Spring had gone like the light-heartedness of these days. We sat upon a stony bench, overlooking our mutual hometown which hadn't changed in all the years. Funny, it seemed ages ago since we met, me standing awkwardly beside the procession that lead the corpse of his father to his tomb, he winking at me, beckoning me to the narrow path to give me the first kiss of my life. And yet the years went on. My heart was waiting, leaving the boy I used to be behind. But still I remained the boy deep down in my soul. Things never change, despite your physical image counting the years that pass.

I search his face. He isn't the same. There is a faint hardness behind the smooth skin; shades I am unfamiliar with yet albeit his smile is the same and his movements, but the expression in his eyes is different.

"You were not only the prince of the lilies... you were the Principe del mio cuore."

He's looking at me; his blue eyes shaded with the years of things I will never grasp. I could ask him so many things but my mouth is sealed by pain.

"Prince of my heart..." he repeats slowly. Slowly and with a quiet voice. Then, unexpectedly, he starts to laugh. It is the same, unabated laugh I used to know. So much ease sounds within and evokes the days when life had been easy and yet filled with difficulties.

His laughter ends abruptly and he is serious again. "I am sorry for everything", he tells me quietly, not looking at me. His hand steals furtively aside, searching for mine. And suddenly I have the impression of us being an old couple that had the chance to live together for good, but could not. And it was solely our fault. I press his fingers and with that touch my hurt falls off me.

Yet the memories remains.




The sky was a violet, translucent cover that sat upon the town of Firenze. The morning promised to become a hot day later when Luca stood at the kitchen window of the palazzo Gondi, waiting impatiently for Alessandro's and Giano's return from Pisa. Two weeks had gone by and this was the evening of the Festo di San Giovanni, St. John's Day, patron of Florence. On the Piazza in front of Santa Croce they were working hard to prepare for the Gioco. They had set up a stand of seats for the audience and filled a marked area in the middle of it with thick layers of sand. The town was filling with even more tourists and a joyful anticipation lay over the whole town.

Tristano next to him played with the lapis lazuli Luca had brought here for safety. He wasn't sure that Dante wouldn't steal it to destroy it - just for the pure fact that it was a gift from Alessandro. He tossed the stone from one palm into his other and felt the weight.

Luca wasn't sure why he had come with him, but he seemed to be interested in the old palazzo. "I should go now. You'd surely like to be alone." Tristano put back the stone, but not before wrapping it carefully in the soft cloth.

"This early? I thought you wanted to stay?"

Tristano shook his head. "Not really." He gave him one of his odd looks, that Luca caught so often these days, then a brief smile and he was out of the kitchen door before Luca could stop him. He watched his back crossing the yard and then he was swallowed by the darkness of the wooden entrance gate. He had hardly left when Sandro's red Ferrari shot through the gate, swirling a lot of dust. Luca headed out but stood petrified a second after. He saw an unfamiliar person that could only be Giano's boyfriend. Celestino. Luca grinned. What a name.

But then he felt himself embraced and an open pair of lips kissing his own. Heat and longing shot up his body. "I see you dressed up for my welcome?" Sandro said laughing, looking Luca, who had put on Pucci's leather suit, up and down. "You look ravishing. Let's make sure that we get rid of those two", he said winking and turned. "That's Celestino, but you can call him Tino."

Giano rolled his eyes, took Tino's hand and went around the car to greet his brother. The man next to him appeared a bit older, dressed casually in comfortable jeans and a white T-shirt. Luca thought him a few pounds too heavy, but his face was attractive and Luca was instantly bewitched by a pair of glistening amber-coloured eyes and softly outlined lips, revealing a string of pearls as teeth. He shook Luca's hand. "Hm, if I had thought that your brother was that luscious..." he said good-humouredly in a voice which gave Luca instant weak knees.

Giano pushed him, but grinned. "I'll get you for that comment", he said, pulling Luca to his chest. Sandro threatened Tino with his finger. "Another comment like that and I'll get angry. Come on with that baggage, I'll show you your room." He turned and said with a cheeky grin, "I don't have to prepare another room, do I?"

Giano said nothing and Tino waved him off, not without another huge grin.

