16 June 2009

The Tuscan Trap: Part X

The car gave way three quarters from the villa due to lack of petrol, something that Dawn had estimated wrong. There was nothing Dawn could do but make it on foot the rest of the way. She grabbed her bag and the gifts she brought with her and started making her way to the villa. The sun was bright and the temperature was well into the thirties, Dawn delved into her bag and wiped the sweat from her face with her handkerchief. She exhaled and carried on walking, it was a beautiful tranquil day and she pondered about whether this was the right thing to do but she couldn't turn back now, as she would literally be stuck otherwise and in this heat she didn't want heat stroke. She made her way to the villa and noticed that Luca's car and an unfamiliar car were parked in the driveway, at least someone was home. She walked to the front door and took a deep breathe and knocked on the door, waiting a few seconds she looked out into the Tuscany scenery and she felt, she didn't know what she felt, scared perhaps. The door open and a gust of cool air flooded her senses, she turned around and was met by Stefany.

Stefany grabbed her in a hug and ushered her in, speaking bouts of Italian to her. Fortunately for Dawn, she could understand what she was saying and answered back in Italian which made Stefany pause in speech.

"You speak Italiano now? That is grand, come, come in and come sit. I go fetch some lemonade and something to eat. How are you love? What brings you here?" Stefany asked with glee as she disappeared and reappeared in no time with platters of food, "You come just in time, we have a party for Clive, it is his birthday today. You must come, he would like to see you."

"How is Clive?" Dawn asked.

"He is very well, he will show you the building. He refurbished it himself, he is not here now because he had to go to Venice to sort some business out but he be back later. So tell me Dawn, how have you been?" Stefany asked.

"I've been well," Dawn said.

"And how is London and your job?" Stefany asked.

"My job... well, I quit a few months after I left here... it wasn't what I wanted. I wanted more, if it was possible. I've primarily been commuting from here to back home but I'm hoping to find something a bit more permanent. I've been teaching English to kids here, I was around, I just wanted to pop by and say hi... and oh, I forgot," Dawn said as she brought out a bag of gifts, "These are for you, Luca and Clive but it seems my timing is perfect, considering."

Stefany hugged Dawn, "This is too nice of you, thank you." Stefany unwrapped her present, it was a velvet box and when she opened it, the gem clasped on a platinum chain glistened before her very eyes, "Darling, I can't take this, this is much too great."

"Please I insist Stefany, I really wanted to," she handed her Luca's and Clive's presents, "These are for Luca and Clive."

"No no, you must give these to them personally," Stefany insisted, "You are to stay for his party, otherwise you will make me very unhappy... but I have an idea... you must hide when he arrives, I will unveil you, you are his present... he will be so surprised and happy to see you... he will love you."

"When is he due?" Dawn asked.

Stefany looked at the clock, "Ah in a few hours, but he will call when he is coming but for the meantime, you tell me everything you have been up to and help me in the kitchen before then. We have a girlie chat."

A few hours later, Stefany had ordered Dawn to freshen up. Stefany laid out an exquisite dress, it was cotton but looked more like chiffon in a multitude of colour that wasn't headstrong but wasn't subtle either. Dawn gazed at it, it was beautiful, it was perfect. She tried it on and it was a perfect fit, it came below the knee and now she had only to figure out, how she would have her hair, she decided to have it fall to her shoulders naturally. She had to wait in the room, until it was the right time for her to go down. She looked at herself in the mirror, she hadn't looked this great in ages. She just hoped that Clive would be happy to see her.

"Mama, there is a car abandoned three quarters away from here... do you happen to know who's it is?" Clive said in Italian, as he kissed his mother on the cheek when he entered the kitchen.

"Beats me, I'm sure whoever it is, will be back. Your guests are in the garden, go and say hello, I am just about to prepare the table." Stefany answered back and Clive walked into the garden where he was greeted by at least twenty people.

Stefany waited five minutes and instructed Luca to keep Clive away, whilst she went to fetch Dawn. She led Dawn downstairs quietly and made her walk around the house and into the throngs of people present at Clive's party. Dawn looked around but she couldn't see him anywhere and she didn't know anyone there. She went to the table and picked up a glass of lemonade and took a seat on one of the chairs. The taste of the lemonade on her tongue was refreshing, as well as tangy. She looked to the floor, for answers when a shoulders blocked her view, she looked up to see a man pass her and sit next to her.

"Hi, my name is Demetri and you are?" he said in polished Italian. He looked like Clive but was far more built and was wearing a linen blue shirt and linen khaki trousers.

She shook his hand, "Dawn, nice to meet you," replying back in Italian.

"And how do you know Clive?" Demetri asked.

"We used to work together but... that was a long time ago and you?" Dawn asked.

"Oh he's my older cousin, I live in Venice but I came down with him." He said.

Stefany came into the party and announced that everyone was to grab their plates and start eating, everyone made a beeline to the table of food, leaving Dawn seated down at one of the benches on the far side. Stefany watched as Clive watched the people rush to the table and then his eyes clasped onto Dawn seated away from the throngs of people. He stilled and then made his way gallantly towards her. Stefany knew success when she saw it and this was success.

