Padre Castruccio sat relaxed in the chair that the notary had offered him. Stefano Fergola, notary and lawyer of the Gondi-family, had invited the Gondi family to his home. He licked his lips and put his glasses upon his nose. "Well," he looked around. Madama Gondi-Lucertola was missing, but that was what today was about.

"I have here a hand-written letter from Valentina di Gondi-Lucertola, telling me that her brother-in-law will take over her matters concerning the inheritance of her late husband. She will retire to a hospital for a while to cure her several ... health matters."

"But that's not what this is about", Padre Castruccio chimed in with a high, grating voice. "I take it from your letter of the 22nd of May that it is the Order of the Dominican Church that will take over the inheritance." He shot a malicious glance at Alessandro. "Since the other condition was not fulfilled, and the real heir dismissed his inheritance, it was us who gained it."

"Yes, yes." The notary chose his next words carefully. "But you know, that the main heirs are Matteo's wife and their son Alessandro."

"That is not correct", Padre Castruccio interrupted the notary once more. "Our lawyers have told me if the heir turns down the inheritance then it falls back to the second choice. So", he swung his arm, "this is obviously the case."

"You have heard nothing", Arrigo said sharp. "I can't remember you being present at the opening of the will." His brother Emilio nodded.

"Signor Fergola", the padre turned to the notary. "Do you have a private minute for me?" He had already risen from his chair and his dark eyes were narrowed to slits. The notary hesitated for a moment, then followed the padre into the hall, and the dining corner where both took seats. "Well, Signor Fergola", the padre started, "the matter is this…”

Fergola examined the man opposite him. He was reminded by him of the haggard Dominican monk named Savonarola who had haunted the town five hundred years ago. He had the same big, bent nose and the strong chin, and in his eyes burnt the same fever that indicated that he'd stop at nothing.

"You surely know what this amount of money would mean for the charity of Christ. And I am convinced that it was a sign from God." Castruccio put his fingertips together. "So, I would like to present you an offer. As the lawyer of the family and owner of the original last will you are in the position to read the will correctly, aren’t you. Do you agree that Alessandro Gondi is willing to turn down his father’s inheritance? Let’s face it, Signor, the Gondis are morally corrupted and the last offspring follows a dissolute, unhealthy, perverted lifestyle. He will never marry.”

Fergola didn't move. He had put on his best unreadable lawyer’s face and listened.

"My question is whether you could force his official decision. Of course it would not be to your disadvantage."

Stefano Fergola leaned forward a bit. "How am I supposed to understand that, padre?"

"Well, I know you are not as rich as a lawyer can be. Although the Florentines are quarrellers and argue about the last egg", a small grin curled Castruccio's lips and he looked like a cat who had found the cream.

"You want to offer me money, padre?"

Castruccio made an uncertain movement with his hand but continued to stare slyly.

"You offer me money to persuade Alessandro to turn down his inheritance so it would fall to you and your order, is that correct?"


"How much?"

"Well, five percent?"

Fergola calculated quickly in his head. If he started from twenty million all in all.... his mind swirled for a moment. Then he felt the lurking, burning eyes and tightened his body. "You forgot one thing, padre", he said slowly. "We cannot know how Alessandro will develop. Though he has dismissed his inheritance there is the possibility that he will marry and become a father within the next few years. And then it is for him to fight for his inheritance again, this is for sure. And he will win, because this was the absolutely last will of his father." He paused and waited for an reaction. Wrinkles appeared on the padre's forehead.

"I'll suggest to you something different", Fergola continued. "If Alessandro hasn't got a son within three years - his 21st birthday - the inheritance falls back to you; until then it belongs to Valentina Gondi-Lucertola and her son Alessandro. The supervision of it goes to her brother-in-law Arrigo. You will be informed about each step where the money is going. We can put this down in writing instantly, padre." He rose.

Padre Castruccio almost jumped from his chair, looking insulted and indignant.

