Angelika alit from her cab outside the Richard Rogers – designed, Thames Reach apartment complex which was situated directly upon the river’s edge. She’d rarely seen an edifice quite like this, what with it’s dizzying expanses of reflective glass and shiny cold metal beams. It was a modernist’s wet dream, and although not exactly to Angelika’s taste, she had to concede that she was suitably impressed by its dazzling light and its pure unadulterated lines. After being buzzed into the lobby by Rafaello, she took a few relaxing circular breaths and endeavoured to find the flat, which wasn’t easy given that modernists apparently prefer to camouflage everything which they deem superfluous, which includes such fripperies as apartment numbers, elevators and doorknobs.
Angelika was wearing a pretty, easy-access summer dress and kitten-heeled sandals in an attempt to look girlishly feminine and a touch more innocent than she actually was. Having a straight man as a best friend was proving an invaluable motherlode of insight into the machinations of the male psyche, and Luke had told her that all men are suckers for a delicate summery dress. Plus, Rafaello was only twenty two years old, and she didn’t want to scare him off with too much hard-edged sophistication. Samantha couldn’t understand Angelika’s penchant for younger men, but Angelika didn’t believe that men improved with age. To her mind, they just became balder, grumpier and doughier with no visible increase in maturity, just a sad middle-aged penchant for very young, dangerously insecure women and phallic red sportscars.
By process of elimination, Angelika eventually found Rafaello’s third–floor apartment, as a sappy Italian ballad could be heard playing loudly from within. Although the music made Angelika inwardly cringe, she decided not to be judgemental and to go with it, as this was after all, her long awaited l’esperienze italiana and it just wasn’t the moment to unleash her inner musical Nazi.
Rafaello opened the door, smiled sweetly and bade her enter. Angelika tried to overlook the fact that he was wearing pressed jeans that were way too tight and belted painfully high above his waistline and that his neatly ironed silk shirt was tucked inside the waistband. This sartorial faux pas would, under normal circumstances have sent her screaming for the exit, but she decided to put aside her fashion prejudices and to concentrate on his beautiful face instead.
The apartment resembled something from out of the glossy pages of Architectural Digest magazine, and with its blindingly white furnishings and an incredible view out over the River Thames through the flawless glass wall at one end, Angelika had never been on the interior of any place quite like this in London before. She immediately felt like she was on some kind of an expensively spartan retreat, but she also felt rather intimidated by all the whiteness. Being myopic and hopelessly clumsy, the snowy furniture and sneakily clear glass represented a potential minefield for her and Angelika silently resolved not to drink any red wine at all, no matter how fine the vintage.
Angelika and Rafaello sat down to dinner at the long, clear lucite table. He poured her a glass of icy Prosecco in an angular crystal wineglass and served her homemade ravioli stuffed with foetal wild boar on an angular metallic platter which was undeniably delicious. The boy could cook, it was clear. He also spoke at great length about his mother, which although sweetly charming did seem to be bordering on the weirdly Oedipal. Apparently, Mama was the most beautiful, kindest Mama, and she was also the bestest cook in the whole wide world and Rafaello wanted Angelika to meet her pronto. Angelika’s heart sank as she truly believed that if one tries really, really hard, one can avoid meeting one’s beloved’s family for years, or at least until after one breaks up with them. She’d never met JC’s folks which she supposed had been a tiny bit of a red flag, but it had suited her just fine. Angelika simply didn’t do family. She smiled noncommitantly at the boy and uncomfortably sipped her pointy glass of sparkling wine while trying unsuccessfully not to drool.
Once the dinner was over and with the sun sinking romantically in the west beyond Heathrow Airport, Rafaello made his move. He wasn’t as aggressive as Angelika would have preferred, but he was a tender young thing and he was no doubt nervous, so she let that one slide. He led her into the bedroom where they kissed gently on the huge white bed. Christ he’s pretty, I wonder what kind of conditioner he uses? mused Angelika as she ran her fingers through his soft, silky curls which smelled strongly of freesias in the springtime. Rafaello carefully unbuttoned his expensive shirt and hung it up lovingly, while Angelika watched him impatiently from the bed. She had never found that particular anally-retentive trait sexy at all, but she had to concede that Armani was Armani after all.
