My Father's Glory Part 15.

By Chris Zaldana

The authour claims all copyrights to this story and no duplication or publication of this story is allowed, except by the web sites to which it has been posted, without the consent of the author.

This story is purely a work of fiction and any resemblance to person's living or dead, or to events that may have occurred is purely coincidental.  Moreover, none of the actions of the characters in this story are meant to condone, approve, or sanction their behavior.

All comments are welcome and if you wish to contact me, please feel free to email me at

My most sincere thanks to all of the readers that have written me in regards to the story.  I have taken into acknowledgment your expressions and feelings regarding all characters in the story.  I appreciate your feedback and sentiments which have provided much inspiration, encouragement, and support.

Please note:  Due to my very hectic and busy work schedule, all three stories will take time in being written, and eventually posted.  Please have patience and bear with me, check the archive every once in a while, sooner or later you'll find the updated stories, and I hope you enjoy them.


Chris Zaldana

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when they discover that someone else believes in them, and is willing to trust them."

                                                   -Ralph Waldo Emerson-

I have started two different novels and these will be posted in the Nifty Archive, under the following categories.  Please don't forget to support the Nifty Archive by making a contribution.


Once in a Lifetime


Eagle's Honour

It has come to my attention that certain readers have taken liberties with ideas, and in some cases entire sections of my story, and have submitted it as their own work
.  I would like to stress to you that all work here is original, and it takes an inordinant amount of time, hard work, and energy to produce each chapter. 

I realize that imitation is the
sincerest form of flattery, but there's a difference between imitation and theft.  I ask that you please respect my work by not plagiarizing it.

Thank you,

Christopher J. Zaldana

A gentle and pleasant warm breeze flowed from the harbour, and I figured that it was perhaps getting close to noon.  Dad and I rode our bikes home almost in complete silence and even though my dad had spoken to Mr.Massoli, his mind was still somewhere else.

"Dad?... Dad?"

With all the noise coming from the traffic and the sidewalks crowded with people, my father couldn't hear me.


My father came to a sudden halt and turned his head backwards.  He seemed startled, like he was caught off guard.

"What's up cub?"

I furrowed my eyebrows, sighed and stared at him.

"Why did you have to see that police man?  Is something wrong?"

My father lowered his gaze towards the ground and slowly raised his head and gazed towards the hills.  He got off his bike and with his index finger motioned me to come closer.

"Let's have some ice cream before heading home."

He surprised me when he said this.

"But it's close to lunch time and you know that mom dosen't like..."

My dad gave me a naughty smirk and cut me off before I had time to finish my sentence.

"Well is your mom with us?  I won't tell her if you don't."

His teasing and sudden cheer made me smile.  We took off our helmets, chained our bikes to the nearest light post and walked hand-in-hand.

"I know a great place that sells excellent ice cream.  It's about two blocks from here, c'mon... let's go."

My stomach felt empty, especially since I hadn't had a proper breakfast.  I felt famished and my mouth watered at the thought of having some delicious ice cream.  I felt a little guilty at having dessert before lunch, but then again, what my mom doesn't know won't kill her, or at least get her upset.

The ice cream shop was situated at a busy intersection in town.  It was surrounded by giant palm trees that provided plenty of shade and was within blocks from the boardwalk.  Beautiful potted plants were scattered all over the place and a sign above the entrance read

Campanello's Ice Cream & Frozen Desserts
Since 1920

We walked in and found the place completely empty.  Inside, waiters were busy wiping tables, mopping the floors and cleaning the windows.  As we made our way to the counter, I could see a beautiful young girl in an extremely tight white blouse pulling her long brown hair into a ponytail. 

As soon as we both walked over to the counter, the girl got all fidgety and flustered as she stared at my father.  Now this wasn't just a simple stare, it was more than that, like she was inspecting or undressing my dad from head to toe. 

"Good morning and how are you today?"

My father smiled back and politely answered.

"Doing well and yourself?"

The girl played with the long curly ringlets on her hair while flirting with my dad.

"I'm doing alright, can't complain.  What will be your pleasure today?"

"Well Aria, my son and I are in the mood for some of your delicious ice cream.  I've been here many times and this is the best place in town to get a mouthwatering dessert."

I wondered how my father knew her name.  My dad was up to something, I could feel it, sense it.  There was that familiar flicker in his eyes that burned something deep within him, and it was the look of pure mischief. 

I kept looking at my father and then at Aria, back and forth, back and forth.  They were playing an adult game that left me out and feeling quite clueless.

"Your name is quite beautiful.  It means melody, dosen't it?"

Aria gave my father a mischievous and teasing smile.

"Very good, it does mean melody.  I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage, you know my name but I don't know yours."

My father was paying this girl so much attention that it was beginning to annoy me.

"My name is Antonio, but you can call me Tony."

The girl continued playing with her ponytail and blushing like an idiot.

I kept watching both of them silently, in a way it was kinda fascinating to see my father playing these games.  I wanted to learn more about my father, the way he acted, spoke, played and behaved, so that I could become just like him.

Observing him in action was the perfect way to learn and eventually follow in his footsteps.  A whole minute went by and they didn't say anything to each other.  They simply stared quietly in silence, it was Aria however that broke the spell.

"Well Tony, I'm very sure that you've indulged your sweet tooth in many different places.  So what makes this place so special?"

My father returned the misbehaving smile and placed his hands on the counter.  His huge hands were only inches away from Aria's small, delicate and well manicured girlie hands.

"Well, Aria, to answer your question truthfully, this is the only place that is able to gratify my sweet tooth."

Aria raised her right eyebrow and took a cherry from a fruit basket that was on the counter.

"Really?  Is that so?"

My father kept smiling, as Aria placed the cherry on her mouth and licked it in an obscene manner before putting it in her mouth.

For some reason that I can't explain, I got so angry at my father that I punched him in the ribs.  But instead of him feeling pain, it was the other way around.  My hand felt like it had hit solid granite, yet my father barely noticed that I had hit him.


My father looked down and raised his eyebrows.

"Oh sorry sport.  The ice cream, right... I forgot."

Aria blushed again and look down to see what the fuss was about. 

"Well, who's the impatient little man?"

My dad took a hold of my hand and caressed my right cheek.

"Aria, I'd like to introduce you to my son."

I stood there just looking at Aria, I didn't feel like talking, so I just stared at her.  But my father expected better from me, so he gave me a gentle nudge.

"Son, where are your manners?  Please introduce yourself."

I grumbled and while rolling my eyes, mumbled.

"Dante... nice to meet you."

Aria gave a very girlie annoying laugh and blew me a kiss.  This girl was really getting on my nerves, I honestly don't know what my dad saw in her.

"Dad, what are we waiting for?"

My dad messed up my hair and frowned at me.

"Patience son, what's gotten into you?"

"Well, it's just that we came here for ice cream and all you're doing is talking to her..."

My dad gave me a disapproving look and nodded his head.

"Alright son, I get the point.  Have you taken a good look at the menu?  Do you know what you want?"

I nodded and took another quick look, everything on the menu looked amazing.  The entire menu consisted of tortoni, spumoni and gelato.  There was also a short description of the desserts and what they were made of.

Tortoni, an Italian recipe of frozen custard with toasted coconut and almond flavour, a touch of bisque, and topped with a cookie dust.  Now a popular and elegant dessert, tortoni originated in ancient Rome where it was served exclusively to Emperors and nobles.  Served wrapped in individual paper cups, mounded and crested with almond macaroon dust.  Try one and we gurantee that you'll love it!

Spumoni, an old time frozen Italian dessert usually made of three layers.  A chocolate layer is sandwiched between old world cherry and candied fruits. Garnished with four kinds of nuts and a touch of rum and brandy.

All Natural Gelato (made with fresh milk and eggs), approx. 35% less fat than our traditional ice cream and much less air for a more intense taste.  Many flavours available (see the Flavours chart).  Also available in pints and quarts.

Italian Ice, A non-dairy product, made with natural flavours, water and sugar (see the Flavour chart).

Sorbet, made with real fruit purees, water and sugar (lactose free).

We also have seasonal items, such as Yule logs, Prizzele sandwiches, Ice cream pies and more!

The flavour chart was overwhelming.  There were so many different flavours, each sounding more delicious and tempting than the next: Amaretto, Almond and Cherry, Banana, Butter Brickle, Butter Pecan, Cherry Vanilla, Chocolate Chip, Cappuccino Coffee, Chocolate, Coconut, Coffee, Cherry Blizzard, Cookies and Cream, Diabetic Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Dutch Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Fudge, French Vanilla, Ginger and Honey, Honeycomb, Lemon-Lime, Mint Chocolate Chip, Mocha Fudge, Maple and Walnut, Neapolitan, Orange Liqueur, Passion Fruit, Peanut Butter Cup, Pecan and Fudge, Pistachio, Rasberry, Rum and Raisin, Spumoni, Strawberry, Tropical Twist, Tropical Coconut, Diabetic Vanilla, Vanilla Bean, and many more.

I must have wandered off for a couple of seconds, because I was startled by the sound of my dad's deep voice.

"Do you know what you're going to have Dante?"

I frowned at the chart and finally made my decision.

"Uhhh... I think I'll have the dark chocolate fudge, and can I have a cherry on top?"

My dad simply smiled and nodded his head from side to side.

"You and your mom are the same, pure chocoholics.  You're always getting the same Dante, why don't you try something new?"

I sighed and rolled my eyes.

"Fine... fine, then passion fruit sounds interesting, but what is it?"

My dad shrugged his shoulders and looked back at the girl behind the counter.

"Aria, would you be so kind as to explain to us what passion fruit is?"

Aria smiled and took another cherry from the fruit bowl.

"Well Tony, the purple passion fruit comes from southern Brazil.  This fruit has a unique flavour, very appealing, kinda musky but also sweet.  It has a very sweet and delicious flavour, I'm sure you would love it Tony..."

Once she had given us a short description, Aria placed the cherry between her lips and wickedly twirled it with her tongue.  My dad simply stared at Aria and had a huge grin.

"Dad, do you think I can have a sample of the passion fruit?"

My father grinned at Aria and looked directly into her eyes, as he spoke.

"Aria, would it be possible to have a taste of the passion fruit?"

Aria's green eyes shone in the light and she looked like she was ready to jump my dad at any second.

"You want a taste Tony?"

She said this in very provocative tone of voice.

"I'd be more than willing to have you taste it..."

Aria took a small sample spoon, scooped a bit of the Passion Fruit and in the most obscene gesture, she licked the spoon clean.

"Mmm, mmmmm... delicious, simply delicious..."

My father seemed entranced and enchanted.  From my level, I could see that his hands were now gripping the counter very tightly, it was like he was doing everything in his power not to jump over the counter and jump Aria.  I was more than shocked to see that my dad was showing an enormous bulge in his shorts.  His massive cock was very clearly outlined and seemed like it was ready to tear the fabric apart.

This was getting out of line and I had had more than enough.


My dad almost jumped as I yelled out at him.

"Jesus Christ, son...what is it?"

"What is she doing?  We've been here for the longest time and I want my ice cream."

Aria blushed a deep, scarlet red colour and quickly took another sample spoon and handed it to me.

"I'm sorry little Dante.  Here, taste it and I'm very sure that you'll like it."

Aria was still blushing and my father was now looking at me and he didn't seem too pleased, but I didn't care.

"Well Dante?  Do you like it or do you want another flavour?"

I looked up at my father and handed back the sample spoon to him.

"The flavour is sweet... very sweet, I like it..."

My dad nodded, spanked my butt and lifted me up to his shoulders.

"Two scoops of Passion Fruit with a cherry on top for my son, and I'll have the spumoni, thank you."

Aria moved quickly and in a blink of an eye had our desserts neatly placed in a tray.

"Now is there anything else that you desire, Tony?"

My father was looking at Aria straight in the eye and gave her another wicked smile. 

"For the moment that's everything Aria, thank you."

