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Subject: Makarovia! Sure, I Know Where That Is! Chapter 14 Honeymoon: Italy Story: Makarovia! Sure, I Know Where That Is Chapter 14 Honeymoon: Italy Author: Eric McQueen ail) Adult Readers, Sexual Situations, Sex Freedom of expression is precious. To do that Nifty needs help. Your donation is greatly desired. Give to fty/ or this story ends and all the others! That would be a crime! The honeymoon begins and their first stop is Italy. Let the fun begin! Honeymoon: Italy We lowered to land at the Marco Polo Airport. It was evening. There was only an hour or so difference between Stryia and Venice. It ten in the evening in Makarovia and nine in Venice. We taxied to a section of the airport for private planes. Did we deserve this? No. It was necessary. Security had to be considered. I didn’t see myself as better than anyone. I didn’t see myself any worse either. Be it Olek, Fedir, or anyone. Yuri waved Peter and me to remain while he went to do Yuri things. When he came back, he had two dark haired men with him. One looked official dressed in a uniform in his middle years and…he liked his meals. Not fat, but a few more pounds than he might should have. He was with Customs and Security for the airport. The other man was in his late thirties and well dressed and I knew he was a lawyer without being told. The man with Customs looked at us and his eyes grew. “Vostra altezza!” He blurted and bowed instantly. I spoke almost no Italian, but I knew Your Highness. “Non avevo…non lo sapevo!” The other man chuckled. “You weren’t supposed to know.” He waved a signed document he had in his hand. He spoke English, but like Mario, it was accented. “And you still don’t.” The man from Customs nodded and turned to Peter and me. “I see on television.” He smiled. “You marry. Very beautiful.” Okay, he didn’t speak English that well, but the fact we were here and married didn’t bother him. The lawyer held his hand out. “Nicolo Cuomo.” He introduced himself. “This is Mr. Lazio with Airport Customs.” He indicated the man with him. “He’s here to do all that is needed for you here, now.” He held his hand out. “Can I have your passports?” It wasn’t just for Peter and me. Yuri, Boris, and the six security with us gave their passports to Mr. Lazio. There was some concern about the seven with security and their guns. The seventh was Yuri, of course. I then found out that Boris spoke Italian. He had to translate for Yuri. Then Mr. Cuomo did some low toned conversation and an authorization with the man from Customs and it was settled. Our luggage had to be searched and was loaded on a truck. A limousine took us from the airport to where we were staying. The limousine was a little flashy for my tastes, but…when in Rome… (I couldn’t resist that.) So, it was Venice and not Rome. Big deal. “We aren’t going to the Holiday Inn, are we?” I asked knowing we weren’t. “No.” Yuri replied simply. “It’s just for one night. Two at the most.” I was new to this. Everyone has heard of Venice. You think of Gondolas and canals of water and that’s true, but the whole of Venice were a lot of little islands, too. Over a hundred of them! There were like, four hundred bridges! No, it wasn’t a Holiday Inn. It was the San Clemente Palace Kempinski Hotel. It had its own island! Not huge one, just three or four acres. There were tennis courts and swimming pool, but it had its own port! That, I learned, was the important thing. The yacht was coming to the hotel to pick us up. Say what you want, but I never saw the front desk or a bellman. That was nice. It was a beautiful hotel. It spoke of “old world” elegance. I could think of no hotel like it. In New York maybe. I’d never been to one of them either. What did I know? All of this cloak and dagger thing would wear on a person. I’d just have to grin and bear it. The suite was nice. We were just staying overnight. Yuri smiled as we looked around the suite. He clapped his hands once. “We’ll leave you to do…whatever,” he grinned. “It is your wedding night.” I turned surprised. “You’re not staying here? It’s big enough.” Yuri smiled. “In the hotel, yes. Not in this suite.” He waved at the door. “We’ll be across the hall.” “Are you hungry?” Boris asked. “It’s been a few hours since the reception.” “Stop