Ellie Murphy takes a contract teaching English at a school in Venice. There she meets the sexy, enigmatic Professor Piero Contarini, from an ancient Venetian family, and agrees to help him in his work curating a new edition of the memoirs of the famous seducer, Giacomo Casanova. Taking their task seriously, they start to enact his adventures with each other, ecstatically revealing their own kinks as they do so. But who is watching them from the shadowy alleyways of Venice?
EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK!
Ellie Murphy has agreed to help Professor Contarini to edit his definitive study of the writings of Casanova. She accepts his invitation to dinner to discuss the project further.
“Excellent. I’ll be able to show you some of my Venice on the way.” Piero Contarini stood up. The interview was over—or was it? Ellie got up and held out her hand. As she’d hoped, the professor again kissed her fingers, but had she imagined it, or did his mouth linger this time?
“Charming,” he murmured, and then he was gone.
Ellie sat down in her chair, panting slightly. She was still clutching the paperback in her left hand. Maria came back to her office so quickly that Ellie was convinced she must have been waiting outside in the corridor for Piero to come out.
“Well?” she asked.
“I am going to work with him, Maria.”
“I am so pleased. I thought he’d take to you.”
Not half as much as I’ve taken to him.
“He asked me to dinner—to discuss the project,” added Ellie, feeling herself blush furiously.
“Even better. Do you know where you are going?”
“The Corte something…”
“Not the Corte Sconta?”
“That was it.”
“Wow! That’s the best place to eat in Venice. It’s where all the writers, journalists, artists go—the successful ones anyway.”
“My city is dying,” said Piero, swirling the dark wine in his glass. “I don’t just mean that it’s sinking. I mean that we are losing a thousand people a year. The population has halved in the last thirty years. You wouldn’t think it, seeing how busy it always is here, but in the crowds, tourists outnumber Venetians by about seven to one.”
Ellie could have sworn that his eyes were shining with tears—of sorrow or anger? Perhaps it was just the effect of the wavering candlelight.
“But surely tourism is necessary—” Ellie stopped, seeing the flash of anger in his eyes.
“We have always had tourism. This was Europe’s city of pleasure in Casanova’s day. He wouldn’t have been the same man if he’d been born in, say, Milan, or Genoa. And before that, we always had waves of people coming from the Levant, from Constantinople, from the other side of the Alps. The problem now is people buying second homes and pricing out the normal people, or entire buildings being made over to tourist rentals. I might be an aristocrat—though my title has no legal meaning in modern Italy—but this is a very democratic city. Everybody walks here, or takes the vaporetto—the waterbus. I hope you weren’t thinking I’d take you for rides in a speed boat, Ellie, as I don’t own one.”
Ellie coughed into her napkin, trying to hide her embarrassment. She had rather been hoping for that. Again, it seemed that he could read her mind.
“Don’t worry, I’ll hire one for the day sometime and take you around the islands of the Lagoon,” he said, laughing.
“I read about the protests against the cruise-ships,” she said, remembering the clips she’d seen online of the vast boats towering above the ancient buildings, making Venice look like a toy-town, displacing the little boats in the lagoon as if they were origami models.
To her surprise, he reached across and grasped her hand.
“Ellie, I am one of those protesters. I hope—that is, if you are happy here, in your new job—that you will stay in my city long. When the season starts up, those great hulks will be back, and I’ll be out with my fellow Venetians—teachers, lawyers, shopkeepers, students, mothers and fathers—to let them know that we don’t want them riding by and staring down at us as if we were actors in Disneyworld, dressing up for their benefit. It’s not that I have anything against Disneyworld, but this place is ours, it’s real! If you come to love my city, will you join me?”
“I’d be honoured!” Ellie looked down at the strong hand covering her own. He squeezed it once, then released her.
“I should see you home now,” he said. “You’re teaching in the morning, and so am I.”
They stood at her doorway, Ellie holding her keys in her hand.
“Go up and turn the light on. That way I’ll know you’re home safe.”
Ellie laughed. “I’m hardly going to be mugged going upstairs,” she said, but she liked the little gallantry.
“All right, then.” She held out her hand. “I’ve had a lovely evening, Piero. I can hardly believe I’ve only been here just over a day. I feel so at home in Venice already.”
She couldn’t quite make out his expression as she said that, for his face was partly in shadow.
“I’m glad,” he said, in an oddly muffled voice. He took her hand, and she expected him to kiss it, as before, but instead he leaned forward and swiftly kissed her cheek near her mouth as she drank in the scent of him.
“Go in,” he said, “It’s late.”
Upstairs, she turned on the light as instructed, and went to the window to close the shutters. He’d taken a few paces back into the square and was looking up.
“Buonanotte!” he called, then turned away into the darkness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Zarrelli is the romance and erotica pen-name of Katherine Mezzacappa. Kate is Irish but now lives in Carrara in Northern Tuscany, between the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea, with her Italian husband and two teenage sons. She is the author of Tuscan Enchantment (eXtasy: Devine Destinies). Kate/Katherine writes historical, erotic, feel-good and paranormal fiction, set all over Europe, and in her spare time volunteers with a used book charity of which she is a founder member.
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