Art Trip

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  No Houses

Chapter 18 (v.1) - Chapter 18

Submitted: February 02, 2018

Reads: 311

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 02, 2018



Maggie came out of the shower and stood in front of the bathroom mirror, brushing her hair this way and that. She took the brave decision a few months ago to have her hair cut short off her shoulders to now just above her jaw line.

She brushed her hair forward. No that made her look like a boy. Then she made a parting, sweeping it down across her forehead. Defiantly no, she now resembled the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitter and considering the relationship he had with the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, she thought best to just finger in some hair gel and do her normal crunched spiky look. It was a cross between Zoe Wanamaker’s hair in Harry Potter and Sharleen Spiteri.

Her afternoon on the balcony paid dividends, her face, arms and legs were not ghostly white anymore but had a nice reddish tint which hopefully with a bit more exposure would soon start turning a healthy light brown colour. Maggie rummaged in her make-up bag for the right colour foundation and highlighter. She didn’t want to cover up what tan she was getting, but emphasis it. After applying her eyeliner she went to her wardrobe to choose her dress.

This was a dinner party they were going to, so formal but stylish. Maggie slides along the rail all her floral dresses and settled for her black short sleeve dress that came just above the knee. Once she was dressed Maggie checked herself out in her full-length mirror turning this way and that. It still needed something. She went to her drawer and fished out her brown silk scarf. She put on her black high heel shoes and was ready to go.

Although she was grateful for the hospitality extended to her and Richard by Signor Rossi, She still wished it was just those two tonight having a romantic meal along the banks of the Arno. However, she had to keep reminding herself this was not a holiday but an all-expenses paid business trip and despite it being a Saturday night, her and Richard were going to a business meeting, Italian style.

There was a knock on the dividing door, “It’s open.” She called out knowing it was Richard on the other side. Richard opened the door and was standing there in his dinner suit complete with bow tie. Maggie couldn’t help but be proud of him, she went over and brushed his shoulder the way all women do when they see their man dressed up. “You look handsome tonight.”
“And you look divine.” He said returning the compliment.
“Divine do I?” said Maggie raising her eyebrows.
Richard breathed in deep her scent, “What perfume are you wearing?”
“Signorina, I thought it was appropriate.”
“The fragrance is spellbinding” Richard moved closer to Maggie enjoying her scent like a gardener enjoying the blooms. Maggie too caught his Colonia Eau de Cologne, she placed her hand on his chest cursing that she had already applied her lipstick.

The internal phone rang in Maggie’s bedroom; it was the receptionist saying that Signor Rossi’s driver was here. Maggie looked at her wrist watch it was 7.30pm, she grabbed her handbag and pulled Richards arm, “Come on Roberto’s here.”

Roberto was waiting for them in the Romero and seeing them emerge from the hotel he got out and pulled back the seats for them. He was dressed more casually this time wearing a white opened necked shirt which was tucked into his black chinos.

The drive to the Rossi family villa was only forty-five minutes outside Florence and Roberto made good time as he drove at speed along the winding Tuscan roads. Maggie became a little unnerved as Roberto drove to near the edges sending rocks and stones to the valley below, she gripped Richards hand and he held on hoping to reassure her that Roberto was obviously use to driving these roads. Maggie’s concern for his driving didn’t improve much when she saw a crashed Fiat buried in a bush up ahead. Soon to her relief they arrived at the villa.

Roberto did his chauffer bit by again extending his hand to allow them to exit the car. Maggie was too shaken to have any carnal thoughts about Roberto this time.

The view from the villa overlooking the Tuscan countryside was incredible. Cypress trees were dotted the across the landscape looking like an army of giants advancing towards them. Trees and fields were represented in all the green hues and high above in the cloudless sky there was still enough strength left in the sun, with the temperature at a comfortable 23C, as it slowly descended towards the western horizon.

Maggie and Richard walked towards the villa, serenaded by a chorus of cicadas and were greeted at the door by Sophia. It was Richard’s turn to go goo-goo over an Italian. She looked different and more relaxed out of her British Airways uniform wearing her jeans and t-shirt. “Benvenuto.” She said with a large beaming smile. Maggie was delighted to see her again and greeted her like an old friend. “This is a surprise! You should have said you were going to be here, I would have brought your jeans back for you.”
“No hurry,” said Sophia. “Please come in.” She holding the door wide open for them.

