In March, the exterior of the villa was completely restored and the refurbishing work inside each room had started. Don Raffaele's wedding day was now approaching. Enzo hoped that the plan about having Ruggiero and him stay up there had not changed -- if they had to go back to their village, it would be difficult for them to continue having the intimacy they enjoyed up till then. Ruggiero appeared to be confident.
But meanwhile, Sicily was restless. They only heard some echoes, but it seemed that there was an insurrection against the king and the nobles in the west part of the island, stirred up mainly by the rich estate owners but also supported by farmhands who were giving vent to the discontent for their precarious condition. There, on the slopes of the Mongibello, rebellion was not brewing yet, because there was less misery there than in the west, also because nobles and landowners were mixed in wary marriages, and their farmhands seldom remained without work.
Ruggiero received the news from his friend, who first of all, thanked him for sending him Petruzzo.
"My dear Ruggiero,
I received your letter and its bearer with real pleasure. You really sent me milk and honey, truly delicious. An uncut stone, that as soon as it was freed of the dust from the long and difficult journey, started to shine with a pure, warm light, a raw stone ready to be cut to yield a precious gem. I'm working on it with enthusiasm, being rewarded by its light that is warming up my life. I cannot tell you the joy, the warmth, the pleasure that you gave me, by sending me this sweet surprise. My chisel just finished working it, and the stone is now here at my side, seducing me in its naked beauty, calling me to work on it again. I think I will do it again with extreme pleasure as soon as I close this letter. It seems incredible that a small stone like that, insignificant on the surface, could turn out to be so very precious. It is enough to brush it and to see it shine, to feel its warmth, to desire it with all of one's soul, to crave it with intensity... You can understand me, can't you?
Here, life continues, even though it has been in a troubled way for a while. In the countryside, but also in the town, groups of discontented people are forming, who would like to change the established order and to form a new one. The king's troops tried unsuccessfully to control the situation. Often, their actions, harsh and indiscriminate, only result in an increase in the bands of 'picciotti' (but they are not 'kids', but grownups, mainly farmhands or poor people) who are raging more and more often, finding support everywhere. I don't know what will come out from all that. The situation is really uncertain, as the one side is not strong enough, and the other side is not organized enough. It is just a blow followed by a counterblow, and the scale is not tipping in favor of one side or the other.
I am just staying by the window keeping a watchful eye, although you can guess where my liking goes. I haven't seen Severo downtown since the beginning of the uprising -- it seems that he is devoting himself to the picciotti with his usual zeal and he is respected and called "maestro." You know how much he has always been devoted to the most humble classes. I heard that he never misses company and that he is happier than a rooster in a hen roost crowded with nice pullets, or better, handsome and available cockerels.
About me, as I told you, between a court hearing and another, I'm enjoying what you sent me with your letter. What conquered me at first sight were his eyes, like those of a good puppy. When I had him take a bath, I went to assist him and what I saw attracted me at once -- mainly his glances filled with sweet promises. I wanted to dry him and I wanted to suckle the nectar of that flower. He abandoned himself with such grace and warmth and passion that made me ablaze. He wanted to taste the forbidden fruit that he savored for a long while before opening to me and... Well, I will never cease being grateful to you.
I asked myself with some amazement why you gave up such a splendor, but then I came to know that your wick is already burning of another flame, so to say. I hope we can meet one day and reunite our brotherhood again. I also hope this letter can reach you without getting lost on the way.
An affectionate greeting. Be in good health.
Your affectionate friend and old studying and revelry companion
Ruggiero explained to Enzo the pun in the letter -- in Latin, a stone is called "petra", hence the pun with the uncut precious stone and Petruzzo's name. Ruggiero was more amused for Petruzzo than the disorders troubling the west part of the island. In the past, there had been many rebellions, but afterwards everything always went back to the way it was before. It was somewhat like a volcano's eruptions -- while it is spitting fire and flames, and its reddish lava became rivers, it almost seems like the end of the world is near. But then the red rivers become black and everything resumes its usual rhythm with only small changes that almost nobody seems to notice. Catania was crossed in its central part with a black scar from the lava river from a few generations ago, but new buildings had already started to rise here and there and soon the dark scar would remain just a gradually fading memory. So it would also happen for this rebellion about which Guglielmo wrote.