Clive watched as everyone scuttled to the table, he raised a beer to his lips and something in the corner of his eyes caught his attention. As he looked towards this, everything in him stilled. It can't be, can it? He asked himself. The sun must be up to it's usual tricks because there was Dawn sitting on the bench furthest away. She was looking at the floor as if it was charming her into conversation and when she looked at the people at the dinner table to him, her eyes stilled and her body became stiff. He made his way towards her.

"Hi Dawn," he said as he sat next to her in English.

"Hi Clive, happy birthday," she replied in Italian, "How are you?"

"Wow, you speak good Italian Dawn. I'm good, all the better for seeing you and you, how have you been keeping?"

"Good, thank you." She whispered.

There was silence, it was due to shock on both their parts when they spoke, they spoke at once.

"You first," Clive said.

"Okay... I'm sorry I didn't say goodbye the last time, when I spoke to Hiller, he didn't see any point in keeping me here and it didn't really give me a chance to say a proper goodbye... I..." Dawn said.

"Right... well that's in the past now, isn't it?" Clive said, rendered speechless. He hadn't bargained on how the past would make him ache, "How long are you here?"

"I still have a few days and then I'm back to London," Dawn said.

"And how's the job back there?" Clive asked, his eyes never straying from hers.

"In London?" Dawn asked and Clive nodded, "I quit."

"You quit?" Clive said astonished.

"Yeah, a few months after... it didn't feel right anymore... I wasn't the same after... well..."

"Clive, I see you met Dawn..." Demetri said as he intervened in between Clive and Dawn, separating the both of them.

Dawn looked at Clive, as if being separated from him any longer was too much for her.

"Demetri, do you mind, we're having a private conversation here!" Clive said in hardened and annoyed Italian.

"As a matter of fact, I was talking to Dawn first, so really you are in our conversation," Demetri answered back, turning towards Dawn.

Dawn stood up and suddenly both Clive and Demetri stood up too.

"If you would excuse me, I... err... I just need to get a drink." She walked off, leaving the two of them. Dawn walked inside, where it was cooler and she suddenly felt someones hand in hers as she was spun around to be held in Clive's arms.

"You don't know how much I've longed for you and I wasn't going to allow Demetri, the idiot to lodge him self between us. I've missed you Dawn... I've missed you so much that you've been on my mind consistently these past eighteen months. I don't know your favourite colour, I don't know what you like to do in your spare time but I do know that you work hard in anything and that when the sun is shining your hair turns a crazy red which reminds me of a good fine Merlot and that you're crazy energetic, you get nervous and that somehow, you came here for a reason... tell me I'm not crazy and that you feel something too?" Clive said.

Dawn looked up at him and then at his linen suit, she played with the lapels of his jacket and then heard her say, "I've thought about it so many times, more then you know... just to hear those words and you've said them," she laughed to herself and then looked up at him, "I guess I'd have to be mad too and since we're here confessing things..."

"Wait, I want to show you something..." Clive interrupted, "Come with me."

"Where are we going?" Dawn asked, as he glided her towards the door and opened the door to the car.

"I'm taking you to my home," Clive said.

"Your home... but what about your..."

"They won't know I'm missing... besides... this is far more important." Clive said starting the car. He was driving for five minutes and then ten and then fifteen minutes and suddenly he was parking outside the building, "You'll absolutely love it, I want to show you the restoration."

"Restoration?" Dawn said puzzled, "You mean you didn't modernise it,"

"I restored it to it's former glory, I wanted to retain it's charm," Clive said as he opened the front door.

Dawn walked in and her mouth gaped open in awe. She was speechless, it was how she had imagined it.

"Do you like it?" Clive asked, as he attentively watched her.

Dawn still said nothing, she walked over to the staircase and touched the grain of wood decorating the stairs, she looked to the ceiling, it was as if she had stepped into the Sistine Chapel. She walked up the stairs towards the first floor where she had found the photograph that had revealed that Clive was indeed the heir, the Duke. The room was airy and full of light and she walked in, it was the frame beside the larger window that caught her eye. It was indeed the one that she had found with Clive.

"You put it up?" Dawn said.

"Of course, how could I not? He is my great great grandfather and what is his is now fine," Clive spoke surveying the room but mostly his attention was caught on the woman standing in the middle of it all.

"I want you to share this with me... I want you to have this with me..."

"What are you saying Clive?" Dawn said.

He walked up to her and held her hands, "However crazy this sounds, I just don't care... I love you Dawn... and though we didn't start off on the right footing, I'm hoping you would make me a decent man, I hope you will love me for the man I want to be when I'm with you, when I'm thinking about you and especially when you fill me with such hope."

"I'm sorry, what?!" Dawn said utterly confused.

"I want you to marry me... that's if, if you'll have me?" Clive said the words and went down on bended knees.

"Is this some sort of trap, some tuscan trap to lure me stay?" Dawn said.

"No trap at all... not in the physical sense but since you've been away... away from me, I have been trapped by the notion of never having you beside me, I want nothing more then to be free of it, to be able to love you like a woman should be loved and I want to be the man who does... God, this is crazy but I love you so much, it's devastating me the longer you stay quiet." Clive pleaded, "Say you'll have me."

