Paolo and Francesca…

a novel about beautiful people in Italy.

Tag: Fernet-Branca

Manchester City.

On the way back to the Velvet, she debated what to do next.  She could wait for Paolo up in the room, or she could have a drink in the bar.  Though she would love to wrap herself in a bathrobe and sit in front of the fire, she felt like it would be a waste to come all the way to England, dressed as nicely as she was, and not at least give Paolo the chance to see her.  She settled on the bar.

Babe, I’m waiting for you in the bar.  She sent him a text.

Be there soon.  The entirety of his reply.  It was hard to tell over text, but he didn’t seem to be in the best of moods.  She ordered a Fernet and Coke, and the bartender looked at her like she was an alien.

“Where are you from?” he asked.

“Milano,” she replied.  “You do have Fernet-Branca, don’t you?”

He turned to the wall of bottles behind him.  “Sure you don’t want a cosmo?” he asked hopefully, squinting at the shelves.

“She’s looking for Fernet, mate,” a voice said from behind her.  A man in a tweed blazer, printed button-down shirt and jeans.  “Second shelf, third bottle from the left,” he directed the bartender.

Francesca turned to the man.  “Thank you,” she said.

“Probably his first night,” the man replied, slightly under his breath.  “Poor bloke.”

The bartender set Francesca’s drink on the marble bar in front of her.

“Add it to mine,” the tweed blazer man said.

“No, it’s fine,” Francesca protested.  “I’m meeting someone.”

The tweed blazer man looked around.  “Not yet you aren’t,” he replied.  He extended his hand.  “Gavin,” he said.  “Call me Gav.”


“Waiting for your boyfriend?”  She nodded.  “Rude of him to keep you waiting,” Gavin said.

“He’s on his way,” she answered.

Gavin leaned in.  He wasn’t unattractive, she thought, he was sort of handsome in that English way, kind of a mix of Jude Law and Jamie Oliver.  “You sure of that?” he asked her.

She considered telling him, if she actually thought it would turn him off enough to leave.  But he was the type to see a fancy football-playing boyfriend, absent as he was, as a challenge.  He wouldn’t leave her alone.  It would just cause more trouble.

She swirled her drink, clinking the ice cubes against the sides of the tall glass.  “I’m certain,” she replied.

Armani Hotel.

image via Armani Hotel Milano.

“I didn’t say I wasn’t watching.  I just wasn’t watching the game.  I was watching you.”

He leaned close to her and brushed her hair away from her face.  “Really?”

“Of course,” she answered huskily.  “I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.”

He kissed her then, gently, just her lips at first, stroking her hair as he moved deeper, coming somehow closer to her.  She felt like they should stop and look around, she was self-conscious and nervous after what he’d said about the paparazzi, but he tasted bittersweet like Fernet and she was losing herself under his hands.  She was only aware of sensations: the velvet cushions of the couch, soft and yielding as he pressed her further into them, the warmness and dampness of his breath, their quiet panting, the distant twinkling of ice in crystal.

“Do you want another drink?” he asked her.

She shook her head no.  Paolo gestured for the waiter again.

“Something else, sir?” he asked.

“I think we’ll be going upstairs,” Romaldo said.  “Just the check, please.”

“Certainly, sir.”

Paolo strode up to reception and booked a room, checking in under “Brad Pitt.”  The night clerk, a bemused art student, smiled through his floppy hair and handed him the key.  “Third floor.”

This time when they rode the elevator they were close, alone, pressed together and wild.  Romaldo slid his hands up Francesca’s legs, pulling her towards him, spreading his fingers over her bare cheeks, hooking his thumbs under the lace of her panties.  “I’m so glad you wore a skirt,” he murmured into her neck.

When the doors opened they struggled to compose themselves, stumbling out into the quiet, empty hallway.  Francesca laughed and it was low, almost guttural, as she ran towards the door of their room.  Paolo pinned her against it as he fumbled with the key; he kissed her hard and pushed the door open, propelling them into the room.

“This time I get to undress you,” he said, kneeling at her feet to unbuckle the straps on her shoes.  She balanced with her hands on his shoulders as he slipped off her Giuseppes, then he lifted her bare foot to his lips and kissed it.  She laughed.

“I’m going to fall over if you keep doing that,” she said.

“I’m going to keep doing a lot of things,” he answered into the smooth skin of her leg.  He set her foot back on the carpet and moved up her legs with his mouth, kissing her knees, pushing her feet further apart and moving in between her thighs, tickling her sensitive skin with his stubble.  She felt warm, like the Fernet was just kicking in, lightening her head and heightening all sensation.  Allowing her to experience the moment without having to think.  He inched up towards the apex of her thighs and she felt her knees weakening, dropping herself towards his mouth.  Suddenly he was out from under her, standing to face her, and he leaned in to kiss her neck as he unbuttoned the delicate buttons of her blouse.  She tossed her head back and arched her spine as he moved from her neck down to her decolletage; he pushed her blouse off her shoulders and cupped her breasts.  Through the violet lace of her La Perla bra, he tongued her nipples, circling them then nibbling, gentle at first but building, pulling at them with his teeth, while he palmed her ass and pulled her towards him, making her feel his hardness through their clothes.  She tangled her fingers in his hair, tugging until he raised his head to kiss her again, diving into her.  She reached around to the zipper at the back of her skirt but he grabbed her wrists, roughly, almost, and pulled them away.

“No,” he said.  “I undress you.”  He slid his hands under her skirt again and kneaded her cheeks, teasing under her thong with his fingers.  Urgently, she sought his earlobe and took it in her lips, sucking and flicking it with her tongue.

“Please,” she whispered breathlessly into his ear.

He reached for the zipper and undid it, and her skirt slipped to the floor.  He stepped back.  “Look at you,” he said softly.