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Subject: Makarovia! Sure, I Know Where That Is! Chapter 16 Corfu, Athens Story: Makarovia! Sure, I Know Where That Is Chapter 16 Corfu, Athens Author: Eric McQueen ail) Adult Readers, Sexual Situations, Sex Freedom of expression is precious. To do that Nifty needs help. Your donation is greatly desired. Give to fty/ or this story ends and all the others! That would be a crime! The honeymoon continues on in Corfu and Athens. Some more wonderful meals by Henri! Scrumptious! They finally arrive at Big! Corfu, Athens We sat at the table again. When someone was cooking and did it well you could always smell the wonderful aromatic blend of the various things that were made. Since we were in Greece, I can use the analogy of sensing of it enticing me like an olfactory siren would sing to sailors in mythology where they would just lure them. These sailors were helpless not to be lured. We weren’t being lured to our deaths, but it did make my hunger increase. We knew Henri would make something wonderful. He came out of the galley with two small plates covered with the silver metal covers. Lifting them quickly and the steam came up caressing our faces lovingly as the enticement just worked stronger. On each of our plates were four silver-dollar sized chubby disks. They were mushrooms stuffed with whitish meat that had just been browned to a nice color as it even sounded hot and delectable as it still sizzled and bubbled. “You have mushrooms stuffed with fresh crab meat,” Henri told us. “I got the crab here today.” He almost left. “Oh,” he put a tiny silver jar down. It was not more than an inch or so high. It looked almost like a toy jar. “Some Tabasco Pepper Sauce if you want some. Of course, you know Tabasco Pepper Sauce is hot.” He confirmed as we both nodded. Now, my mouth was watering. They were delicious. It almost didn’t need Tabasco Sauce, but we tried a few drops and were not disappointed. “I want more.” Peter stated sadly when he swallowed his last one. I knew the feeling having it myself. “We’re supposed to.” I chuckled. “That’s why they’re called,” I used finger quotes in the air, “appetizers.” Again, Henri was watching that monitor and knew we were finished. Henri came out of the galley pushing a rolling cart. He took our used plates and looked at us slightly annoyed as he poured wine in two glasses. “I take a risk with you two each time I cook.” My eyes widened. “Why?” He shrugged and waved. “It is my peur.” He used a French word looking at us. “You understand phobie?” That word in French was so similar to the English word, I knew he meant phobia. Peter looked a bit concerned, but knew what the word meant, too. “What about?” “I have the fear that what I will make something you will not like or even have had it for lunch.” Henri said. “Is there a seafood you do not like?” “No.” I chuckled as he really looked a little worried. “You’re safe, Henri.” Peter shook his head. “I haven’t found seafood dish you’ve made I haven’t loved.” Henri nodded a little shrug. “C’est bon. I suggest you try the wine first. It’s a Sauvignon Blanc.” He said it the way it was supposed to be in French. “It will cleanse the palette so you can get the full flavor of what you’ll have tonight.” With another dramatic reveal, he raised a silver metal cover. The aroma was rich buttery, and slightly spicy due to the Cayenne Pepper. The sweet smell was a combination of the lobster meat and cognac. The size and shape of lobster tails was distinctive. “Lobster Thermidor!” “Henri!” I balked. “You are deliberately tormenting us!” The huge smile on my face assured I was really enjoying the suffering he gave us. That Frenchman smiled evilly. “Oui!!” He chuckled and went back toward the galley saying, “I am. Bon appetite!” Peter took his first bite and he shook his head as he savored the flavor. “That man,” he sighed, “is just mean.” I was enjoying mine. “Who cares? This is just so damned good.” Peter was munching on his and making some little sounds of pleasure and appreciation. It was as if he and that lobster were making love. I wasn’t jealous. My lobster was making love to me! Don’t think Henri’s creations were better than Boris’. Cooking was an art for both men! It was like, you see two paintings, one is a Monet and the other a Van Gogh. You love both paintings and think they’re wonderful, but they are unique in style. If you know Oscar-Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh, you really know what I mean. Peter and I changed into something a little more formal. Still casual, but nothing heavy or dark. It was warm out and dancing makes you sweat. The club Silk I found out had closed. Reading it shut down, I was sad a business failed until I read a comment that made me smile. They didn’t need a club or bar for catering solely to gay people. The other clubs and bars were very open about allowing everyone. Silk was guilty of it, too. They allowed straight couples in, so having one exclusive to one group just didn’t work out, but I didn’t feel sorry about the reason. Whoever thought that club would work had to close. The club simply starved to death…financially. The owner had no choice or he, or she, might literally starve to death. I doubted a club exclusive to the gay community would work in Makarovia, for the same reason. I found a club highly rated very near us with dance as part of the name. There were a number of them, but this one was a kilometer or two away. It was an easy walk. For the same reason I had earlier that day I asked Mikell and the men to dress comfortably. They wouldn’t be dancing, so that was no problem with them sweating for that reason. They had a job to do. Mikell smiled at me and said patiently. “Thank you. I know you’re concerned about us, but if we dress too casually other customers there may try to dance with us.” I nodded understanding his concern. “Fine.” They were not ugly men. It could happen. The oldest was approaching forty years of age. “Those dark glasses and that blank faces keep people away.” I was about to walk away, but looked at Mikell. “Even the Secret Service for the President of the United States has uniforms that are more casual. At least short sleeves. On the Internet I saw that in the Bahamas, they began making business suits for men that are shorts.” I thought. “They didn’t show the shoes and socks though. Yuri and I need to talk about some black shorts and black polo shirts for you guys. I know Nike and some other manufacturers make sneakers and tennis shoes that look like Bass Wegens for business attire.” Mikell smiled again. “You worry about everybody, don’t you?” “Of course,” I replied. “If there’s a way to make your job less difficult and comfortable doing the job should looked into.” He chuckled. “We’ll be fine.” The club was Kostas’ Dance Club. There was only a little competition with the clubs as people chose a genre. It could be any decade and taste in music and atmosphere. Such as “the oldies” or contemporary. They all survived, except for Silk which closed because no one came. These clubs had been in Corfu for years. Kostas’ wasn’t a big club like many I’d seen, such as Jocks. No one could compete with the cavernous Grotto at home in Makarovia. The Grotto really was an immense cavern! The fact that it was a weeknight didn’t really count. Not on an island where the population maybe greater than the residential population who were on vacation. Depending on your tastes and where your hotel was the factored in gave the choices. Kostas’ wasn’t crowded with only three couples on the little dance floor. Others sat in booths to talk, drink, and eat things to snack on while doing that. The same reaction to our presence happened as everywhere, so far. That was inside. In the back was a good sized porch with tables and chairs. Here there were many more people made that hum of conversations and punctuated with the occasional louder laugh. The customers glanced up as we do when someone new arrives. At tables near us looked up at us and soon all were staring at us. A middle aged, heavyset woman at the closet table gasped and then slapped her heavyset male companion lightly on the arm. “I told you!” She said to him with a very British accident. “Marcie swore she saw them!” I couldn’t know who Marcie was, but she’d told this woman who told the male companion, who evidently didn’t believe that Marcie really had seen us. His eyes widened as he now knew Marcie had told the truth! I wondered if he had to apologize to Marcie for not believing her. If he did, I knew his companion would insist he do that. Too bad Marcie wasn’t here apparently, but there would be groveling involved later. I chuckled and shrugged in the man’s direction. This club was right on a beach. The music from inside was being broadcast on the beach in one area that formed a circle with speakers. It was softer on the porch, but I could see dancing in that circle it was louder. There was a greater number of dancers dancing. There were maybe seventy or eighty people dancing. There were the usual couples, as in male and female. There were a few all male couples and some female couples. Hell, there was a group of three guys on one side and a group of five girls dancing together on the other side. Were they just friends or was there more? No one cared or bothered them. The music was the contemporary style of music. It