Dawn looked at him, "Have you? Let me think about it," she giggled.

"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" Clive looked at her and felt the laughter, "You're tormenting me woman,"

"Men are meant to be tormented," Dawn smiled as she walked into his arms and he kissed her.

"Is that a yes?" Clive asked.

"No... it's a hell yes! Happy birthday darling," Dawn smiled.

"It's the best birthday ever!" and with that knowledge, he kissed her.


15 June 2009

The Tuscan Trap: Part IX

18 months later

In a cafe in Venice, the sun is shining overhead and Dawn is adjusting her sun hat and smiles at Amelia who is sitting opposite her.

"So tell me, how are things with Rob?" Dawn said biting into her Tirimisu.

"Things are fantastic, what can I say," Amelia beamed

"And how are you dealing with your new found fame?" Dawn asked, sipping her espresso, "I'm sure it's difficult considering you're far from any celebrity out there."

"And what's that supposed to mean?" Amelia giggled.

"Y'know, the regular stuff like... um... flashing your knickers or lack of when getting out of a car, or rolling out of a nightclub or..."

"The list goes on, I presume..." Amelia said, "Those public places aren't really my cup of tea..."

"Don't I know it, the number of times I wanted you to come to Faces with him, you were headstrong in not going..."

"It's not really my scene," Amelia admitted.

"Yeah, I kinda guessed that... I'm sure your scene is more along the lines of snogging Rob till he's blue in the face," Dawn said.

"Changing the subject, but what are your plans this week?" Amelia asked.

"I don't know... I haven't really decided as yet," Dawn said looking around.

"I think, you should go to the building..." Amelia said hinting quite heavily.

"That's not a good idea," Dawn started.

"And why not? Aren't you in the least bit curious... just to see him... to see the building you fell in love with? Or should I say it was back to front, that you absolutely love him and that you want to see the building, come on Dawn, you're like the skinny cow now... you've lost loads of weight and you've emerged as someone I don't even know anymore... you're different, it's as if that visit changed you somehow... that you love him but it hurts to love him and I'm worried that if you don't get closure or something, it's just gonna be the beginning to an end with you. You quit your job for God sakes."

"And with reason, might I add," Dawn said.

"You have to go... just admit it, you're at least curious." Amelia said.

"We'll see..."

"No! I'll see... you don't have a choice if that means I have to physically bring you there myself, I will. It's as if Tuscany has trapped you into this way of living, you've been coming here every few months to visit me, but somehow I think you're too scared to go the whole way... like I'm your safety blanket for when you back out. You have to do it Dawn, or else I'm gonna call the Duke myself." Amelia said as she watched Dawn contemplatively.

"Fine! Fine! I'll see him tomorrow." Dawn said bluntly.

"Good and yes, I'd like to be your bridesmaid," Amelia said quietly.

Dawn was tossing and turning in bed. Could she really do this, could she? She tried to tell herself, there was no harm in looking but then cats do die of curiousity. She looked at the clock, it was only quarter past two in the morning. Still, plenty of time. She turned on her side and forced herself to sleep and eventually she did. Her alarm woke her up and she gradually sat up in bed, the sun was pouring through the shutters and could distantly hear the sound of the waterways of Venice. She got up and showered, after towel drying herself she chose to wear a spaghetti strapped loose dress that was the colour of bricks, she fastened her waist with a gold belt and stepped into comfortable flat sandals. She grabbed her bag and stuffed two bottles of water, some munchies, her mobile phone and she chose to carry the gifts, then closed the apartment. As promised, Amelia had left her car outside and Dawn got in. She put the room down and exhaled, this was it. She panicked, she wasn't sure. What if he was married, but she had kept a close eye on the tabloids but there were no signs of him anywhere. She started up the engine and began her journey.

Dawn stopped the car, she had seen the building fifty feet ahead. It was different somehow and as she pulled the car to the side, she got out and admired the structure. There definitely was a new door fitted and the garden that lay before it, was colourful and new. And she suddenly realised, that he had kept his word. He had restored it. She was suddenly emotional, that she had to bite back the tears. She walked up to the door and hesitatingly knocked on the door and waited, after three minutes, no one answered the door and she knocked again, still no answer. As if it were a rejection, she stood back and exhaled and she went back to the car and drove to the Villa instead.

The Tuscan Trap: Part VIII

"Luca, would it be possible for you to pull up here. I shan't be long, I just want to see this place one last time," Dawn said.

Luca pulled the car to the side and Dawn got out of the car and walked towards the building. The building in which so many dreams were invested in, was now, a dream for one person. She didn't know what to feel, somewhere along the way she had mistakenly felt a great attraction for someone and since then couldn't get them out of her head and was hoping, she was hoping to, perhaps work on it... to see where it led her and now... and now she was going home, it had only been about two weeks out of a possible six months and though she did the best she could, she was going back home to dreary London. London, back to her stonking old flat and to her dead end job.

