The Star in my Eye - 3. Chapter 3
The first Saturday in December brought a respite from the relentless spell of cloudy days. As the mild winter sun broke through, the daytime highs rose slightly, and a few more people ventured out into the quiet streets of the town.
As Gianni and Angelo stepped out into the street that morning, Gianni glanced up into the blue sky, basking in the warmth for a moment. He stared up through the fronds of an umbrella pine that overhung the street from the belvedere, remembering the scraping sounds of the cicadas, so prevalent in Ravello in the summer. He looked forward to hearing them again.
Back in London, he recalled, sunshine in December had usually meant cold, crisp mornings. At the thought, he was struck by an unexpected twinge of nostalgia, reliving clear memories of frosty morning strolls with his parents on Hounslow Heath, ice crystals sparkling on every bramble and twig while their breath formed little puffs of steam in the air. His father had been always so enthusiastic, snapping at the glittering scene with his camera; his Italian-born mother, less so, but she had come along gamely all the same, wrapped up in a hat, coat, scarf and gloves.
“Eurocent for your thoughts, Gianni?” Angelo asked.
Gianni gave him a sad little smile. “It never gets really cold here, does it?”
Since moving to Italy, Gianni could count the number of times he had experienced freezing weather on one hand.
Angelo scratched his head thoughtfully. “I think we had a snow day once when I was very little. Pietro and I made a snowman in the road outside our house in Scala.”
“Snow, in Ravello…? I don’t think I can imagine that.”
Angelo smiled. “The white Christmases you always see in the movies… is it really like that in England?”
Gianni shook his head. “Hardly ever. We used to get snow once or twice a year, though. I was just thinking that… I really wouldn’t mind if we had a few properly cold winter days. You know, just… from time to time.”
Angelo looked nonplussed. “Why?”
“Frosty mornings can be beautiful… we could take Sami and Alfredo for great walks. And, if you have a proper winter… it makes you appreciate the summer that much more, you know?”
“Wow… the whole Christmas thing really has got to you this year, hasn’t it?”
Gianni shrugged. “I guess.”
Angelo took him by the arm and led him gently down the street.
“Well,” he said, “personally I’m glad it’s warmer today. Our coffees won’t get cold so quickly.”
Daniele and Marco had swung by to pick Sami up around half an hour ago, leaving Gianni and Angelo free to enjoy the morning at their own pace for once. They were due to meet Reza in the square.
“Do you think we should invite Reza to the party?” Angelo asked.
Gianni frowned. “I don’t know…” he replied. “He’s only just arrived, and we hardly know him really. Wouldn’t it be a bit weird?”
Angelo chuckled. “That’s so British, Gianni. What better way to make him feel welcome?”
Gianni smiled slightly. “All right. If you insist.”
Monica Roccia had called on Thursday night to confirm that her husband had secured the wedding venue for the evening of Saturday the fifteenth of December. The joint birthday party, it seemed, would be going ahead as planned.
Gianni and Angelo descended the avenue of oleanders together. As they stepped out into the square, where a few locals, drawn outside by the sun, were trickling past the closed gift shops in ones, twos or threes, they saw that Reza was already waiting for them at their usual corner table of the one remaining bar, dressed in a vibrant peach shirt and an unzipped hoodie. He raised a hand in greeting.
“Ciao, guys,” Reza said as they sat down opposite him. “Can I order you a cappuccino?”
Gianni and Angelo murmured their thanks as the young man summoned the waiter. Once he had placed the order, he turned back to them and gave them his full attention.
“I think I forgot my manners the other day, with everything that was going on,” he said. “How’ve you both been?”
Gianni and Angelo exchanged a glance.
“We’ve been great, I guess,” Gianni replied. “We’ve had a few ups and downs – I lost my nonna this year – but, you know, life goes on.”
Reza’s curious, chestnut-brown eyes flicked between them. “It does, for sure. But, you guys are still together. I’d call that impressive. Not many couples make it all the way from their teens. How’d you do it?”
“We… just took care of each other,” Angelo replied. Underneath the table, he reached for Gianni’s hand and gave it a squeeze.
Reza shook his head wonderingly. “You make it sound so simple, but… I remember. I saw it, even then. You guys were… connected.” He gave a snort of self-deprecating laughter. “Not like me. After Otto, I didn’t know what I wanted. My relationships were a shambles for years… until I met Tiziana.”
