Set in Stone by L.A. Day
She was far from an expert on Italian architecture but impressive didn’t begin to encompass her initial reaction to Villa La Torano. According to the faxed data on the property, the villa’s architecture was a double-projecting portico-loggia motif inspired by Palladio. A focal point in the center of the structure was a one-of-a-kind statuary gallery. Since the commission on this property alone might surpass her annual gross income, she was willing to learn about the architecture. It certainly wouldn’t be an easy sell but it would be worth the time invested.
Her two-inch heels clicked on the cobblestone path leading to the front entranceway. To the right, she noted a sculptured fountain. It was weathered but certainly salvageable.
“Hello,” Sarah called at the arched entranceway. The door was open but she felt she should announce her presence.
“Back here,” a male voice bellowed.
Following the sound of voices, Sarah strolled down a long hallway. Her eyes were having difficulty absorbing the delicate carvings and inlaid architecture. She wondered if an auction was in the works, since plastic-covered furnishings were still in place. Plastic and dust covered everything. The place could certainly use a thorough cleaning.
The rhythmic click of her heels on the Tuscany marble floors made her wish she’d worn flats. As she rounded the corner, a man waved at her from the end of the hall. Plastering a smile on her face, she proceeded.
“Lorenzo, I presume.” She held out her perfectly manicured hand as she approached the man. At his nod, she shook his hand and introduced herself. “I’m Sarah Livingston, from Elite Real Estate. We spoke earlier.” She handed him her gold-embossed business card.
“Yes. Very good. We were just having a look around. Maybe you would like to start in the foyer.”
“Why not start here? I’m sure Ms. Livingston can appreciate the raw beauty of the gallery.” Jacob spoke from inside the room, his sarcastic tone belying the words.
Lorenzo’s dark eyes gleamed with mischief as he shuffled out of the way. Sarah smelled a trap. She squared her shoulders, prepared for anything—almost anything.
Stepping into the doorway, Sarah’s gaze was drawn to the high, vaulted ceiling decorated with carvings and mosaics. The sound of Jacob’s voice drew her gaze.
“What do you think?”
Sarah turned toward him, opening her mouth to reply, but no words formed. Jacob stood next to a statue. An erotic statue set in a niche. A woman, on hands and knees, sucked a man’s exaggeratedly proportioned cock.
Sarah blinked rapidly and turned to focus elsewhere. That’s when she discovered that there was a niche about every twelve feet. Each niche brandished its own statue. One more blatantly erotic than the next. Each had a variant position and some a variant of gender. While male/female seemed the majority motif, occasional female/female and even male/male positions were proudly displayed. She thought her head might spin off her shoulders. “Good lord!” she muttered. Now she understood the reporter’s comments. Even by current standards, the room was a bit shocking.
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