Bittersweet Temptations

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Italy, the 18th Century, and Francesco lives a seemingly peaceful life - he is a powerful politican, married to a beautiful woman called Sophia - but all is not as it seems.

 

He kissed his lover softly. She watched, a disgusted onlooker. It sickened her. Hidden in the near darkness of the nave, with her hand over her mouth in a gesture of shock, she saw the lovers. She witnessed it all, feeling a great betrayal sweep over her. Every touch, every kiss, every urgent sigh made her sick to the core. They moved down to the cold, mosaic floor. She didn't understand what was happening; she just knew it was wrong. So very wrong. She continued to watch in fascinated horror as they satisfied their unnatural lust. She saw them, heard them, as they defiled their bodies and the holy ground of the church on which they laid.

She felt anger bubbling up. Their terrible act unnerved her deeply. Such an act could not be real. It was not right. She watched as her husband caressed a body that was not her own. She could not accept it. It would have broken her heart if he had been unfaithful at all, but this! This was something more. Something so much more than if he had slept with another woman, for she stood and watched as the man she loved had sex with another man.

 

"He can't do this to me", she thought bitterly, "I won't let him get away with this, the damned molly!" She pulled the hood of her robe over her head, and swore herself a promise of bittersweet revenge. She hurried out of the church, hailed a passing hansom cab, and was gone.

Francesco was lost in the moment as he succumbed and took pleasure in the forbidden act of love that his wife had just witnessed. This was a man who knew what he was doing, but for the time-being, didn't care. In this place, with this man, Francesco was neither a married man nor a man of distinction to which others looked up and respected. He would enjoy it while he could, no matter what the dangers to him or his lover.

Francesco had been married to Sophia Rossi for two years. Yet, he now found himself lost in the forbidden pleasures of another man’s flesh on the icy, mosaic floor of a church. How much more absurd could his life become? If it was not so terrifying, it would have been laughable.

This was certainly not the first time, and he knew – however much he wished it could be different – it would not be the last. How had things come to this? A member of her Majesty’s Parliament, a man seen to embody honour, pride and integrity. He knew the consequences, he knew he would die if it were to become public knowledge, but he still could not stop himself.

It was impossible for him to trace his decline to this moment of lust and guilt. Somewhere in his conflicted being, he had always known what he was, and yet could not fully acknowledge, to himself even, the nature of his desires; the hellish, unnatural images that had always haunted his mind.

Until one day, when he found himself alone with Alex Bianchi – a fellow government minister for goodness sake! – and everything changed. It was at that moment that Francesco Conti tore himself in two; indulging in that which he desperately wanted. A noticeable change had been made: the respectable, married MP had released his inner demons. As time went on he would steal away from his wife and home on some pretext or other and be the person he could never be in public. He would indulge in a love that society would not and could not accept. This cannot continue. It must never happen again he told himself, but he knew it would. And he knew that when it did, those same feelings would return to haunt him: disgust, fear, love. A damnable concoction of feelings, that he could not bear.

Unaware that his wife was growing forever more suspicious of his outings, he continued to indulge his inner-self for another ten months. That particular evening, he had felt something stirring inside. With an already suspicious wife waiting at home, he made his excuse and stole away to meet his lover, and, thereby, tip her suspicion over the edge. Oblivious that he was being watched, he met with his partner and confirmed her most terrible imaginings.

These trysts often confused him, and this time was no different: he accepted what he was doing was an act of blasphemy, but continued. Not just because he took physical pleasure in revelling in the forbidden, but because he was, in fact, very much in love. He thought of Alex night and day. Everything had led up to this point. Sophia had witnessed his uranian self in all its filth, and though Francesco didn’t know it yet, his life had just changed forever.

F-Francesco!”

I… love you…” Francesco softly whispered and closed his eyes in ecstasy.

