advice. Being embarrassed would not keep her from finding a man to father her future babies!
Mama called her daughter, Nicki, over to her. "Get her the black pants with the light blue blouse and that pair of black heels. And, the red skirt and white tank top. Hmmmm, and find her some matching lingerie for underneath! Pronto! Pronto!"
Mary Grace soon found herself standing in front of a mirror, and she barely recognized the woman looking back at her. The pants accented her nicely shaped bottom while the shirt drew the eye to her face. When she put on the red skirt and white top, she realized that she had good legs and lithe arms. The heels added a bit of height and made her stand up straighter in order to walk.
"Bellisimo!" cried Mama Sortino. "You look like a young woman now instead of someone's dead grandmother. You look like a girl with some bazoombas! And, that skirt makes your legs look ten feet long! You'll get some male attention in those clothes! Now, Nicki will take you to my daughter Sophia for help with the rest."
Nicki tutted over Mary Grace's frumpy hairstyle. "I know that your hair is probably beautiful when it's not in the awful bun! You have gorgeous eyes, as well, or you would have if you didn't have a uni-brow. You just come with me, let's see if my sister Sophia can't do something with that hair!"
Sophia had attended beauty school before marrying her husband, Gino, but now she had 4 kids under 10 and suspected that number 5 was on the way. The Pope's edict about adding more wives had actually been a relief to Sophia. All she could think was "Great, help with the kids!"
Sophia's cosmetology skills had become somewhat rusty on Earth, but on Catania, she was very much sought after. Gino's second wife, Alexis, was the 20 year old daughter of an old neighbor on Earth. Alexis had been their chief babysitter on Earth, and fell naturally into that role on Catania. The two women had a cottage industry going now. Alexis watched the kids that came into the house and Sophia, with help from her sisters and sisters-in-law, did hair, nails, pedicures and eyebrow waxing at the dining room table. No one discussed the mustache waxing needed to keep Italian women looking their best; it was just done as a matter of course.
Nicki dragged Mary Grace into Sophia's dining room, which was bustling with women cooking dinner, kids playing and running about underfoot, and the sound of many women gossiping while doing their daily routines. Two women sat in chairs in the living room, one with her hair in curlers, the other with cotton between her toes. At the table, one woman was painting another woman's nails, while Sophia stood behind a pulled-out chair, combing a woman's wet hair in preparation for cutting it. Nicki took Mary Grace directly to Sophia, "I've brought you another one, Sis."
Sophia turned her big brown eyes on Mary Grace and introduced herself. "Nicki, take her on into the bathroom and wash her hair. Leave some conditioner in it so I can get a comb through." She turned her head, "Hey, Lola, put some more wax in that pot. We're going to have to get some of those eyebrows off. Better make it a lot. I'm betting she ain't ever shaved her legs!"
Over the next few hours, Mary Grace was alternately cut, curled, painted, prodded, waxed and, in general, tortured in every way a woman could be to bring out her beauty. Mama Sortino's girls were thorough. They even slipped whitening gel into Mary Grace's mouth on a bite tray while her eyebrows were waxed. After the pain of the eyebrow waxing, Mary Grace drew the line at having her legs waxed. She decided she'd try shaving her legs once she got back to the dorm.
The pretty woman who walked out of Sophia's house later that afternoon bore little resemblance to the shy sister who'd walked in earlier. Her waist-length hair had been cut to the middle of her back, releasing the natural curl so that her hair fell in graceful curls. Sophia had declared Mary Grace's hair to be naturally beautiful and the soft waves framing Mary Grace's face brought out her high cheekbones and dark eyes. A touch of lip color and light mascara highlighted the former sister's face to its best advantage.
Mary Grace stood taller and walked with more confidence. She'd also started coming out of her shell. She'd had to talk much louder to be heard over the other women in the house, and she'd enjoyed talking to the other customers and workers about things they had in common. All of them loved children and had dilemmas about getting along with others or keeping their personal spaces neat and tidy.
Most importantly, Mary Grace hadn't been allowed to be shy in Sophia's house. Several mothers, sisters and wives went home talking about the beautiful former sister they had met that day. Mary Grace was surprised at the number of invitations she received after that. She spent time with several of the women of the colony and began to make friends. Those friends passed on their shared wisdom for catching the attention of men. Being sweet and polite was all well and good, they taught her, but men don't start looking deeper until the outer package catches their eye.