“You said you met on a course?” Gianni prompted.
Reza nodded. “That was about three years ago. I’d been working with my dad on his development projects back home for a few years already – he’d been showing me the ropes. When I told him I’d like to go solo, he offered to fund my first property purchase to get me started.”
“That’s… pretty generous,” Angelo said, thanking the waiter as he sidled up to the table to deliver two cappuccini. Gianni picked his up and took a sip, listening to their host attentively.
Reza nodded. “I didn’t accept it straight away. I wanted to make my own way in life, you know? And not just be the rich kid with his dad to pay for everything. But… I also knew that, if I took that one gift and played my cards right with my first project, I could be on the road to independence way more quickly than if I’d just stayed at home working for Dad.
“So, I kept my head down and oversaw the refurbishment of a run-down house in Guildford, then I sold it for good money, which I knew would be enough to get me started over here. House prices in the southeast of England are pretty wild, you know?”
Gianni nodded. “I think I remember my own dad saying as much.”
“Mum freaked a little when I told my parents I wanted to set up business in Italy,” Reza went on, “but I think Dad saw that there could be good opportunities here. He gave me his blessing, with the proviso that I train properly in the Italian planning system to avoid falling foul of the law.
“So, off I went on my course like the dutiful son, and I began to learn about development plans, building permits, that sort of thing… and that’s where I met Tiziana.”
“She was training, too?” Gianni asked.
Reza nodded. “I couldn’t believe my eyes, or my luck… that the most beautiful woman in the world could be training for a career in property development, on the very same course as me. Naturally, once she agreed to come out on our first date, I made every effort to impress her. No expense was spared.”
Angelo smiled. “The most beautiful woman in the world…? I didn’t know you were so romantic, Reza.”
Reza shrugged. “Some things are just worth pursuing, you know?”
“And did Tiziana, ah…” Angelo asked, “fall for your techniques?”
Reza snorted again. “She saw through them right away, and told me to stop trying so damned hard. She said that if there was something between us that was really worth having, I should trust it to develop on its own.
“Anyway, as we got to know each other, it turned out she was the perfect partner for my business. With my investment and her family’s knowledge of the local rules and trades, we were making money in no time. We started out with a build in Naples, but I’ve been working to get us out here ever since. By the time we were working on a villa outside Sorrento, I knew my goal was in sight.”
“You said you guys are married,” Gianni said. “Are you planning to make a home here?”
Reza put his coffee cup down and sat back a little in his chair. “If we can,” he replied. “The property we’re currently working on, we plan to sell… but we’ve just agreed terms for a lease on an apartment near Piazza Fontana.”
Angelo choked on his coffee and set the cup down in a hurry, slopping a few drops into the saucer. “You don’t mean… a modern first floor apartment with a valley view, two bedrooms and a balcony?” he gasped.
Frowning in confusion, Reza nodded. “That sounds about right. You know it?”
Gianni and Angelo exchanged another glance.
“Whoa…” Angelo murmured. “Small world.”
“So…” Gianni asked, “if this is where you want to stay – and I can’t say I blame you – what comes next? I mean… are you going to start a family?”
Reza shifted a little uncomfortably in his chair. “We have been trying,” he replied.
Gianni frowned. “But…?”
“We’ve been trying pretty damned hard, but for some reason it just hasn’t happened for us. It’s not like either of us have had it properly checked out, but… I’m starting to wonder if we’re infertile.”
Gianni stared at him, lost for words. “Oh… I’m sorry.”
“That’s sort of why I was so weird when I ran into your little boy the other day,” Reza confessed. “I mean, maybe we don’t look exactly alike…” he pointed to his own olive complexion, lightened by his English mother, “but Sami is sort of how I always imagined my own son might look.”
Yes, Gianni thought. And didn’t he see something of himself in you, too?
“We could use your help with Sami, if you’re willing,” he ventured.
“Go on,” Reza urged, watching him curiously.
“You’re a Muslim, right?” Gianni asked.
Angelo nudged him gently on the arm. “What are you driving at, G.?” he whispered.
Reza nodded, a puzzled look playing about his brown eyes. “I suppose I am, sort of. That’s how I was raised, anyway.”
“There’s so much about Sami’s faith and culture that we don’t understand,” Gianni pressed on. “Maybe, if he had a friend who could answer a few more of his questions, it would help him. I was just wondering if… you would be that friend?”
