Platres Conclave Ch. 03bysr71plt©
After our shower, Nico turned to all business, directing me to go to the laptop and start writing and that he'd order an in-room breakfast for me and would see me at 1:00 p.m. on the terrace for lunch.
That dispelled all doubt in my mind that Nico too was a writer. He was able to see and honor the needs of a writer.
I, of course, couldn't start composing immediate, although the prompt room service obviated any suggestion that I wouldn't be able to compose. As I ate, I considered what I had let Nico do last night. The march to seduction of it wasn't a surprise to me. I had had this effect on both men and women all of my life. One lover had once told me that I must have special pheromones, a scent or come-hither aspect to me that made both men and women want to bed me. I had sensed that about Nico ever since I'd seen him at the window of the hotel while I was swimming—even without having any idea, for sure, who was at the window. There was something in me that drew certain other people, like Nico to the window, to me.
And when I'd seen him cross the floor at the Blue Restaurant and felt him looking at me, even as briefly as he did, I knew that we probably would fuck, unless some act of nature intervened.
I hadn't realized it when I'd set up this vacation, but I had to admit to myself now, that I knew that the freedom I felt in coming up to Platres was the freedom of knowing, subconsciously, that I had come here to let loose—to fuck my way through the week—as one last hurrah before Carolyn descended upon me and I had to shut my instincts down again and walk as if on eggshells. The writing had just been an excuse. I knew I had come here to let loose.
The danger now was not to let it control me and for me to be able to walk away from the week and back into my embassy life with no problems. Nico was a champion cocker; I needed to be careful not to want more than that. I had gone over that line with Richard Thornton, and it had burned me badly.
After I was finished with the breakfast—the sex having famished me—I sat down in front of the laptop and fingers started dancing on the keys, giving print to what my mind had been spinning out since the last time I sat here. The sex had been good—very good. It had been the same with Richard. It served as inspiration. The character I was weaving into my manuscript had taken on life. It was Nico. But that was OK; the book was about someone very much like Nico. He informed, in real life, how my character would respond on the page.
When I next looked up from the laptop it was twenty minutes after one. I jumped up from the desk and went straight to the window and saw that Nico was at a table on the terrace below—but that there were two men with him now. Panicked that he might leave with them, thinking I wasn't showing up for lunch, I slipped my feet in loafers, took a swipe at my hair in the mirror of the bathroom in passing, and rushed out the door and down the stairs.
"Ah, we'll make a Cypriot of you yet," Nico said in a jolly voice as I approached the table.
"Meaning?" I asked.
"Because Cypriots always are late. I was only on time because I assumed you were on the American clock and I didn't want you to desert me for not showing up. Costas's and Thano's excuses are that they are still eating breakfast. Come, sit. Meet the new arrivals for the Platres Conclave. Costas, Thanos, This is Collin Stevens, a certified cultural ambassador of America. And, yes, he's that Collin Stevens, the man who writes heart-thumping gay novels."
"Not anymore," I interjected immediately. "I've gone legit."
"Yes, I know of your work," the smaller, ferret-looking of the two men said. "And I've read some of your recent work too. Lyrical. Quite good."
"That's high praise," Nico said. "Costas Spyrou here is our poet. I caught our Mr. Stevens reading George Seferis, Costas, so we can dream that he got his lyrical bent from good precedence."
The other man, in maybe his early forties and short and a bit paunchy, but with very expressive hands, acknowledged the introduction, but I was somewhat taken aback because he was studying me closely and I felt like he was just itching to take my face in his hands, as if he were a blind man trying to give me a unique identity.
"Thanos here is our sculptor, Collin," Nico said. "I believe he is already imagining you in clay or marble. Isn't that so, Thanos?"
"Yes, certainly," Thanos answered. "He is beautiful. He would live and breathe beauty in marble. I do hope you will sit for me while we're here, Mr. Stevens. I could take time away from the exercise—if you would consent to model for me."
"Which leads to the question of what theme Elias has picked out for us for this conclave," the ferret-like poet said.
"Oh, I know that. He has picked 'beauty,'" Nico answered. "Isn't that a coincidence?"