Father Nicholas held a meeting that week to talk to the twenty priests who had come with him. "All of you have now been on Catania for at least two weeks. I know that every Italian family with a daughter, sister, cousin, mother or third cousin twice-removed has had you guys over for dinner, yet not one of you has even had a single date! I know that it's awkward to start talking to women and thinking of them as potential wives after making a vow of chastity. However, it's not that hard once you actually put it into practice."
"Most of you will probably find it easier if you ignore the younger women and concentrate on finding a woman whose age is closer to your own, preferably one who has been married and has a child already. If you haven't found a woman within one month, I'm going to start arranging blind dates. Maybe I'll even let Michela start match-making for you all. I need to have all of you married as soon as possible as an example for both the current colonists and the priests to follow later. If you're not all married within three months, I may have to actually choose a bride for you!" Father Nicholas actually thought that was rather high-handed of himself, but it had worked for the Pope, so he hoped it would get this crew started.
Michela had urged Nicholas to start doing the mixers the night before, so Father Nicholas spoke with Don Giuseppe about it that night. By the end of the week, everyone was abuzz with speculation about the party to be held at the end of the month. There was also a rumor floating around that Father Nicholas was really pushing the priests to find wives of their own.
Father Federico DeAngelo had actually been working up his courage to call on a woman from his hometown of Boston. Jenny Solari was a girl from the old neighborhood, although Fred had actually run with Jenny's brother Joe as a kid. Fred had worshiped Jenny from afar as a teenager, and she had starred in many of his sweaty late night fantasies. Fred had never been able to work his courage up to ask her out, then he'd gone to seminary school.
Jenny's father had been part of the local cosca in Boston and had arranged for Jenny to marry Vito Solari immediately after high school. Vito had been a good soldier in his cosca, but had been shot four years back during an attack on his boss. Jenny had been left with two rambunctious little boys and another on the way.
Being an Italian woman, Jenny had a tendency to gain weight, so she was a little heavy. Combine that with having three small children and she hadn't even thought about getting a job or a hobby. That left her with few opportunities to get out and about. Since la familia takes care of its own, Jenny hadn't needed to worry about things like money. She knew that, at an appropriate time, her father would arrange another marriage for her.
Of course, that was before the Sa'arm threatened Earth, and before Don Giuseppe's decision to start a new colony on Catania. Now, she was alone, light years from home, and her only skills were keeping a clean house, having babies, and being a good wife.
Father Fred heard all of this information through the rumor mill and found it all fascinating. He'd seen her around, even spoken to her a couple of times. As far as he was concerned, the weight she'd gained had landed in all the right places. Jenny now had bigger breasts than he remembered and he had to watch himself so he didn't get caught checking out her well-padded butt. He decided that he should maybe pay Jenny a visit. Strictly to offer spiritual support, of course.
He knocked on her door a few days after his meeting with Father Nicholas, and blushed when Jenny answered the door. "Hi, Jenny. Remember me? I'm Fred, from the old neighborhood. I just thought I'd stop by and see if there was anything I could do for you. You know, since we're both from Boston and all."
Jenny may have been out of circulation for a few years, but she still recognized a suitor when he came knocking at the door. "Come in, Father Fred." As she backed away from the door, she caught his eyes dropping to her breasts. She stood up straighter and thrust her chest out a little bit. "Would you like some coffee?"
"Coffee?" Fred blinked. "Um, sure. I'd love a cup of coffee. I mean, sure, yeah, thank you."
Jenny started the coffee pot and went down the hall to check on the boys. They were napping right now, but she knew they'd be up soon. She looked back up the hall at the bedroom door, but Fred turned his head just in time to keep Jenny from catching him staring at her butt. Entering the kitchen again, she offered Father Fred a piece of cake to go with the coffee.
Fred didn't know it, but he won Jenny's heart instantly by taking a bite of the cake and then declaring "Oh, that is wonderful! I haven't had cake that good since my mother died!"