it,” Peter chastised. “When you got on the plane, your role of serving was done.” “Fine,” Boris grumbled. “I wasn’t cooking or anything.” Yuri nodded. “Yes, but if you do want something, get it through room service.” He held a hand up. “Do not answer the hotel phone. Call Boris or me on our personal phones. We’ll do the same with you. Do not answer the door. You’re not here.” “Okay,” Peter said shaking the man. “You have got to relax, Yuri.” “You do remember how, don’t you?” I teased. Yuri nodded. “I will,” Yuri said, “When you’re on the yacht.” He pointed to the door. “There will be security at the door. No maid or anyone with a cart should be coming in.” He sighed. “I know it may seem like we’re overdoing it, but with the threat of the Consortium and that crazed militant group and others, we can’t risk anything less.” Peter hugged Yuri. “We understand. It’s alright.” I shook my head. “Mr. Lazio can never tell anyone? Ever?” “When you return from your honeymoon yes, but not while you’re here.” “The same for the crew on the yacht?” Peter asked. “When it’s concluded.” Yuri stressed. “But not until then.” I walked through the living area and saw on the dining table was a silver ice bucket with a bottle in it and looked at the bottle. Two champagne glasses sat next to it. I picked up the card by it. Return when you’re ready. We love you both. Mom, Mario, Olek, Helga, and Grandma. I felt Peter come and read it over my shoulder. I pulled the bottle out of the ice. “Is this a good year for Dom Perignon?” I chuckled holding the bottle up for Peter. “I have no idea.” I grinned. Peter’s eyes widened. “Why ask me!?” “Because I’ve been a prince not even a day.” I explained. “You’ve been a prince for twenty seven years! You were exposed to all this highbrow stuff.” Peter shook his head. “Not as much as you might think. I only know two things about champagne, it tastes good or it doesn’t.” He waved at Boris. “Ask him, he’s the chef.” I gave the bottle to Boris. “Well?” Boris shrugged. “It’s French and it’s Dom. It will be good.” He smiled handing the bottle back. “I’ll get two more glasses.” I pointed to the china cabinet. “You’re joining us.” I said. Boris grinned and went to the bar we had in the room. He was always neat. The “pop” of the cork was followed by the usual spewing of champagne which Boris kept over the sink. Pouring the champagne Peter raised his glass. “To great friends. I would be lost without you two. I can say honestly, I’ve never been happier. I have love in abundance. To a brighter tomorrow.” “I concur.” I said as we clinked our glasses together. Now I was feeling a little more out of my element. This was way over the top as a lifestyle for me. “If you want,” Yuri began, “we are in Venice. If you decide to walk around, take a tour or something. That will be fine. I’ll make sure security goes with you.” “You come, too.” I insisted. “I will love spending time with just Peter, but we’ve been together for almost two years. He and I will be doing that on the yacht. Come with us?” “If for no other reason, so Boris can translate for us.” Peter grinned. “And you come with us as friends. Not security or anything else.” He said pointing at them. “We’d love to.” Boris nodded. After Boris and Yuri left for their room, Peter put his arms around me. “We got married today.” I chuckled. “I was there.” “We’re married.” “Yes, I know.” I laughed. “Just roll it around a while. You’ll get used to the idea.” “Oh, Mr. Ivanov.” Peter taunted me. “I guess I need to get used to it, Mr. Ivanov. Just like you did, Mr. Ivanov.” “That took a while, because it is so different.” I defended. “The name change…it doesn’t just roll off the tongue yet.” Peter nodded. “And the realization that we’re married takes time, too.” “Yes, it does.” I practically tackled my husband. When the morning came, there was no reason to jump up to go anywhere just yet. I rolled over from the comfort of where I’d slept to find myself alone. I looked around the suite. Hearing the quiet flush of the toilet, I grinned. I hadn’t been left. Only, now I had to go myself. We passed each other as he came out and I went in. When I was done, I returned and Peter was at a large panoramic window. He didn’t even turn wo “I think that’s the boat.” He said to me pointing at something. I walked