Paolo and Francesca…

a novel about beautiful people in Italy.

Tag: breakfast

yacht holiday.

yacht holiday

photo via LA Cool et Chic

[before this: sailing vacation.]

“I think I could sleep here all day,” she murmured.

“Is that because you didn’t sleep at all last night?”

Francesca sat up on her elbows. “Giulietta!”

“Sorry,” her sister-in-law said. “I was just curious, because I slept wonderfully last night. At least nine hours.”

“I’m sure you did,” Francesca giggled. Maybe this would be fun after all. Maybe they could start drinking now.

They spent the day sailing and sunning, drinking and eating, playing backgammon and smoking cigarettes. After three bottles of prosecco, a pack of Marlboros, and a seafood lunch they took a lazy, sloppy swim off the side of the yacht.

“We used to spend our summers doing this,” Ricci said to Selim, treading water beside him. Selim kept his head above water, a lighted cigarette in his mouth.

“Ummm hmmm,” he answered.

“Francie’s a great swimmer,” Ricci continued. “She used to swim laps forever–hours, it seemed–when she was a kid, all by herself.”

Selim removed his cigarette with a damp hand. “That doesn’t surprise me at all,” he replied.

Francesca overheard them and swam over. “He thinks I’m the most fabulous, glamorous woman born,” she told her brother. “Don’t ruin it by telling him the truth.”

Selim used his free hand to splash her.

[after this : above decks.]

Christmas morning.

TRE_Panettone_Milanese

When she woke it was Christmas morning and her bed was empty.  Or rather, Paolo was gone and she was alone.  She heard Christmas carols, the Vienna Boys’ Choir or something like that, traditional carols in Latin.  Wafting down the hall she could smell something incredible–spicy, vanilla, maybe, a warm, holiday scent.  Buttery.  And then coffee, richer and darker.  She opened her wardrobe and selected her most festive robe–a red and black embroidered kimono Alessandro had brought her from Hong Kong after he first moved there.  She still had light red marks on her skin where the boning had dug into her.  The silk robe felt divine–soft and smooth and cool on her skin.

She padded down the hallway barefoot, following the promise of breakfast.  Paolo was standing in her kitchen, wearing his D&G shorts and his wool sweater over his bare chest, barefoot.  He was concentrating on a small pitcher of frothed milk and a white cup and saucer.

“What are you doing?” Francesca asked, walking up to him.

“I’m trying to make a damn heart in this foam,” he said quietly, as if speaking any louder would disturb his art.  “I’ve already had to drink two of them because I messed up.”  He gestured towards the dirty cups in the sink.

“You’re adorable,” she said.  “Especially in those,” she added, slapping his ass playfully.

“Hey!  I almost had that one!”  She had upset his cappuccino efforts.

“I’ll drink it anyway,” she said.  “What else smells so good?”

“I toasted some panettone,” he said, abandoning the idea of designer foam and dumping the remaining frothed milk into his cup.

“Where did you find panettone?”

“I brought it from Torino.”

“When?  Last night?”

“Yeah, I had a big bag that I brought in when we came home.  I guess you didn’t notice because you were too busy devising your evil plan to make me your sex slave.”

“But look, now you’re a free man.”  She kissed him.  “Buon Natale.”

Merry Christmas, everyone.  For more of the holiday with Paolo & Francesca, visit this compilation of Christmas excerpts.

sick on Sunday.

The next day, as far as she could tell, was Sunday.  They woke late and ate breakfast in bed, dawdling over spongey cakes and bright fruit.  Francesca had been dying for crispy bacon and was surprised, when she ordered it, that Selim ate most of it.

“I didn’t think you ate pork,” she commented.

He reached for the pack of Marlboro reds on the bedside table and waved it at her.  “I don’t smoke, either,” he replied, pulling a cigarette from the pack and placing it between his lips.  He grabbed his bathrobe as a gesture at decorum and stepped out on the balcony to smoke.

She watched him through the tall windows, silhouetted against the sheer curtains.  He offered her the world last night.  He promised to satisfy her–more than satisfy her.  Her life before Wednesday seemed a fading dream; vague snippets of sports broadcasts and cheering fans, the scent of muscle rub and Acqua di Parma and Amstel Light, the low growl of a Maserati.  When she got off the plane in Milan, she would be returning to something entirely different than what she’d left.

Watching Selim, she wasn’t afraid.  She almost felt prepared.  The scent of his cigarette smoke wafted into the bedroom on a cold draft and nauseated her; she ran naked into the bathroom and vomited bacon and fruit and cake.  Before she realized it, Selim was behind her, holding her hair, with a towel at the ready.

“Maybe it was the bacon,” he said wryly.

He helped her to her feet and held her elbow as she stood shakily.  “I’m not sure what happened,” she said.

“You just need to rest,” he answered, guiding her back to the bed.  “I must have tired you out last night.”

