It was Friday evening when Luca was on his way to the Gondi-Palazzo. Sandro would arrive this evening and he needed to prepare the room. To his surprise the heavy wooden gate was already open when Luca turned the key. He crossed the yard where Sandro's motorbike was still standing under an awning, but the large palm tree had received fresh water. He went further on and entered the hall. "Hello?" he called and jumped when a man came around the corner, wiry, with sun burnt skin and a straw hat upon his head.

"You must be Luca", he said, his bushy, silvery hair poured from under the hat. "I'm Fran, the housekeeper and gardener. Alessandro told me that you would be coming sometime."

Luca stretched out his hand but the long white lily he carried was in the way. Fran shook it. "That isn't necessary", he smirked and Luca felt embarrassed. "For Alessandro?" Fran took the lily carefully and examined it. "You need to remove the yellow anthers. I hope you haven't smeared your clothes. If you have, it will stain."

Hastily Luca looked himself up and down. He couldn't dream what his mother would say if he came home with another set of tainted clothes, but he seemed to be clean.

"Come into the kitchen."

Luca followed and watched Fran slip into his gardening gloves and nipped off the anthers. "Alessandro has left money for me to fill the fridge. And I covered the furniture since the palazzo is deserted now." He turned. A dozen of wrinkles framed his eyes and the skin of his face was like leather; the result of years in the sun. "Anastasia told me about you."

"How is she?"

"Well, thanks. We enjoy the fresh air in the hills."

Luca envied him instantly but he smiled. "Please give her my greetings."

Fran nodded. "I will. Well, check the grocery if you're in need of anything else while there's still time. I'm off then."

Luca went upstairs after he had examined the fridge and opened the door leading to the loggia. Fran had left a good feeling inside him. There were people still who didn't despise him for being what he was. Fran certainly knew the story of Anastasia's son.

Luca checked the bathroom then, came back with a handful of condoms and lubricant and hid them under the bed clothes. The lily he placed upon it and grinned.

His leather suit was still waiting for him in Sandro's wardrobe and so far nobody had noticed the cross he was always wearing. The chain was long enough to hide it.

Two hours later - Luca was sitting in the kitchen where he could watch the yard - Alessandro opened the gate and drove the Ferrari in. Luca was out like lightning and draped himself over the closed car door, falling into Alessandro's arms. "I see you missed me."

"You could have called to say when you'd arrive."

" I'm here now." Alessandro looked at Luca. "What have you done with your hair?" He combed it with his fingers.

"Oh, that's a long story. I know it looks shitty."

"Certainly not. It will grow again, don't worry. But what happened?" Alessandro dropped out of the car.

"Football match, I told you I was going."

"Madonna! Did they start fireworks?"

"Sort of. I'll tell you later." Luca pulled Alessandro through the door and into the kitchen. "Are you hungry?"

"Sure I am. For you." He pulled Luca closer and unbuttoned his shirt. "I hope there are no further damages, eh?" He took the cross into his palm and smiled.

Luca giggled when Alessandro unzipped his jeans and cupped his butt cheeks with his palms. He felt nothing. "Forgot your underpants? Ah, what's that?" He let Luca's trousers glide over his hips and revealed one of Alessandro's black strings. "Wow."

"I hope you don't mind", Luca said indistinctly because his lips were covered by Alessandro's. He felt Sandro's fingers massaging the shaft of his penis and it was raising in his fist within a second. He tried to free his legs from his jeans but failed due to his shoes. Alessandro felt him struggling, so he bent down and tugged at Luca's shoes. But instead of coming to his feet again he devoured Luca's cock, that filled out the front of the string, lavishing it through the fabric, up and down like licking an ice cone. Luca moaned and dug his fingers into Alessandro's hair.

"You should keep it, it looks better on you than on me." Alessandro left Luca suddenly, rose and chased him upstairs where he stopped in front of the bed, looking down. "A lily? How sweet." He took it and sniffed, but it was without any scent.

"Prince of the lilies. I had some trouble because of that", Luca mumbled.