His jeans and Versace boxers eventually came off and were in turn folded up neatly and placed on a chair by the side of the bed. Angelika was having a desperately hard time retaining her desire by now, but she found that concentrating on his backside helped matters no end. It was a perfectly domed thing, utterly smooth and hairless and Rafaello was justifiably proud of it. He caught her staring admiringly at his bum, which is when he uttered the words that produced the same result as would have drenching Angelika with a bucket of ice cold water.
“My haerobics teacher calls me ‘Buns of Steel!’” he announced, in smug seriousness.
“Really!” replied Angelika, with an ironic lack of enthusiasm. It was at this point that she determined never to let Rafaello speak aloud again, so she pulled him down to her and willed him to get the fuck on with it.
It was hopeless. Rafaello had no clue what to do. He lay on top of her like a gestating otter that couldn’t support it’s own weight and pushed himself unimaginitively back and forth. Where had all the propoganda about Italian Stallions come from? Angelika wondered, while groaning encouragingly in the hope that he’d come and sharpish. She’d never been so bored in her entire life and found herself sneaking furtive glances at her watch over his perfectly defined shoulder. Please wake me up when you’re done, she willed silently.
Finally, it was over and he lay staring rapturously at Angelika while she half-heartedly attempted to look like a woman who’d been blissfully satisfied. Rafaello appeared extremely pleased with himself and his performance, as he patently was completely out of touch with anything other than himself.
“You are the most beautiful woman in the world, apart from Mama!” whispered Rafaello, girlishly batting his long black eyelashes at Angelika, “I ham so crazy in love with you.”
He was in love with her? Now what was she supposed to do? Angelika felt sick. They’d known each other approximately one hundred and eighty two minutes by this time. It was ridiculous. Help! she thought, how long did he say he’d be in London before he had to go back to school? Could she possibly drag this out that long and then pretend to be devastated when he left her at the airport? Maybe she could train him to be a better lover. Doubtful, as he really had no basic feel for the thing.
“But you have to go back to school soon,” whimpered Angelika, as sadly as she could muster, “how long would we possibly have together?”
“I leave at the end of August. But I will write to you every day and we will see each other at Christmas.” simpered Rafaello. “You will come to Portofino and stay with la ma famiglia at the palazzo.”
Hmm, thought Angelika, bucking up slightly, as she’d always quite fancied visiting Portofino and staying in a palazzo, but the thought of Mama was not entirely enticing. Rafaello wasn’t exactly macho when he was away from her, one could just imagine what a total girl he’d morph into once Mama was in the vicinity. Angelika could clearly picture Mama’s withering look of disapproval as her caro bambino introduced her to his disgustingly debauched Mrs. Robinson of a girlfriend who had so clearly violated her golden child. Plus Angelika wasn’t even a Catholic. It would be unendurable. Angelika shuddered.
“Let’s not think so far ahead, darling. Let’s just enjoy the little time that we have together.” Angelika stroked his ebony curls, thinking that she could probably pull off three weeks, as long as nothing better appeared on the horizon; he was lovely to look at, he really could cook and the apartment was pretty damn cool. Angelika decided to think of it as a socialogical experiment.
Experiment be damned, it was a living nightmare of a three weeks. It transpired that Rafaello harboured an unhealthy obsession with becoming a supermodel not a businessman and he strutted around the London streets to that end as if on Lagerfeld’s catwalk. Angelika cringed as he swivelled his hips around Soho like Naomi Campbell on crack, pouting invitingly at every man, woman or dog that crossed his path, in an effort for them to turn and admire his unparalleled pulchritude. It was like owning a vintage Ferrari, thought Angelika, everybody wants to admire it and to drive around the block in it waving at one’s envious friends, but nobody actually wants the upkeep of the fucker.
Angelika’s mates all sniggered openly about Rafaello’s trousers, which he point-blank refused to wear any lower down on his hips. She realized that she was being supremely superficial but she had nothing on Rafaello, who was patently only in love with Angelika for her looks, as they made a perfect counterpoint to his. They did look a lot like brother and sister, only he was actually the prettier of the pair. It was driving her insane the way he rated everyone solely on their appearance, and by the time he tearfully left for Roma, she knew that she’d learned a valuable, albeit embarrassing lesson. Next time, she’d go out with a man, a proper manly man, one who’d throw her up against the wall, shag her senseless and never once ask to borrow her Clarins moisturizer.