Luca watched his brother during the dinner they had in the large kitchen. Fran had come and prepared the rooms for Sandro's friends, had done the shopping and overseen the delivery of food. Finally Franco arrived with his friend Claudio in tow, who was all anxious to see the grand Gioco the next day. It was a funny and exuberant evening but still Luca couldn't tell if Giano had succumbed to the longing that was clearly plastered all over Tino's face. He fed Giano with little morsels and made him drink the wine that had been delivered from Sandro's uncle Arrigo's villa in the Tuscany landscape, as always.

"What do you think of Tino?" Alessandro asked as Luca was peeling himself out of his leather trousers. He sat already half naked with just his briefs upon his bed, leafing through Masolino's diary.

"He's nice."

"Just nice? I think he's completely besotted with your brother. And what do you think they're doing in their room now, eh?" he added.

Luca looked over his shoulder. He didn't know what to think. Actually he understood very well what was going on in Giano's head; how he felt about a first night with a man. Just like he himself had done some months ago. In the Spring. Now it was Summer. He only hoped that Giano didn't mess it up. He stretched out his hand. "Shower?"

Hot water sprayed from the shower over their headd onto them while they were soaping each other. "I missed you", Alessandro said, and Luca read his lips.

"Missed you too. A week can be so long." His soap-slippery palms stroked over Alessandro's buttocks and in between the cleft, back and forth to his abdomen, gliding down, and soaping his half-hard erection. Within a second it stood upright and Alessandro pressed his body to Luca's, embracing him. Water streamed over their faces.

"Was that Tristano hurrying out of the palazzo when we arrived?" Alessandro mumbled sleepily. He had buried his head into the nape of Luca's neck, laying half above him. He felt Luca nodding.

"What was the reason for his leaving. Us?"

"Yes. He said, he didn't want to disturb us."

"So, he's come to terms with you and me?"

"Apparently. We never talk about it."

Alessandro lifted his head. "Never? So, how do you know then?"

Luca closed his eyes. He didn't know for sure, but he certainly had the feeling. At least Luca never left a mistake about his sexuality but Tristano never commented it. He wondered why.

"I've told you that he's in love with you. Why do you never listen to me?" Alessandro outlined Luca's lips and then played with his ear lobe. "Anyway, I guess we'll see him again tomorrow? I need to get up early to pick up my clothes."

"Are you nervous?"

"As hell. What about your brothers? Are they prepared?"

"I guess so. They talk about nothing else these days."


Giano lay awake. He knew that at his side Tino didn't sleep either. Actually he had imagined that his first night with him would be different. That Tino would try to do something. That there would be more than the blow job he allowed Tino when he had visited his place.

He looked over and saw him laying on his back with his eyes open. It was a double bed, so the space that separated them, was easy to cross. Giano stretched out his hand and touched Tino's chest. His fingers crawled slowly across the skin, feeling the short, black hairs, invisible in the night. It felt good, and because Tino didn't move, his fingers wandered lower over the stomach and belly, flat due to his prone position. And suddenly he heard a low giggle. "Don't do that. I'm ticklish." Tino raised his body and peered over at Giano. "No, don't stop."

Giano pulled his hand back and lay motionless. They stared at each other. "What are you afraid of? Don't you like me?" Tino asked. "You know, I'm Celestino, the heavenly", he growled with a deep voice, making Giano grin. Tino bent over and brought his lips near. "Come on", he whispered. Giano closed his eyes and pulled Tino's head close to him. His leg embraced Tino's buttocks, which enabled him to feel his brief-clad erection, feel the lips on his own, the tongue that was caressing his own, and then something kicked in.

It was so much different to lay next to him in a bed, than to sit or stand and receiving a blow job. A long groan escaped his throat and Tino slid over him. Giano tugged at his briefs, pulled them down over Tino's butt cheeks, freed his straining penis and started to stroke it. It was easy he thought and familiar. Like his own.

"I've been crazy for you since the first time we met", Tino mumbled into his ear. He vanished under the blanket and pulled down Giano's underpants, appearing again a moment later, triumphantly holding up the pants with a grin Giano couldn't resist. Long laughter sounded, similar to Luca's pearly laugh and passed into groans when Tino started sucking him until he begged him to stop or rather to continue until his brain blew out of his skull. They rolled on the bed and Giano didn't notice at first that Tino's fingers were caressing the entrance of his backside, until he felt something caressing him from within. He froze for a minute, looked into the amber eyes, burning from desire, and thought that he wanted more of that.

"More?" Tino read his eyes, making Giano flip over onto his stomach and then he crawled up behind him. A wet tongue entered him, played with the rim, outlined it, washed over it, and after five minutes of feeling it Giano called himself a complete idiot that he hadn't let this happen before.

