Home > Sands of Time(22)

Sands of Time(22)
Author: Sidney Sheldon

Lucia was in heaven. It was as though she had been born for this. Instinctively she knew exactly what to do to please him and to please herself. Her whole body was on fire. She felt herself building to a climax, higher and higher, and when it finally happened, she screamed aloud in sheer joy. They both lay there, spent, breathing hard.

Lucia finally spoke. She said, "Same time tomorrow."

When Lucia was sixteen, Angelo Carmine decided that it was time for his daughter to see something of the world. With elderly Aunt Rosa as chaperone, Lucia spent her school holidays in Capri and Ischia, Venice and Rome, and a dozen other places.

"You must be cultured - not a peasant, like your Papa. Travel will round out your education. In Capri Aunt Rosa will take you to see the Carthusian Monastery of St. James and the Villa of San Michele and the Palazzo a Mare..."

"Yes, Papa."

"In Venice there is St. Mark's Basilica, the Doges' Palace, the church of San Giorgio, and the Accademia museum."

"Yes, Papa."

"Rome is the treasure house of the world. There you must visit the Vatican City, and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggjore, and the Borghese Gallery, of course."

"Of course."

"And Milano! You must go to the Conservatorio for a concert recital. I will arrange tickets for La Scala for you and Aunt Rosa. In Florence you will see the Municipal Museum of Art, the Uffizi Museum, and there are dozens of churches and museums."

"Yes, Papa."

With very careful planning, Lucia managed to see none of those places. Aunt Rosa insisted on taking a siesta every afternoon and retiring early each evening.

"You must get your rest too, child."

"Certainly, Aunt Rosa."

And so, while Aunt Rosa slept, Lucia danced at the Quisisana in Capri, rode in a carrozza with a beplumed and behatted horse pulling it, joined a group of college boys at the Marina Piccola, went on picnics at Bagni di Tiberio, and took the funicolare up to Anacapri, where she joined a group of French students for drinks at the Piazza Umberto I.

In Venice a handsome gondolier took her to a disco, and a fisherman took her fishing at Chioggia. And Aunt Rosa slept.

In Rome Lucia drank wine from Apulia and discovered all the offbeat fun restaurants like Marte and Ranieri and Giggi Fazi.

Wherever she went, Lucia found hidden little bars and nightclubs and romantic, good-looking men, and she thought: Dear Papa was so right. Travel has rounded out my education.

In bed she learned to speak several different languages, and she thought: This is so much more fun than my language classes at school

When Lucia returned home to Taormina, she confided to her closest girlfriends: "I was naked in Naples, stoned in Salerno, felt up in Florence, and laid in Lucca."

Sicily itself was a wonder to explore, an island of Grecian temples, Roman and Byzantine amphitheaters, chapels, Arab baths, and Swabian castles.

Lucia found Palermo raucous and lively, and she enjoyed wandering around the Kalsa, the old Arab quarter, and visiting the Opera dei Pupi, the puppet theater. But Taormina, where she was born, was her favorite. It was a picture postcard of a city on the Ionian Sea on a mountain overlooking the world. It was a city of dress shops and jewelry stores, bars and beautiful old squares, trattorias and colorful hotels like the Excelsior Palace and the San Domenico.

The winding road leading up from the seaport of Naxos is steep and narrow and dangerous, and when Lucia Carmine was given a car on her fifteenth birthday, she broke every traffic law in the book but was never once stopped by the carabinieri. After all, she was the daughter of Angelo Carmine.

To those who were brave enough or stupid enough to inquire, Angelo Carmine was in the real estate business. And it was partially true, for the Carmine family owned the villa at Taormina, a house on Lake Como at Cernobbio, a lodge at Gstaad, an apartment in Rome, and a large farm outside Rome. But it happened that Carmine was also in more colorful businesses. He owned a dozen whorehouses, two gambling casinos, six ships that brought in cocaine from his plantations in Colombia, and an assortment of other very lucrative enterprises, including loan-sharking. Angelo Carmine was the capo of the Sicilian Mafiosi, so it was only appropriate that he lived well. His life was an inspiration to others, heartwarming proof that a poor Sicilian peasant who was ambitious and worked hard could become rich and successful.

Carmine had started out as an errand boy for the Mafiosi when he was twelve. By fifteen he had become an enforcer for the loan sharks, and at sixteen he killed his first man and made his bones. Shortly after that, he married Lucia's mother, Anna. In the years that followed, Carmine had climbed the treacherous corporate ladder to the top, leaving a string of dead enemies behind him. He had grown, but Anna had remained the simple peasant girl he had married. She bore him three fine children, but after that her contribution to Angelo's life came to a halt. As though knowing she no longer had a place in her family's life, she obligingly died and was considerate enough to manage it with a minimum of fuss.

Arnaldo and Victor were in business with their father, and from the time Lucia was a small girl, she eavesdropped on the exciting conversations between her father and her brothers, and listened to the tales of how they had outwitted or overpowered their enemies. To Lucia, her father was a knight in shining armor. She saw nothing wrong in what her father and brothers were doing. On the contrary, they were helping people. If people wanted to gamble, why let stupid laws stand in their way? If men took pleasure in buying sex, why not assist them? And how generous of her father and brothers to loan money to people who were turned away by the hard-hearted bankers. To Lucia, her father and brothers were model citizens. The proof of it lay in her father's choice of friends. Once a week Angelo Carmine gave an enormous dinner party at the villa, and oh, the people who would be seated at the Carmine table! The mayor would be there, and a few aldermen, and judges, and seated next to them would be movie stars and opera singers and often the chief of police and a monsignor. Several times a year the governor himself would appear.

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