Alessandro hadn't heard him. He turned, smiled and pulled Luca into an embrace. At the same time he tried to undress himself, and finally fell with Luca between the sheets. "Ouch, what's that?" Alessandro struggled to reveal what Luca had hidden under the cover. "Ah!!! You think we'll have any use for this?" He held up the tube of lubricant and grinned devilishly. Then he crawled upon Luca's body, naked except for the string, and started one of his first class seductions.

Luca was on the brink of orgasm, but he tried not to bite into Alessandro's member that was dangling from above into his mouth. His hand stroked Sandro's bum and one finger was piercing his anus. Alessandro grunted with pleasure and Luca knew he mustn't stop now. The next minute a hot gush of semen flooded into his sucking mouth, flowing down his throat and he swallowed. How easy he got used to it, he thought briefly when a rapid series of convulsions shook his own body and he released himself into Sandro's mouth. Sandro fell aside, his face buried into Luca's abdomen, sucking white drops from the tip of Luca's penis. "I certainly missed this."

"It's just been a week", Luca mumbled exhausted. Though he still hadn't had enough, and his aching penis yearned for more. He had forgotten how horny he could be. Even if it had been just a week. Sandro was still sucking gently, stopping Luca's penis to shrivel. Luca copied Sandro's actions, stroking his smooth buttocks and outlining the rim of his anus. Alessandro moaned quietly, but then he said "What caused you harm at the football match then?"

"A hooligan who's unfortunately my class mate. He'd already made nasty comments about you and me."

Alessandro lifted his head. "You and me?"

Luca's penis felt cold without the caress. "Don't stop", he demanded.

"Yeah, but what did he say? What does he know...?"

"He knows nothing, he just guessed. Said I would be your lap dog who follows you everywhere."

"And called you names, right?" Alessandro turned over to face Luca. He kissed him deeply. "Can you stand up for yourself?"

"I do. I admitted nothing and since he didn't show up at lessons for the last two days, I guess he's still in custody. He started a fire", he added.

Alessandro chewed at Luca's under lip and humped slightly into Luca's abdomen. Luca responded. "Well then, the first thing you have to learn is not to be ashamed of what you are. No matter what others say."

Luca was silent. "With the result of being beaten up on a street?"

"Sshht, let's not talk about that now." His fingers had found Luca's hole, stroked and opened it. Then his head vanished between Luca's legs and started to lick. "Where did you put that lube?"

Sated and satisfied Luca later purred in Alessandro's arms. He had put his head close to Sandro's and let his fingers wander over his lover's chest.

"What's the name of that hooligan?"

"Raniero .... why?"

"You said he didn't show up again? Perhaps he was expelled from school then?"

"I certainly hope so. Though Coppo said nothing about that."


"My teacher. Professore Coppo Travisero. He's a friend of my father."

Alessandro freed himself from Luca's embrace and lay upon him. "So you already have good connections, eh?" he grinned. His hand had found Luca's member and stroked it again to full erection. "I could do this for the whole weekend", he whispered into Luca's ear.

"Why not?"

* * *

"I've been here before", Alessandro said, as they passed Palazzo Torrigiani and its museum La Specola.

"God, no, really?" Luca exclaimed. "You've seen those anatomic wax models of humans?"

"Well, sure. I've seen the 'The skinned', it was a model for the lymphatic system."

Luca muttered something, taking Alessandro's hand subconsciously. "Giano was here many times, but I guess, as dottore-to-be he's interested in such things. I would had vomited."

Alessandro laughed. It was a cool day, and a welcomed change after the hot days at the start of June. After an extended brunch they had decided to take Masolino's diary with them to visit the main work of him and Masaccio: the chapel Brancacci at the Carmine church.

"You think this was the family palazzo of Torrigiani?" Luca asked.

Alessandro looked at him. "You mean THE Torrigiani? Michelangelo's classmate at the Medici-garden? I don't know. Perhaps."

"I've read he was a foe of Michelangelo and broke his nose in a fight."

