Alessandro - having free time while Luca was with his brother - had noticed Leoni on the terrace on the second floor that overlooked the campus and the green lawn beneath. After a quick think he had mixed two Campari Soda, ready to talk to her. Unasked he helped himself to a cigarette from Leoni's packet. Cigarette and glass in hand, the sunglasses upon his nose, his white shirt unbuttoned, he gave the impression of a young snob, enjoying the sundown on the Cote d'Azur.
Leoni was still staring. "Are you coming to get me into the right mood?"
Surprised Alessandro turned his head. "Why should I? Didn't you see enough this morning? Wasn't that enough to convince you I want nothing to do with you anymore?"
Leoni threw back her head and laughed. Her Campari sloshed. "You're too amusing, Alessandro Gondi. Really." Suddenly serious, she said. "You want to talk? About what? About my indecency to enter your room without asking permission before? Believe me, I've never been that shocked in my life beforehand."
Alessandro wasn't sure if she was joking or not. Like himself Leoni was a brilliant actor. "Yeah, I believe that", he said and sipped at his Campari. The glass was cool between his fingers. "Listen, why can't we just stop the game?"
Leoni laughed again. "I know what happened between you and me, my dear. And I know for sure you enjoyed it. Why not continue when your boy is absent?" She fluttered her eyelashes innocently. "About four weeks ago you'd asked me if I'd marry you and now I 'm supposed to forget about it? Who's playing the game here? Why did you ask me anyway?"
Alessandro bit his lip. Leoni was right of course. He had been close to giving in to his father's will - several times. When Luca had been away for instance. But accepting the clause of the last will would mean to lose him, his boyfriend would never accept a ménage a trois. And with that Alessandro would write the last chapter in the book of the long history of Florence's Gondi-family. The name would then only emerge in history books. Died out. All the possessions falling to the church and country.
Leoni nudged him. "Why did you ask?" she repeated her question and inwardly prayed that Alessandro would speak. She would make him forget that lousy boy. She rose, walked around the table and sat on his knees. "Alessandro, we are tarred with the same brush. What do you want with this proletarian Luca? He's poor. He has nothing to offer. You and me - Gondi and da Firenzuola - our dynasties are seven hundred years old and together we could rule the town again, with money and with power. We could have kids. You like kids, don't you? If you'd asked me again to marry you, I wouldn't say no."
Alessandro shook his head. Then he nodded.
Alessandro felt her hands roaming his body. It wasn't that he so disliked the feeling, but he couldn't bear Leoni's intolerable arrogance. Something was building up in his stomach for certain; anger and scorn. "That's a lie", he said, pushing Leoni away. "I was just horny, and you were there. You've always been there to control me", Alessandro said heatedly. "I saw it in your eyes; 'Fuck me', they screamed and I did, but do you know what I thought while I was doing it? Spare me your criticism that you gave your virginity to a faggot who didn't want it."
Alessandro caught Leoni's arm which was drawn back ready to hit him, and held it tight. "You're such a bastard", she hissed.
It started slowly, but then Leoni roared with laughter. Luca heard her hysteric screaming when he turned the corner. He stopped in his tracks and hid behind an oleander bush. Leoni slipped from Alessandro's knees, still laughing. "You - a decent man? All I see is the boy I grew up with who seduced me to do forbidden things, who chased me into the darkest corners of your palazzo and who fucked me for the first time later. And now you'll seriously tell me it was a mistake, an error ... 'oh scusi signorina, I didn't mean to because I rather like to fuck the boys!" She leaned forward, leaning her hands upon Alessandro's armrests. "I bet I suck you better than all the boys in the world and there's help if you need something for your arse." She rose. "I'll get you for this, Alessandro Gondi.You are bad. Thoroughly."
She stormed away, passing Luca. The whole time Alessandro hadn't bat an eyelid and even now he sat unmoved. Then he fished for Leoni's forgotten cigarettes and lit one. Luca thought he could see his fingers trembling slightly. If he needed another proof of Alessandro's thesis, that Leoni was helplessly in love with him - there it was.
As silently as he could he slipped from behind the oleander bush and walked
noisily up to Alessandro who looked up startled when he saw him. Then he
rose and embraced Luca. "Good to see you, gioia. I've got a surprise for
you." His smile appeared a little forced and in his eyes there was shock. But
perhaps Luca just imagined seeing that. Nothing could shock his fearless
Alessandro. He held him tight and bathed in the knowledge he had something
that Leoni da Firenzuola would never have. Not anymore.
