So, Rey and I are in Sicily. We’re here for two weeks in September. The weather there is nice and warm. We’re staying at the Artemisia Palace Hotel right in the heart of Palermo. It’s within three minutes’ walking distance from the Politeama Garibaldi Theater.
We left London yesterday morning. The flight under three hours and we arrived after nine in the morning. We check in after dumping our bags in the room and after freshening up, we head out, anxious to explore the place.
“Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean,” Rey tells me.
We are holding hands as we walk. I have to pinch myself because I still can’t believe that I’m here in Italy with him. He wasn’t kidding when he said that we could travel somewhere I have always wanted to visit.
When I told Rhia, she was green with envy but gloated, “Things are really heating up between you two,” she said. “I can’t wait to hear about your trip. Make sure you take lots of photos.”
“Are you interested in seeing the Teatro Massimo?” Rey asks me. “It’s the largest theatre in Italy and it was was dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II.”
“Is it the same theatre where the final scenes of The Godfather Part III were filmed?”
“Then, I’d love to see it. Do they offer tours of these theatres?”
“Yes, they do. When we return to the hotel, I can talk to one of the desk clerks about tours of the theatres and other parts of Sicily.”
Teatro Massimo is very impressive. Rey and I take photos of each other on the steps and ask another tourist to take photos of us together. He puts his arm around my shoulders and I put mine around his waist. It feels great to officially be a couple.
“The style of the theatre was inspired by Greek temples and classic art,” Rey explains as we stand there admiring its façade.
“It’s massive. There must be a lot of seats inside. Must be nice to come here and watch an opera.”
“Yes, I guess it would be.”
We continue on and visit the Chiesa di San Cataldo, a church built in the 12th century and known for its Arab-Norman architecture. I have my denim jacket with me so I put it on. On the outside it has a sandstone wall face with carvings of blind arches and perforated ferrules of Islamic influence. Inside, there are three short naves. I feel as if we have stepped back in time.
After we leave there, we decide to check out the The Antonino Salinas Regional Archeological Museum which houses one of the richest collections of Punic and Ancient Greek art in Italy as well as many items related to the history of Sicily. I love the collection of sculptures and mosaics, especially the one by Lysippus depicting Heracles catching the Ceryneian Hind.
We spend a long time at the museum. When we leave, Rey suggests that we have lunch. Until he mentioned it, I didn’t realize that it was after one and I was getting hungry. We find a restaurant near the museum. We try the Tunisian dishes. I’m having the couscous, a dish made with steamed semolina grains and seasoned with fish while Rey’s having the lamb cooked in terracotta amphorae. The food is delicious.
When we are finished eating, we do some more sightseeing. We visit the Galleria Regionale and Chiesa del Gesu before we head back to the hotel. Rey asks the guy at the front desk about tours of other parts of Sicily and the theaters. He books us on a full Day tour to Erice and Segesta with lunch at an Olive oil Farm included and a three-hour tour of the theatres, including the Politeama Garibaldi Theater and Teatro Massimo. After thanking him, we head up to our room.
Rey and I are sharing a room which has double beds. I’m feeling a little self-conscious. After putting out what I’m going to wear to dinner tonight, I take my personal things and a robe to the bathroom. I take a nice long shower. When I’m finished, I step out and dry off. I quickly put on my underwear and then the robe. After pushing my feet into my bedroom slippers, I patter into the bedroom.
Rey and I exchange looks and then, he goes into the bathroom. While he’s in there, I quickly get dressed. I try to do something with my hair and when I’m finished, I check myself in the mirror, hoping he thinks I look good.
He walks in the room with the towel wrapped about his waist. Gulping, I scurry over to the window and stand with my back to him, feigning interest in what was outside. My heart was pounding and I seem to have trouble catching my breath. I can’t get the image of his bare chest, broad shoulders and calves out of my head. His hair was wet and I longed to rub it dry with the towel. Come to think of it, he isn’t wearing anything under that towel, is he? I clung to the window seat as I felt my knees get weak at the thought. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for us to be room-mates. Whose idea was it anyway? His or mine. I can’t remember now. I can’t think straight anymore.
“You can turn around now,” he says.
Taking a deep, I turn around and am relieved to find him dressed. He looks gorgeous in the black shirt, no tie and black suit. He quickly combs his hair and then puts on his watch. “You look very handsome,” I mutter.
“Thank you. And you look beautiful.” His eyes travel slowly and deliberately over me. I’m wearing a green cold shoulder Halter Neck dress with a pair of beige shoes. My hair is slicked down, giving me a chic look. He walks over to me and leaning down, he kisses me on the lips. We’re both breathing heavily when he raises his head. “Let’s go.”
