Luca had slept with Alessandro's family cross tightly clutched in his palm. He had gone with Giano to the Gondi-palazzo to spend the night there in Sandro's bed, while Giano had been eager to return to his lover.

Luca wiped the sleep from his eyes as the sun seeped through the closed curtains, hiding the open loggia. He shivered a bit from the cool breeze. Instantly his thoughts went to the events of last night. His coming out to his friends. His reconciliation with his parents. Sandro's injuries. Giano's first lover. He jumped up when his mobile started ringing. He hurried to his jeans and rummaged in the pocket. It wasn't Sandro but Rosso's phone number that appeared in the display. Naked he stood and decided quickly whether to answer it or not. "Rosso?" he said finally.

"Yeah. What's up?"

"If you mean my parents, they are cool."

"Really? Oh gosh, if I'd had come out to my family they would have beaten me", he said seriously. "How come?"

Luca shrugged. He was cold and crept back into bed. He found the Gondi-cross between the sheets and closed his fingers around the cold metal. "I'm not sure. I have the feeling mother knew somehow."

"Cool. But now, tell me, how all this happened? I mean, how did you meet? And all..."

"What all? I won't give you a report of my sex life." Luca grinned into the phone.

"No? While I want to know everything! Does it hurt?"

"What hurts?" Luca moaned. Rosso could be a plague. "Put a sausage into your butt and you'll know", he said giggling.

"Ouch. How can you enjoy that??"

"You're a bambino, Rosso", Luca said pretty precociously and knew that he had something in his life for the first time that couldn't be grasped by his friends. And it felt good.

"Ok." Rosso avoided exploring the theme. "Giuliano is pissed. He told Micky the news hot off the press and they were both pissed at how you turned into a fag. They said all fags are hairdressers or ballet dancers and dressed as drag queens. Do you wear stockings in your spare time?"

Luca hooted with laughter. "Tell them to fuck off. And besides, who was wearing stockings yesterday, eh? You think all the musicians are gay?"

"And how long have you known? Have you never had a crush on me?"

Luca's face was a question mark. "Well..." He paused to think. "If you're asking me... why not? I dream of your red hair."

"Stronzo. Don't you dare do that. Shall I come over?"

"I'm picking up Sandro later."

"Oh. Well, then you'll be busy. With the sausage."

Luca chuckled, but doubted that Sandro would be interested in sausages. That suited him well. He needed cuddling urgently.

"Rosso? Thank you."

"Pleasure. I'll call you later then. And tell Giano that his boyfriend is really ok."

Luca was still beaming as the streams of hot water poured over his head. He stood there for a long time, feeling the water prickling his skin, arousing him when the foam slid down his body, meeting his sensitive parts. For the first time Luca felt thoroughly happy. No matter what his brothers would do to him in the future; he felt that he now had protection from his parents. Even his stern father hadn't any further objections. It was probably just a matter of ignorance and prejudices. He would come around in the end.


Giano was pressed into the mattress of the bed and felt Tino shoot into his condom. He had come some seconds before and soiled the sheet. Tino lay down against Giano's back, purred satisfied like a big cat and bit softly at Giano's hairline on his neck. "Will you move in with me?" he mumbled sleepily. Giano's eyelashes fluttered and before he could give an answer he had drifted off. An hour later he heard Tino's steady breathing, still lying upon him, his head heavy upon his shoulder blade, his penis still stuck within him.

He tried to lift himself up and Tino stirred. "Sorry, buddy. What's the time?" He pulled out carefully, holding the rim of the condom and gave Giano's ass cheeks two resounding kisses. "What a mess we made."

Giano turned and felt the sting again, but he didn't mind. He pulled Tino's head down to him and started to kiss him so that Tino panted for breath after a while. "Wow. I don't think I can stand it if you don't wake up with me each morning."

"Morning, eh? It's almost noon." Giano suddenly realized where they were. "Geez, what's with Luca? He wanted to pick up Sandro. You'll have to drive. I can't."

He rolled out of bed, Tino on his heels, then under the shower.

Franco and Claudio had left a note on the kitchen table to say that they were out sightseeing. They hadn't any clue about yesterday's events.

"How are your straight friends taking it?"

"They're more Sandro's friends and don't seem to bother." Giano lifted the top off the coffee jar. "Empty. Here's some toast. Want some?"