Dawn looked around the building, she was drawn to the same spot she was a few days ago, when Clive had accompanied her. They had found a photo of what was then and what this place was now and somewhere deep inside her, she couldn't quite see this turning out to be some crazy capitalist venture, so maybe this was what was meant to be. She looked around the building, there was definitely potential in this place, if it was restored to it's fullness. She sighed, she better get going, she had spent five minutes too long in this place and she had a plane to catch. She got back into the car and Luca started the engine. She leaned back in her seat and watched the glory of Tuscany fly by.

Clive was doing well over forty miles per hour in his car, it was near dangerous considering the roads were narrow and not all of them tarmacked, he had to get to Dawn before she left, there were things he needed to say. He revved up to fifty and suddenly he could hear clogging in the back, he instantly knew his tyre had ruptured. He slammed his hands against the steering wheel and cursed himself. He got out and went to the boot, he better have a spare otherwise he knew, he wasn't going to make it. As he lifted the boot, there was a spare but as he looked at the back wheels, an awful realisation came to mind... both tyres were out. He withdrew his mobile phone from his pocket and dialled a number.

Dawn hated goodbyes, she absolutely hated them. Instead she opted to hug Luca and thank him. He stood like a block and handed her, her hand luggage and bid her a good trip in Italian. She waved goodbye as she started for check-in. Ten minutes later, she was making her way to the boarding gate, she didn't know what to expect, as if he would be charging up to see her but there was no one and that filled her with sadness, they hadn't said goodbye because she hadn't a chance to and her heart sank. The story of her life, what did she expect, the Duke to be in love with her, that only happens in fairy tales and she ridiculed herself for thinking such crazy naive things. She walked through the metallic worm and onto the plane where she was greeted by a line of bevy Italian stewardesses which made her even more depressed. She took her seat and closed her eyes.

12 June 2009

The Tuscan Trap: Part VII

"Oh my god," it barely came out as a whisper but Clive heard it all the same, "It's been staring at me all this time... you're the Duke of Tuscany... you're literally royalty," Dawn said, hugging herself.

"Now now, calm down Dawn... just because..." Clive began before he was interrupted by Dawn.

"You're a Duke... what do you plan to do with the property...?" Dawn said.

"Listen..." Clive said.

"What is Hiller going to say? I ought to be bowing to you... I should be doing a curtsy... no, I really ought to be..."

Clive stepped forward and kissed her, shaking all hysterical behaviour out of her system. Her lips were soft like sunflower petals and he could feel her mould into him making him hard. He could hear her murmuring or was she moaning, he couldn't determine the sound but she was definitely putty in his hands. She was the first to draw away, touching her hand but her eyes never leaving his.

"Why did you do that?" Dawn said.

"Because I've been wanting to... but I thought this was a better time then ever... and to stop you from all the crazy things you were saying," Clive said.

"Crazy things, they are true and you are a Duke..." Dawn said, the realisation dying on her lips.

"So what if I am..." Clive said.

"But the ball's in your court, you decide whether we build this gigantic complex in Italy..." Dawn said.

Clive was silent, he loved this place. He love the solitude, the peacefulness, this was his home and this was place he went to, to escape the craziness of Hollywood. Could he really have a corporate company build on the land that belonged to his great great grandfather... could he demoralise his heritage, that was his. His word against a multi-million company. He didn't have it in him, he couldn't. This was his home and he couldn't do it.

"Oh my god! You've made your decision, haven't you? You don't want to go through with it!" Dawn said systematically, "And, there's no way of changing your mind."

Clive sat down and stared at the photograph on his laptop, he stared at it, "I can't do this... I can't allow this capitalist craziness to invade what I love so much... this is the place in which I grew up, I can't have some modern piece of architecture ruin what has become the heart for many people in Italy..."

"Just think about the jobs that could be created, the opportunities..." Dawn began.

"I know it would be great, but I love the landscape too much to compromise that." Clive said.

"So, that's it?" Dawn said.

"Yes," Clive looked at her intently.

"Okay, I better get on the phone to Hiller then, if you'd excuse me," Dawn said as she was making her way out.

"Dawn, please understand..." Clive begged.

She smiled briefly and disappeared.

Clive didn't see her for the rest of the evening. He'd wanted to talk to her but he didn't want to press her. When he woke up the next day, he ventured downstairs to the kitchen to find his mother Stefany looking through old photos. She looked up and greeted him good morning. He took a seat next to her.

"What are you looking at?" he asked her, taking a few photographs to hand.

"These are photos of your great great grandfather, the Duke," Stefany said in Italian, "I can't remember spending much time with him, he was a very busy man but there was this one occasion when we went to a state visit at one of the halls and I was a little girl with my father and he introduced me to the whole assembly hall. Your great great grandfather was loved by so many people, it devastated my father when he died..."

"Do you remember anything more about him?" Clive asked, "About the Duke?"

"Yes, he believed that Love is not blind, it sees more not less; but because it sees more it chooses to see less," Stefany said.

"What does that mean?" Clive asked.

"Well, he said... they should know," Stefany said and she stood up.

Clive pondered the meaning and then he asked, "Mama, can you tell me anymore about his wife, my great great grandmother, do you know what she was like?"