"That's right, gioia. Right here in the Brancacci-chapel where they made sketches to learn about perspective. Michelangelo laughed at Torrigiani's sketches and they started to fight. He was burnt by the Spanish inquisition later. I think the free Florentine spirit didn't go well with the pious Spanish Catholicism."

Alessandro avoided the area of Santo Spirito because this was the hang out of his buddies, so they made a detour through shady alleys and winding yards. Near the Carmine church he stopped and pressed Luca's back against a house wall, next to hanging, blue gloxinias.

"Have I told you that I'm coming with Giano and mother to Pisa next week ?" Luca started, but Alessandro pressed his body to his own and started to snog with him. Luca gasped but submitted. It was at that moment when a boy and a girl stepped out of the archway two houses away. The boy stopped in his tracks and squinted his eyes. He saw two lads kissing each other and he clutched the hand of his girlfriend tightly. "What's the matter, Tris?" she said.

Tristano stood rooted to the spot and couldn't believe it. It was certainly Luca who had his hands around the waist of the other guy who could only be Alessandro di Gondi-Lucertola. His heart beat fast.

"Gays, does it bother you?" Carolina said, pulling Tristano away. "Do you think your granny liked the chocolate?"

Tristano said nothing, he was too perplexed and all of a sudden the day was hot like in August. His face flushed and he felt the presence of his girlfriend annoying. He wished he was alone.

But then, Caro grabbed his hand and drew him away.

"Great", Alessandro mumbled, not releasing Luca's lips. "I take it you'll stay overnight then?"

"If I can?"

"You have to. We'll find a place." He humped his abdomen into Luca's and Luca knew that Sandro was still horny, despite their activities during the night and in the early morning. Both hadn't noticed that they had been watched.

The Carmine Church raised high and unadorned in front of them. It was a plain Carmelite church, rejecting with its brown pietra forte stone. The famous chapel had to be entered from outside and a group of tourists already waited in front of it. "Crap, always those tourists. We never have Florence for our own", Alessandro said.

"Let's wait then until they have gone", Luca suggested, pointing to a street cafe. They ordered two waters and two cappuccini and Luca opened Masolino's diary. He had protected it with a plastic cover. "Did you know that the church had burnt down in 1771? Only the two opposite chapels survived, one of them was the Brancacci-chapel. Well, there was damage, the big wooden frames between the frescoes had burnt and the paintings were discoloured at the rims. Then they wanted to tear it down, but the German painter Menzel who was here in Florence begged the government not to do so, because it was something that was irrecoverable."

Alessandro nodded, sipping at his coffee. "I know. The government of those times must have been idiots. Well, at least they relented and started to renovate the frescoes. Have you been here since the last renovation?"

Luca shook his head. They had lasted for many years, and he had heard that it was a miracle. The colours were fresh as the day when Masolino and Masaccio had painted them.

After twenty minutes they decided to have another try. Alessandro knew that the amount of people who were allowed to enter the chapel, was limited due to the humidity. When they had paid their entrance fee, the tourist group was still standing in front of the chapel, but were about to leave.

"It is because of their narrative density and the perspective depiction that this cycle has such a high rating in the history of painting", Luca heard the tourist guide explain in a Neapolitan dialect. "Masaccio was never carried away by the graceful classical vein. The faces of his apostles are rough and powerful. Adam and Eve of his hand built a concrete opposite to the same pair painted by Masolino, who had never painted a more expressive Eve."

Alessandro watched the tourists, standing a little aside, saw they were leafing through booklets, examining cards, fumbling with their cameras, although it was strictly forbidden to take photos, chattering low and looked as if they would like to be somewhere else. He sighed inwardly. The tourist guide wasn't at all what he hoped for himself to become. If you liked full attention you don't have to simply recount the facts.