My father paid for the ice creams and we headed towards the patio.  My father wanted his usual table, which faced the harbour and was situated further in the back.  We sat under a large palm tree with plenty of shade and a perfect, unobstructed view of the ocean.

We started savouring our desserts in silence, there couldn't be a more perfect moment to spend with my dad.  A warm breeze was being carried from the ocean and the tall palm trees quietly swayed back and forth. 

My father remained voiceless, his mind seemed to be somewhere else.  He would stare at the ocean and then look at me while smiling, on occasion he would take a taste of his spumoni.  I wondered what he could be thinking...


I know that the right thing to do is to give Dante a simple explanation of what occurred at Eagle's Rock.  I've been told that a child's curiosity will be satisfied even with the most simple of explanations.  I don't intend on keeping secrets from my son, I love and respect him too much to keep him in the dark.  As he grows older, he will learn many things from me, I will explain everything about my life, my past and the choices I made... the good as well as the bad.

Staring at Dante's innocence made me think about his future.   His destiny looks bright and promising, but he will have to live up to the family name.  I know that there will be many men that will want to challenge him, simply to prove their strength, dominance and power. 

Dante's path won't be easy, but then again, whose is?  It will be full of twists and turns, ups and downs.  I will however do my very best to guide him.  I'll always be there for him and I will keep him on the straight and narrow.  He will have to learn to pick and fight his own battles, I can only guide him so much and the rest will be up to him.  I will teach him the difference between walking away and standing up for his principles and beliefs.

"You asked me a fair question earlier on, son."

Dante had a mouthful of ice cream but stopped as soon as I started talking.  This conversation I will remember forever, for it would be the beginning of many honest, sincere and heart to heart talks with my son.

"What I will tell you Dante is to remain between the two of us, alright?"

Dante gave me a puzzled look on his sweet face.

"Look son, I know it's difficult to understand right now.  I'll do my very best to explain everything to you."

Dante silently nodded and pulled his chair closer to the table.

"Your mother and grandmother have a tendency to overreact over any little thing, and you also know that your mom has an gift to make a mountain out of a mole hill."

Dante smiled and silently agreed with me on this fact.

"Lieutenant Andres Massoli has been hired by me to find someone... a friend."

Dante remained silent, but I could see that he was itching for the moment when he could start asking questions.

"I'm sure you've got questions son, so feel free to ask anytime..."

Dante opened his mouth and thought carefully before asking his first question.

"So who's this friend?  Have I ever met him?"

I shook my head from side to side and took another spoonful of my dessert.

"No son, you've never met him."

Dante furrowed his eyebrows and scratched his head while taking another spoonful of ice cream into his mouth.

"Where did you meet him?"

I had to be careful as to how much information to give Dante.  He only needs to know the basics, enough to keep him in the loop, but not to an excessive degree.

"I met him at the sports center a couple of years ago."

Dante seemed content with my least so far.

"So what happened to him?"

That was a very good question indeed.

"I honestly don't know cub.  One day I was training him to be a boxer and he was showing promise, the next day he was gone."

Dante sat back on his chair and crossed his arms.

"Does Fabrizio know him?"

I was taken by surprise on his last question.  The short answer would be yes...Fabrizio knew about Val.

"Yes Dante, Fabrizio knows him."

Dante finished his dessert and pondered what to ask next.

"So you don't know why he disappeared?"

Again, I shook my head and sighed heavily.

"No cub, Valerio was having a lot of problems at home and was thinking about running away.  Unfortunately he left before I could offer any assistance."

I took a sip of water and glanced at my watch.  It was getting very close to noon and we needed to get going, we were supposed to have a quick lunch at home and then head over to the sports center to meet the guys.

"Look son, I promise that we'll talk more about this later.  Right now we need to head home, eat something quickly and meet the guys over at the sports center."

Dante's eyes lit up and nodded silently.  I'm glad that he felt confortable and enjoyed spending time with his old man and my buds.

I got up, picked up the tray and motioned for the cub to follow me.  As I walked inside the restaurant, I placed the tray on the counter and thanked Aria.

"As always Aria, no other place comes close to the quality and great service that you provide.  Our desserts were delectable, delightful, and of course delicious."

Aria smiled and continued to play with her ponytail. 

"I'm very glad you've enjoyed your desserts.  Perhaps next time you could stay a little bit longer Tony and I could offer you a more inviting, luscious and savory treat."

Aria seductively undid three buttons from her blouse, which revealed a beautiful pair of double D's tightly secured in a pearly white satin bra.  I caught Dante looking at Aria and he looked baffled, so I quickly grabbed his hand, pulled him closer to me and turned him around so that his back was now facing Aria. 

I've seen that look in a woman's face many times, it's the look of pure lust and voracity.  Aria looked determined and serious enough to take it to the next level and before things got out of hand, I smiled politely at her offer.

"I will certainly keep that in mind, and I'll stop by another time."

As we walked out of the restaurant, Dante kept giving me strange looks.  I wanted to laugh but that would be an open invitation for him to start asking all sorts of questions and we certainly didn't have the time.  Aria is far from being a pure and saintly young girl.  On the contrary, she knows what she wants and how to grab a man's attention. 

Her offer is very inviting indeed, but there's a new feeling within me that I can't quite describe.  All day long, I can only think about one person, Markus. 

Everything about him, his face, his body, the sound of his voice, his smell, his character.  A few weeks ago, I would have certainly jumped at the proposal that Aria was so kindly offering.  No man in his fucking right mind could pass the opportunity to ravage and plunder such a young beauty.  I came close today from jumping over that counter and fucking her three ways from Sunday.

But at this very moment something was stirring deeply within me.  The part that bothers me the most is that I don't have the time to dwell on this strange feeling.  I have a lot of shit on my mind lately, what with my family, Fabrizio coming back, Markus in my life and the return of Valerio. 

I need to talk to someone, the one man I can always trust and rely on giving good advice... Rocco.


I drove towards the harbour until I reached the Naval Academy at Via Bruxelles and Parco della Resistenza.  The young cadets were doing their daily drills in and around the base.  Every cocksucker within a ten mile radius would be prowling around the park hunting for prey.  These faggots would be on their knees and with their mouths wide open, willing to satisfy as many young and virile cadets as they possibly could.

I parked my car and walked towards the more secluded part of the park.  It's here where old men can be found sitting on benches "reading" the morning paper and checking out every male cadet that passes by. 

I didn't really expect to go far to find Valerio, after all a predator never strays far from it's prey.  My eyes scanned all directions, until I found the perfect place which provided a good cover and excellent concealment for a wanton street whore. 

I threaded my way carefully towards the thick brushes and it was here that I heard the unmistakable and apparent gasps of male pleasure.

"Suck it man, yeah... suck that cock!"

The closer I got and the more I heard.  I spread the underbrush aside and peeked in, sure enough there was Valerio on his knees being held in place by a pair of strong young arms.  A tall and strong cadet was face fucking the living daylights out of Valerio.

"Fuck, you're good man.  Sweet mouth of yours, you're an awesome cock sucker!"

The kid was obviously enjoying his blowjob.  I can't believe how easy this assignment had been, and I was glad that I had found Valerio so quickly.  My bonus for finding this disgraceful faggot was going to be of quite an appreciable amount.  Antonio Martinello was going to be very pleased, very please indeed.

"Oh man, I'm close... very close!"

Now, I could be a complete asshole and burst in on Valerio's lunch, but that would be quite rude.  Or I could let the young cadet get his nut off and enjoy his much needed blowjob.  In the end, I decided to let Valerio finish his job and put his talented mouth to work.

"FUCK... here I cum... .open your fucking mouth!"

The young cadet shuddered and trembled in the climax of his orgasm, while Valerio's hands were tightly grasping around the waist of his trick.  The kid must have had a huge load, because I could hear Valerio swallowing, swallowing and swallowing some more and almost chocking on the young sperm the kid was feeding him.

"That's it slut, swallow my load.  Yeah, all of it!  Every singly fucking drop!"

Valerio simply nodded and kept milking his client's cock for all it was worth.  I figured I had given both of them enough time to enjoy themselves.  I had to make my entrance before another fucking faggot barged in. 

I took a few careful steps, but the rustling of the branches and the dry grass made both of them freeze and turn their heads.

"Um... I'm done man, thanks."

The young cadet zipped up and thanked Valerio.  The kid funbled with his trousers and looked more embarrassed and red-faced than anything.  Valerio on the other hand stayed on his knees and seemed pretty pissed off that I had burst in. 

"Well remember what I told you, stud.  The first one is free and if you're interested next time, then you'll have to pay."

The young cadet rushed past me while averting my eyes.  The kid simply nodded at what Valerio had said to him, while tucking in his shirts into his pants and darting out of there in a flash.

"That was pretty fucking rude, whoever you are.  It was his first blow and you practically scared the shit out of him."

Valerio took his index finger and removed a couple of cum drops from his chin and licked his finger clean.

"Too bad, his cum tastes amazing.  He almost drowned me with all that cum.  I was hoping for seconds, oh well..."

I stood there quietly observing Valerio.  He looked completely unabashed and unashamed of what he had just done.

"So are you going to say anything, or are you just going stand there and stare at me?"

I took a few steps and crossed my arms.  I figured that if would be safer to play along and let him think that I was just another guy looking for a blow.

"So you give away freebies?"

Valerio sized me up and down and gave me a teasing look.

"Well it depends..."

I obscenely and suggestively rubbed my crotch.  Valerio's eyes seemed to bulge out of their sockets as he saw the outline of the heavy artillery that I was packing.

I raised my eyebrows and smiled.

"Depends?  On what...?"

Valerio took a single step and licked his ruby red cocksucking lips.

"Well, first I'd like to see what I'll be putting in my mouth and we'll take it from there..."

I smiled at the boldness of this faggot.  It looks like I was really going to play along with Valerio to gain his trust.  So I slowly unzipped my pants while staring deeply into Val's bright green eyes, and enjoyed his reaction.

"Holy Mary mother of God!"

Valerio stood up and licked his lips.  This was the moment to make my move, so I grinned and zipped up.  Valerio was indeed in the right business, he's nothing but a shameless cock whore.

Valerio took a few steps towards me and placed his right hand on my tented crotch.

"It seems that you need someone to take care of your needs..."

I smiled and chuckled at his impudence.

"And you think you're the one that can do it?"

Velerio batted his long lashes and seductively whispered into my ear.

"Oh, I know I can handsome..."

He blew into my ear and tenderly licked my earlobe.

"I'll give you the best blow job you've ever had, stud."

I brushed his hand from my basket and took a firm grip of his wrist.  Valerio tensed up a bit, but kept reassuring me with his soft voice.

"Relax stud, you'll love it.  I guarantee it, I've got an amazing mouth and tongue."

I smiled and softly stroked his right cheek.

"Why don't we go to a more confortable place?"

Valerio's face changed and he looked a bit disappointed.

"Where do you have in mind?"

I pointed towards the parking lot and took a hold of his thin hand and led him out of the underbrush.

"I have my car, perhaps we can drive around and find a more secluded spot.  Well, what do you think?"

Val showed signs of worry, he tried to pull away and his hands were trembling.

"Listen stud, I made it a rule not to go into a guy's car... it's very dangerous.  Besides, I've learned my lesson the hard way and payed the price."

Valerio pulled away and started walking away.  I had to stop him, I had found him and I couldn't risk losing him.

"Alright, alright, calm down.  I'm not a weirdo you know, I'm not into anything unnatural."

That last comment made Valerio smile. 

"Oh nothing unnatural... just sex with men, right?"

Valerio started to ease down, this was the moment where I had to think and act fast.  I had two options that I could choose from, one was harsh, the other more sincere. 

My first option was to kidnap Val, but that would prove difficult at this time of day and with many people walking around the park that would prove dangerous.  The second one was to come out clean and explain to him that Antonio Martinello wanted to see and talk to him.

"Listen Valerio, perhaps I should make myself a little more clear."

