A knock sounded at Coppo Travisero's office door. A man stepped in, with grey, tousled hair and half-moon glasses upon his nose, just the same as Coppo sometimes wore. "What can I do for you, Signore?"

"Enzio Celli, nice to meet you." He shook Coppo's hand and took the offered seat. "Well, the thing is this." Enzio produced a carefully wrapped book from his bag. "I've been given this for examination and for repair. The leather, you know. I'm a furrier. I've heard the Opificio has a project running, called the Masolino-Masaccio project", he continued, while Coppo carefully took the book and unwrapped it.

"I think I'm at the right place. This book is not mine, but I would like to ask if you could do something with the paper that is partly in a bad condition."

Coppo looked at the leather-binding and found it of exquisite shape, though trimmed as old. When he opened it some loose sheets fluttered out of it.

"The book is a treasure as far as I can see, Signore Travisero. Probably it was written by the painter Masolino da Panicale."

Coppo sharply drew in a breath. "By Masolino you say?" Quickly he calculated the time and looked back at the fancy handwriting, on the first glance unreadable.

"I really stress, it is not my book, but was given to me because a mishap occurred."

"Do you know to whom it belongs?"

"A friend of my nephew's friend."

"Good", Coppo said and conjured up a magnifying glass from his drawer. He leafed through the final page where he had detected some sort of a stamp. It was blotched and blurred and he couldn't make out the inscription. It looked like a coat of arms though. "Are you willing to leave the book with me, Signore?" Coppo asked. "I'll show it my colleagues who will be very excited - IF it was written by Masolino himself."

He rose from his chair and shook Enzio's hand. "Thanks for coming, Signore Celli. I'm very grateful."

"It's me who is grateful." Enzio hinted at a bow. "When may I expect your decision?"

They exchanged visiting cards.

When the furrier had gone, Coppo stared at the book upon his desk top and wanted to embrace the world. If this was the truth it was the most spectacular discovery since the opening of the Medici-graves which had also been just a few month previous.

* * * * *

Alessandro avoided Luca's brother Giano. Whenever he saw him coming along his way Alessandro turned and vanished in the middle of the other students. He didn't want to speak to him, to hear his reproaches about what he had done to his little brother. Luca seemed to have come to terms with having a married boyfriend. And after all - nothing had changed for Alessandro. Not really. He just had to give his state of marriage at the student's office and they wouldn't talk about it.

It was more difficult to explain to Franco why Leoni hadn't returned to continue her studies. He told the truth: Leoni was pregnant and had preferred to stay in Florence. Franco swallowed his tea the wrong way, as they were sitting at the usual student's pub in the university-quarter of Pisa. "Pregnant?" Indignantly he looked at Claudio, sitting dumbfounded at the side, his cup raised in a frozen motion. "Didn't you say you had a go with her?"

"What?" Alessandro stared at Claudio whose cheeks flushed.

"Well, yes", he said meekly. "A couple of times. You didn't want her she said to me", he told Alessandro reproachful.

"And so you played the good Samaritan and jumped into bed with her. Congratulations. She bawled my ears off that the baby was mine!"

"Well, it could be anyone's", Claudio said. "I wasn't the only guy she jumped into bed with. And what's wrong with that?"

Alessandro ruffled his hair. "What's wrong with it? Heavens, have you never thought to use condoms? Or do you belong to the bright crowd of men thinking contraception is women's matter, eh? Ever heard about clap, syphilis, hepatitis, HIV?" He bent forward. "Not to mention PREGNANCY!"

Claudio bent his head. "Stop nagging me, man", he said then. "I know, it's my fault."

"There's always two in it", Franco chimed in. "But you're right, Sandro. It's stupid and dangerous."

Alessandro, almost in a state of hysteria, tried to sort out his thoughts. If this ever came out, the money was gone. Should he offer Claudio money then as the price for his silence? He looked over to the black haired man. Better if he didn't try. If he had learnt one thing it was that you can't buy friendship. Therefore he took a deep breath, emptied his cup of coffee and started to speak. "All right, guys. You were honest to me, now I'm honest with you. This is not the whole story. Leoni is pregnant and she claimed it was mine. Which is ridiculous since I've never slept with her. Well, not in the past three years anyway."

