The Italian Job - Part 14

Sophia soon put the episode at her now old school behind her as she began a slightly extended summer holiday. It didn’t take us long to find her another school for September and when Benito came home from school we planned all sorts of things to do for the holidays only to have them thrown into total confusion by the arrival at Hartley House of Gina.

She breezed in, as if she owned the place. It seemed that it was something Italian Women just did. She pronounced the place ugly and vulgar and not the sort of place for children.

Then she saw the children’s play room and her eyes bulged even more.

“These are totally inappropriate for MY children,” she pronounced.

Then without waiting for approval, she took their hands and literally dragged them out of the house and into her car. As she started to drive away from the house, I had the chance to close the electronic gates to the house. She was going nowhere without Luca’s permission.

Gina returned and gave me an earful if very coarse Italian swear words right in front of the children.

“Gina, you are hardly setting a good example for your children if you go on like that in front of them,” I replied calmly.
Benito was trying his hardest not to snigger buy failed miserably.
Gina stomped her heel and took off this time without the children. I opened the gates and let her out thinking, there goes bad rubbish.

Luca returned from a business trip to London a few hours later and almost hit the roof when he found out what Gina had tried to do.

After a very long and at time very agitated phone call between them, some sort of agreement was reached about her having some time with the children in the next few weeks.

All went well for three days. Benito had twisted his mother’s arm and they’d gone to Longleat to see the Lions and all the other animals. Gina returned fuming at the monkeys who’d stolen the windscreen wipers from her rental car.

“Who is going to pay for them? I’m not made of money,” she exclaimed.

The next morning, she arrived at the house but spent most of the day on the phone to her friends. Then she got back in her car and left without saying either hello or goodbye to her children. That was the last we saw of her. Luca got a text message late the next day saying that she was in Cancun and if we’d like to take the children to Mexico, she’d take them off our hands for a week.

Luca replied calmly, ‘No we have better things to do’.

So, she’d gone and with it, her promise to take her children for a couple of weeks never materialised. It did leave us rather in the lurch. Gina had breezed, in upset the apple cart and left leaving a pile of debris behind her for others to clear up. This was typical Gina and I’d just have to get used to it.

To our eternal relief, Claudia took control of the situation with Sophia and Benito and the three of them went off to a cottage in Wales for a couple of weeks. They were all going to learn to ride a horse despite the weather forecast not being all that kind.

What plans Luca and I might have had for spending some of the holiday together were rudely interrupted on the second day by a phone call from my builder, Giuseppe in Italy.

“Si Giuseppe”

“What is so bad about finding the source of the damp? Isn’t that good news?”

I listened intently for more than a minute getting more and more confused by the second.
In the end, I interrupted him in full flow.

“Giuseppe, stop right there. I’ll get on the first available flight tomorrow and you can show me what you mean. Ok?”
Thankfully, he agreed.


I drove up to the house just after 1pm the following day. I had to stop very suddenly. Right in front of me was a huge truck. It was blocking the driveway to the house.

Feeling a little shaken, and confused, I parked up a few hundred metres down the road and walked up to the house.

I managed to squeeze past the three trucks parked in the drive and went towards the house. I soon discovered the reason for the congestion.

There was a huge hole in the drive. It stretched from the house to the outbuildings. I peered down into it and saw a pool of muddy water.

Suddenly, I heard a shout.


I turned to look towards the house. Giuseppe was waving at me. I breathed a sigh of relief and walked towards him.
“Signora, buon pomeriggio. Rimanga prego là. Ci è molto fango underfoot” {Good afternoon Signora. Please stay there, there is a lot of mud underfoot.}

He was not wrong about the mud. My black patent shoes were already well spattered with it. I went back to the car and changed into something more suitable for a building site.

“What is this?” I asked him when he joined me at the side of the ‘pit’.

“Signora Fran, that is what you call a spring. It is the cause of the damp and rot in the Cellar.”

“I don’t understand?”

He smiled at me.

“There was a drain but over the years it got blocked. The water, she had to go somewhere? Si?”

I began to understand.

“What are you going to do now?”

“We dig a new drain and then we let the soil dry out for a week. Then we fill it in.”

Then he took hold of my hand.

“Come, there is something else I have to show you.”

