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Vittorio Castelluccio
Poolside Manners
Wed May 2, 2007 01:06
74.129.224.238

“Ash. And now, Ah don’t need medical assistance, but thanks for askin.”

Vittorio stared at the surfer, absolutely perplexed for several long moments. What the hell did he just say? Most certainly a dialect he was unfamiliar with, but… absolutely intriguing. What would this Ash fellow sound like if he said—No, do not go there. But the view he was afforded when the Asian man picked up his board was very… Oh hell. Vic gave up and admired the image. Right until a little Medici by heritage ran past.

“Hey there, little man. How about we put on a lifejacket first?”

Vittorio had to admit he was uncomfortable with children. They were stubborn, bullish, and worst of all, could not be reasoned with. At any age. Imagine his dismay when Caleb had insisted that he hold the child for a few extremely long moments while ‘daddy’ took care of something on the telephone. Did all toddlers intentionally try to drop themselves on their heads?

“James, you know you’re supposed to wait for me!” Oh dear, there was the Luciana charm. He had witnessed it working upon Caleb, Matteo, even his own man Giulio! Pietro looked fondly upon the girl as well, which hardly helped matters if someone was attempting to make a point. Did she even realize that most of the male populous was already wrapped around her little finger? “You handled yourself well against those miscreants, sir. I’m Lucy and the brat you just saved is my son James.” Plus she was friendly.

“Vittorio, why don’t you invite to him sit with us? We brought plenty of food.” Far too friendly. How had she not been killed yet?! Biting back a long-suffering sigh, Vittorio only glanced in Ash’s direction before following a step behind the man, his board in tow.

Oh, now wasn’t this cozy? Damn, Vic hadn’t felt this uncomfortable in a good long while, frankly. Last time had been when Matteo was staring down each Capo during a meeting this past season. More than one man had lost something during that gathering. This time it felt like he was going to lose his balls! Caleb kept glancing up, first the surfer, then to exchange a look with Vittorio, and back again. Well, at least he wasn’t the only uncomfortable one here. “I think perhaps we should just head home.” Good idea!

“Well. Thank you again. Caleb's right, we should be getting back.” And she says her husband’s name! Dear God, did he teach the woman nothing? Or did she actually feel that safe here? Biting his tongue, Vittorio rose from his chair, absently brushing sand from his trousers.

“You have a nice day, ma’am.” There it was again! The dialect that sent gooseflesh rising upon the nape of his neck. Taking a chance, Vittorio glanced up in time to witness Ash giving him a… smile? He winked! What the hell?! The man was practically fifty yards away before he stopped staring – gaping was an atrocious word, and definitely something he did not do – until Lucy prompted him back to reality with a quiet word.

Right, drive the Americans back to the compound. Then you can analyze. Fantasize. Ugh.

The night had – surprise – involved very little sleep for the Italian, and much more turning and tossing beneath the bed sheet. More often than not he was staring at the ceiling, just as he was now, envisioning the smooth movements Ash had executed the prior day, and wholly unafraid to apply them in a more devious and perverse nature. Damn it all!

Vittorio, it is seven.” The door shut just as quickly as it had opened, Giulio gone off down the hall. Part of the reason he was here was to act as a liaison for Matteo when Pietro was unable, considering his illness. Nor did the older gentleman attempt to hide it, which would have been absolutely foolish. This made him seem hardier, practically an immortal to be near to beating such an illness.

After completing his morning ritual, Vittorio did not even bother interrupting Matteo or Moira during their breakfast; it was rude, if unless there was an emergency. Instead he harassed Giulio to see if there were any meetings. Thankfully, there were none, which meant he could be free to thwart any attempts of people visiting.

Except for one…

It was later in the day, nearly lunch, when a taxi pulled up to the gates. Pietro had obviously been expecting the intruder, which made Vittorio that much more wary. Oh, he had no doubts about being safe here, for he had not wronged the Medici family in any fashion. But then Giulio began bothering him about some meeting that was to be set up concerning another lesser family that wished to convey their blessings for Matteo’s health.

Only then were they interrupted by Pietro for lunch. Occasionally did he eat with the couple, though more often than not it was to observe food preparation. Discreetly. Matteo was an extremely powerful man, and in his weakened condition it would not take much to cause damage. Apparently the couple was to be lunching with an artist that had painted Moira. Ugh, he hated artists, they were always so aloof.

Finally the little parade, which always happened when there was a meal involved, made their way to the courtyard. At least the man had the decency to speak in Italian with Matteo; there would have been no doubt of who he was.

