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‘Come in,’ she says.

I enter. She is in bed reading. Her kind face is wreathed in a welcoming smile.

‘How was he?’

‘As good as gold.’

‘I’ll keep him tomorrow morning and you can take some time off. Do some sightseeing.’

‘No need for that, Love. I was here twenty years ago. Broke my heart on a glass blower.’

And it occurs to me that it is impossible to tell the nuances of anyone’s history by looking at them or knowing them for a few days. My mother used to say, ‘You can eat salt with someone for five years and never know them.’

I find Blake in the cavernous, gorgeously painted red dining room. He is standing by the fireplace looking up at a massive portrait of a haughty man in fine clothes. He turns at my approach. The resemblance between him and the man in the portrait is striking. It is immediately apparent that he is an ancestor. It is there in the aristocratic arch of his cheek, the set of his jaw. The same way that I found Victoria in her mother. These families that do not mix their blood easily carry their genetic footprint clearly in their faces, their bearing.

The humming between my legs begins as I walk towards him.

‘Have your family always owned this house?’

He frowns. Discussions about his family always distance him. ‘Yes, we are descended from the Black Venetians. We branched out into Germany before crossing the Atlantic.’

‘It’s very beautiful. Do you come here often?’

‘I haven’t been to this house for years,’ he replies, and switches on the licking function.

I squirm.

‘Shall we eat?’

Dinner is served by a dour, mostly silent man in a white jacket called Enzo. I find it almost impossible to eat. True to his word Blake has switched off the gadget, but by now I am so aroused I can hardly wait for the meal to be over. I taste nothing. When Blake pushes away his coffee cup I spring up.

‘What’s the rush? You’d only be exchanging the silicon tongue for mine.’

I make a strangled sound and turn pleadingly towards him. ‘Please, can we go up now?’

‘No, I want to see you completely laid to waste tonight,’ he says, lifting the champagne bottle and filling our glasses. ‘I am going to make you come harder than you have ever done before,’ he promises as the licking and vibrating in my knickers increase in tempo.

I sit down and lift the glass to my lips. It is a beautiful, hand-blown work of art. The long slender stem rises into a decorative figure of the lion of St. Mark’s before it meets the delicate flute.

‘Mmnnn.’ He takes my wrist in his hands and runs his finger lightly along the inside, up to the crook of my elbow. The sensation is unbearably sensual. The desire to straddle him in that vast red room is undeniable.

‘I have never met a woman with skin like yours,’ he purrs. He looks into my eyes. ‘Do you have any idea how desirable you look right now?’

I clench my thighs and shake my head.

We go up the curving staircase to our bedroom. Moonlight is flooding in through the tall windows. There are long rectangles of light on the floor.

He turns to me and gently takes off my dress. He throws it behind him and it lands on a squat green and gold brocade chair. He drops to his haunches, bends forward and kisses the tightly bound mound of my sex. The gesture is so unexpectedly charged with erotic possibilities that my body screams for him. He slides my knickers off.

‘Spread your legs.’ I obey instantly. He removes the gadget and I actually feel my body sag with relief. He lets his fingers graze the sticky opening. ‘You are so, so wet,’ he says.

I nod helplessly. My hands are frustrated fists, waiting for him.

‘What do you want, Principessa?’

‘You.’

He shakes his head gently. The eyes looking up at me are almost black. ‘I need more details. The low-down of what you want.’

‘I need you inside me,’ I mutter.

Again his head moves negatively. ‘Details, Lana. Details.’

And in this way he persuades me to describe in minute detail exactly what I want, to use words that would have at any other time made me blush furiously. That thick prick of yours, your dirty big, cock, deep into my cunt, suck it, f**k me hard…

He gags me. ‘The walls are thin and may even have ears,’ he whispers. It jars in my head, but only a little; I am too far gone to search for hidden implications.

His large hands grab my hips and impale me on his dick.

The pillar of solid meat is thrust far into my body. Instead of moving me up and down the hard length, he pulls me to and fro, making me ride him like a bull. I grind myself on him. My body is thrust far forward like one of those cyclists in the tour de France race, so that his mouth has easy access to my br**sts.

He latches on and sucks hard and my sweaty thighs slip and slide against his muscular hips, the thick c**k inside me acting as my brakes. It is too intense to last. In seconds I lose it. Screaming like a banshee, I come fast and hard. Thank God for the gag. I have lost it. Completely. Even my teeth, fingertips and toes are vibrating.

I rest my lips on his damp forehead. Sated. He is still hard as a rock inside me. My ni**les are still pinched between his thumbs and forefingers. They throb painfully, exquisitely. Now it is his turn. And then it will be mine again. The day will come when all I will have are memories of what we have done together.

I am awakened in the early morning hours. Must be the unfamiliarity of my surroundings. It is two o'clock and it seems all of Venice is asleep. I get out of bed and walk barefoot across the highly polished dark wood floor, towards the windows overlooking the interlocking canals and cobblestone pathways. Shivering slightly I stand in the cool night listening to the sounds of the murky waters lapping against mossy, old stones. The sulfuric smell like that of slowly rotting eggs rises from the canals and slips into my consciousness. Not that that bothers me. For me being with Blake in this city with its crumbling glory and beautiful stonework is a dream.

And then a thought—clawed and dangerous. Who or what is Cronus?

I hear a rustling and, turning my head, see Blake, raised on his elbows and watching me. In the silvery moonlight he is Atlas or Mars or Apollo. A god. He gets out of bed, nude, and with the lithe grace of a beautiful animal, prowls over to me. He bends and kisses me. I luxuriate in the warmth emanating from the length of his body. But my thoughts make me kiss him a touch too desperately.

He lifts his head and looks at me. In the moonlight his eyes are dark wells of curiosity.

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