She batted him weakly.  “If that’s what you want to believe,” she replied.

another morning after.

She woke the next morning to an empty bed and the scent of coffee.  She struggled into her kimono robe, finally managing to tie the sash with one hand, and walked barefoot from the bedroom to the kitchen.  There was Paolo, in boxer briefs and nothing else, manning her espresso machine.

“Why, hello,” he smiled broadly.  “I was going to bring you breakfast in bed.”

“You are not,” she said.  “Really?  What are you going to make for breakfast?”

“You’ll just have to be surprised,” he answered.  Francesca’s mind raced to remember what else Federica had left for her in the refrigerator.  She knew all of Francesca’s favorite foods.  “Go back to bed,” Paolo insisted, pushing her playfully back towards the bedroom.

She sat obediently in bed, propped up against the headboard, flipping casually through a magazine she’d left on the side table.  When Paolo returned, carrying a tray piled with food, she moved over to make room for him.

He brought her steaming hot cappuccino, toast, prosciutto, soft ricotta, some fruit.  The perfect breakfast.

“Look at all this,” she said, picking up an orange segment with her fingers.

“At least we know one of us can cook,” he teased.

“I think it’s more preparing than actual cooking,” she countered.

“It’s more actual cooking than you’ve ever done.”

“Fair enough,” she said, feeding him a strip of prosciutto.  He nibbled at her fingers.

“What are you doing for the rest of the day?” he asked.

“Hm, I have to take it easy with this broken arm, the doctor told me.”  She climbed onto his lap, nestling herself into his crossed legs.  “I’m not supposed to go out.  I’ll probably just watch American movies on TV.”  She turned and kissed his bare chest.  “What about you?”

“I have to go back to Torino at some point,” he murmured into her hair.  She shook her head.  “I do,” he said.  “We have a team dinner on Sunday nights, and early practice on Mondays.”

“Where do you play this week?”

“Napoli,” he said, “so I’ll get to see my dad and my sister.  They’re coming to the game.”

“What about your mama?” Francesca asked, tracing the heart around Lucia’s name on his biceps.

He was quiet for a moment before answering.

“She’s dead,” he said, stroking her hair.  “She died eight years ago.”

“My father’s dead,” Francesca said.  They sat in silence for a minute; Francesca was reluctant to say anything else, she could sense Paolo was, too.  She shifted to face him and brushed his hair away from his face.  “It’s ok,” she said.  “It’s ok.”  She kissed him gently, first his forehead, then the tip of his nose, then his chin, each of his cheeks, finally his lips, just brushing against them at first, then wrapping her arms around him and pulling him deeply into her.

He pushed her robe off her shoulders to reveal the tops of her breasts and he reached for them, holding and caressing them.  He laid her back on the bed, untying her robe and opening it to reveal her naked body, then he silently slipped off his shorts.  He kissed her and entered her slowly, gently, and she kept him inside her and felt him growing and hardening there.  She touched her lips to his shoulder and he began to move just a little at first, tenderly but deliberately.  They didn’t speak, but he held her eyes with his and continued to make love to her.  It didn’t make up for her father, or, she imagined, for his mother; it didn’t mean that they could in some way fulfill the gaping hole of need each of them felt, it just meant, for this moment, they weren’t alone.  They had this modicum of intimacy that existed beyond the rest of the world, in her bed, in her room, in her apartment.

He came with a sudden thrust against her, and he stayed inside her and reached down to touch her until she came, too.  She curled up in his arms and pulled the sheets over them.

“You ok, baby?” he asked her.

“Yeah,” she said, burrowing further under the covers.  “I’m ok.”

“This thing with Inter,” he said, encircling her with his legs.  “It’s important that it stays quiet.”

“I know that,” she said.  “You still don’t trust me.”

“I trust you.  I just need to say it.”

waking up in the Armani Hotel; back at the office with Timo.

Francesca collapsed back onto the pillows and sighed.  All she wanted to do was stay in this perfect hotel room all day, but she knew any minute Timo would be calling to find out what had happened the night before and to give her the rundown on the work they needed to do today.  She picked up the phone on the nightstand and the front desk answered immediately.

“Buongiorno signorina Jolie,” a polite woman said.

He had signed her on the register as Angelina Jolie.  She had to laugh and could barely order her room service.  Cappuccino, fruit, cheese, and bread.  She was famished.  Her next call was to Timo, preemptively, to tell him she was going to be a little late.  By some incredible stroke of luck his phone rang four times and went to voice mail.  Fantastic.  She left a quick message and by that time, her breakfast had arrived.  Francesca surveyed the cheese (pecorino romano, drizzled with honey), the bread (a crusty roll), and the fruit (figs and blood orange segments, with more honey) while she drained her cappuccino.  She dove into the food with her hands, breaking the cheese into pieces and smearing the honey on the bread.  The figs were exquisite, ripe and bursting their crimson insides through the dusky mauve of their skins, oozing sweetness.  She was making a mess of the bed and licking the honey from her fingers but she didn’t care.

