Teresa delivers her child.
Chapter 17 The Delivery
Benvolio rode hard and arrived at the Hacienda the following morning. He paced back and forth in the library where he’d been left to wait, his boots thumping on the polished oak floor. Tomas strode into the room and, without a word, Benvolio handed him Maria's letter.
I suspect that some of the young women here are being used to provide sexual favors...I don't know the details of how it's being accomplished, only that it's happening....I got to talk with Teresa several days ago... Our conversation was short and strained but her pregnancy seems to fit into a pattern of what's going on around here. Benvolio can fill you in on more of the details. How clever of you to make him my chaperon. I can see why the two of you are such friends. Let him relate the story of our trip to the Hermitage. We're making slow progress but I hope soon to get to the bottom of things.
"Remind me never to use you again as an agent," Tomas chided. “You were supposed to be undercover and my sister sees right through you."
Benvolio hung his head. "That sister of yours is a mind reader...I had no chance once she began her questioning."
Tomas laughed for the first time in weeks. "I should have warned you... I knew it was like sending a babe to the den of a lioness. How were you were unmasked?"
"Maria was told to deliver posts to the Hermitage. I was appointed to drive the cart. It only took her ten minutes to unravel the thread of my identity... It was an uncanny and humbling experience...."
"Spare me the details...for now. Tell me what happened at the Hermitage." Ricardo skirted the corner of his desk, opened a drawer and placed the letter inside.
"Your sister delivered the posts and then went inside and found Teresa..." Benvolio dropped his gaze and shifted from one foot to the other. How did he explain the rest without offending his friend?
He took a deep breath and pressed on. "She inquired regarding the deep seated angst Teresa holds against you...was it the encounter in the garden? This does not seem to be the reason. Then Maria asked who fathered the child? Teresa said it was none of her business, but then went on to say she held you personally responsible."
Ricardo frowned, his gaze shifting past his friend for a moment. "Why am I being persecuted in all this...?" he asked aloud, though Benvolio knew it to be a rhetorical question.
“She wouldn't elaborate....only that she feared you would use your powers against those around her."
"What does she mean here by...'a pattern that might explain matters'?"
"Her cell mate is having an affair with some man....Maria believes it's one of the traveling monks... that he is receiving sexual favors arranged by someone in a position of authority....."
Ricardo’s dark eyes widened. "Good God! She thinks this is what happened to Teresa?"
"Such is her suspicion and she's determined to get to the bottom of it."
"I don't like her being alone in that place. You must return at once."
"My horse is saddled...."
“I have a post for you to deliver on the way back. “ Tomas leveled a narrowed gaze on his friend. “Oh, and the next time you bring a message, I want to hear of your adventures on the road to the Hermitage."
Don Ricardo penned a quick letter, sanded it dry and handed it across to Benvolio. He did a quick scan.
Dear Sebastian and Nina,
You were very helpful in the matter regarding Maria’s identity…We are currently involved in a delicate matter and your cooperation has already played an important role in our plans. Now we have an additional favor to ask.
There is a young girl named Teresa Montevallo, about to give birth in the town of Hermosa. She is currently residing at the Hermitage, a home for unwed mothers, on the outskirts. I want you to go to the Courthouse and apply for adoption of the child. When the delivery takes place, return and takes custody of the baby.
Enclosed is a purse that should be more than ample to cover any costs. Do whatever it takes, even if it requires using the enclosed statement that names me as father of the child. Take any liberty necessary with my reputation to the extent of revealing that you act as my agents…anything but accept failure in the task I set before you.
Enclosed is a statement that names me falsely as father of the child. Use it if you have to.
I will see that you are compensated for your efforts, and know I can count on our friendship in this portentous matter. My faith rests in you both.
Don Ricardo de Quintillion
The dawn of the following day was still distant when Benvolio returned to the Convent. He crept quietly inside and stumbled over two legs drawn up next to his bed. It was Maria. He settled next to her and she handed him a bottle of wine. He took a swig.
“What did you learn from Ricardo?”
“He read your letter and drafted one in turn to the Nova’s.”
“What does he intend to do?”
“Adopt Teresa’s child.”
“That’s an interesting development.” He handed her back the bottle.
She took a pull….”What took you so long?”
“I had to go by the Nova’s cottage or I would have been back hours ago.”
“No stops along the way?” she asked with an edge.
“There’s no other woman, Maria,” he groaned in exasperation, “...there’s only you.”
“I have something.” He took a chain from around his neck and put it in her hand.
“This is the ring my mother wore…her wedding band.”
She sobbed.. ”I looove you Benvil...Benvolio.”
“You’re drunk. How long have you been waiting?”
“Hours and hours…”
“Will you marry me?” She looked up, tears flowing in the dim light.