Giano found Luca sleeping in a wicker chair in the loggia. An ancient looking book had slid into his groin and he looked peaceful. A golden enamel cross on a golden chain was placed upon his naked chest. Giano had never seen it before. "Luca", he whispered and shook his brother's arm. "Wake up. We have to pick up Sandro."

Luca stirred and opened his eyes. Then he stopped the book from sliding down to the ground. "Oh. Did I fall asleep?" He rose and put the book back carefully into a drawer. "Have you eaten?"

"A little. The cross it's new? Where did you get it from?"

Luca clutched it. "Yeah. The Gondi cross."

"Looks valuable. Another present like the leather suit?" Giano didn't know what to think about Alessandro giving his brother those gifts. It completely changed his opinion of the Gondi-boy.

Luca nodded and pulled on a shirt. "Coming now."

Tino drove Alessandro's red Ferrari and waited until he had got in. He still wore his mask but the swelling seemed to have diminished. He was limping. "Doc said he wants to see me every day. So, I can't return with you tomorrow to Pisa", he said nasally to Tino and Giano. "Here's my sick note, can you deliver it? I'm going to miss a hell of lot of work, shit."

Luca felt a sting of joy despite it all. That meant that Sandro would stay with him for at least another week.

"No problem, buddy. I'm sure Franco will help you since he's already gotten through all this."

"Can you ask Leoni to copy her notes of the lectures?"

"Leoni?" Giano asked. "Well, yes. I saw her running after you completely desperate when you was delivered to the first aid. But you were gone already."

Luca eyed his lover. He hadn't had time to ask what this odd behaviour of Leoni was all about. But there would be plenty of time to ask later.


"I hear your arse stabber's been released from hospital?" Marcello had appeared out of nowhere, standing in Luca's doorway. Luca had come home to pick up some clothes. His parents had gone to church.

"What are you doing here? I thought you were in hospital as well."

"You didn't answer my question." Marcello's black eye had grown even larger, if possible. His wrists were bandaged and his knuckles were swollen. He was limping slightly.

"Why does it bother you. You look like shit yourself. Didn't work out did it? Sandro outclassed you four times."

Marcello made a step forward.

"Luca?" It sounded from downstairs. "Are you there?" It was Clarissa and Luca was relieved. "Yes, I'm here. Marcello's here too."

Niccolò stomped up the stairs. "Marcello? I thought you were in bed. You were too sick to come to church, so hurry up and lay down again."

"I want to know about the arse stabber."

"Arse stabber?" Niccolò looked blank. Then he realized what his son meant. "I don't want to hear those words in my house, capisce?"

Marcello's face was priceless. He had thought his father would be on his side surely. "No, pappa, you can't agree to this. Gondi has corrupted Luca with his nasty lusting! You can't allow Luca to be treated like a whore. Have you not heard what they're doing?" Marcello's face had reddened, and so had his father's.

"So, what we are doing, tell me", Luca said, clutching a heap of fresh T-shirts.

"Fucking like stray dogs and licking the shit from your cocks afterwards", Marcello hissed directly into Luca's face. "You can't be that perverted to enjoy that. We're decent men. I could kill Gondi for what he's done to you."

Niccolò stood petrified at first. Marcello had spoken out what he himself secretly thought. But then his reason won the upper hand. He took Marcello's arm firmly and pulled him aside. "Basta così. You're lucky that your mother didn't hear that. Down, Marcello and you," he looked at Luca, "what're you doing?"

Luca was too shocked to say anything. Marcello stomped downstairs. "licking the shit from your cocks ... Fucking like stray dogs..."

"I... Sandro's out of hospital. Can I stay with him? Someone has to look after him."

"Haven't they got a nurse?" Niccolò snapped and Luca flinched. His father didn't seem to have calmed down. Perhaps he thought the same as Marcello did. How could he explain what sex with a man really meant? It wasn't dirty. It wasn't filthy. It was jut a bit ... messy. Hot. Sexy. Fulfilling.

"Talk with your mother, son", Niccolò said then, resigned.

