Snippets from two chapters:
Chapter 10: The Island of Capri – mid chapter
A woman interjected with a laugh, “Caro Marcello! Smettila! Tesoro! Stop! Darling, you had better go see what Sophia needs. She doesn’t have all day you know!”
The man poked his head around the corner and then stepped fully into the light. He was tall with dark hair and wore a black suit and pencil-thin tie. But his appearance was rendered informal and casual by the sunglasses that perched at a rakish angle on top of his head. When he saw me, he cocked an eyebrow and flashed me a familiar charismatic smile.
Then, out of the murky darkness of my imagination, a woman appeared behind him. She draped her long, sinuous arms over his chest and rested her chin on his left shoulder. Beaming broadly she looked over at me. She had a perfectly symmetrical face and big, brown eyes that were accentuated by thick, black mascara and eyeliner. Her lips were the color of ruby red wine. When she stood up to her full statuesque height and stepped out from behind the man, I smiled in surprise at the sight of her voluptuous shape. Her full, hourglass figure was hugged by a form-fitting top and black leggings covered her mile-long legs. A bright red Versace silk scarf was tied around her slim neck and matched the color of her lipstick. She had a natural elegance and moved like a cat despite her four-inch stiletto heels.
As I stared at the woman in those fabulous shoes, I recognized her immediately. After all I had practically grown up with her. Before me in all her glory stood the one and only Sophia. La Loren. Looking her up and down I understood why the tabloids continued to call her a Diva, with a capital “D.” She simply oozed sexuality from each of her lovely pores and it was quite clear she knew a bit about seduction. This woman had “va va voom” appeal and was someone the paparazzi chased and adored.
As I watched the fantasy play out, the man glanced over at the woman and arching an eyebrow, flashed her a provocative grin. He reached into the pocket of his jacket and took out a packet of cigarettes. First he offered one to his companion and then pulled one out for himself. Striking a match, he watched for a moment as the flame ignited and then he leaned over to light Sophia’s cigarette before tending to his own. She closed her eyes and took a long, sensuous draw and blew out a white stream of smoke. When her eyes connected with Marcello’s, they grinned and chuckled conspiratorially, obviously still basking in the glow of their brief scappatella in the shadows of the mailroom. …..
Chapter 11: A Love Affair Begins – mid chapter
Standing in the center of the room in a beam of morning light, I realized that I now wore the string of Venetian beads that had previously graced the throat of the lovely Lucrezia. I slipped them over my head and held the strand between my fingers for a moment, rolling one of the beads around and around on the silk strand. Then I began reverently touching the others, as if the necklace were a rosary. As each bead slipped down the heavy silk thread, I recalled a memory of my mother or a story she had told me about Italy. Each represented a connection to the past as well as a vision of the future.
As I thought about a budding love I was potentially extinguishing while allowing a new one to bloom in its place, I blinked back a sudden film of tears misting my eyes. After a deep, calm, and steadying breath, I gently placed the necklace on the desk next to the box with the fleur-de-lis. The beads made a soft clattering sound, as they settled onto the wooden desk in a little pool of promises
I picked up the application. The only thing that remained to do was to sign it and submit it to Glenninghall. I held up my pen and examined it in the light. Lost in thought I let it bounce lightly against my lower lip. Time seemed to stand still as the world held its breath. Then the whispers began to swirl through my head and I heard the clock ticking again.
Tic. Tic. Tic. Italia.
Tic. Tic. Tic.
Who was I kidding? All along this had been a foregone conclusion, just as it had been for my mother. Who could say no to Florence? I couldn’t hold back the inevitable. Time was moving on, and so must I.
Springing into action I signed my name to the bottom line of the application with a firm, steady hand. I pulled on a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt off the floor, picked up my backpack, and swung out the door. Taking the stairs two at a time, I flew around the stairwell and burst out into a dewy, hazy morning. As I sprinted across the campus a lone bird trilled out a few notes like a triumphant bugler heralding a new beginning. …..