Thirty minutes later Francesca had showered and dressed, and she checked out of the hotel wearing her same clothes and with the staff still calling her “signorina Jolie”, though they could clearly tell she wasn’t.  She drove the quick fifteen minutes to her studio, anxious to avoid Timo’s wrath at any further tardiness.  But to her surprise, when she arrived at the studio, TImo wasn’t there yet.  She found her jeans in the closet and pulled them on, along with her boots from the day before, carefully hanging the pleated Prada skirt and putting the Giuseppes back in their box.  And then she set about to making another cup of coffee; Timo’s absence disoriented her and upset her morning routine, so she wandered aimlessly around the studio, trying to decide what to do first.

When Timo finally burst through the door Francesca was at her computer with her third cappuccino, clicking through sports news reports of the game the night before.  Timo was wearing the same black and white striped sweater and white jeans he’d worn to the football game, and Francesca raised an eyebrow at him.

“I called you this morning,” she said.

“I must have been in the shower,” he answered.

“Doubtful,” she said.  “You’re wearing your same clothes.”

“So are you,” he said, “but you smell like jasmine soap.”

“Ok, so you were in the shower,” Francesca conceded.  “Whose shower?”

“You probably won’t remember, because you were so absorbed with secret messages and meeting places and stolen glances across the field–”

“–I was not!” she protested.

He waved her off.  “You definitely were.  Whatever.  But if you had actually been paying attention, like I was, then you would have noticed the absolutely adorable boy sitting two rows up from us–”

“Not the one who was there with his parents?”

“Uh, no.  He was six.  Not my scene.  The one beside them, who was there with his friends from university.  I told you you didn’t notice.  You were too busy being all ‘oh, look at me playing it cool and pretending like I’m not thinking about Paolo Romaldo’s big thick dick.'”

“Fine.  Maybe I was trying to follow the game.”

“Anyway.  Dario’s studying physics at the university.  He’s from here.  It was hilarious, he snuck me into his parents’ house and we fucked all night long and got the maid to bring us risotto in the middle of the night and in the morning I had to escape out the back door.  So that’s why I’m late.”

“Dario,” Francesca mused.  “Dario the physicist.”

“Dario the dreamfuck,” Timo rejoined.  “But where are my manners–I haven’t asked what happened to you last night.”

Francesca sighed.  “So we met at the Armani Hotel, but he wasn’t staying there, he just wanted to meet there for drinks because if we went to his hotel there would probably be photographers there–”

“And he didn’t already realize you are a photographer?”

“And he wanted to go someplace more private, so he picked the Armani Hotel, which was a good choice because it was very private.  But I was worried, at that point, that this was a friendly drink, a since-I’m-in-town-I-popped-by-for-a-drink kind of drink, not a drink that was a precursor to going upstairs, because he didn’t have a room upstairs.”

“Nice girl that you are, you don’t want to give the wrong impression during a friendly drink.”

She rolled her eyes at him.  “I introduced him to Fernet and Coke–”

“Your two best friends–”

“And we started making out right there in the lounge and I felt it.”

“His penis?”

“God, Timo, you are on fire for having not gotten any sleep last night.”

“I’m sorry, please.  Go on.”

“There’s not much else to say.  He had to leave and take the bus back to Torino.”

“The bus? Ugh.  Really?”

“Apparently it’s a thing.  They ride the bus together.  As a team.”

“It sounds kind of gay to me,” Timo fluttered his eyelids and got up to make himself another espresso.  His phone buzzed and he ran to grab it, reading the text as he walked back to the couch.

“Dario?” Francesca asked.

Timo didn’t look up from typing on the screen.  “Yes, finally.  Sounds like he just woke up.  He’s so cute.  So where did we leave off?  The bus.  He’s taking the big gay bus of football players back to Torino.”

“Right.”

“Do you think he sits at the back of the bus?  Between the drinks and the bus what happened?  Other than feeling it?”

“Have you ever been to the Armani Hotel?  The beds are amazing.”

“Wait, you said he didn’t have a room.”

“He got a room.  And it was gorgeous.”

“You’re being very vague about this whole situation,” Timo said.

“I don’t know what else there is to say.  You were right about the skirt, though.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Francesca answered.  “Paolo liked the skirt.”

“Obviously you should listen to me more often.”  Timo got up and walked towards his desk.  “So what’s next?  Do you have to wait for another treasure map to see him again?”

“I don’t think so,” she said.  “I gave him my number–”

“Shit,” Timo interjected.  “I completely forgot we have to book that trip to Capri for the Bazaar thing.  Shit shit shit.  That will teach me to sleep through my reminders.”  And he started typing furiously at his computer.  “We need the proofs from last week, too.  Are they on the shared drive yet?  We should have about a hundred.”  He clipped his headset to his ear and she could hear him start talking to their travel agent.