Tino turned out to be a perfect teacher without making Giano feel like he was being taught. All he could remember an hour later was that he had rolled a wet condom over Tino's cock, lay back and let it happen. The first sting was painful, the second too. The third less and then.... and then...

Giano opened his eyes and saw Tino's face that so close to his own. Tino's calm breathing told him that he was asleep, with his arm resting around Giano's waist and their legs entwined. The stinging feeling was still there and Giano didn't know how he would handle it in the morning. But perhaps it would have gone by then. Deep down he knew that he had lost his heart, and it hadn't been difficult to do so. He placed a kiss upon Tino's nose and saw him smile.

* * *

Luca's eyes were alternating between Tino's then Giano's. They were sitting at the opposite side of the kitchen table with a shit-eating grin on both faces. Holy cow, he thought. They had made it. He grinned back cheekily and winked at his brother. Honey dropped from Giano's toast but he didn't seem to notice until Tino started licking it from his fingers. Alessandro burst into laughter. "So, these are our new love birds, yes?" Franco and Claudio looked confused.

"I told you, gioia", Alessandro continued, "that it wouldn't hurt." Giano rolled his eyes at Alessandro. "Shut up, smart ass", he grinned.

Giano felt fantastic. In the early morning they had done it again, switching positions and Giano couldn't get enough of it. Tino had told him that he had probably woken sleeping dogs, but his face was beaming. Life was wonderful. He even had the possibility of moving out of Sandro's room and moving in with Tino. Why not? They got along well and the prospect of sleeping with his boyfriend each night made his body tingle all over.

"Um, did we miss something?" Franco asked innocently. He bent to his friend and whispered "I guess we're in the middle of a gay brothel or something."

Claudio shoved him. He wasn't quite sure how to handle this situation. Sure he knew that Alessandro was gay but the other two? "What the hell", he said aloud, blinking his black eyes at the guys. "I'm here to watch the Gioco. Aren't you going out to pick up your clothes?" he asked Alessandro.

"Yeah, I'll be going in a minute."

"Mother's expecting us this morning", Luca said. Giano was thumped back down to earth again.

"Oh. Um, how will you explain your nights away from home?"

"I'll tell the truth, simply that I'm staying with Sandro. They don't have to know what I'm doing here."

Everybody was grinning. Alessandro planted a kiss upon Luca's lips and emptied his coffee cup. "We'll meet back here again at noon, OK?"

"When does it start?" Claudio asked.

"Three p.m. sharp. At two the parade of trumpeters, horses and drummer starts, I guess you won't want to miss that, right?" He was out.


The Montori's palazzo was a jumble. Dante and Marcello were sorting out their clothes. Half length, blue baggy trousers and heavy boots enabled them to have a stable hold in the sand. Dante was already dressed with his full blue shirt when Luca, Giano and Celestino arrived.

"Where's your pervert friend? Have you called for the priest to give him absolution? This will be a day he won't forget."

Luca simply ignored him and went on into the kitchen where his mother was preparing tramezzini and salad. Luca saw heaps of apples and cucumbers, fresh carrots and oranges. "Are you intending to feed an army of soldiers?" he asked her good humouredly. Clarissa turned. "Ah, Luca, gioia. Where's Giano? Didn't he arrive yesterday?"

"Sure." Giano stepped into the kitchen, Tino behind him. "This is Celestino, a friend." He gave his mother a kiss on the cheek.

Niccolò emptied his pipe and rose from the table. He shook Tino's hand. "Welcome to the Montori's", he said formally, but not without a smile. "Are you a student friend?"

"Fellow student, yes. But I'm two semesters ahead."

"Mamma, can you fix this please?" Marcello had stormed into the kitchen, his upper body naked, his shirt in his hand.

"Let's see." Clarissa took the shirt and examined the rip. "The seam is torn. Doesn't it fit properly?"

Luca eyed his brother's muscle covered body. He worked out in the gym too much and God alone knew what he was eating to develop such muscles. Remembering Alessandro's smooth and lithe body, he feared for him.

"Hi, Giano", Marcello said shortly over his shoulder. Then his eyes fell on Celestino and he looked questioningly.

Giano didn't know what happened but before he could stop it, Tino had said "Celestino. I'm your brother's boyfriend." He reached out his hand.

