Pablo Michael’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Italian Affairs
Anthony stepped out of the taxi, paid the driver in American money, and looked toward the Rei Frumentariae. Stuart had booked their brief stay in this hotel in Rome before traveling to Florence. Stuart had arrived several days earlier, while Anthony stayed behind, tying up loose ends with their real estate agent to rent the house. Anthony was tired, needing a shower, and anxious to rest. He appreciated the eighteenth century, restored hotel as he walked through the front doors to the desk.
“Could you tell me what room Stuart Granger has booked?” Anthony asked the desk clerk, hoping he comprehended English.
The young Italian man looked on the computer. “Number 221.” He answered briskly but with good a command of English. His eyes perused Anthony’s modestly well-built frame, obviously flirting. “Take the stairs there.” He pointed to the left.
Anthony thanked him, too tired to acknowledge the sexual taunt. Climbing the stairs lethargically, he walked directly to his left and found the room a couple of doors to the left. He set his bags on the `marble floor.
He knocked a couple of times without a response, until he heard Stuart’s voice. “Who’s there?”
Anthony knocked without responding, hoping to surprise him.
A minute later, Stuart opened the door, a towel wrapped around his waist. “Anthony!” His sun-bleached blond hair was unkempt like he had been asleep, but his smooth, wiry torso was beaded with sweat. ” You’re a day early.”
“Yeah. Everything got settled earlier than planned. Are you going to let me in?”
“Who is it? Come back to bed,” a heavily accented, Italian voice with broken English called from behind the door.
Emerging behind Stuart, a handsome, young man interrupted their conversation, until Stuart narrowed the door opening to conceal his intrusion.
“You weren’t supposed to be here for two days.”
“Shit! How could you?” Vividly upset, Anthony kicked the wall. He picked up his bags and started to retreat back down the hallway.
“Wait. I can explain,” Stuart pleaded. He turned his head around. “Giancarlo, put some clothes on.” He attempted to speak privately to the man behind him while keeping Anthony’s attention.
But it was too late. Anthony had heard, and was already fleeing the hallway down the stairs and out the front door of the hotel. He hailed a taxi. “Roma Termini.”
Within what seemed like seconds Anthony boarded a train on Italiarail bound for Florence, the ultimate destination he and Stuart had planned after rendezvousing in Rome. How could he? Anthony’s disapproval for Stuart’s indiscretion made him angry, almost enough to fly back to Los Angeles But he wanted to check out the campus of the University of Human Sciences, even if it was by himself. I knew I couldn’t trust him to come ahead before me. First chance he gets, he picks up an Italian hunk…, a hustler, no doubt. Nothing has changed.
Anthony purchased a one way trip, stopping at Pisa. Even though he would not explore this city, like he had initially planned to do with Stuart, he dismissed that idea and get far away from Rome, Stuart, and what he recently saw. That meant changing everything associated with Stuart. I’m changing the itinerary now. I’m going to Florence today. I’ll find a different hotel there. Do what I want, when I want. Fuck him!
Anthony sat by himself. His exhaustion and the vibration of the train, streaming along the rails, eased him into a trance. He gazed at the passing vineyards, growing on the steep slopes outside his window seat. The symmetry of the rows of grape vines hypnotized him into the scene, imbedded in his mind of the naked Italian man, standing behind Stuart in the hotel room in Rome. Gradually Stuart’s image disappeared, replaced by his own body, being attended by this man of unquestionable sexual appeal.
He woke abruptly, when another more handsome man sat next to him, grinning, a smile something more indicative of a sexual nature than courtesy.
“I take it you’re missing someone important?” the man questioned, a hint of amusement in the tone of his accented voice. Anthony shook his head, to freshen his awareness. He realized he had been fantasizing, the expression on his face revealing embarrassment. “I must have been asleep. Was I mentioning anything?”
“Uh, yes, a Giancarlo, meaning a manly, God’s gracious gift of a man. He must be quite a man.” He chuckled.