"From Brunelleschi Masaccio acquired a knowledge of mathematical proportion. From Donatello he imbibed a knowledge of classical art that led him away from the prevailing Gothic style. He inaugurated a new naturalistic approach to painting that was concerned less with details and ornamentation, more with simplicity and unity, less with flat surfaces more with the illusion of three dimensionality. Together with Brunelleschi and Donatello he was a founder of the Renaissance." Involuntarily Luca peered at the walls, to see if she was right. Of course she was right, he thought. He pulled out the diary. If the guide knew what he held in his hands she would jump for joy. The original diary of Masolino da Panicale.... the painter of this chapel they were standing in... six hundred and twenty two years ago.

"Marzo 1429

I could not wait until he returned from Pisa. I had spent my time working at the Brancacci-chapel of Santa Maria del Carmine at Oltr'arno, on the other side of the Arno. I hadn't expected that Felice Brancacci, one of the richest merchants in town would give me the commission, when he returned from a visit to the Sultan of Egypt. Probably he had heard about my assistance in Ghiberti's bronze door of the Battistero. The theme he had prescribed was the tales of the New Testament, preferably the deeds of San Pietro.

But it was a difficult task and I yearned for Tommaso's return. Together we could work miracles. But alone, I was worth just the half. Felice Brancacci agreed when I suggested Masaccio helped as my colleague, not as my pupil, with this task and I negotiated a good salary for him.

I was making visits to Donatello's workshop, where he was working on two bronze statues at the same time. It was San Rossore and a over life-sized David, a delicate, girlish boy with his hand propped at his hip, the other carrying a sword, smiling down at the head of dead Goliath, a winged helmet upon his hair and a feather that stretched along his leg until it met his buttocks - more of a pagan Mercury than an old testament hero. His private parts though were undeveloped and tiny.

Donatello was busy polishing it, and I knew this had taken some while to complete, probably a year. I wondered if this statue was ever to be displayed; it showed too obviously an androgynous being. Donatello said laughingly that I should not worry, he had noble people at hand, interested in it. His apprentice boy smiled sheepishly and with a jolt I recognized his smile upon David's face. The boy, small and with curly, dark hair, his feature fragile and girlish, winked at me.

The day Tommaso returned from Pisa was a feast. Though he seemed to have changed. More than before his gloomy and fiery character appeared, and his eyes had a feverish expression. His whole face was beaming, yet not by his healthy, rosy gleam alone.

His brother Giovanni didn't leave him. He lounged around when we prepared the utensils we would need, made lists about the day’s work we would be able to finish, the amount of ground plaster, Arabian Sinope, sand, chalk, parchment, brushes needed, and the colours.

One morning, when I had gone out to bring us grapes and bread for breakfast I found them in an embrace under the ladder, both soiled with mortar, the prints of their hands clearly visible at their painter's coats. I dropped the bread that fell to the dirty ground and hastened to pick it up. At the noise they scattered apart and looked at me with reddened faces.

I said nothing, but from then on Giovanni spoke to me impertinently and let me know that I was the old man who had nothing to say here. Tommaso allowed him to paint two heads of angels, that were to be placed next to the altar, one left and the other on the right side of it.

We started at dawn and ended when the moon shrouded the chapel into darkness and the wax of the candles and the oil of the lamps weren't bright enough to see. I had started with Adam and Eve in Paradise, and Tommaso was working at the opposite with their Expulsion. He managed two day works a day and when he finished Archangel Gabriel swinging his sword over the pair who were expelled from Garden Eden, my brush started to tremble. It was a striking contrast to my Gothic scene which was lacking in psychological depth as I realized then. Tommaso's Adam - although a sinner - had not lost his dignity and the beauty of his body was a blend of classical archetypes and new forms of expression.

My brush fell when my eyes wandered over Adam's exposed, private parts. They had neither similarity to mine nor to Tommaso's; with its exciting length and reddish colour it hung freely over the large, shaded testicles and I felt mine rise under my dirty leather apron.

Tommaso turned to me and grinned impudently. "You think Felice will accept it? I painted it as it is written in the Old Testament: Adam and Eve, chided by their shame, naked, to show their sin."

