Francesca planned to leave Milan on Friday after work but had one stop to make before heading for the A4 highway. She hadn’t told Paolo when she was coming, preferring to stick to her promise to surprise him, but she was still rushing to get to Turin. She was eager to see him.
She had traded her big Bottega hobo for an overnight bag and a smaller YSL clutch in black patent leather. Under her Burberry trench she wore skinny jeans, a slouchy striped sweater, and a pair of gorgeous black patent Givenchy heels. She tripped into La Perla on Via Montenapoleone like it was her birthday. The girls there all knew her, and after exchanging hugs and kisses, Francesca explained what she was trying to find. Thirty minutes later, she walked out of the store with her street clothes in a La Perla shopping bag and an impressively expensive array of lingerie under her trench coat.
Traffic was heavy on the A4 out of Milan, but she darted her little Alfa around other cars and kept moving. She made it to Turin in ninety minutes flat, a new record for her, particularly for a Friday evening, and was at Paolo’s flat ten minutes later. She pulled into the lot next to his building and left her big bag in the back of the car; she would pick it up later. The concierge at his building knew her and let her in the front door; he smiled at her approvingly, looking at her hair piled high on her head, the cat-eye liner on her eyes, and the length of her legs stretched from the hem of her trench to the tall Givenchy shoes. She rode the elevator up to his flat with her heart racing. It had been almost three weeks since she’d seen him.
The distance from the elevator to his front door felt like a hundred meters, and the sound of her heels on the wood floors echoed through the hallway. Surely he would know it was her. Finally, she reached his door and knocked, three efficient raps.
She heard him moving inside, turning down the volume on the television and walking towards the front door. Like a man, he opened it without looking through the peephole.
Francesca stood before him, leaning against the door jamb. He was speechless.
“Open my coat,” she said, walking towards him into the apartment.