I follow him on shaky legs, clutching my beige handbag. On the ride down in the elevator, he reaches for my hand. We walk out of the doors after leaving our key at the front desk and into a balmy evening. We walk to La Brace Ristorante which is near the hotel. For the appetizer, we have the buffalo mozzarella and salmon timbale and for the main course Rey has the Tagliatelle Lamb and I have the Tortelloni Mortadella e Pistacchio. I love Italian food. For dessert I try the Settevelli al Pistacchio and Rey has the Cheesecake with Lemon Granita. We wash it all down with Limoncello Pallini.
After dinner, we go for a fifteen minute walk to Palermo Historical Center. It looks beautiful at night. We stroll around, stop to take photos and sit for a bit, enjoying our surroundings and watching other people. We stay there for a while and then head back to the hotel.
While Rey is in the bathroom, brushing his teeth, I change into my long blue nightgown. When he’s finished, I go and brush my teeth. He’s in bed when I return to the bedroom. “Our first day and night here in Palermo has been wonderful,” I say. He’s there sitting on his bed, watching me and making me nervous. He looks yummy in his pajamas, the shirt buttoned low, revealing a little of his chest. I love bare chests. Can’t stand the hairy ones. I wonder if his chest would feel as smooth as it looks.
“Yes,” he agreed quietly. “Keeya?”
Startled, my eyes leave his chest and dart to his face. “Yes?” For a maddening moment, I wonder if he could read my thoughts.
“Are you nervous?”
“Nervous? Nervous about what?”
“Nervous about sleeping in the same room with me.”
“No. I’m not nervous about that.”
“That’s good to know.”
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” he asks.
I stare at him, trying to figure out what I was forgetting. Does he mean a goodnight kiss? Maybe that’s it. My heart skips a beat at the thought. Does he want me to go over there?
“You promised to tell me some story about a guy in a forest.”
“Oh, yes. I was reading this book about this man who was hiking through a forest. It was in some country in Europe. He went there to get away from the city and his problems. At first, everything seemed normal. He spent the first few days just enjoying the solitude and his surroundings. It felt like he was the only one in this part of the world. After a while he noticed that the forest echoed the thoughts in his mind. He would think of something and it would happen. One day, when he saw a weeping willow, he imagined a beautiful woman dressed in white standing under it.”
“He saw a woman dressed in white standing under the weeping willow. She was beckoning to him. Then, she disappeared.”
“Why did she disappear?”
“He thought to himself, she’s isn’t real. It’s all a figment of my imagination. And, puff, she was gone.”
“What happened next?”
“He tried to control his thoughts but after a while he couldn’t. He became scared and wanted to get out of the forest but he couldn’t.”
“He kept thinking, ‘I’ll never get out of here’ and he didn’t. They found him days after under the weeping willow tree. And guess what else they found?”
“The white dress the woman was wearing. It was lying at the entrance of the forest.”
“Was she real after all?”
“Maybe. Remember, she was beckoning to him?”
“Perhaps if he had followed her, he would have made it out of the forest alive.”
“What a remarkable story.”
“Yes. I finished it in two days.”
“Well, it certainly made for an interesting read and bedtime story.”
I stand there watching him. Should I go over there and kiss him goodnight? “Goodnight, Rey.”
Instead of saying goodnight, he gets up and comes over to me. My heart is pounding. When he reaches me, he gazes down into my face which felt hot and then, he takes me in his arms. I close my eyes as soon as I feel his lips on mine. I cling to his arms as he kisses me and as I kiss him back. The kiss lasts for a while and then, he breaks it off to hug me tightly before releasing me. “Good night, Keeya.”
I watch as he turns and walks over to his bed. After he climbs in, I turn off the light and go to my bed. I get in and lay there on my back with my eyes closed but my mind was spinning. I’m disappointed and frustrated. Why? I guess it’s because I thought we were going to end up making love. My body is on fire. I’m so tempted to go over there and get into bed with him but I stay put.
My eyes open. Why aren’t we making love right now? I know he wants me. I can tell by the way he looks at me, the way he touches me and the way he was kissing me a few moments ago. And the way he hugged me…I close my eyes when I remember how his body felt against mine. Why did he pull away afterwards and left me standing there, feeling horny? Was he trying to be a gentleman? Was he trying not to rush things?
For a long time, I lay there racking my brains about why I was here in my bed and he was in his when we could have been together either in mine or his. I wondered if he was awake, thinking about me or if he was fast asleep. It must have been after midnight when I finally drifted off to sleep.