"Yes, she was a modest woman, she was not born to privilege, she was fierce and what was important to her, to her life was love. When she had love, she had everything, all the money, the title, were bonuses but the big prize was love."

"How did they meet? Do you remember?" Clive asked.

Stefany thought for a long time, "They met in the sunflowers. I remember her talking a lot about the sunflowers, I thought it was a story, a fairytale but now I realise perhaps it was more real then I thought. She spoke about a woman picking a bunch of sunflowers every day for the vase that stood in the great hall in this big palace because it brought a sense of homeliness to the place and one morning, she was picking the best she could find and when she was reaching to cut from the root, in the soil when she rose up, she saw a man upon a horse in the distant. He had just appeared out of nowhere and was staring back at her, as if she was implanted within a picture and that's all I could remember of it. I was such a little girl, my memory of it is very old now."

"Where is Dawn?" Clive asked suddenly.

"She left this morning," Stefany said.

08 June 2009

The Tuscan Trap: Part VI

Clive woke up, his neck and back felt stiff as an ironing board. He rubbed at his eyes, as he gazed at the time. It was late into the evening and Dawn was still asleep in bed. He walked silently away and down the stairs where he was met by his mother.

"How is she?" she asked in Italian towards Clive who was still waking up.

"Still asleep," Clive replied in Italian as he yawned.

"What happened out there Clive?" Stefany asked, rubbing her hands on her apron.

"I don't know... I wasn't there... not when she ran off,"

"Why would she run off?" Stefany quizzed

Clive was silent, he didn't speak which made Stefany curious about the peculiar behaviour of her son. She watched him cautiously, he looked tired and though he had, had some sleep, his eyes were blood shot red. She decided to let it go and headed towards her quarters.

Clive walked over to the kitchen and put on the radio, he took out the food and heated it on the stove. There was freshly baked bread that was still warm and he simmered the soup and reheated the pasta with sauce. He switched off the stove and went to the living room to retrieve his laptop and headed back into the kitchen, setting the laptop on the table, he joined the Internet highway. He was suddenly curious about Duke Lorenzo and typed his name into google and over three thousand sites came up recognising his name. Clive stood up and went to serve the soup into a bowl and cut the bread and as he set it down next to him, something on his laptop screen caught his eye. It was a picture.

He clicked on the link and the picture zoomed up front and his mouth literally fell open. He had to shut his eyes and gaze back at the photo. He stood up and ran upstairs.

Dawn could hear the sound of footsteps fly past her bedroom door. She sat up in bed, cold. She grabbed a shawl on the chair beside her and wrapped it around her and slowly made her way towards her bedroom door. As she opened the door, the house was eerily quiet, she slowly made her way downstairs towards the scent of the kitchen and when she got there, there was a bowl of soup and bread on a platter next to a laptop. Her stomach growled, whoever was here wasn't here any longer and she sat down and took a spoon and ladled it into her soup and as she was about to take a sip, her eyes caught the photo on the screen and the caption at the bottom, she lowered the spoon down and breathed in and slowly out. Dawn could hear footsteps and as she looked up, Clive was standing in front of her... with the truth written in his eyes.

The Tuscan Trap: Part V

Dawn woke up with a stonking headache. She couldn't begin to remember how many bottles of wine she had drank last night with Clive, nor how she had gotten in this state of undress. She looked down to see she was wearing a black negligee. Had Clive undressed her? She tried to back track but she couldn't honestly remember. What she did remember was biting into her steak and remembering how good it tasted. Oh boy! She was about to get up, when the door opened and Dawn quickly wound the duvet around her, thankfully it was only Stefany with a tray of breakfast and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.

"La mancanza di buongiorno, spera che abbiate dormito bene, aaah I forgot you no speak Italian," Stefany said, "Good Morning Dawn, you sleep well?" she said in her strong Italian accent.

Dawn touched her head, "I feel like death warmed up,"

"Not to worry, you eat and take it easy today..." Stefany said as she laid the breakfast in front of Dawn on a breakfast bed table.

Dawn looked at the breakfast and realised how hungry she was, "Thank you so much."

"You eat, eat very well," Stefany said and as she made her way out

Dawn quickly said, "Stefany, please forgive me for sounding like this... but who put me to bed?"

"I did, now eat."

Dawn sighed and started to eat.

After she emerged from breakfast in her bedroom, she showered and dressed in a floral dress that reached below her knee. She swept her hair up in a ponytail and put on a pair of flip flops, she skipped down the stairs only to have tango music evade her ears. She paused at the foot of the steps, only to see Luca dancing the tango with Stefany. She walked slowly towards the living room and stood by the door frame. She smiled at them dancing and could see the passion written all over their faces. Both Luca and Stefany danced and when he spun her around, she jumped as if she were a staccato note. She sighed and somehow that broke them from their trance.

"Dawn, you must try the dance of lovers," Stefany said, ushering her over and as she made her way and stood in front of Luca, she realised she was at least four inches taller then he was.

"I don't think this could work," she said smiling at Luca.

"Si, si... you dance with my boy Clive... Clive," she yelled and suddenly Clive was walking into the room, wearing glasses, a book in the hand and he was wearing khaki slacks and a look shirt rolled up to his arms, "Sì mummia?"

