It was three in the morning when the phone rang, or at least around that time as far as Tommaso was concerned. It wasn't until a few minutes later that the bedraggled man actually crawled out bed after much encouragement from his wife's feet, which constantly kicked him mischievously in the small of his back until he conceded defeat and rolled off the bed and onto the floor. She snorted derisively when he grunted, the hollow sound of his face coming in contact with the floor meeting her ears.
"If you want me to kiss your nose better," she called over her shoulder, head still nestled against the pillow where she lay, "You can forget it unless you answer that phone. And try to do it before the kids wake up; if I have to get up to calm a crying Luca you can forget about it as well."
"A wife is the harshest boss I ever had," Tommy muttered under his breath as he dragged himself upright and staggered to the door, though he was unable to suppress a small chuckle when a pillow flew across the room to collide with the side of his head.
"Go!" His wife, Sofia, couldn't suppress the laughter in her voice either, and despite the ungodly hour of the morning Tommy was in a significantly amiable mood by the time he reached the phone in the kitchen.
"Hello?" he answered, cradling the phone against his ear with the crook of his shoulder as he leaned back against the counter. When his brother's voice reached his ears his eyes widened and his eyebrows shot up in alarm. "Mikey?"
"Tommy, where have you been?" Michael sounded pressed and almost out of breath on the other side of the phone. It was the middle of winter and it was cold outside, and soft white flakes had been falling all night, gently but persistently; he must be using a phone booth outside, somewhere where the cold was biting. Tommaso's answer was confused.
"What do you mean 'where have I been', I been right here at home sleeping like any sane person at this hour. What's all this about, callin' me up at three in the morning?"
"It's quarter past," Michael corrected, "And we need ya, Tommy. Boss's hitting all the big sharks at once, and we need the best gun in New York."
Tommy's head sank into his palms and he sighed heavily; Michael caught it clearly on the other end of the line. "You've got to be kiddin' me. Now you've gone and woken up Luca, too." Tommaso glanced to the side as Sofia skirted through the kitchen, shooting him a short look as she rushed to attend their bawling, two-year-old boy in the next room. "Now she's never gonna' kiss me better."
"If you'd stop rolling off your bed like a kid"
"If you'd stop callin' me in the middle of the night
"Look, would ya stop stalling? One last job, then you can take a break, Ramazzo said so himself. This is the big one; Donegani, Attanasio, Brugnoli, they'll all be there. They're meeting at the Night Owl's Diner and we're due to pay them a surprise visit. I'll meet you at the curb in ten; Tony's got the car."
And then he hung up and Tommy sagged against the wall with another exasperated sigh. Sofia swept back into the room as he clicked the telephone back into its holder. She was lightly bouncing Luca in her arms and swaying from side to side, humming a soft melody under her breath. The boy was exhausted and leaned against her heavily, his head buried against his mother's neck, almost completely curtained by her wavy brown hair. She shot her husband a stern look from across the room, a look that assured him if he didn't give her a good explanation he could forget about kisses ever again. Of course, this wasn't the first time this had happened, and Tommy let his arms fall to his sides in a gesture of helplessness, shrugging his shoulders as he meandered around the kitchen furniture across the room towards her.
"The boys want me tonight," he said at last when he reached her, tucking a curl of her hair behind her ear to free the face of his son. His eyes softened at the sight of the infant, who was already falling back to sleep. "Apparently it's really important, you know how it is."
Sofia sighed, but she'd heard it before. She suddenly looked so tired in the light from the ceiling lamp. "Sometimes, Tommy, I wish you weren't the best hand in New York."
Tommaso grinned a little, trying to lighten the mood. "I thought you rather liked these hands
" He tickled her sides, though his eyes glistened for a moment to betray alternative intentions. A smile tugged at the corners of Sofia's mouth and she freed one hand to swat him away lightly.
"I'll only be a short while," Tommy continued when that sorrowful glaze swept over her eyes, "And then Mikey says the boss'll let me off for a few weeks. We can travel maybe, go see your mother down in Jersey, maybe take the kids to see Sicily, you always wanted to show 'em where you grew up. He said the rest of the New York bosses are meeting and he wants to put an end to their schemes before they get the edge against our family, but after that things'll cool down, you'll see."
He leaned forward and coaxed her lips into a light kiss; their son fidgeted against her shoulder, but was already asleep.
"Just a few hours," Tommy murmured quietly in Sofia's ear, "And you'll have your husband back."
His hand caressed her cheek, brushing aside her hair before he pulled her into another kiss. This time she deepened it, stopping Tommaso in his tracks when he made a move to leave, and closed her eyes. They stood there together in the middle of their kitchen, transfixed, savouring each other's company, almost transported back to the very first kiss they'd shared before their marriage and their children
before the heavy responsibilities of the Mafioso. Then, abruptly, Tommy stepped back and turned on his heel into their room.
Sofia watched sadly as he got ready to leave.