But in April, they heard that groups of picciotti were gathering weapons and causing worries in Messina and also in Siracusa. The authorities regarded them as a "new outbreak of banditry" but others whispered it was an insurrectionary movement comparable to the one that chased away the Angevins. The exception was that the army, the king and the nobles were all foreigners then, now it was hard to recognize the friend from the enemy -- their accent would no longer be useful to distinguish them. Even the king, a Bourbon of Spanish origins, was now speaking Neapolitan even in his family, like everyone else. It was said that the old Carbonarist movement was not dead and it was reorganizing secretly. Someone on the contrary said that who pushed the picciotti to rebel was the Mafia, who wanted to undermine the aristocracy and to take their place, not only by gradually eroding their economic power, but also social and political power.
Others instead said that who financed the rebellions were the English, for their long-lasting hatred towards the Spanish. And last, there were those who said that the king of Piedmont and Sardinia planned to become the king of an Italy united from the Alps to Sicily. About the Piedmontese, they seemed so far away... up in the Continent, to the north, and with the Papal State in between, an insurmountable cushion -- who could dare to touch the land of the Pope, the chief of Christianity? Certainly not a little king from the north...
The enlightened minds favored the union of Italy in only one kingdom -- it could then proudly and fearlessly compete with the foreign powers like Spain, France, Austria and England. Somebody objected that the king Victor Emmanuel of Turin was as much a stranger as the king Francis of Naples. But the Piedmont king, some said, at least spoke Italian... and he was not an ally of Austrians like "little Francis." On the contrary, he fought them and also beat them...
Ruggiero and Enzo didn't care at all about these speeches. They had the villa to complete and their secret love to live, to cultivate.
Don Raffaele came to check the progress of the work at the villa. He was happy. And on that occasion, he informed Ruggiero that if he agreed, his father was ready to deprive himself of him and of the young Enzo so they cold stay with him at the villa. Ruggiero was overjoyed, but a good fox as he was, he answered that if the old master and don Raffaele agreed on that, he, only out of the long-lasting loyalty of his family, would accept and leave his village to live in a foreign village... And he didn't show enthusiasm or disappointment. So don Raffaele not only felt he had to thank him, but also to increase the pay to both Ruggiero and Enzo, who therefore officially got the title of vice-superintendent.
The scrumptious wedding of don Raffaele with the youth countess Eulalia was held in Catania. Following the rite of the bishop, there was the party in the Count's mansion. Ruggiero and Enzo were among the many guests, and for the occasion, Ruggiero wanted Enzo to wear a new suit, tailored especially for him. Enzo was somewhat frightened and stood in a corner, looking at those high-rank people, mixed in the small group of those who, like him, were just employees. Among the high-rank people, most were invited just to increase the guest number rather than because of real interest.
When don Raffaele wanted to introduce his new superintendent to his wife, Ruggiero looked for Enzo with his eyes and gave him an imperceptible sign to come closer. The boy didn't want to, but trembling and embarrassed, obeyed.
Don Raffaele, seeing him approaching, gestured him to come closer and introduced him to the young Countess, "... and this is the vice-superintendent, don Vincenzo Rota. He is young but he is a promising help to our don Ruggiero."
Enzo respectfully paid homage as he saw other people did, and met the limpid eyes of the young bride, who was just barely older than himself.
The bride said with a sweet voice hiding an almost virile force, "I am glad to meet you, don Vincenzo." Then she turned to her groom's side to greet other guests.
Ruggiero took the more than embarrassed Enzo by the arm and led him outside towards the terrace looking on the interior garden. "Do you like our new mistress?"
"She is... beautiful."
"Not really beautiful, just pretty... but she is a strong woman under a frail appearance. She will be a mistress to fear, besides to respect. I tell you, at least at home, she will be the real master."
"Do you think she will be a harsh master? Aristocrats, it is said..."
"Aristocrats are like everybody else. I don't think she will be a bad master, I can tell from her limpid eyes. It would be enough if you just remember that she is the master, and not only the master's wife. Also, the dowry she brings is too much for people to forget." The young man changed of subject, "There are many girls making you sweet eyes, Enzo..."
"Me?" the boy asked, somewhat shocked.
"Yes, sure. You are way too beautiful."
"It could be because of these clothes, so very beautiful."
"No, it is for yourself, your eyes, your hair, your look of a lost colt. You hit many people's fancy."
"Come on, don't pull my leg!"
"And not only of the girls of a marriageable age..." Ruggiero said cunningly.
"What do you mean?"
"Also of some married woman... and at last of a man."
"A man? And who?" the boy asked, more and more confused.
"Didn't you feel it? He is undressing you with his eyes, ever since we arrived at the Count's mansion..."
"I was not aware..."
