Art Trip

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  No Houses

Chapter 25 (v.1) - Chapter 25

Submitted: February 10, 2018

Reads: 227

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Submitted: February 10, 2018

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It was Thursday morning and their last full day in Florence. Maggie asked Richard to spend the night with her; there was no point in being coy and reserved after their activities on the balcony from the previous night.

He stared up at the ceiling while Maggie was still asleep on his chest. Gently tousling her hair, he saw Maggie’s left hand resting limp on the bed. Her sapphire ring was now awake, alive as the light from the window shone upon it prompting the many hues of blue to dance upon its tiny golden stage.

Maggie began to stir; she opened one blurry eye and looked up into Richards’s face, “Morning” she said.
He kissed her on the cheek. “Morning beautiful”
Maggie stretched out to go on her back. It was Richard now who turned towards her resting his head on her chest. Maggie was still coming too when she felt his hand wander up the inside of her thigh. She quickly grabbed his hand and slapped it down on the bed.
“Just because you found your way into town, doesn’t mean you have to go shopping every day.”
Richard laughed, “You have a wonderful way with words.”
Maggie rubbed the sleep from her eyes, “I read a lot.”
Richard then tapped her gently on the thigh, “Come on, let’s get up and make the most of our last day.”

Breakfast was on Alfonso, once he saw Maggie’s engagement ring he went into overdrive by bringing out the best tablecloth with candles and playing on his ancient CD player Mario Lanza even though it was still only nine in the morning.

“You wouldn’t get this in Chelsea.” remarked Maggie.

There was no doubt in both their minds that they were going to miss Florence when their leave tomorrow. The warmth and friendliness of the people surpassed all their expectations.

“So where do you want to go first?” he asked Maggie.
“Well, it has to be Il Duomo.” She said finishing her coffee and putting on her sun glasses.

Florence Cathedral or to give it its proper name, ‘Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore’dominated theFlorentine skyline. Finished in 1436 or as Maggie mused when Richard was doing his tour guide bit, ‘just after two-thirty in the afternoon’ was a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Both Maggie and Richard were modestly dressed for visiting the church. Italy is a staunch Catholic country and certain standards have to be observed when going into a church. Maggie wore her green cargo trousers and a long sleeve yellow blouse. For her feet she wore her yellow flat pumps. Richard wore his cream coloured chinos brown deck shoes with a white long sleeve shirt.

Maggie swapped back to her normal glasses has they entered the cathedral. The first thing they noticed was the sudden drop in temperature. After having a whole week of temperatures touching 30C, the air temperature inside the basilica was remarkably cooler.

Maggie hugged Richards arm, pulling him close to her for some warmth. “God is going to zap us for being this close together in church, is He?”
Richard gave her a reassuring pat on the hand, “I think He has got bigger things to worry about than us.”

The basilica was packed with tourist taking photos of everything and anything. Maggie’s attention was drawn to the floor, every piece of space had some intricate mosaic pattern weaved into it. Richard, however, was more amazed by the artistry on the inside of the dome. Looking up he saw the whole surface covered in renaissance paintings depicting scenes from the Bible.
“Look at this Maggie, it’s amazing!”
She too was blown away by the sheer skill of those that had gone before her in achieving such a wonderful sight.
“I have to see if I can pick up some antique books on this place for the shop. At least I can say to the customers I have been there.”

Unlike most churches, this church had no pews just a large open space full of tourists milling around. So, there was no aisle to walk up, however, this minor detail didn’t stop Maggie wanting to perform her own wedding ceremony with Richard. It was still a fare walk from the middle of the dome to the alter, but arm in arm they went off with Maggie humming the ‘Wedding March’ all the while weaving in and out of the tourists.

When they finally did get to the alter, Maggie stared ahead to the imaginary priest and after saying, “I do” she gave Richard a huge kiss on the lips and announced to anyone listening, “That’s it we are married now, lets go for some lunch.”

In Florence, like anywhere in Italy, if you find somewhere you like you stick with it. This was the case with Café Florence. This day they were both determined to have an uneventful lunch. The owner greeted them once more and gave them what was becoming their usual table overlooking the river.