Luca hurried down, Marcello was nowhere to be seen. Luca felt relief when he saw his mother standing at the stove, cooking the rabbit, the usual Sunday's meal. He smelled the black olives and the red wine, the roasting onions in a pan and suddenly embraced her from behind. He needed that now. He pressed his cheek into her blond, wavy hair and sobbed quietly. Clarissa turned surprised. "Luca? What's happened?" But Luca's eyes were dry. He would never bawl like a kid.

"Bad news from the hospital?"

"No. He's out. He's waiting for me." Luca released his mother and looked aside, embarrassed. "Marcello's here." Luca swallowed the rest. No way he would tell his mother what he had said.

Niccolò entered the kitchen, sat silently at the table and stuffed his pipe.

"Can I go and care for him? He has to stay for a week at least. He's not going back to Pisa for a while."

"Oh. Better this way. There's nobody else who can care for him?"

Luca thought briefly about calling Anastasia. It probably would be a good idea since Luca had to go to work. "Well, the housekeeper. I just have to call her. She's at Fiesole. The Gondi's have a villa there."

"I know." She stroked Luca's hair off his sunburnt forehead. "Dante has to stay in hospital too. We'll visit him later. Come with us?"

Luca shook his head vehemently. "I don't think Dante wants to see me." Clarissa must have missed the quarrel they had lately he thought.

Niccolò cleared his throat. "I don't share Marcello's opinion", he said out of the blue to Luca. "I talk to him later."

Clarissa looked uncomprehending and then stirred the pot. "You're eating with us?" she asked.

Luca shook his head.

"But yes. Or I'll give you something from that. There's enough. I cooked too much."

Alessandro didn't want to eat. He laid in bed and was dozing. He had difficulty breathing and was lying with an open mouth. So Luca left the rabbit for Giano and Tino who stayed in their room. Luca didn't blame them.

He couldn't eat either. To distract himself he pulled out Masolino's diary from the drawer and turned the pages. Masolino's tight handwriting was difficult to decipher, but he had got used to it. He had read it over and over until the end, but was never tired of reading it again. It gave such a clear, visible view of a long gone period of time where the Florentine painter had started to work a miracle in the world. And the best of it was that the result of all this was still there for him to see. He remembered their visit at the Brancacci-chapel, the clear, freshly renovated freschi, telling the story of San Pietro and his miracle deeds and remembered too what really happened in this chapel. Masolino, laying on the marble floor, being penetrated by Masaccio who in turn was being fucked by his own brother... an atrocity even to the free spirited Florentines. And hadn't Masolino mentioned that it was dangerous, that they could get caught because the catholic priests had eyes everywhere?

Alessandro had told him that it was decades after that Florence had become besotted with young men in their tight stockings, short skirts and pouches, showing off what they had, or stuffing out what they didn't have. It was the time of Brunelleschi, Donatello, Verrocchio... and Michelangelo, Leonardo, born much later, the time of Sodomo, Rosso Fiorentino.... all gay as you can get.

"Budapest, Aprile 1429

I was devastated. I prayed it would go away. I prayed it would never go away. What had started as secret play which we enjoyed, had developed into an atrocity that was too much for me. I was not so young anymore to accept it as children's careless play.

"If you don't want to then there's Giovanni waiting for me", Tommaso explained to me, and fluttered his long, black eye lashes at me, so I had to give in each night. I did it with lust and for the short hours between dusk and dawn I was the happiest man that lived in Firenze, because I had found true fulfilment. I begged for more whenever he lifted his body from my bed. I begged for more when he was undressing me to examine me and make a drawing of me in all possible positions.

"Where do you think Giotto, the grande maestro, gets his flawless perfection from?" Tommaso asked me, while I was crouched on the ground and he made a charcoal drawing of my rear profile.

"Those muscles and tendons have to be explored." He dropped his short painter's coat and stood naked like a stature. "Look at the connections of leg and abdomen. You see the bones and sinews?"

Tommaso tensed his leg's muscles. "And here", he slid over his upper thigh with a handful of olive oil. It glistened instantly in the lamp's light, making the muscles clearly defined.

With another quick motion he oiled his backside and I knew what was waiting for me. Oh, the lust! When he was mounting me as he climbed his horse. When he shook my soul and consumed me. I could not live without that. Even when it was Giovanni joining us, when I opened my tired eyes again, looking at the younger brother's backside cheeks clenching and releasing their muscles, straddling me, and Tommaso was giving him pleasure in caressing his private parts with his mouth?