"That's a shame, he is desiring you so strongly. He is just waiting for a sign from you, to take you where he knows..."
"Then he can wait until the final judgment day!" Enzo answered with a superior little smile.
Ruggiero looked at him with laughing eyes, "You really don't know whom I am talking about?"
"No, and I don't care, you should know that," the boy answered.
"On the contrary, I believe that if I tell you who he is, you would run to him without hesitation, and you would do anything he asks you to..."
Enzo looked at him, frowning, and felt hurt, "Do you know me so little? How can you say such things? Not even if he was don Raffaele in person!"
"And I say that I know you too well -- I bet that if that man tells you to go with him to make love, you will go with him at once!"
"Stop that, you are hurting me with these words..."
Ruggiero looked in his eyes and said, "Little silly boy, that man is me. Wouldn't you come at once and make love with me? I'm burning with desire..."
Enzo looked at him, stunned, then lightened in a big smile and with a low and warm voice, said, "You... sure I'll follow you wherever you want! Where do you want to take me?"
"Come, then. I want you..."
Ruggiero guided him down the staircase that led to the garden from the wide terrace, but then slipped under it, passing through a door leading to a corridor. They went through the noisy kitchen, full of servants busying to prepare the silver pots filled with fragrant coffee. Then they entered the larder and went down the wine cellar.
"Where are you taking me?" Enzo asked, agitated, excited, somewhat frightened for the self-assurance with which Ruggiero was moving in that unknown mansion.
"Earlier, I helped to take some the wine bottles upstairs. And at this time they will no longer serve wine, not after coffee, therefore... Come."
"But what if they catch us? In the Count's home, two strangers going around in that way..."
"They all are too busy."
"But if they notice our absence?"
"We are not important enough, and the mansion is huge, there are guests everywhere."
"But not in the cellar."
"I want you!" Ruggiero said, taking him by an arm.
Enzo felt the desire of the man in that hold, and shuddered with pleasure. Yes, he wanted him also.
Ruggiero guided him through three rooms with brick vaults and pillars, to a final room with five big barrels, fragrant of aged wine. He pointed to the gate from where the carts entered after each grape harvest, taking the best wine there to fill the barrels. At its side, there was a wooden ladder leading to a small cell from where the ropes of the tackles and pulleys were maneuvered to load and unload the carts. "Up there," he simply said.
Enzo swiftly climbed the ladder, followed by Ruggiero, who caressed his back with a feeling of possession. The boy quivered. Reaching the small cell, Ruggiero embraced him from his back, pushed himself against him, and made him feel his imperious erection. Enzo tilted back his head, leaning it on his man's shoulder, and Ruggiero kissed him, while caressing his chest with one hand and intimately groping between his legs with the other, "You want it too," he whispered merrily.
"How could I not?" the boy sighed while his lover's hands started to unbutton his clothes.
While the feast continued two floors above, in that narrow wooden cell the two lovers were celebrating their feast, with renewed passion, moving with sweet vigor in unison. Upstairs, the dancing had started. In that tiny room, their light pleasure moans were mixed with the festive music in an erotic symphony. Ruggiero's hands were sweeping all over his beloved's body with greedy pleasure. Enzo was holding himself with both hands against the brick pillar of the arch, to balance the impetuous pushes of his man inside him. He was happy, deeply happy to feel so strongly desired, so intensely wanted, so manly loved. He completely belonged to his man and yet, at the same time, Ruggiero also completely belonged to him, in a contest of love. His strong, hot tool, deeply embedded inside him was moving back and forth in a passionate, virile dance.
And finally, in the exultation of all their senses, pleasure tightly wrapped them like in a cloak, and made them explode in an extraordinary orgasm that left them trembling and breathless for a long time.
Enzo turned, Ruggiero held him in his arms and they kissed with passionate yearning. "Oh, my sparrow!"
"I need you. What would I be without you?"
"But I, then? You are my king, my god, my life."
"Do you love me?"
"I love you."
"Will you always be mine?"
"Always and forever, you know it."
"I adore you..." they murmured between one kiss and another, and it was not important who said what -- it was just the pleasure of listening to the other's voice, to get lost in the light of his eyes, to melt by the splendor of his smile.
When they went back to the other guests, Enzo was again astounded that nobody noticed the grace state he was in. His happiness for that extempore lovemaking was so intense that everybody should have become aware of it. Enzo felt it was almost tangible. He didn't feel like a stranger any more in that party -- he was the party's king, even if the others didn't seem to be aware of that. From time to time, his eyes captured Ruggiero's glances and they shone with luminous light.