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

It was noon. Three days had passed since the meeting, and the events of that day were still on his mind. Francesco awoke in a large, lavishly-decorated bedroom. He had been trying to avoid her for a few weeks, finally growing weary of married life, of her, but he found it unusual that she was also nowhere to be seen. It seemed, to Francesco, as if she was avoiding him - sneaking around in secrecy, doing something behind his back. It was all too familiar. He shook off the thoughts and pushed off the satin sheets. Climbing out of bed, he made his way towards the oval-shaped silver-glass mirror adorning his nightstand.

He looked at his reflection with judgmental eyes, glancing at his shamed face. It was at times like this, when his mind was clear and his thoughts that of his ‘normal’ self, that he looked back on what he had done. He tried to block the memories, as he had done in the past, but it was becoming increasingly harder. The two sides of his being were beginning to become one; his life was not the same as it ever was, nor would it ever be…

He reached inside his oak chifforobe, and removed a black woollen suit; his jacket was laced with satin and made with hand-sewn wool. He dressed himself and slipped on a pair of leather-heeled boots. Before he could contemplate the day’s events, a voice from outside broke the silence.

 

Francesco? Francesco!”

 

Come in!”

 

The Maid burst into Francesco’s chamber, and panted into his face. “Your silly wife is going to kill me with all this work! I shouldn’t be running around this much at my age!”

 

As she spoke, the maid scurried around the floor, cleaning the room at a breakneck pace. Her

silver hair was worn tidily in a bun to match the rest of her pristine outfit. Not a single article of clothing was out of place, and her petite leather shoes were polished to perfection.

 

All her life I’ve been serving her, and what does she show in return? Nothing!” Her tone of voice lowered in volume, but was spoken with harsher intention: “’Dust the banisters, Schavio!’ ‘Air the house, Schavio!’ ‘Clean all the furniture, Schavio!’ Cagna, demonia!”

 

I know Maria,”

 

Oh Francesco my dear, what has you so down? Might it be him?”

 

Francesco gazed intently into Maria’s eyes. “I don’t know what to do anymore Maria, I can’t help myself…”

 

But you must, my boy, you have to control it! If word were to get out you would assuredly be killed. The villagers will not take lightly to being made fools out of.”

 

Do you not think that I already know that?”

 

I’m saying this for your own benefit, Francesco. I implore you, stop this nonsense before it’s too late!”

 

And what might that mean?”

 

Just… she… This cannot get out into the public!”

 

Francesco, seemingly unaware of her words, continued: “You know it’s who I am. It’s not another side of me that I can hide away anymore; it has always been a part of me, even when I led the life in a more secret manner. This house, this marriage, Alex… they’re all the same to me now.”

 

They were interrupted suddenly by a shrill, feminine voice: “Francesco, where are you?” asked the voice. Francesco and Maria glanced into each other’s eyes, acknowledging that the conversation had reached its conclusion.

 

I’m in my chamber, darling!“ shouted Francesco. His wife, a beautiful figure of a woman, entered through the still-open doors. A slender body, piercing green eyes, and hair as bright as the sun; she looked as enchanting as ever. Her skin paler than it had ever been, but this only accentuated her beauty. Maria and Sophia exchanged looks.

 

Oh, I see you were just talking with the Maid Francesco. I hope you weren’t giving away any nasty little secrets?” Sophia smirked, and Maria bowed her head to look at the floor.

 

I can leave you both to talk, if you wish” said Maria. “I should attend to matters in the kitchen…”

 

Oh, don’t leave on my account, Maid. I simply wanted to see my faithful husband Francesco.” Both Maria and Francesco appear irked.

 

Could you be quick please, my love? I am frightfully busy” said Francesco, smiling at his wife.

 

I’m sure of it. You always have things to do, people to… see…”

 

You know being a politician is time-consuming work, it’s a hard job my dear. Respect has to be earned. I can’t just do what my foolish fancies desire.”

 

How is Alex doing? Not working him too hard again, are you? You always seem to be away with him these days…”

 

I should be going,” said Francesco, glaring at his wife’s face. “I’ll see you again tonight, my love.”

 

Hopefully sooner…”

 

Francesco exited through the grand oak door and left Sophia standing with Maria in the couple’s marble hallway. Quiet, clunky noises could be heard from the sole of somebody’s shoes tapping on the stairway.

