If Paolo was completely head over heels in love with Livia, then she would use it. Initially she would play along with his feelings for her, make him feel that what he felt was in some way reciprocated. She would bite her tongue over any hint of clinginess on his part.
Her married life with Terry had been one long, constraining affair with his clinginess ultimately a complete turn off for Livia. On the other hand, she also knew that men so deeply in love were highly manipulable. She would play a longer game with Paolo. And it started now.
Livia was slightly taken aback at Paolo’s behaviour. She’d expected him to be eager, impulsive and that she would have to fend him off for fear his over-active libido might put her at risk or take control away from her. His very measured, even reluctant approach made her think.
Using her valuable sixth sense, she began to realise the depth of feelings Paolo had for her. ‘He really does love me... he’s actually crazy for me!’ she thought. Livia knew about intense love from men. She didn’t like it but was highly skilled at being able to use it.
Paolo was taking in what he saw. This woman before him was everything he wanted. He made no move. It took encouragement from Livia to mobilise him.
“Your turn Paolo,” she said, “I’ve shown you mine. Show me yours!”
Paolo started removing his clothes slowly but was uncharacteristically reticent in front of Livia. With Sofia or Marcia or almost every other conquest he was only too eager to disrobe and get on with the action. But with Livia he was very different. He was in love. She moved him in ways the others couldn’t. He needed to enjoy every moment.
Paolo didn’t notice what Livia did with the remote controller. His gaze was fixed on the lovely sight against the kitchen door. He was excited, he was aroused, but didn’t move because of how much Livia was in control.
Then suddenly she moved. She turned, a turn starting a series of pirouettes and with each one, the black satin sheet, one end of which she had jammed in the closed door, unravelled, finally dropping to the floor as she reached the sofa opposite to Paolo, revealing her beautiful naked body.
It was a wonderful piece of theatre. Paolo was awestruck.
Paolo obediently went back to the sofa, watching Livia all the time. She looked so delicious, standing there wrapped in her black satin sheet. She was quite tiny compared to Sofia and Marcia, but she was just what he wanted, and wanted badly. Her pretty mouth smiled and her green eyes seemed to sparkle.
She had a remote controller in her hand with which she dimmed the lights and started some music. It was John Prine singing ‘My Happiness’. This might foretell much happiness for Paolo.
Much later, Paolo would wonder just how much Livia had practised her next routine.
Livia lingered over her single slice of pizza while Paolo made quick work of his boxful.
“Here, give me the box,” she said when he’d finished, “and you can go wash your hands if you need. The cloakroom’s by the front door, but you probably already know that.” Livia was alluding to the fact that he had visited before, where his intentions had been far more sinister.
Paolo did as suggested, while Livia took the pizza debris to the kitchen. When he returned, she was standing by the closed kitchen door. She beckoned him back to the sofa. In control.
After what seemed to Paolo like absolutely ages, the pizzas arrived.
“Will you get them please Paolo, while I get us a drink? The money’s on the table by the front door.” Paolo leapt up, glad of the break in the exquisite tension that signalled progress... and because he was feeling peckish. Livia got up and slid off to get them a glass of wine.
“Help yourself.” she beckoned. Paolo helped himself to a boxful, happy that the tension was now broken. Livia took just a single slice and they both returned to the sofas.
Paolo couldn’t wait for dessert!
If Paolo had thought that while waiting for the pizzas to arrive he could get on with some ‘preliminaries’ he was wrong. He made an attempt to speak, but Livia shushed him.
“Relax Paolo. Plenty of time to talk later.”
Livia was bewitching. Paolo sat in silence on one of the two opposing sofas, looking across the large deep-pile rug at the object of his every desire. The excitement and anticipation was almost too much to bear, but bear it he must as Livia’s capriciousness required him to play her game, or lose the opportunity completely.
Livia looked divine.
Paolo immediately went to hold and kiss her. Still smiling, she stepped back, out of reach.
“Steady on Paolo. Down boy! You should know that this girl doesn’t do any of that kind of thing on an empty stomach. Let’s stay cool, eh?”
Livia had Paolo ‘on his back foot’ again. Only one person was in control in her house... Livia. Paolo seemed taken aback, but she continued.
“ I didn’t order food for 8.30 because I expected that you’d need to seem cool... and would arrive late. I’ll order it now. Pizza OK? It’s a fast Italian, like you!”
Livia knew how men function. She knew Paolo would want to appear cool. She knew he would be noticeably late. But she also knew that he was desperate to have her. So she would make him wait too!
When she opened her door, Paolo expected to smell food, but it was Livia’s perfume which hit him like a housebrick, causing an immediate physiological response... the head, the heart... and somewhere down south. She looked amazing. Her pretty face and startling green eyes he saw first. Then, his eyes dropped. Livia was tightly wrapped in a black satin sheet... and smiling.
Paolo was excited. His dream was about to come true. He struggled to believe it, given Livia’s earlier hostility towards him. His instincts told him to proceed with caution, although his downstairs department told him otherwise.