They chatted for a few minutes about Jenny's kids, her brother Joe, his career and their new lives on Catania. Finally, Fred looked at Jenny "Jenny, I'll have to admit that I'm here under false pretenses. I did want to see you again, but I really wanted to see if you were still the same pretty girl I had a crush on as a teenager."
"You may not know it, but the Pope has ordered that Priests who immigrate to the colonies have to marry as many as four wives. This, after years of believing that we'd never even have one wife. Do you have any idea how hard that is for someone like me to do?"
Jenny smiled gently. "I bet it's a real shock to you, trying to figure out how you'll do that... ?"
Fred nodded vigorously. "Yeah, so I wondered..." He couldn't say any more. He just blushed and looked at the table.
Jenny knew that this moment would decide the rest of her life. She knew that no one would force her to marry anyone she didn't like, but she also knew that nobody on this new planet knew who she was and where she came from like Father Fred.
"Father Fred, did you come here intending to ask if I might be willing to become one of your wives?" Jenny asked softly.
The look on his face was answer enough. Fred blushed even redder, then stammered out. "I hope you're not offended. I just thought that, since we're both from the same place and we kind of know each other, well, maybe, we'd be good together."
Fred stood up. "This was a mistake. I'll go and you can just forget we ever talked about this if you like."
Jenny stood up, too. "I don't think you should leave yet. We have some planning to do if we're going to get married. We're going to have to find you some more wives, too."
Fred looked hopeful. "You mean you might be willing to marry me?" He held out his hand, "Let's shake on it."
Jenny stepped toward him. "How about you kiss me instead?" Father Fred had his first kiss with his bride-to-be and crush from the old neighborhood, light years from Earth. Jenny decided it would do, for a start.
For his part, Father Mario Ricci had no clue where to even begin seeking a wife. He spent a good bit of time at the rectory, pacing his room. Since his sleeping quarters were small, and shared with Father Fred, this soon became monotonous. He decided that he needed some time to sleep on it.
Father Ricci overslept in the morning and woke up as crabby as the night before. When Fred came into the room, Ricci was so distraught that he missed the grin on Fred's face. "Can you believe that? I can't believe Father Nicholas thinks we can find wives in three months! It's impossible and I have half a mind to go tell him so!"
"Oh, I don't know about it being that hard. You just have to put yourself out there." Fred said.
He swung around and looked at Fred. "What's wrong with you? Did you take some kind of drug this morning?"
Fred laughed. "No, I just found my first wife last night. Her name is Jenny and she's from my old neighborhood on Earth. She's the girl I used to dream about at night before I became a priest."
Father Ricci was stunned. "Really? You found a woman that fast?! You need to be giving lessons!"
"Not I," said Fred, "I think I'll just keep my eyes open for my second wife while I watch the rest of you struggle to find your first one. Besides, Jenny's joined the hunt now as well. I think we'll work quite well together."
Ricci asked, "What about asking her to be on the hunt for me? I need a wife too, you know?"
Fred said "Nope, you're on your own." He left the room.
Father Ricci decided he'd have to try a different approach. He decided to go talk to the grandmothers and older women. Whenever he'd had problems at his parishes on Earth, he'd always gone to the older women for advice. He figured this was exactly the kind of thing where advice from "the ladies" would be useful.
He went first to Mama Sortino's house. She always had a stream of women coming and going, so he was surprised that only she and her daughter Nicki were home. Father Ricci was uncomfortable discussing such a delicate subject in front of Nicki, so Mama, who could take a hint, sent Nicki over to Sophia's for a bit. Once Nicki was gone, Mama turned to Father Ricci. "So, rumor has it that you have three months to find a wife or Father Nicholas will find you one. Is this true?"
Father Ricci blinked in surprise. "Well, yes it is, but how did anyone find out about that conversation?"
Mama Sortino said "We women have our ways. Why don't you tell me what you are looking for in a wife and I'll try to think of someone who might fit you."
He'd given it a lot of thought, but listing things he'd like in a wife seemed somehow crass to Father Ricci. He did it anyway. "First of all, if I'm going to tell you all my dreams, maybe you should call me by my given name, Mario." He paused while she nodded. "I'd like a woman who is pretty and mild-mannered. Someone who can cook, clean and keep house like my mama did. Father Nicholas has recommended that I look for someone who is a bit older and has been married and has children."
