Weekend In Capri by PoorQueequeg
Helen first bumped into Francesca quite accidentally. She had gone to London for a bi-annual audit of the Sanctuary. It would be Declan's first since James' sad demise and she found herself unable to resist his soft plea for assistance. Whenever she was in London, time permitting, she would visit a certain book vendor who ran a small shop out of a crooked building on a corner opposite the British Museum. It had been in operation since she was a child and had withstood the many upheavals of the last 150 years, not least of all the rise of large chain book retailers. Helen would sometimes go inside and buy a couple of thousand pounds worth of books, only to donate them to a certain charity shop on the Portobello Road. It wasn't really through any charitable impulse that she did so. It was merely an attempt to preserve a sweet, untainted relic of her youth, though she was the first to deny that she possessed any such nostalgic tendencies.
So it was that she found herself there one rainy afternoon in early October. She stood under the porch and shook off her umbrella, catching hold of the door as another patron left the premises. "Sorry," the man uttered as they passed. "Sorry," she had replied and then silently chastised herself for falling back into such utterly useless and silly English behaviour as apologising to perfect strangers for absolutely nothing. Closing her umbrella as she stepped inside she took a moment to look around the familiar, overcrowded stacks bulging with books. One could almost hear the old shelves groan under the weight of the innumerable volumes they held.
Helen made her way slowly towards the back of the store, running her fingers along the wood and glancing at the titles as she did so. Eventually she ensconced herself in a creaking old chair in a corner and was absently flicking through a rather tedious volume on Pictish art when she heard the bell ring and the door rattled open. She paid little heed to it and continued to peruse the book.
After a time she became aware of the pleasing scent of a woman's perfume and looked up to see a svelte young thing straining to reach a book on a high shelf. Helen, having fallen back so rapidly into English mannerisms, sat on her chair and did nothing. She merely watched the woman for some time over the top of the book as she struggled and admired the shape of her legs under her coat. It would, after all, be impolite to impose her assistance on someone until they really needed it.
The woman let out a huff of irritation and dropped back onto her heels. Glancing around she caught Helen's gaze and they both immediately broke into rather weak smiles. She had, Helen noticed, a very pretty face and very big, very brown eyes. The woman shrugged and made a kind of mild inane giggle, as though to excuse her undignified flapping. At this overture Helen immediately rose from her seat and placing her book down, approached the young woman.
"Could I help you with that?" she asked sweetly.
"Oh, yes, thank you...I'm too short," the woman said smiling nervously. How utterly charming, Helen observed.
"This one?" Helen said, pointing to the spine of a rather hefty looking tome.
"Yes," the young woman replied. Helen reached up and pulled the book from the shelf.
"Voices from the borderland, re-imagining cross-cultural urban theology in the twenty first century" Helen read from the cover as she turned the book over in her hands. "How perfectly fascinating," she lied.
The young woman looked abashed. "No, not particularly," she said. "I'm doing my masters at the LSE, it's for a compulsory course that I have to take," she confessed.
"Oh," said Helen, intrigued. "You must be rather clever to be studying there?"
The young woman let out a modest huff of breath and smiled bashfully up at her. "Well...I work hard."
"Your accent. You're..."
"Italian," the woman admitted.
"Oh," Helen replied. "I just adore Italy. I'm Helen, Dr Helen Magnus," she said, extending her palm.
"Francesca Boccioni,"the woman replied.
"Oh, like the artist," Helen quipped.
"Yes!" Francesca beamed and took Helen's hand.
And so it was that Helen met Francesca, one rainy afternoon in London. They stood chatting for some time in the stacks, until eventually Helen looked at her watch.
"I'm afraid it's rather late for lunch, but perhaps you'd care to join me for tea?" Helen asked sweetly. "Or perhaps coffee?"
"Oh I much prefer tea," Francesca replied in her charming accent.
"Oh my," said Helen, her eyes misting over slightly as they walked out of the shop.
The place Helen had in mind for tea was too close to bother with a taxi, so the pair of them hopped onto the back of an old red London bus, hanging on to the pole by the steps at the rear for two short stops along Oxford Street.