After the waiter took their order Richard leaned across and cupped Maggie’s hands. She smiled and played her foot up against his leg. Her big brown eyes were again magnified through the lens in her glasses.
“Maggie”
“Uh Oh! here we go again!” she said still smiling.
Richard was taken aback, “What do you mean, ‘here we go again?”
“Every time you use my name singularly in a sentence, there is normally and emotional tsunami coming behind it.”
Richard frown at her, “What do you mean?”
“On the patio, out the back of the shop sitting in the sun. Maggie, you said then there was some gibberish followed by, and I quote, ‘Damn it Maggie I love you’. So, what you planning to tell me now? You’ve sold the business and we’re moving out here?”

“Nice thought, but no. I know it’s early days, but have you thought about where you would like to get married?”
Maggie had thought about it quite often, even before yesterday engagement. But she didn’t what to be the one making all the decisions. It was his wedding too. “I throw the question back at you, have you thought where YOU would like to get married?”

Actually, Richard had thought the same as Maggie, he had thought long and hard. “Here.” He said.
The ever-flippant Maggie couldn’t help herself. “What here in Café Florence?”
“No, silly.” Richard not taking her sarcasm on. “Florence. We both like it here and we have made some good friends during the week. What do you say?”

She thought and thought some more, just then the waiter come over with their wine. Maggie lifted her glass prompting Richard to do the same.
“A toast,” She said. “A toast to our Italian wedding.”

It was 7.15pm and Maggie was standing in front of the mirror applying her lipstick. She had received a text from Sophia during the afternoon to say that her brother, Roberto would be along at the hotel to pick them up at 7.30pm. Maggie was wearing a long black velvet evening dress with her black patent high heels. Richard was going for the more casual open neck shirt and black chinos approach.

Richard came behind her placing his hands on her hips. He bent down a kissed her softly on the neck.
Maggie turned from the mirror and put her arms around him. The scent of both their cologne clashed in mid-air giving off a fusion of ‘Signorina’ and ‘Invictus’.

“Love you Richard Maple.”
“Love you too Maggie Harris.”
“Soon to be Maggie Maple.” She said. That was the first time Maggie had uttered her new name. She smiled at Richard, “That sounds a bit like a Rod Stewart song.”

Roberto was punctual as ever to collect them. The drive to the villa was less eventful this time and both of them could sit back and take in their views of the surrounding Tuscan countryside. As Roberto pulled up to the villa he became agitated, as if something was not quite right. Richard sensed his concerned and leaned over asking what was wrong.

Roberto said in his deep voice, “Something not right, those cars were not there when I left and they have Sicilian number plates.” He stopped the car short of the big black sedan parked ahead of him. He turned to look over his shoulder at Richard and Maggie before saying one word. “Mafia.”

They both wondered if they heard right. Looking at each other Maggie gripped Richards hand tight.

The driver side door to the black sedan opened and out steeped a tall slim man in a black suit wearing reflective aviator sunglasses. He approached Roberto’s car and opened his jacket. Although no firearm was visible it was enough to let Roberto know that this guy was carrying.

“He wants us to follow him.” Said Roberto getting out of the car. All three of them followed the slim man towards the villa. Both Richard and Maggie were shaking, surely, they would let them go when they found out they were British. Perhaps Richard could get word to the British Consort, and alert Prime Minister Gentiloni.

Once inside the villa, the slim man took them to a room. The room inside was dark but all three of them still walked in. Soon as the door was shut behind them, the lights came up, “SORPRESA!” came from those gathered there.
“SURPRISE!” shouted Roberto to Maggie and Richard.

The Rossi family had come up with the whole Mafia hoax to throw a surprise engagement party for Maggie and Richard. The tall slim guy posing as the hitman was in fact Sophia’s boyfriend, Antonia who was on leave from the Italian Navy.

“I thought” Sophia said, “We needed someone to meet you, you didn’t know.” The relief on their faces was evident has one by one they came up to congratulate them. Even Mr Ruud van Klerk postponed his flight to be there.

Maggie, however was not looking too good. Sophia smile dropped when she saw Maggie’s face. Maggie whispered something in Sophia ear. She held her hand to her mouth and looked behind Maggie. “Come with me,” she said. “You can have a shower upstairs and I’ll give you a pair of my pants.”

After a few drinks, Maggie was open to ‘merda’ episode. Richard called it her real chocolate buttons moment.