"You must show Dawn the dance of lovers... Luca is too little for her," Stefany said and watched Clive put down the book he was reading and stood in front of Dawn. He laid his palm in the small of her back and shifted her closer towards him and as he threaded his fingers through to hers. Stefany put the music on and stood back.

"Allow me to guide you and let the music caress you," Clive said, his eyes firmly ahead.

"Caress me, how do I...?" Dawn said confused.

"Here we go..." Clive said moving Dawn backwards.

"Ooops sorry," Dawn said as she threaded on his right foot by accident, "Are we meant to be this close?"

"Any closer and I'll be making you come," Clive said. He felt her tense up against him, "... with the music," he finished.

He felt her slightly relax and they both hadn't realised the music had stopped playing. Dawn withdrew from his embrace and took a step back, she dusted herself off as if she had been caught playing in the dirt with him.

"Excuse me... I ah... I think I need to get some air before I start some work," she said and disappeared out of the room.

Clive looked at her fleetingly and then something in him, decided to follow her out.

As soon as Dawn was out of the house, she ran as far as her feet could take her and God knows where she was now. She wasn't supposed to leave the house, she only wanted some air but something in side her was terrified of what could be. She ran as hard and as fast as she could and found herself in an orchard of sunflowers... as she walked through it, she could see something glistening beyond her and as she approached, she realised it was a massive lake. Something was pulling her to this lake, she didn't know what it was but she thought it was beautiful. She had seen some of Amelia's paintings of Tuscany that reflected the scenery and she can vaguely remember one of them being a sea of sunflowers. She was to meet Amelia at some point but hadn't got any word from her, she was probably still vacationing with her boyfriend Rob Blake. Dawn had reached a gigantic lake, wide in diameter. Dawn took off a flip flop and dipped her toe in the water, it was warm. She took off her other flip flop and sunk her foot in, she was plodding along into the water, when she took the next step, she slipped forward and suddenly, she couldn't feel the bottom. Even though she had taken lessons in swimming when she was younger, she was completely at loss when it came to floating. She told herself not to panic, but she was panicking. She screamed help, as she went underwater, her vision cloudy and was flicking her feet back and forth for dear life and managed to make the surface of the water before she was brought down again.

Clive was outside and scanning the parameters of the villa. She was no where in sight. She couldn't have gone far and then something alerted him to screaming, he saw small foot prints in the dirt and they led to the sunflowers. Shit, he thought, she was in the maelstrom. He suddenly realised his feet having a mind of their own, he running towards her and to the vortex of water.

Dawn's chest felt tight and her breathing was lapsing. She kept screaming but no one was coming. There was some unknown force pulling her down and she didn't know what it was. Her feet were fiercely kicking so, she could reach the surface but she was finding it hard to breathe, she went down.

Clive got to the maelstrom and saw the remnants of Dawn's footwear by the side. He dived into the water head first and straight ahead of him, could see her hand, he made a grab for it.

Dawn felt someones hand grab hers and pull her out of the ferocity circling her. She suddenly felt sleepy but was awoken by the sounds of someone calling out to her.

Clive swam back and when he reached dry land, he brought Dawn into his arms. She was drowsy. He felt for a pulse and it was weak, she must be in a state of shock and the air she was taking it was probably having an effect on her, he knew only too well. He stood up and carried her in his arms, back to the house.

"La mummia, Luca, viene rapidamente!" Clive shouted as he approached the house. Stefany and Luca rushed out of the house.

Stefany was shocked asking what happened and Clive explained that Dawn was caught up in the maelstrom. He carried Dawn into the house and up the stairs to her bedroom. She instructed the men to grab extra blankets and undressed Dawn from her wet clothes, to clean warm ones. She told Clive to call the doctor and he went downstairs to make the call.

The doctor closed the door behind him to a waiting Luca, Stefany and Clive. In the doctor's thick Italian accent, he conveyed to them that he had given Dawn a sedative to sleep as she was in shock and she needed a rest. Otherwise she was fine, but had ordered Stefany that she was to be relieved of her work for a couple of days, until she was back to normal. Stefany and Luca walked the doctor out whilst Clive tiptoed into Dawn's room. She was a small thing, curled up in bed amidst two layers of thick duvets. She was uttering in her sleep and he took a seat next to her, he watched her sleep and eventually fatigue taking over him, fell asleep next to her on the chair.

The Tuscan Trap: Part IV

"And what exactly are we looking for?" Clive said exasperated, leaning over Dawn who was seated on the table.

"Confirmation," Dawn said, slipping on her glasses, "I just want to be sure before we continue with this project."

He took a seat next to her and watched her put on velvet gloves and turn the page. He watched her for ten intense minutes when she yelped, "Bingo!"

He sat up puzzled, "What exactly did you find?"

"We can't do anything to this building... and you know why? Because it's not an abandoned hospital it was a stately home, it was a museum before it was made into a hospital. It's a stately home, it belonged to a Duke. We can not buy this building until we have consulted the heir or descendent or bloodline of this Duke, but they haven't mentioned the name of this Duke."