There was a pause, but then Reza nodded again.
“I’d be happy to.”
* * *
Sami returned from his morning out with Daniele and Marco happy and full of stories about the games of hide and seek they had played together at the Villa Cimbrone gardens.
As the older two boys left, Marco paused on the doorstep to ask Gianni if he could come back later to practice some more Italian with Sami.
“Haven’t you seen enough of us for one day, Marco?” Gianni asked.
The mousy-haired boy shrugged, casting a brief glance at Daniele, who was waiting for him out in the street. Marco’s cool grey eyes were troubled.
“It’s just…” he said, “Dani has plans for tonight. If I don’t do something, I’ll just be hanging around the house on my own for the whole evening.”
“That does sound lonely,” Gianni admitted. “What about your parents? Can’t you spend some time with them?”
Marco shoved his hands in his pockets and kicked sullenly at the stone step with his battered old trainers. “They’re hardly ever around to care.”
“Do they know how you feel?” Gianni asked. “I mean, have you tried talking to them?”
Marco’s grey eyes flicked back to Gianni’s own, suddenly fearful. “We don’t talk about feelings and stuff,” he said. “That’s… too close. They wouldn’t understand.”
“Too close to what, Marco?” Gianni asked gently.
Marco gave no answer, but his anxious gaze flicked towards Daniele again. The blond-haired boy was leaning against the courtyard entrance in a relaxed fashion, his blue eyes apparently lost in contemplation of the clear sky above him. Gianni was struck, once again, by the contrast between Daniele’s open, gentle manner and Marco’s closed, nervous energy. He had a feeling he knew what lay at the heart of it, but he knew better than to push the mousy-haired boy too hard.
Marco sighed. “It’s just better during the summer, you know?” he said. “I can stay out until late if I want to, and nobody worries about where I am or what I’m doing.”
Gianni nodded. “I remember what that was like. When we were younger, Angelo and I used to roam the countryside for hours, and we’d hardly see a soul. Some of those summer days just seemed to go on forever.”
Marco glanced up at him for a moment, his grey eyes uncharacteristically unguarded. “Did you…?” he began, but then he seemed to think the better of it and he tailed off. He turned away. “Ah… I’d better go. Arrivederci, signore.”
“Gianni,” Gianni reminded him gently. “And, yes, of course you can come back later. You’re always welcome.”
“Thanks, sign… I mean, Gianni,” Marco replied over his shoulder. “Ciao.”
Marco zipped up his coat and descended the steps. Daniele smiled as his friend joined him, then the two of them hurried off up the street for destinations unknown.
I think I know what you’re afraid of, Marco… but maybe it’d be better to just get it out of the way.
* * *
Later that afternoon, Gianni was sitting at the dining table, watching Sami draw.
Weekends were typically the busiest time of the week at the hotel where Gianni and Patrizia worked. The grizzled head waiter, Anna’s father Sergio, ran a tight ship, and it was rare for members of his team to get a Saturday night off. In the winter, however, their services were less in demand. Staff were rostered regular breaks and, as luck would have it, tonight was one of Gianni’s.
Sami’s small face was the picture of concentration. His brow was knotted in a tight little frown, and his tongue was poking out of the corner of his mouth in a determined sort of way as he scrawled across a pad of paper with the colouring pencils Gianni had ordered in specially for him.
Gianni was an artist himself, and his own sketch pad was full of pictures of things that had caught his eye in Ravello, from the dramatic mountainous landscapes to the old buildings that crowded picturesquely around the town’s many little lanes and stairways. From the loving details he gave to the arches and windows to the leaves on the trees, and the silhouettes of people that dotted his townscapes, they dripped with the atmosphere that had so caught his imagination at the age of just fifteen. Portraits, however, had never been within his gift.
Despite this, Gianni had attempted a few pictures of Angelo over the years, but he was forever dissatisfied with them, and he had kept them a closely guarded secret in the bottom drawer of his bedside table. Somehow, he never managed to capture the playful, compassionate energy that had had so drawn him to the other young man from the moment they had first met.
As he watched his foster son’s own, simpler efforts, he wondered whether he would have more luck with a portrait of Sami. Perhaps, if it were a candid drawing of the little boy at work…
Gianni set up his sketch pad and art pencils and began to draw. Starting with the basic shapes that make up the body, as he had learned from the art books he had studied, he roughed out the form of the small figure hunched over the table, then slowly began to add the facial features, from Sami’s mop of soft black hair to his neat little eyebrows and snub nose.
