Art Trip

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  No Houses

Chapter 20 (v.1) - Chapter 20

Submitted: February 03, 2018

Reads: 211

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Submitted: February 03, 2018

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Maggie drifted in out of sleep to the sound of the bells from The Duomo calling the faithful to Sunday Mass. She opened one eye and could just make out the blurred shape of the number eight on the digital alarm clock. In her head she was thinking, oh good only seven o’clock UK time.

There was nothing planned for today so hopefully her and Richard could start their ‘homework’ that Giovanni had set them and explore some of the city. Yesterday had been an incredibly busy day, however, she felt she had made a friend in Sophia which would great because, if her and Richard ever came back to Florence she’d have a girlfriend to hang about with and go shopping.

She picked up the alarm clock and held it millimetres from her nose, eight-thirty. She placed it back on the bedside cabinet and flopped back onto her pillow. If this was Chelsea, Maggie would quite happily grab a coffee and a book and spend all day in bed reading. But this was Florence and it was a beautiful day and she was going to force herself to get up.

Maggie got out of bed and wrapped her hotel bathroom robe around her. She put on her glasses and made herself a cup of coffee, then pulled back the curtains and unlocked her patio doors.

There side of the hotel was west facing so the balcony was still in shadow. The air outside was still fresh from the night-time. Maggie moved onto the balcony and tip-toed over to Richard side where the bistro table set stood.

Maggie quietly moved one of the chairs and sat with her feet up on the other chair. From where she sat she could see through the bars of the railings to the street below. The church bells had stopped ringing allowing her to hear the two-elderly gentleman outside the café discussing whatever they were reading in their morning paper.

Then a woman about her age came out from the bakers looking as if she came straight off a catwalk. The Italians oozed style, thought Maggie as she saw the woman walking in heels through a cobble street while doing the shopping.

Bored with looking down on to the street, she wondered if Richard was up.

Richard was not up but awake, he’d been for the past two hours. Just lying in bed staring at the sapphire mesmerized by its many shades of blue. They were going to spend the whole day together. A whole day of potential opportunities to place this ring on Maggie’s finger.

He looked over to his window, through the curtains he could see the silhouette of Maggie and he was having voyeuristic thoughts of himself with her shapely figure. He closed the lid to the little box and placed it in his drawer. He then got up put on his bathroom robe and joined her outside.

The swish of Richards patio door made her jump, then she smiled to see this unshaven bedhead walk through. “Morning, I didn’t wake you, did I?” she said as lifted her legs off the chair to allow him to sit. That’s when Richard caught a glimpse of her white pants.
“No, I have been awake for some time. How did you sleep?” he asked
“I must have zonked out as soon as my head hit the pillow, what about you?”
“Like a baby,” he lied. In fact, he sat up for an hour after Sophia dropped them off thinking things through. If Maggie accepted his proposal the next stage would be the wedding. He didn’t want to give her a cheap wedding but at the same time neither of them had much spare cash. Everything they both had was tired up in the shop. Normally the father of the bride makes a contribution but Maggie’s father was killed when she was a teenager in a car accident.

“You alright babe?” Maggie was looking concerned. “You got that vacant look about you again. Food not agreeing with you?”
Richard came back and smiled, “No, I’m OK just tired I suppose. Busy day yesterday.” Then changing the subject, he said to her. “So, what do you want to do this morning?”
Maggie was again looking at the café across the street. Now pointing she said, “I’d like to start off there.”

Maggie was almost ready to go out, she just needed to fine a plastic bag. She eventually found one tucked away in her suitcase compartment. Then she took some of the courtesy hotel stationary and wrote a note simply saying: ‘Grazie Mille’ and slipped it between the folded jeans.