Franco and Claudio looked at each other, but said nothing.

"The reason she claimed she was having a baby from me is that there is a clause to my father's will. I have to be married and with a son before I reach my twenty-first birthday. Otherwise the wealth of the Gondi-house goes to church. That's the simple fact."

"Jesus Christ, why have you never told us?" Franco called out. "You always sort out things by yourself. What do you have friends for?"

Alessandro looked warily at Franco. "I've never had friends. I don't now how to deal with them."

"Speak for instance."

"Yeah. I'm doing it now." Again he took a deep breath and gnawed at the crumbs of bread. "Last Sunday we married." Alessandro heard the ludicrous sound but couldn't help it. He was ashamed, his face flushed. Neither Franco nor Claudio looked at him. Alessandro knew what they were thinking. He was a coward. He was materialistic, put wealth over a happy life with his boyfriend. And they were right.

"Well," Franco started at last. "That's... surprising. You'll get the money when she's given birth to a son? What if she doesn't? What if it's a girl?"

"My uncle said, it's all the same. It should be a child for the Gondi's." Alessandro's voice was small and brittle. "I knew it was a mistake as soon as I exchanged the rings with her and heard the notary blabbering." He choked on a heavy lump building in his throat.

"And where's she now?" Claudio asked.

"Fiesole. We have a villa there."

Franco scratched his head and didn't know what to say. "You're married now?" he repeated disbelieving. "And Luca? Have you broken up?"

Alessandro shook his head and cupped his face. Furtively he wiped tears from his eyelashes. "I'm a complete jerk. But it's the family money. I'm the last offspring. I had to do it."

Franco and Claudio exchanged another look. It was beyond them what was going on in Sandro's head. They had never had anything to do with noble families, nor with their snotty behaviour, with their demands and false sense of honour. Somehow though they understood that Sandro had sort of sold his soul.

Franco put his hand upon Alessandro's arm and pulled it away from his face. "Thanks for telling us, mate. We don't understand exactly but if there was no way out.... I just don't know what will happen in the future. Seriously, I can't imagine you as happy husband, rocking the cradle. Will you continue your study or will you leave when the baby's born?"

"I'll continue, no matter what." Alessandro sounded determined.

* * * * *

Villa Kazar. Luca and Tristano had paid their entrance fee. Luca couldn't suffer it anymore alone at home and he didn't need long to persuade Tris to go out to have some fun. He needed it badly. At home the atmosphere was explosive. He had suffered his brother's bitching without saying a word. He had suffered Enzio Celli's telling him that he needed more time for the repair of Masolino's diary. That was all right though. Sandro wasn't there and couldn't ask about it.

Together they threw themselves into the jumble on the dance floor. He saw some familiar faces, including Luciano, who was familiar to Tristano as well. Tristano had given up ringing Vito, the policeman. Perhaps their paths would cross again, but actually he was looking for Sergio. And there he was in the middle of the centre of attraction - as always. He saw him flirting with guys, then vanishing, re appearing with a smirk on his face. Probably he had done his job in the toilet. Great, Tristano thought disgruntled. You really are so low as to long for a hustler, eh? Even if he called himself 'Call-Boy'. Pah. Wasn't it the same thing? Demonstratively he turned his back on Sergio and bought a drink for himself and Luca.

Together they leaned against the bar. Over the past week Luca hadn't wanted to speak to him, although Tristano of course knew the event of Alessandro's marriage - as did the rest of Florence. From his family he had learnt, that many were very surprised to see the wild guy tamed, but approved of the connection between two old families. It would be to the boy's fortune. Only Tristano thought different, knowing the true story. At least he knew that the prince of the lilies was Luca's boyfriend. Surprisingly Luca never showed how he felt. It must be awful for him, but every outreach of support Tristano was willing to give, bounced off.

"Raniero seems to have kept his mouth shut, don't you think?" Tristano started.

Luca nodded. No carabiniero had showed up at the Montori's to arrest Dante and Marcello. Perhaps they hadn't been involved in the attack at the Cascine, Luca thought in favour of his brothers. Hopefully.

"I never thought that Raniero would have the strength."