didn’t end but merged with a new song with a new beat once the current song faded out and concluded. It was often the kind played in clubs for the sole reason to dance. There were none of the flashing and blinking lights out here but it brightly lit. What we saw was our arrival was having a rippling effect. Even the dancers began to stare as they stopped to see why some had stopped dancing. The music hadn’t stopped. “Is this okay?” I asked Mikell. Mikell gave a hesitant nod as he was scanning the area. “Yees.” He said slowly which told me it was fine, but he didn’t have to like it. “None of these people knew we were coming here.” I waved at the many stares. “That’s obvious.” I nodded again. “That doesn’t mean someone won’t come here and do us harm.” Peter added. “We dealt with Yuri and his almost too strict coverage.” “But we promised Yuri to listen to you.” I assured Mikell. “Do we stay or go? You tell us and we’ll do it.” Mikell’s steely set face faltered as he thought. “You don’t have answer to Yuri. He was scary. If anything happens to you, he’ll kill me!” I laughed at his almost teenage approach to Yuri’s authority. “Did he threatened you could lose your head? I mean those exact words? You’ll lose your head.” Mikell nodded a little surprised. “Yes, he did.” I chuckled. “He threatened me with the same thing in the first four months Peter and I got together. In those words when we went somewhere without Yuri.” Touching Mikell’s arm. “He trusts you, or he wouldn’t have left you in charge. We trust Yuri and therefore you.” Then all he did was nod, but not to us, but to his men who moved into positions around Peter and me. Two beside Peter, two by me two behind us both. Mikell motioned for us to proceed to where we wanted to go. Mikell was right. Dressed in those black suits and wearing those dark, special night vision glasses, the people knew why our guards were here. The problem I had was, if all Peter and I just wanted to do dance, we could have stayed on the Duchess and done that. Being at the club was so we could be with around people. Being unapproachable was not what I wanted people to see and think about us. To deal with that, someone had to break the ice. We decided it would be us. We walked through the people drinking on the porch down to the beach sand dance floor. Eyes followed us as we went. “It’s just because they didn’t expect us.” I said to Peter, but also to remind myself. “They’re shocked we’re here.” I took Peter’s hand. “Let’s get them partying again.” As we walked toward them there was a parting as they slowly backed up to either let us through or to give us room. We were eight people. A pretty brown young woman in her early twenties with a handsome man our age blond man about my height had also had been a jock in high school and college. He reminded me of Ted Dawe from Northeastern. “What language do you speak?” I asked her in English. “American,” She answered. I smiled at her. She identified the language by the country and was kind of sweet. She wasn’t stupid. It was just simple. I could see the blond man cared about her as I saw he was preparing to potentially protect her from any confrontation. “Good! I speak American, too. Have you been here before?” “Do you mean to Corfu?” She asked. “Gary and I came for our honeymoon.” It didn’t seem like an act. I understood what Gary fell in love with. She was not a child, but had the childlike innocence she just radiated. Gary had the beginnings of a smile. “Holly and I got married on the same day you did.” My reminder of Ted went away. He didn’t have Ted’s Alabama accent…or mine. Peter chuckled. “You know when we got married. I guess we don’t have to introduce ourselves.” Gary laughed back now. “No, when you had your wedding in was earlier in California. We saw it though.” He pointed behind us at Mikell and the others. “Should we be talking? He doesn’t look happy that we are.” I looked back at Mikell. If he thought we were in danger he would have stopped us. There was his typical stony face. Smiling at Gary, “He and these boys just look like that. They’re our bodyguards.” Gary stuck his hand to us. “I’m Gary Coleman.” He put and arm around his wife. “This is my wife Holly.” Okay, Peter turned on his charm mode taking her hand gently and kissed her on the knuckles. “A lovely name for a lovely lady.” Holly smiled relaxing. The others on the dance floor began to dance again. They still stared a little. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I said to them and looked at the dancers. I turned to Peter, but asked loud enough for Gary and Holly could hear. “Have you ever Shagged?” I realized how that could be interpreted by the British and what they meant by “shagging” and said quickly. “I should have asked…have you ever done the Shag Dance?” Peter frowned. “No. I’ve never even heard of it.” “It’s a dance from South Carolina.” I said. “Just South Carolina?” Peter asked grinning. I nodded. “Other than starting the Civil War, we can claim the Shag. The Shag is something we can be proud of.” I waved to the sandy beach. “You do it on beaches in sand.” I looked at Gary and Holly. They had been actively dancing, so I asked them, too. “Care to try it? There’s only a few steps.” I noticed Holly had gotten over the shock of seeing us here and was relaxing now and smiled bigger. “My mother and father went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on a vacation and learned to do it there. I tried to learn it. Show it to me again?” “If there’s a lead, you have to do it.” Peter grinned. “There isn’t really a lead, just someone that starts the steps. I’ll show you.” I said pulling Peter in the starting position. “You do the same steps I do, but on the opposite foot.” I gripped Peter’s right hand. “Hold it, but keep it loose.” I moved my right foot forward a little. “Your left goes back.” Peter did it. “That’s one.” My foot right moved to where we began and then moved back. “That’s two.” I noticed that Gary and Holly were doing it, too. “Step on your left foot and move your right over and behind your left foot.” I saw Gary doing the same as we were and Holly the opposite. “That’s three.” I stepped in place quickly. “Now do the same with the opposite foot. That’s four.” My feet met parallel to where we started. “Five.” I stepped forward again. “Six.” I watched as Peter and our new friends did it. “Now, do it again.” We did that, too as I counted for them and after six I spun Peter around extending our distance, but held his hands and brought him to me. “The spin alone or together is what you add to give it your personal style.” I waved at Gary and Holly were both smiling now. “Just add what you want. Be creative, but just keep it fluid and loose.” Peter and I did it again. “Have fun.” I brought Peter up and pressed our bodies together and spun as one together and did it again. Holly was sweet and innocent, but a fast study. It was a safe bet she took ballet or tap dancing as a child. The smoothness of her movements said it was ballet. “Katrina taught you this?” Peter grinned. “Actually,” I replied mockingly smug. “I taught her.” I smirked. “It’s a rare thing to teach a prima-ballerina a dance she doesn’t know.” I looked at Mikell who had stepped back to give us room, but a ghost of a smile was on his face. We were just two couples doing the same dance. I noticed other dancers were trying to mimic our moves. Soon the laughter of the others returned around us. Dance was something everybody liked to do. A giggling laugh from Holly as Gary almost stepped on her foot. He watched his feet to keep it from happening again. They had the spins down. Not everyone of them did it, but others tried it. It could be slow or fast depending on the beat of the music. The songs here were pretty fast and it could be a tiring dance. Once Peter got the steps down we were doing the moves quicker. It wasn’t long when Gary stopped. “I need a breather.” He wasn’t gasping, but needed to stop a while. Peter looked at me. “A breather?” No one had said it to him. “Pererva.” I said in Makarovian. The literal translation confused him. “Znayete, pauza.” Then I switched to English again. “To catch his breath.” Peter nodded. “Oh, it’s good to know he wasn’t planning to break a bone. I could use one myself.” Gary was still smiling at the fun he had. “Can you join us? Maybe get a drink?” “Sure.” Peter answered readily. We got a table on the porch. “They don’t have Servers here.” Gary said and pointed toward the inside bar. “We have to get them.” “Please be seated, Mr. Coleman.” Mikell said startling Holly a little. She’d forgotten he was there. Mikell spoke English and there was the accent again. “What would you like to drink?” We told him and Peter got his card out. “I’ll get this round.” Mikell didn’t go get the drinks, but told one of the other five to do that. Gary smiled at us. “What are the odds we’d be at the same club at the same time?” “What’s the population census now?” I asked. “Seven or eight billion?” I shrugged. “I’d guess about eight billion to one?” “Why’d you stop with me?” Holly asked. “You didn’t back away.” I answered simply. Holly smiled. “I was too surprised to move.” “If I can ask,” Peter began. “Where are you from?” “California.” They both said. Gary smiled at his wife. “We just moved to our apartment in South Beach, California. Between Carlsbad and Encinitas?” I nodded. “I know where that