Richard, knocked on the dividing door and they went down to the receptionist. “Scusa” said Maggie.
The female receptionist turned to face her.
With a smile that was fresh as a daisy she replied, “Si, Signorina.”
Maggie had run out of Italian for the next part so, continued in English,
“When Signorina Rossi comes to the hotel, could you please give this to her?”
The receptionist took the bag and could see it was clearly labelled for Sophia attention.
“Si, Signorina Rossi come today?”
“No,” said Maggie, “But when she does come could you give her that bag.”
“Scusa?”
Maggie turned to Richard, “This whole conversation is getting lost in translation.”
Hearing the confusion from within he’s office, Henri the French hotel manager came out and explained in fluent Italian what Maggie was asking the receptionist to do.
“Ah! Si, Si.” The euro had finally dropped.

Maggie was wearing one of her floral dresses with her white ballet pumps today and Richard wore his cream chinos, brown deck shoes and white shirt, opened at the neck and tucked in his waistband. The café where Maggie expressed a desire to start their day, was in the middle of a quiet spell. She sat at one of the tables outside and picked up and Italian Sunday paper that was obviously the café owners left there for his customers to read.

Richard went into the café to get them both a baguette and coffee. The café owner looked up from behind the counter, “Buongiorno come stai”
Richard was itching to try some of his phrases, “Buongiorno sto bene”
Thankfully for Richard the café owner didn’t launch into full Italian, but switched to English when he heard Richards poor accent.
“How may I help you today sir.” Said the café owner.
“Two coffee’s and two salami and cheese baguettes, please.”
The café owner showed Richard a choice of salami and cheese. Totally bewildered by the range he was offered he asked the owner to choose for them. “Ah! the chef’s choice” said the owner, which was one of the option on the menu.

While the coffees were being poured, Richard saw there was a wedding fare poster on the wall and it was being held today just outside the city. The owner seeing Richards interest, told him to take the poster with him. “You and the Signorina,” he pointed to Maggie sitting outside then to his own wedding band.
“Maybe.” Richard said tilting his hand back and forth.

Richard took the coffee’s outside and he saw that Maggie was engrossed in the newspaper.
“Do you really understand that?” he asked
“It’s not that difficult if you know Latin” she said
“Which I suppose you do”
“Well, you pick up bits in the antique trade don’t you.”

Richard stood behind her stoking her hair, “So what does that say?” he said pointing to a news article.
“That’s a corruption story about a leading police officer.”
“And that one?” asked Richard
“That’s a court case about a Mafia Godfather.”
“That one?”
“That’s about an English tourist who got murdered by his girlfriend because he kept asking her stupid question and didn’t give her a kiss.”

Maggie let the newspaper drop to her lap and held her head up puckering her lips towards him. Richard bent down to plant his lips against hers. Just at that moment the café owner came out with their baguettes and both Maggie and Richard felt a little coy.
“Uomo Fortunato” said the owner
“Si” she replied, Maggie was now beginning to understand some Italian.
Richard sat next to her, “What did he say?”
She placed her index finger on his lips, “He said you were a lucky man.” 

Has they sat and had their lunch, Richard showed Maggie the poster. She looked surprised, wiped her hands and took it from him.
“I thought you might like to go to this.” He said.
Maggie looked puzzled, what was he planning? Did it have anything to do with Giovanni speaking to him privately last night before they left? “Why would I want to go there?” she said in a deliberate slow manner.

Oh Hell, thought Richard. Maggie is on to him. It was a bit stupid to act totally out of character and show her the wedding fare poster. He had to think fast.
“Well, Giovanni said to explore his city, think outside the box. Don’t use tour guides.”
She wasn’t totally convinced, but it did look like a nice setting and it was a kind of romantic thing to do.
“OK” she said at last, “But no surprises.” That Richard couldn’t promise.

The taxi driver dropped them off at the wedding fare and gave them a business card with his number to phone when ready to leave. Fattoria Di Maiano looked like an English stately home set in acres of well-manicured green lawns with the now very familiar Cypress trees dotted here and there.

The grounds were filled with marques displaying all the services that are required to make the big day go without a hitch. Now Maggie was here she wanted to go and see everything. Richard on the other hand became instantly bored as soon as they left the taxi. Patting his pocket to check the ring was still safe, his main objective was to propose to Maggie. As soon as that objective was complete the sooner they could leave.

