Platres Conclave Ch. 02bysr71plt©
"Please, Sami, Mr. Stevens is breakfasting with me. Sit him here please."
The waiter on the breakfast table did a delicate dance step sashay to the right and pulled out a chair for me at Nico's table.
"I see both of us have gotten out of bed earlier this morning," Nico said, as Sami handed me the breakfast menu. He followed this with a wicked smile and murmured "Pity, that," as Sami moved off.
"I should have closed the drapes last night," I answered as I looked over the menu. "When I opened my eyes, the sunshine was so dazzling, I couldn't stay in bed."
"Oh, damn, another beautiful day."
"What?" I asked, not being sure I'd heard him correctly.
"It's a saying we have here in Cyprus. The weather is so glorious that it's a local joke about going to the door in the morning and looking up into the sky and saying, 'Oh, damn, another beautiful day.'"
"Yes, I can see where that would be amusing—and fitting. I guess it's like being in heaven. One would become bored after a few centuries."
"That's why I like a little wickedness in my life," Nico said, flashing the same smile he had greeting me with when I sat down. "Do you have a bit of wickedness in your life, Mr. Collin Stevens? You certainly have more than a little bit in your earlier books."
"Please, call me Collin," I answered. The waiter had appeared and I'd given my order. "And beautiful day or not, I came here to write, so it looks like the beautiful day is wasted on me."
"You use a laptop, don't you?"
"Yes, of course."
"Then the day need not be wasted. You could compose by the pool. As you saw yesterday, any guests who are here in this season have other ways to spend their time than staying around the hotel. It would be very private here in the afternoon. The staff neither sees nor talks. Most everyone, including most of the hotel staff, would be at their siesta, or as we would say mesimerianós ýpnos. We would be alone and most certainly unobserved at the pool."
"We?" I asked in amusement. "'We' wouldn't be working on my laptop."
"It's really a very civilized tradition, our siesta. Between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m., everyone is supposed to go home and take a nap in the hottest part of the day. Silence is supposed to reign. Of course, that was in the old days. Now we still have siesta, but we use it differently."
"Oh? How so?"
"Now it is a time to work on your house—most of our houses in Cyprus are built by the people living in them—or it's a time to visit your mistress, a time to fuck." I looked up quickly into his face then and he was smiling at me. "So that is siesta in Cyprus. See, you have so much to learn about us—from me. You say you are writing something parallel to George Seferis's life and context, did you not?"
"Yes, the underlying issues, certainly. Not too literal."
"And when you wrote Homeward Bound to be parallel to Thomas Wolfe's life, did you first try to learn what made that city of his, that . . . where was it?"
"Asheville. In the mountains of North Carolina, one of our southern states."
"Did you not try to learn about this Asheville that he wrote about and was so deeply engrained in?"
"So. You must learn more about Cyprus—its cultural and arts—especially as it will be your job to be some sort of cultural ambassador to us—to try to destroy our culture and give us a present of the American one. And so, you are in luck. I will teach you. Starting today, this morning."
"I hardly think that going to bed with you will increase my understanding of Cyprus, Nico." I was returning his wicked smile. I wanted him to know that two could play this game.
"Ah, you are very funny. Yes, you are. I think you will let me fuck you, but I think it will be when there is no doubt about it—when I can just slip in. That is not what I mean here. I mean that today you are mine—to show more of what makes Cyprus Cyprus. To show you that we have art and culture worth your attention and that we have interesting customs—like dinner at ten and siesta and being bored of glorious weather and living life to its fullest. Yes? We must go by car, though. We take the Jaguar, yes? I think Anastades would want me to drive in his Jaguar again."
He was like a whirlwind; I could see that here was no arguing with him. And he was right, in any case. I needed to know more about Cyprus and its culture and customs—not just for my job but for the book I was writing as well—and I had no doubt that he could show it to me. I did have some anticipation that he was some kind of con artist working the hotels and that I would regret this financially. But he was fun, an escape from what I was escaping from. But there was my manuscript—my plan and schedule.
"I came here to write, Nico. I can't just toss it all away and run away from what I came here to do."
"You said you'd written yesterday. How much did you write yesterday?"