Val gave me a strange look and furrowed his eyebrows.

"How do you know my name?  Do I know you?"

I shook my head side to side.

"No Val, you don't know me and I think it's best if I come clean.  You deserve to know the truth, so here it is, I have been hired to find you and to take you somewhere safe and especially away from all of this."

Valerio looked very upset and his face turned an angry red colour.

"Who the hell sent you, my parents?  No, that can't be, they would rather see me dead than to even think of helping me."

I took another step closer to him and was prepared for anything.

"I have been hired by Antonio Alessandro Martinello, I'm sure you know him."

Tears formed in Valerio's eyes and he trembled as he softly spoke.

"Tony?  I mean, Antonio sent you?"

I nodded my head and extended my hand to him.

"That is correct Val, Antonio has hired me to find you.  Once I did, I was to safely escort you to the Hotel Villa Bonera, where he would meet with you."

Valerio didn't fight me, he didn't struggle or even mutter a single word.  He simply took hold of my hand and as we walked towards the car in silence, a single tear ran down his cheek.


By the time we got home it was well past noon.  I watched Dante run inside the house and he disappeared into his room.  I had made it very clear to him that we were to leave the house as fast as possible. 

On the drive home, I mentioned that he was not to say anything to his mother or grandmother about what we had discussed earlier at the restaurant. 

As soon as I walked into the house the scent of something exquisite lingered in the air.  I tried to sneak past the living room  and head into the bedroom to change, but Adrienne was already waiting for me at the top of the stairs.

"Trying to sneak past me?"

I had to smile at Adrienne's comment.

"Not at all my dear, it's just that Dante and I are running very late.  I was heading upstairs to get my gym bag and change."

Adrienne looked upset with her arms crossed, a sure sign that something had pissed her off.

"Your son just ran by about two seconds ago and he said that both of you had already eaten.  Where did the two of you have lunch?"

 I had to think fast for something that she would find approving, especially since she hates, or more accurately despises fast food.

"Dante and I shared a sandwich from DiCostanza's."

Like any attentive and concerned wife, mother, lover and goddess of the universe, Adrienne has the nagging habit in making sure that Dante and I eat only healthy food.  When preparing any dish, she makes sure that all the ingredients are fresh and of the best quality, nothing else is good enough for herself or her family.

"We were feeling hungry, so I decided to buy us both a sandwich."

Adrienne just stood at the top of the stairs, she didn't move or say anything.  I looked again at my wrist watch and the time was of the essence.

"You know DiCostanza's, and they make excellent sandwiches.  So we had the Vienna bread with Proscuitto, Capicola, Salami and Provolone cheese.  And I made sure that they added plenty of tomatoes, olive oil, oregano and salt."

Adrienne looked even more pissed off.

"I prepared one of your favourite meals and you mean to tell me that you ate a sandwich from the street?  I made Scaloppina di Vitello alla Francese" (veal dipped in batter and sauteed in white wine with lemon and butter).

No wonder the house smelled amazing, Scaloppina di Vitello alla Francese was indeed one of my most favourite dishes.

Ring... Ring... Ring

Phew, I had been saved by the bell.

"You'll have to excuse me my love, but I have to get the phone. ...Hello?... Yes, this is Tony."

I could hear Adrienne descending the stairs.  I turned my back to her and quickly recognized the deep baritone voice coming from the other end.

"How are you Massoli?  Yeah, doing well.... really? Is that so?  Alright, I'll see you at the sports center in a few minutes, ciao."

I hung up the phone and at that very minute Dante came running down the stairs.

"How many times have I told you NOT to run down the stairs Dante?"

The news that Andres gave me over the phone was stunning and startling to say the least.  I hadn't really expected anything this soon, I had just spoken to the man a few hours ago."

"Who was that?"

I gave Adrienne a look of pure shock.

"Umm... sorry?"

"On the phone, Antonio, who was that?"

I turned to see Dante at the bottom of the stairs, holding both our gym bags.

"That was a friend from work, I'm supposed to meet him at the sports center this afternoon."

I signalled Dante to head for the door.

"Listen love, I'm very sorry about lunch.  I promise that we'll eat your appetizing dish when we come back, but at this moment the cub and I have to go."

Within seconds we had left the house in a hurry and everything had become a blur.  I didn't even have a chance to change, I was covered in dust, dirt and sweat.  Fuck it, I'll just take a shower at the sports center.

My heart and mind were racing, my hands were sweating and all the way to the sports center, I kept thinking of Fabrizio, Markus and of course Valerio.  How the fuck am I going to juggle all three of these guys?  Sooner or later they're all going to run into each other and then -- BOOM!

I could hear Dante talking to me, but my mind was somewhere else, thinking... thinking... thinking.

I was in such a rush to get to the sports center that I lost track of how many red lights I drove through.  Dante however was keeping track and was shouting at me for not obeying the laws.  Out of the corner of my eyes, I could see my son glaring at me. 

Once we had reached the top of the hill, I parked the car in my private spot and bolted toward the main entrance.

Dante was dragging our gym bags and trying to keep up, but an angry voice shouted at me to slow down.

"DAD... wait up!"

I turned around and caught a sight of the poor cub dragging our bags.

"I'm sorry son, why don't you give me the gym bags and try to keep up.  I'm very late for a meeting."

Dante gave me a very suspicious look.

"Who are you meeting?"

I sighed and felt that it would be best if I stopped and briefly explained to Dante what was going on.  I knelt down to his eye level and did my best to clarify things to him.

"Remember the man I was telling you about at the restaurant earlier?"

Dante nodded and looked even more inquisitive.

"Well, Lieutenant Massoli found him and I'm going to see him right now.  I'll be leaving you in the care of Paolo Mesto and Enrico Cozza, so I want you to be a good boy and be on your very best behaviour, alright?  I want you to do exactly as they say, and you're not to leave their sight and wander around."

Dante nodded and I think he understood how important this was for me.

"Please son, I want your word that you'll stay close to Mesto and Cozza."

"Yes, dad... I promise."

I smiled at my cub and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

As we ascended the stairs of the main entrance Lieutenant Massoli stood leaning against the gigantic statue of Hercules.  He seemed a bit restless and kept looking at his wrist watch while taking a drag from his cigarette.

"Good afternoon Mr. Martinello, I thought that perhaps you had a sudden change of plans..."

I cut Massoli off and asked about Valerio.

"Is Val at the Hotel?"

Massoli looked behind me and saw Dante trying to catch his breath.

"Actually Mr. Martinello, Val is waiting for you in the Sacred Garden.  I left him with one of my men and he's waiting for you at the Venus grotto."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing, Val at the Sacred Garden?  What the fuck was Massoli thinking?

"What the hell did you just say?  You'll have to repeat your last sentence, because I could have sworn I heard that Valerio had entered the Sacred Garden.  I'm sure you made a mistake, because you couldn't have been so stupid as to take him to the Venus Grotto."

I felt like I was going to explode.  I was within reach of grabbing this dumb fuck son of a bitch and strangling him.  If it weren't for the presence of my son, I would have kicked Massoli's ass 'til kingdom come.

"Just what the fuck were you thinking?  Of all the godamm places that you could have taken Valerio.  You, Massoli, of all people know that the grotto is a sacred and holy ground, it's a fucking binding place... you know very well what the fuck that means!"

Massoli looked attentive and kept his cool.  I took a step closer to him and was within inches of his face.

"I made it explicitly and fucking crystal clear to you that I wanted Valerio Laurentius Mazza at the Villa Bonera Hotel and nowhere else.  So please tell me, how you managed to fuck up my instructions?"

Massoli inhaled his cigarette and threw it on the ground.

"I understood your instructions, sir.  I explained to Mr. Mazza that I was taking him to the Villa Bonera, however he insisted to see you before he agreed to any of your requests.  He was also the one that brought up the Sacred Garden, he wouldn't agree to meet with you anywhere else, it is apparent and very possible that he knows the rules and laws of the place..."

I cut Massoli off for the second time and gave him a very angry look.

"Enough, I've heard enough!  I'm letting this one go this time Massoli, but mark my word the next time I give you an order I expect you to follow it.  If you don't, I'll personally see to it that you are issuing parking tickets for the rest of your life, and that your membership is revoked from the Agency, forever!"

Massoli could not hide the animosity and annoyance in the manner that I had spoken and dealt with him.  My last threat seemed to have made a dent in him, because his face lit up red in anger.

"I am sorry to have disobeyed your orders Mr. Martinello, please believe me that it won't happen again."

Our eyes met for a very long second and I took hold of Dante's hand.

"I sincerely hope so Lieutenant, for your sake."

I picked up Dante, carried him on my shoulders and threw our gym bags on the ground.

"Make yourself useful Massoli and carry our bags.  I need to drop off my son before I see Val."

As I pushed the heavy iron doors open, a friendly familiar voice greeted us.

"Ahh Antonio, it's great to see you."

An old friend was busy watering the gigantic palm trees that decorated the entire lobby.

"Good afternoon Franco, how are you?"

Franco Arduini has been working at the sports center ever since I can remember, I consider the old man to be practically family.  I've always felt very confortable in his presence and he's known me ever since I was a troubled, angry and fucked up teenager.

"I need you to do me a favour please, I want you to get on the P.A. system and call Paolo Mesto and Enrico Cozza to the lobby, please."

Right away Franco headed to his oak desk, picked up the microphone and cleared his throat.

"Attention please, will Mr. Paolo Mesto and Enrico Cozza come down to the main lobby.  I repeat, Mr. Paolo Mesto and Enrico Cozza please come to the main lobby, thank you."

"Well Tony, your men should be here soon, and who's that on your shoulders?  Well, if it isn't little Dante Alessandro... my, my this kid is getting bigger and bigger every time I see him.  Damm Tony, this is one good looking kid you've got here, he's going to be one helluva heartbraker in a few years, just like his daddy."

Within minutes Mesto and Cozza arrived at the lobby dripping in sweat.  They were both half naked, for the exception of the  very small sauna towels that barely reached their waists.  Their large and noticeable bulges were very obvious and it was no wonder these two were always much sought after.  Aside from being hung, they also have a distinct and evident charm, bravado and extreme good looks that make members of both sexes to swoon over them. 

As both of my men walked towards us, I took notice that all eyes in the lobby became affixed to the large bulge between their legs.  The obscene and huge bulges on their towels emphasized the superiority and supremacy of well endowed males and both tried very hard to hold onto their towels. 

Mesto and Cozza were all smiles when they saw me.  Mesto was the first to greet me, while Cozza picked up Dante and threw him onto his wet shoulders.

"Hey Tony, che cazzo?  We didn't know you were going be at the sports center today."

I gave Mesto a strong handshake and pulled him to the side.  I wanted to talk to him in private and briefly explain to him my plans.  Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Dante laughing and having fun with Cozza.

"Hi Mr.Cozza, you're all wet!"

Dante laughed and giggled as Cozza threw him in the air and tickled him in the ribs.

"Hey yourself sport and what's with all this Mr.Cozza formality, we're family.  It's Rico for my little man. How's my boy been doing?"

Cozza was tickling Dante while curiously looking at Mesto and me.

"Listen carefully Paolo, Lieutenant Massoli has found Valerio and he's brought him to the sports center.  I need you and Rico to look after Dante while I talk to Valerio.  I don't know how long this will take and if for some reason I take longer than five hours, I want you to drive Dante home and give any excuse to Adrienne about my absence."

Paolo nodded his head and gave me a strong pat on the back.

"Of course Tony, you know that you can always count on us.  Don't worry about Dante, we'll look after him and you do what needs to be done, we'll take the cub home."

"Are you sure that the two of you can handle Dante?  Otherwise, I can always call Rocco and he can babysit the cub."

Paolo gave me a look of defiance, while looking at the cub who was laughing at something Cozza had said.

"C'mon Tony give us a break, you can trust us.  Besides, Mr. Rocco Foglio is busy with, how can I put this delicately... deflowering young virgin ass in his private room upstairs."