"Of course you would know what Elias picked before the rest of us do," the sculptor shot back. I deduced a bit of venom in his voice and was taken back a bit on how quickly it was snapped back.
"Thanos here was a favorite of Elias at one time," Nico said, turning toward me. "You know how finical Elias can be, Thanos. By the end of the week, he'll probably be sighing in your lap again."
"Beauty again?" Costas then said, a bit pouty, I thought. "It seems he strikes on a variation of this every other conclave."
"Yes," Nico said, "But it will be convenient for Thanos. He already has his inspiration. He can do a bust of Collin here. I will be bringing Collin to the conclave with me."
"Bringing him the conclave?" both Costas and Thanos said at the same time, with a tone of disbelief.
"Elias has invited him?" Costas then asked.
"I am inviting him," Nico said.
The heads of both of the men swiveled to me almost in unison.
"Don't look at me," I said. "This is the first I've heard of it."
"But you will come, won't you?" Nico asked in a low voice.
"Yes, if you want," I said. "And if it leaves me time to write."
"There will be the morning," Nico answered. "And then the siesta time. We congregate to be serious in the early afternoon, we each work our own art after siesta, and we congregate to drink and entertain ourselves in the late evening—and into the night."
"When is Elias arriving?" Costas had addressed the question to Nico, which won another sour look from Thanos.
"He said he'd come up this evening and meet us at the Plaka tonight."
After lunch I returned to the room and worked on the manuscript. I was so engrossed in my work that it was with shock that I looked up and saw Nico standing there, watching me, in his bathing suit. He was wearing sandals and had a hotel towel over his shoulder.
"It's siesta time," he said. "But for us it is time to swim in the pool."
We fucked in the shadows in the covered pavilion at the other side of the pool. Nico had wanted to do it on a lounge beside the pool, but I was too chicken to do it where we might be seen. This time it was I who made love to him. He sat on a café chair and I knelt in front of him and sucked his cock—fascinated with the thick cock ring and playing with that with my tongue. When Nico couldn't take any more of my play, he lifted me up and sat me down on his cock, and I fucked myself on that, raising my pelvis up and down, leveraging off my heels on the stone floor of the pavilion.
Afterward, we both ran for the pool, naked, and dove in and swam laps until we came up side by side in the shallow end, and there he moved behind me and held me trapped between his arms, the heel of his hands on the edge of the pool, and, both of us facing the rear of the hotel and scanning it for anyone watching or approaching. And he fucked me again from the rear.
I worked on the manuscript through the late evening, and at 9:30, not being able to stave off the hunger anymore, dressed and went to the Blue Restaurant for dinner. There were a few other patrons there by then, mostly elderly British couples, but, although I expected Nico to join me by 10:00, he didn't.
When I couldn't spin out my dinner courses any further, I left the restaurant and went upstairs to Nico's room. He didn't answer the knock on the door, so I went back to my room.
There was a note on the door reminding me that the early arrivers at the conclave were meeting at the Plaka taverna and that I should go there. I presumed the note had been on the door when I left for dinner, put there because Nico didn't want to interrupt my writing, and that I had just missed it when I'd left the room.
I left the hotel and walked down the curved drive and then down onto the main street of Platres, which ran along the top of a ridge below the higher rise that the hotel perched on. There was essentially only one main street to Platres, with a square halfway between the ends of it. In recent years a couple of streets had been added off to either side, where the rich friends of the government and government officials of the capital had built vacation villas, but almost all of the amenities of the village lined the main, ridge-top street.
The Plaka taverna couldn't be missed. It was at one corner of the village square. Most of it was devoted to an open-air taverna with tables and mismatched chairs sitting precariously on the beaten-earth ground. Strings of colored Christmas lights on poles marked the parameter of the café, and paper lanterns hung in the olive trees inside the set-off area, giving soft illumination to what was quite a happy and boisterous crowd for after midnight.
Nico was standing just inside the interior portion of the café, open to the outside with a long string of accordion doors. Another man, if anything more handsome than Nico, all sultry looks and expressive eyes and brilliant smile, was sitting beside Nico in a bright-blue, rush-seated wooden village chair. This man was strumming a guitar—quite expertly—and Nico was singing a song, also quite expertly.