The first marque Maggie went in was full of wedding cake bakers. Each stand was handing out free samples which she intended to eat. Richard on the other hand was beginning to feel anxious, his heart rate was increasing and his mouth was beginning to dry up.
“Hey Richard, you have got to try this cake, it’s gorgeous.”
Trying to act normal he went over to Maggie and joined her in partaking the samples. He was having a hard time trying to swallow fruit cake with a dry throat.

After Maggie had stuffed herself with wedding cake, they moved on to see the cars. Everything from Alfa Romeo to Maserati. While Maggie was climbing in and out cars Richard was rapidly feeling unwell. His heart rate was thumping so much he could feel his eyeballs pulsate.

They left the cars and were walking pass a quintet when Richard started seeing stars before his eyes. He managed to cry out, “Maggie!” as he crashed into the music stands before passing out.

Richard soon came around. The paramedics took his pulse and asked if he wanted to go the hospital which he flatly refused. Maggie was sitting on the floor next to him cradling his head in her lap.
“I’m sorry I spoiled your afternoon. I don’t know what came over me.” He lied.
“Ssshhh!” Maggie stroked his hair, “You gave me a scare. Sophia is coming to take us back to the hotel.”
When Richard passed out, Maggie didn’t know who to turn to but the only person who helped her before.

By the time Sophia arrived Richard was up on his feet. Heart rate normal, dignity in tatters. The Paramedics put Richards condition down to lack of sleep, dehydration and maybe sun-stoke.

On seeing them both, Sophia ran over asking if Richard he was OK. He gave the same story as the Paramedics saying he was feeling fine. Then Sophia’s phone went off, she answered the call. After a brief conversation she said, “That was Papa asking if you were OK.” Then the phone rang again. This time she spoke in English. “Yes, he says he is OK, would you like to speak to him?” Sophia handed Richard the phone. It was Mr van Klerk.
“I’m fine Mr van Klerk, still looking forward to tomorrow. Yes, thank you. Bye.” Richard gave the phone back to Sophia expecting it to ring again.

When they arrived back at the hotel, the receptionist was keen to hand over the bag Maggie gave her. Although she was now confusion because Maggie was with Sophia so why didn’t Maggie just give it to her, herself.

The two women held each of Richards arms as they got him out of the lift and to his hotel door.
“I can’t thank you enough Sophia.” Said Maggie
“Hey! I’m glad you felt you could phone me. If you want anything just call I don’t live far from here.”
Maggie thanked her again. Sophia waved to them both as she went downstairs, “Ciao.”
“Ciao” Maggie replied.

Richard took a hot shower thinking what a fool he made of himself. A perfect setting and he blew it. Now he’s got Maggie worried as well as half of Tuscany. He dried himself put on a clean pair of boxer shorts, and t-shirt before wrapping his bathroom robe around himself.

Maggie had phoned down for a dinner for two and she was sitting at their bistro table when Richard came through. Tonight, on the table were lit two red candles. Richard sat next to Maggie as they waited for room service.

Maggie got up and went behind Richard, massaging his shoulders. “I know what you were trying to do this afternoon?”
“You do?” said Richard, had Maggie seen the ring?
Still rubbing his shoulders she bent down to whisper in his ear.
“You took me to the wedding fare to get me filling all matrimonial.”
“Did I?”
Maggie now whispers in his other ear.
“Naughty Richard wanted to have his wicked way with his Maggie, but whatever you were up to failed because of your nerves.”
Relived that Maggie was making her own assumptions, her decided to play along with her.
“Ah! You found me out. I’ll have to try harder next time. Nothing goes unnoticed with Maggie.


She was running her hands inside his bathroom robe and down the front of his t-shirt.
“You have had a stressful afternoon babe. After dinner I want you to sit back and relax. Nurse Harris is on the night-shift.


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