His lips closed on hers and his tongue slipped between. She responded, darting her own beneath, and sliding her fingers under his tunic. He tugged her drawers over her thighs, then with a foot, pushed it off her ankles. Pulling at her habit in frustration he muttered, “Take it off!”
She sat up pulling it over her head. Her underclothes followed.
He stepped back stripping off his own. When both were naked they crawled beneath the blanket. She felt his chest on her bosoms for the first time. Like fine coiled wires his sweaty hair exuded a musky scent that excited her nostrils and tickled her nipples.
Rolling on top he took her wrists, stretched her arms and began sucking a breast. Her breath came faster. Tearing one hand free she reached down searching for his manhood. Finding it, she positioned herself, tugging and guiding it inside.
He gripped the sideboards, his back bent. Her fingers clutched his shoulders. His thighs muscled apart her legs. They yawned as he felt the wet spot close about. Driving with his hips he pushed deep and began to stroke.
Maria responded, finding the beat of their intercourse. Her need began with a gasp of surrender, but then, like a rising storm, began to gather in intensity. "Oh Gawd," she cried out panting with desire. Amid grunts and sighs came the rhythmic slapping of flesh and with every thrust she arched, rising to his surge and then falling away. As their passion built to climax she thrashed about, head rolled back and eyes glazed over. Then with a groan, he came at last, soaking her womb in along squirt of turgid pleasure.
Senor Nova and his wife hastened to Hermosa upon receiving Don Ricardo’s letter. They booked lodging in the only inn the small settlement boasted of and proceeded to the Hermitage. Upon arriving at the dilapidated, two story building, they were ushered into Sister Gomez’s office.
“And what I can do for you.” The Head Nun rose from her seat behind the desk.
“We are hoping to adopt a child.’ Senor Nova fidgeted with the ribbons of the bonnet in her hand. "We heard of the wonderful work you do here and thought this would be a good place to come.”
“The formal adoptions are done in the Municipal Hall in Hermosa.” She motioned for them to take a seat in the two chairs facing her. “We hold the infants briefly in our nursery here. If they are not adopted immediately, they are transferred to the Orphanage in San Miguel’s, but in many cases it is done locally.”
“I would like to speak with the mother before she delivers.” Sonora Nova glanced to the chairs, but chose to stand. She needed all of the courage she could muster to carry out the plan and standing leant her feeling of strength. She forced a smile. “A happy mother carries a happy baby.”
Senor Nova walked over to the desk and laid a purse in front of the Nun. “Ours is a special case…we waited until late in life…alas too late…my wife wants a child and this seems to be the best way.”
“So you want to interview several of the perspective mothers and decide whose child to adopt?”
“If that would be possible. We will be making another contribution once we take custody.”
“I see no problem with that, however it will be several months before we expect our next delivery.”
Three months later the Nova’s returned. Again they booked reservations in the inn but this time announced their intention to stay for an indefinite period…until the delivery of “Their Child.”
Sister Garcia greeted them warmly. “How the time does fly…we will have three of our young ladies delivering this month…They are Lupita, Teresa and Consuela. Who would you like to meet first?”
Not wanting to reveal their hidden agenda, they expressed no preference. Sister Garcia led the way down a long, narrow hallway to Consuela’s tiny room first and then to the room Lupita and Teresa shared. They had the process down and felt more comfortable upon entering the last two girl’s room. Sister Garcia introduced them. Senor Nova stood wringing his hat and let Nina do the taking.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you girls. My husband and I have wanted a child for many years and it never seemed to happen… We prayed for a way to adopt an infant, and now, our prayers have been answered.”
“And what were you hoping for?" asked the Sister. "…A boy or a girl?”
Nina looked up at her husband and he shrugged. “The sex of the infant doesn’t matter…all we want is a happy baby…and I promise whatever it turns out to be we will give it a loving home…and we invite whoever the mother is to come and visit whenever she chooses.”
Nina hugged both expectant mothers, wishing them the best. Sister Garcia stood and escorted the Novas back to her office.
Upon arriving, they were met by an officious looking bureaucrat from the town hall in Hermosa. He informed them he was the one in charge of Land titles, Hunting Licenses and Adoptions. It was a small town, he explained, and officials tended to have many duties that in a larger municipality might have had an office onto themselves.
“So,” asked the Sister…”Have you decided who you want the mother to be?”
Senor Nova shrugged and deferred to his wife. Nina stepped forward. “I think Teresa is the one.”
“Excellent, you won’t have to wait long. As you could see her time is at hand.”
“I believe you are referring to Teresa Montevallo,” said the official taking a file from his leather satchel.
Nina looked over at the sister for guidance.
“She’s the one,” the Nun answered.