"Oh, about five thousand words."
"You just arrived yesterday. How many words did your schedule say you were to write yesterday."
"Good point," I answered. And it was a good point. I hadn't intended on getting any writing done the day I arrived. I had assumed I would have to sneak up on the writing when I got bored from just being a tourist. "OK, Nico. You've convinced me. Where do we go first?"
"Today is Limassol, on the northern coast. Maybe forty kilometers down from the mountain."
"OK," I said, starting to rise. I hadn't finished my breakfast and I could use some more coffee, but action is the only response to a whirlwind.
"Not yet. Sit down and enjoy the terrace. We'll have one, maybe three more cups of coffee."
"But just now you were insisting we were off on an adventure," I said, settling back in my chair.
"Ah, good. An opportunity for another lesson on Cypriot culture. We savor our meals. You are not expected to leave from here until at least your third cup of coffee. It would be an insult. You Americans are always on the go, go, go. Also, 'now' in Greek culture doesn't mean this minute—nothing happens 'right this minute' in the Mediterranean. We are on Cypriot time today. Sit, relax. Sami. More coffee, please."
* * * *
"So, I've told you what brought me to the Forest Park. It's your turn now to tell me why you are there in low season. You've indicated to me that that is some sort of faux pas, coming to Platres in the off season." We were driving to Limassol, and I had negotiated most of the blind-curve mountainous road and could see the sea ahead of us. A fairly good-sized town, what presumably was Limassol lay in the crook of the stubby peninsula jutting out into the water below us. I wanted to know more about Nico before we got to the town. I increasing was thinking that Nico was some sort of gigolo hotel con artist, but I thought it would be amusing to hear what he'd have to say for himself.
"The Platres Conclave. It starts the day after tomorrow, and I came up early. Many of the others will be gathering tomorrow, and some of those will be staying at the Forest Park."
"A conclave? Don't tell me that you're a Greek Orthodox monk."
"Hardly." He laughed. I was amused myself that I could make him laugh. "This is the spring gathering. We also gather for a week in the fall. It is called by Elias Mikalaides. You've possibly heard of him—or maybe you are such a virgin to Greek culture that you haven't."
"The naïve artist?"
"The same. He may be our most revered fine artist of the day. He has a home in Platres—right on the main drag across from the Plaka taverna—the taverna in the square. He has homes in Nicosia and Paphos as well. He is one of our displaced refugees—his native home is in Kyrenia on the northern coast. He moans so well at the loss of that in his art, though, that the government has given him three houses to replace the one lost. The one in Platres is easy to find. Right across from the Plaka. You know what a plaka is, don't you?"
"Yes, I do know what the Plaka taverna is in most Cypriot villages," I answered. "I've been taken to most every one in the towns that were swallowed up by Nicosia. It's where they take you for dinner when they feel obligated to entertain you, and then you are inundated with so much food over so long a time that they don't have to think up anyplace else to take you that evening."
"Elias calls the conclave together. It is his child. It's held here in the spring and at his house in Paphos in the fall. The other seasons, we sometimes meet at his house in Nicosia. We don't do art then, though. We drink and otherwise entertain ourselves. The conclave is more structured, though. It's somewhat of a broad-based artists' retreat. We form in the morning for discussions, and we all work on a creation in our own discipline in the afternoon and evening—all working to a theme Elias has given us—and then we carouse at the Plaka or at Elias's village house half the night. At the end of the week, we all have something to contribute to an exhibit that's later given somewhere on the island. We often creative other masterpieces as well, which can follow the conclave theme or be inspired by something else altogether. The key works are auctioned off and each time there is some worthy cause that we put the money to. This year I think it's the School for the Deaf in Nicosia."
"It sounds like quite an inspiring week," I answered, more impressed now with the man sitting so comfortably in the passenger seat of my Jaguar. "It must be a real honor to be invited to come."
"Oh, it is. Often there are reporters permitted in near the end of the week to interview the participants and give coverage to the works they have made."
"And is this primarily for fine artists?"
"No, not at all. This conclave will include a poet, a composer, a couple of fine artists plus a sculptor, an actor-playwright, and a novelist."