Dawn stood up and walked towards another bookcase, she peered at the volumes stacked up and took out a fairly dusty book. On the spine of the book, Clive could see Royals, Dukes and Fine Society of Europe emblazoned across it. She laid it down on the table and went straight for the index. Her eyes found a match and she went for the middle of the book.

"His name is Demarion Lorenzo, Duke of Tuscany," Dawn revelled.

"Lorenzo," Clive uttered.

"Yeah, it says here that he married not of blue blood but he married for love and was not allowed to take residence in the palace but he convened in the family home where our supposed hospital is. He married a maid, her name isn't included."

"So what does this mean then?" Clive said.

"This means that we can't take ownership of this property unless we get sole permission from the heir or descendent of the Lorenzo bloodline and it says in the decree that the permission must be sought from a male heir, bloody hell... there could be a million Lorenzo's in Italy, let alone the world. I've gotta call Hiller and tell him it's impossible."

"Impossible... not necessarily, if we can get a census reading and see..." Clive said and Dawn practically jumped up and kissed him on the cheek.

"Good thinking Batman!" and she ran to the front desk.

They were past Library hours, searching decades upon decades of past census's.

Dawn's stomach growled.

"I think you need, I think we need a bite to eat. We can come back tomorrow and investigate more. Come on, let's go."

Dawn handed back the velvet gloves back to the librarian and her and Clive made their way back to the car. As he pulled out of the parking lot and onto the road, he surveyed her from the corner of his eye.

"Does the mind of yours ever stop turning?"

"As a matter of fact it does, when I'm asleep..." Dawn replied as her hands covered her stomach, the growl this time much louder.

"What do you fancy to eat?" Clive asked.

"Something big, I could do with a steak and chips." Dawn said.

"Sounds good to me, I have a great place you'd like, it shouldn't be too long now."

"Great!" Dawn said with more enthusiam.

They both arrived at a beautifully lit Bistro and as they were led outside on the terrace, the sun was setting and Dawn looked at the menu that was handed to her. Clive ordered the finest wine in Italian. Dawn went ahead and ordered a steak and chips and everything possible on the side and Clive ordered the same. As they waited for their meals, conversation was slightly stifled. Dawn drank her wine, as if she were drinking water and the feeling made her feel mellow.

"So, how long have you been with the company?" Clive asked as an opener.

"Two years, I've only been employed as an assistant to the project manager but suddenly, I am an overseas projector manager, so god knows what they saw to make me get here."

"Must be hard work and long hours," Clive said.

"Yeah and I'm sure my colleagues, must have thought I'd slept with the boss to get this job... but of course, I didn't... I'm sooo not that type of woman," Dawn said, drinking more wine.

"I dare say, that was far from my mind." Clive said.

"So, what do you do when you're not normally showing people around?" Dawn sipped her wine.

"I act," Clive said simply.

Dawn sputtered and a few drops hit the bread on the table in front of her, she grabbed her serviette and wiped her mouth, clearing her throat she said, "You act? In what exactly?"

"Y'know a few movies here and there," Clive said.

"Like?" Dawn said.

"Sin City, Derailed, Gosford Park," Clive named a few and took a drink of his wine.

"Oh... right... okay... so no films in the pipeline?"

"No, I wanted to take a break, come back to see mum and well... there is always a part of me that longs to be here more often, it's as if my roots are here..."

"What was growing up like for you here?" Dawn asked curiously.

"It was interesting, because I was not quite Italian... I had the completion of the Western world, certainly got the girls and the guys, well they were my friends... it really worked out in my favor, but there is definitely something here that draws me back time and time again."

"Do you know what it is?" Dawn asked.

"See that's the weird thing... I don't quite know. It's bizarre, when we stepped into the property... I felt trapped but trapped in the most awe-inspiring way."

"Maybe what you felt has something to do with this Duke... maybe you're a descendent or you're the heir..." Dawn said before she was interruped.

"Or maybe, you're a bit tipsy and you're bonkers..." Clive smiled.

"I'll let you off with that remark..." Dawn said and she beamed even more when their food arrived.

05 June 2009

The Tuscan Trap: Part III

Clive pulled the convertible right in front of the property. It was an abandoned WWII site where they housed the injured and it had been left to rot in it's state for quite some time. He watched as Dawn climbed out of the convertible and glanced at the towering decapitated structure. He watched as she looked at it, as if she was seeing something completely different. She grabbed the hard hat on the back seat, putting it on she strode over to the structure and through the front entrance. Clive followed on slow feet, as he put the hard hat on. She was ahead of him by twenty feet and she had already climbed the rotting staircase, surprised that she wasn't hurt in any way by it.

"What are you thinking?" he asked her curiously.

"Nothing in particular..." she said as she reached the first floor, she made her way around the man holes in the floor to the other side and she crouched down, wiping the dust away on what looked like a pane of glass to reveal old photographs, "Wow."

Clive crouched down beside her and realised she had discovered an artifact, "Can I have a look at this?"

"Be my guest," she said as she passed it over to him. She stood up and turned around, surveying the space of the floor, "Right, is there a library or a place where they stored old archives of old buildings here?"