"Do you still think your brothers were involved?" Tristano asked in a quiet moment when the music was low. "Have they been nasty to you? I mean... because of ... Alessandro?"

"Sure they have."

At the same moment Tristano felt a hand upon his back, sliding down his waist. "Ciao bello", a voice murmured in his ear. Tristano's skin produced goose bumps as he turned to look straight into Sergio's face. "I hoped to find you since you've never called me. Why haven't you?"

Luca stared at the other guy, taking in his feature. Was this the call-boy? He looked good enough for the job. Luca could imagine dozens of men being besotted by the black, shiny curls falling onto his forehead, the broad shoulders, the narrow waist and the flawless face. Obviously his friend Tristano belonged to them because without any further word he let himself be guided onto the dance floor where he wrapped his arms around Sergio and stared into his eyes, a ridiculous expression on his face.

Luca sighed.


As Tristano was shoved into Sergio's flat another lad rose from the sofa, switching off the television. He dropped his silky gown to reveal nothing more than a jock strap that left no question unanswered. He was hard as steel; the fabric couldn't hold the abundance, the glans peering out of the rim. Tristano swallowed hard as at the same time his heart beat pounded in his throat with excitement.

Sergio was nibbling at his neckline from behind while his hands were already busy undressing him. "This's what you dream of, bello, isn't it so? I can read it in your eyes."

Tristano grinned, drunk with wine and adrenaline, with lust and testosterone. He helped Sergio with the undressing while the other guy dimmed the light, approached him. From the corner of his half closed eyes Tristano realized the room was cosy with thick carpets and a light coloured interior, with framed pictures of men in tasteful arrangements.

So, this was the home of a call-boy? The other guy had reached him, and Tristano was lost in his grey eyes under a perfect arch of eye brows - plucked like Sergio's. A slight touch of eye kohl emphasised his lashes, and he was flawlessly tanned. He pressed his lips upon Tristano's - a professional kiss; soft brushes and a searching, knowing tongue.

Sergio's hand meanwhile slid across Tristano's smooth chest, down to his bulging crotch. His hands slipped inside and fondled the growing erection. "This is Alfredo, bello", he whispered into his ear. "He's besotted by sex." Tristano heard a faint grin in his voice, then he opened his eyes wildly, because Alfredo had gone down on him, burying his face in the white cotton of Tristano's briefs, exploring his crotch with his mouth, biting softly into the fabric. Tristano moaned and placed his hand on his head to press him toward him.

Sergio massaged the cheeks of Tristano's arse; then he felt a slight push and together they staggered into the bedroom which was lit by small lamps covered with red clothes. A heavy scent hung in the air, like in an Arabian brothel. Tristano giggled. When had he ever been in an Arabian brothel? When he had been in a brothel anyway? But these two guys were too exciting and they wanted him. Alfredo and Sergio pulled him upon the mattress and soft linen, undressing him completely. Skilful hands, knowing what to do. Palms gliding over his skin from chest to thigh. A firm, experienced grip, but gentle at certain places.

Tristano reached for Alfredo's jock strap, stripping it off his hard, massive member that bounced upward. He crumpled it and threw it aside, then he grasped for the member and took it into his mouth inch by inch as far as he could without gagging. It was clean and well cared for, firm and silky. He sucked intensely, feeling Sergio behind him, sprawled upon the bed, licking enthusiastically Tristano's balls, taking them into his mouth and bouncing them on his tongue. Then he took his cock between his lips and sucked madly.

Tristano's head started to spin. He forgot where he was and what he was doing. He was one quivering bundle of lust with closed eyes when he felt Sergio shoving him into the middle of the bed on his knees Sergio grabbed his cheeks and spread them apart as he buried his face into Tristano's arse. Tristano sucked harder at Alfredo's cock as he felt Sergio's tongue probe his hole. He penetrated his anus and slithered around inside it. Tristano raised his arse high into the air and Sergio followed with his tongue pushing inside harder.

Tristano didn't notice when there was a brief interruption, long enough for Sergio to pull on a condom and grease Tristano's hole, poking a finger inside, sliding his hand along the crack. Then he felt the head of a prick slide up and down, touching his hole and starting to push. Slowly the entire length slid up his arsehole. Tristano's cries were muffled by Alfredo's cock in his mouth, as Sergio started out slowly, pumping in and out of him, bracing himself with his hands on Tristano's cheeks.