I am ashamed. If anyone finds this book of memories I will be dead. Sodomy. Incest. My head is screaming. Like my body."

Luca sensed a tightness in his jeans. His own penis was straining against the fabric, screaming for release. The chap, Masolino, must have gone through hell, considering the catholic upbringing and presence tearing his heart apart. And the end was going to be worse, at least Luca feared that, for the last pages of the diary were missing. Probably Masolino had destroyed them so nobody would find out what happened in the end.

From his bed Sandro was looking at him. "Have you finished it? What do you think?"

"Finished, yes, long time ago. I just need it for stimulation", he said grinning.

"Ah, you've got to the point with the three-some's then, yes?"

"Yes." Luca closed the book and sat down on Alessandro's bed. Sandro had noticed Luca's bulge and was stroking it through his jeans. "Good job of Masolino", he chuckled, but then breathed hard through his nose. "God, this thing is killing me." He looked regretfully at Luca. "I can't give you what you want, gioia, I'd suffocate."

Luca smiled understanding. He started to undress himself and slipped under the covers. He helped Sandro undressing, careful of his many wounds and stroked Sandro's firm testicles. "Do you think one of them killed Masaccio? Or did he really die of the plague?"

"Not sure," Sandro panted. Luca's fingers now embraced his erect penis. Luca vanished under the covers and swirled his tongue around the tip, licking the drops, sucking on the under side at the rim and heard Sandro breathing like a steam train. He doubled his efforts now to protect Sandro from any more pain, although he loved to take his time. Hot fluid shot into his mouth and he swallowed.

He appeared again above the covers and saw Sandro's chest heaving, a blissful expression on his face. He wiped his mouth and said "Marcello said we lick the shit from our cocks."

Alessandro blinked. "This he calls shit?" Gently he wiped white drops from Luca's lips. "I think it has a different colour. Dark like his soul." He kissed Luca's lips, opened them and battled with his tongue. "What should I say about that?" he said then, dropping his head back to the pillow. "Does anyone know about the diary?" His fingers had now found Luca's straining erection and was stroking it gently. Luca moaned and bucked against Sandro's hip. "I doubt it. I take good care to hide it."

"You know, I think about going to Rome and visiting the chapel where it happened."

"Going to Rome? When?" Luca rolled onto his back and enjoyed Sandro's stroking fingers until he couldn't control himself anymore. Alessandro fished for a tempo and grinning cleaned his fingers and Luca's belly. "Have you told him it's a mess?" he asked.



Luca sighed and turned to his side, watching Sandro's face.

"No, my father hurried him out. Later he told me he doesn't think like my brother."

"That's a good start. Perhaps they'll get used to us."


Alessandro sniffed and then opened the velcro fastening of his mask at the back of his head. He pulled it down and gingerly touched the skin over his nose. He had yellow-brown bruises under his eyes and the top of his nose was reddish. There was a little bump. "How does it look?" he asked silently. "I look like a monster, eh?"

"Certainly not." Luca examined him. "The bruises will go away and this little something here", he carefully touched Alessandro's nose, "is just lovely. It adds to your attractiveness."

"Attractiveness? With a broken nose? And what about the cut here?" He pointed to his left eyebrow that had a cleft and the stitches were still visible. "Do you think that I'm still the most pretty boy in the university?" He tried to raise his brows but twisted his lips in pain. Luca bent over and gave him a kiss. "You'll always be."

Alessandro gave a sad, disapproving snort and sighed.

"Hey", Luca said, embracing Alessandro's body, stroking his hips. "Do you really think people only like you because of your looks?"

"People doesn't like me at all", Alessandro quipped. "They just see my family behind me. The powerful, rich Gondi's, ah! Make room for the Gondi's! They provide the mayor! They've houses and villas!"

"I like you for what you are", Luca said.

"And what am I to you? I wasn't only nice to you. Now I'm always sick and you're becoming my nurse when we should actually be lying in the sun, going swimming, going to cinema or having a ball at one of the open air discothèques."

Luca had to laugh. "Ah, carino, that's your problem, yes? Did you always take your girlfriends to those activities and now you think I'm bored with you because you can't offer me any of that? Do you really think I'm that shallow?"