“Be careful, Mister Healey. I think my father means to be your patron.” Gentle ribbing was hardly uncommon for Pietro – he was a level headed man that could see humor in some situations. Better than some. But—

Oh my God. It was him! The surfer was an artist?! Somehow that didn’t quite seem to fit the image that Ash had portrayed yesterday. But there he was, clear as day. Painting propped up on a chair beside him, until Matteo motioned for it to be taken away by a servant. Those eyes… Breathe. Just breathe. It was a safe thing to do.

Wine was poured, though he received a disapproving glance from Moira when he did fill Matteo’s goblet at a gesture. What more could he do than favor the woman with a smile? But she glanced towards Ash, and Vittorio could still feel the man’s gaze lingering between his shoulder blades. A most uncomfortable sensation.

Lord de Medici, you should have witnessed Mister Healey yesterday.” Oh, this would definitely get the younger man to stop staring. At Matteo’s slightly curious expression, Vittorio suppressed a smirk and set the carafe down on a side table. “Stopping little James on the beach before he could run headlong into the sea.” Now that caught the elder man’s attention, thankfully.

With that he was able to step back from the table while the three discussed the topic at hand. After receiving his usual nod from Pietro, Vittorio vacated the courtyard to be the ‘first’ line of defense against unwanted visitors. Never mind all the men with automatic weapons. And just when he thought he was free, halfway down the hall…

“He is cute.” Jesus! Moira was right behind him, and would have had to run to catch up that quickly. “You met him yesterday?”

“Yes, while accompanying Luciana and Caleb on their outing,” Vittorio managed to grind out. “Now, if you will excuse me, Signora.”

But she wouldn’t excuse him. Off and on throughout the day, like a damned specter, the woman would pop up at the most inopportune times and places! By lunch Vittorio was beginning to feel seriously paranoid. Especially when Matteo requested a word with him shortly after dinner completed.

Follow Mister Healey back to his hotel,” were the simple directions. But something more lurked beneath, a hidden meaning. Vittorio wasn’t all too certain what it was, though. “Moira wishes to commission him for another piece. I would prefer him to stay here during his tenure.” There was a pause in Matteo’s voice, when he looked at Vic. Really looked at him. “Be persuasive if he refuses, Vittorio. Do you understand?

Yes, Lord de Medici.” Oh, he understood very well.

Who the hell had told?! Vittorio fumed on his way to the car, knowing full well that Giulio would follow him shortly afterwards. A change of clothing was hung in the back of the sedan, before he sped out of the estate’s drive, thinking furiously. He had been extremely careful in choosing who he had liaisons with, and who he had not given a second glance. Was he truly that transparent?

The drive was long, longer than he would have liked, but it gave him time to think on the matter at hand. Matteo had explicitly stated to be persuasive if Ash outright refused to join them at the compound. Was that what the elder gentleman wanted? For him to screw some fukking artist so Moira could get her painting? Oh, that line of thought was wrong on so many levels.

Once reaching the hotel, Vittorio went so far as to acquire a room for the evening, though he knew little sleep would be had. Instead, he could only think of the man that was just down the hall…

Daylight rose far too quickly on this time of the world, he mused later that morning after a light breakfast. At least it felt to be such. After cleaning up and a change of clothing – a charcoal gray suit this time – Vittorio quietly meandered past Ash’s room, listening intently. There was no noise, which either meant the man was asleep or had left— Why was his phone ringing?

“Ciao.”

Pool. Click. Well, that did make sense.

Down a flight of stairs and around the side of the building, Vittorio took the moment to light a cigarette and take a long drag. It was habitual, especially when he was nervous about something. Which he really should not be, this was simply another business venture for Matteo that he was completing. Except now he was supposed to seduce someone?! No, he had to have misunderstood his boss. There was no way he would have said that… would he?

And there, down in the pool, was a lone figure running laps. Arms moving in long, smooth strokes, Vittorio could see the back muscles ripple with exertion. God, his mind was completely in the gutter now. Sighing, he took one final drag before extinguishing the cigarette, and made his way to pool side.

But instead of standing there impatiently, he took a seat upon one of the dozens of empty lounge chairs, refusing to stare at the gently kicking legs. The ones he could see the full length of beneath the water, very little hidden by a dark—Oh God help him. No impure thoughts! It was useless in the end, but it did help to manage his breathing somewhat in the meantime.

And finally, when the swimmer slowed at one end of the pool, only to turn and float on his back near the edge, Vittorio rose from his perch. There would be no way the fellow could miss him now, it would seem as if he were hovering above Ash. Oh, now that was an enticing thought.

“I am here to extend an invitation. On his behalf.” No need to say the name, it was like calling upon the devil in some places. “She would like to commission you for another piece, and they would very much enjoy your company in the interim.” There. Nice, safe, and plainly put.

Then why could he not help the smile curling at the corners of his mouth?

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