"Yes, there is the library a few miles away but the central place is in Milan."

"Good, could you drive me to the library now please," Dawn said, not waiting for an answer as she strode off down the stairs.

Clive looked at her baffled, why would she need the library when all the information of this place was already allocated to her.

01 June 2009

The Tuscan Trap: Part II

The flight had turned out to be an uncomfortable one but thankfully it wasn't a long haul flight and she would be arriving in Italy in the next five minutes. Dawn couldn't wait to get off the plane and into open space. She had read in some of the tour guides that Tuscany was famous for it's sunflowers as well as having some of the most beautiful views in Italy. She hoped she was in a more desirable mood when she hopped off the plane, but right now she was not.

As the plane came to an abrupt halt on the tarmac, Dawn gathered her things and shoved past the guy, she could be seen as being immature, but she didn't care. He sighed, perhaps out of frustration on Dawn's part but she was not going to take the blame for being polite and proper and so what if he was a gorgeous man... he was arrogant and completely what she hadn't expected. When she collected her luggage from the luggage reel and into the small arrivals area, she instantly saw her driver, he was holding up her surname 'Taylor' on a laminated board. He was dressed up in khaki pants and a bright blue shirt.

"Bonjourno," Dawn said in a quaky Essex accent, she'd have to work on her accent.

"Bonjourno Ms Taylor," the man said as he grabbed her wheelie suitcases, "If you like to follow me, I will bring us to my car," he said in a strong Italian accent, "I am to bring you to your villa in Tuscany where you will rest for a while, there you will meet a guide that will help you with the surrounding area... you can call be Luca. I will be your driver."

"Thank you," Dawn said.
The journey from the airport to the villa was an hour and so, Dawn wasn't really taking any notice of the time, she was too busy appreciating the scenery. The rolling hills and the greenery were so breath-taking, it was as if she were looking into a postcard. Which reminded her, she'd have to send some postcards out, so what if this was work, she didn't want to lose contact with her friends. She did have one friend who was residing in the next town, Amelia. She was a painter and was busy working on her second exhibition. In the distance, Dawn could see the villa she would be staying in, it was gigantic. Her mouth dropped open, it was exquisite and with the background set within a postcard, she had no complaints. She was aching for a shower and a nap and without a doubt she would go for a bit of exploration.

Luca pulled up into dusty drive way and he opened the door for Dawn, she got out of the car and her mouth was still wide open, she closed it shut, still amazed that she would be staying here.

"Is this really where I'll be staying?" Dawn asked
"Yes, of course..." Luca said, hauling out her bags and bringing them inside.

Dawn followed him and she was led into a beautiful open hall way with a dusky pink chandelier hanging overhead. There was a staircase leading upstairs on the right hand side, like a spiral and Dawn could smell pizza or something Italian baking. Out of nowhere, a stocky woman came out in a creamy apron and introduced herself as Stefany, the house keeper and cook and she introduced her husband too, Frederico. After introductions were said, Dawn was shown to her room. It was a massive room with a large balcony at the very back, overlooking the vast scenery. Her queen sized bed was luxuriously as well as inviting and she had her own en suite bathroom with chrome fittings. This was bliss. She went to unpack her clothes and proceeded to take a shower.

It was some time later when she emerged from her nap, she made her way down the spiral staircase and into the living room and through the double windows could see the sun setting, leaving a musky hue on all the furnishings. The room was filled with such beautiful furniture, she just wanted someone to pinch her, because this felt fit for a princess... she turned towards the kitchen and as she approached the steps down, hadn't seen the bags laid by the door, nor the bag strap, as her foot got caught into the strap, she felt herself motion in the air towards two figures sitting at the table. Oh no, her first day in Tuscany and she was already being a clumsy foo. She didn't want to break her neck already, nor could she afford to. Luckily, she felt the hold of two strong arms around her and as she grabbed her hero's neck and found her feet, she looked at to see her hero... and her heart sank. She pushed him away and with terror as well as suffused anger she bit back,

"What the hell are you doing here?"

Ignoring her question, he sighed and looked at her, "A thank you would be nice, I just saved your life, or perhaps saved you from sustaining a broken neck, with a greeting like that, would you have liked me to have stayed seated and have you fall?" His sarcasm was caught on by Stefany who was stuttering at the table.

"Clive, must you not be sarcastic to our guest."

Dawn looked from Stefany to the gentleman and back again... there was a slight resemblance and she had a sinking feeling, they could be related. Stefany got up from the table and introduced the man standing in front of Dawn as her son.

"Your son? But... but..." Dawn said, suddenly shutting her mouth.

"He will be your tour guide whilst you are here..." Stefany said.

"Tour guide? I was expecting someone to be Italian..." Dawn muttered.

"Si, si... my son is but from my previous marriage to his father who was English... he look more like his father then me," Stefany volunteered, "But Clive is better tour guide, he grew up here more then now, he show you everything you have to see or you want to see."

He held out his hand, "Clive Owen and you must be Dawn Taylor...benvenuto alla bella città della Toscana... or in lame man's terms, welcome to the beautiful town of Tuscany."