"And is one of those you?"
"I'm the actor-playwright. I work with the Theatro Ena inside the old walls in Nicosia. I trust you have heard of that?"
Ah, that's what I had identified him as at the restaurant the previous evening, I thought, congratulating myself for my perceptiveness. "Yes. I was given listings of the cultural and artistic organizations. It's the national experimental theater, isn't it?"
"Yes, very avant-garde. I think you prudish Americans would probably cringe at some of what we stage there. I find it all quite amusing."
"I'll have to try it out."
"Yes you will. Warn me far enough in advance and I'll have something very special on stage for you—and afterward we can go someplace private and critique the underpinning themes. Or better yet," and here Nico brightened up and I almost thought he might be serious, "I could write to the theme of one of your early books. Wouldn't that be something for Cypriot-American cultural exchange?"
"I think it might get me sent home by the embassy," I said. We both got a chuckle out of the idea, though.
I had underestimated Nico. He knew his art—and his drama and his music. In Limassol we visited several art galleries with first-class art in them.
"Here is one by Elias. I'm sure you will be able to recognize his work instantaneously after seeing just one or two canvases. The technique is naïve, although I can assure you that he can paint breathtaking traditional and abstract styles as it suits him as well. But the vibrant colors he uses and the perspective that almost jumps off the canvas at you—it's simply glorious. Can you see his signature element?"
I peered closely at several of the canvases and saw nothing of a central motif until Nico pointed it out to me—and then I couldn't avoid picking it out immediately in all of the canvases.
"It's his cat, Eleftheria. We call her Ele for short. She's been in every canvas he's painted for years. She was a feral cat who adopted him, up in Platres. Very independent."
"Eleftheria means freedom, doesn't it?" I asked.
"Yes. That's what Elias embeds into all his canvases. He's quite a character. He leads an openly flamboyant life, and some of what he does is technically a crime on Cyprus. But he is such an institution that he lives almost above the law. Freedom is his catchword."
"Above the law?"
"Yes, he has quite a temper. He once castrated a boyfriend—a young boy—for sleeping with another man. And his temper is volatile. One moment he is your best friend and the next he is chasing you around the room with a knife. But," and here Nico shrugged, "he is a master artist. And speaking of master artists, here is work by Spiro Charalambou. He'll be at the conclave. He specializes in nudes. He'll want you to pose if he sees you."
"Hardly fitting for an American embassy official," I answered, with a laugh. "It's beautiful work, though. A haunting look about it."
"American embassy or no American embassy, I doubt you will be able to resist his charms if he wants you to model for him."
We lunched near the Limassol waterfront at the Pyrkos Taverna, an open-air communal table taverna serving traditional Cypriot meze—a never-ending parade of small dishes of food. Nico was well known here, and they begged him to sing while we were there, but he good-naturedly said he couldn't now because he was engaged in a teaching job.
"You sing too?"
"An actor has to do everything. I dance as well. But of all the things I do, lover is the best."
He was looking intently at me then, his expression changed, the twinkle still in his eye, but his expression more serious, searching. I had a hand on the surface of the table and for the briefest moment I thought he was going to cover it with his own. But he didn't. And at the moment, I realized what it was about him that I was finding so attracting and frustrating at the same time. He hadn't touched me—not physically, with a hand. He hadn't even brushed up against me, intentionally or otherwise. Usually when a man was trying to seduce me, he would have his hands all over me. But Nico was reserved in that way. I realized that, in refraining from the physical touch, I wanted him all the more. I wanted him to touch me.
After lunch, we visited Limassol Castle, where Richard the Lionhearted's bride, Berengaria, had been held for ransom after being shipwrecked off the coast, and where Nico gave me a chronology of all of the owners of the island going back through Richard and Cleopatra to the Phoenicians and farther back in time—giving me the short course in the strategic importance of the island along with its rich cultural heritage. After that we drove toward Paphos to the nearby Kolossi Castle, a solid cube of stone stronghold that was home at various times of the Hospitallers and Templers and thus served as the first bank of the neighboring nobility.