Angelo was in the kitchen, washing up the lunch things. Gianni had cooked a basic penne all’arrabbiata with garlic, chilli and tomatoes, a family favourite that always went down well. The tomatoes, however, were tinned, and Gianni knew that he and Angelo could both taste the difference. He looked forward to the spring, when the shops in town would once again be brimming with freshly grown local produce.
Gianni’s efforts with the art pencils must have caught his partner’s eye, because Angelo appeared by his side and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.
“Hey, that’s pretty good,” Angelo commented, glancing from Gianni’s sketch to the real boy at the far side of the table. “I didn’t know you did portraits?”
Gianni glanced up at him, taking in the carefree spikes of his dark hair, the tea towel slung casually over his shoulder and the playful dark eyes that concealed the sensitive and compassionate soul within, at least for people that didn’t know him well. He knew he would never be able to capture it all to his satisfaction in a single drawing.
“I’ve never been any good at it,” he confessed, “but every now and then… I like to try.”
Drawn by their conversation, Sami glanced up for a moment, looking at them both curiously.
“Check this out, Sami,” Angelo urged, tipping Gianni’s pad gently so the little boy could see. “Gianni’s drawing your picture!”
“Oh!” Sami replied, and then he returned to his drawing.
Feeling deflated once again, Gianni exchanged a glance with his partner. Angelo offered him an awkward shrug.
“I’ll get you both a drink,” he said, returning to the kitchen.
Gianni, too, returned to his sketch, trying to capture the determined set of the little boy’s mouth, but the urge to draw had left him. In Gianni’s experience, a good drawing required you to have a feeling of some kind for the subject, and right now…
He sighed and set the pad down on the table.
“Are you looking forward to Angelo and Emilia’s party, Sami?” he asked.
“Yes!” the little boy replied.
“We’ll need to buy a present for you to give to Angelo,” Gianni went on. “What should we get?”
There was a chuckle from behind him. “It’s all right. Just pretend I’m not here.”
Sami, however, seemed to have nothing further to say on the subject, and continued to focus on his drawing, which now seemed to be taking the shape of three figures. Angelo appeared beside Gianni once again, setting two Lemon Sodas down on the tabletop before returning to the washing up.
“Thanks,” Gianni mumbled, grabbing the cool glass and taking a listless sip. He turned back to Sami. “Or maybe you could make something for Angelo?”
The little boy shrugged. “Maybe.”
“Do you remember when your birthday is, Sami?” Gianni asked.
Sami looked up for a moment. “Yes! April thirteenth.”
Gianni nodded. “That’s right. Just a few weeks before Dani’s. And do you have any idea what you’d like to do to celebrate?”
Sami shrugged and searched in his pencil box for another colour.
Gianni decided to try a different tack.
“Your drawing looks great, Sami,” he said. Pointing to the smaller of the three, crudely drawn figures, he added, “is this you?”
Sami nodded vigorously. “Yes!”
“And these two…?” Gianni asked, pointing to the two other figures in turn.
“Parents,” Sami replied.
“Do you mean… Angelo and me?” Gianni asked, squinting at the picture, looking for identifiable features amidst the little boy’s childish scrawl.
Without looking up from his drawing, Sami shook his head. “Mum and Dad,” he replied.
Gianni’s heart sank again. “Oh, I see,” he replied. “Do you remember them well, Sami?”
The little boy shrugged.
Gianni knew that Sami’s parents were both dead but, to his shame, he had no idea how long ago or how they had died. Somehow, it had never seemed like the sort of question he could come out and ask a boy so young. In bringing him to Italy, Sami’s aunt and uncle had fulfilled a promise to his parents to give their son a shot at a better life in Europe, but Gianni had never had the chance to meet them before they were deported.
“You know, Sami,” Gianni said, “I’m quite good at drawing, too. I could show you how to make your people look more realistic, or how to put in some background details. Would you like that?”
Sami gave him a slightly suspicious glance and pulled his pad of paper closer to his chest.
“No, thanks,” he replied.
Gianni gave up. Slumping back in his chair, he gave a pained glance to Angelo, who offered him a sympathetic shrug in return.
Gloomily, Gianni inspected his fingernails, reflecting on his failure.
