‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ Lydia admitted as she examined the statue.

How could glass be sexy? Yet this was a kiss, in solid form, and the intimate anatomical work that had seemed wasted when the forms had been merged was now revealed—she could see the density at the base of the woman’s spine that spoke of the man deep within her.

‘It’s an amazing piece,’ Raul said, and Lydia couldn’t believe that his voice sounded normal when she felt as if she had only just returned from being spirited away.

‘There are more...’ Silvio said, and he took them through to another area and showed them several other pieces.

As stunning as they all were, for Lydia they didn’t quite live up to the lovers’ statue. Perhaps it was because she had witnessed it being made, Lydia mused as they stepped back out into the street.

It was disorientating.

Lydia went to head left, but Raul took her hand and they went right and he led her back to the speedboat.

The driver had gone, on Raul’s instruction, and it was he who drove them to San Marco.

Raul took great pride in showing her around this most seductive of cities.

They wandered through ghostly back streets and over bridges.

‘It’s so wonderful to be here,’ Lydia said. ‘It was all so rushed last time, and it felt as if we were just ticking things off a list.’


‘And the obligatory gondola ride?’ Raul said, but her response surprised him.

‘No.’ Lydia shook her head. ‘Some of the girls did, but...’ She stopped.


‘Sitting on the bus with the teacher was bad enough. I think a gondola ride with her would have been worse somehow.’

She tried to keep it light, as Raul had managed to when they had been talking about her lonely school trip in Rome. She didn’t quite manage it, though.

Raul, who had been starting to think about their dinner reservation, steered her towards the canal.

‘Come on,’ he said. ‘You cannot do Venice without a gondola ride.’

Till this point Raul had, though.

Raul’s usual mode of transport was a speedboat.

But there was nothing like Venice at sunset from a gondola, as both found out together.

The low boat sliced gently through the water and the Grand Canal blushed pink as the sun dipped down. He looked over as she sighed, and saw Lydia smiling softly as she drank it all in.

‘You don’t take photos?’ Raul observed.

‘My phone’s flat,’ Lydia said, but then admitted more. ‘I’m not one for taking photos.’

‘Why not?’

He was ever-curious about her—something Raul had never really been before.

‘Because when it’s gone it’s gone,’ Lydia said. ‘Best to move on.’

The gondolier took them through the interior canals that were so atmospheric that silence was the best option.

It was cool on the water, and there were blankets they could put over their knees, but she accepted Raul’s jacket.

The silk was warm from him, and as she put it on he helped her. The only reason he had not kissed her before was because he’d thought it might prove impossible to stop.

But Raul was beyond common sense thinking now—and so was she.

He took her face in his hands and he looked at her mouth—the lipstick was long gone.

‘I want you,’ he told her.

‘And you know I want you.’

Lydia did.

His mouth told her just how much he wanted her. She watched his eyelids shutter, and then he tasted her. Lydia did the same. She felt the soft weight of him and her mouth opened just a little as they flirted with their tongues. There was tenderness, promise and building passion in every stroke and beat. Yet even as they kissed she cared for the view, and now and then opened her eyes just for a glimpse, because it was like spinning circles in a blazing sky.

His hand slipped inside the jacket. First just the pad of his thumb caressed her breast, and then—she had been right—the dress drew his attention down.

His hand was on her stomach, just lingering, and Lydia felt his warm palm through the fabric. Her breathing stilled and he felt the change and pulled her closer, to taste and feel more.

They sailed under ancient bridges and he kissed her knowingly. So attuned were they no one would guess they weren’t lovers yet.

There was just the sound of the gondolier’s paddle and the taste of passion.

She was on fire, and yet he made her shiver.

Soon Raul knew the gondolier would turn them around, for the canal ended soon. They were about to pass under the Bridge of Sighs and the bells of St Mark’s Campanile were tolling.

Which meant, according to legend, that if they kissed they would be granted eternal love and bliss.

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