The villa inside was cool and filled with sounds of Puccini and the smell of herbs. Sophia led them out through the back of the villa into the garden where a large table and been laid. They were going to be dining al fresco.

Giovanni saw Maggie and Richard arrive and left speaking to Ruud van Klerk. “Maggie, what a delight to meet you again.” He held her by the shoulders and kissed both of her cheeks. Then he turned to Richard and extended his hand. “You must be Richard; I have heard a lot of good things about you from Mr van Klerk.” Richard looked across towards his client; both men nodded their acknowledgment of each other. Maggie was introduced to Mr van Klerk and they were both introduced to Giovanni’s wife Maria. Maggie always thought Giovanni was either single or a widower and never considered him a family man. Maria shook Maggie and Richards hand before returning to the kitchen to oversee the catering staff.

The next half-hour was spent in light-hearted chit-chat and it was Maggie who told the story of her first encounter with chocolate buttons. She had now become the centre of attention with her stories and Richard was happy that Maggie was feeling relaxed. He patted his pocket to check the ring was still there. This was another setting that under different circumstances he could use. He knew Giovanni would bend over backwards to help him if need be, but this was a business dinner tonight and again not ideal to spring a proposal of marriage on Maggie.

The dinner gong rang out and Maria asked if everyone could take their place. Maggie and Richard sat together, Maria sat next to Richard and Ruud van Klerk sat next to Maria. Sophia sat opposite Maggie and Giovanni at the head of the table. There was, however, someone missing. Giovanni was looking displeased, “Dov’e?” he barked.
Maria looked to her husband trying to calm him, then from the villa came Roberto.
“Scusa sono in ritardo.” He said to everyone present and sat next to Sophia.

Maggie and Richard just looked at each other, not really upstanding what was going on. Sophia sensed their confusion saying, “Roberto is my twin brother. He is always late for meals” then with her hand towards her father so he could not see her mouth, “I think the English expression is, ‘it winds Papa up’.”
“Sophia!” Giovanni shouted. “Grazia.”
Sophia looked over at Maggie and Richard bringing her hands together in prayer.
“Papa is going to say grace.”
 Soon as Giovanni began to speak they all bowed their heads.

Once Giovanni concluded with, “Amen” Maria clapped her hands alerting the catering staff to start serving the first course. It was during this time that Sophia asked Maggie how did she get into antique book selling.
Maggie smiled at Sophia blank expression. “It was a TV show shown in the 80’s and 90’s. I was too young to see it the first time around but when I was ten-years old the BBC repeated the show. It was about a rather handsome antique dealer who found pieces for people. I had a crush on the actor at the time. When I left school I got a job in a bookshop and fell in love with reading. I soon became interested in old books and started going around the charity shops and car boot sales buying up old books thinking they were worth a lot of money. I wanted to become a female ‘Lovejoy’. One day I did find a valuable book. It was a first edition ‘First Men in the Moon by Jules Verne’ I took it to auction and made £250. That was a lot of money in the 90’s. After that I got the taste for searching out old books.”

Mr Ruud van Klerk was also listening, “Why did you join your business with Richard?”
“For financial reasons Mr van Klerk. All antique dealers were going through a hard time and it was either join forces or go under.” Van Klerk admired their business sense.

Roberto was on the other hand admiring Richard and had not taken his eye of him throughout Maggie’s conversation. Richard could feel something rubbing against his leg. Without looking he could tell it was not warm soft flesh of Maggie, but the course hard skin of a man.

Without warning Richard grabbed Maggie’s hand. She quickly turned to him and before she could ask what was wrong he kissed her full on the lips. She was still staring into space, open eyed and opened mouth when he announced to all gathered there, “And we love each other very much, don’t we darling?”

Even for Italians this sudden burst of affection was meted with agasp. Sophia squealed and clapped her hands while her brother just shrugged his shoulders.

© Copyright 2020 Markie Bee. All rights reserved.


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