Alessandro's mood changed from one second to the next. He thanked his genes for the ability to shake off unpleasant things like a dog the water, threw some Euros upon the table and pulled Luca away behind him.
Alessandro drove along the Arno to a separate place, passed a gate and the large, colourful advertisement "Drive-in Movie".
They had pulled down the Ferrari's roof and snuggled into the black seats when the screen went black and shortly after the blue Mediterranean appeared with Greek galley ships which brought the brothers Paris and Hector to the shores of Sparta. "TROY" appeared with huge letters and Luca gave a squeak. "Orlando Bloom!" he whispered pleasantly thrilled. "My Legolas with blond hair..." Alessandro nudged him and stuffed some popcorn between Luca's lips. "Shut up, carino. And since when are you keen on blonds? That's my metier. Look", he pointed to the screen, where a black-curled hair Paris appeared at Hector's side who was bearded, strong and wonderful. "They have little ribbons and golden clasps in their hair", Luca said quietly, "Who are the fairies then, us or them?"
Alessandro spilled the popcorn with his suppressed laughter. Tightly embraced they silently watched and with growing interest the entanglements that led to Helena's entry in Troy, Achilles' impressive, bloody fight and the landing of the Spartan fleet on Troy's shore.
Alessandro laughed. "Catamite. That's a thing of worth." He watched Luca from the corner of his eyes. "Will you be my catamite?" Luca boxed him into the side. "Come on, you're hardly older than I."
Luca got goose bumps.
It was pitch dark. Luca didn't know if the other cars had driven away or if there were similar things going on in them. The screen had gone black; there was only some pale lights from the lamps lighting the area, bright enough to see Alessandro's eyes gleaming. He shoved his body over Luca's, trapping their erections between their navels. Their lips met, tenderly at first, then with more insistence. They opened their lips and their tongues met. Their hips started slowly to grind together, until their groins seemed to meld into one.
Alessandro's mouth left Luca's, and licked his neck, then he eased down, leaving a trail of saliva as he lowered his mouth to Luca's nipples, biting them softly. He heard Luca's soft noises, and he continued his caressing, massaging his shaft, creating a fire, until he crawled even lower and started to swallow Luca's cock. His tongue swirled around the head.
Luca moaned louder and shifted his position, so that he could suck on Alessandro's cock too. His hand caressed his balls. Alessandro took his mouth off Luca's erection and started licking his balls, then the area below them, until he reached his arsehole, where his tongue started to drill more and more deeply into Luca, then he slowly inserted a finger, massaging the hole, then another finger. Luca's cock pulsated wildly, anticipating what was going to happen next. Then Alessandro gave an unsatisfied groan. "Let's drive home."
Luca sat up with a jolt. "What?" He looked down at Alessandro.
Alessandro smirked. "To continue in comfort, what did you think?"
On Sunday Leoni stayed out of their way. They saw her from afar, but she seemed to ignore them. They couldn't see her glowing stares.
Sunday evening Luca stepped onto the train to Florence with the prospect of Alessandro coming next Wednesday to pick him up for their mutual holiday.
Clarissa awaited him impatiently. "Luca?" She rushed out of the living room. "It's good that you're here. Your school mate Tristano called this morning. There was an assault at the Cascine. Rosso's in hospital."
Luca watched her dismayed face until the information sank in. "What? In hospital? What happened?" Without waiting for an answer he pulled out his mobile and rang Tristano at home. "Why didn't you call me?" Luca started immediately. "Mamma says Rosso's in hospital? What assault?"
Silently he listened to Tristano's excuse of having mislaid Luca's mobile number, and all the events at the park. Marcello passed by him with a long scratch on his cheek and a black eye. Luca looked at him astonished, but was too caught up in Tristano's report to think about it.
Clarissa watched him with a worried look as Luca cut the connection.
Luca cleared his throat. "About Rosso... he's not gay if that's what you think. Apparently he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. They have arrested one of our ex-apprentices, Raniero. The one who hospitalized Alessandro at the Calcio, do you remember?"
Clarissa sat beside her son. She looked unhappy. "You must avoid these places next time. You aren't safe."
