that even caught me off guard, and I’m the one writing this novel!

But what happens next?

*     *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Late that Friday afternoon, the best catering company in Pisa had people all over

the kitchen,

main hall,

and pool area at the Tuttovinci’s fabulous palazzo in Pisa, preparing for Saturday’s 21st birthday pool party in honor of Wendy’s best friend Michaela.

Before heading out to meet her friends on Friday night, Wendy looked for her parents, and found them reading and listening to classical music

in her father’s huge ornate study with 20 foot tall ceilings. She said:

Now Papa, you know that I’m having a huge 21st birthday pool party tomorrow for my best friend Michaela. I really want this to be a fun party Papa! Would you please make a special effort to be nice to all of my friends …. and especially to some guys from Lucca that Michaela and I have invited? I know how much you dislike Lucchese, Papa, but can you please try not to launch into one of your typical anti-Lucca rants during the party?  PLEASE PAPA ….”

Her father looked up from his book and smiled at Wendy. Don’t worry about a thing, beautiful girl, I understand clearly when I’m being politely asked to shut up!”  and he laughed heartily. Have a nice evening, and stay out of trouble!” 

*     *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

It was a beautiful Saturday in late July, sunny but with a gentle breeze. Perfect weather. Vincent Tuttovinci was looking forward to the birthday party, because he was a huge soccer fan and he had heard all about Davide “The Scoring Machine” Guinigi for years.

DeDo Guinigi had been voted the Best High School Soccer Player In Tuscany three years in a row, and

as a high school senior he led Lucca’s Burlamacchi High School soccer team, called The Baluardi, to the Italian championship, including scoring an unprecedented five goals in The Baluardi’s shocking 5-0 upset win over defending national champion Agnelli Academy from Milan in the final match.

The next day, the headline in the Gazzetta dello Sport was: 

Guinigi 5, Milano 0″

DeDo had also had great success in college soccer.

Vincent Tuttovinci wanted to meet him.

Signor Tuttovinci sat in a luxurious chair on an upstairs balcony, looking down at the huge front courtyard of his palazzo containing beautiful fountains and vegetation,

watching as the many young friends of Wendy and Michaela arrived for the party. A couple of minutes after 3pm, a bright red, spectacularly polished Alfa Romeo with Lucchese license plates pulled up,

and two good looking young guys got out, opened the trunk, and started carrying four big boxes that said Caffe La Soave into the palazzo.

That’s him!” Signor Tuttovinci happily exclaimed.

Fortunately the Tuttovinci’s palazzo was huge, because there were literally hundreds of young guys and girls in attendance, with elegant waiters handling out

glasses of Prosecco,

Campari and soda,

and excellent wines,

as well as tray after tray of fabulous hors d’oeuvres of all types,

all while a wonderful quartet played delightful songs.

The gigantic pool area was a similar mosaic of delightful sights and sounds.

Coming downstairs and mingling with the party attendees, Signor Tuttovinci finally found his beautiful wife.

You look fantastic! Are you enjoying the party? Would you like to mingle and meet some of Wendy’s friends?”

About 30 minutes later, the Tuttovincis spotted Wendy standing near the pool in a circle of young men and women that included Michaela, DeDo and DeDo’s friend Mario, who loved hockey even more than soccer.

As they approached, Wendy leaned toward DeDo and said urgently, in a low voice “Here comes my father! PLEASE don’t mention that you’re from Lucca — PLEASE!!!!”  

DeDo didn’t know what to say to that. What did that mean? he thought to himself.

Well here’s the birthday girl — happy birthday Michaela!”  Wendy’s parents happily said to the group. “And who else is here?”

Wendy responded “Hello Papa and Mama!

I think you know Gianluigi Grossi

and his sister Mia

from my high school. And

Simonetta Tucci from the university.

And these are our new friends DeDo and Mario who brought us those amazing huge budini di riso that you may have seen on display in the main hallway, aren’t they great?” Wendy gushed.

That budino in the shape of the Torre Guinigi really is spectacular” Signor Tuttovinci said. 

And I LOVE the budino that looks like a happy red rose!”  Wendy’s Mom said.

But the other two budini: what do they represent, I imagine?” Signor Tuttovinci asked.

Well it may be silly, but we tried to make the third one look like a playful drone, and the last one is in honor of ….”  DeDo hesitated and looked at Wendy …. 

It’s in honor of both of these beautiful young women!” DeDo said triumphantly. “It’s in the shape of an ‘M’

in honor of Michaela’s birthday, but then when you turn it upside down, it’s also a ‘W’ in honor of our beautiful hostess….”

DeDo looked straight at Wendy.

W! I love it!” Wendy said happily, and

she suddenly gave DeDo a kiss on the cheek!

DeDo Guinigi was in heaven. And at 6 foot 3 inches tall, super handsome, and very athletic, he was looking pretty good too, ladies.

Signor Tuttovinci walked over next to DeDo, and said “Nice to meet you!” 

It’s my pleasure” DeDo said. 

Signor Tuttovinci said “Come with me, let’s get another round of Prosecco for these beautiful women!”  

and he took DeDo’s arm and starting walking with him toward one of the bars that the caterers had set up, staffed by guys in tuxedos.

So where are you from, DeDo?” Signor Tuttovinci asked. 

I’m … I’m from the area, sir”  DeDo replied evasively, since Wendy had asked him not to mention that he was from Lucca.

Signor Tuttovinci said “Yes, yes, as we all are ….. You look like a good athlete. Did you play any sports in school? ….. Soccer perhaps?”

I’ve played some soccer, yes sir”  DeDo answered honestly.

There was a pregnant pause in the conversation, as both men looked at each other expectantly.

So …. did you attend the University of Pisa?” Signor Tuttovinci continued.

No sir, I …. I attended university overseas”  DeDo again answered truthfully.

Oh really? How did that happen?” asked Signor Tuttovinci.

Well, sir, while I was growing up, I received excellent English lessons from a very talented private tutor, 

and, well, I was recruited to play soccer at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles” DeDo said.

Where you were voted first team All-American three years in row, right?” Signor Tuttovinci asked, laughing.

DeDo realized then that Signor Tuttovinci knew exactly who he was, and that any further evasion was futile.

You’ve done your research on me sir!

Yes I’m a proud USC Trojan — Fight On!” and DeDo burst out laughing too.

Excellent, excellent, I love it!” Signor Tuttovinci exclaimed. “Enjoy the party DeDo! ….. Oh, and by the way, my daughter’s name is Wendy, and sometime …. ask your father if he has a good friend in Pisa named Vincent Tuttovinci.

DeDo stopped, his eyes lit up, and he almost yelled “Bonamico Tuttovinci!!!!”  and the two men gave each other a huge hug!!!

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