“We know what you English and Americans are like with your movies and we knew you would not know the difference between a Tuscan licence plate and a Sicilian one.” explained Giovanni.

The rest of the evening past off without further surprises and over dinner with the alcohol nicely flowing through Maggie’s veins, she willing told them again her story of how she almost knocked out Martin with one punch.

She was in full flow and getting quite excited. Too excited to notice Maria Rossi cross herself when Maggie said, “…and when he turned to Richard and said she fakes her orgasm, well, I just flew at him.”
Sophia held her head in her hands as tears of laughter poured down her cheeks.

Giovanni detecting the situation might be getting a little out of hand, tapped his spoon against the crystal wine glass, “Attenzione, Attenzione.” The table fell immediately silence.
Signor Giovanni stood up, “It has been an honour to have met you both more informally this week. Now, remember on Sunday I said I wanted a report on what you discovered in my beautiful city. I already have that answer in front of me. You discovered each other.”

Signor Giovanni continued, “My family and I would like to mark this special occasion with a gift.”
Both Maggie and Richard were about to protest, when Giovanni held up his hand.
“Please hear me out, this gift cannot not leave Tuscany yet I know you will use it.”
Maggie thought to herself, ‘not another one who speaks in crossword clues.’

“The gift,” said Giovanni, “Is our villa and our surrounding land. For your, what is the English for ‘miele’”
Sophia answered her father, “Honeymoon”

Maggie gave a little squeal of delight and Richard thanked the whole family on their behalf.
“Actually,” Richard started to say. “Because we have had such a wonderful time here in Florence. Will are planning to get married here.”

The whole Rossi family erupted with joy at the news, “Then that settles it.” Said Signor Giovanni, “You shall also be married here at the villa. Sophia.” She looked towards her father, “You may be their wedding planner.”
Maggie was thrilled she was getting help from her new friend. However, she looked across at her, “What about your job?”
Sophia shrugged her shoulders, “I’m a woman, I can multi-task.”

For Maggie and Richard, their night and trip to Florence was coming to an end. Giovanni took a hand each of theirs saying, “You two are Rossi now, OK. What is mine is yours.” They both nodded honoured to be initiated into this Italian family. Maggie had a tear in her eye as Giovanni kissed them on both cheeks. “No tears OK, this is just arrivederci, goodbye until the next time.”
Maggie dabbed her eyes. “Thank you so much all of you. You have become dear friends of ours.”

Even Richard fought back a tear. To show no hard feelings for Roberto’s mis-understanding, Richard gave him a handshake before planted a kiss on his cheek. Roberto touched his face saying, “Amico mio.”
Richard looked for a translation. Sophia too wiped her eye, “He called you his friend.”

Sophia offered to drive them back to the hotel. The evening was warm had it had been every since they arrived. However, Sophia didn’t take them straight to the hotel, “One view of Florence you must see before leaving.”

Richard and Maggie sat in the back of Sophia’s Maserati wondering where this mystery tour was going to take them. They soon felt the climb and up ahead tourists were seen getting back into their coaches.
“Ah! Good, we should have the place to ourselves for a while.” Said Sophia stopping the car.

They all got out and walked to the edge of the man-made hill. Laid out in front of them was the city of Florence. The lights of the city twinkling like a thousand stars.
“This is Piazzale Michelangelo look behind you and you see lit up a bronze replica of Michelangelo David.

Sophia left them alone for awhile sitting overlooking the city they had grown to love.
“We’ll be back in London this time tomorrow.” said Maggie.
“I know, I haven’t looked at my emails once since being here.” Richard took Maggie’s hand.
“I wonder how Nick is getting on with my flat?” Maggie said putting her head on Richard shoulder.

Richard brushed her fringe down over her eyes. “Move in with me, permanently.”
Maggie looked up at him, “You sure? I have a lot of books and your flat is not that big.”
“We’ll manage, you see Maggie since being with you this week, I don’t want to live alone anymore. I can’t wait until we are married, I want you with me forever.”

Maggie now sat back up, and turning to Richard gave him the softest kiss possible.
“I’m not going anywhere, and yes, I’d love to move in with you.”
The two of them sat in the still of the night with their arms around each other, allowing this moment to be itched on their minds forever.


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