Alessandro gave him a long glance. "No", he said then slowly. "I don't think you're shallow at all. That's what makes the difference. I've seldom met a guy like you."

"Was that a compliment?"

Alessandro nodded.

Luca grinned. "Now, tell me, what do you want at that church in Rome?"

"To look at what's beneath the chapel." Alessandro turned on his side and propped himself up on his elbow. "You know where Masolino's diary ended: in the chapel of Santa Caterina di Alessandria. Masolino had the commission to paint there while Masaccio followed him there shortly after. He couldn't live without him I suppose." He grinned and playfully nudged Luca's nose. "Like me."

Luca let out a burst of his pearly laughter. "Without the diary or without me?"

Alessandro locked eyes with Luca and bit his lip. "You're a great nurse, so I'll go for the latter", he said with a bit of an effort.

"I should roll you out of bed for that comment", Luca said and hid a grin. But he knew that Sandro avoided saying what he really felt.

"I'll call Anastasia and ask her to do the shopping", he said then. "I have to work all day, so there's nobody to care for you."

"Gosh, I can go myself!"

"With those feet? Certainly not."

Alessandro fell back onto the pillows and sighed He had never been So helpless in his life before, and he didn't want depend on Luca. It was just embarrassing. But Luca had rolled out of bed and was dressing again. Regretfully Alessandro looked at his naked back. He watched Luca taking his mobile and dialling the number of the Gondi villa at Fiesole. He listened to the short conversation and learned that Anastasia would come tomorrow. And what was he supposed to do here all the time?

"I'll make us something to eat, I'm hungry", Luca said and rushed downstairs without waiting for an answer.

Down in the kitchen he found Franco and his friend Claudio at the table, bent over the newspaper. "Ah, Luca, look at this", Franco said.

"Have you both been in bed all this time?" Claudio asked giggling and received a thump from Franco. "Sandro's ill, the newspaper says. How is he? You've picked him up?"

"Yes. He's all right more or less. So, what does the newspaper say?" Luca turned the pages to the front page and saw a big photo of Alessandro and a small one beside it with him carrying the ball and running up the sandy pitch. "Viva Gondi! Viva San Giovanni!" it read. A large article about the Calcio in Costume followed, with a listing of injured players as if they should be proud to get as hurt as possible. Luca shook his head. "From the most-hated to a hero", he mumbled, and continued reading the article.

* * * * *

"How's Alessandro?"

Luca looked at his teacher, who had taken him aside and was looking at him expectantly.

"His housekeeper is caring for him", Luca answered reserved. He didn't know why Coppo should be interested in Sandro's welfare nor even that he knew that they were friends. Or more than just friends.

"And your brothers?" Coppo continued.

"Um, Dante's still in hospital. The concussion's pretty bad."

"Sorry to hear that. He wont be back at work for a while anyway due to his broken arm. We'll miss his good work." Coppo paused. "Marcello too. He can't work with his wrists. We'll miss them both. Sorry about all this. We're a rough kind of people, for sure, aren't we."

Luca didn't know what to answer. He shuffled his feet, eager to go away and talk to Tristano who was sitting alone at their table, sorting through his instruments.

Coppo sensed that Luca wasn't willing to give him more information. After his talk with Niccolò, Luca's father, he had put two and two together and came to the conclusion that Alessandro Gondi was Luca's boyfriend. Why the young noble man had hung his heart at the even younger, Coppo wasn't quite sure. Luca was a sweetheart, that was obvious, but he certainly couldn't hold a candle to Gondi's colourful personality. Perhaps it was exactly that which Alessandro wanted from Luca: the taming of the shrew so to speak. He remembered well the time when the teenager Alessandro and his so-called friends had been sort of an anti-establishment figures, frightening old women at the cemetery by stealing flowers, interrupting the church services with obscene questions, giving confessions to Padre Castruccio that made the padre start in embarrassment and driving with ear deafening noise through the town on Sunday mornings. Perhaps that had been his way of protesting against the loveless education and upbringing he had suffered. The Gondi's never had been noted for charity and good treatment of others.

He looked at Luca's face, from the unruly blond hair, over the dark eyes to the mouth, and detected a determined line around his chin. He had faced his father with the secret he was carrying and Coppo wasn't sure how it had turned out. But there was no way Coppo could ask Luca.

