From the Savino Sisters Mystery Series
Italy To Die For

...was flattered to have made the cut which at one time ended before the age of thirty. He introduced himself as Lorenzo Gentili and nodded once to my long-winded explanation of Margo’s absence that came to a halt when I realized my somber host didn’t give a rat’s ass whether there was one guest or two since we’d paid for our stay in advance and the date for any refund had long since passed.
I followed him up twenty winding stairs of uneven, worn marble and through the immense living and dining rooms before reaching my assigned suite. Still unsmiling, Lorenzo showed me around the antique-filled sitting room and bedroom, their adorned ceilings and walls similar to those in Giorgio Molina’s apartment. This ceramic-tiled bathroom also boasted a claw foot tub, big enough for two, not that I had anyone in mind, certainly not my host even though he towered over me by a good six inches.
Lorenzo opened the shuttered windows, presenting the view of a garden below brimming with flowers and buzzing insects. A background of soft music filtered through the rooms, filling my head with a welcomed serenity after Margo’s iPod selections.
“I do hope the medley is not too distracting,” he said. “It is a combination of classical, jazz, and opera.”
Perfetto,” I replied, circling my thumb and forefinger in the Italian way.
In fact, the entire ambiance of this villa spelled perfection. I wanted to fly solo, transform myself into another time, and slip into a flowing gown of peach chiffon. And like the entitled socialite I should’ve been, float through the rooms with a glass of sparkling Spumante in one hand, a cigarette in the other. Unfortunately, my suitcase contained an assortment of practical knitwear and I’d never learned to inhale without my eyes watering.
Chapter 5: Margo
I couldn’t believe I’d lowered myself to this: collecting money from tourists wanting their photo taken with Giorgio miming an Egyptian mummy. His fans were one hundred per cent women, mostly Americans, Brits, or Germans between the ages of fifteen and seventy, only too happy when he lifted his arms and slid them down their now quivering bodies. At least he had the decency not to pinch the ass of anyone who looked younger than twenty-one, an unpredictable estimate at best. All for the sake of art, I told myself, my own body quivering at the memory of our previous night. The passion we shared, the never-ending phone calls from his mama—what are you doing, Giorgio … are you getting enough to eat … your shirts, will they hold out until I return … do you miss me … do you still love me … if only I didn’t have this celebration. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera—it was enough to make me toss the biscotti I only thought about eating.
“Your mama must love you very much,” I told Giorgio as we lay side by side, our bodies wet with perspiration from a non-stop bout that almost brought both of us to tears.
“She cannot help herself,” Giorgio said.
“Perhaps if you didn’t encourage her ….”
He lifted his body, muscles taut as he leaned on one elbow. “It is difficult for me to explain. I owe Mama my life.”
“Uh … well, uh, don’t we all.” I thought about my own mother, thankful she couldn’t have seen me at that moment.
Giorgio’s phone rang again. “Si, Mamma, si. Tomorrow I will perform my greatest role, one I have not as yet attempted, that of the tight rope walker … you know I will be thinking of you and only you.”
Hmm, how about me and only me? While Giorgio busied himself with pouring a single glass of Chianti, I turned off his phone without his knowing it. After we shared half of the wine, I dripped the rest over his chest and licked my way down the fine ribbon of his hair, ending where he waited with a welcome that surpassed any I’d seen before. I took him to the point of near ecstasy but refused to go any further unless he promised to perform as a mummy the next day.
“But what about Mama, I promised her the … tight rope,” he barely managed to squeak.
“Who’s to tell her otherwise?”
Not Mama’s Boy, that’s for sure. Giorgio gave in to me, just as I knew he would. If only his  
Later that evening after engaging in another round of lovemaking in which I played the demanding mistress and he my dutiful slave, Giorgio announced he was starving, this time for real food.
“Me too,” I said, smacking my lips as delicately as possible. “Where shall we go?”
He lifted his shoulders, opened his hands. “Why go out when everything we need can be found here.”
“How romantic, you’re going to cook for me.”
Mi dispiace, mi amore,” he said by way of an apology. “When it comes to preparing a meal, Mama considers la cucina her domain. Although I help myself to the refrigerator when she is not home, I am not allowed near the stove. Except to make espresso, I must have my espresso.
You, on the other hand ….”
“But, darling, if your mama is that territorial, she will know a stranger has been messing with her pots and pans, her precious kitchen utensils.”
He rubbed his chin for a moment. “I hadn’t thought about that. I suppose we could go out. Perhaps a bit of antipasto ….”
“I had something more substantial in mind … my treat, of course.”
He kissed me then, like a school boy happy to have received an A for effort. “Cara mia, are you sure? It is not as though I, Giorgio Molina, am a pauper, you know.”