Last week Ben discovered more of Venice than he anticipated, this week we discover more of his wife Rosie that we anticipated.
As soon as Ben closed the door, Rosie opened her eyes. She waited a full three minutes listening, just to see if he might come back. Perhaps he had forgotten something. But no, not this time.
She swung her legs around and sat on the side of the bed. Again she waited a few seconds, then picked up the phone.
"Signor Guidi's room, per favore."
Her mixture of English and Italian was apparently understood, and almost immediately she heard, "Pronto?"
"It's Rosalie. "I demand that..." there was a pause, " that you inspect our room."
Rose's breathing betrayed her, as she struggled to say what they had agreed she should say.
Antonio the coach captain, murmured his assent and hung up. Rosie gently put her phone back on its cradle. She went to the dressing table and tidied her face and hair. As she looked into the mirror and saw her own eyes, she chided herself.
"Don't look at me like that. You persuaded me last time. Now you have to go long with me this time."
Having justified herself, she turned away from the mirror and waited for the knock on the door. To Rosie it took a very long time in coming. Antonio, had in fact had been waiting. He was an old hand at this game. He boasted to his fellow guides that he could recognise the possible liaisons on the very first night when they briefed each new coach party on the tour. He walked casually from his room, down the passage to the foyer. He called the lift, entered it alone and without having to consult his little notebook, where Rosie's name and room number were written, pressed the correct floor. He examined himself again in the mirror of the lift. He dressed casually, light weight cotton trousers, a blue polo top and matching canvas shoes. He was not tall, but the way he walked on springing steps made up for that. His dark brown hair was soft and long. It rode over his collar and curled around his ears, and almost as if planned, he allowed a lock fall forward onto his brow. His face was animated and held a half a smile on his lips at all times. His eyes were deep and sensuous with feeling and moved quickly, picking up everything that was happening around him. He noted subtle movements, what people did with their hands, how they stood, what messages their eyes sent that their conversation did not. He took everything in and stored it away for future use. The messages he had received from Rosie said she wanted to be touched. Now he was going to touch her.
He knocked on her door. "Antonio." He called. She opened it straight away, not even a suggestion that she had to walk from the other side of the room to answer it. Antonio put that away too. She was a little too eager. He would have to slow her down a little, just a bit. He regarded her standing there. At first her eyes looked up at him, then she lowered them, as he said, "You wish to see me?"
She looked past him anxiously lest anyone else from the coach party should see him there. She pulled him into the room by the sleeve of his shirt. She closed the door and slid the little brass chain in its slot, hoping it would not seem obvious. Nothing escaped Antonio.
Rosie wore a light summer dress; it had a high rounded neck and a deep opening at its back. Its large pink and blue and white flowers made her look cool and serene, despite her anxiety. Her arms and legs were bare and their honey brown colour contrasted sharply with his fiercely dark skin. She had put Paris perfume on, but regretted it as it seemed too heavy now. He took her by both her hands, lightly. Then drawing her closer to him, bent down and kissed first one hand then the other. He kissed the back of her hand, then the fingers and then with a delicacy that surprised her, kissed her palms, her thumbs, then each finger until the little fingers were reached. She was already feeling a little faint and wanted to sit down. She moved slightly to her left and sat down on the bed. As she did so she kicked off the sandals she was wearing. He still had hold of her hands and she leaned forward and lay her cheek against his fingers, and heaved a big sigh. With incredible tenderness, he touched her hair, her ears and traced the soft roundness of her face. He lightly touched her nose, ran his fingertips over her now closed eyes and finished with one finger just touching her lips.
Rosie didn't mean to, but she let out another sigh. It was not a sigh of regret or anxiety. It was a sigh of exhilaration and satisfaction. But the sigh was short lived Antonio bent over and kissed her on the lips he had just touched. If Rosie had expected a violent passionate kiss with a searching tongue to explode her senses she was very much mistaken. He kissed her with just that same amount of tenderness that he had touched her face and now continued to touch the rest of her body. Rosie who was at anticipating to be borne away in a masterful Latin lover's fiery embrace now found herself melting into his arms, into this delicious slow seduction. It was, on reflection, what was precisely missing from her normal lovemaking with Ben. She expected to be ravished, but this was not happening; he was taking each and every part of her and quietly, gently, lovingly, praising it and making it his own. There was little conversation; he murmured a number of 'cara's' and 'bella's' and even a few 'bellissima'a' but he didn't speak directly to her or demand that she say anything in return.
With his practiced art, Antonio touched and unzipped, kissed and slipped off, held tight and set free until they were both without even one stitch of clothing on. Antonio now was very much a part of her. Somehow almost without her noticing the very moment that it had happened, he had found his way into her and she felt very good about it. There was no rush of love making; there was just this exquisite togetherness. And yet, as they touched and moved and fondled each other, she felt the wave of indescribable fulfilment envelop her. The inevitability of their lovemaking now burst in her and over her like a shower of stars. She clung on to him and felt his warm body against her. As she slowly recovered, she felt the tears of her passion run down her cheeks and smear against his chest. She knew too that her body was moist with perspiration. She felt spent and satisfied.
The feeling lasted only a very short time. The hairs from his chest tickled her face and she wanted to dry her eyes. She felt now that his body was a stranger's body, and wanted to draw away from it. She was anxious to wash the evidence of their lovemaking from her. She glanced up at his face and even that no longer held the attraction it had. Was he the same man that flirted with her on the tour, and held her possessively as she had almost slipped on the steps of the coach? She eased herself from under him, and almost as if he had read her mind, he rolled over too and sat on the side of the bed. He pulled his clothes back on and turned his back slightly to her so that she could rearrange herself.
When he turned back, she had covered herself with the sheet. He got up then and as he slipped his watch back on his wrist he glanced at it deliberately. She noticed this but did not look at him again. He bent down to slip his shoes on. When he had done this, he approached her again, took her left hand only this time and kissed it on the back. He smiled at her and went to the door, slipped the chain and left with, "Perhaps we will see each other at dinner?" Then he was gone.
She gave no reply.
Rosie got up, went to the door, fastened it again and headed straight to the bathroom. As the water tumbled all over her she reflected that she had not said one word to him. She nodded and smiled to herself; as though by that fact alone, it made what she had done quite innocent. Perhaps it had not happened at all. As she stepped from the shower she saw herself in the hazy mirror. "Well, I won't tell if you don't," she said.