I looked at my watch and I was a bit surprised to hear that the old fox was already planting his seed in yet another young buck. I smiled and sighed.

"Alright, alright, the two of you can look after Dante.  Just make sure that he stays with you at all times, and that the two of you are going to restrain yourselves of any carnal desires until it's time for Dante to be taken home, is that understood?"

Now it was Mesto's moment to sigh and roll his eyes.

"Well, I can speak for myself Tony, but you know horny and lustful Cozza gets.  That is one sexually deviant and perverted nympho over there."

I laughed and knew that I was leaving Dante in good hands.  I gave Mesto a hug and called Dante.

"Son, come over here, please."

Cozza put Dante on the ground and the cub ran towards me.

"I've spoken to Paolo and he'll look after you.  Remember to stay close to Mesto and Cozza.  Now what I'm going to say to you right now is very important.  Please don't wander around, don't talk to any strangers and behave yourself.  I will see you in a couple of  hours and if I take too long the guys will drive you home, alright?"

I saw the hurt and confusion in Dante's eyes.

"Daddy, do you have to go now?  I thought you would at least have time to swim with me in the pool for a little bit."

"I'm very sorry Dante, but I have to go with Lieutenant Massoli right now.  Valerio is waiting for me and we have lots of things to discuss."

Dante gave me the longest sigh and I knew how disappointed he must be feeling. 

"I promise you cub, we'll do the pool next time.  You know what?  We'll spend the whole day in the pool if you want, just you and me."

Dante smiled, nodded at me and gave me a kiss on the lips.

"Alright, daddy... next time."

The beautiful pout was still there, but at least he was trying to understand.

"Thank you son, and now I need you to be a good boy and stay close to Paolo and Enrico."

Dante gave a long and loud sigh and nodded yes.

"I'll stay with them and be good."

Dante gave me a big hug and then took Cozza's hand.  I thanked them both again and waved at Dante.

"Take care of the cub and guard him with your life."

Cozza smiled and waved back.

"Don't worry Tony, we'll do a good job of babysitting.  We'll look after him like he was our own son.  Now go Tony, and the best of luck..."

And with that I followed Massoli out of the sports center and headed towards the sacred garden, unsure of what I would find there.


I heard their names being called on the P.A. system, Paolo Mesto and Enrico Cozza.  These two men were Antonio's closest friends and wherever they were, Antonio was most likely to be around.  Tony hadn't called me at home today which was very strange, and when I called his private number at the office the day before, there was no answer.  I had a uneasy and strange feeling, like Tony was avoiding me.

By the time I had reached the lobby, both Paolo and Enrico were gone.  I decided to ask the old man at the front desk if he had seen Antonio, but when I walked up to him, he simply gave me a lewd look and rudely told me that I was the twentieth person to ask him that very same question.  He then lowered his gaze and went back to reading his newspaper.

My blood began to boil and the anger within me was slowly growing.  Before I did or said anything that I would end up regretting, I took a deep breath, counted to five and walked away.  I had taken a few steps when I felt an electric current travel throught my body and needed to be let out.  I turned around, walked up to the old man and slammed my fist hard onto the desk.

"Do you know who I am?"

The old man sat back on his chair and calmly put his paper down.

"No, and I really don't care."

My face felt flushed and my earlobes were on fire, I was on the verge of exploding and creating a scene.  I wanted to show this old fuck that I belonged to Antonio Martinello and I had every fucking right to know where he was.  But to admit that I was Antonio's inamorato, well that just made me feel a bit uncomfortable. 

I had to do something to make the old man understand -- and then it hit me. 

Today would be the first time that I would exercise my right and given power of being associated with a very powerful man.  A man whom many admire, desire, idolize, and also fear.  A very dominant and notable man, Antonio Alessandro Martinello.  So while looking at the old man straight in the eye, I rolled up the sleeve of my upper right arm, and the look on his face was priceless.

The tattoo of the tiger's claw shone brightly in the light.  The look on the old man's face changed colour, it went from pallid and frail, to a deep crimson red.  The result of embarrassment, and of course, fear. 

It was at that moment that I knew he had gotten the point.

"I am very, very sorry, please..."

I raised my hand and stopped him.

"Look, save it.  I just want to know if you heard anything they said?  Perhaps where Antonio was heading? Anything..."

The old man took a deep breath and sighed.

"I honestly can't help you, I'm very sorry.  My hearing is not the greatest, young man.  All I know is that Antonio spoke very quietly and discreetly.  Once he had given orders to his men, he left his son in their care.  He then bolted for the door and took off with another man that I've never seen before at the sports center.  That must have been no more than ten minutes ago, I swear that's all I know."

I rolled down my sleeve, thanked the old man and walked towards the front door.  All of this sounded very strange, who was the man that accompanied Antonio?  Why all the secrecy?  If he left his son behind, then it must be for a reason, but what?

I would have thought that Antonio could trust and confide in me.  Why was he doing things behind my back?  Could he be sleeping with this other man? 

As soon as I stepped outside, I felt a bit better.  My head stopped spinning and the fresh breeze seemed to cool me down.  Out of nowwhere a soft, but deep and well spoken voice greeted me.

"Hello Markus..."

I turned to my right and a figure stood in front of the sunlight.  I couldn't see the face or recognize the voice, all I saw was a bright and luminous radiance.  As I raised my hand to cover the sun, I was startled by a handsome and well-dressed man that stood leaning against the pillar.

"If you're looking for Antonio, you will find him in the sacred garden.  He's deep within the walls, just follow the gods and they will lead you to the Venus grotto."

I was confused and curious to know how he knew my name.  Also, how did he know about the man that I was looking for?  I couldn't help to stare at him, he was that beautiful.  And for some strange reason, he reminded me of someone, but whom?

I couldn't take my eyes off his sparkling and gleaming smile.  I was so entranced by this man, that I simply froze on the spot.  The more I stared at him, the more nervous I got, but his face seemed very familiar.  I felt very sure that I had seen this handsome face before.  His eyes were unreal, they shone brightly like radiant emeralds in the sun.  The stranger seemed to be about 6'1", or perhaps even taller, and with a very light shade of brown hair. 

The many highlights in his hair changed colour in the sun.  As the wind swept his hair, the highlights turned from the lightest shade of brown to a more radiant golden colour.  He simply stood there looking back at me and didn't move a single muscle.  He had a serious but appealing look on his face and as he softly spoke, he broke the enchantment.

"Look for the hidden entrance into the sacred garden, but I must warn you, you have to have pure intentions, be pure of heart and soul in order to enter the Venus grotto."

I raised my eyebrows and gave him a very confused look.

"Keep in mind Markus, that not everything is as it seems in the garden.  Follow the gods and under the grotto, you will find Antonio..."

As the wind picked up, flower petals and leaves hit my eyes, so I closed them for a brief second.  The moment I opened my eyes, the handsome stranger was gone.

"WAIT... wait a minute, who are you...?"

As I ran towards the pillar where he had been standing, I could hear a name being carried by the wind.


I walked towards the gardens in a perplexed haze and more confused than ever.  Whoever this man was, it seems that he knows a lot more than I do.  I simply couldn't get his image out of my head, I turned around every so often, expecting to see him either leaning against a tree or sitting on a bench. 

The words, "Not everything is as it seems in the garden.  Follow the gods and under the grotto, you will find Antonio..." kept repeating over and over in my head. 

In all the times that I've been at the sports center I had never really bothered to see the gardens.  I knew very little about them, in fact I had only heard three things about these famous gardens: that they dated as far back as the 11th century, that they contained about 30,000 types of plants from all over the world, and last but not least, that the gardens span nearly 180 acres.

As I reached the entrance to the gardens, two life-sized bronze statues stood guarding the entrance.  I recognized the one to the right to be the Roman god Vertumnus and at his left his consort, the goddess Pomona. 

Vertumnus was the Roman god of the garden and orchard, while Pomona was the goddess of fruit and fruitfulness.

Out of nowhere, a cold breeze swirled around me and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.  I took a step closer to the gigantic iron gate and noticed that the gate had a double-faced head, each looking in opposite directions.  The double-face belonged to the Roman god Janus, who was the god of gates, doors, of beginnings and endings. 

He was worshipped at the beginning of the harvest time, in marriage, birth and other types of beginnings.  Especially the beginnings of important events in a person's life.  Janus also represented the transition between primitive life and civilization, between the countryside and the city, peace and war and the growing-up of young people. 

Was all of this a coincidence or fate?  Whatever it was, it was certainly a befitting moment.

As I moved closer to the gates, I noticed a sign that had fallen onto the ground, which read "Gardens closed for the season, under maintenance and construction, we're sorry for the inconvenience".

I couldn't believe my fucking luck.  How can the gardens be closed?  It's impossible, how the hell did Antonio get in then?  I sighed and looked for another way in.  I was out of luck, it looked like the wall just went on and on, forever. 

I tried to scale the wall, but it was nearly impossible to hold onto anything.  The whole wall was covered with lush evergreen Baltic ivy and after a few minutes, I gave up. 

The wall was just too fucking high to climb, but I was determined to find another way in.  There was no way that I was going to give in so easy.  Come hell or high water, I was going to get into the gardens and find Antonio. 

As I was about to walk away, the enormous iron gate simply opened.  This was all very strange, how did the heavy iron door just open by itself? 

I walked over and stepped into the garden.  The moment I had set foot in, the wind picked up and the scent of thousands of flowers lingered in the air.  A strange feeling stirred within me, I felt like I wasn't alone, but so far the garden looked deserted. 

As I walked deeper into the garden, the iron gates slammed shut with such a violent force that I jumped ten feet into the air. 
"For fuck sakes!"
  My nerves were at a minimal, it was bad enough that I was feeling anxious and edgy, but the sereness of this place was a bit nerve-racking. 

The wind must have slammed the gate shut, it was just the wind...

I took a deep breath and continued forward, the garden looked like it was very well taken care of.  It seems that every seed had been carefully selected and cultivated with the utmost care.  The end result of this place was breathtaking for the senses, it was very serene and soothing for the soul and the sensual scents of the flowers was simply euphoric and blissful.

The wind was making leaves and rose petals dance around me.  But I couldn't enjoy the enchanting and magical beauty of this place, because my mind was preoccupied with a million thoughts.  The first one being, who was Fabrizio?

The branches in the trees were talking and the rustling of the leaves felt like someone was whispering secrets in my ear.  I looked around and saw no one, not a single soul in sight.  Finally, I came across the statue of the Roman goddess Minerva.

Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, strategy and war.  She sat on her throne with an owl perched on her shoulder, while holding a spear in one hand and a shield resting at her feet.  I stopped to read the inscription on the statue.

"Vis consili expers mole ruit sua."

If I remember my Latin from school, it translated into

"Strength without wisdon falls by its own weight."

The detail on the statues is astonishing, they seem so real, so lifelike.  The closer I got to inspect them, the more I thought Minerva would blink and speak to me.  I felt the cool wind picking up and at moments it became so fierce that it could push me backwards. 

Leaves, petals and all kinds of debris were being blown all over the place.  The strong wind pushed me around like a rag doll, I felt like someone was trying to prevent me from reaching my destination, but that was of course preposterous.

I walked along a pebbled road where gorgeous lily-of-the-valley and blue and white hyazinth grew abundantly.  I came across a fork in the road where a road map gave a brief explanation of the different types of gardens one could visit.

Rock Garden

The Rock Garden may be called the pride of our garden.  Here you will find terrestrial plants (lower altitudes) and alpine plants (higher altitudes).  These plants are suited to cultivation in rockeries, turf-plantations, marshes and shady areas. There are about 6,000. 

