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