The initial pain of Sergio's insertion subsided and it became pleasurable the more he slid inside Tristano. His hard cock bounced in the air when Sergio grabbed it and began jerking it as he fucked him. Tristano tried not to bite Alfredo's hard muscle, who had leaned in to exchange a deep kiss with Sergio. Tristano felt vulnerable and excited at the same time, sandwiched in this position. All three of them were connected in a carnal, sexual circle that went on for hours - Tristano couldn't tell exactly. He had lost the sense for time. The only thing he felt was extremely satisfaction until neither of them could hold back any longer. Tristano felt the warmth of the first stream squirting into his hole while Alfredo exploded into his mouth - a moment later followed by Tristano's streams of white fluid, shooting over Alfredo's belly and legs, the rest landing upon the sheets.

Tristano's shaking legs couldn't hold him anymore; he fell forward, upon Alfredo's thighs, next to his drooling cock. Sergio followed his movement until all three of them lay there in a tangle of limbs, breathing hard. The smell of sex hung in the air, overlaying even the musky, Arabian scent.

Tristano must have been fallen asleep because when he awoke he found Sergio and his friend in a sexual union again. He heard the slap of Sergio's pelvis against Alfredo's arse. His balls swung loosely as Sergio cupped them in his hand and gripped his erect cock tightly. Sergio thrusted harder, jolting the other body with each joust.

Tristano's body was a mass of jellowy flesh as he watched but instantly his sex drive awoke. He crawled under Alfredo's body who was on all fours, and fished for the swinging cock, sucking at it hard. The older man grunted with excitement. Tristano struggled to keep his cock in his mouth and received his second load for that night. Sergio gave a muffled cry, shaking uncontrollably, releasing the energy of his orgasm.

Tristano curled up like a foetus, stroking his own erection, but soon felt Sergio pushing his hand away, taking over the task with his mouth, until Tristano felt the tingly sensation in his body as he finally reached his own orgasm.

When Sergio crawled over Tristano's body he was again sandwiched, though both of them now started to caress Tristano's chest lazily with half closed eyes and a content feeling upon their faces. They were exhausted as well. His ass throbbed. But it felt good. Ready for more. His head sank aside and he slept like a baby until the morning.


Luca had remained alone at Villa Kazar and had found another companion: Luciano who was sneaking around him like he once did around Sergio, before he dared to start a conversation. He was at the end of his twenties, looking a bit haggard, but Luca felt comfortable in his presence, above all he didn't try anything except a friendly chat. Even as he spilled the beans, Luca wasn't annoyed. "You're the boyfriend of the prince, right?" Luciano said with a tenor voice Luca had to get used to.

He nodded, sipping at the treated glass of cool wine.

"And how come he got married last Sunday?" Luciano didn't sneak around the pot.

"He had to. But I won't give you the reason. It's a private matter, and doesn't concern the rest of Florence."

Luciano grinned and arched his left eyebrow. "Private matter, eh? The only private matter I can imagine is that the girl is pregnant and her family needs a husband for her. Although I can't imagine what Alessandro has to do with that."

Luca said nothing. What should he say anyway?

"Or is it just the old connection between noble families?" Luciano poked.

"Stop being so nosy", Luca said good-humouredly. "I won't tell you."

"But, you and he... it might be difficult to continue."

Luca shook his head. A group of leather-guys entered Villa Kazar. They were dressed up as walking into a S & M club with leather whips sticking in their back pockets, spiky-rings around their necks and tattooed arms. Luca eyed them and felt instantly uncomfortable.

Villa Kazar was famous for its mixed audience; nobody bothered if people were gay or straight or fetish, but those guys had something menacing about them. Luciano followed his stare and giggled. "Madonna Rossa", he said. "Studio for guys with an off-beat taste."

"Have you been there?" Luca asked.

"No. They don't take positives."


"Positives. I'm HIV-positive. It wouldn't be clean me squirting blood in all directions."

Luca tore open his eyes. In a flash he remembered that Alessandro once had a go with Luciano. He felt sick.