At the top of the castle, I stood at the wall looking out toward Episkopi Bay over one of the British sovereign base areas. As I stood there, Nico came in behind me and grasped the rail at either side of my body with stretched arms. It was very private. Being late in the afternoon, we were the last visitors in the castle, and I thought then that he would move in to embrace me and that we would kiss. But, while he stood tantalizingly close to me and I could feel the heat of him, he didn't touch me. I felt myself breathing heavily and waiting for the contact. But it didn't come, and then he was gone, waltzing away from me and declaring that we needed to hurry if we were going to make the play.
"The play?" I said. Surely we weren't going back to Nicosia to his Theatro Ena.
"You will be enchanted," was all that he said in turn.
In the hour before dusk, we stopped at a roadside grill house to the west of Kolossi and ate the most delicious kabobs while standing and watching the sun start to sink over the Roman ruins at Curium.
Then I learned what he meant by "play." We were driving into the area of the Curium ruins where the open-air amphitheater was located. We didn't have tickets, but they recognized Nico at the gate and waved us right through and showed us where to park in a specially designated area.
The amphitheater nudged right up against the sea, its orientation such that the Mediterranean served as a backdrop to the stage. We sat there, with several hundred other theatergoers, mostly British expatriates, as the sun set over the Mediterranean. At the last flickering away of red fingers of light on the surface of the sea, the lights came up on stage and the local English-language theatrical group performed Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. That I would be enchanted was probably an understatement.
"And that is only a smattering of the Cypriot culture I can show you," Nico said to me as we were leaving the amphitheater. "I can take you to a very interesting club for a more wicked look into our culture if you like. But perhaps more private, intimate entertainment would appeal to you at this moment."
"This moment is after midnight, Nico," I said. "If we are to sleep at the Forest Park tonight, perhaps we should be on our way up the mountain."
"They have perfectly good hotels here on the coast," Nico said. "Comfortable beds. Ones where the springs make no noise when you fuck."
"Come along," I said, acting as if I hadn't heard him. "You'll need to guide me to the proper road to Platres, I'm afraid. At night, I have absolutely no sense of direction here."
"I think you'll find the mountains are up and the sea is down and that we now stand between them," Nico said. Of course we both laughed at that. I was being made to feel very comfortable with Nico.
As we rode up the elevator at the Forest Park, I thanked Nico for being my guide for the day and told him how impressed I was with his knowledge and talent.
"I have not shown you my principle talent yet," he said to me in a low, throaty voice. "I do believe you owe me a fee for my services today. Are you going to let me come into your room and make love to you?"
If he had refrained from touching me throughout the day, he had no such restraints once we were inside the room. He was holding me close. We were standing in the middle of the room, rocking our bodies against each other, as his hands raced over my body, unbuttoning, unzipping, disrobing—his body as well as mine. We were kissing, and I was fully engaged in that. But beyond that, I just leaned back, supported by a strong arm encircling the small of my back and let him strip me bare—physically as well as emotionally. He had signaled that he wanted me to let him make all of the moves. He was larger, more muscular, more powerful than I was, and I just arched my back, my arms dangling at my side, dipping closer to the floor as his mouth moved down my throat and onto my nipples.
I felt his free hand encasing our cocks together and slowly the stroking them. I gasped as I felt his cock head drag across my lower belly. I moved a hand down there to confirm that he had a thick ring embedded in his cock head. I shuddered at what was surely to come. I'd never been fucked with a cock ring before—and this one was thick.
He lifted me off the floor, moved me to the bed, and laid me down on my back. Crouching over me, he kissed down my chest and sternum and belly and sucked on my cock until I was whimpering for him. Then he went lower, moistening me and opening me up. I stroked my cock and rolled my hips for him as he tongue-fucked my hole.
When I had ejaculated, he rose up and crouched over me again—and as he promised he would—just slipped inside me. I cried out as the cock ring rubbed across my prostate. He laughed and pulled out and rubbed across it again. And then again and again. I was moaning and babbling and incoherently begging him to do what he was already doing. Then he was fucking me deep and shuddering and jerking and spilling his seed.
We moved up to full stretch against each other on the bed and he kissed and fondled me until a dozed off—exhausted as much from his expert lovemaking as from the activities of the day.