Clarissa filled two pots of coffee. "I think it has something to do with you", she said softly and unhappy. "Marcello came home with torn clothes and the black eye. He wouldn't say where he had been." Her blue eyes were filled with pain as she looked at her youngest son. "I'm afraid he has something to do with it. He has changed since you... since you..."
Luca looked at her with wide eyes. "And Dante? Where was he? At home?"
Clarissa shrugged her shoulders and sipped at the hot coffee. " For the first time I feel so helpless.."
Luca gently touched her arm. Clarissa had never talked to him like that before. She was always strong, clearing up the problems with a smile and a resolute action. She stretched out her hand and stroked Luca's hair. "Are you happy with him?"
Luca nodded, his throat constricted. Clarissa pulled him into her arms.
"That's all that counts."
Rosso lay in a room with five others, likewise hurt in the attack at the Cascine. Gays like Luca and Luca got his second impression of what it meant to be different and being beaten up for that reason.
Rosso's mother was there, holding his hand. "Ah, Luca, good to see you." Her eyes were puffed though Rosso was grinning. "It's about time I was out of this queer's room", he joked, throwing a long glance at the other guys with bandages and plasters. One of them was Sergio. "I'm well enough to stand up, but Mamma won't allow it." He gave his mother a grin and she reciprocated. "All right, Renato, I'm off. The shop has to be opened and God knows what your brothers are doing at home. You are missed."
Tristano stood aside and gave her a smile when she was leaving the room.
"While you was having it off with your boyfriend I got a bottle smashed over my head. It happened all of a sudden, nobody saw them coming. Guys in leather clothing. Tris here said it was one of your school mates."
"Anyway", Rosso continued perkily. "Nothing bad happened. My scull is made of iron, dickhead that I am. Tomorrow I'm out and then we can go for our holiday."
Tristano changed colour. "Well..." He darted a look over to Sergio, who had visitors crowded round his bed.
Everything was Greek to Luca. "What guy?" he asked Tristano. "Have you met somebody?"
Outside Luca and Tristano strolled along the streets. The Opificio was closed due to the summer's break and Tristano was in a brooding mood. "I hadn't thought that life would be so uncertain when you're gay", he said. "I'd never thought about it."
Luca was silent. He felt the same. But then he remembered what Rosso had said. "Now, tell me all about your conquests." He put his arm around Tristano's shoulder and peered into his face. "You had a hot night?"
Tristano shushed him. "Yeah, but I found that out afterwards. He's in Rosso's room, the one with the black curls. He seems to have a broken arm."
Luca looked down with a raised eyebrow. "And, did you?"
Luca looked up into Tristano's dark-blue eyes. "I guess a call-boy knows what he's doing and didn't hurt you, right?"
Tristano shook his head.
Luca laughed. "Why not? He'll know what he's doing. Hm, about the attack, Mamma said, Marcello came home with torn clothes and a black eye. She's afraid he was with the attackers. I really don't know what I should think. I guess Raniero will be interrogated and probably tell them about his accomplices, coward that he is."
Tristano watched the sparrows, jumping at their feet, looking up expectantly. "And you and Alessandro? You had fun?"
Luca nodded and thought about the night at the Drive-in movie. "You've got plans for your holiday?"
Despite Tristano's talk Luca had the distinct feeling that his friend
hadn't give up the hope of a happy ending with Luca, but he couldn't help
him there. The night they had shared had been great, but that was all.
It would never happen again.
Wednesday at late noon, the red Ferrari stopped at the kerb in front of the Montori palazzo. Alessandro hopped out and was met by Luca before he could knock on the door. He was greeted with an embrace and kiss, then he was pulled into the hall where Luca's bag was waiting. "Alessandro, do you want to have a coffee with us?" Clarissa asked from the darkness of the hall. She appeared in the doorway with an apron around her slim waist. "Buona sera, Signora Montori", Alessandro said politely. "But I guess we'd a rather get off, thank you."
Niccolò looked up and a smile graced his stern face. "Look after yourself,
piccolino. Tell Alessandro I'll break every bone of his body if he doesn't
look after you. Here, wait." He rummaged in his back pocket and conjured up a
bunch of Euro notes. "Enjoy your holiday."