The Japanese Glade

his is the place for quiet contemplation.  Gaze out over the water or linger on the bridge while enjoying Japanese or other East Asian herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees.  Especially conspicuous are the magnolias, azaleas and cherry trees, but also note the Japanese hobble bushes (Vibernum furcatum) and the katsura trees.  Here you can enjoy the following as well,

Strolling Pond Garden (Chisen-kaiyu-shiki)

This is the largest of the Japanese gardens.  Step through the Wisteria Arbou, designed as a frame for the antique 5-tiered pagoda lantern donated by the city of Sapporo, Japan in 1950.  The stones at the base of the pagoda are in the shape of the island of Hokkaido.  The Strolling Pond Garden features crane sculptures and is crossed by the authentic Moon Bridge, which also holds tortoises and beautiful koi (about 50).
In May the ground is covered with flowering wood poppy (Hylomecum japonicum) and in the autumn the trees and shrubs change to amazing colours.

Rhododendrons Valley

This garden showcases more than 220 varieties of rhododendrons, which reach their peak bloom in May.  Acidic soil, high humidity and a sheltered location make our collection one of the largest in the country.  There are more than 200 wild species on display and during most time of the year you can find some of them in flower.  The most common colours are pink and red, but their palette is also made up of white, yellow, purple and blue.

Rose Garden 

The rose garden is our jewel in the crown, for it contains about 2,000 modern hybrid roses and 650 shrub roses arranged to reflect the highlights of rose breeding.  The garden includes old garden roses, modern garden roses, modern shrub roses and miniature roses.  Climbing roses are included with other companion climbing plants.

The Camellia Garden

Features one of the regions largest collections of camellias, totaling over 450 varieties.  This garden was created in the 1775 by the Conte and Contessa di Riccardi, founding members of The San Remo Camellia Society.  The garden displays old-time favourites and newer cultivars known to grow well in this area.  The predominant types of camellias found in this theme garden are varieties of Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua.  In 1900, the Garden's camellia collection was given the prestigious Golden Ceres award in Botanical Gardens by the European Association of Botanical Gardens.

Fragrance Garden

The fragrance garden was conceived as a garden therapy project in the spring of 1810.  The Riccardi family financed the construction and planting of the garden.  Flowers of only the best quality are hand picked, grown and cultivated for their oil, to produce perfumes, fragrances, flavours, attars, aroma candles, cosmetics, and soaps. 

The House of Riccardi uses the latest in technology and creativity to preserve and redefine the art of perfumery.  At the fragrance garden we manufacture floral oils by Hydro-distillation which extracts the purest odorant materials from natural flowers.  There is nothing ordinary about the aromatic tour de forces created here, everything is fervently produced with a nouveau approach to the craft of fine fragrances resulting in truly separate, trendsetting fragrances and oils.

This garden is designed for all whom enjoy fragrance plants.  Ramp entrances and hand rails are intended to accommodate the visually impaired.  Some of the fragrant plants used in this garden are Wintersweet, Osmanthus, Bayberry, Peppermint, Fringetree, Lavender and fragrant flowering bulbs.

You will also find beautiful exotic flowers, such as the Hong Kong Orchid Tree (Bauhinia blakeana) which has a lovely fragranted purple-fuscia and white flower, the Cananga Odorata (Ylang-Ylang), the alluring and unique flower of CHANEL N°5, the Night Blooming Jasmine (Cestrum Nocturnum), the Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum), a night blooming flower with extreme 8-9" flowers that close the next morning, the Tahitian Gardenia (Gardenia tahitensis), an extreme glossy Magnolia with leaves 8" x 5" with a 3" bloom, and the most rare and spectacular of the Gardenias, the Madascar Jasmine (Jasminum x stephaneace), an extremely fragrant cut porcelain like flower.

The Herb Garden 

Designed by the Riccardi family architects, this lovely garden is maintained by the San Remo Herb Society and has seven raised beds filled with herbs grouped into categories such as culinary, medicinal, spiritual and fragrant.

The Dahlia Garden

The Dahlia garden offers several hundred varieties of show quality Dahlias.  These showy plants offer a rainbow of colours in mid to late summer and into fall.  The Dahlia garden is planted and maintained by the San Remo Dahlia Society.

The Magnolia Collection

The Magnolia collection features over 80 different types of deciduous and evergreen Magnolias.  In mid to late April, the west lawn is accented with masses of white and pink flowers.  In late spring, the unusual yellow-flowering "Elizabeth" Magnolia graces the landscape.

The Orchid House

Our unique collection is among the largest in Europe.  Our greenhouse contains about 1200 species of the most dazzlingly and beautiful orchids from Costa Rica in Central America.  The many different types of orchids are arranged into 22 groups, many are large and impressive and we also have miniatures orchids with flowers only a few millimetres across.  Most orchids are pollinated by bees, wasps and flies, but keeping true to their native land, we also house about 100 hummingbirds whose main purpose is to pollinate.

The orchid house is also a non-profit organization, with a mission to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth.  Here you can see the Queen of the Orchids (Grammatophyllum speciosum), also called the Tiger Orchid, Sugar Cane Orchid or Giant Orchid.  It is the world's largest orchid, native to New Guinea, Indonesia and Malaysia, growing in crotches of large trees or exposed areas of the lowland tropical rainforest. You can also find one of the world's smallest flower, Platystele jungermanniodes, which is about the size of a pinhead.

The Synoptic Garden

This unique 5-acre garden displays superior trees and shrubs, which are arranged in alphabetical order by botanical name. The garden consists of over 500 types of plants.  The Synoptic Garden offers an educational experience for the home gardener, student, and professional.

The Fern Glade

Nestled between the wildlife trails and Camellia Garden, this area is fed by springs and contains many varieties of ferns, such as Maidenhair, Staghorn, Japanese painted, etc.

Don't forget to visit our versions of the following famous fountains, such as the Fontana di Trevi, Fontana del Mose, Il Tritone and di Fontana Romana.

I had been so enthralled reading the map that I lost track of the time.  I was left astounded by the impressive size and flower collection of this place.  I had almost forgotten why I was even here, but it was a strong and spicy fragrance that floated in the air which made me come out of my haze.

I walked over to the rose and read the name, Black Cherry Floribunda.  It looked like this rose grew magnificently in this area, the flower had a glossy dark green foliage and came in an assortment range of colous, ranging from light apricot, to deep crimson to luscious pink and with stunning and almost-black buds.  The scent was simply heavenly, these flowers were the most beautiful and alluring red roses that I had ever seen.

I looked back at the map and noticed that nowhere did it show the location of the Venus Grotto.  All of the different gardens were there, the greenhouses, the fountains, the public washrooms, but no Venus Grotto.

All of a sudden a single rose petal hit my right cheek.  Something made me want to grab it, but the petal scaped my grasp and floated away in the current of air.  As I turned to follow the perfect and flawless petal, I was caught off guard by a radiant statue that stood a few feet away from me. 

Now wait a minute, was that statue there before?

I could have sworn that I hadn't see this statue, and as I walked towards it, I recognized it to be the goddess Angerona.  

Angerona was the Protecting
deity of ancient Rome, the goddess of secrecy and of the winter solstice.  She was shown with a bandaged mouth and with a finger to her lips commanding silence.  She was encircled in a bed of splendid and magnificent red Dahlias, which were the size of giant dinner plates.

A latin inscription was carved below her feet. 

"Audi, vide, tace; si vis vivere in pace."

The translation read,

"Listen, see, be silent; if you wish to live in peace."

One could spend hours just looking at these statues, and in all of the times that I've come to the sports center I never dreamt of the beauty and art that could be found outside its walls.  It's unbelievable and simply astonishing that these statues have stood for so many centuries and still look unblemished and immaculate.

There was no sign of the Grotto, but if I continued following the statues then I was likely to find it sooner or later.  There was a cold and unusual wind which made me shiver, so I returned to the trail and continued my journey. 

After a few minutes walk, I came across a clearing and another statue stood watching its territory like a sentinel.  It was Terminus, the Guardian of Boundaries.

His latin inscription read,

"Major e longinquo reverentia."

Which translates into,

"Viewed from a distance, everything is beautiful."

No wonder Terminus was chosen for this spot, the clearing revealed a perfect and unobstructed view of the ocean.  I couldn't believe that the path just ended here.  Did I make a wrong turn somewhere? that couldn't be, I was sure that I was heading in the right direction. 

As leaves rustled around my feet, I looked up at the sun and I could also see that a few clouds were being pushed around by the wind.  I sighed, took a look at my watch and hoped that someone would show up any minute and help me find the damm grotto. 

There were no signs, no indication anywhere to show where I was.  Only a trail made of pebbles and nothing else.  I was about to turn back when the wind suddenly died down, and although faintly, I could hear the sound of running water.

I threaded carefully and as I got closer to the edge, everything seemed unreal.  

To anyone that walked by the path, it would appear to end here, but as you got closer a majestic and spectacular triple-tier waterfall cascaded nearly 300 feet down. 

A waterfall here? Unbelievable, just how big was this place? And how could the map not show that the waterfall was here?

I looked carefullly and noticed that there were steps leading down to the waterfall, they seemed safe, at least I hoped so.  I was a bit nervous and reluctant to go down these ancient steps, but I was determined to find Antonio. 

Some twenty-five minutes later, I had finally and safely reached the bottom.  Tremendously gigantic boulders covered much of the view of the ocean, and with all the mist of the waterfall, this natural wonder could easily be missed. 

Another colossal statue stood in front of my path, this one was of the Roman god of the woodland, Silvanus. 

The towering god overlooked his reign of the woods and the forest.  The mist created by the waterfall blurred and clouded my view so that I couldn't see anything in the heavy brume.  Then all of a sudden, a ray of sunlight pierced through the heavy mist and a rainbow appeared in the sky. 

For a split second, I could have sworn that Silvanus had actually moved his arm and pointed downwards and into the mist.  Where a few minutes ago the mist guarded its secrets, now steps had suddenly appeared.  I had nowhere else to go but down, so I carefully descended into the unknown.

Once I had descended into this surreal realm, I came across the statue of a kneeling young woman.  Her face was bewitching and divine but when you stared closely at her, she looked grieved and heartbroken, and perhaps even crying. 

This statue was graceful and seductive.  The detail was simply superb and beyond what words could ever describe.  She knelt looking down at a single and sweet-smelling plant, which I recognized as narcissus.

There was a plaque set upon a rock that told the following fable...

The Face In The Pool

The Story of Echo and Narcissus

When Jupiter, the Lord of the Sky, came to the mountains, the wood nymphs rushed to embrance the jovial God.  They played with him in icy waterfalls and laughed with him in the lush green glades.

Jupiter's wife Juno, the Protector of Marriage and a very jealous goddess, often searched the mountainside trying to catch her husband with the nymphs, but whenever Juno came close to finding Jupiter a charming nymph named Echo stepped across her path.  Echo chatted with Juno in a lively fashion and did whatever she could to stall the goddess until Jupiter and the other nymphs had escaped.

Eventually, Juno discovered that Echo had been tricking her, and she flew into a rage.  "Your tongue has made a fool of me!" she shouted at Echo.  "Henceforth, your voice will be more brief, my dear!  You will always have the last word -- but never the first."

From that day on, poor Echo could only repeat the last word of what others had said.

One day, Echo spied upon a golden-haired youth hunting deer in the woods.  The boy's name was Narcissus, and he was the most beautiful young man in the forest.  By the age of sixteen he had left a trail of broken hearts from rejected lovers of both sexes.  All who looked upon Narcissus fell in love with him immediately, but he would have nothing to do with anyone, for he was very conceited.

When Echo first laid eyes on Narcissus, her heart burned like the flame of a torch.  She secretly followed him through the woods, loving him more with each step.  She got closer and closer until finally Narcissus heard the leaves rustling.  He whirled around and cried out, "Who's here?"

From behind a tree, Echo repeated his last word, "Here!"

Narcissus looked about in wonder, "Who are you?  Come to me!" he said.

Narcissus searched the woods, but could not find the nymph.  "Stop hiding!  Let us meet!" he shouted.

"Let us meet!" cried Echo.  Then she stepped from behind the tree and rushed to embrace Narcissus.