is, but have never been there.” “I don’t.” Peter griped. “It’s in between Los Angeles mezitli escort and San Diego, but closer to San Diego.” I explained getting Peter’s nod of understanding. “Is the weather nice all year long?” Peter asked a little sourly. “It’s pretty good year round.” Gary said as a smile grew. “I saw the special for Christmas in Makarovia done by the BBC. It showed that area was buried in snow in Winter.” “Yeah.” Peter muttered a little sadly. My giving him an apparently disapproving look, he said. “What? I’m jealous!” He explained. I smiled touching his leg. “At first, we lived in a very tiny apartment in Boston. It gets cold there, but not like Makarovia.” I said to them. “Peter would be happy to go back.” “In a split second.” Peter enforced. “We were very happy there.” Holly frowned hearing that. “You live in a palace.” She couldn’t understand why that wouldn’t be better. “I also saw that on a show. It’s beautiful! The house in Boston is beautiful, too but I’ve never seen inside it.” “I don’t want people to think of us as suffering,” I said with a smile. “We’re not. What we did just had never been done. That’s why they showed all that.” “That was the real reason everyone wanted to see it.” Peter added softly. “Our all but forgotten country’s history made it possible.” The idea of giving anyone the impression of false modesty occurred to me. “We’re just people. No better or worse than anyone. We came to Kostas’ instead of staying where we were to be sociable. That requires other people. It’s what we do as Humans.” I glanced as Mercea; the security guard came back with our drinks. Mercea had nice looking face, but a boyish one. He had the size and build, but I doubted he was more than twenty! He had gone into the guard as he graduated high school and did his mandatory two year service. This was his first assignment as a guard. He must have requested further training when he showed interest. Yuri wouldn’t approve of him if he didn’t show promise. He bowed to us. “Forgive the delay, Your Highness.” He said in Makarovian and gave us our drinks from the tray and handed Peter a receipt. “You must sign this.” Peter looked puzzled. “Was there a problem?” Mercea looked at Gary and Holly and stuck to Makarovian. “The bartender and I had a disagreement.” “About?” Peter asked also in Makarovian. “He wanted proof of authorization,” Mercea replied. “There’s an eight hundred phone number on it.” Peter stated a little irritated. Gary didn’t understand what we were talking about. “Is there a problem?” “I’ll answer in a second.” Peter promised Gary politely, then back to speaking in Makarovian. “Did he call it?” “That was the problem. He had no card number for him to give. Your passport is in the safe on the Duchess and you don’t have a driver’s license…” Mercea replied. “I even showed him the signed consent from his government. He used his own phone to call the number. The government’s problem was no one answered very quickly.” The problem was understandable. Swiping the card would have made the bank in Luxembourger call if they doubted it was us. That’s why the Greek Government gave us the consent. The lawyer sent by Mario, Nicolo Cuomo, gave us a certified copy. “If it’s like most countries, the government offices are closed at this time.” I offered the possibility. Whoever was to be there could have a good reason to not answer when the call came in. Peter shook his head. “It’s not your fault, Mercea.” He signed the receipt and handed it back. Smiling at Gary he explained what happen. “Almost everyone recognized you.” Holly said. “How could anyone doubt that?” Gary knew. “Because one, Peter wasn’t the one using it and two, the one at the office couldn’t see that.” Peter nodded showing them the card. “And this is a special card. It has no numbers on it.” The Makarovian Crest was on the red card and Prince Pedro Ivanov on it in shiny gold raised print. “How does that work?” Gary asked. “The eight hundred number it uses goes to the bank. They would have called if they suspected fraud. The Authorization Code has to be entered. The Card’s Number and Authorization Code changes.” He shrugged. “It’s a limited account that money goes in to use.” “It can be complicated. For security.” I said simply. We did dance a few more hours and drank one more round, but it was getting late. Others braved their approach to us because of Mikell and the boys. It was all good. There were nice, friendly people all around us. Then there was one. She wasn’t even at Kostas’. She approached from the beach. She was a dark blond headed woman in her thirties. Staggering a little and the reason why was in her right hand and she was very drunk. “Where are they?” She shouted, unfortunately it was English. American as Holly had said. “I heard those two queer princes were here.” Her speech was slurred. Mikell and the other guards closed in on Peter and me to form a barrier against her. She started to try to dance to the music and could barely keep her balance. “Come on,” she said to everyone here, “Those two fairy princes are here. You couldn’t miss them, they have wings.” She fluttered her left hand like a wing and laughed at her own wittiness. There were drinking laws in Greece, of course. The were no limits for the age of consumption. Purchasing it was only a decade ago was posted has to be eighteen. They drink in Greece. A lot. Even small children as young as eight were given a little wine at dinner, but you almost never see someone from Greece drunk. It was unmanly not holding your liquor and you were expected to be civil. The Greeks did not tolerate drunk driving. It seemed as if the entire police department would be out would be out testing the breath of drivers. There were some very heavy fines if you are and stopped. She was alone. My point was the government and law enforcement expected that whoever they were with when drinking would stop her or they also faced very heavy fines. Were they also drunk? The still crowded dance area sort of thinned as people moved to get away from her. “Is that them?” She asked pointing at Peter and me. She staggered closer. Mikell, Mercea and the others closed any gap between them. She looked annoyed now. “I don’t want any of you.” She ran a hand over a breast. “They need to know what a real woman feels like.” A man came running out of Kostas’ and went to her. “Stop! You can’t do this to my guests.” He grabbed her forearm. She yanked her arm away. “Get off me!” “Kyría!” The man from Kostas’ shouted in Greek. I found out that was a courteous address like Ma’am or Madame. “I will not allow this.” He grabbed her arm again. “What did you call me!?” And tried again to yank her arm away. “Don’t touch me!!” She said angrily. “This man’s assaulting me! Someone call the police!!” “They’re already coming. For you.” The man said to her and the siren I heard was not what I heard often in the United states. “Dopomozhitʹ yomu.” Mikell told Mercea to help him. He turned to me and shrugged. “He’s in training so still learning.” He explained calmly. The policeman arrested her as she was shouting indignantly swearing she would sue them all. She wanted to see the faggot princes. She knew her rights! The Greek laws would also prosecute for harmful words meant to hurt someone. The man running the club turned to us. “Your Highness, I am so sorry about what happened here. I hope it does not make you dislike your stay in Corfu.” Peter stuck his hand out. “We love Kerkyra.” The man smiled bigger hearing his home’s name they called it. I shook his hand. “You have a beautiful island and are a beautiful people.” “And great food!” Peter chuckled rubbing his stomach. The man nodded with a little bow. “I’m Deo Kostas. My father owns this and I manage it. I was surprised when I was told you are here.” “We’ve had a marvelous time.” I said. “I know we’ll be back.” Deo was about to leave and stopped. “I’m also sorry about the card situation…it was unusual. My bartender didn’t understand. I’ll make sure we’re ready next time.” “It was understandable.” Peter acknowledge. “It worked in the end.” Peter smiled at me. “I’m getting tired. Can we head back to the Duchess?” Gary and Holly came over. “Does that sort of thing happen often?” Gary asked pointing to where the police car had been. “I saw on the news where there was that shooting in Boston on TV and that attack in London.” Peter nodded. “Often enough to need these personal guards.” He indicated our guards. “Not all the time.” I stuck my hand out to him. “We’ll be going. Bedtime, you know.” I said as I hugged Holly lightly. “It’s been a pleasure meeting you both.” Peter added. “It’s an honor meeting you.” Gary said laughing. “I was totally surprised. Unbelievable!” “If you’re in Boston or even decide to visit East Europe,” I said, “call the house in Boston. Don Wilson will answer and tell him and forward it to us wherever we are. You’ll be welcomed.” “If you’re ever on the West Coast,” Gary smile, “call us.” We might not become best friends, but no one can have too many. Athens! The beginning of civilization, philosophy, heroes, and theater. Myths. Modern and ancient mixed together. Yeah! I hoped we’d spend a couple of days there. This was going to be farther away than we’d gone the past week. Captain Agius told us wherever and whenever we should, he would do. Peter knew I wanted to go there, so now was the “when” and Athens was the “whre.” We also messaged Henri about coming in late, or early depending your perspective. We didn’t want him to get up to make breakfast too early in morning wasting his time and resources. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “raising the bar.” He raised his own bar for excellence. We expected him to blow our senses now, but we didn’t want him to feel pressured and hurried. It was four-thirty in the morning when we got into bed and then maybe an hour later when we went to sleep. I’m certain you know what we did for that hour in between. When you normally wake up is when you usually wake up or close to it. I’d only gotten four hours of sleep. My attempts to get more only got me another hour. The need to go to the bathroom arose. Peter was still sleeping. As was his habit, he was spooned up behind me and his arm held me securely. Almost like he was afraid I was going to get away, but the need to pee was telling me “go now!” I tried to remove his arm gently so I wouldn’t disturb him. I knew I’d fail, but I tried. As I was raising the arm, I felt him stir. Instead of letting me go he tightened his hold. Chuckled in frustration I just rolled over. Even in that semi awake, sort of still asleep zone; Peter’s desire to keep me with him and so strong. That was very nice. My husband was protective. I was, too…about him. I kissed him gently and whispered to him. “Sorry, Babe, but I gotta go!” Now, he waking up more, but still groggy. “What? Go? Where are you going?” Kissing him again I smiled. “Right here if you don’t let me go.” I laughed a little. “I haven’t wet the bed in nearly two and a half decades. I will again soon if I don’t get to the bathroom.” “Oh.” Peter raised his arm and then smiled understanding the urgency. “Sorry.” “Why!?” I asked. “Don’t be sorry! It’s very reassuring to me.” I kissed him again quickly. “Be right back.” I slid out and raced to the bathroom. I almost felt guilty going to the bathroom in here. Yes, it’s what every animal does, but it was so pretty here, I felt like I was pissing in a rose garden or even an art gallery. Would you want to do that? As I was coming out, Peter was going in. “This is your fault.” Using his mocking tone of grouchiness voice. “What’s my fault?” I grinned as he went to the “water closet.” You know, the little room within the bathroom so you can go to the bathroom in more private? “It’s my fault I woke you? I had to go and you weren’t letting me leave!” “Not about that.” Peter griped as I heard him relieve himself. He and I have been together having long ago gotten over the need for privacy to do that. “Your suggestion about having to pee made me need to go myself.” I laughed about that. “That’s my fault!? You would have to soon anyway. It’s morning!” The only time the door was closed was if we had to poop. That wasn’t because of the need for privacy, but for courtesy. We know we all do it, but keep the negativity associated with it. It’s bad and just nasty. Forgive me Willie, I love you, Buddy. I love almost all you’ve done, but there’s a line in one of your play that works here, with some changes. What’s in a name? Shit by any other name still stinks. We start early telling children everybody poops. Poop. It’s a cute name but it’s still shit. The word is used to convey something nasty and bad. I liked Romeo and Juliet, but loved it if it were about Romeo and Tybalt, Juliet’s male cousin. Then we would be talking. If you’re called a shithead is not a compliment on how smart you are. There are so many names, vulgar, silly, and cute, but…there was a circulating fan in this water closet to help take care of that. There was even a deodorizer to help even more! I’m off the topic. No more digression. I promise. For now. Back to the Honeymoon. He came out smiling more like his happy self. He kissed me letting it linger a while. “Have I told you I love you today?” “Technically?” I grinned. “You have. There were several times after midnight.” His eyes rolled and he looked at me. “Okay.” He said in concession. “Have I told you I love you since the sun came up?” “Only when you just asked me if you said it, but no.” Peter chuckled. “I love you, husband.” We kissed again. “I know. I love you, husband.” “I know.” I wasn’t a sailor, but knew ship’s speed was gaged in knots. How many knots the Duchess’ was traveling, I didn’t know. I still would have no idea, or could understand if I was told how many knots it was. The distance we needed to travel was farther than Venice to Kotor or Kotor to Corfu. We had to go between two of Greece’s landmasses under a bridge which connected them for street traffic; saving them from going a long way around or the need to wait for a ferry. The two landmasses were the Greek mainland and the Peloponnese. The Peloponnese was almost an island but was joined by a narrow strip of land less than five miles wide. They had tried for thousands of years to try to ease crossing this isthmus to save time for quicker accumulation of profits. It was for business. We go from the Ionian Sea…almost to the Mediterranean Sea, but veering off between those landmasses under that almost mile long bridge into the Gulf of Corinth. At the city of Corinth, we take the Corinth Canal. That was a major boon for Corinth as many ships used it for rest, a meal, bathed or replenish supplies. Corinth was always prosperous as people used Corinth frequently. It was located at center of the isthmus and now the canal did too, for trade. If you were raised like me, you certainly knew that city. Remember First and Second Corinthians in the Bible? That’s the city the Apostle Paul wrote to the citizens there! We still wouldn’t have arrived in Athens. Close, but a little more travel was needed. We would go to the Megara Gulf to get to the Gulf of Elefsina! That’s a lot of gulfs, I know, but if we went that way we saved on fuel and time. Makarovia was buying the fuel, food and paying the crew…plus all fees for berthing and the fee to use the canal. The uranium was coming out and the money was coming in. Oh, yes, I almost forgot. We also needed an SUV to take us places in Athens. Peter and I weren’t driving, but Mercea was. The Countess was letting us use her yacht. It was only fair we paid, but I didn’t want to see the bill. It was expensive. Why? Did we think we deserved it? We didn’t. Being married in to a family of leaders…which I just married into. It was necessary to ensure security. There still the threat of the Consortium, the Extremists in the Middle East, and people like that drunk woman last night made it so we had to. We returned to bed, but the sleepy spell had been broken. “It was nice to meet Holly and Gary.” I said as we just cuddled. And dozed. We weren’t going anywhere a while. “Gary Coleman,” Peter said out of the blue. “Why is that name so familiar?” “You saw sitcoms from the United States.” “Sure.” Peter nodded and then his eyes got wider as he remembered. “Yes! Different Strokes, in the early nineteen eighties! Wow, he really changed.” He grinned. “He certainly grew up, changed his ethnicity…” “And resurrected!” I added. Peter chuckled. “It was a pretty good show.” “When that woman came,” I said sadly. “I admit it. I was embarrassed.” “Why?” “She was American!” I stated disgusted. Peter frowned. “How do you know that? They also speak English in Canada.” “Her accent!” I explained. “Even drunk…she slurred words, but with a Northern Midwestern States accent…like Wisconsin or Minnesota. She was the embodiment of nouveau riche trailer trash. She gave Greece a bad example of the people from the United States!” “You’d recognize the accent. I just heard English.” Peter squeezed me to him. “She had access to money.” “Right.” I shrugged. “Not for anything she did or even the one that brought here did. I’d almost wager they lucked out on a lottery ticket or won a big law suit or someone got a surprised inheritance.” Thinking about it was making me angry. I took the conversation in a new direction. “We left Corfu in the early morning hours. Didn’t Captain Agius say it would take just a couple of hours?” “He did,” Peter grinned. “He also said depending on the traffic it would only take a couple of hours.” He kissed my head. “He meant boat traffic.” I nodded. “Because of the canal. Everyone wants to use it.” “Yep,” Peter answered. “It’s very narrow. Only one ship at a time can go through.” “But better than going that long way around.” Peter smiled. “What will we find to do?” He asked as he kissed me. We found something to do. We showered and changed, leaving our quarters to hunt down Henri. The Duchess was big, but not that big. We weren’t that hungry at the moment. What I knew Peter needed and I wanted was coffee. We knew he’d be in the galley. We asked a crewman who pointed to a door slightly ajar. Peter and I weren’t surprised to find out his quarters were attached to the galley. Peter knocked gently making the door open more. Henri’s quarters were not big. Compact would be right the right word. Henri was lying on his single bunk reading a book. It was written in French, but I knew what the book was about. The front of the book had a close-up picture of something cooked on a table. Food. It was the man’s passion! Henri looked up and smiled instantly. “Bonjour!” He looked at his watch. “Soon it will be afternoon.” “There’s no pozcu escort rush to cook, but can we get our coffees?” I