Luciano examined him carefully. "Don't worry, honey. I know how to protect myself and others." He leaned in. "I didn't do any harm to Alessandro if that's what you fear."

The leather guys had mingled among the dancing pairs, groping after girls and starting a fight with their male dance-partners. Luciano shook his head. "It's better if we're out of here. This looks like there's trouble to come."

As if on the cue, the pushing on the dance-floor became stronger, still drowned out by the music, but loud enough to annoy the audience. They were extracted from the floor by the staff and gathered in a corner where on sofas guys were sitting close together, chattering, laughing, touching and kissing.

Luca decided to follow Luciano when he heard cries at his back. He turned to see the leather crowd dragging guys from the sofa, taking them into headlocks and ripping their clothes. "Shit stabbers are not allowed here", they shouted and Luca was shocked. He hurried after Luciano and reached the exit just in time. He heard more than he saw the fight with the staff and one after the other they were thrown out of the Villa where they came stumbling to a halt. One guy held his whip in his fist and angrily whipped the air. Luca ducked away and ran after Luciano around the corner. Panting and trembling with fear he leaned against the balustrade and stared into the Arno.

Indeed so, Raniero had kept his mouth shut because those guys were still free to continue to pester gays. He saw the silent blue-flashing of lights. Police cars arrived. But the leather guys had fled.

* * * * *

Alessandro was surrounded by open books, laying on his bed and desktop. Bemused he leafed through Alberti's "Della Pittura", trying to find the right parts required for his homework about Botticelli's painting "La Primavera". He stared at a picture of the painting, albeit he had seen it many times before at the Uffizi.

The task was this: "Which author described these figures in his essay: Lukrez, Horaz, Ovid, Seneca, Alberti, Vergil? Please give the reasons in order of your levels of argument. Whose commission was this painting, Lorenzo il Magnifico's or Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco's?"

Alessandro recalled the difficult family relations of the original line of the Medici and the side line. The fact was that Botticelli was influenced by Ovid's Metamorphosis: The warm Spring's wind Zephyr brings nature to bloom. But how did he show it? The virgin nymph Chloris changed into Flora - the Goodness of Spring, while Zephyr was raping her. If one could call it rape. Perhaps Chloris had just succumbed to the greenish-blue appearance of the wind-god, blowing softly on her neck... Alessandro closed his eyes. Flora realized that Zephyr made up his violent conquest in his role as husband. In her marriage bed she hadn't any reason for complaints. Quite the opposite: now she enjoyed eternal Spring, and living at the Villa of her dowry she had a beautiful garden. Everything was green, the trees as well as the meadows because this garden her husband was filling with blooming flowers, and she - Flora - was the mistress over this splendour.

Madonna, this sounded all too familiar. Chloris in her land house - like Leoni in Fiesole. And what did Botticelli want to tell as a consequence? From voluptuousness and chastity beauty was born? But the sexual union was not meant but the taming on a spiritual level. Neither lust nor chastity alone are serving humankind - it is the restraint that does the work. The balance is the deciding factor to becoming beautiful.

Alessandro stared at Flora with her thick belly and ugly face. This was beauty? Perhaps it was, seen from the point of view of a Renaissance-man. Or perhaps the stout Botticelli was just keen on boys and didn't know how to value female beauty. This was an aspect the art historical world hadn't considered. In the end it didn't count.

"The dress clutching her breast tightly,
fall freely; glad it is eternal,
Golden filigree caress the pair of cheeks,
and her neck with eternal desire..."

Alessandro recalled this quote of Michelangelo's poem to La Primavera and scribbled it into his notebook.

Leoni had deserved something better than to vegetate at the villa in Fiesole, he thought, suddenly sad. But it was her choice to go there. She had trapped herself by a mixture of greed and desire and the Gondi's were the stooges to fulfil all this.

He let himself fall upon his back and stretched out his arms.