Clarissa emitted a little cry and dropped the shirt. Everyone was staring at Celestino. "You certainly mean friend", Niccolò growled from behind.

"No," Tino said friendly but determined. "I said boyfriend."

A roaring laughter was heard. Dante, standing in the doorway, had thrown back his head and was laughing. "That's too funny everybody!" He jumped behind Luca and held his neck. "Certainly one of these faggots is enough, but two of them is simply ... over the top!"

The Montoris stared at Dante and Luca but nobody could bring themselves to say anything. Clarissa picked up the shirt and went out to search for her sewing box.

Niccolò cleared his throat. "I take it this is a joke?" he said with uncertainty in his voice and nobody answered him. Giano had stepped to Tino's side, shaking inwardly. He hadn't prepared Tino for the fact that his family was not exactly what one would call gay-friendly. Nor gay-accepting. Shit.

Luca had freed himself from Dante's grip and glared at him. "Hold your mouth, Dante. Go and see if you can find a priest for yourself."

Dante's face reddened and he glared back. Luca knew that only the presence of Niccolò stopped him from hitting Luca.

Giano's hand searched for Tino's. He took it and grasped it. "It's not a joke, pappa. Dante's right." He held his father's gaze until Niccolò broke it and simply went slowly out of the kitchen. Clarissa hadn't returned.

"I'm sorry, Giano", Tino said. "I didn't know... my parents are cool with it. You should have told me."

"I didn't want to worry you." Giano's head hung and Luca took his upper arm. "It happened now, and I'm glad it has. About time."

"About time?" Dante said, looking at Marcello who had not said a single word, but was clenching his fists. "About time?" He glared at Tino. "And you with that stupid name. What have you done to my brother? Made him a filthy faggot like yourself, eh?" He turned to Giano. "I hadn't thought it of you, becoming a shit stabber, ugh. It's nasty enough to make me throw up."

Giano raised his hand and slapped his face.

That was the second time, Luca thought. The first blow he had received from Sandro and Luca knew his brother well enough to see that he was seething. Dante made a step forward and pushed his brother hard, but Tino jumped between them. "Stop that! What's gotten into you? How can you call me such names, you stronzo. Look at you, strong like a bull, but with a brain of a pea." He spat in front of Dante's feet onto the kitchen floor. Then he took both, Luca and Giano, dragged them out of the kitchen and exited the Montori palazzo.

Luca tried hard not to cry even though the tears were burning behind his eyes. Within the space of ten minutes he had lost his home he thought. What were his parents going to say? Would they throw him out of the house? Was it possible that his mother, who considered him to be her sunshine, would be so hard-hearted? And his father?

"I'm really sorry", Tino repeated incessantly. "I carry my heart upon my sleeve, I should have thought first before I spoke. I didn't know your brothers."

"We should have told you", Giano reassured him, but his voice was tight. He feared for Luca who had to live at home while Giano himself could vanish.

They arrived the Gondi-Palazzo and sat on the kitchen stools. "What do we do now?" Tino asked, completely unhappy about the events. He looked at Luca. "Your brother knew about you?"

Luca nodded. "By accident. But he has held his mouth with our parents."

"Hi ragazzi, I'm back. Look at this." Alessandro was coming through the kitchen door and instantly felt the gloomy mood. "What's happened?"

Luca filled him in. "Jesus Christ." Alessandro slumped down upon a stool. "I need a drink." He uncorked a bottle of wine and poured four glasses. "Where's the rest?"

"Franco and Claudio are doing some sightseeing", Luca said quietly. He took his glass and gulped down half of it. Alessandro forced his arm down. "You'll get drunk. It's hot outside!" Alessandro sighed then and sipped at his glass. "Let's see. You haven't heard from your parents, gioia. I'll bet that they are sensible enough to see it as it is; something that can't be changed. They can't be as stupid to think the way Dante does, that you can make somebody gay by pure seduction, can they? So," he continued convinced, "when we meet up later they will tell you both that they love you."

"Huh", Giano and Luca said unison. "Who will believe that."

"Me", Tino said. "My parents hadn't a problem with it. Well, at least no big problems. After the shock wore off it was allright. I was still the same one I was before."

"You make it sound too easy."

"I'm not making it sound easy", Tino insisted. "Everyone with common sense must see that I'm right."

"Who's talking about common sense?" Giano said. "Our brothers have never heard of that."

"Funny, how brothers can be so different."

Estate 2