"Go now, the class starts", he said. "Today we'll try different motifs. Have you been out in nature to gather flowers?"

"No", Luca said low. "I haven't had time."

Coppo patted his shoulder. "Then use your imagination."

Tristano gave him a glance when Luca returned to his seat. He sorted the slate and the bowls with different kinds of stones that were cut into thin plates, the knives, cutter and pencils. "How's he?" he asked quietly.

"Who? Sandro? At home. He won't be going back to Pisa for a while. Can't walk anyway, his toes are broken."

"I'm sorry." But a look into Luca's radiating eyes told him that he hasn't to be sorry. Probably Luca was happy to have him here. Tristano was still shocked about his blunt declaration on the night of the Gioco. Not only that he had being witness to Giano's sexual inclination but then Luca had admitted loudly to everyone that he felt the same. A traitorous blush crept from his neck up to his cheeks when he met Luca's stare.

"You were quarrelling with your girlfriend", Luca said. "What about?"

Tristano looked down. She was complaining that he didn't spend much time with her anymore. Whenever she suggested going swimming or having a coffee in an ice café or doing whatever - he had refused. And he knew distinctly what she wanted: to have his sister Isolde's flat for themselves. Isolde was going in a couple of days to America as an exchange student and her flat was free for that time. His heartbeat fluttered. There was no way he was doing that. The two times he had to sleep with her were certainly enough. Somehow he didn't like it.

"Isolde's moving out of her flat", he said instead. "She's going to Boston for a year to continue her study there."

"Wow. And will you move into her flat then?"

Luca apparently had the sixth sense. Tristano nodded and Luca caught a brief, excited flash from his blue eyes.

"When will you move then? Shall I help you?"

"No, it's just small stuff. But thanks for the offer."

Luca cocked his head. "I hope I'll be invited for a coffee then." He grinned and Tristano's heart made a leap. "Surely", he mumbled. And then Coppo's voice shushed the chattering.


Alessandro dozed in his loggia, his legs upon a chair, his naked upper body in the sun. He had put on his sun glasses and was listening to a CD. The player lay in his lap and he had his eyes closed. He didn't feel the presence of the figure standing to one side, just as its shadow fell over his body he stirred and opened his eyes. Leoni stared at him, her eyes sliding over his body.

"You're hurt", she said. Alessandro struggled to an upright position, pulled the headphones from his ears and taking off his sun glasses.

"Who let you in?"

"Anastasia. She said you were in your room."

From behind her back she produced a bunch of flowers. "For you", she said and grinned stupidly. Alessandro felt pissed. Flowers. From her. "What're you doing here actually? I thought you were in Pisa like the rest of them." He took the flowers. "Thanks for these."

Leoni beamed. She wore her shortest, pink skirt and a sleeveless top. Alessandro couldn't be untouched by that. After all there had been a time when he had been keen on her. "I thought I'd look after you. There's nobody else who can, but I was surprised to find Anastasia here. Did you call her?"

"Luca did. And he'll care for me when he's back."

"Oh." Leoni pulled up the second wicker chair and sat down. "Well, the little boy certainly won't be a great help."

"Little boy?" Alessandro chuckled at the thought. Luca was a head taller than Leoni. "Luca's much more of a help than you'll ever be", he said nastily.

"Help you in what? In your bed?" Leoni snapped.

Alessandro stared wickedly. "Exactly. I can't remember that you ever were."

Leoni's face flamed with red. Only Sandro's injuries stopped her from slapping his face. He had deflowered her - and it was all too clear that the fact didn't make a skilful temple whore of her. Why did men have to be so insensitive. But she held back her anger. Arguing with him wouldn't bring her closer to her aim. She carefully touched Alessandro's naked chest and avoided the red, sore spots where the sand had scraped the skin. "I've learnt a lot more since then", she said with honeyed voice. "I'm not the inexperienced, shy virgin anymore. And besides, you returned to my bed, so you must have enjoyed it. Didn't you?" Her lashes fluttered.

He looked her over, from her naked, brown legs over her naked arms to the pink eye shadow. In the old days that weren't that long ago, he continued the sentence in his mind. That was the time of searching and finding for himself. Why not try out hundred percent of humankind and not only the fifty society allowed him? And with a jolt he realized a possibility.