asked. “Certainement!” Henri said getting up. Again, that word was so close to the word in English, I knew what he meant. Most languages in Europe had the same basis…except Russian, Ukrainian and Makarovian… Sorry. I left the topic again. “We could do it ourselves…” Peter began. Henri looked alarmed. “Then why would you need me if I let you do that?” He shook his head. “No, I have a purpose being here and I do it gladly.” We followed him into the galley and watched him prepare our different coffees. “You really like to cook.” I ventured. Henri shook his head. “No, Monsieur. I live to cook.” He chuckled. “There is a saying, if you love what you do, you’ll never have to work.” He started the coffee brewing. “I do love it. I feel alive when I cook.” He turned to us. “Since it will be lunchtime soon, may I suggest a seafood brunch?” Peter grinned. “Anything you cook will be great.” “Give me forty minutes.” Henri instructed. “Forty minutes?” I smiled asking. “Why not say a half an hour, forty-five minutes or even an hour?” “Because I know how long to prepare things and I want what I give to be at the peak of flavor.” Henri handed us our coffees as he confessed and waved his hands away from us in a shooing motion as said, “Pschtt!” Clearly he meant shoo, or go away. He had what he loved to do. Peter and I walked out on deck into the sunshine. Peter laughed as I set the timer on my watch. I looked at him. “We need to be on time,” I said logically. “I try never to be late. I set I for thirty-five minutes.” Accounting for travel, we would be right on time. We were in the Gulf of Corinth. We could make out a small strip of land in the direction we were heading. The engines of the Duchess didn’t make much noise., but was silent now. I guess a boat can idle like a car. We weren’t moving except a gentle rocking as we floated. We were waiting our turn. There were three ships I could see in the distance that had been here before us. We couldn’t make out how many were on the other side to come Saronic Gulf to the Gulf of Corinth where we were at the moment. “At least we’re in comfort here.” I said gratefully. “In Charleston, I wasted a lot my life waiting for a drawbridge to open and close. It could be a barge or sailboat to get through on the International Waterway. All I could do is find a new song on the radio or CD. Drumming my fingers on the steering wheel the only other option.” Peter nodded a shrug. “We had to wait months for Spring to go outside.” Turning to him I tapped on his chest as I asked. “Are you one-upping me?” The exact word translation didn’t work again. I explained what that meant. Peter was nodding as he understood. “Yes!” He yelped laughing as I tackled him onto a cushioned lounge. Nothing really happened out here on the deck except making out. It was my watch that reminded us it was time for Henri’s delectable creations. Self-control barely kept us from running to the table, but we did walk faster than we normally did. At the table, Henri had set platters, bowls and something that looked like a pie. It wasn’t a sweet one anyway. It bubbled and steamed. All of it smelled wonderful. “You did all this in forty minutes.” Peter said doubting the possibility. Henri looked surprised and a little guilty. “Well…oui.” He gave a grudging nod. “I had it prepared and it in the réfrigérateur.” That word in French was just obvious. “Never do I freeze.” He waved at the pie that wasn’t a pie. “This is a Crab and Shrimp Quiche.” He waved to a bowl of rounded shapes I knew were shrimp, but they were covered in a dark and glistening sauce sitting on what every Southerner easily recognized as grits. I really didn’t care for grits, but I kept my mouth shut. “This is a lightly tangy, spicy Caribbean Shrimp and Grits.” I quickly told myself this I had to try. It sounded good! He waved at the steaming other platter. “This is Lobster Benedict.” “Damn.” I said just like we did seeing the house in Boston for the first time. Peter nodded in agreement. “What he just said.” “Fresh juices, coffee…oh,” Henri reached under the cart and presented me with that important glass of milk. “Prendre plaisir.” Enjoy. I pointed a thumb at Henri. “You just can’t help but love this guy!” Peter nodded. “I know!” Henri smiled shrugging. “I love to do it.” He left us to do prendre plaisir. The marvelous oral food orgasms came again. We had to get Boris to get the recipe from Henri. Boris wouldn’t be offended, would he? This is a Monet and Van Gogh moment, right? Super painters with beautiful paintings, love both of them, but are they’re different. Both Boris and Henri were highly trained chefs and just as talented; just different with their own styles. The wait for the passing through the canal took a little while, but I didn’t mind the wait. We didn’t have to drum our fingers on any steering wheel. The Duchess had moved closer slowly and waited for the ship coming through to exit. Our number came up. We moved slowly toward the narrow entrance. It was finished in the late nineteenth century. Ships were smaller then. The tall rocky coastal area made the canal’s entrance seem even more narrow. The Duchess wasn’t that wide. The freighter that had come out for us to go in was wider. I imagined the crew reaching over the sides to touch both canal walls. At the same time! The Captain was handling the passage through the canal. Not that he didn’t trust any of his crew. They could do it. However, if the Duchess did suffer any damage as in scraping the side, he alone would be held responsible, so he did it himself. No one had to tell me what the speed was. I could see that as the canal’s rocky wall slowly passed by. There were no locks. It was dug at sea level. The six kilometers, or four miles, didn’t take too long. There was the next ship waiting to go next. “The trip to Malta we won’t take this again.” Peter told me happily. “It did save us a whole day or two going through the canal!” It was getting dark when we arrived at Pireas. This neighboring port community was only two or three miles from the heart of Athens. Many of the ferries dropped off people and their cars here from the islands off the coast of Greece. Smiling at what I beheld, it just happened. My heart rate even rose a little in anticipation. Peter was smiling too. At me. He was amused at seeing me smile like I had. We were definitely married because I knew what he was thinking! I waved at the many buildings there. “This is what I was talking about!” The buildings where clumped like many other older cities and towns, but these houses looked placed like stadium seats. Because they were! The farther back they were, the higher they sat to give everyone an unobstructed view of the water and boats. There were a whole lot of boats and ships here so there were plenty to see. The Port Authority boat came to us. They did that. We hadn’t been awake when we arrived at the other ports. A Greek man with the dark hair in his middle years boarded shaking hands with Captain Agius. This man had met the Captain before as the greeting was comfortable and familiar for both of them. There was a comfortable conversation we could barely hear between them. The Duchess must come here often. Peter and I didn’t leave the deck. We weren’t in hiding…much. You knew what they did and knew what he talked about having no knowledge of the spoken language. The questions were standard. What was he carrying, what were the intentions and how many onboard? As the man asked the questions, he was glancing around and his gaze came to us and his reaction was typical. Eyes widened, he looked at the Captain, said something as he pointed at Peter and me. Then something to the Captain who raised his hands speaking to the man. People are the same around the world! Are we who he thought we were? And the Captain saying yes then asking him to keep it to himself. The man nodded and the of course was understood. Who needed a verbal language for any of that? The Duchess was assigned a berth. Ships of all sizes were spread out here at this busy port. There were three cruise ships were here all lit as it was getting later and getting darker. The city shores were beginning to light up. Yes, this was exactly what I wanted. The mixture of old and new buildings. And most important, the ancient was here. There was some crumbling ruins of what was left of the gates that had been part of the walls for the city of Pireas. Some of the wall was still there, too. It was time for Henri again. Knowing it would be good my mouth watering before I even knew what he was serving! I was like Pavlov’s dog and salivating at the sound of a bell. I was conditioned. Coming out in his usual good mood he whistled as he brought in the cart on which were two silver covered dishes. Removing the covers revealing a small bowl and smaller plates on each of the dishes. “This is an Escarole Souffle.” I thought souffles were sensitive to noise and rapid movements and that sort of thing or they fell. They used that on many comedy TV shows. He wasn’t loud or rough, but he wasn’t worried. He waved at our plates where some toasted bread had something round on it. “And here you have Calamari Bruschetta.” The bread was a sliced baguette. “Calamari?” Peter asked. “You mean…” he thought, “what is vosʹmynoha in English?” He waved his arms in a flowing fluid motion. Peter said he hadn’t eaten seafood in Makarovia. He didn’t know