over next to him. I didn’t know what to expect, but…I did not expect that. I let out a slow whistle. It was at least two hundred feet long. On it was written Grandduchessa. Again, I had enough language skills to know that meant Grand Duchess. “Daaaammn.” I let out slowly. I looked at Peter. “There’s just the two of us going.” I gave a consenting shrug. “And the six security. We don’t need that much space!” Peter was nodding, but his eyes grew when I said what I did. “Should we call Olek so he can tell Mario thanks, but no thanks?” “No,” I said back, “but that’s not a boat. That’s a ship.” “Yes,” Peter nodded. “It is.” She was sleek, but unusual. She had a deck configuration I had never seen before. It was white, but the top deck did this odd waving connection from the top to the lower decks. It was very pretty! The lowest deck had a curved deck rail that rose a little down the side. She made a statement. I was paying attention to what she had to say. It was a work of art! “Who does Mario know!?” Peter asked. I nodded. “Someone with a lot of money, that’s who.” A familiar ding drew our attention. It was Peter’s phone. Peter read the text. “Boris wants us to let him know when we’ve gotten up.” He chuckled at another ding. “Yuri texted he’s hungry.” “Let them know.” I said, “but first.” I grinned pulling him back to the bed. We made love again. I didn’t want to torture Yuri too long, so we showered and dressed. Calling to ease Yuri’s suffering. Boris and Yuri came to our suite and had us look over the room service menu. Fortunately, there were enough tourists from the West to have the menu in Italian, French, Spanish, and English. I knew Makarovian wouldn’t be there, or Ukrainian or Russian. This was a five star hotel. I’m sure they had them if we asked. We got this Venetian Breakfast Casserole. It was loaded! Eggs scrambled with large chucks of sausages and bacon. We also got some delicate pastries, scones and danishes. Lots of jelly. Excuse me, not jelly but all-fruit preserves. Boris was relaxing. Yuri was, too, but not as well as Boris. They were dressed to be what we were. Tourists. Even in jeans, Boris still carried an air about him. I looked again at his pants. Yep, they were creased. Yuri was still security. That was just who he was. “Venetian Breakfast?” Boris scoffed waving at the sizzling cast iron skillet the casserole was brought in. “It’s bacon and eggs.” Peter nodded taking a bite. “In Venice!” He nodded munching happily. “And very good!” He picked up the menu. “It has truffles.” Boris snorted. “Fine, but who could mess up bacon and eggs?” “Me.” Peter grinned at me. “He can do it,” I smiled back and Boris. “It’s your fault that he can’t.” “My fault!?” Boris blurted. “How is it my fault?” “He never had to cook.” I said simply. “He made dinner twice in our little apartment.” “It was a disaster.” Peter chuckled. “Eric cooked from then on.” Yuri was also munching away and gave an appreciative nod. “It’s good.” He looked at us. “It floods sometimes in the plaza. The spring is the worse.” “We’ll wade through.” Peter shrugged. “The guys for security,” I began, “when and where do they eat?” Yuri nodded. “They’re eating now in the restaurant.” He smiled at me. “I know you like to befriend people. That’s fine, but I would prefer a kind of detachment.” “From them or me?” I asked. “You know how I am. I didn’t like it when they stood up during lunch at school.” Yuri sighed again. “From you or them. They’re attached because your royalty now. Their prince. They need to be focused to do their jobs.” “And being friends prevents that?” I asked. “It could be a distraction.” I nodded. “Do I distract you?” “No, but…” Yuri started to protest. “Give it up, Yuri.” Peter chuckled. “You can’t win.” “If anything,” I smiled. “I think it makes you better. They knew that in Greece for a long, long time. Thebes? You knew about the Greek gods, what about the gay militia they used?” I shrugged. “If they aren’t gay. They were raised in Makarovia, right? They’re gay friendly. They have to be. We can be friends.” I looked at Yuri closer. “Can’t they?” Yuri was mentally looking for a reason to object. “I told you,” Peter smiled. “Give it up. He’s won already and now has the royal authority to demand it.” “Which I don’t want to do or use,” I added. “I won’t. