Victoria woke up the next morning to an overcast day. The sky outside looked glum and unwelcoming. Not a problem. She lazed around in bed a while longer, smiling as she enjoyed the plush quality of the comforter, all the while thinking about Mateo.
He was cute. He was wise. He seemed good hearted. But Victoria wanted to know more about her new friend today. Since the moment she decided to accept the fact that she was going to continue to see Mateo, Victoria felt almost giddy and was filled with anticipation for the upcoming day.
Into the shower she stepped and got herself ready for the day's adventure. With one last look out the hotel window, she took note of the sky and put on a hooded sweater to fend off any brisk wind that might greet her.
Once outside, Victoria waited no more than a minute when she heard a familiar sound. An old classic motorcycle roared up to the sidewalk where she stood, her new acquaintance at the throttle.
Mateo removed his helmet, his thick hair instantly blowing in the morning wind. His eyes seemed to warm to a light caramel color as he gazed at Victoria standing before him.
“Ciao Bella, I will be your tour guide for today."
Victoria just looked at him and after a moment of silence they both began to laugh.
"Is this where I can get the five cent tour?" questioned Victoria, as she cheekily cocked her head.
"Get on and I promise you it will be worth more than that," replied Mateo with his charming quarter smile.
She carefully got on the old bike, engine purring smoothly, and in moments they were on their way down the stone road.
First order of business was a small breakfast at a cafe two streets over. Mateo parked the bike, both walking briskly inside to get out of the wind and fetch a table.
"It’s breezy out today."
"It’s coming off the sea,” Mateo replied. “The wind is strong from the west and it carries a bit of cold. How about I take you for a ride along the coast this morning? Maybe some lunch later on?" he asked with a raise of his eyebrow.
They ate a couple of brioche and enjoyed an espresso. Minutes later, Mateo had her on his bike and they rode off in search of more beautiful Italian scenery.
While they rode to the coast, Victoria clutched Mateo's torso. It was firm and sculpted. She had felt his abs under his jacket where she held onto him. He smelled nice. From time to time, she would close her eyes while holding him…maybe it was to make the ride more thrilling…or maybe it was so that she could take in his sweet smell as the wind carried it from his warm muscular body past her nose.
Victoria had extraordinary control over her senses. She could heighten them just by closing her eyes and focusing on whatever she touched, smelled or tasted. And for now, she indulged in her new friend in her own unique way, quietly and inconspicuously.
"Hey, look over there," Mateo yelled through his helmet.
Victoria opened her eyes with a start, jarring her out of the tranquil place she had just been. She looked to where he was pointing and saw a spectacular view of the ocean inlet at La Spezia. Even under cloudy skies, the place looked so majestic with the gently rolling ocean waves hitting the shore barrier.
For the next few hours the little bike sped along the coast line and every so often they met a small town. Victoria loved the winding roads of Fezzano, Terrizzo and Portovenere. Victoria grinned with indulgence taking in the exquisite scenery here and there, and watching the ocean disappear behind trees then reappear with distinct grandeur later on.
As Mateo had promised, they stopped for lunch at a small pasta venue and enjoyed a spaghetti meal before hopping back on the bike. This time, Mateo decided to take her somewhere even more striking than the mainland.
He pulled into a harbor tour site, parked the Ducati and they boarded a small motorboat where the operator took them to an island called Isola Palmaria. They spent the afternoon walking throughout the beautiful island which appeared to trap time.
As Victoria and Mateo meandered through the island’s small winding streets they got to know each other. They exchanged questions, answers and beliefs. Few buildings were on the island, but the trees, natural beauty and old pathways made their long walks that afternoon very romantic. After a while, they sat on some large rocks and gazed out past the water to the harbor not far away.
"Italy is so beautiful. I don't want to leave," Victoria whispered.
"It certainly is a beautiful place," replied Mateo with a nod. "That's why I love it here. I used to live in Spain, but once I moved out here, I didn't want to go back. There are too many beautiful places to see. The sight of each day casts a new painting...a new story."
Victoria looked up at Mateo. She was taken aback by his eyes. They weren’t just beautiful; they possessed so much feeling, making her believe everything he had just said. They captured her. He captured her.
Suddenly there was silence. It was like time had seized. He leaned closer to her, slowly looking into her eyes. Victoria returned his gaze, leaning in, and Mateo gently placed a single kiss on her soft lips.
It was incredible.
One kiss turned into two, then three. Mateo cradled her head in his warm hands and laid kiss after kiss, long and slow on her supple lips to her absolute enjoyment. Each kiss lasted longer than the one before.
All of a sudden there was a change in their surroundings. It began to rain.
“Aggh, let’s get out of here,” Victoria laughed as she put up her hood.
“Let’s not,” replied Mateo. “Have you ever kissed in the rain?” Victoria let out another laugh, but quickly realized he was perfectly serious.
He told her to close her eyes and listen to the sound of the rain as it fell a little harder around them. He now sat behind her, both straddling the rocks. Victoria tried to tune into an unfamiliar situation, listening to her surroundings, feeling the autumn breeze on her face.
She felt Mateo’s hands again, slowly rubbing her arms from elbow to shoulder. His hands finally came to a stop as he moved his arms to embrace her. They sat there and welcomed the rain together. It was an unusual feeling for Victoria. She was used to being out of the rain at all times. Who wanted to be wet anyway?
