At the Parco Nazionale they would all rise at about the same time, the adults take their coffee together, and the children occupy themselves as best they could. 

One morning the three were playing at something in the woods. Y was running over the underthatch of a close stand of pine when he caught up with young Elena. For a moment they just faced each other without speaking. She had this light tunic on, sleeveless and short, with a goldish zipper that ran from the neckline to about where her navel would have been. It was a shade of red like a dark rose. But then she hooked her finger through the ringlike tab at her neck and opened the garment with one slow pull. With it undone now down the whole length of her, she moved her hands again to its neckline and lowered it from her small shoulders.

She was soft and lithe. She was showing him the little swale at the top of her thighs.

A heartbeat later, she snatched the tunic slit closed, spun around on the pine needles and darted off through the trees. 

He was running very fast now, weaving a path through the forest. He could see the red tunic flashing here and there. Then like lightning the jagged tip of a broken branch ripped through his skin along his jawline, a long deep gash that would need thirteen stitches, and the scar was visible just under his chin to this very day.

The Italian Novel


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