But the youth panicked when the nymph flung her arms around his neck.  He pushed her away and shouted, "Leave me alone!  I'd rather die than let you love me!"

"Love me!" was all poor Echo could say as she watched Narcissus run from her through the woods.  "Love me!  Love me!  Love me!"

Humiliated and filled with sorrow, Echo wandered the mountains until she found a lonely cave to live in.  Meanwhile, Narcissus hunted in the woods, tending only to himself, until one day he discovered a hidden pool of water.  The pool had a silvery-smooth surface.  No shepherds ever disturbed its waters, no goats or cattle, no birds or fallen leaves.  Only the  sun danced upon the still pond.

Tired from hunting and eager to quench his thirst, Narcissus laid on his stomach and leaned over the water.  As he looked down at the glassy surface, he saw someone staring back at him.

Narcissus was spellbound.  Gazing up at him from the pool were eyes like twin stars, framed by hair as golden as Apollo's and cheeks as smooth as ivory.  When he leaned down to try and kiss the perfect lips, he kissed only spring water.  As he reached out trying to embrace the vision of beauty, he found no one there.

"What love could be more cruel than this?" he cried.  "When my lips kiss the beloved, they touch only water!  When I reach for my beloved, I hold only water!"

Narcissus began to weep.  When he wiped away his tears, the person in the water also wiped away tears.  "Oh, no," sobbed Narcissus.  "I see the truth now, it is myself I weep for!  I yearn for my own reflection!"

As Narcissus cried harder, the tears broke the glassy surface of the pool and caused his reflection to disappear.  "Come back!  Where did you go?" the youth cried.  "I love you so much!  At least stay and let me look upon you!"

Day after day, Narcissus stared at the water, in love with his own reflection.  He began to waste away from grief, until one sad morning, he felt himself dying.  "Good-bye, my love!"  he shouted to his reflection.

"Good-bye, my love!" Echo cried to Narcissus from her cave deep in the woods.

Then Narcissus took his last breath.

After he died, the water nymphs and wood nymps searched for his body, but all they found was a magnificently beautiful flower beside the hidden pool where the youth had once yearned for his own reflection.  The flower had white petals and a yellow center, and from that time on, it was called Narcissus.

And alas, poor Echo, desolate after Narcissus's death, did not eat or sleep.  As she lay forlornly in her cave, all her beauty faded away, and she became very thin until her voice was all that was left.  Thereafter, the lonely voice of Echo was heard in the mountains, repeating the last words anyone said.

As I finished reading the story, I thought I heard laughter amidst the heavy roar of the waterfall.  It was difficult to make out, but there was no doubt that a mysterious laugh echoed throughout this place.  I looked around, but with all the heavy mist that lingered in the air it was impossible to make anything out. 

I tried to walk away from the thunderous
and earsplitting waterfall, carefully listening for any signs of laughter.  I then came across a mountainous escarpment, and as I looked up, my eyes caught sight of a figure carved into the cliff.  I looked at it carefully and couldn't mistake that it was the god Pam. 

Pam held his syrinx (reed pipe) in his right hand; the alto-relievo was deeply carved into the scarpment and surrounded by the seductive and enchanting Naiads, the Nymphs of rivers, springs and fountains.

I had a creepy feeling when looking at Pam, for whichever way you moved his eyes were always fixed on you. 

Many say that Pam is the perfect personification of the male image.  Pam is said to be wild, virile, strong, and lusty, he's not wicked or evil as many people believed.  Like that of nature, his temper can change quite suddenly and become extremely dangerous.  The wildness of nature and man can be beautiful and soothing, but if either are angered, abused, or exploited, both can become deadly.

It wasn't hard to miss that this version of Pam, like many others, is depicted with a large erect phallus.  The small man had a goatee beard, with
hind-quarters, horns and the sexual habits of a goat.  Pam is famous for his sexual prowess and was believed by the Greeks to have plied his seductive charms primarily on maidens and shepherds. 

Pam had many attributes as a god, for he was the god of goats, sheep and their shepherds.  Pam was also the god of bee-keeping and an excellent musician, playing the reed pipes he made from the transformed body of the nymph Syrinx (the one that got away)

Pam is also the god of prophesy, of the woods and fields.  It was said that he dwelt in grottos and often wandered in the mountains and valleys.  Pam was born on Mount Lycaeum and feared for being the foster brother of the king of the Olympian gods, Jupiter himself.  It was well known that Pam would amuse himself with chasing members of both sexes, or in leading the dances with the Nymphs.

A seductive laughter broke my concentration.  This time I had heard it very clearly and there was no way I was imagining the whole thing.  I felt like someone or something was watching me, but the dense vegetation and giant boulders protruding from the ground made it very difficult to pinpoint anything.

With the movements of a cat, I prowled silently and very carefully, but I was suddenly distracted by a heavenly and pleasant scent.  

stunning and gorgeous Wisteria Black Dragon, also known as "Royal Purple", grew abundantly in this area.  I was a surprised to see that there were tons of these flowers and all growing quite wild.  The flowers are absolutely stunning, and the fully double flowers give the illusion of large clusters of fragrant grapes, with no two ever alike.  

My eyes were bedazzled with the incredible different hues of these beautiful flowers, the colours ranged from dark blue to violet and purple.  These flowers were simply bewitching, it 
was no wonder since the soil and conditions of this spellbound and magical place were perfect for the growth of these magnificent plants.

As I kept walking, I encountered giant ferns and giant windmill palms that flourished wildly here as well.   The vegetation was so dense in this area that I almost tripped on a step covered by moss and what looked like dead sea kelp.

Now with every step taken, I noticed the strong and salty scent of the ocean.  You could hear the clear and distinct rumblings of powerful waves crashing against the immense boulders.  Within a few more yards I came across a bend, and once I turned the corner the sight in front of me surprised me beyond words.

It was a giant entrance to a wondrous cave next to the ocean.  This must be it!  I had finally found the entrance to the Venus Grotto.


My luck was changing for the best, I was ecstatic and nervous at the same time.  Soon I would see Antonio, and by arranging and securing our meeting in the mythical Venus Grotto, our fates would be sealed. 

It is said that this Grotto dates all the way back to 293 B.C..  This is a sacred sanctum where only lovers and couples are welcomed; a place that is considered consecrated and of divine ground. For anyone else that does not seek love it is forbidden to enter. 

There was an inscription carved deeply into the rock at the entrance to the grotto, and it read...

"A sacred sanctum where love reigns uncorrupted and eternal.  Where the celestial Goddess Venus, born of the sea and the sky, will grant you divine and everlasting love.  But beware, if your love is not pure, genuine, or sincere, you will have an unforgiving and merciless goddess."

There was another shorter inscription on the rock, this one in Latin, I only understood one word, ama... love.

Ut ameris, ama...

My love for Antonio was true and pure, I loved him with all my heart and soul.  Time had passed between us, but I knew that there was still a chance for the both of us.  I had made many mistakes in my life and losing him was the only one that I truly regretted.

Lieutenant Massoli had left me at the entrance of the grotto.  He said that he could go no further and that Antonio was already inside waiting for me.  I was so nervous that my hands were trembling and my throat felt parched. 

It had been so long since I'd seen Antonio that I felt weak at the knees.  I feared that I would faint if I saw him at this very second.  My stomach was in a knot and a million thoughts crossed my mind: What should I do when I see him? What should I say? Should I touch him? Hug him? Shake his hand? Will he push me away? Will he reject me?

I stopped in my tracks and panicked.  I couldn't think straight, my head was spinning and I felt like I wanted to throw up.  I was sweating profusely and couldn't move a muscle. 

I can't face Antonio this way, I'm too nervous.  I don't know what the hell I was thinking, I feel a panic attack coming on. 

As I turned around and starting walking out of the grotto, the sound of thunder could be heard in the distance.


"Val, where are you going?"

As soon as I heard that deep and masculine voice, I froze.  I had my back to him and I started crying, I lowered my head and cried away...

I felt Antonio's strong hands on my back, I was so petrified that I couldn't move a single muscle on my body.  I felt his big hands turn me around like a rag doll and then I was staring at his feet.  His right hand slowly lifted my chin and suddenly I was looking into his soul, and at those beautiful, heavenly hazel eyes.

I cried and cried and cried some more, I felt so lost and heavy-hearted.  I thought that Antonio would surely push me away, now that I was behaving this way, but all he did was hug me.

"Shhhh, cry all you want.  Let it out, I'm here, I'm right here."

His voice calmed me down, the crying turned to sobs and I pressed my body close to his.  His smell was indescribable, his scent exceeded description, he smelled so clean, so fresh and invigorating.

As I stopped crying, he grabbed hold of my hand and we sat on a marble bench.

"Are you feeling better now?"

I was so ashamed that I couldn't see him in the eye.

"Yes, thank you... I'm feeling a lot better.   I'm sorry about --"

"Shhh... you don't have to be sorry about anything.  We are here now and that's what important."

I smiled for fraction of a second and lifted my eyes.  I couldn't help but smile as I looked at that beautiful and handsome face that I had missed for so long.

"I wasn't sure you would want to see me."

Antonio was about to say something, when I pressed my index finger to his rosy lips.

"Please, I must say this Tony, for my sanity."

Antonio nodded, sat back and listened.

"I have come to ask if you could forgive me."

I stood up, wiped away my tears and fixed my gaze towards the majestic and beautiful statue of Venus.  God only knows how long she has been standing at her altar. 

The statue depicted Venus emerging from the sea on a shell.  This version reminded me of the famous painting done by Sandro Botticelli, but this version was more spectacular, more lifelike. 

The statue certainly was monumental and breathtaking, Venus must be at least 17 ft high.  I tried to get closer to get a better look and was blown away when I noticed that she had sapphires for eyes and a magnificent golden crown in her head.  Her hair was made out of gold and her skin seemed to be made out of... ivory?

Oil lamps were lit at each side of the statue and the heavenly scent of burning incense lingered in the air.  The altar was made of marble and encrusted with the most beautiful of precious stones. 

My jaw dropped to the floor as I inspected the altar.  This majestic altar was indeed suited for a goddess, it was decorated with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, amethyst and pearls.  On top of the altar, dazzling and splendrous rose bouquets, along with letters and candles, had been neatly arranged and placed for what appeared to be a form of gratitude.

I had lost my train of thought, everything was happening so quickly.  I shook my head side to side and tried to remember what for years I had wanted to say to Antonio.  Now it was the time, I had one chance and I wasn't about to fuck it up.

Where did I leave off?... Oh yeah...

"It's a lot to ask, I know.  And if it were any other man I wouldn't.  I suppose any other man wouldn't be able to accept my apology.  But you Antonio, you are an extraordinary and unique man.  Which is why, I suppose, I fell deeply in love with you in the first place.  And why perhaps I shouldn't be surprised to find that I'm still so in love with you now."

Antonio's face showed no emotions, so I turned my back to him and again stared at the majestic statue of Venus.


Antonio tried to interrupt me, but I held my right hand in the air.

"Please Tony, just listen... Just let me say what I have to say and then if you want me to leave, I will.  I promise... I know very well that I made many terrible mistakes in the last years.  I behaved in ways that are shameful, and now I have to deal with the hurt and the pain.  I've come to terms with my past, and with what I've done.  Please believe me when I say that I have learned from it, and hopefully I can go on to be a better person."

I was fighting back tears, I didn't want Antonio to see my crying.  I was stronger than this, I had to gather all the courage I could muster and go on.

"It would be so much easier if I felt that you could forgive me.  To allow me... us, a place in your life."


I heard Antonio mutter the word, and as I turned around, he stood up.  He looked serious, rigid and he took a single step in my direction.

"Val, you know very well what my intentions were..."

I looked Antonio straight in the eye and bit my lower lip.  I had to finish what I had to say, even if he dosen't want to hear it...

"I know what intentions you had with me and with us, Tony.  I believe that you and I can still build a life together and move forward."

Antonio sighed and nodded his head from side to side.