At the center of the café, a group of men sat at a long, rectangular table, jesting with each other without paying much attention to the music. Their table was littered with quart-sized beer bottles, mostly empty, and a mountain of small plates, also empty. I could see the poet, Costas Spyrou, and the sculptor, Thanos Adamou, sitting among the men at this table, and although Thanos smiled at me, he made no gesture for me to join the group. Costas had glanced my way, but he had quickly looked back at the man sitting at the head of the table.
All of the men at the table were focused on the man at the head of the table. I could see why. His was the most arresting visage in the restaurant. The first impression I had was of a giant toad. He was perhaps in his mid-to-late fifties and was squat without being short. He was quite heavy and had drooping eyelids as well as a mustache falling lower than his beard. His gray hair was wild on his head as if he'd put a finger in a light socket. And he was wearing a garish orange kimono.
There was little doubt that he was in charge of this little confab. He was the loudest of those at the table, and he interrupted whatever anyone else said at will and, when he did, all eyes at the table turned to him in supplication. I had no trouble identifying him as Elias Mikalaides, the host of the Platres Conclave.
I stood at the entrance for several moments, having received no signal to join the conclave and not being greeted by anyone to be taken to another table. Most of the tables were occupied and everyone was having a good time. Feeling awkward, I found a small table of my own on the periphery of the swirl of festive people inside the strung lights, and a waiter instantly appeared with a tray of small plates of food, which I politely declined and then offered to bring either beer or wine. I asked for the wine, which was quickly produced.
At the conclusion of Nico's set of songs, both he and the guitar player gave way to a woman singer and both moved back to the central table. My heart tugged and my stomach did a little flop when I saw Nico lean down and give Elias Mikalaides a kiss on the lips, a gesture that Mikalaides seemed to accept as his due, while the guitarist sat down at the table and reached for a bottle of beer. Nico started to sit down next to Mikalaides, but Thanos said something to him and he looked up and saw where I was sitting.
Then he was moving toward me, telling me to come join the group when he reached my table. I picked up my wine glass and the bottle and followed him.
"Elias, I would like you to meet Collin Stevens, novelist and American embassy cultural affairs officer," Nico said as we came up to beside Mikalaides. The Buddha-like man didn't stand, but he swiveled his head around and gave me a piercing—not entirely friendly—gaze.
"I've invited him to join the conclave this week," Nico continued.
At hearing that, Elias's gaze turned to ice, and I couldn't possibly have missed the look of surprise, anger, and distaste that flashed across his face.
"You invited him to attend the conclave?" Elias asked in a disbelieving voice. Suddenly silence reigned all along the table, and every eye there was turned to Elias.
"Yes. He's quite a well-known novelist in America," Nico said, "and he's just arrived in Cyprus and I've taken him under my wing for a crash course in our culture and arts. He will find our discussions quite useful, I'm sure."
"I don't wish to intrude," I stammered. "It's quite all right if—"
"Nonsense, Mr. Stevens," Mikalaides said. His tone was ponderous, though, and his words clipped, like he was on the edge of anger. "Please, please, do join us. There's a seat down there between Thanos and Spiro."
Nico sat down beside Mikalaides and the two of them put their heads together and spoke in muffled, intense tones while the others around the table introduced themselves to me. It seemed they all wanted to be friendly, but it also seemed like most of them weren't sure if that was permitted. That was all except Thanos, the sculptor, and the guitarist, who was sitting on the other side of me and who introduced himself to me as Spiro Charalambou, an artist. He showed interest in me immediately, and after I'd been introduced to the others, they rather retreated into the background as the sculptor and the artist both told me how good looking I was and what good bone structure I had—and that they both hoped I would pose for them during the week.
"Our topic is beauty, we've been told," Spiro said to me, his thick eyelashes fluttering and his smile seductive, "and I think I see my chosen project right here."
In addition to those two, I was introduced to Xanthos Economou, the music composer, and Nemo Constantinou—a novelist who told me he'd read my novels, but who I didn't really believe. Economou was as old, if not older, than Mikalaides, but tall and would have been distinguished looking if he didn't come across as so limp wristed. I thought I could see the flaking of lipstick about his lips, and it struck me that he was probably a cross-dresser—not just from that but also from his general demeanor. Nemo Constantinou came across as a coarse peasant type. He was in his forties, was hulking and moved with strong, expressive gestures. His features were hard edged and a bit crude, but he moved with assurance and with straightforward, strong flow. He had his arm around the back of Economou's chair, possessively, and I surmised that they were a couple.