Yet with her eyes closed, she inhaled the scent of the rain on the ocean as she felt the delicate contact of Mateo’s lips. He dotted the side of her neck with gentle kisses. He was casual but inviting with each gesture...the type of contact that would tease anyone looking for an impending gallant encounter.
Victoria’s senses were charged. Somewhere in the back of her dulled mind, she experienced amazement as she felt the kiss of a man who stirred fervor in her soul. A fervor she didn’t know existed. As drop after drop slashed against her face, she now understood a beautiful concept about life from Mateo. Sitting there in the rain emotionally elated, nothing mattered. Victoria’s ability to reason and deduce was lost. She could not explain what was going on, except that she enjoyed this carefree indulgence with another human being. It was wonderful.
Minutes later, the shower grew more intense. Mateo gently hoisted Victoria to her feet. He didn’t want to completely soak his beautiful companion. They hastened back to the dock where they then boarded the now covered craft.
On the way back to the tour dock, Victoria held her hand out from under the little boat’s canopy and enjoyed the patter of rain drops on her hand.
Mateo repeatedly looked out across the slightly rolling waves of the pelted sea, then back at Victoria. He could not stop looking at her.
She was beautiful. She was innocent. He saw her as a wonderful young lady with a youthful spirit. Yet he suspected this spirit was locked deeply, perhaps safely inside her heart and seen only through her eyes.
Nearing the dock, Victoria looked toward Mateo. As she pulled her hand in from the rain, she noticed something about him at that moment. Mateo’s eyes glistened with great depth. He suddenly noticed her looking at him and gave her a faint smile, before returning his gaze to the horizon.
She wondered what was on his mind. It seemed as though Mateo’s eyes, beautiful that they were, wanted to speak to her. He had a way of looking at someone that could almost speak with a mere stare. His eyes were somehow connected with his soul. Victoria would have been amazed to realize that this passionate man sitting just a few feet away, had found immense feelings for her.
The couple disembarked the little motorboat as the rain tapered off, and hopped on the Ducati one last time that evening.
“I hope you’re not feeling too cold from the rain,” said Mateo, as he started up the bike.
“Nah, a little rain never hurt anyone,” responded Victoria, looking cheerfully at her driver. Once the little engine was warm, they rode leisurely along the country side back to her hotel.
At the hotel lobby, Victoria stepped off her ride and gently pulled off her helmet. She reached over and slowly turned the key on Mateo’s bike, killing the engine.
“Why did you do that?” he asked.
Victoria felt giddy.
“Why don’t you come in?” She slowly smiled at him. Mateo hesitated before answering.
“I better not.”
Victoria went from all smiles to a state of embarrassment. She never flirted with someone so forwardly! Ever! But after Mateo’s response, she felt foolish.
Victoria took a step back as she felt a blush spread across her cheeks.
“What’s wrong?” she whispered.
“Nothing” Mateo replied.
“Didn’t you enjoy today?” Victoria mumbled. This was what she had always hated about attraction. Its consequences were never straightforward, the moods, emotions, perceptions. She was starting to feel bitter.
Mateo took off his helmet and looked her straight in the eye.
“Of course I did.” He paused before he continued.
“Victoria, I’m rather fond of you. But I can’t join you right now.” He looked away for a moment as if searching for the right words.
Victoria stared at his profile, completely confused. She was not a master of psychology, but she just knew that there was something between them...even if it was only passion.
Mateo finally turned to look at her. He must have understood the expression on her face, for his eyes filled with remorse.
“May I see you tomorrow after work? I’d like to have dinner with you.”
As she met his gaze, Victoria never felt so confused in her life. It wasn’t his reaction that brought on this feeling, but hers. She was torn between saying yes to his invitation and giving him a resounding no.
Something wasn’t right. This was not the Mateo she had spent a romantic day with. The analyst inside her decided right then and there that she needed to accumulate more information. There was more to this man then she realized. But Victoria realized the mistake she made. She let go too easily, giving the control to Mateo. She wouldn’t be so stupid again.
Victoria’s eyes frosted slightly and she thought she saw Mateo faintly flinch.
“Um, sure, why not,” she responded flippantly. “But how about I pick you up,” she added, with a tight smile on her face.
“Thank you. Good night, Victoria,” Mateo responded quietly.
He leaned in for a kiss, but barely captured her cheek with his lips as she turned her face away. Mateo gave her a look of confusion, but it was quickly replaced with a look of understanding. He gave her a fleeting smile, donned his helmet and was gone.
After a warm bath, Victoria sat out on her hotel balcony sipping a green tea. She was replaying the day’s earlier events over and over in her head. Who does he think I am? she asked herself.
Victoria looked out at the moonlit sky. She gazed at the hundreds of stars dotting the heavens above. It was sensational. Unfortunately, she couldn’t truly appreciate the evening scenery above her.
Victoria finished her tea and walked back into her room. She removed the elastic from her hair and slipped into bed. Her room was quiet. Only the sound of her voice in her head cut the silence.
Just then her eyes opened. She got it! Victoria now understood why Mateo didn’t accept her invite into her room. She had developed feelings for a gentleman. Relieved to find an answer for her emotional curiosity, Victoria slept soundly that night.