"Well, padre. My father worked for the Gondi-family, and his father before. Loyalty is the first sign of a good lawyer, don't you agree, padre?"

Padre Castruccio sailed out of the room, his long, black habit billowed around his legs. With feigned equanimity he took his seat again, next to the family while the notary Fergola explained the agreement. Arrigo and Emilio grinned satisfied, only Alessandro was sort of flabbergasted. He hadn't thought that along with his mother's inheritance would come money for him as well, a reasonable part of it at least each month, but he listened to Fergola's explanation. In his thoughts he pictured a celebration for today.

Out of the house he entered the next tabaccheria and bought the Quir, a bimonthly gay and lesbian magazine to find out what had been happening. "Satisfied?" he heard a voice behind him and startled shut the magazine. His uncle Arrigo had followed him. He bit a chunk off his new bought cigar and eyed the picture on the magazine in Alessandro's hand. A vein on his temple started to pulsate. "Are you still into this shit?" he growled. "Didn’t you understand Fergola's agreement? If you'll have a son the money is all ours."

Alessandro swallowed. "But we do have it already", he said uncertainly. Arrigo laughed nastily. "Yeah, sure. But the clause of Fergola's agreement doesn't allow us to use it to our liking. Three years it is on ice so to speak." He pulled his nephew out of the tobacco shop and stood with him upon the small pavement, where they were pushed by people in their way , tourists and workers.

"The Dominicans are mighty, son", Arrigo whispered forcefully, "and they have powerful lawyers, Fergola will look like a wimp in comparison, believe me. They will appeal against the last will and fight until the Constitutional Court to get their rights. Unless you'll have a son." Arrigo's pitch-black eyes pierced Alessandro's body. "Am I asking too much, eh?" He put an arm around his nephew and started to walk with him. "Listen, if you don't want to lay a girl we have other possibilities."

"You mean artificial insemination?" Alessandro spoke out, and Arrigo shushed him. "Of course."

"But I still have to marry."

"Madonna! We'll find a girl for you, I'll take care of that."

Alessandro closed his eyes and clutched the magazine in his fist. His uncle's hand weighed heavy on his shoulder. He followed him to a little espresso bar, felt himself pressed upon a stool and waited for the double espresso his uncle ordered a minute later.

"Listen, Alessandro. You owe your family. You are the last of us. If you fulfil the last wish of your father you will be free afterwards. I don't care about your ... likings. Do what you want. But I won't watch our money going into the greedy hands of the Dominican monks. You know that our family was always Ghibellini and had nothing to do with those preaching scoundrels."

Alessandro watched his uncle slurping his hot coffee. Absentmindedly he poured sugar into his own and stirred.

"Fergola has done his best. If the last will stood the money would go straight to the monks. Now it looks as if we have a good chance to get it back, despite your dismissal. The offer is still there, thanks to Fergola."

"Does this mean we can't spend the money?"

"Of course we can. But we have to disclose what we use it for."

Alessandro burnt his tongue on the hot coffee. "And if I do what you want me to do... you'll leave me in peace, doing what I want to do? Studying and having my own lifestyle?"

Arrigo nodded.

He was the last Gondi, Alessandro thought. That was for certain. And blood was thicker than water.

"You'll get the twenty million and more if you want. But remember the family bonds. Let's do it like in the old days."

"Alright then." Alessandro heard himself saying. "You'll take care of the... agreement and I will try to do my best." Seeing Arrigo's face beaming he felt as if he had sold his soul. The magazine in his lap was heavy. But one sacrifice wasn't too much. Was it?


Alessandro held the microphone and tried to follow the lines on the teleprompter. He sang, roaring with Gloria Estefan, loud but out of tune but he didn't care, nor did the others care, and they cheered him until Alessandro broke into laughter, jumped from the stage and plopped upon the stool next to Luca.

On the video wall flickered music videos, alternating with soft porn. Luca leaned against an artificial pink flamingo where the pub on the top floor of the Tabasco Disco got its name from and grinned. Alessandro emptied his cocktail glass and pulled Luca from his seat, downstairs to the disco , flirting with a few guys as they passed them. Luca felt a stab of jealousy, though he was proud that it was him, Sandro was with.