A little before the party was over, Ruggiero and Enzo went back to Nicolosi with the gig, to prepare for the welcome of don Raffaele and the young Countess. The servants were waiting, spruced up -- the keeper with his wife and the two elder sons, the cook with her help, the two gardeners, the stable boy with his assistant, and the coach driver, then the two waitresses of the countess and the two waiters of don Raffaele. The two waitresses, the cook and her assistant, who was her son, were already the countess' servants. The others instead came from don Calogero's house. Ruggerio and Enzo make sure that everything was in order and ready for the masters' arrival. Enzo ordered to decorate the rooms that would be used by the newly wed couple with fresh flowers. Ruggiero prepared all the books for the reports in the studio -- he was sure that don Raffaele would have other things on his mind when he arrived, but just in case, he preferred to be ready.
Quite possibly the couple would not desire to eat or to drink after the abundant food and drinks at the party, but Enzo had the servants prepare a light and refreshing meal.
Enzo was observing the servants. Besides master Leo, his wife Santa, and their sons Alfio and Salvatore, whom he already knew, the gardener master Francesco, a widow, and his son Lorenzo, who had worked there to rebuild the garden, all the others were new faces or almost new. He had seen the stable boy Gerolamo, with his wife Nunzia, who would take care the wardrobe, and their son Rocco, stable boy assistant, the coach driver Tano, who worked for don Calogero before. The two waiters found by don Raffaele, Luciano and Giacomo, were new faces, two cousins from Massa Annunziata; then the two waitresses of the young countess, Lucia and Gaetana, Menica the cook, and her son and help Marzio.
How long would it take to remember all these names? He decided to write them down and each name he would also write down their tasks and information he was gradually gathering about them. He thought it was a good thing that nobody had the same name among so many. Salvatore and Rocco were of his age. Luciano, Marzio, Lorenzo and Alfio were a little older than him. On average, all were rather young. The villa would be lively -- in the evenings around the kitchen's big fireplace, there would be merry chats... possibly.
Giacomo and Gaetana were married but they still hadn't had children. Gerolamo and Nunzia left their younger children at the village, entrusting them to the unmarried sister of the mother, Menica, who had been abandoned by her husband shortly after Marzio's birth. Enzo was slowly writing down these notes on a small notebook he made himself using some spare sheets of paper. He was not able to write fast and in an elegant way like Ruggiero, but he managed to write.
In the evening, the coach of the Count came, bringing the couple to their residence. Alfio, who had been keeping a watching eye on the road, ran to the villa so that when the coach entered the garden, all the servants would be lined up to welcome the masters, with Ruggiero in the front and Enzo at his side. Don Raffaele made a greeting gesture to all of them and gave some coins to everyone. Then, followed by their waiters, the couple went upstairs, declaring they needed to rest after the long day of ceremonies and festivities. Ruggiero gave the orders for the following day, then said everybody could retire to their rooms. Master Leo with his family went back to the small house that was also the Villa's guardhouse. Gerolamo and his family, and Tano went to the rooms above the stables and the coach's depot, the others in the servant's wing, and at last, Ruggiero and Enzo could withdraw to the small tower.
As they agreed, Enzo stopped by his room to undress, undid the bed and ruffled its sheets, then slipped on the long nightshirt and went upstairs to his lover's room. Ruggiero was already in bed. He lifted the covers in an invitation. Enzo pulled off his shirt and lay down near his man.
Ruggiero embraced him and started to caress him, "Are you tired?"
"Nooo!" Enzo answered with roguish eyes, pushing himself against his man to let him feel his erection.
Ruggiero smiled, "I see, it's true, you are rather... in good shape, I'd say."
"And you?" Enzo asked, plunging under the covers to search for his lover's member with his lips.
When he emerged again to kiss him on his mouth, Ruggiero said with a cunning smile, "Don Raffaele is probably making the young countess taste his salami..."
"And you, aren't you going to make me taste yours?"
"Wasn't it enough this afternoon?" his lover asked him jokingly.
"That was just the appetizer..." Enzo said giggling while Ruggiero was going on top of him.
"Then get ready for the first and second course and the fruit."
"And cake?" the boy sighed, opening to welcome his man inside himself.
"And cake, of course," the young man said, slowly and pleasurably sinking inside his beloved boy.
"Ruggiero is tireless," the boy thought with sheer pleasure while the young man was rocking inside him with untamed enthusiasm. Their mouths were sealed in a long, passionate kiss.