"Perhaps I can come to visit 'my son'", Alessandro spoke into the receiver. Luca could literally hear the quotation marks with which he stressed 'my son'. He sprawled upon Alessandro's bed which he considered meanwhile as his own also. Suddenly he sat upright. "Geez, you're in the local news", he said, staring at the telly. He listened for a while as a photo of Alessandro smiled cheekily from the screen. "You look good on TV", Luca said. Then Sandro's information sunk in. "What did you say? You want to come to visit your son? When?"

"Patience, amore, for now I don't know if I'll be allowed. But if I beg Mario..." he left the sentence open for Luca to imagine what Sandro would have to do for it. "Will you have to blow him?" he then asked more lightheartedly than he felt.

"Probably. Well, that's the least that people would expect from a fresh-baked father, don't you think? Er, visit the child I mean... Perhaps we can see seach other. I'll write you as soon as I hear more. Um, I miss you." After a break he said. "Gotta go now. Take care of yourself." Alessandro had hung up.

This Mario was a pretty thorn in Luca's side. Although he couldn't grasp it, there was something unlucky about the guy with the straight black hair and the attentive, sparkling amber eyes. Each time he looked into them Luca felt as if he could see into the very core of his being. And he was good looking enough to rouse Sandro's attention. But he wouldn't be so daft to start something with his warder, would he?


Mario eyed the CD's Alessandro had spread upon the table in the common room. Due to Mario's presence it was quieter here than usual, other times the guys quarreled about the TV -programmes, or stridently lamented about a lost Domino -game. Every kind of card game- and gambling was forbidden. Mario lit a cigarette and slid closer. "Advanced Course", he read. "Your English and French is good enough?" he asked, fixing Alessandro with his amber-coloured, bright eyes, which he had hidden today with his glasses that suited him extraordinarily well.

"Sure, I spent a year at Oxford and I was two years in Toulouse. I've visited the bones of good old Thomas of Aquino." Alessandro winked. He tested how far Mario's knowledge reached in starting a serious conversation.

"The Jacobin church, I know", Mario said composed.

"You've been there?"

"For holidays. Did you know that the lead from the colourful glass windows was worked into ammunition during the French Revolution? Nothing stopped them. They lodged horses and soldiers in that church and all the frescoes and paintings were destroyed."

"Golly, sounds like Napoleon when he was in Italy. Didn't he do the same with our churches?"

Mario nodded and offered Alessandro a cigarette. "You're really interested in Art history, aren't you."

Alessandro lit his cigarette and coughed a bit. "Sure I am", he said with scratchy voice. "I've even been to Saint Sernins, the pilgrim's church with the hundreds of holy relics."

Mario screw up one eye. "The church's on the Jacob's Way to Compostela", he said quietly. "I walked it." For a moment his face was blank, then he pulled himself together. "I'd rather you told me about Masolino's Diary. You've heard about the discovery?"

"How couldn't I", Alessandro said reservedly.

"I think it's thrilling. Have you any more information about the authenticity of the script? You - living in Firenze - are lucky compared to us in this backwater of Poggibonsi."

Alessandro didn't know what to say. If he thought it a backwater then why did he live here? "Specialists say the script is genuine", he said aloud. "The expedition starting to Rome will be more interesting. Hey, did you know that the last Medici had caries because they ate too much chocolate that the sailors had brought from America?" he asked then in a lighthearted tone.

Mario showed his teeth as he grinned. "You like chocolate?" The tip of his rosy tongue appeared, licking over his lips. Alessandro knew that this gesture was made for him only. He sensed a tiny twinge in his guts. To make sure he hadn't misunderstood he leant closer "You've been on the pilgrim's way to Compostela?" he asked, blowing blue smoke directly into Mario's face.

Mario didn't bat an eye lid. "I was. The way is the destination."

"Why did you have to do it?"

"I did it for pleasure" Mario's leg leaned against Alessandro's. "Self-awareness."

Alessandro shrugged. "That doesn't mean anything to me."

"Not even ... pleasure?" Mario asked and again didn't blink.

"Ah, pleasure..." Alessandro left the sentence open.

Mario rose. "Come with me. I guess I have something for you."

It wasn't difficult for Alessandro to discover that Mario was going to his home. He had a small house in the prison's grounds.

A little white Maltese jumped up at his leg. Mario patted him briefly. As soon as he had closed his door he reached out and pulled Alessandro hard to his chest. The kiss matched his movements - hard and impatient - and Alessandro moaned into Mario's open mouth and struggled with his tongue.

His abdomen was on fire; he was hard like a rock within seconds - exactly the time Mario needed to drag him from the hall into the kitchen where he stopped and fumbled at Alessandro's belt, opened it, dragging down the zipper and slipping his hand into Alessandro's boxer shorts.

For a moment Alessandro was ashamed because the underwear he was wearing he wouldn't even wear to bring coals up from the cellar -- in his real life. Mario didn't seem to mind. His hand roamed hot and fiery, cupped Alessandro's eggs and stroked his hard cock up and down, while he wrestled at his own zipper. Alessandro's mind was blanked out. He pushed Mario's hand away and did it for him, ripping trousers and pants down over his hips.

Neither had said a single word since they had entered the house. Mario turned his bare butt to him and rubbed himself against Alessandro's warm and hard flesh. Quivering with lust and desire, Mario groped for a bottle of olive oil, poured it into his palm and smeared it around his opening, worked it into his hole and turned to Alessandro. "Fuck me", he said, not blinking he conjured up a condom and rolled it over Alessandro's straining and longing cock. Then he turned, clutched the kitchen's hot plate and bent over. Alessandro was so turned on that he pushed his cock into the waiting hole - without thinking and without mercy. He heard Mario's hissing breath; in a corner of his brain he knew that Mario was in pain, but more painful was the act Alessandro had to endure, he concentrated on his tool that harshly slid in and out. Within a minute Alessandro's body froze and he squirted into the condom, a soundless cry upon his lips. He pulled out, turned Mario and pressed his lips upon the others, transferring a part of the pain he felt and receiving the same.

Panting, Mario put his head on Alessandro's shoulder and suddenly wrapped his arms around him. Their cocks merged - both still hard and not satisfied. Mario's hole burnt like fire. And yet it was exactly what he wanted from Alessandro di Gondi-Lucertola. The guy, the cause of his restless nights. The guy with the haughty eyes.

His fingers found Alessandro's covered erection and rolled the condom carefully up, shedding a part of the white semen upon the ground. Like Onan. Shed the semen to the ground and be punished. He felt Alessandro shivering when Mario grazed his nails lightly up and down the shaft, cupping his hairless balls, lingering at the rim, connecting glands and shaft, mingling the clear drops and white semen. His own cock jerked without being touched.

'Not even the half of a year you can last out, Alessandro scolded himself. 'Not even the half of a year! But what do you do when a little, firm butt is offered and you needed it so badly? Luca, please forgive.'

He was being guided into the bedroom. The Maltese was there again, laying in his basket near the door, yelping. Mario bent down and stroked him. "Sssht, Cinzano, quiet. Afterwards we're going out."

Alessandro felt the urge to laugh hysterically. "Cinzano?" He fell upon the bed and stretched out. Jesus, it was so good to feel a soft bed. His back jubilated with pleasure and his cock pointed straight to the ceiling before it vanished into Mario's mouth, who had straddled him.

Alessandro was aware that he was still fully dressed and that Mario had only lost his jeans. It must make a repulsive image - at least to him. Two randy guys who hadn't been able to undress themselves because they had pounced on each other like a troop of soldiers, raping the female locals of a conquered town. And yet.... he couldn't help it. The tongue was too good, the mouth too hot and if he didn't open his eyes, he could imagine that it was Luca who slid over his cock and rolled on another condom. He could imagine it was Luca's hotness that engulfed Alessandro and his lingering movements, up and down and up again like a horse rider, galloping over gentle hills.

The house was dark and in his basket the Maltese was softly snoring as was Mario at his side when he awoke. Alessandro still wore his boots and pullover. Only his trousers had been pulled down halfway his thighs. He wondered about the time and shook Mario's shoulder. "Hey. What's the time? We'll be in trouble if we aren't back in time for dinner ."

Mario started; his straight, black hair mussed up, he looked shortsightedly and -confused around him. "Madonna!" He jumped out of the bed and gathered his clothes. "Hurry up", he urged Alessandro.

"I don't have to dress", Alessandro said coolly. He pulled up his jeans and tucked himself in in front of Mario. "You weren't too interested in my body."

Mario nodded absentmindedly and tied his shoelaces. "What are you, only a top?" he asked.

Alessandro didn't think he should answer that. It was about time he was leaving this house.

The tiny dog had woken up and begged his master to go out with him. Alessandro bent down and picked up the struggling bundle with the white, silky hairs. In the hall Mario stepped in his way.

"This is our secret. Nobody must ever learn of it, or I'll be chucked out. But three years and eight months are hard to endure without having someone to fuck. I'm sentenced as well in this place, capisce? If they learn I'm gay I can pack my things and leave."