"It's just up here," Helen said leading Francesca into a bustling side road. A minute later they stood outside Claridges Hotel and Helen smiled congenially at the doorman as they entered.
"Oh," Francesca said in a concerned voice. "I think this might be a little beyond my budget." She twisted her scarf nervously in her hands as they waited to be seated and eyed the pictures of royalty and Hollywood stars of yore that hung on the walls.
"Don't worry, my dear," Helen leaned over to whisper conspiratorially. "I'm incredibly rich."
Helen ran her gaze across Francesca's form as they handed their coats to the maitre d, and was rather pleased to find Francesca doing likewise. They sat down together at a table beside a huge spray of white and purple orchids.
"They look like strange creatures," Francesca commented. "Look at their little faces, see these are the eyes and this is the nose..." she said pointing at the colours on the petals.
"Oh you are sweet," Helen gushed.
They sat for some time and drank tea while a young man played Schubert on the piano. They nibbled on sandwiches with no crusts, fenced with their forks over a plate of dainty confections, and talked about art and music. Helen tried to feign interest in Francesca's studies, and Francesca gave an admirable performance as Helen rattled off a vague monologue about her own work. When the waiter asked them if they would like a glass of champagne, Francesca turned to Helen with a shy but hopeful look.
"We'd love one, thank you" Helen told him and the flutes made a delightful ring as they toasted over the table.
The afternoon wore on and the hour crept closer to and closer to dinner.
"It is getting rather late," Helen commented with a sigh.
"I suppose we should really be going and let these gentlemen tidy away," Francesca replied mournfully.
"Well actually, I was wondering," Helen whispered, leaning forward slightly. Francesca bent closer and felt Helen's breath tickle her ear as she spoke. "If I got a room, would you come upstairs with me?" Francesca turned to look Helen in the eye with a wicked smile.
A porter accompanied them in the elevator up several floors as they exchanged lustful gazes. They followed him along a corridor until he stopped and opened the door to a beautiful room decorated in the original art deco style. Against the wall was a king sized bed with a large mirrored bed head.
"It's beautiful," Francesca commented, slipping off her shoes.
"Isn't it?" Helen replied dropping her coat to the floor.
They spent the evening indulging themselves in champagne, truffles and each other. Later Francesca lay sprawled gloriously naked across the bed as she watched Helen dress.
"Do you have to go?" she asked, trailing her nails across Helen's thigh as she slipped on her skirt.
"I'm afraid I must," Helen answered sadly. "I'm terribly late already and I'm supposed to be catching a plane in four hours."
Francesca sighed. "Will I ever see you again?"
Helen smiled and reaching into her purse, withdrew her card. She slipped it into Francesca's hand and reached down to kiss her on the lips before she left.
And so here it was several months later that Helen found herself reclining in the passenger seat of an old, rented Maserati, flying along the autostrada with the window down. She looked over at Francesca who sat gleefully behind the wheel. She had been so taken with the car when Helen had pulled up, wearing a short summer dress, that the good doctor found herself unable to deny her charming friend when she had asked if she could drive. Francesca turned her head for a moment and gave Helen a dazzling smile from beneath her shades, her soft brown hair escaping from the loose bun on her head.
"Has it really been seven years?" Henry had asked when Helen had told them about her trip.
"Well yes, more or less," she had explained. "And all things considered, I thought I could do with a break." She fairly skipped out of the door and left Henry and Will sharing a confused look in the lobby.
They took the last hydrofoil to Capri and arrived at the villa in time to share a glass of Vecchia Romana on the terrace as the sun went down. They spent three days and nights roaming the island together, climbing barefoot on the rocks and eating seafood caught not an hour before it touched their lips. At Helen's bidding they shared a plate of spaghetti alle vongole.
"I just adore clams," she said slipping her index finger amid the oily strands of pasta as Francesca looked into her eyes and sipped her wine. "The Germans call them Venusmuscheln," Helen explained. "The Venus mussel. I always thought that was a rather wonderful name." She picked up a dainty white shell with her fingernails and sucked the sauce from it, letting her tongue slide across the delicate purple interior as Francesca watched appreciatively.