Forte dei Marmi was a quiet seaside town, not that over-ran with tourists, nor with Italian citizens, but with a number of dandies and girls, looking for a rich prey to marry. It had kept its relaxing atmosphere, despite having a glittering night life and it was the right place for shopping with all the great Italian designers to be found there. All in all it was exactly the right spot for a couple that wanted to be by themselves. Their holiday apartment sat amid an opulent park, had a wonderful garden attached, and Luca felt like a millionaire. He wondered how Alessandro could afford this apartment since he was a bit short and all the money was stuck with the notary until he married and produced a son. Pah. Luca grinned from ear to ear. That would never happen. He was convinced that 2000 Euros was enough as monthly income to lead a decent life. Wasn't it?
With the setting sun they had their first stroll over the raked beach, beside the many blue-painted cabins, who stood in row like a string of blue pearls. A long landing stage led into the water. At the end of it Luca detected some people, staring out to the horizon. "It was built to ship the marble from here to all over the world, four hundred years ago", Alessandro said at his side.
Behind them the last sunbeams died upon the everlasting white of the Carrara- mountains and as a contrast date palms swayed in the low wind.
"He would had done it if he could, wouldn't he."
Alessandro nodded and pulled him off the bridge, along the beach. "Legend goes that Michelangelo packed mules and horses with stone from Forte dei Marmi and led them through the Apuan Alps back to Florence."
He stood with bare feet, his jeans rolled up, the waves licking at his toes. "August is the thief of days", he said quietly. "It's half past eight and the sun is setting."
The horizon was a radiating orange with pink stripes, inflaming the water's surface. "Look", Alessandro pointed to a shore in the distance where the beach made a bow. "La Spezia. Shelley drowned there. The people burnt him on a funeral pyre on the shore."
Luca took Alessandro's hand. The beach was deserted and he felt as if both were the only people on earth. The wind was singing in his ears and a lost seagull screeched. "They were a couple?" he asked.
Luca laughed. "Frodo and Sam from "Lord of the Rings"? Gosh, I wish they had married from the looks they shared."
Alessandro broke into a happy laughter. He pulled Luca to his side and
started to kiss him.
Alessandro turned. "When you were together? Well, that's all right. If I could, I would cook for you too." He winked and dragged Luca into the bedroom.
At midnight Alessandro was perky as a fish in the sea. He coaxed Luca to go out, and not sleep away the whole holidays. He pulled away the fluffy cover from Luca's body and bit into his big toe. "I'll serve you the best Negroni!"
Luca groaned. "What's that for? You're a society-boy, seducing me with all kinds of fashionable crap." But he crawled out of the bed and followed Alessandro naked to the bathroom.
They ended up at "La Capanina", a drinking and dancing establishment, and a
great place for people watching. They sat outside under the palms and saw
people doing fare bella figura, a very Italian sport, showing off with their body
and clothes. Cocktail music jingled through the balmy night and a soft wind
was rustling in the oleander bushes. Luca sipped at his Negroni, a bitter-
sweet, delicious cocktail made with Campari, gin and vermouth -- the "La
Capanina" claimed to have invented it -- and he felt a lazy dizziness in
his head. His body was completely satisfied, both by the extended sex
and the stroll through the town. On the card he read that Thomas
Mann had been inspired to write 'Mario and the Magician' here, and Aldous
Huxley finished his novels 'Antic Hay' and 'Crome Yellow' here also. Luca could
The morning started noisily when Rosso and his brothers arrived with a heavy rucksack and some smaller ones for the boys. The camping ground was crowded with people but Rosso didn't seem to mind. "I've been here for ages", he explained and sat up the tent in surprisingly speed. "Actually Micky wanted to share this tent. I'm not sure whether he's coming or not."
Rosso still had a piece of gauze over his wound, held on by a plaster. "Can we go to the beach?" Dani, his brother, asked expectantly, holding a bucket and shovel. "Not alone, tesoro", Rosso said. "Wait a minute and I'll be ready."
Luca shrugged but Alessandro grinned. "I know Sergio. I've had him."
Luca and Rosso stared at him. "Long before we met, gioia", Alessandro said.
Luca looked consideringly at his boyfriend. How many boys had he had before him? Luca must have appeared very stupid and clumsy to him.
Luca's ear tickled from Alessandro's breath and he grinned. "If you start like that I can't undress. I'll be having another sort of tent."
Alessandro laughed out loud and slapped Luca's butt. "Who's going to be the first on the beach?" He started to run.