"Look Tony, I understand if you're skeptical and it might take some time to gain your trust.  And at this moment, I wouldn't expect more than friendship, really."

Antonio looked very stern, like he was trying to read my mind.

"I understand how badly I hurt you, Tony.  I'm aware of how I hurt the both of us, so friendship at this time would be enough.  However, if you ever feel that it could be more than that, then I'm sure I don't need to say that...."

Antonio took a step towards me and grabbed a hold of my hands.  His hands were warm, they felt rough to the touch but ever so gentle and masculine.

"Val, I forgave you a long time ago, and what's more important, I never stopped caring about you.  I wanted to help you so that you could help yourself, to get your life back on track, and move towards the future."

I listened to every word that he said, while never taking my eyes off his.

"Listen Val, I know that we're fallible.  We mess up from time to time, it's only human, but we have to recognize and deal with those mistakes, and make sure we don't repeat them."

I nodded my head and smiled.

"I have set up residence for you at the Villa Bonera Hotel.  There you will get cleaned up, you'll eat something, rest, and you'll have someone waiting to assist you for anything you desire.  I have also called for a private doctor to see you as soon as possible."

I nodded silently and knew that Antonio was doing all of this because he cared about me.  I wasn't going to fight him on anything, I was his to do as he pleased.

"Now having said that, I want you to understand Val that I'm doing this for your own good.  You will not be allowed to leave the Villa Bonera at all, for any reason.  You'll also have bodyguards that will watch you at all times, and they will make sure that my orders are followed."

I turned away from Antonio, closed my eyes and sighed.

"Alright, I'll do anything you say."

Now it was my turn to impose conditions.

"You know where we are, don't you Tony?"

Antonio looked around and his facial expression said it all.

"Yes, I know very well where we are."

I looked at the goddess and then at him.

"So you must know why I decided for us to meet here."

Antonio didn't take his eyes off me, he knew very well where I was going with this.

"I heard about this place from one of my clients, whom by the way is also a member of your secret society, you'd be surprised to know what some men share with you after sex."

Antonio took a step forward and was looking at the goddess while grabbing my wrist with force.

"You better be very careful in the way that you speak in the grotto, Val.  This is a mystical and strange place, you must respect it."

I stared at Antonio with deep curiosity and wondered why he sounded so uptight and uneasy .  In all the years that I'd known him, I've never seen him to be intimidated, or fearful of anyone or anything.

"As I was saying, my client and very close friend of yours, said that if you were to bring someone to the grotto, then the two of you would be linked forever..."

Antonio interrupted me and approached me.  He looked upset and was within inches from my face.

"Only if it is true love."

I grabbed both of Tony's hands, brought them to my lips and kissed them.

"My love for you is true, and yours for mine?"

I was about to plant a kiss on Antonio's lips when we were rudely interrupted.

Outside the grotto, that brusque, insolent and intrusive Lieutenant Massoli was holding what appeared to be a young man by the neck.

"I'm sorry to disturb you Mr. Martinello, but we have an uninvited guest who says he knows you."

Antonio let go of my hands and started walking towards the entrance to the grotto.  I cursed myself under my breath for not kissing him while I had the chance. 

I needed to kiss Antonio in front of the statue, it was crucial.  I had been so fucking close...


I couldn't believe my eyes.  How in the heavens was he able to find the grotto?

"Let go of me, you big oaf!"

Struggling and putting up a good fight against Lieutenant Massoli was my young protégé, Markus Wolfsburg.

"Markus?  What are you doing here?"

Markus gave me a very angry look and tried to peek over my shoulder.

"What am I doing here?  I can ask you the same damm thing.  What are you doing here and who the hell is that?"

I didn't need to look back, I knew that Markus was looking at Val.  I'm sure that poor Valerio was also trying to figure out what all the fuss was about. 

The wind was picking up and blowing fiercely in our direction.  >From where I stood, I had a perfect and unobstructed view of the ocean.  I could see the storm just over the horizon, it was moving slowly but gaining strength.  Lighting was visible and thunder could be heard, I knew that we all had to leave the grotto as soon as possible. 

The grotto was certainly a calming and beautiful place, but you didn't want to be caught inside when the tide came in.  Otherwise you'd be stuck until morning when the tide receded back. 

It had happened to me once a long time ago when I was in my teens.  I spent a cold and miserable night sleeping among the kelp, sea weed and noisy sea otters that loved to dwell in the grotto at night.

"Listen Markus, I promise that I will explain everything to you.  But right now this is neither the place nor the time to have this talk."  I gave the signal for Massoli to drop Markus and take a step back.

Markus' face had changed to a fiery red colour.  He looked exasperated and ready to blow a fuse.  I guess all the secrecy was making me look devious and deceitful.

"Not a good place to talk?  First you avoid me and now you're running around being all mysterious?  I don't care where we are, we are going to talk!"

I sighed and took a step towards Markus.  I tried to grab a hold of his hand, but he was so angry that he pulled back.

"We will Markus, I will explain everything to you.  But you have to calm down, you have to watch your language and especially your actions in this place."

Markus looked around and read the inscription at the entrance of the grotto.

"Just what the hell is this place?"

Massoli took a step forward and grabbed Markus by the shoulders.

"Do you want me to take him somewhere?"

Markus was caught unaware and tried to free himself from Massoli's grasp, but it was to no avail.

"No, that won't be necessary Lieutenant.  But I do want you to escort Val to the Villa Bonera and you're not to leave his sight.  Also have Dr. De Luca meet you there and he'll take care of the rest."

Massoli gently moved Markus aside and called out for Val.

"Mr. Mazza, it's time for us to go.  If you would be so kind as to follow me..."

I turned around to see Val walk out of the grotto with a disillusioned look on his face.  He stopped briefly and while looking at me, he took hold of my right hand and tenderly kissed it.

"Remember the bond..."

Val walked quietly past Markus while giving him a quick look from head to toe.  Although their eyes met merely for a split second, the look that they exchanged was of pure and absolute rivalry.

Markus and I watched silently as they walked around the bend and out of sight.  Markus' face still showed anger and hurt, I knew that I had behaved badly and should have discussed things with him instead of doing things behind his back. 

Without saying a word, I walked up to him and gave him an ardent and passionate kiss on the lips.  While Markus struggled in anger, I lifted and carried him into the grotto.

"What the hell are you doing?  Put me down Antonio..."

Markus was a true fighter.  He fought me with both anger, bitterness and passion.

I set him down by the steps of Venus and tried my best to suppress my happiness that I was feeling.  After all, without Markus knowing, I had sealed our fates forever as a couple. 

The second that I had kissed Markus on the lips and carried him inside the grotto our fates had been sealed.  We were now bound together for life and our unity had been witnessed under the watchful eye of the goddess of love and beauty, Venus.

"What the hell are you smiling at?  I'm still angry at you."

Outside, the storm was getting closer and closer.  The roar and rumble of thunder was deafening and fierce.

"I'm sorry if I seem happy to you, but I have a good reason to be."

Markus gave me a look of mistrust and suspicion.

"So are you going to let me in on all your secrecy?  Or are you intending on keeping me in the dark?"

Markus was beyond being angry.  Every word he said was said harshly and in a resentful way.

"I have no desire to keep anything from you, Markus.  I meant it when I said, that I was going to tell you everything."

That seemed to calm Markus for a second.  His nostrils were still flaring, but the colour on his face was turning back to normal.

"That young man that you saw a few moment ago, that was Valerio Mazza."

By the look on Markus' face, the gears in his brain were slowly turning.  He looked at me seriously and kept his eyes on me the whole time.

"I recognized the face, he seems very familiar.  I've met him before, haven't I?"
I nodded my head and smiled.

"I thought he looked familiar, but I couldn't be sure.  Where did I meet him, was it at the Tapu?"

I cleared my throat and again nodded.

"Yes, you met Valerio at the Tapu.  That was also the same night when we had our first lover's quarrel on the beach, remember?"

Markus gave me a faint smile.

"Well, I have been looking for Valerio for quite a while.  At this very moment, he's on his way to the Villa Bonera Hotel, where he'll be staying momentarily."

Markus raised his eyebrows and looked confused.

"The Villa Bonera Hotel?  Do you mean, the most luxurious, extravagant and expensive hotel in Italy?  And what the hell do you mean by momentarily?"

I nodded silently and carefully chose my words.

"Well, I intend on making Val feel very confortable for the moment.  What lays ahead for him will be very difficult, and this will also be hard for me to do, but, I don't have much of a choice. Val dosen't know it yet, but I've arranged for him to be declared incapacitated.  He'll be sent to a Detox Hospital and Treatment Center in Milan."

Markus' beautiful, deep blue eyes almost popped out of his skull.

"You're serious?  You have got to be kidding me, Antonio.  Can you do that? but you're not even immediate family."

I looked up at the statue of Venus and sighed.

"Val's family turned their backs on him when he was fifteen.  He's been living on the streets since and he dosen't have any other relatives, so the doctors will do as I tell them."

Markus' voice changed to a more irate tone.

"Antonio, you have to at least explain to him what you're planning on doing and why.  You can't just send him to that treatment center without prior knowledge, it's unjust, it's..."

I turned to face Markus and by his facial expression, I felt that he was getting defensive.

"I know that it sounds unfair Markus, but I did offer Val my assistance once, and he agreed to get help.  He gave me his word that he would go to a Detox center and get treatment, but instead he ran away."

I closed my eyes and tried to clear my head.  From the heavy thunder going on outside, I knew that the storm was almost on top of us.  If we didn't act fast enough and get out of here as soon as possible, we will be spending a cold and wet evening in the grotto.

I was startled by Markus' warm hand caressing my chest.  His sweet kisses on my neck brought me back to reality.

"Antonio, I know that you mean well, but Val has to accept and realize that he has a problem.  It's gotta be up to him to acknowledge his addictions and seek help.  I mean, it's great that you want to offer him help, but unless he makes the first step, it's out of your hands. Substance abusers are themselves unaware of the extent to which they have lost control, and this is the disease of addiction.  Your intervention is all in good faith, but..."

I cut Markus off and took his hand away from my chest.

"Look, this place in Milan is the best one in the country.  They have years of experience on all types of addictions and I know that they can help Val.  Detoxification is just the first treatment, the next step will be rehabilitation and with time, he'll make progress and recover from his drug, alcohol and gambling abuse."

Markus now looked angry, his face was changing colours again.  For a brief moment, I understood of what he must be thinking and feeling.

"Tony, I understand that detoxification is one step, but it's not the first step.  And you're right of course that as long as there is alcohol or drugs in his body, it will cause him to crave for more of these substances.  But Valerio has to be mentally and physically stable.  He has to be fully aware and in compliance or he won't be fully prepared to participate in any treatment program."

I walked away and waved my hands in the air.

"Which is why it's best if he dosen't know, Markus.  Once he's at the treatment center, the doctors and psychiatrists can start his treatment.  Valerio will just have to go along with it, whether he fucking likes it or not!"

Markus walked towards me and turned me around to face him.

"Antonio, you're not listening to me.  The goal of drug detox is to rid the body of toxins accumulated by drug use.  The first step of drug detox is drug withdrawal, which means that Val will have to discontinue the use of addictive substances.  After that, he'll go through physiological and mental readjustment, and once Val has discontinued using drugs and alcohol, then physical and behavioral symptons will follow. But the most important thing is that Valerio has to be aware of all of this.  If you force him against his will, he will resent you, perhaps even hate you.  Val will feel betrayed and might not respond to the treatment, do you really want that?"

I closed my eyes and listened to the loud thunder outside.


"I'm not ignoring you, I hear what you're saying, Markus.  I realize that what you're saying might be true, but I gave Val a chance before and he blew it, I can't afford to lose him again.  Even if he ends up resenting me, I'll deal with it.  It's better that he resents me for the rest of his life, than one day I find out that he died of a drug overdose, or that someone killed him for owing money."  