Taking trouble to groom himself for his forthcoming encounter, he had a nagging feeling it might just be another of Livia’s tricks. Accordingly, he decided he would arrive sufficiently late to act a little cool.
Pressing the entryphone at her house, some 15 minutes late, she answered.
“Come in Paolo... you’re late! Everthing’s gone cold here!”
‘Shiiiit!’ thought Paolo. ‘does that mean her too?’
Before the evening with Paolo, Livia had work to do. To ‘keep her enemies closer’ she decided to extend this beyond Paolo to Marcia and Sofia. Time for another summit meeting to keep diplomatic relations diplomatic, and to find out what had been going on whilst she was away.
She arranged for them to meet again in town in two days at the restaurant where they’d met before. Livia felt she would sense any potential problems for her and find out a bit more about Tony’s state of mind.
“My treat.” she told them. Livia was planning lots of ‘treats’.
“Why not pop over later this evening? My son’s gone back to school... grudgingly, but gone. I have the place back to myself. I’ll order a takeaway for 8.30. We can talk and see how it goes. Does that suit you Paolo?”
‘You bet it does’ thought Paolo, or more particularly his groin, but it was his brain controlling his mouth that said “OK. Can I bring anything?”
“Just yourself, Paolo, just yourself.... I’ll organise a party.”
“A party?” Paolo was confused. “What kind of party?”
“A party of two, silly boy. Just us two!” Livia was fully in charge.
Paolo was a man. A young, virile man. With passions. With a particular passion. A passion that was Livia. What could he do? He was helpless. He was lost. But he was about to fulfil his dream.
However, he mustn't appear too keen (although Livia knew damn well exactly how keen he was. Women know these things!)
“O...K... so when do you suggest?” Paolo was acting cool, or so he thought.
“When do you have a space in your diary?” Livia asked politely.
“I don’t have a diary...”
“Well then... see you soon I guess?” Livia was back in control.
“Why the sudden change of heart now Livia?” Paolo still had boxes to tick.
“Tony scared me. He was acting weird! I think maybe the reason he didn’t force himself physically on me was that he’s got this crazy idea Terry’s still alive. I rejected this, and him, and now he won’t speak to me. He’s showing signs of weakness Paolo, but I’m not letting him rule my life...”
“...and my love.” she added wistfully.
“So what do you want from me then Livia?” asked Paolo.
“I want you to make love to me.” replied Livia. “It’s long overdue!”
“It’s true. I was shitty... I can’t apologise enough. But Tony was behaving very strangely towards me. He’d said you’d wanted to collect me from Southampton, but he didn’t like you ‘sniffing around me’! His exact words. He made you sound creepy Paolo... but then what happened was even creepier. I think he might’ve been trying to make a move on me himself because he said ‘If I find out that fucker’s made any move on you, I’ll have him killed!’ I couldn’t let that happen Paolo. I had to push you away!”
Paolo wanted to believe. And he did.
Paolo was not easily persuaded that this delicious woman, albeit older than him, had performed such a volte face. The savage iciness she’d exhibited towards him and her utter rejection of him couldn’t be ignored, even if he found her physically hugely desirable, despite their age difference.
“You’ve suddenly changed your tune, Livia. You must feel there’s more dirty work you need me to do!”
“How dirty do you want it to be Paolo?” Livia countered, coquettishly.
Paolo ignored the innuendo and continued.
“Something’s happened hasn’t it? Something you need fixing. You can’t fool me. Why the rejection, Livia, why?”
“You’ve been in a fucking brilliant place, Livia!” challenged Paolo, “The Caribbean... sunning yourself... having a great time!”
“Yes, you’re right, yes I was... but...” Livia agreed.
“But you left me here doing your very fucking dirty work... and then robbed me blind and treated me like shit when you’d got what you wanted!” Paolo wasn’t about to let Livia off the hook so easily.
“I know! You’re right Paolo. I did!... but I didn’t get what I wanted, did I?”
“What more could you possibly want then?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” asked Livia.
“No it fucking isn’t!”
“I want you!”
“Paolo?” asked Livia tentatively as he answered his mobile.
“Livia?... is that you Livia?”
“Yes” she replied.
“A bit of a surprise to hear from you. What do you want?” Paolo asked her suspiciously.
“Paolo, I’ve been a right bitch to you. A complete bitch!” she admitted.
“Yes you ha....” Livia gave Paolo no chance to finish as she continued.
“I have to make it up to you. I want to apologise.”
“Why the sudden change of heart, Livia?” Paolo was rather perplexed. He had converted his infatuation with her into extreme dislike.
“I was in a very bad place!”
Paolo’s grudging acceptance that Livia was a lost cause was about to turn on its head following her meeting with Mary Flaherty. Livia had thought back over the two women’s discussions and Mary’s comment about her brother ‘knowing where the bodies are buried’ bothered her. She realised that she might have been foolish not just to have distanced herself from Paolo, but also to have made him an enemy.
’Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!’ Livia thought. A thaw in relations might make her more secure... and Paolo might be actively helpful in the plans she was making.