He led me towards the house. The foundations were also exposed.

“See, this is very damp. For many years it is wet. The…”

He didn’t finish the sentence. Instead, he leapt down into the ‘pit’.


He took a metal pole and literally pushed it into the wall.

My heart sank.

“What is the matter with the wall?”

“The base of the wall is totally rotten. If we are not careful the house will fall down. As with many buildings of this age, the foundations are almost non-existent. Most of what little there is was made of very bad stone and the water has made it even worse.”

I was getting very worried. He saw the look on my face.

He smiled back at me as he climbed out of the hole.

“Please, come into the office and we can talk.”

He led me into the site office and offered me a seat.

“What can we do to stop my house from falling down?”

Giuseppe unfurled a set of drawings.

“See here. We make a new foundation and secure it to the house.”

Then I had an idea.

“Is this called ‘underpinning’?”

He smiled broadly. “Si. Underpinning.”

I breathed a sigh of relief.

As I thought of something to say, I looked at the plans in detail. They showed the spring and the new drain. The amount of work involved seemed to be huge. As my estimate for the amount of work grew, an idea started to form in my mind.
Giuseppe looked at the grin that started to form on my lips.

“Signora? Is there something wrong?”

I didn’t answer immediately.

He tried again.

“Signora Fran?”

I was ready.

“Giuseppe, I have an idea. It will involve a bit more work but I think it will be worthwhile.”


I looked around the office for a drawing board. There was one in the corner.

“Giuseppe. If I may use the drawing board, I will show you my idea.”

I stood up and took the plans over to the drawing board and laid them out.

An hour later, Giuseppe and I shook hands.

“It is agreed then. No planners or inspectors to know about our little project?”


“Good. I will go and get the money we agreed on from the bank.”

He looked sad.

“Not today Signora. All the banks are closed. The tellers are on strike. Perhaps tomorrow?”

I sighed. I’d planned on flying home tonight. I realised that it was not going to be possible.

“Ok. I will go into Florence and find myself a hotel. I’ll see you in the morning.”

I turned to go but Giuseppe called me back.

“Signora, I know a lovely place to stay. Only 10km from here.”

I smiled.

“And which relative of yours owns it?”

He grinned.

“My wife’s second cousin. He is a magnificent chef.”

We both laughed. I was beginning to understand the ‘Italian’ way of doing things.


The following afternoon, I caught a flight from Florence to London. As I sat staring at the seat back in front of me, I pondered how I was going to tell Luca about the new addition to our home in Tuscany.

I had to smile at my use of ‘our’. Then I felt depressed.

What if he didn’t like me after my operation? There were lots of stories on the internet where relationships had foundered after the ‘woman’ had had her gender reassignment operation.

Thankfully my session of self-loathing was interrupted by the plane touching down at Heathrow. To add to my discomfort, I’d still not decided how to tell Luca.

The important question was still not resolved in my mind by the time I drove up to the house. Luca was waiting for me at the door.

“Mmmm,” that was almost worth you being away said Luca after he’d kissed me long and passionately. Any doubts and fears I had soon vanished.

Over a lovely pasta dinner, he asked,

“You were a bit vague on the phone last night. What was the real reason you had to stay on? Was it some gorgeous hunk of an Italian Gigolo?”

Inwardly, I breathed a sigh of relief.

I smiled back at him.

“It was nothing like that darling. Although there were a couple of very aged and overweight former gigolos who tried their best to seduce me.”

He looked at me seriously. Then he started to laugh.

“Ok. What was the real reason?”

“Water. Or rather water where is shouldn’t be.”

“Oh, that little damp patch in the cellar. What of it?”

I looked him in the eye.

“A little damp patch? When I arrived it was a big puddle at least a metre deep.”

“What? It couldn’t be?”

“Oh yes. It has also undermined the foundations. They need underpinning.”

He looked really sad.

I reached over and took his hands in mine. We both looked serious for several seconds.

“The upshot is that we will soon have our very own dungeon.”

There I’d said it.

The look of astonishment on his face was a picture worth a million Euros.

“Our what? Mama Mia? What have you done?”

I didn’t say anything. I knew that I had to let him have his say.

“Why? Why on earth did you do that?”

I just smiled.

“Oh, I get it. You thought that we needed one like that old one down the garden.”