"That's ridiculous, as if they would give every straight teacher the sack when he teaches girls", Alessandro objected, still with cool voice.

"I know. But that's the rule."

"All right, chief. You're the boss." Outside Alessandro dropped the dog and he flitted to the next bush. "Before I forget it, I want to officially apply for a day off to visit my new born son."

Mario dropped his keys. "Your what?"

"Heavens, you surely read in my files that I'm married. I'm certainly not the first married guy you've fucked in your spare time." A sneer spread over his face. "What else can you do here than fuck the brains out of each other. Right?" He turned and moved on, across the lawn, his hands buried in his pockets, his head pulled down between his shoulders due to the cold.

Haughty eyes, Mario thought. And haughty mind. "Your application is granted!" he shouted to Alessandro's back. "But only if I'm the one to accompany you."

It was seven days later when Mario drove his old, blue Fiat up to Fiesole with Alessandro sitting next to him. It had cost Mario a severe act of persuasion to convince the prison administration that it was enough that he accompanied Alessandro Gondi alone, but since Alessandro had never caused any trouble before now, his plea was granted.

Mario gave him a brief side glance. Indeed, Alessandro had never caused trouble. Except, he was fucking with his supervisor. Well, now and then. If it was up to Mario, he would love to bring Sandro to his home for Mario's personal care.

Mario grinned at him. Alessandro looked good, albeit the stay in the jail over the Winter had made him pale and he had lost weight. Nonetheless Mario wasn't deceived that behind the mask of a good-looking, politically correct and self-confident young man a human hid who was highly aggressive and able to kill if he had to. But aren't we all able to do that when it comes to a certain point?

In the long therapy-talks with Sandro, Mario had learnt everything about the occurrences on that October night and Mario was convinced that Alessandro really shouldn't be there. His being locked up - as relaxed it might be handled here - wasn't good for the independent boy from Florence. Sometimes he was so monosyllabic that Mario was frightened for him.

"Turn right, please", Alessandro said, "now pass the monument and straight along."

They had reached Fiesole, the small old-Etruscan town above Florence, where the rich and noble Florentines had built their summer-residences.

And again it is Primavera, Alessandro thought. Maledetta Primavera. In a few weeks Luca and he had their first anniversary of the day they had met at his father's funeral. He remembered his bold conquest of Luca, the young man with the gentle, brown eyes and the blond hair he - Alessandro - had never thought would become so important in his life. But he had to admit that he missed his boyfriend more than anything. And during his short visits to Mario's house he only thought about Luca - and that was the reason he had never allowed Mario to penetrate him. Odd. In better days he would have laughed. Would Luca understand? Perhaps he was doing the same. Alessandro promised himself not to be cross with him if that was the case.

"That's it", Alessandro mumbled. The car came to a halt in front of the yellow-washed villa with a red roof. The meadows around stood in late Spring's bloom. The rhododendron was full with pink blossoms and the white lilac gleamed in the sunshine. He saw that Fran had cut the roses and the box trees.

"You know the rules, Sandro", Mario said. "No close contact, not even with your boyfriend when he comes."

Alessandro gave him an odd look. "You don't seriously think that you can stop me from kissing my boyfriend", he said with a quiet voice.

Mario felt the threat within. Surely enough, Alessandro had Mario in his grasp. Completely. If he was chucked out because of molesting his charge, he would never find a job again. But Sandro wouldn't do that, would he? Mario gave him a penetrating look. "A final tip, Sandro: don't mess with my trust. You and I have more secrets than are good for us. Always remember that."

Alessandro gave a disapproving snort and opened the car's door. Mario knew he couldn't browbeat him. Alessandro Gondi was still fearless.

Mario watched him as he stepped up to a fragile old woman with a sunhat and gloves and embraced her. Apparently she had been working in the garden since a bucket full of weeds stood next to her feet. Then he felt her eyes upon him and stepped closer to shake her hand. "Mario Giacomelli", he introduced himself. "The person in charge for of Alessandro. Nice to meet you. Where's the wife?"

Anastasia, looking him discretely up and down pointed to the house. Alessandro knew she'd be on the bench behind the house, standing in the sun. Mario decided to follow him.

Leoni, sitting on the bench with a pillow in her back, looked somewhat puffed-up in the face albeit her body was thin as ever. She moaned when she saw Alessandro. "I feel as if someone has pushed a melon into me", was the first thing she said, eyeing Mario. "Another lover?"

"No, my personal guard. How's that for a greeting, Leoni? And how do you look? Where's the baby?"