Once more his inner eye saw Emilio Pucci's face on his wedding day. A disappointed face. "I thought you would be true to yourself. Who you are". That's what he said. Alessandro rubbed his face. He had done it all wrong. If he still was the reckless prince of Florence he would have laughed into Arrigo's face and had done his own thing, i.e. go his own way with Luca and without the money. But he wasn't reckless anymore. Luca had softened him… Tamed him. Alessandro turned the page of his book. There was Botticelli's "Taming of the Centaur by Minerva". That hit the nail on the head. Minerva - goodness of wisdom and the eternal virgin - tamed the wild Centaur, the icon of lust and brutality. So, in this sense Luca was his Minerva. Alessandro grinned involuntarily. Neither he himself was brutal nor his boyfriend without lust, quite the opposite. He carried all the lust a seventeen old boy had to offer.

Alessandro rolled upon his stomach. If he wanted to get finished with his homework he needed help. Perhaps Franco was up for a talk.

* * * * *


Tristano's body jerked. Slowly he entangled his limbs from the bed sheets, peering sleepily with heavy eyes over to the small table. A tray floated against him and was set up upon the bed cover. "Buon giorno, bello", Sergio cooed, looking fresh as a summer's flower, cheeks rosy, his body smelling of soap and faintly of CK "One".

"Buon giorno, bello", another voice sounded. This voice Tristano hadn't heard so far - at least not that he could remember. Alfredo's grey, calm eyes were fastened on him, smiling. "Hurry up with a shower", he said. "We'll keep the eggs warm." He winked.

Tristano blushed crimson. Instead of jumping under the shower he pulled the cover up under his chin and looked like a startled rabbit. Alfredo laughed out loud. It was a good laughter. "I guess we've seen your body before…." He pulled down the bed cover and kissed Tristano's neck. "Avanti. I keep my eggs boiling for you."

Tristano looked at Sergio, sitting grinning at the other side of the bed, spooning his soft egg. 'All right', he thought and scrambled out of bed. His legs wobbled and his head swirled though he straightened his back and strutted straight into the bathroom, at least into the direction of where he assumed the bath to be. "Left", he heard Sergio call from the bedroom.

Light flooded the spacious bathroom and Tristano wondered in which quarter of town he was right now. He couldn't remember. Sighing he sat naked upon the rim of the bathtub, examining the room in total from the silver armatures of tub and separate shower over the soft green tiles to the large mirrors. On shelves he detected strange instruments or objects or toys - he couldn't make them out exactly. One looked like a water hose which was probably used to clean the anus - or so he thought. Tristano put it back and turned on the shower instead. Under the stream of water he came to his senses and the pressure in his head and eyes vanished. He could think clearly again and as he did so a deep crimson redness covered his face and it was not caused by the hot water. 'Tristano d'Astangli, you behaved like the biggest slut on the streets', he whispered to himself. And yet he couldn't stop enjoying the thought. He found a separate tooth brush and used Sergio's or Alfredo's face cream and deodorant and tried to untangle his shock of blond hair. And since he couldn't find his clothes he put on a yellow dressing gown, and was now ready to face the morning.

Alfredo lifted the egg-warmers when Tristano entered the bedroom, now washed by daylight it looked pretty posh with a wall of windows that were open and let in a warm breeze and light grey furniture, highlighted by red chairs and carpet. More paintings hung on the walls, showing men with beautiful bodies and expressive faces. Sergio poured a cup of coffee and made him sit at the little table, offering toast and marmalade, cheese and fruits.

"To be a call-boy seems to be lucrative", Tristano said.

"It depends on your clients", Sergio said. "So, we can afford a little private fun from time to time."

Tristano stared at them both. "Does that mean you don't want money from me?"

Sergio and Alfredo laughed. "Money? No, bello. You're much too beautiful for us to demand money from you for the fun."

Tristano hid his blush by emptying his cup. 'Beautiful?' he thought.

"You did enjoy last night, didn't you? Could you imagine doing it more often? Or professionally?"

"Huh?" Tristano choked on his bite of banana. Again he blushed as he imagined the banana to be Alfredo's tool that he had sucked on. "What do you mean 'professionally'?

"Just a suggestion, bello", Sergio soothed him. "You know, in our profession you have to love what you do. Otherwise you'll end up as hustler at the railway station behind Santa Maria Novella. Just think of all the money you'd get because you do something you're besotted with." He winked at his friend.

"Are you both … is he your boyfriend?" Tristano asked.

Alfredo looked astonished. "Am I your boyfriend, Santino, eh?" He shrugged. "More like business-partner and sharer of the same preferences."