The bandage around his hand gleamed white in the blue light; Alessandro was glad that the plaster had gone, but then his eyes met Nino, one of his buddies and next to him the rest of his so-called friends. Nino approached him while he was darting wary looks at Luca. "You have been ill, I've heard?" he asked in passing, holding a glass of whisky.

"Yeah, and you stronzos never showed up", Alessandro cut him short. He saw Nino eyeing Luca curiously and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. Luca stiffened.

"What you're doing with the little fag here?"

Alessandro looked innocently around. "What fag?" Then he looked at Luca and said "Sorry, buddy, but those dumkin call everyone a fag."

Nino laughed artificially and drank from his glass. Then he wiped his mouth. "Well, seems you survived."

Alessandro pulled Luca with him without saying a word.

"I'll drive", Luca said outside, breathing the fresh air. It was a quarter to 2 am, but the streets weren't empty. Couples were passing by and late tourists, coming from a theatre or opera performance, or simply enjoying the sight of the illuminated buildings by night.

"You can't drive a bike", Alessandro snapped.

"Sure I can. Giano taught me." Although his brother didn't have a motorbike, one of his friends had and Luca had driven it occasionally. "You've had too much." Without ado Luca sat upon the bike and kicked the pedal.

Finally Alessandro crept behind him and wrapped his arms around Luca's belly. "Avanti!" he shouted and the bike jumped forward and swayed through the streets before Luca got a grip on it.

Alessandro laughed behind his back and tried to balance the bike with his legs. "You think your friend knows everything about us?" Luca asked, while they were driving slowly forward.

"I don't care", he shouted. "Watch out!" Luca had just missed the post on the street that stopped cars entering the road. The bike lurched around and came to a halt in front of the Lizard-Tower. Luca wiped the sweat from his forehead and waited for Alessandro to open the heavy bronze door that led into the yard. He drove the machine in and stepped off.

"How was it?" he beamed.

"Stupendous", Alessandro grinned, took Luca's hand and ran with him all the way upstairs to under the roof where he started to remove Luca's clothes as soon as they had shut the door. "Geez, what is that?" Luca asked when his fingers caressed Alessandro's buttocks and found a hard, plastic thing, sticking out of his hole. Completely puzzled Luca stared but Alessandro just laughed.

"Come on, I needed some pleasure during the time we were apart."

"When we were apart?"

Alessandro kicked off his shoes. "When you didn't sleep with me", he accentuated, hiding his slurring, tipsy mumble.

"It wasn't my fault", Luca protested, "mother wouldn't let me come."

"I know, I know, gioia. But now you're here and can replace this plastic thing with your wonderful satin, warm, hard .... thing." He laughed and let himself fall onto the bed, arms and legs stretched out, his erection nestled over his belly, while Luca still felt irritated. But Alessandro's laughter was infectious, and so Luca jumped up beside him. "You sure are a randy slut, aren't you. Doesn't that hurt?"

"Hurt? No. I had a hard-on all the time, that's all."

Luca's pearly laughter filled the room.

Alessandro hadn't told Luca about Fergola's agreement. Well, he hadn't told him the complete truth. Now, as he was holding Luca, both laying on their sides with his penis still buried between Luca's butt cheeks, he thought it a mistake. But he didn't want any ramblings or reproaches. Although he had given his word to Arrigo, he was still unsure what to do. Was it really up to him to save the family's money? It was clear he had to save the family's name though. Slowly he caressed Luca's arm and entwined his hand with his own. Luca was a pleasure while they were together, but did it have a future? No. Alessandro knew himself too well as to be certain he could live like a monk for four years until he had finished his study. And he wouldn't demand it of Luca.

Luca clenched his muscles and Alessandro jumped a bit. He heard the low pearly laughter he had fallen in love with. Just one more week and they would part. And what then would follow?

Part 13