Later that evening they walked hand in hand along the beach below the villa. Helen stopped and tugged on her companion's hand. "Let's take a midnight swim."
Slowly they slipped off their clothing, admiring each other's body in the moonlight. When they were fully naked Helen stepped forward and cupping Francesca's face in her hands, gave her a delicate kiss on the lips. She turned and slipped into the water, turning to beckon Francesca in with a smile and a crook of her finger. The young Italian followed her in, pausing where the surface of the water lapped around her thighs, tickling her most intimate places. Helen sank onto her back and floated in the water for a while, before turning and diving below. She surfaced a few feet in front of Francesca, her wet hair coiling across her shoulders, the salty water cascading across her breasts. Francesca gasped.
"Oh, la mia propria Venere Anadiomene!" she uttered. On hearing her lover's beautiful and reverent declaration, Helen pushed forward through the water and took Francesca in her arms, kissing her deeply. She pulled back and let her gaze run across the naked woman in her arms. Delicately she brushed her fingers across Francesca's smooth shoulder and down the side of her breast. Francesca's hands slid around Helen's back, across her shoulders and down to cup the pert, round flesh of her behind. They stumbled through the gently lapping waves and sank down into the sand a tangle of arms and legs as they began to caress one another in earnest.
Helen kissed her away across her lover's body, stopping to lavish each of her beautiful round breasts with long wet strokes of her tongue. At Francesca's moans she kissed her down across her stomach, brushing her nose against the damp curls between her legs. Helen scraped her nails gently along Francesca's thighs as she spread her legs, hot bolts of pleasure shooting through her at the sight.
Reaching forward, Helen rubbed her fingers over the soft, pink folds and Francesca buried her fingers into her hair. Francesca gasped with delight as Helen gently circled her clit with her fingertip before pressing the flat of her tongue against it. She writhed beneath Helen's talented mouth as she spiralled closer and closer to climax. Each pass of Helen's tongue drew louder and louder cries from her throat. As she approached the precipice, she tugged on Helen's hair and pulled her up into a long, wet kiss.
Her hands gripped Helen's head and she kissed her hungrily. Her hands slid down to caress Helen's breasts as she continued to stroke insistently between Francesca's legs. Sliding two fingers inside, Francesca bucked her hips, pushing them up to meet Helen's hand. Twisting her fingers inside her lover's tight, hot pussy, she flicked her thumb teasingly across Francesca's engorged clit causing her to jerk suddenly. Helen repeated the action again and again until Francesca buried her face in the crook of Helen's shoulder and came with a loud, needy cry.
After a moment Francesca's arms slid around Helen's body and she pulled her close. Helen opened her legs and sidled up to straddle her. Francesca clasped Helen's ass in her hands and sank down on to her back urging Helen forward. Helen dropped her head to watch as her legs straddled Francesca's face. At the first touch of her tongue, Helen hunched forward with a loud gasp, stretching out her fingers as her palm collided with the sand. Francesca's hands clasped at Helen's hips, stroking her soft skin as Helen's reached up to squeeze at her nipples with her free hand. Francesca's lips travelled in hot, wet circles across the tender flesh of Helen's thighs and she let her fingers slide between her cheeks to rub her gently all the way from front to back. Helen shuddered and moaned and let her hand fall to run her fingers gently across Francesca's face as her tongue circled her clit over and over. Helen's head fell back and she let out a long, rasping breath. She opened her eyes and stared up at the starry tableau above her as she began to chant "Oh yes, oh yes!" until she came with a long, guttural cry.
Francesca pressed a soft wet kiss against Helen's thigh and let her head fall back. She stared up at Helen's heaving chest through slitted eyes and smiled as Helen let her head fall forward. Helen grinned idiotically back before shifting her leg and sliding down onto the sand beside her. Reaching over Helen stroked her fingers over Francesca's face and smiled as she turned into her hand.
After a moment, Francesca spoke. "Do you really only come here every seven years?"
Helen rolled onto her back and sighed as Francesca snuggled up against her. "Yes, it does seem rather a long time doesn't it," she answered. " Although of course, I do tend to visit London a little more frequently."