I heard every word that Antonio said.  But the words that I heard being repeated over and over were, "I can't afford to lose him again."  My throat felt dry and my heart felt like it was breaking in pieces. Did Antonio love Valerio?  What was the hold that Valerio had over Antonio?  


I turned around to see Markus walking back to the bench and he sat there quietly and looking sullen.  He was sitting with his arms crossed and he looked angry and hurt.  To say that he looked miserable was an overstatement. Markus stared at the ground but eventually he raised his stunning blue eyes.

"Do you love him?"

I stared back at him, his choice in words caught me off guard.


"You heard what I said, Antonio.  Do you love Valerio?"

I was speechless when I was asked again.  His voice quivered and sounded very hurt. I had to be very careful in the way that I answered.

"No, Markus.  I do not love Valerio."

The look on his face was still showing a wide range of emotions.

"Then why are you getting so involved in his private life?  What do his problems have to do with you?"

I lowered my head and sighed.

"There's a bit in him that reminds me of myself at his age.  I wasn't involved in any of those things, the drugs and all that other shit, I mean.  I was lucky, I met a man by the name of Rocco Foglio, who took me under his wing and steered me away from trouble."

"When I lost my parents and I was on my own, I got involved with a very dangerous crowd.  I came very close to landing in jail, and if it weren't for Rocco and boxing I don't know where I would be today.  I had someone that cared for me Markus, a man that helped me cope with my anger and resentment towards the world.  I want to do the same for Valerio, because I feel that he's heading for disaster, and before it's too late I want to intervene."

Markus was still looking at me with pain and cynicism.  I walked up to him, gently lifted him from the bench and stared at those magnificent and sensitive ice blue eyes.

"It is you whom I love, Markus, and no one else."

There, I had finally said it and couldn't take it back.  At the exact moment, a piercing and powerful bolt of lighting hit very close to the entrance of the grotto.  The bolt of thunder would have made anyone else jump, but at that moment, Markus and I had blocked out the entire world.

Gently, I raised his handsome face and moved his lips into a prone position for a kiss.  As our lips met, Markus sighed in pure contentment.  He raised his face and it seemed the most natural thing in the world to tell him that I loved him.  

Markus had tears in his eyes which made me smile.  I realized at that moment that he was a very sensitive young man.  I felt his muscles tense and as I raised his gaze, I saw the surprise of pleasure that played like fireworks in his sparkling ice blue eyes.

"You mean that, Antonio?"

Markus' look was serious and somber.

"I do," I smiled back sincerely.

Markus' eyes shone brightly with the lighting that flickered in the grotto.

"I hoped to hear those words from you, Tony.  I fell in love with you since day one..."

Markus' lips once again met mine.  This time the kiss was a good deal more passionate and possessive.  Markus' kisses deepened and it was with much more reluctance that he let me go some minutes later, as he ran an unsteady hand through my hair.

I looked down at him and his eyes were soft and gentle, yet full of joy and affection.

"You know the funny thing?"

Markus fought tears of joy and softly caressesed my face.


I smiled and gave him a soft kiss on the lips.

"I kept telling myself that if you ever found your way into this grotto, then you and I were meant to be together."

My arms slid down from his shoulders to lock around his waist.  

"One thing you should definitely learn about me, Markus, is that I always keep my promises... always."  

I cupped the back of Markus's head with my hand and slowly lowered my lips to his.  The kiss was heavenly and I felt Markus move his hands to grasp my shoulders.  Our fiery kiss deepened and Markus hung on tightly, reeling from the sensation. 

His kiss was warm and sweet, and he couldn't stop himself from issuing a smalll moan as our tongues explored each other's mouth.  Markus had his eyes closed all the time, whereas I kept mine open and smiled at his innocence.

"I would want nothing less from you, Tony... than your whole heart."

I couldn't stop smiling and kissing his forehead.  The painful erection in my shorts was giving me away as to how delighted and extremely turned on I was.  Just the smallest touch from Markus and my cock was at full mast and yearning for his touch and attention.

"I've loved you ever since you challenged me at the sports center, Wolfsburg.  The moment I saw you walking up to me and looking for a fight, I knew that I had to have you for my own."

Markus blushed a deep crimson red and smiled.

"I was so full of myself, I behaved like an idiot, I'm sorry Tony.  I am particularly sorry in the manner in which I approached you and your friends..."

I tenderly kissed Markus on his neck and he groaned softly.

"Don't be, my love. Besides, if you hadn't approached me at the sports center, then perhaps we wouldn't be together at this moment."

Markus laughed softly.

"That is true."

We stared at each other for the longest time.

"Can I ask you something, Tony?"

>From the look on his face and tone of his voice, it sounded serious.

"Go ahead, lover."

"Are we a couple?  I mean, are we to be partners?"

I felt ecstatic and thrilled, my heart was beating faster and faster.  As I heard Markus utter those words... partners, I felt immense happiness flow within my veins and into my heart.

I looked deep into Marku's eyes and with the biggest smile, said,


We were both smiling at each other now.  I was looking hotly at Markus and I desired him in every way possible at this moment.

"But seeing as you've been branded by me and every part of you belongs to me, you will still obey my commands."

Markus gave me a mischievous smile.

"Your commands?"

I was still holding him by his waist, but now Markus struggled to get away.  I held him in place, while he kept trying to push me away.

"Well, if you put it that way, Master.  You're every wish shall be done and with the greatest of pleasure."

Markus wriggled to get away and once I had let him go, he mocked me by giving me a proper courtesy.  His malicious and teasing ice blue eyes,had a much heavier emotion in their half lidded sultry look.

I found myself drawn into his eyes like a moth to a flame.  Those eyes were so inviting, magnetic and especially seductive.  I grabbed him by both of his wrists and pulled him forcibly towards me.

Markus came willingly and found himself cradled against my chest.

"You're so completely unlike anyone I've met before, Tony."


As I lay my head on Antonio's chest and listened to the beat of his heart, I felt safe in his embrace.  I felt safe in his strong and muscular arms that were now unfolding and gently caressing my back and neck.

"Tony, ..." I muttered tentatively, but the words seemed to escape me.

I felt Tony's lips against my forehead and his warm breath making my head swim.

"What, love?"

"Tony, I want..." again I choked on the words.  My arms and hands held him very tightly as though I was drowning and he was my saviour.  I felt him place several tiny kisses on my forehead, and speak again.

"You want what, my love?" 

I couldn't help but to smile, he had said it again.  I reeled internally, feeling the emotional power in his every gently and subtle touch and word.

I raised my face a little to his, and felt one of his strong hands come up and cradle the nape of my neck.  The other grasped me by my waist and he pulled me more tightly against him.

"You want what...?"

Antonio asked again, and as he continued to gently kiss my forehead, ears and cheeks, he whispered softly against my skin.

"You want me to kiss you some more?  Like this? Or this? Or perhaps this?"

Antonio chuckled in a soft way.  His lips nuzzled against my ear and he spoke again.

"If I may, Mr. Wolfsburg, may I tell you what I want?"

As I looked into his sweet hazel eyes, I softly answered,


My whole body now tingled with the intimacy of every contact between us.  I longed to tell him how much I wanted him right now, but speech was nearly impossible.

Antonio's entrancing and soft voice caressed my senses.

"I want to make love to you.  I want to know every part of you, inside and out.  I want you to know that I will always cherish, care for and love you."

I didn't want to cry in front of him, but tears of joy and absolute happiness were inevitable.

"Do you want me to do these things to you, Markus?"

His tender lips were still brushing my cheek and ear as he spoke these words.  My senses were reeling and I could barely stand.  Tears stung my eyes and my cheeks burned with the heat of desire.

"Tony, I..." again, I faltered over the words, but when his beautiful hazel eyes caught mine, I saw myself reflected there in his desire.

"I want you, Tony." I whispered.

"Make love to me, Tony.  Right here and right now..."

Antonio's mouth bent towards mine and we kisses fiercely.  It was an unbelievable feeling, I was beyond ecstatic and overjoyed.

We knelt on the ground and as Antonio kissed my back, my eyes were carefully surveying this grotto.  In the tumultuous argument, I had completely even forgotten as to where I was.
In front of us and raised on a very high platform, stood a super-colossal statue of the goddess Venus.  This was by far the most spectacular statue that I had ever seen, and I've been to many museums. 

I've been to the Musée du Louvre, The Vatican, The Uffizi, The Accademia in Florence, The Bargello, etc.  But no other statue like this Venus was as grandiose and stunning, to say the least.  She was perfect and immaculate, the amazing attention to detail was incredible. 

The statue bears a small resemblence to Botticelli's version, "The Birth of Venus".  But I also remember seeing in an Art History class an ancient painting by Apelles, which was called "Venus Anadyomene".  Anadyomene, meaning "Rising from the Sea".

Antonio on the other hand, was busy and desperately trying to take off my shirt.  I was too enthralled and captivated by the beauty of this place.  I could also smell incence burning, the sweet smells of Jasmine blossom, Lavender buds, Sandalwood and a variety of scented flowers, leaves and perhaps essential oils as well.

Where were we?  What exactly is this place?  Is this a shrine, a temple of some sort?  I couldn't even form words, when I saw the altar. 

Cardinal gems as they are called, adorned the altar.  These beautiful gems were largely used by a history of ecclesiastical, devotional or ceremonial use, and of course rarity.  Only six types of gemstones were considered precious; the amethyst, diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire and pearl.

"Tony, what is this place?"

Antonio was now kissing my neck and using my right hand to caress his enormous and massive cock.  He was now so horny that he wasn't even listening to me.

"Seriously, Tony... stop it!  What is this place?"

Antonio sighed and looked up at the statue.

"This, Markus, is the Temple of Venus and in honour for the goddess of love."

Antonio took my right hand and gently kissed it.

"Love... the most powerful force in the universe.  You were created by it, all of creation was created by it.  Not one thing can exist without it, nothing can thrive without it.  Love can give hope where there is none, it can turn enemies into friends, and it can turn darkness into light."

As Antonio spoke and darkness encircled us, the light that was being given off by the oil lamps gave the grotto a magical feeling.

"Love is the light, love removes all judgement.  It accepts and does not condemn, it has compassion and understanding.  With love there is no anger, no fear, and no suffering, there is only peace.  Most importantly positive peace that equals a just peace."

I must have looked confused to Antonio, because he smiled and winked at me.

"Listen Markus, I want you to know that you're the love of my life.  I don't have a lot to give you, the love that I hold in my heart is all that I can really give you.  Love... undying love is all I have and just a handful of words that most likely will make you laugh."

Tears were forming in my eyes as Tony spoke.  I was about to say something, when he put his index finger on my lips and again he spoke.

"I give myself to you and only you, Markus.  I'll always be here for you, whenever you need a friend, and especially in troubled times.  I've been waiting for someone like you for a very long time, and now I spend my days and nights thinking of you, and of us."

As Antonio said those last words, I cried a river.  As corny and girlish as it sounds, one cannot control what the heart tells the mind and soul.

"This is the temple of love, dedicated to all lovers Markus.  The moment I carried you in my arms and kissed you, we were forever sealed as a couple.  This is a holy and sacred place, and I do believe that Venus herself truly protects those that truly desire everlasting love from their partner, and you are my partner."

I was about to say something to Antonio, when all of a sudden a giant wave swept into the grotto and slammed us both against the wall.  Everything happened so quickly that I lost sight of Tony. 

I felt something become entangled around my ankle, I tried to pull away, but I couldn't.  I was being dragged out of the grotto and into the ocean by giant kelp.  As I struggled furiously to free myself, I could hear Antonio's frantic voice.

"Markus!  Markus!"

I can't recall from which direction his voice was coming from, and as I gulped for air, I could only hear him faintly.

"Swim Markus, swim!"

I swam the best I could against the current, but it was way too strong and powerful.  I couldn't breathe, and I couldn't grab a hold of anything. The more I struggled, the worse it seemed and everything around me was getting dark...

To be continued...