My eyes wandered further to Eve, now ugly faced and old, hiding shamefully her breasts and her abdomen. I did not want to see them anyway. My eyes were focussed on Adam, his brown-reddish hair long and strong like a horse's mane.

Tommaso stepped down from the ladder and gave me a hand to do the same. When we were standing face to face, he undid the knots of my apron, took my soiled shirt and my skirt and caressed the pout bulging even more from the hardness that was hidden in there.

I do not want to describe what happened then. This time it is the feather that trembles in my hand, and not the paint brush, that still lay on the ground of the chapel where we sank down to submit to sodomy. His brush was strong and pierced me to the tip of my heart, when I felt another weight upon me, and, opening my eyes, it was Giovanni, piercing Tommaso's entrance as he did mine.

What a shame I felt. Sodomy and incest. In a chapel with the holy Apostles to watch. My face still burns at the recollection."

Luca whistled through is teeth. "Wow. Had you expected that?"

The tourist group had gone and they were the sole visitors. He pressed his knees to the low marble barriers that stopped him from entering the chapel, but everything was in good light. His eyes found Adam's respectable private parts, swinging freely, and he had to grin. "I hadn't thought that Brancacci would allow that."

Alessandro smirked. "Well, perhaps he followed the same inclination and had hot sex in his chapel."

Luca nudged him. His eyes brushed the fresco cycle from the 'Temptation', the 'Tribute Money', the 'Shadow Healing' until the 'Expulsion' - pictures he was familiar with from his days at school.

"Some of them are by Lippi, right?" he said. "The chapel was left unfinished."

Alessandro nodded. "Yes. Masolino went to Rome and Masaccio followed, to work on a commission. And then all traces of Masaccio are lost." He pointed to the diary in Luca's hand. "Read until the end, and then you tell me what happened."

"I thought the last pages were missing."

"They are. Though perhaps your imagination outclasses mine." Alessandro covered Luca's mouth with his lips. "If the creators did it here, it can't do harm to do the same", he whispered.

"Are you mad?" Luca struggled free and pulled Alessandro out of the chapel. "Come home then."

Luca slept through the third part of The Matrix while Alessandro was wide awake and absorbed the computer tricks, although he couldn't follow the action and abstruse pseudo-psychological babble. He found the film rather a disappointment. He held Luca's hand sitting next to him in the cinema seat and he woke him up when the film was finished.

A velvety night greeted them, the wind had stopped and the illuminated Dante-Quarter was wet and silent. "Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate..." Alessandro read aloud from a stone plate, attached to a house wall.

"Inferno", Luca said automatically. "Do you think Masolino thought he would go to hell after his death for what he did? Sodomy and incest?"

"Well, at least he wouldn't be accused of incest, just his boyfriend. But what does it matter."

"But don't you find it odd, having sex with your brother?"

"I don't have a brother anymore. What about you?"

"Me? I doubt that Dante would let me", he said chuckling.

"Coincidence. Dante Alighieri was 100 percent straight."

"And seven hundred years dead."

Alessandro took Luca's hand and sauntered with him through the narrow streets of the medieval quarter where Dante Alighieri had had his tower house. "Has Giano a girlfriend?" he asked.

"Giano? Not that I know of. He keeps himself to himself."

Alessandro said nothing. Except when he's lounging in gay bars, he thought. Luca didn't seem to know and he wouldn't tell him. That was Giano's job to do.

They reached Piazza Signoria with the town hall whose clock tower pierced the nightly sky and was softly yellow illuminated. The place was bustling with walkers, tourists and youths, sauntering up and down. Alessandro pointed to the 'Rivoire', a good restaurant at the opposite end. "Fancy a drink?"

Luca nodded. He had never sat here because it was too expensive to sit there under the sunshades and enjoying the view. But then he recognized a familiar figure. "Tristano!" he called and pulled Alessandro to the table where his class mate was sitting with his sister Isolde and another young man. "Mind if we join you?" he asked and was greeted.

"That's Alessandro, my b... my friend."

Isolde beamed and her boyfriend pulled another chair to the table for Alessandro to sit down. "What's up?"