 

What do you think you’re doing, Sophia?” cried Maria. Maria’s enquiry was met with a grin as Sophia’s head twisted to face her. Sophia didn’t say a word. “I’m asking you what you are planning!”

 

He’s not going to get away with this, he betrayed me,” Sophia hissed. “He betrayed our entire community! Something has to be done before this act against nature continues.”

 

You promised me you wouldn’t do anything malicious… you told me you could help.” cried Maria as a single tear clung to the corner of her eye. Sophia began to scowl, as Maria tearfully pleaded with her. “You said that if I told you the truth, you would do the best for Francesco” said Maria. “That’s all I ever wanted! He loved… He loves you, was that not enough? He wants you to be happy, but he‘s living a lie. This marriage is a lie! Alex makes him happy, why can’t you accept that?”

 

Because he is supposed to be my husband!” shouted Sophia, ignoring Maria’s pleas. “It’s what’s best for everybody. Do you honestly think that the community will approve of what is going on? Of course not!“

 

Such is the time we live in, but they can still be together. Nobody has to know…”

 

Don’t you find it disgusting? Does it not sicken you in here?” Sophia said so with a stern tone of voice, whilst making a hard patting gesture on her stomach. The Maid was silent, not allowing herself to agree with Sophia. “Where did he just leave for, Maria?” Maria remained stubbornly quiet. “I thought so,” stated Sophia. She left the Maid alone, as she walked out of the great doors. Maria could do nothing but stand and observe, hoping helplessly that all would work out. However, she knew that her wishes were in vein.

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

Less than an hour later Francesco was once again in the arms of his lover, lying upon the church floor. A twilight-sun set on the horizon, casting rays of deep orange onto the grey-bricked church. Francesco brushed his fingers through Alex’s hair, their bodies hugging tight and the fingers of his other hand entwined with Alex’s. They appeared disturbingly still, the only sound breaking the eerie silence was their deep breathing. Their breaths synced in time, and their bodies shuffled closer.

I can’t believe how much my life has changed since meeting you,” said Francesco, “now it’s hard to imagine what my life was like before.”

The lovers shared a sultry gaze, and Alex leaned in to kiss Francesco passionately on the lips. The moment was interrupted by a voice.

You make me absolutely sick” said a voice from within the shadows. The figure stepped forward and revealed itself to be Sophia. “Look at you, you‘re both disgusting.”

Both of the lovers’ eyes opened widely in disbelief. Francesco stuttered, unable to speak at first, then swallowed the air in his mouth. “Sophia, how did you…? Why are you here?!”

 

Observing filth, it seems.” Sophia wore a scornful face.

 

Francesco stopped in hesitance, and took a second to carefully choose his words. “Sophia, I can explain what just happened! Give me a minute to talk to you, all is not what it seems!”

 

I have no place for your lies, Francesco!”

 

Soph-”

 

Silence! How dare you do this to me?! I poured my heart and soul into our life together; into you, marjorie! You betrayed me, and you betrayed everybody who voted for you. I’ll make sure you regret this! You know what they‘ll do to you, don‘t you?”

 

Please…”

 

Don’t… just don’t, Francesco! It’s too late for apologies now, you made sure of that when you started dating that said Sophia, as she looked towards Alex, “that scum! I’ll ruin your life, I’ll tell everyone what you have done! Then you might regret breaking my heart, sodomizer!” Sophia revolved and exited the church, walking towards the horizon hurriedly.

Francesco and Alex were left in the church, alone with only each other and their thoughts for company. Francesco reflected upon his affair with Alex, and all that they had done over the course of the last year. He hated himself now more than ever, refusing to look into his dear love’s eyes. He refused, not out of hatred, but out of guilt, for he loved Alex from the deepest fathoms of his heart and could not bring himself to lie, to say “everything will work out okay”. Everything they had worked for, everything they had tried to cover up, it would all be ruined.

It was a matter of time. Time was fleeting.


Submitted: March 31, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Artystic. All rights reserved.

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