Leoni grinned. "One day later and it wouldn't be here anymore", she said cryptically. "Your uncle's coming and taking it away. As the agreement goes."

Alessandro quickly took her arm and sat beside her upon the bench. "I'd prefer it if you'd keep that to yourself", he hissed. "So, Arrigo was here, yes? What did he want?"

"He offered me a place at his home with Matteo or I'll have to leave him at your uncle's."

"Who's Matteo?"

Leoni's blue-green eyes stared widely and somewhat glazed at him. "Your son."

Anastasia came around the corner with a bundle in her arms. "He's such a pretty kitten, Sandro", she cooed - seeming completely unusual to Alessandro. But then, if he remembered his own childhood, the only warmth and affection he had experienced was the love from Anastasia. When he looked into little Matteo's face he almost regretted that he wasn't his own. Almost. For a tiny second.

"It was Arrigo's wish to call him after his grandpa, your father", Anastasia said.

For a moment Alessandro was tempted to tell her the truth - that his father Matteo was not the grandpa of this little worm here. Perhaps he would do it - later. In a quiet minute when his life had flooded back onto its well-trodden paths. When he was out of that damn prison.

He felt Mario's presence who was standing discreetly to the side, not able to overhear their conversation. Anastasia was walking around with the baby in her arms, showing him the knotty branches of a short apple tree standing in full bloom.

"So, what have you decided?" Alessandro asked. "Will you move into Arrigo's palazzo?"

Leoni shook his head. "I'll take the money and be off. Padre Castruccio has already visited me to be convinced about the gender of the baby and all." She leaned closer, "He didn't want to see a paternity test."

"No?" Alessandro was surprised. "I bet it will come. At least then the money will be in my bank account." He watched Anastasia who rocked the bundle in her arms and looked as if she was in love. "By the way, how will you put Anastasia in the picture about you not caring a flying fart about the baby and will leave it alone?"

Leoni threw back her head. "I don't care a flying fart about Anastasia. Don't you see her? She's besotted by him, so she should care for his welfare. I'm off."

"Leoni", Alessandro clutched her upper arm firmly. Again he felt Mario's eyes on him. "You can't do that. Not right now. Wait a while for God's sake. Don't you think Castruccio will think it odd if you abandon your child shortly after the birth? You only raise suspicion. Stay here for a while - for the summer if you want. You don't have to care for the kid. Anastasia will do it gladly."

"She's old. Perhaps she'll drop him to the ground or something."

"Nonsense. Anastasia is fit as a fiddle."

A low put-put of a motor made them look up. Mario rushed around the corner and saw a cloud of dust. In front of it crystallized a figure upon a motorbike. Alessandro had followed Mario and now ran past him. The driver took off his helmet and Mario saw the sunshine polishing Luca Montori's blond hair. It was useless to pull Alessandro back and to explain that he mustn't touch Luca, at least not before Mario had examined Luca. But what could he slip Alessandro anyway? A file to saw the bars from in front of his windows?

With screwed up eyes he watched the heartfelt embrace and the kisses, and something like jealousy welled up in him. That was really ridiculous. Alessandro was nothing more than a fuck buddy, good enough to fill Mario's lonely hours.

He turned his eyes away and knew that wasn't exactly the truth. For that, the feeling of hurt was too strong. Alessandro was more than a fuck buddy. If he was truthful Mario had most probably fallen in love with the young man.

Mario watched the bike being jacked up, then Luca and Alessandro came closer hand in hand. Mario blinked. What would the blond guy do if Mario would tell him that his boyfriend was fucking his warder?

"Can we vanish for a half an hour?" Alessandro asked.

"What for?" it escaped Mario. At the same time he felt ashamed when he saw Luca's blush. "No way", he said quickly. "You'll stay here."

Alessandro rolled his eyes. "Geez, then play the peeping tom." He pushed Luca gently against the house wall and started to fumble between his legs. Luca struggled and tried to push Alessandro away. Mario heard him half laughing and making a loud hissing noise.

"What would you do, if I ran away now?" Alessandro shouted over his shoulder to Mario.

"You wouldn't get far."

"All right. I give up", Alessandro pouted, taking Luca's hand and vanished with him around the corner. Mario shook his head. This was harder than watching a sack of fleas.

"What's your decision now, Leoni?" Alessandro asked, after Anastasia had invited Mario into the kitchen where he could keep an eye on the guys outside, offering him a cool lemonade.

Leoni shrugged. "I guess I'll stay here for a while. But not too long."

Alessandro nodded. "Good. Why don't you write to me? I never get post from my wife." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

"You aren't interested in your wife, Alessandro Gondi", Leoni hissed. "So why should she write to you?"