"Cinema. Matrix, what crap. I slept through the film", Luca said.

Tristano eyed Alessandro from aside and was silent.

"Have you heard from that hooligan that's your class mate?" Isolde said. She lifted her Cinzano glass and clinked with the ice cubes.

"No? What's up with him?"

"He's expelled from the Opificio. Our uncle works at the police station. He's being charged with arson and vandalism."

"Just because he's lit a flag?" her boyfriend asked.

"Well, he shot a rocket among the crowd", Luca said. "My friend is still in hospital. Smoke inhalation."

"Your hair looks good", Isolde said in reply and winked at him.

Alessandro had ordered two Cinzani and two ice cups. He could certainly feel Tristano's eyes on him and his instincts told him that there was much more to the blond haired boy that he would admit to himself. He searched for his eyes and gave him a smile. "So, you're Luca's class mate?"

"And you're Gondi-Lucertola, right?" Danilo, Isolde's boyfriend asked all of a sudden. "I wondered where I knew your face from."

Luca let his spoon fall. It clinked upon the table. And there it was: the question he feared: "Weren't you beaten up on the street lately?"

"Yes. By homophobic arseholes."

Tristano's eyes widened.

"Why do you think they were homophobes?" Isolde asked.

"They left no mistake." Under the table he pressed Luca's leg soothingly.

There was a minute of silence where everyone made their own conclusions. "And you? Were you with him?" Danilo asked Luca.

"I.... well..."

"He wasn't with me", Alessandro said calmly. "Had better things to do, right?"

Luca wondered why he protected him. If Alessandro was so out to the world, he shouldn't have problems to admit everything. Except, he was so sensitive to protect the privacy of others and didn't force their coming out. Now he felt Tristano's eyes on him and he looked down. Somehow he felt that Tris knew that Alessandro was lying.

"He's a pretty lad, your Tris", Alessandro said into Luca's ear. He lay upon his belly with Sandro on top of him, who had brought him close to orgasm.

"Oh, you think about others while you fuck me, right?" Luca mumbled through gritted teeth, but Alessandro just laughed. "He has the same blond hair as you, you'd make a pretty pair." His penis slid in and out with a fast speed, stroking Luca's prostrate so that he was squirming and saw red stars twinkling in front of his closed eyes.

"It's the opposites that attract", he panted.

"Black and white? I mean blond and dark?" Alessandro had slowed down his speed, but Luca couldn't hold on. He squirted over the crushed towel upon the bed sheet, and gave a loud sigh.

"Hm... I love it when you come", Sandro giggled, but made no attempt to quicken his speed. Luca lay motionless and felt his anus stretched. Alessandro glided slowly and softly within him. "He's gay", Alessandro said.

"Who's gay?"


"No, shit. What makes you say that?"

"Oh come on, Luca. You have tomatoes on your eyes. It's clear to see. My gaydar kicked in."

Luca tried to look over his shoulder. Alessandro slid out of his hole. His penis, hard like a stone, stood upright, condom-covered, glistening with lube. Luca pushed away the towel, turned to his back and watched him. "I can't see it. He's got a girlfriend." He lifted his legs and pulled Alessandro upon him. His back arched when Sandro entered him again.

"It's the way he looks at you. He just doesn't realize it."

Luca sighed when he felt Sandro's balls slapping softly against the inside of his spread legs and their pubic hair was mingling.

"That implies that he's in love with me", he teased, flexing his muscles inside, causing Alessandro to yelp with pleasure.

"I'm sure he is."

For the next ten minutes Luca said nothing more. He closed his eyes and devoted himself to Sandro's pounding that made him hard again, until they came together. He embraced Sandro with his legs, they fell to their sides and smiled at each other. "Sore?" Sandro asked.

Luca raised his eyebrows. "Actually yes. But if that means you'll stop - no."

Alessandro laughed out loud. "You're a slut."

"I thought you were the slut in town. They all recognized you. Um, besides, thanks for protecting me."

"I don't out other people."

Part 18