Why is it that teenagers like Dani and Toto are prepared to confide in me, and even Marco, who keeps everything so locked away, can almost open up to me about the things that are bothering him… but I can’t even form the most basic connection with my own son?
Gianni had always felt that his friendships with the other boys meant he had a lot of love to give, if he should be lucky enough to have a child of his own one day. But, if he did, why couldn’t Sami seem to accept it?
Was he doing something wrong? Angelo thought he was trying too hard, while Mrs. Deakes put the blame on everything Sami had already experienced…
But, surely, a loving family should be able to cut through that after a while…?
Before they met Sami, Gianni had imagined family life as a world of fun, games and loving cuddles. Had he just been painfully naïve?
There was a knock at the door. Gianni looked round as Angelo went to answer it, revealing a familiar mousy-haired figure. Marco shuffled in, unzipping his winter coat to reveal that he was neatly turned out in his best shirt – a breezy yellow number with a faded black check pattern.
“Ciao,” Marco said, smiling uncertainly up at Angelo.
“Marco!” Sami shrieked, lighting up at once. He leapt up from his chair, leaving his pencils to roll across the table, and dashed through to the kitchen to embrace the older boy, looking for all the world as if he hadn’t seen him for days.
Gianni felt a miserable tightness rise to his eyes and throat. He intercepted the pencils and placed them carefully in Sami’s pencil box, then rose from his seat, draining his glass and placing it on the breakfast bar. Angelo came to collect it, his dark eyes registering sympathy, but also an uncharacteristic helplessness.
“Are you okay?” he said quietly.
“Do you mind if I pop out for a bit?” Gianni managed.
Angelo shook his head. “No… you go ahead. I’ll watch the boys.”
Gianni thanked him and threw on his coat without bothering to do it up. He let himself out onto the courtyard steps, Angelo’s dark eyes and Marco’s cool grey ones following him as he left.
* * *
The pale winter sun had already dipped behind the mountains on the far side of the Valle del Dragone, casting the cool street into an early dusk, and the traditional lanterns that hung from the buildings were already flickering into life. Gianni paused on the threshold of the courtyard, rubbing his eyes in frustration.
He wished he knew someone who could relate to how he was feeling, but even Angelo, whose emotional instincts never usually let him down, didn’t really seem to get it.
Both Gianni and Sami had lost their parents at a young age, and had been thrust into a new family setting in a place and culture of which they had no knowledge; but, when Gianni first arrived in Ravello, he had been at pains to fit in with his new family as best he could, and when everyone he had met had made him feel so welcome, hadn’t he responded? Hadn’t he embraced his new life and everything it had to offer? Why couldn’t Sami do the same?
Is it me…?
Gianni shoved his hands in his pockets and wandered down the street. As he walked, he looked about him, trying to lift his own spirits with the sight of the familiar things of which he had become so fond, from the grand old palazzi that lined the ridge to the picturesquely scruffy, smaller buildings that nestled between them. The lanterns twinkled, growing brighter as they warmed up.
Ravello, his home, was still here, and so were his friends and family. Maybe it was lying dormant in its winter sleep but, come the spring, the shutters would come off the gift shops once again, and the streets and squares would bristle with outside tables, full of food, drink, conversation and life. Surely, then, raising Sami would not seem so difficult, when everyone could enjoy the freedom that the town, hills and valleys had to offer? If Gianni’s life had taught him anything, it was that all problems could be faced in the end.
Before long, he had arrived at the small formal garden next to the town hall, or Municipio. He stepped off the street and wandered onto the tired winter grass. The flower borders, so colourful in the summer, were currently empty, but the space still had structure; at the centre, a great umbrella pine rose high above a ring of floodlit lime trees. Stripped bare of their leaves, the floodlighting picked out the texture of the weather-beaten bark and sculptural shapes of the bare branches. Over the rooftops of the town, warm lights dotted the distant hillside of Scala.
Somewhere not too far away, Gianni could hear music playing. It was probably only on someone’s stereo, but he closed his eyes and smiled, imagining the classical refrains of the Ravello Festival wafting over the town from the Villa Rufolo gardens on long summer evenings.
New, younger voices began to impinge on Gianni’s consciousness, bringing him back to reality. Following the sound, he saw Elena Agnello walking slowly up the street, wrapped up warm in a duffle coat. Two younger figures lagged behind her, dancing and larking about in the light of the lanterns; one of them had a rucksack over one shoulder.