"Not inexperienced anymore?" he repeated her words. He lifted his upper body and looked directly into her face. "How many have you had in the meantime? Lots?"

"Surely. Dozens."

Alessandro laughed out loud. "I don't believe you. Who do you want to lay next? Me? To prove that you can more than to lay stock still like a block of wood and let me do the job?"

She blushed at his blunt complaint but decided not to give in. "I can certainly give you a better blow job than the boy", she quipped, not quite convinced. She looked uncertainly at him.

Alessandro still laughed and shook his head. "That's not enough."

"Shall I prove it? Right now?" She looked over to his dishevelled bed. Alessandro followed her look. "I'm not fit enough to fuck you", he said. "Why would I want toI anyway?" Right, he thought, get her on the hook. Perhaps she was the right girl to save his money. Instantly he scolded himself. You can't use people like marionettes. You will break the hearts of everyone - including your own. And what will you do with all the money if you lose Luca? Would he understand? No, he wouldn't. He had tried too often to talk Sandro out of it.

"You wouldn't regret it", Leoni promised and now touched his upper thigh. Her fingers crept up, dangerously close to his groin. His cock twitched. Damn that. He rose and limped from the loggia. "When do you return to Pisa? I told Franco to ask you to send your notes from the seminars.

I don't want to miss too much."

Leoni looked disappointed as she followed him. He looked too good dressed only in his jeans, despite his bruises and broken nose. The locks of his brown hair fell into the nape of his neck and Leoni would had given a lot to burrow her fingers into it. Damn Luca Montori who had this all.

"If there's nothing for me to do here... tomorrow", she said finally, searching his eyes for a sign of encouragement to stay longer. She didn't find any. "Well, I'll send my notes and books if you want", she whispered. The bunch of flowers lay forgotten upon the earth in the loggia. Try harder next time, she encouraged herself.

* * * * *

Luca looked down at Alessandro while he was straddling him, feeling Sandro's palms stroking up and down Luca's cock as he was riding him. Fresh skin had grown over the cuts on Sandro's skin and the bruises under his eyes had become more and more faint until only a shade reminded him of the accident. His broken nose still made it difficult to breath, but Luca loved to hear his panting although his snoring at night was a little annoying. Luca grinned and tried to concentrate on the thickness that stretched him inside, a slippery sensation like silk rubbing his skin. He slid a bit to the right and an explosion of stars behind his eyes followed. His penis jerked in Sandro's palm and Luca stopped his movements. He didn't want to end it all too soon, despite that Sandro had hit the delicious spot. He bent forward, rested his arms on both sides of Sandro's head and kissed him fervently, careful not to touch his nose. Alessandro was holding him tightly.

It had been three days since Leoni's appearance and Sandro still hadn't told him about. The flowers he had given to Anastasia, but his books had arrived along with Leoni's notes of the lectures which were carefully done and very helpful. She apparently had taken a lot of effort with them.

Luca twitched his anus and Alessandro moaned into Luca's mouth. "Don't do that or I'll come instantly", he mumbled. Luca giggled.

"Your little friend Tris has moved?" Sandro said, distracting himself.

Luca rose again and looked into his face. "Not yet. Tomorrow. I'll go and help him a bit if that's alright with you?"

"Sure it is. Leave an sick and ill man like me alone and have fun with others", Alessandro joked. He grasped Luca's cock and played with the oozing slit. "Stop teasing me", Luca moaned. "He's dumped his girlfriend."

"In favour of you?" Alessandro now stroked the rim of Luca's glans. If he slept with Leoni he would have nothing to play with... With his palm he encircled the whole thickness. Luca's cock seemed to have grown over the past months, he thought. Probably at seventeen he still wasn't full grown. What fun to come, Alessandro thought, grinning to himself.

"Stupid", Luca said. "He doesn't flutter his lashes at me, if that's what you mean."

"No?" Alessandro humped and Luca saw stars again. "I'm sure he's besotted with you."

Luca moaned and for the next five minutes he said nothing at all until the climax shook him. Like Alessandro he lost his senses for a brief moment. Luca fell forward into Alessandro's arms and lay his head next to Sandro's. "How many months have we been together?" he muttered when his breath had calmed. "Three months?"

"Why d'you ask?" Alessandro was stroking Luca's damp hair at his neck.