it. The problem was, I never heard it used in Ukrainian or Makarovian. I didn’t know the word. There are words we never used. “And has eight arms or tentacles,” I chuckled waving my arms in the fluid-like the motion Peter used. “It’s squid.” Peter looked confused. “I thought that was an octopus.” I shook my head. “That’s a different eight armed sea creature. They’re both mollusks, but different creatures.” “Oui,” Henri nodded waving his arms, too. “Calamr is French for squid.” Three grown men doing the arm waving was funny! We didn’t even have the main course yet! The souffle was light, full of flavor and the Calamari Bruschetta savory in that sweetish sort of taste the meat of lobsters had. I’d had Calamari before. Raised in Coastal Carolina, unlike Peter, I knew what the word was. Over-cooked or under-cooked it could tough and chewy. Henri knew how to cook it very well. It was light, tender and so tasty. Watching us using the monitor Henri came pushing the cart. He took our used plates and bowls. Placing two more plates in front of us, he took the silver covers off. On both plates were two…hockey puck sized biscuits. Those biscuits looked as if whatever was inside them had blown off the top of the biscuits. The stuffed contents had erupted from inside and steam came up to entice us to lean in closer to get as much of that rich smelling aroma as possible. “Lobster Newberg!” Henri said. “I hope you enjoy it.” We did. The sweet taste of lobster with a creamy taste with the bite of cayenne pepper. Absolutely wonderful. Peter was loving it, but looked at me. “Why am I feeling disloyal?” I knew he could see my surprised reaction. It wasn’t about what asked about, but how similar our thinking could be. “Damn, Peter,” I smiled shaking my head. “We really are married. You’re having some of the thoughts I do.” Peter chuckled. “We did it before we married. It must be because we have family that came from Russia.” He jabbed the air above his plate with his fork indicating what was on it. “I am loving this. Everything Henri has cooked has been excellent. Am I being disloyal to Boris?” I laughed. “Do you think Henri is better than Boris?” “Well, no,” Peter replied. “It’s more than just professional jealousy. Boris is a damned fine chef. I love him, you know that.” He shrugged and pointed to his plate. “Henri is just as good and I find myself loving Henri, too. His personality and happy demeanor is easy to love.” I nodded. “You think you’re cheating on Boris?” “Aren’t I?” Peter asked. That’s when Henri came in the dining area. “No, you’re not.” Henri answered. Now, he saw both our puzzled faces and smiled. “If you didn’t want me to understand; you should have gone to Makarovian. The equipment has sound, as well.” He chuckled. “On the professional jealousy part,” he shrugged. “That going to happen between any two chefs. We compete to serve the best of what we can do to impress anyone we cook for. It’s like a race, we both want to win!” He held his hands out to show the helplessness he knew would happen. “On the love part,” he smiled. “Does it hurt to love another person?” He shook his head. “I don’t think so. I love cooking on the Duchess. I have all I need and know where everything is and how to use it. I love the Count and Countess von Bar. I love to cook for them. I have more than enjoyed cooking for you two. You make it a joy to do. I love you as well.” I nodded. “Apples and oranges. Realism and modern art.” I grinned and pointed to Henri. “You are Monet. Boris is Van Gogh.” Henri nodded happy that I got it. “Exactly!” He chuckled and leaned in for mock secret telling. “I’d prefer being a Renoir. Claude was good, but personally, I think Pierre-Auguste was better.” “Sure.” I grinned. “Even in that analogy taste is involved.” Henri smiled nodding at that. The shrugging nod said Peter understood. Then he looked at Henri. “You take vacations.” “I do.” Henri said. “There can be weeks when I’m not needed at all.” “Would you come to Makarovia? Or even Boston?” Peter asked. “We’d love to see you. You won’t have to cook if you don’t want to.” Henri’s smile was warmer with genuine affection now. “I will.” “You don’t know the satisfaction when I hear words like that.” Henri smiled, but his voice said he was very serious. “I’m richly rewarded when I do what you say I have with you.” Smartass. That’s me. Remember me saying that? “Okay, we’ll text Olek and tell him you’re bill has been comped.” Henri’s grin grew. “Well, don’t go crazy with what I said.” We chuckled. “You’re worth every dime.” Peter encouraged. “I prefer francs.” He bowed slightly. “No running with those scissors, huh?” Peter chuckled. This time, I was the one that hadn’t heard it before. “What?” “Ted Dawe again.” He grinned. “It was something his grandmother said when he did something he was warned not to do. He liked taking risks.” I nodded closing one eye to look at him a little more carefully. “I see.” I didn’t care. I didn’t own Peter and the way he was a human being. The very thought of him cheating…it was ludicrous! I thought the world of adult men. Some even attracted me, but would I do it? Hell, no. Having someone you thought “belonged” to you is a form of prison. I may not trust people we’re with a lot of times, but I trusted Peter. Ted was a great guy and so was Peter. I trusted neither of them would do that. Tomorrow, however, we were seeing Greece. My normal was the worse, more complicated or the farthest working our way in. Corfu had little to choose from. Athens had a lot to choose from. A wonderful task! From Pireas, Athens was North and a little East. It wasn’t that far, but Yuri would never say okay for us walking. There were temples, forums, stages, and areas for athletics. They were really big on that. Running, jumping, and wrestling. Naked!! I’d be in the front row! Talk about commercial endorsement!? Pederasty? It was everywhere. Accepted and encouraged here! It was a compliment for an older man to have his heart taken by a handsome youth! Yuri was right about Greece. They adored homosexuals here! Henri knew we were going, but he insisted we have something to keep us going. That morning, we both had French Toast. He piled it on, stay with your kind of mega-toast. Coffee! Heavy-duty coffee. Gettcha going coffee so thick it was a shake, but it was coffee. Delphi. It was a little North and furthest East of Athens. It was famous! The Oracle of Delphi? It must have worked, otherwise nobody would use it! We get there and my first impression was surprise. I’d seen it in paintings before and knew what originally appeared. A circle of columns had been here. Three remained standing testifying to what was. I found out it had recently been restored to haunt imaginations like mine with clues about putting it together. It had been many things in the past. Apollo’s temple, Council Chambers and Treasury. Temples to others deities and even a gym!! How else would the right man choose the right teenage boy approaching manhood? Imagine a society than embraces that and feels sorry for the young man that didn’t become chosen!? Even Makarovia doesn’t have that. I’m not talking about young boys, but young men in their teens becoming young men. Sex isn’t nasty, wrong, or even taboo. It was we all do or wanted to do. It isn’t fair, but all men, unless there’s something physically wrong, get erections! What you did with it was up to the individual. I got them many times a day as a teenager. Even when I was a child. I was told it was normal. Greeks knew that! I chuckled. “I wonder how many of our ancestors have stood here looking at this?” I waved at the ruins as Peter’s eyes widened. “How do you know they were?” Peter asked. “Two thousand years ago?” I pointed out. “Going by the power of four for each generation…I know it would be crowded here today! Father to son and back by four on each of our parents…some will overlap but would go in the thousands!” I patted a fallen column. It was solid and firmly set on the ground. It wasn’t moving now. There were earthquakes in Greece and all over the Mediterranean. That would be the only thing to move it even by accident. A group of men with ropes, horses and brute strength might move it a little. Someone put them up! Math. It was a necessary evil to me. I saw Peter’s eyes widen at the magnitude of what I said. He was very smart and knew, but hadn’t thought about it yet. I took his hand as we looked around more. We didn’t have time! We could take any we needed, but two weeks was all we had to take and go back to Makarovia. A decision had to be made by Olek and Helga. Soon. Reality was trying to suck me back in. I refused to go. We chose eight to ten historical sites. No rushing to get to them all. There would be a next time. Everyone knows the Acropolis. We’ve all seen it on television even if we didn’t catch the name. The Temple to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and guardian of Athens. Stoa had a reproduction of the temple set up. A reproduction of the real temple as it would appear in the past. It was sort of like a mall in the past. The Temple of Hephaestus was remarkably well preserved. He was god of the forge. Metals! All things metal was here. escort bayan I heard it was the one temple used the most and more recently. It hadn’t been neglected as long. After a few more stops, we stopped for lunch at a place called Oroscopo. “”They have