Paolo and Francesca…

a novel about beautiful people in Italy.

Tag: Giulietta

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.]

sailing vacation.

[before this: rich girls.]

The next morning, the crew served coffee and pastries on the deck as they got underway, waving goodbye to the Amalfi coast.  They were set to cruise leisurely down to the Aeolian Islands, off the coast of Sicily.  Giulietta appeared wearing a snakeskin-print cover-up, elaborate Jimmy Choo sandals, and enormous Gucci sunglasses.  She already looked tanned, like she had prepared for this trip.  Francesca, in contrast, was wearing as promised one of Selim’s button-down shirts, a colorful, printed Etro scarf in her hair, Celine sunglasses, and bare feet.  She had a flat white pedicure on her toes and felt quite chic, even next to her overdressed sister-in-law.  Selim was slow to emerge from below decks; Ricci was standing at the wheel, coffee in his left hand, chatting with the ship’s captain.  He wore a t-shirt and swim trunks, both of which had probably been carefully selected by his wife, and with the breeze blowing through his light brown hair Francesca thought he looked more relaxed than she’d seen in months.

Giulietta shook a small pink packet of sweetener into her coffee and declined pastries.  Francesca chose a large croissant and went to work peeling the flaky, golden layers apart before drizzling them with honey and eating them.  She had a big, foamy cappuccino by her side.

“How do you stay so skinny eating like that?” Giulietta asked her.

“I’m not that skinny,” Francesca replied.  She lifted the tails of her shirt and grabbed at a barely-existent chunk of her left thigh.

“I think you’re perfect.”  Both women tilted their heads up to see Selim standing above them, paying Francesca a compliment.

“Thanks,” she said, offering him some honeyed croissant.  He took it, holding onto her hand and licking the honey off her fingers.  Giulietta turned away nervously.  Francesca raised an eyebrow.  “Hey,” she said quietly.

He walked up to stand at the bow of the sailboat, like a figurehead, the wind blowing back his dark hair and rippling his shirt and shorts.  It was going to be okay, she thought, laying back on the smooth teak deck.  She unbuttoned her shirt and balled it up under the back of her head.  Unlike in the scenario she had described to Selim on the phone, she was wearing both parts of her bikini.

“you know what happens next.”

[before this: a knock on the door.]

“Well, then,” Cristina said.  “Let’s go to the shoes.”  They took the elevator to the fifth floor with a gaggle of Asian tourists.  Once they had arrived, Giulietta and the tourists made a bee line for the Louboutins.  Francesca started to say something and Cristina grabbed her arm to stop her.

“You have to try to be nice and try not to be drunk,” she whispered.

Francesca rolled her eyes.  “Arriviste,” she muttered under her breath.

Giulietta fingered a pair of 105mm lace and nude peep-toe pumps.  “These remind me a little of those Valentino shoes you have,” she said to Francesca.

Maybe Cristina was right; maybe Giulietta just needed a friend, a confidante, a shopping buddy, a drinking buddy.  “Absolutely,” she replied.  “I think they’re actually a bit higher, don’t you think?”

“Do you think Ricci would like them?”

“Oh, God, I don’t know.  I’ve never thought about anything like that.  Is he into shoes?”  Francesca was a little disturbed.

“Is Romaldo into shoes?” Giulietta asked her.

“He seems to enjoy them,” she grinned, turning her back on the Louboutins and heading towards Giuseppe Zanotti.  “I think he’d be pretty into these,” she said, picking up a pair of tall, strappy gladiators.

“Really?  Into them like how?  Like, you wear them and he says, ‘oh, those shoes are so hot’?”  Giulietta looked at her expectantly.

Francesca was mildly aware that she was treading on unstable ground, uncharted territory, something like that.  But she was also mildly inebriated, and more loquacious than she would have been otherwise.  “You know what I like to do?” she began, leaning in closer to Giulietta.  Out of the corner of her eye she saw Cristina looking at flat velvet slippers.  “I like to get a really ridiculous pair of shoes–really high, really sexy–and some nice black stockings, the ones with a back seam, and a pretty set of lingerie, a garter belt and all that, definitely lace.  And on a weekend when I’m seeing Paolo, I’ll wear that for him, under a trench coat or something, when I get to his place.”

Her sister-in-law’s mouth hung open.  “And then?”

“God, Giulietta, don’t be dense,” Francesca snapped.  Giulietta’s eyes narrowed and Francesca softened.  “Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that.  But you know what happens next.”

what are Cheerios?

Giulietta appeared at the top of the stairs in a bathrobe.  “What are you doing here?” she asked Francesca.

“Bruno called me,” Francesca replied.  “He’s looking for Ricci.”

“But why are you here,” Giulietta reiterated.

“Giulietta, I’m sorry, I didn’t know what to do.  It sounded serious.  I thought maybe I could help–”

“You?  Help?”  Giulietta stayed at the top of the stairs; her pose reminded Francesca of an old Hollywood film, right before something awful happened.

Francesca scooped up Leo, who had been clinging to her leg.  “Maybe Leo and I can go out to the aquarium, give you a little time to yourself.”

“How’s Romaldo?” Giulietta asked.

Francesca looked confused.  “Fine,” she said.  “He’s fine.  So,” she continued, ignoring Giulietta’s non sequitur, “Leo and I are going to go to the aquarium, and we’ll come home in a couple of hours.  Do you think Ricci will be back then?”

“I don’t know when he’s coming back,” Giulietta said flatly.

“Ok,” Francesca said.  “Ok.  We’re going to go now, we’ll see you in a little bit.  Leo, say bye to mama,” she directed her nephew.

Giulietta turned and walked away from the stairs into the hallway, and Francesca heard her bedroom door close.  She turned to the maid.

“Can you help me get his clothes and car seat?  And anything else we might need?”

The maid nodded and walked upstairs.  Francesca set Leo down and wandered towards the kitchen.  “What do you think, should we have some breakfast?  I’m pretty hungry,” she told her nephew.

“Are we really going to the aquarium?”

“Of course we are.  Right after we have breakfast and you change into your clothes.”  She looked around the kitchen.  “What do you normally have for breakfast?” she asked him.

“Cheerios,” Leo said, climbing into his chair.

“What are Cheerios?” Francesca asked.

“Cheerios,” Leo replied.  “Cheerios are Cheerios.”

“You’re not helping at all,” she said under her breath.  The maid returned with some neatly-folded clothes.

“The car seat is in the foyer,” she said.  “I’ll put it in your car when you’re ready to leave.”

“Thank you,” Francesca said.  “Antonella, what are Cheerios?”

The maid opened a cabinet and pulled out a big yellow cereal box.  “From America.  Breakfast cereal.  You can tell you don’t have kids.”  For the first time since Francesca had arrived, Antonella cracked a smile.  She served a small bowl for Leo and poured some milk.  “Would you like some?” she asked Francesca.

Francesca looked at Leo spooning the little o’s into his mouth deliberately.  “Ok,” she answered.  Antonella served her a slightly larger bowl of Cheerios and she and Leo sat together and ate breakfast.