I thought to myself,

“By George, he is starting to get it.”

“But… Why?”

He stopped spouting forth and looked me hard in the eye.

“Say something. Don’t just stand there grinning…”

“Yes dear.”

His eyes rolled upwards.

I squeezed his hands gently.

“It was a spur of the moment thing. But now I have had time to think about it, the more I have warmed to the idea.”

“I don’t have a clue about what you are talking about.”

I sighed.

“We are both mature and pretty independent people. You because you have had to be a one parent family since Gina left. Me? Well you know why. Until I met you and the children, the only person in my life was Saffy.”

I stopped mid thought and started again.

“Darling, what I’m trying to say is that we don’t do anything together. Other than the children, we generally ‘do our own thing’. That is no basis for a long-term relationship. I just thought that… well we could do something a little bit different and intimate together.”

There was an eerie silence between us.

Eventually I’d had enough.

“Are you going to say something?”

“I’m trying to understand what you want. I’m not sure I can do the things your want.”

I smiled.

“Neither am I. That is what makes this so intriguing. Neither of us knows what we are doing.”

I thought for a second or so before trying a different tack,

“Do you remember the first time you tried to ride a bike?”

He smiled back.


“Did you fall off?”

“Yes. More than once,” came his reply with a smile as he remembered the event.

“But you kept on and eventually, you managed it and you didn’t fall off.”

“Yes. But what… Oh. I get it.”

“Then you went faster. Then you leaned over going around the corners. Sometimes you fell off and scraped your knees and elbows. Yet you still got back on and rode the bike.”

Luca leaned over and kissed me.

“We seem to have a lot to learn then?”

I just smiled back at him before giving him a very long and loving kiss.

That night in bed, I could tell that Luca had a lot on his mind. He was lying there wide-awake.

I cuddled up to him and said,

“A nearly worthless penny for your thoughts?”

He chuckled at my feeble attempt at making a joke.

I could tell that he was struggling to get the right words together.

Eventually he said,

“Are you sure that all this stuff isn’t just to take your mind off the operation? It is not that far away now is it?”

I cuddled up to him.

“Not in the slightest my darling.”

“Are you having second thoughts?”

“The only second thoughts I’m having is that I’ll wake up and find out that the operation was a total failure.”

“I’m sure it won’t and that finally, your dream will be realised.”

I relaxed at bit.

“It is funny how until sixteen months ago, that dream was just pie in the sky. Something that I might have done eventually until…”

“Until what?”

“I saw that advert in the Agency window.”

He laughed and said, “Passing ships and all that.”


[end of the second week in September]

“All set?”

I sighed.

“For the umpteenth time darling, yes. Now can we get going?”

The confidence and bravado I’d shown at home soon evaporated when we arrived at the Hospital in West London where my operation was to take place. This was due in no small part to the ward receptionist calling out to the orderly,

“Dwayne, another trannie to get his dick removed. Can you show him to room 8?”.

Firstly, it had been a long time since I’d been called a ‘him’. Secondly, there was really no need for her to shout out like that.
I gave her a really dirty look hoping that she’d notice but as she didn’t even flinch, I guessed that it was just like water off a duck’s back to her.

That aside, I was soon showered, dressed in my nightie and waiting for the Doctor to come to see me.

Luca had been very dutiful for the past two months in removing all the hair around my crotch. I was completely hairless and would be forever more. It felt really strange, cold at times but pleasing at others. He’d been very gentle with me for which he had my eternal gratitude.

Luca was pacing around like an expectant parent. Nothing I could say or do would get him to sit down.

“Luca Francesco, please come and sit down. There is nothing you can do to hurry them up.”

He just glared at me. I only used both of his forenames when I was annoyed with him.

“Why don’t you go downstairs and see if you can get a copy of the Evening Standard. We can do the crosswords together while we wait for the doctor.

With a grunt, he left me alone.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

He’d only just returned with the evening paper when the Surgeon who was going to perform my operation came into my room.

“Hello.” He said as he stuck his head around the door.

“May I come in? I’m Mr Jeffries. I’m going to be doing your operation in the morning.”

“Please do Doctor,” I replied cheerfully.

He came in, shook my hand.

“This is Luca. He’s my ‘other half’”.