"Did you like our music, Nico's and mine," Spiro asked in a whisper, bringing his lips close to my ear.
"Yes, very much so," I answered.
"I will be playing a song again shortly," he said. "I will be singing it for you—for your beauty. And then, perhaps, tomorrow, you will model for me?"
"Yes, perhaps," I said with a smile.
"I specialize in nudes," he said.
"So I've heard," I responded
He rose soon after that and went back to the blue rush-seated chair and began playing a slow, haunting melody on his guitar.
I was so mesmerized by what he was playing that I didn't notice that Nico and Mikalaides had left the table. As Spiro's song came to an end, though, I saw the pair entering a long bungalow across the road. The one-story stuccoed building was close to the road, but a deep porch ran the full length of the side toward the road.
But then Spiro was back at the table, where Thanos and I were having a conversation about the various sculpture galleries on the island. I felt a hand on my upper arm, and I turned back to Spiro who was leaning into me, his other arm across the back of my chair.
"Did you enjoy my song for you?" he asked.
"Yes, it was beautiful."
"Like you. The right song for you then," he whispered. "I am staying in a guest house just up the road. Would you like to come back to my room with me? We could drink. I have some fine old Cypriot brandy. And I would like to fuck you. It will help me bring more life to the painting when you model for me."
I didn't know if I was finding this casual open talk of sex and intentions among Cypriot artists refreshing or disturbing. But on the whole, I opted for refreshing. Certainly the artists felt no constraints to say what they wanted to.
"No, I'm sorry. I think not. I do find you attractive, but it's much too late for American hours, I'm afraid. I will need to adjust to Cypriot time." And, indeed, it was nearly 2:00 a.m. and the festivities were still going strong, although there were fewer tables occupied now than when I'd come into the Plaka. "And if I am going to attend your morning session—which is where, please?—I will need to get some sleep."
"We meet for our daily discussions across the road there, in Elias's house." It was Thanos who answered this, and I turned to him when he spoke. Spiro was running his fingers along my arm, which was sending chills down my spine.
"But perhaps I should not come," I said. "I'm not sure I'm welcome."
"Nico should not have invited you, I must be truthful with you," Thanos responded. "Only Elias invites to his conclaves. But now Elias has said you must be there. And so you must. If you now didn't come, he would take that as an insult."
"Then I must come, I suppose," I said. "But for now, I must go get some sleep." I bid my good-byes to the four men still at the table, and each now was much more friendly and less reserved than they had been with Mikalaides was there.
Spiro gave me a wistful, almost forlorn look. "Is it because you do not let men fuck you? If so, that is much a waste of beauty."
"No, I said," leaning over and kissing him on the lips, "it is not either that I don't let men fuck me or that I don't find you attractive. I have come into the mountains to write, and I must have my sleep. As an artist I'm sure you understand."
He had a hand cupping one of my buttocks. "And you didn't sleep last night because a man fucked you all night?" Spiro asked.
I just smiled, which was as much an answer as if I had spoken one.
"And was he good?"
"Yes he was very good," I answered in a whisper.
"I can be better," Spiro whispered back. He was a beautiful, muscular man exuding a musky scent and a heady sensuality. I thought it possible he could do as well, if not better.
With another smile, I turned and walked away. I was finding this freedom to talk of sex openly with these men invigorating—and a just slightly deliciously wicked.
I had to pass Mikalaides's bungalow on my way back to the Forest Park. The window was open to his bedroom and a light was on, so I couldn't avoid seeing them. Mikalaides was on his belly on the bed, and Nico was astride his hips, riding his mountainous, bare buttocks. It was a shock to see that beautifully formed man, who had made love to me, fucking what looked like a water buffalo, especially with the orange kimono bunched up around his shoulder blades. I couldn't stand there and watch.
Angry, I turned and returned to the taverna, seeking Spiro out. But he had already left. I hurried up the hill and then up the curved drive on the Forest Park's grounds.