“I was afraid you were going to say that.” The bureaucrat’s gaze shifted briefly to the floor. ”She’s what is called a High Profile Case; which means she comes from a prominent family; plus the conditions of her pregnancy,” He cleared his throat, “involve an official who is highly placed in the government.”
“Does that mean we can’t have our baby?” Nina worked to tear up by biting hard on the inside of her cheek. She was determined to make a believable performance.
“No, it only means I will have to exercise some special influence with the Mayor. He is the one who will have to answer should these decisions be called to question….”
“…On what grounds?”
“Should the father wish to petition for the child he would have first right to adoption and the man alleged to be responsible is highly placed. You have no idea how powerful.”
Nina hesitated, but their hand had been forced. “His name is Don Ricardo de Quintillion and it was he who recommended we come here. Knowing our hopes and wanting to do right by the infant, he asked us to apply for the adoption.”
“So why all the mystery?” asked Sister Garcia. “And the insistence on meeting the other mothers?”
“Don Ricardo wanted to keep the matter as discreet as possible.”
“He acknowledges then, his responsibility?” The nun still didn’t look convinced, her cool, blue eyes narrowed on them.
“You have proof?” Her gaze shifted between them.
Nina had not wanted to play this card, but Ricardo’s instructions were clear….do whatever it took. She nodded to her husband.
He handed the bureaucrat the enclosure to his letter. The official seal of the Office of the Hermandad graced its lower right corner.
To: The municipality of Hermosa,
I, the undersigned do acknowledge my involvement in the conception of the infant soon to be born to Teresa Montevallo and nominate Senor and Senora Nova to become adoptive parents.
Don Ricardo de Quintillion, Commissioner.
Senor Nova stepped between the official and the sister and dropped a purse from his hand to the desk.
“May I keep this letter?” the bureaucrat inquired.
“It’s addressed to the municipality…are you the responsible official?"
"I am, and in this case I’m sure the Mayor will be persuaded to go along with adoption."
The realization was beginning to dawn that Teresa’s deliver was at hand; that the child she was about to bear would be handed over to another and suddenly a part of her cried out in despair. For the first time the cold finality of the whole matter was presented and she felt a powerful reluctance to go through with it. Still her mind was made up and the interested couple offered the promise of a happy home.
Teresa lay on her cot. She felt out of sorts. Bruno stirred and stretched, arching his back as the light of dawn poured through the window. At first she thought the strange tightening in her abdomen might have been from something she ate, but then the pain started coming at intervals. These were the contractions, symptoms that her delivery was just a matter of time. She took a deep breath. Bruno came over and nudged her stomach and licked her on the face
“Won’t be long now,” she said, scratching his ears. “The wait is almost over.”
Even though it was her first Teresa was not frightened. She had seen the animals give birth, had often assisted and saw what was now about to happen as something natural. While nervous, she was not overwhelmed by fear. She reached down and felt herself. The opening was getting bigger as her body stretched in preparation for the delivery.
Calmness settled over her. “I can do this…by myself if I have to…”
Little by little, the pain grew, in intensity and frequency. She gritted her teeth, determined to not call out; to not disturb Lupita until necessary. Her roommate slept so little as of late with her own time drawing near. The next contraction hit her, its grip twisting her womb so intensely, she saw it beneath her clothing. She gasped and whimpered.
Bruno wined and Lupita woke with a start. “What’s the matter?”
“It’s time.” Teresa whispered between pants.
“Why didn’t you say something earlier?” her friend asked, rising and pulling on her habit.
“Why should I say anything? When the time’s at hand the child will come…” The pain made it hard to talk.
“I’m going for the midwife….don’t worry I’ll be right back.” Lupita shook her head and rushed from the room.
The contractions began coming close together.”…won’t be long now.” She forced herself upright and climbed out of bed. Her feet touched the floor and she stood, inching forward, her back bent. Then she squatted down, placing her pillow on the floor and straddled it. In her channel she felt the child moving. She took a breath and decided not to push. “The baby's coming.” she though, “no rush, I can feel it moving.”
Her entire body trembled, wanting to push, begging her to push. She reached down and felt the head beginning to poke out; it continued to slide…. At last she could deny Mother Nature no longer and bore down with all she was worth. In her squatted position, she could see the whole process. The infant’s face was covered with a film. It was still inside the water bag; then it broke and the remainder slid gently into her fingers.
“I knew we could do it,” she told Bruno, tears streaming down her face…”I just knew we could.”
Lupita returned with the Midwife, just as the babe cried out, reaching with those tiny fingers.
“It's a girl...a beautiful baby girl,” sighed Teresa and dropped sitting onto her cot, still trying to catch her breath. She held the babe in the air, turning and examined her closely.
“Well done,” the Nun complimented. “Lay back now and let it nurse.”
Teresa reclined and the infant began to suckle.
Once the afterbirth passed the midwife took a piece of gut and tied off the cord.