“Pleased to meet you.”

They shook hands.

Then he proceeded to check my charts and wrist band.

“I see that your blood hasn’t been taken yet. I’ll get nurse to do that pronto.”

“Why do you need that?”

He smiled back.

“Just to make sure you haven’t gone and changed your blood group on us.”

He smiled. Then he got serious.

“Sometimes, when we cut into your penis, there is a lot of blood. The thin skin is a devil to clot. Just like it is when you cut your head. To be on the safe side, we need to have a good supply of your red stuff on hand should we need it.”

He could see that I looked worried.

He smiled back.

“Don’t worry, I haven’t had a bleeder for a good nine months.”

“Do… do you do a lot of these operations?”

“Oh yes. Five or six a week on average. Most of them are like yours, male to female but we are seeing an increase in those going the other way.”

That last bit made me shiver.

“May I examine you?”

“Certainly,” I replied. I looked at Luca.

The good doctor turned to him.

“You can stay if you like. I expect that there is nothing you haven’t seen before?”

Luca went red in the face as I grinned back at him, lifted the hem of my nightdress up for the doctor to examine my ‘bits’.

He was very gentle and thankfully didn’t have cold hands.

“Very good. Very smooth there should be no problems with in-growing hair follicles after the operation.”

He turned to Luca.

“Did you have a hand in the hair removal?”

“Y… yes I did.”

“Jolly well done. I wish more of my patients were as ‘clean’ as Fran here. It makes my job a lot easier.”

I guessed that this was supposed to help Luca get over seeing someone else fondle my penis. Up to now, only Saffy and himself had had that privilege since I stopped being washed by my mother many years ago.

Sadly, it didn’t. Luca was a bit of a wimp in this area. He fled into the private toilet and shut the door.

Dr Jeffries just carried on as if nothing had happened.

“I’ll get the nurse to come and do your bloods ASAP. Nothing more to drink after 6pm and we should be prepping you around 5:30am in the morning so get a good nights sleep. You are first up in theatre.”

“Any more questions?”

I smiled back. I could hear Luca throwing up in the toilet.

“No doctor, I’m fine. I think I’d better go and help my wimp of a partner.”

We both laughed as he left the room.

As the closed the door, I felt myself shake a bit. A thought passed through my mind.

‘Was I having second thoughts?’

I pushed any such thoughts aside for the moment as I straightened out my nightdress and then went to help Luca.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much that night. Luca had stayed until the night sister kicked him out just after 10pm. He spent the night in a Hotel in Hammersmith.

As I tossed and turned for the umpteenth time I regretted refusing a sleeping tablet all those hours earlier.

05:30 came and went and nothing stirred outside my room. Just before 06:00 I peeked out of my door and the nurses station was peaceful.

I started to worry.
Thoughts like, ‘had my operation been cancelled without my knowing’ and worse started to cross my mind.

Just after 06:30 things started to move outside my room.

A new nurse came into my room shortly after pushing a trolley.

“Ah good. I see you are awake.”


I replied grumpily.

“I’m here to give you your pre-med. “

I just laid back and let her get on with her job. I said nothing more except to confirm my name and date of birth at least three times.

She got shirty when at the last time, I said,
“Same as it was five minutes ago and five minutes before that. Do you think I’d transported myself out of here and substituted a proxy?”

She just gave me a dirty look. The sort of look a teacher would give a naughty kid and in years past, would have received a clip around the ear for saying it.

“I’ll be back in fifteen minutes. No drinking now you hear.”

She left me alone once more after she’d told me off like a naughty schoolgirl.

I’d specifically told Luca not to be here for this part of the process. I didn’t want him to see me drooling like an idiot when I went under the anaesthetic.

Just before eight and with my stomach rumbling something rotten, I was wheeled into the Operating Theatre ante-room.

Mr Jeffries wearing full ‘gear’ came up to me and asked.

“Last chance to back out?”

“No sir. I’ve come this far. I’m ready”

“Good girl.”

Then he said to the nurse.

“Ok Sister, lets get this show on the road.”

As I felt myself become drowsy, little did I know of events in both Tuscany and Bath that were unfolding at that very moment.

[To be continued]

[Authors Note]
The Fifteenth and final part of my tale will be published next weekend.

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