Gianni came forwards to lean against one of the lime trees that faced out onto the street and offered Elena a wave.
“Ciao,” he called.
Smiling shyly, Elena diverted off the street to stand with him on the old winter grass.
“Buonasera, Gianni,” she replied. “What are you doing out here all by yourself?”
Giacomo and Daniele came charging past her, laughing at some joke one of them had made, and they began chasing each other around the other lime trees; Daniele’s rucksack lay forgotten on a wooden bench.
“I just needed a break, I guess,” Gianni replied. “Life with Sami isn’t, you know… always everything I expected it to be.”
Elena nodded. “I can imagine.”
“Sometimes I just can’t relate to him,” Gianni went on. “I mean, I’m like a father to him now. Shouldn’t we be able to know and trust each other?”
Elena’s gentle brown eyes fell upon her teenage son for a moment.
“I’m not sure you ever truly know your children. Giacomo… I’m devoted to him, but he’s so like his father sometimes… always coming up with some scheme or other, loving to be the centre of attention.” She shuddered. “I would hate Giacomo to turn into him.”
“You never hear from your husband anymore?” Gianni asked. “I’m sorry… I don’t even know his name.”
“Domenico.” Elena shook her head. “After he left, there was money, for a while… but then even that stopped.”
Gianni followed her gaze for a moment. The two boys were engaged in a pretend superhero battle, miming their superpowers and trading imaginary blows in a spirited and giggly display that belied their advancing maturity.
“I don’t think you need to worry,” Gianni replied. “Dani told me about the extraordinary lengths Giacomo took to protect you during that business with the protection racket. He’s clearly devoted to you, too.”
Elena smiled. “You’re right, of course, although there’s not a day goes by that I don’t wish he’d never got mixed up in all of that.” She shuddered again. “Can you imagine, if he’d got seriously hurt…? He’s all I have left.”
“And Dani… he went just as far to protect Giacomo in turn. I’m sure they’ll always look out for one another.”
Daniele and Giacomo’s game had degenerated into wrestling on the ground. Somehow, Daniele seemed to have got the dark-eyed boy pinned to the grass.
“Okay, I surrender!” Giacomo panted.
Still giggling, Daniele rolled off Giacomo and sat up, waving at Gianni as he seemed to notice him for the first time. Even in the gathering gloom, Daniele looked starry-eyed and flushed with excitement. Gianni waved back, wondering.
What about Marco, Dani? Where do you really stand in all this?
Giacomo scrambled to his feet and wandered over, closely followed by the other boy.
“Ciao, Giacomo,” Gianni said.
Giacomo nodded. “Dani’s coming for a sleepover tonight,” he explained, unable to completely conceal a grin behind the cool exterior he usually managed to present to adults.
Gianni nodded towards Daniele’s rucksack, which still lay abandoned on the wooden bench. “So I see.”
Daniele put a comically shocked hand to his mouth and hurried off to retrieve his abandoned luggage. Gianni let slip a smile, which was quickly followed by a pang of sadness. For a second, the blond-haired boy had reminded him of Sami.
“Well, I hope you have a great time,” he told the boys.
The corner of Giacomo’s mouth twitched in a mischievous smile of his own. “We will. Dani doesn’t know it yet, but I’ve already set up the bed of nails for him on the floor. He’s in for a great night.”
“Hey!” Daniele protested, hurrying back to the other boy with the rucksack slung carelessly over one shoulder, and soon they were wrestling again.
Gianni and Elena exchanged an amused glance. To Gianni, Elena’s smile seemed to carry a tinge of weariness, too. He tried to imagine the non-stop life of a single parent, and struggled.
Thank God for Angelo…
“Well, good luck…” he said.
“Grazie.” Elena laughed slightly. She turned to leave, then paused for a moment, placing a gentle hand on Gianni’s arm.
“Listen,” she said, “I could see you had things on your mind tonight. I know you’ve got a loving partner in Angelo, but if you ever need someone else to share your thoughts with… I’m here.”
Gianni smiled. “Thanks, Elena,” he replied. “That goes for you, too.”
Picking her way carefully over the grass, Elena returned to the street and continued for home.
“Andiamo, ragazzi!” she called. Still laughing, Daniele and Giacomo followed her into the shadows of the old buildings, leaving Gianni alone with his thoughts once more.
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