"I liked the sex without, in the bath tub, you remember?"

"In conclusion you don't like the sex with?"

"No, it's just..." Luca held the rim of the condom and lifted his body up. He peeled it from Alessandro's penis, twirled the rim, then carried it into the bathroom. "That's because", he said when he reappeared. Alessandro grinned and shook his head.

"You think it a sign of unfaithfulness when I won't give up using condoms?" he asked then.

"Not exactly." Luca crept into the bed again and pulled the blankets over them. Alessandro shoved his leg over Luca's and cuddled close to him. "I could never do that to you", he said softly and was ashamed.

A knock on the door disturbed them. "Sandro?" Anastasia's voice sounded through the wooden door. "It's the ambulance come to pick you up. You have to go."

"Shit." Alessandro sat up and jumped out of bed. "Ouch", he cried. Bloody toes. "I'm coming!" he shouted. Luca dressed hurriedly and then helped Alessandro to get into his clothes. Anastasia waited in the hallway in front of the lift that Fran had repaired and for what Alessandro was very thankful.

Luca decided to go out and do a bit of shopping; Sandro didn't like it when he was lounging around outside like a nervous clucking mother hen. He couldn't help him at the moment anyway.

The heat outside smashed like a hot wash cloth into his face. Inside the Gondi palazzo it was so refreshing cool... After a visit to an alimentari where he bought fresh pasta, a clothes shop where he bought underpants and a new shirt - all from his first pay check - he decided to look at the usual hang out for his school friends. He hadn't seen Rosso since the Saturday of the Gioco.

He recognized the red shock of Rosso's hair quickly, as usual bent over his coppa of ice cream. Luca felt a slight sense of unease when he saw Giuliano next to him with a girl on his arm. It wasn't the same one as at the Gioco. Luca sighed but went in, tapped on Rosso's shoulder and said "ciao".

Rosso beamed. "Hey, what's up, buddy. Haven't seen you for a while." He patted the seat next to him and Luca dropped onto it. He caught Giuliano's stare and looked away.

"Another coppa", Rosso shouted to the waiter and Luca had to grin at Rosso's familiar behaviour. "How's Sandro?" he asked. "We read in the newspaper that he's suffering. Have there been any journalists to interview him?"


"Because there was an interview in the press. You must know."

"I know nothing." Either Sandro had hid the incident or the interview was a fake. Weird.

"Anyway", Rosso chattered on, "it was great. Everyone's still speaking of it."

"It's a long time since the Gioco has been that bloody", Luca admitted, receiving his coppa of ice. Strawberry, vanilla and chocolate - as he liked it. Rosso knew him too well.

"How's your fag brother Giano? He's still studying or fucking in Pisa?" Giuliano's deep voice sounded up. He had raised an eyebrow and his black eyes examined Luca.

"I suppose he's doing the same as you", Luca said sternly. "Fucking." He darted a look to the girl next to Giuliano. She blushed.

Rosso tried to laugh. "Stop this, man", he said to Giuliano. "Luca's right. What's the difference?"

Giuliano growled. "There certainly is a difference. I don't fuck the shit..."

"I said stop it!" Rosso said sharply. "How old are you? I thought this was the nasty talk of an old bugger who doesn't know any better."

Giuliano rolled his eyes but said nothing.

"I hope he'll soon be all right", Rosso said to Luca whose heartbeat pounded painfully. How many times would he have to face this again? But he bravely started to eat his ice. "Hope so too, but then he'll be gone, back to Pisa."

Giuliano and his girlfriend smirked. "Michele said you're a pervert."

Rosso made a quick movement and emptied the half full Cinzano glass over Giuliano's lap. Giuliano jumped up, cursing.

"Looks as if here's a baby that has peed his trousers", Rosso said indifferently, watching Giuliano rubbing his serviette over the centre of his crotch. His girlfriend took him by the arm and they both vanished.

Rosso grinned.

"Thanks", Luca said. "But I guess I can defend myself now." Nonetheless he looked thankfully at his friend. Why did he do it? Was he himself....

"I can't stand it when someone is harassing people just because they're different", Rosso said, leaning back and eying Luca. "It's not because I'm ... like you. In case you wondered", he added.

Luca smiled and winked. "Too bad, actually."

Estate 4