Anthony’s pale face blushed, like a bright red tomato.
“Pardon me, but I’m Ignacio, meaning fiery. I shouldn’t have spoken with that much directness, but that’s my nature. You seemed to have enjoyed him. I envy him. You’re quite handsome and sexy.”
Anthony’s anger turned to regret. How could I be dreaming about the man who was with Stuart? Am I completely warped? “I don’t know anyone by that name. I must have overheard it mentioned in a conversation while I was asleep.”
“Oh, I see.” Ignacio’s answer indicated a polite understanding of Anthony’s little white lie, since there was no one nearby.
“I’m Anthony. You’ll have to excuse my appearance and state of mind. I flew out of Los Angeles sometime yesterday. And the reservation for my hotel room in Rome fell through.” The little white lie mushroomed into an outright fictional account of his visit in Italy since he arrived. “So I decided to go directly to Florence.”
“Do you have a reservation there? I certainly hope not.” Ignacio continued to flirt, hoping he could disrupt Anthony’s itinerary.
“What brings you to my city?” Ignacio purposely interrupted, referring to Florence.
“I’m investigating the University of Human Sciences. I’m going to be studying there next session.”
“How interesting.” Ignacio inspected Anthony carefully, causing a few quiet minutes of sexual tension.
This man is beautiful but quite nosey. I can’t decide if I should like or mistrust him. Are all Italian men this appealing and outspoken? Anthony decided to smile and appreciate the compliments.
“I know a great affordable, small hotel you might like.”
“I’m interested. What’s it called?”
“Roma Villa. That’s the name of the street. 2436 Roma Villa Number 4. Just tell them Ignacio Ponti recommended you. I’m sure you’ll be accommodated.”
“What’s the name of the hotel?” Anthony appeared confused.
“Roma Villa. The sign is a bit disguised. You’ll have to rely on the address. I could show you, if you’d like?”
“No, but thank you. I’ll find it. I have something to do first.” I’ll get even with Stuart. I’ll cancel our reservations at the Montreal Hotel, in case he follows me. He won’t have a place to stay. “You’ve really helped me. I don’t know how to thank you.”
“Hmm. I could think of a way.”
Anthony suddenly realized the sexual connotation of Ignacio’s wish and laughed, out of nervousness. Are all Italian gay men this sexually driven? “Maybe I could take you to dinner?” Maybe I should explore this man a little more.
“That’s not necessary.”
“No, I insist. If you could recommend a restaurant?”
“Okay. The Tivoli, a nice café, not far from my…, I mean your hotel.”
“I have to get settled in my room. I need a shower. And I’ve been in these same clothes for what seems like a week.” Anthony looked at his watch. It was half past eleven in the morning. “Why don’t we meet at the café at seven?”
“I can’t wait.” Ignacio glanced down at Anthony’s crotch and then looked into his eyes. He grinned.
The train’s speed decreased as it approached the Florence train terminal, interrupting their interaction. Disembarking their car, Ignacio reminded him of their dinner date. “See you at seven, sexy.”
“Yes.” Anthony smiled.
Ignacio hurried away, leaving Anthony to find a taxi.
After Anthony managed his affairs at the Montreal Hotel, a taxi driver dropped him at the main street crossing the narrow road, Roma Villa. The buildings were quaint, giving a true flavor of Italy. Walking downhill on the cobble stone pavement, he passed an Italian cypress tree, growing in front of a church. As he walked farther his eyes perused the buildings for the address, until he came to a two story building without a hotel sign. He verified the address, making sure it was correct. Unable to see a reception desk or clerk when he entered the building, he assumed it might be down the corridor. He turned a corner. He was beginning to think Ignacio had led him, deviously on a wild goose chase, as an unsuspecting tourist.
He continued on, until he approached a stairway.
Ignacio descended. “Surprise! Let me take you to your room.”
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Pablo Michaels writes LGBT fiction and has published with Naughty Nights Press, http://naughtynightspress.blogspot.com You can follow him at @bell2mike