Tristano finished his toast and a second cup of coffee. He felt the silky surface of the dressing gown. Surreptitiously he looked at the soft carpet and the over large bed that had room for four guys. He looked at the two exceedingly well-cared for call-boys. Then he thought about Luca. His stomach hurt. "Aren't you afraid?" he said. "I mean, you obviously greet customers here; what if they murder you? Think about what happened at Cascine." His look touched Sergio's arm where the plaster had been.

Sergio shrugged. "Occupational hazard." But a small flicker in his black-burning eyes told Tristano that he had hit a sensitive spot. He saw him sharing a look with Alfredo who bent over to him and whispered into his ear "ready for a morning fuck … bello?"

Alfredo wore nothing under his jeans and Tristano was easily persuaded to succumb once more to experienced hands and mouths and cocks, knowing what they did. He neither realized that his mobile rang in his jeans pockets, strewn somewhere in the flat nor the time in general.

When he was driven home that evening he was sure he would meet them again. Just for fun - of course. There was nothing wrong with having fun, was there? Extremely tired though satisfied he ran water into his bath tub and sank into the perfumed foam. Had he thought that being hustler and being call-boy was all the same? It certainly wasn't. Sergio and Alfredo were rich and they shared the same passion. Tristano didn't realize that they were selling their bodies and with them each time a little bit of their souls too. How could he have ever thought that Sergio was shallow, just because he didn't talk much but rather let his abilities speak for him.

"Hmmmm", Tristano moaned as his water-lapped penis rose in anticipation. Imagine all the fun if you have a boyfriend of your own, he thought. Like Luca for instance. You could do with him all those things twenty four hours a day. Wouldn't that be fantastic?

His mobile rang once more and Tristano cursed. Always the wrong time…. he let it ring until his voicemail answered. Half an hour later he checked the caller. It was Luca. He dialled his number immediately and received the fresh news of the attack at Villa Kazar shortly after he had left with Sergio. The news cooled him down and he had a restless night. In the morning he met with Luca in front of the Montori-palazzo for breakfast near Piazzale Michelangelo.

It was the last day of their summer holidays. The shield of heat and sultriness had broken and all that was left was a glassy, pale blue sky with a hint of violet. The first hint of Autumn hung in the dawning air. The laurel-bushes spread their bitter fragrance and the sweet chestnut trees were heavy with hundreds of green, prickly fruits. The red and orange berries of yews and rowan trees peered through the branches as they made their way up the winding road to the Piazzale, passing the rose-garden in full bloom. Occasionally they both came to a halt and turned, enjoying the spectacular view over their hometown. Luca's chest inflated with love when he saw Brunelleschi's red brick stone-cupola hovering ethereal, connected with Giotto's clock tower and the old Badia.

They were the only visitors in the wide Piazzale Michelangelo with the verdigris-copy of his "David". Luckily the town-government had banished the cars and tons of tourist busses that had gathered for years up here. This place was too spectacular to be destroyed by traffic. The souvenir-kiosk was still closed but the restaurant was open with it's attached coffee-house. Actually it had been built as a museum for Michelangelo, but the town never finished it.

Tristano went straight to the stony landing and looked in silence at the Arno deep down and the Ponte Vecchio, one of the many bridges, with its countless superstructions. The big cupola and the coloured campanile. To the left the small, red cupola of San Lorenzo and the high, brown tower of the town hall. Directly opposite amidst the red-white jumble of houses: Santa Croce and on it's right hand the green cupola of the synagogue.

Luca stood beside him, likewise mute. Tristano stretched out his arm and embraced him. Furtively his stroked his back up and down - as much as he could reach under the jeans jacket.

The southern foothills of the Apennine were clad secretively in mist, hovering below Fiesole's, and Florence's weather prophet - Monte Morello - was clear to see. Tristano pointed to the right hand. "Settignano", he said. Above Fiesole a wooded string of hills hid Monte Ceceri and on it's right hand the little mountain village of Settignano appeared, the town where Michelangelo was raised. Where he "had sucked in the love for sculpture with the milk of his nurse".

Tristano smiled lovingly at Luca, while he tucked a strand of unruly hair behind Luca's ear. "Were you afraid?" he asked. "I certainly was lately, at the Cascine. Sergio's arm has healed."