Calamari,” Peter grinned pointing it out, but stopped. “Sorry,” I grinned at Peter. “Henri has spoiled me on that now. No one but Boris would I trust to do as good a job on Calamari now.” Peter nodded with a chuckle as he understood the sentiment. “Is there a place you want to go?” I asked again to be sure. “This is our honeymoon.” I pointed toward him and myself. Peter rolled his eyes putting his menu down and leaned toward me. “I’ve not gone anywhere I haven’t wanted to, Mr. Ivanov.” He shook his head. “Even if it was just your decision. What’s wrong with that? You don’t have a narcissistic bone in your entire body. It’s never just about you.” Okay, I thought. I can go to bed tonight having learned a new word in Makarovian. Understanding was easy by the word usage in the sentence. I nodded. “Thank you.” Word that we were here spread fast. It would prove to be more of a challenge tomorrow. Paparazzi is paparazzi. The pursuit of that famous picture was just weighing them down. Leaving was posing a problem. The exit was blocked by other tourists as well as photographers. What was needed were some distractions. Misdirection. The restaurant wasn’t large. Where we had been seated was viable by the light of the midday sun. Something we used. Our waiter came, looking at us as he began talking possible deserts. He was our age! “…and a wonderful selection of Balaclava.” Capriano said pointing at the menu with his pen as if talking about them. “Just nod if you want help getting out of here.” He clearly said without seeming to move his mouth. Peter pointed to something on the menu and nodded. “Any assistance we can get. Please?” “You’ve done this before.” I smiled. Capriano gave a slight shrug and nod. “Oh, sure.” He said smugly. “We help royal couples like you two every week!” He grinned. He spoke English almost like a man from England would. His accent told that. Peter asked. “Were your raised in England?” Capriano smiled nodding. “From when I finishing high school and went to university.” He looked up at the onlookers. Some were braving to come in, like they wanted to eat here. One question told wait staff if they were. If they ordered lunch, it would be fifteen minutes to wait. Outside. There were no chairs to sit inside. It was a beautiful day in Spring! They had seating out there, too. Peter and I thought that was a little too visible. Our bodyguards were around us like statues. There were other customers eating but seemed to be taking longer after we arrived. Strange how that always seemed to happen. There were a few tables, chairs in those places between the window and Peter and me. By perspective we were smaller when three wait staff stood half way between us and the window. There was even an almost perfect reflection of them that tried to see past. Holding some big serving trays to block the view even more! Just for a few seconds! Then the wait staff stood aside and we were gone. All of us, including bodyguards. “They’ve gone out the back!” A man shouted pointing to the restaurant behind us. “They’ve gone out back!” The crowd parted as both chose ways. Almost evenly. Waiting a few seconds Capriano waved in the opposite of the restaurant obvious expected way to exit. Where we actually were was a small alcove where large boxes, cans and supplies were kept. “Go, go, go!” “Efcharistó, Capriano.” Peter said thanks in Greek. “Parakaló.” He gave back. “And it’s Capri for friends.” Others at lunch were now concluding and some were applauding our successful efforts. Going out the front we encountered one photographer that hadn’t run. He was not that young, but old enough not to be easily fooled very much. He nodded appreciatively saying in Russian. “YA podozreval, chto eto mozhet byt’ tak.” I suspected this might be the case. I smiled at him. “Ty byl prav.” Telling him he was right. He calmly clicked a few shots in, no rush now. Mercea started the SUV and slammed it into gear and took off. Some of the ones we duped hurried back to their personal vehicles. Most were motorcycles for the ease of weaving in and out of traffic. Usually by two per bike. One to drive, the other to take the shots with a camera. It wasn’t planned by us, but two police vehicles suddenly pulled between us and the pursuing paparazzi. That caused instant chaos! Two t-boned the squad cars, three took spills and some managed not to have that happen. Did it stop them? Hell, no! It did allow some more distance between us. “I hope no one was seriously hurt in that.” I pointed at the wreckage. Mikell chuckled. “The Greek Government was watching us today.” “They were?” Peter asked. Mikell nodded pointing to towers we passed with those camcorders on them. “They have all day.” “I LOVE GREECE!!” I said happily. We were planning another day here, but I knew we’d come back as often as we could. We visited two more sites, but the excitement didn’t return. We walked a lot. It was tiring going up and down the hills. Finally, we decided to call it a night and see what life was like here in Athens. Corfu had clubs. Many for dancing, but none targeting gay men specifically. Athens did. I sat at the computer in the living area. I chuckled reading about one. Peter came in with a drink in his hand for me and drinking another himself. “Something amusing?” I nodded. “I’ll say.” I waved at the monitor. “You know all gay men aren’t the same.” “Sure.” Peter nodded. “This is the Big Bar.” I said laughing. “The Big Bar?” Peter asked. “Why? Is it?” I shook my head. “No, they want their clientele to be big or be attracted to big.” I switched to English. “Bears!” I raised a hand like a claw ready to strike downward and roared a little. “Vedmidʹ.” I said in Makarovian. Not much effort was put into the roar for me. “Tall, stands on hind legs and covered with fur?” Peter set my drink down and rolled his eyes. “I got that.” He sat beside me. “Isn’t that what attracted you to me?” I gave a hesitant, grudging nod. “Weeeeell.” I reached out touching his shirt covered hairy chest. “For me,” I pressed his hand to my chest. “You are still too young.” His face to me he was about to protest. Putting my finger over his mouth stopped him. “I said for me.” I pulled his shirt away from his chest to see. “Very nice.” Peter gave a shrug. “I always aim to please.” “You will be a bear.” I said firmly, “In six or seven years. You’ll be in your mid-thirties. You’ll be twenty-seven in August. You’ll be at the age of final growth.” “Yep,” Peter nodded. “My brain will be completed. No more lack of impulse control or impatience…” “That doesn’t mean we give up on spontaneity.” I warned. “What!?” He suddenly shook his head adamantly. “Hell, no!” “It could have happened with you.” I observed. “What almost happened?” Peter asked confused. “The whole Pederasty thing.” I said. “It wasn’t a crime. Considering the age of the boy it would be now…” “And that’s a crime.” I nodded. “I agree with you. We’ve all met them, the mature guy at sixteen versus the immature twenty. We gave a number to guide by. Some countries are twenty-one, eighteen, or seventeen. Fourteen in one! I’ve never wanted that. I may like what I understand he will have in the future, but he needs to season a bit more.” I kissed him. “You’re coming along just fine.” “Big and hairy?” Peter pointed to a photo of a man who was just that. Laughing with his dance partner. “I know there will be exceptions.” I said. “Cruel exceptions. People are famous for that. The whole psychology is different here. Young men were encouraged to let someone do that. There was no shame. Gay or straight didn’t matter. The parents of the young man was included in the negotiations. Their son would be mentored by an older and wiser man. I’m sure if the young man didn’t want to, he’d be left alone. There would be other young men that would agree.” I smiled at Peter. “Look at the lifespan of these men. Health care existed on a basic level. Men and women reached their forties…maybe. Fifteen to twenty years was practically middle age, they married by then!” Peter chuckled. “You want to go.” “If you agree.” I said quickly. “Okay.” We did spend the remaining hours of daylight on the deck. When I had looked down Peter’s shirt I noticed the beginnings of a farmer’s tan. You know, darker skin on your arms, head, and neck than on your chest. Not a big deal. Easy fix. We were ready for Henri. Eager. I knew he never froze anything and went to the ports’ fishmongers daily. He got what could keep alive until ready to cook. He came in with his typical happy demeanor and smile. Pushing the cart, he placed in front of us a bowl of steaming liquid. The sweet smell tickled my nose. “Escargot A La Bourgeoisie.” Henri stated. “Snail stew?” Peter asked grinning. Henri rolled his eyes. “That is so…” He thought of the right word. “Crude?” I offered. “Exactement.” Henri claimed. “It makes my creation sound cheap.” I chuckled. “Brute or brut, that’s crude in French. I took French one year. I could never get those masculine and feminine things.” “Am I right?” Peter smirked as he insisted. “You’re not inaccurate.” I leaned closer and said to Peter. Henri huffed a little. “We better not offend him.” Peter smiled and stage whispered knowing Henri could hear him. “He still has the main course and a few more days to go.” Chuckling, I smiled at Henri who always seemed to enjoy our banter and gave it back. “Grandpa told me to cozy up to two people