"Let's see. You want the Virgin Mary, combined with a maid, but she has to be a widow and have children. You don't want much, Mario!"
He sputtered, "But, Mama Sortino, I didn't mean it that way. I'd just like to be able to look at my wife and not shudder. And, I don't want to marry a shrew. I've seen what that kind of wife does to a man. I just want someone I can be happy with!"
"What I really need, though, is someone who has experience running a household. I've lived in a rectory all of my adult life. Women from the parish have come in and cleaned for us; the priests all take turns cooking and doing other stuff around the house, but I've never had to deal with living with an actual woman. And now I'm supposed to marry a woman, not one woman, but four of them! I don't have any idea how to deal with that! I'm 48 years old! I'm too old to learn new tricks!"
Mama Sortino, Gloria to her female friends, looked appraisingly at Father Ricci. "Father Ricci, I may have a solution for you. I've been a widow since my girls were teenagers, but I'm not too old to have children, at least in theory. I'm also used to keeping girls in line and to taking care of a home. I have to admit that I find you attractive. Maybe it's something to do with the collar you're wearing. Maybe I could apply for the job of being your first wife?"
When he recovered from his surprise, Father Ricci took a fresh look at Mama Sortino. For the first time, he clearly saw her long, dark hair and clear brown eyes. His own eyes wandered over her, noting the way her breasts filled out the pretty top and her trim little ankles. "I think you're a lovely woman, Mrs. Sortino." He glanced around the room and noted that everything was neat and tidy, even though he knew that she ran a clothing store from her home. "You'd be ideal! But, I don't have any experience in being a husband or a lover. You would probably have to teach me how to do everything."
Mama Sortino said, "Well, first of all, I think you should begin by calling me Gloria. Then, maybe we should discuss some of the details."
"Gloria, I have no idea what to do with a woman ... a wife. I don't even know how to kiss a girl. It wasn't something that was encouraged when I was a kid, to go around kissing just any girl. Now, I just don't even know..." He stopped talking because Gloria leaned forward and softly placed her lips on his.
Her lips were soft and gentle and he soon found himself kissing her back. They stood up and she brought his hands around to her back and pressed herself up against him. She let her tongue touch his lips and, when he opened his mouth a little, she traced her tongue along the crease.
His tongue touched her tentatively, tasting coffee and something else sweet. His hands tightened on her back as he pulled her closer. Gloria gave in to temptation and let her hand trail along Mario's jaw and down the front of his shirt, then down his arm. She squeezed the strong bicep, then lifted his hand to her breast, showing him how to slide his thumb along her nipple to make it harden.
Mario lifted his face from hers. "Are you sure we should be doing this?"
Gloria smiled at him. "I am just trying to show you what I like. Don't you like touching me?" His hand tightened over her breast and his other hand slid down over her butt as he kissed her again.
By the time Mario left Gloria's house that afternoon, he knew a good deal more about Gloria, kissing, and he was looking forward to more lessons in female anatomy from his soon-to-be bride.
Over the next couple of weeks, it was not uncommon for Fred or Mario to be seen leaving Jenny or Gloria's homes. The two couples often went for walks in the evenings, sometimes together, sometimes as single couples. Each couple often had dinner alone but quickly realized they would have people counting months on their fingers after the wedding if they did not team up to chaperone one another.
Mary Grace was invited to dinner at Gloria "Mama" Sortino's house a few days later. She arrived at the same time as Father Ricci, who smiled at her as he held the door open so Mary Grace could enter. She missed it, but Father Ricci checked out her legs and bottom as she walked by him. He gave Gloria a wolfish grin as he followed Mary Grace into the dining room.
Introductions were made, and Gloria asked that first names be used for the evening. Dinner was an informal affair, with everyone enjoying the baked ziti Gloria and Nicki served.
After dinner, both couples let Mary Grace know that they were engaged. Mary Grace congratulated them and then nearly burst into tears. Nicki noticed and flew around the table to hug Mary Grace. "What's wrong?"
Mary Grace sniffled and wiped her nose with the handkerchief that Ricci handed her. "N-nothing, really. I just don't understand. I've done everything I know to do and I can't find a husband. How am I supposed to ever have children of my own if I don't get married?"