Luca sustained Tristano's dreamy eyes. "And how is he? Did he want money from you?"

"Money? No. They did it just for fun, they said."


Tristano made a step forward and embraced his friend. Deeply he breathed in Luca's scent. "Sergio's friend was there", he whispered close to Luca's ear.

"And you…?" Luca's body was washed over by a sudden surge of feverish imagination. "You had both?" He felt Tristano nodding. "Wow. How is it?"


Luca raised his brows. It might be, he thought. But I wouldn't share Sandro with another. But this and that might be not the same thing. Sergio wasn't Tris' boyfriend. No feelings were involved. He wrapped his arms tighter around his friend. It was so good to feel him. Memories of their shared night flooded Luca's mind and he didn't try to fight them. Yes, he had been frightened by the attack at the Villa Kazar. Would he ever feel safe again? What if Florence fell back to stone ages concerning homosexuality? Could that be possible? Something in his mind told him no. But if he wasn't able to straighten out his problems at home how would the major citizens straight out that problem when they weren't directly involved? When they hadn't a gay friend to prove to them that homosexuals were as normal as any human around? That they weren't monsters, raping little boys?

He loosened his body from Tristano's and looked directly into his friends radiating, blue eyes. "You're one experience ahead", he said with a thin smile. "Will you see them again? And what did they say about the attacks? Aren't they afraid?"

"Occupational hazard they said. And you? Are you sad about Sandro?"

Luca turned away, so Tristano couldn't see his face. I should be happy, he thought. He's a lucky guy, becoming rich soon. But where am I in his plans?

Tristano turned him gently around and then he approached his face, kissing Luca's lips with soft brushes, then deeply. Luca didn't struggle but reciprocated. He felt soothed and understood. "I want more than a three-some", Tristano whispered when he leaned in and wrapped his arms around Luca's body. "There must be more, don't you think?"

Now Luca struggled out of his arms. "Do you think now that Sandro's gone you can try once more?" His voice was without anger or reproaches. He just wanted to know. "It's true, I feel left alone and neglected and a bit betrayed. But I'll stick with him. I like him too much."

Tristano's eyes were cloudy and sad. "I'm sorry, but I do like you too. Perhaps the day will come where you have to decide. I feel that Alessandro is so far away." His arms fell to his side and he shuffled with his feet. "I don't mean the distance between Pisa and Florence. He's mentally afar." He looked unsure into Luca's eyes and saw a flicker of understanding and agreement.

They said nothing for a long while. Sunbeams absorbed the last of the mist hovering beneath Fiesole and Florence glittered in bright sunlight. Tristano took Luca's hand and walked with him along the short distance, free from the traffic of Viale Galileo, up the stairs to San Salvatore. They sat upon a bench in the sunshine and enjoyed the clear air. 'La Bella Villanella', Luca said softly, turning to the small, yellow washed Franciscan church behind them. "Michelangelo thought it to be the prettiest church in town."

"Are you sure you don't want to become a guide like Alessandro?" Tristano teased him. The seriousness of earlier was banished by the light hearted tone Tristano used. He unpacked his rucksack and produced a silver package. Unwrapping it he offered Luca a Chelsea bun with Nutella and bananas-filling. "Naked Chef", Luca said grinning and bit into it.

"You like it."

"And you are sure you want to work intarsia instead of becoming a chef?"

A prickly sweet chestnut fell to Luca's feet and he picked it up. "Soon it will be winter again", he said.

"And so much has changed in our lives", Tristano added. "Have I told you they asked me to join their profession? Jokingly I hope."

"Who? The call-boys?" Luca asked laughing. "Amazing. But that remains a joke I hope. Do you think you can become rich by doing that?"

Tristano nodded. "If you're good and fulfil all wishes. Though I don't know about that. How many cocks do you think you are able to take each night? I was sore enough as it was."

Luca grinned and bit into the bun. "I've heard you can specialize. Guys search for this and that. Bottom or top, you know."

Tristano's eyes sparkled. "That's a idea to think about. I guess I'd prefer to top then." He winked. "It doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy you."

Redness scurried over Luca's face.

Autunno 5