in your life and you’ll be fine.” I said. “The guy responsible your meals and the guy responsible for your paycheck. I think I did pretty well with paycheck with Olek.” I looked at Henri’s smirk. “How are things with you?” Henri’s eyes crinkled in the corners, but he uncovered. Fish! I half-expected to see more lobster. I couldn’t think of a day yet we weren’t served that. Those round disks were recognized by me. Scallops. In restaurants they learned to make a few look like a lot with the presentation. Here, Henri just piled it on our plates. “This is a quickly seared in olive oil with grape tomatoes and bell peppers.” Henri informed us. “I wondered if you tired of lobster.” Peter shook his head and I added. “We promised to let you know.” Like everything else Henri made. It was delicious. I promise, he never bored us with what he served. That couldn’t be possible. This time is was grilled. It didn’t take but fifteen minutes to cook. The Escargot Bourgeois took longer. He wasn’t idle when he wasn’t cooking for us. He kept the entire ship fed. Our bodyguards included. There was whole other ship below. Crew quarters, dining room and communal room. Don’t forget the engine room and laundry. No square inch of floor space was left untouched. I could imagine things in those close quarters. It was tight, but manageable. When Peter and I came down, they were playing cards. Two were our guards and two ship’s crewmen. Mercea picked up the card discarded, put them with the others and grinned. “Gin!” Mikell threw his down in frustration. “That’s three in a row, drativnyk.” One of the Duchess’ crewman, a machinist looked up, saw us, and stood instantly. The others did, too. I waved to them to sit down again. “This isn’t a surprise inspection. Relax.” Earl. There’s always an Earl. He was American! I know, every one above the Mexican Border were Americans, even in Canada. North America? The continent? He was from Michigan. “What did Mikell just call Mercea?” “That would be pipsqueak.” I said. Earl held his hand up to Mercea shaking his head. “He’s no pipsqueak.” He moved his hand from over Mercea’s head to his own head showing the dramatic difference. Earl wasn’t short, about my height. Mercea was six feet and a few inches. He was big. Perfect for the Big Bar. He gave no tells. Who knew if he preferred male or female? Both? If you wanted a date, you asked. He wouldn’t be offended. He would simply accept or refuse. It was very simple. Henri! There were times he gave off vibes he could be. Frankly, who cares? They were nice, courteous people and worked very hard. We are all sexual beings. Hardwired for it. They both looked happy, so I assumed the need was being met. “It’s Friday night.” Peter informed them. “People working nine to five jobs are off usually have Friday night and Saturday night off. It will be more crowded wherever we go.” “If you feel safe, we’d like to stay.” I looked at Mikell. “We’ll find something else if you don’t.” Peter pointed at me and stage whispered. “He wants to score here.” I turned back to Peter. “That’s never even remotely possible!” I balled a fist and punched him lightly in the gut. “You take that back.” I insisted. “Okay, okay,” Peter laughing as he put his hands on his midsection to ward off and further attacks. “I take it back. I take it back!!” I knew what he was doing. I heard him nod and said “not really” with his mouth. They had protocols for everything. One of those protocols was to listen to Peter and me. “Next time you play Gin Rummy or anything else, there’s a vast space above us going to waste…” Mikell was starting to object. How it was our honeymoon and he didn’t want to intrude… “Can it, Mike!” Mikell looked confused. “Can, it?” He didn’t understand what I said. I was speaking in English. Earl nodded with a smile. “As in put what you said in a can and throw it away.” He put something invisible in the invisible can and tossed it over his shoulder. “Right.” I said to Earl. “What you said was garbage. Play up there. Invite us. We might like a game or two.” Mikell grinned and bowed to me. “Yes. Your Highness.” “Mike.” I said a little testily. “Don’t start with me.” There were three places that were to attract the gay male. The other two I dismissed after seeing photos. Solodade2. I didn’t know the first Solodade. They didn’t have a website. They had a stage for performances. ATTRAXX Cruising was the other. It was for doing what the name said. Cruise. Movies and all things porn was offered here. For a price. I can say I’ve seen more than my share of porn. It’s what men do to record porn in the United States. Prostitutes and drug addicts for their next fix. It was legal here. Institutionalized even. No sleazy pimp pocketing the money earned. There were state owned and run brothels. Strict rules were made and enforced and blood tests were done regularly. I brought that up because, ATTRAXX Cruising had stages in booths so a guy can get more comfortably stand when he…did or got something. Sex!! The other great thing was the location of the Big Bar. Nightclubs were loud. Being in a residential area only leads to hostility. The Big Bar was in a warehouse area. People would bring imports to be held here. It’s business. We walked and were still a block away but we could hear the bass, like always it made my pulse seem to adjust to the rhythm played. Even with the noise level where it was, the sound of male voices could be heard as heard laughing or said something emphatically. There were perhaps a dozen guys speaking to friends, old friends or new friends were comfortable with each other. Taking a smoke break or just to the guy that had their attention right now. A man looked up at us. He was what the Bar was called. Big! A bit heavy in his early forties. The Greek black hair and his shirt open to his naval showed he was a Bear. The black haired chest looked powerful. He had a full beard that probably was grown when a teenager. It lay smoothly on his chin from years of brushing. Beards made me itch if it went beyond three days. You grew it to look more mature when younger and shaven when older to look more youthful. He grabbed one of the men and said something to him. That man nodded and raced inside. The man smiled waving at us slightly. “I am assuming English.” Peter chuckled. “Yes. Doesn’t everyone speak that?” The man took a few steps forward, but stopped as Mikell and the others prevented more. “I am Constandinos. Pano Constandinos. I own Big.” He waved at his club. “Of course, you do.” I chuckled. “And you certainly are.” Now guys were coming out to see for themselves if it were true. “I wasn’t sure at first, but when you came into the streetlight, I knew. Who else would be escorted by the Men in Black?” He chuckled I looked back at them quickly. “I never thought of that movie with them, but your right. They even wear the dark glasses!” Peter looked, too. Surprised. “So did I.” “Can we come in, Mr. Constandinos?” I asked. “Is it too crowded?” “Pano, please?” Pano gave a shrug and nod. “It’s Friday night. It will be in an hour or two.” Mikell stepped up. “If I may, Your Highness,” he began. “I will go in and see where the best place to sit or stand is.” He did a head motion toward Mercea. They went in. “What do you think of Greece, Your Highness?” “I love Greece!” I stated happily. “Next time,” I held my finger up saying firmly. “And there will many next times. We stay here in Greece.” “We can stay the rest of the time in Athens.” Peter said simply. I agreed. “We’ll be in other parts of Greece, then finally, Malta.” I squinted a little because of the light glare and other things. Mikell and Mercea walked back over. I held my hand out to Mercea. “Can I borrow your eyes a second?” Mercea didn’t hesitate to take his off, but didn’t know why. I put them on as I shook my head. “These are truly amazing.” I said marveling. “No glare or hazy spots, just clear unobstructed vision!” I looked at Peter. I gently touched his face. “We should get a pair…each.” I looked at Pano. “Yep, it is you.” I waved at the writing over the door. “That guy on the sketch! The Home Page. It’s you.” Pano chuckled with a nod. “Yes, it’s me.” He admitted hesitantly. “I refused a photo of me. That was fifteen years ago?” He asked his friend who nodded,. He scratched his ear. “I literally am Big.” I gave Mercea his glasses back. “If I put my order in,” I said to Mikell. “Can I get a pair?” Mikell chuckled. “I think that will be very possible.” He looked at Mercea. “Give your report.” Mercea remembered why he and Mikell had come to us. “Sorry.” You could really see his mind working as he organized his thoughts. “We have a place for you to be out of the way, but close enough to…whatever. You will see the emergency egress if needed.” At first I was surprised at what Mikell had Mercea do. Now I understood more. Mercea was learning to do the job while doing the job. Mikell’s tone was never angry or impatient. He was the perfect teacher. Peter walked closer to Pano, who, even as tall as Peter was, Pano was a few inches taller. Peter waved at Pano up and down. “How big are you?” He stuck his hand out to Pano. Pano chuckled as he shook hands with Peter. “Two hundred and three centimeters” That made him six feet and eight inches tall!! As I said, he was BIG!!! I shuddered thinking what he weighed. “Welcome to Big.”

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