"To send me a photo of little Matteo for instance. He's cute, admittedly. Hopefully he takes after his father."

Luca eyed him sinisterly. "And who is the father?" he asked.

Alessandro shrugged. "Don't know... Certainly not me. Um, if you ever tell Anastasia I'll break out and kill you, Leoni", he said seriously. "*I'm* the one to tell her, capisce? Remember the agreement. If you tell her you'll see not cent of it."

Leoni nodded distractedly. She longed for a cigarette, but the bloody Anastasia never brought her a packet. The birth was a trauma she still hadn't digested, mostly because she had been alone, although her mother had accompanied her along with Arrigo's nasty wife. The mother was only interested in the publicity-effective entry in the press and so she had dressed up pretty in pink for the celebration of her first grandchild. Otherwise the hysterical woman hadn't really been a help and had to be comforted by Arrigo's wife - a similar frigid soul. Nobody had asked how Leoni had felt and so she didn't want the kid either. Let Alessandro be happy with it as long he got the money and Leoni got the money for all her labour.

She looked up. Alessandro Gondi - her first big love - was unreachable. And he was nasty to her anyway. He was arrogant. He showed too obviously that he despised girls because they couldn't come up with a long, fat cock he could suck at or stuff his own into waiting arseholes. Ugh. She would never understand how someone could do that.

Maybe Alessandro read something in her eyes, at least he reached out and wiped a tear from Leoni's cheek. "Thanks for all this", he whispered. "I know I treated you like shit, but you hit back."

Leoni sat frozen to the spot when he and Luca said good-bye. Although not really having talked with each other, they both looked happy just to feel the presence of the other. Alessandro didn't want to talk about his daily life. And Luca didn't know what to tell him without causing melancholy and anger about the lost months. "Tristano was happy about the presents", he began finally. They stood next to the motor bike Luca used nowadays. "Franco had given him two large pieces of his beloved Panforte."

Alessandro grinned silently. "And the DVD's?" he asked. Luca answered his grin. "He screamed with pleasure. Here's a letter from him." He handed Alessandro an envelope that was snatched away by Mario. "Let me read it first", he said, trying to appear intimidating.

Luca eyed him surprised. Seen at close quarters, Mario's eyes had a translucent quality of a yellow amber stone and the sun made his hair brilliant like raven's wings. Alessandro though glared at Mario as he watched him open the envelope and skim through Tristano's letter. Luca felt him boiling in anger.

"All right, you can keep it", Mario said, handing the letter over to Alessandro.

"And what was that for?" Alessandro snapped.

Mario looked innocent and turned away. Luca took Alessandro's arm and stroked him. "Don't be angry, he's just doing his job."

Alessandro stared for a moment into Luca's eyes, then he decided to say nothing. He took a deep breath and said "so he enjoyed the presents?"

"You bet." Luca and Alessandro had bought Tristano a collection of Jamie Oliver's cooking-DVD's so Tristano could now watch his idol when he prepared all of his delicious things to eat. "Vito invited him out to the most expensive ristorante in town", Luca started.

"Let me guess: Paszkowsky Bar at Piazza della Repubblica, right?"


"And then he complainedt that the cappuccino costs five Euros", Alessandro said dryly and somewhat depressed. "I'd loved to invite him. Certainly Vito has count every cent."

"Ah, come on. He wouldn't had done it otherwise."

"Vito must be very in love with Tris", Alessandro said, staring constantly at a point in the distance next to Luca's ear. "Have you counted the months remaining? In exactly eleven days we have our first anniversary."

Luca quickly put his finger across Alessandro's lips. "Never talk about that. Don't even think about it. You know that I'm waiting for you."

Alessandro's head jerked away. "You don't have to. I'll understand."

Luca looked sad and disappointed. "But I want to."

Mario looked at his watch and called "Time to leave, Sandro. Say good-bye to everybody."

"'Say good-bye to everybody'", parroted Alessandro nastily. "I feel as I'm in kindergarten."

Luca tried a smile. Alessandro had changed. His gentle core, that Luca had been able to conjure and explore, had vanished. What would he be like if e was out of that prison? He watched him saying farewell to Leoni and Anastasia with the baby still in her arms. When he kissed Luca, Luca's throat was constricted. He tried to hold him as long as he could, but Mario was rushing him.

"Are you following us?", Mario asked. It was the first words that he had directed at Luca.

Luca shook his head. He wanted to stay and talk to Anastasia for a while. So he stood and watched the cloud of dust the old, blue Fiat left behind.

Inverno 5