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Catherine and Denise play while Rob is away.
He's given up competitive swimming: he says it takes up too much time. Of course, I can't tell you about how he spends his spare time. For all I know, he may spend hours picking up men in the Randy Soldier" he said, naming Camford's leading gay pub. Jon decided that he was not going to discuss this with David, or anyone else, but wait until Sandro had decided to come out of the closet, or rather, to come off the fence on the gay side.
Chapter Sixteen: Professor Sescantanto's party
On the shortest day of the year, Professor Sescantanto threw his annual Christmas party. All members of the Trabizona chemistry lab plus one guest each were invited to the professor's villa outside the town. The event took a whole day from 10 am on a Saturday to 2 am the next morning. Guests could come and go as they wished. A bus was laid on to bring them from the city, and it ferried them back again in the evening at hourly intervals from 4 pm. Tom was a bit apprehensive, as he feared a 'bunga-bunga' party of the type favoured by a well-known Italian politician who at that time was Prime Minister, but it was really pretty restrained. There was a room for conversation, a room for dancing, a sheltered verandah where one could sit out of doors, and a room to eat in. There was plenty of food, masses of drink, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and any sex was pretty subliminal, although there was a good sprinkling of the professor's gay friends, as well as a 90% turnout of people from the lab.
Tom felt very proud to be showing off his boyfriend. It was the first time that these people had met Luke, who was conscious of close scrutiny both by laboratory personnel and by Sescantanto's gay friends. There were large numbers of different conversational groups, some speaking English, and Luke insisted that Tom took him round each group and introduced him. Unlike Tom, he was quite gregarious.
There must have been about sixty or seventy people at the party altogether. It turned out that Ben had brought Giovanna with him, so he had not yet taken the boys' advice to dump her. The boys found her very attractive, "as far as a woman could be," according to Luke. Tom was more positive, and felt sorry that she was not more fond of Ben. She was interested to meet both Tom and Luke, and she (as well as other people from the lab) thought that Luke was Italian. The gay guests were not all camp weirdos. There was even a couple whom Luke knew as members of the chorus at the Teatro Musicale. They looked surprised when he introduced Tom to them as his boyfriend. "We didn't know you were gay!" they said.
"Tom and I are civil partners," Luke explained, "we are safely monogamous, or perhaps I should say monandrous, so you won't see either of us cruising or frequenting gay bars!" The two singers looked appraisingly at Tom and felt rather envious of Luke when they saw Tom's broad muscular shoulders, his short, neat hair, his smooth, well-shaven face, his flat belly leading to an interesting package in his crotch and his broad but wiry hips.
The boys spent several hours in the company of the two chorus men, drinking wine steadily but slowly, interspersed with acqua minerale. They were joined by the Professor, to whom Tom introduced Luke. As all gay men do, Sescantanto scrutinized Luke minutely, taking in his long, dark wavy hair, his brown skin, his tiny neat goatee, his narrow hips and trim arse, his slender build and the large bulge of his crotch. He did not quite lick his lips, but he obviously liked what he saw and looked at Tom with increased respect! "It is wonderful to make your acquaintance, Luca," he said in Italian. "Tom has kept you secret from us for ten months! You must both come round and have dinner with me in the New Year. What do you do for a living, Luca?"
"I'm assistant to the Manager of the Teatro Musicale," replied Luke.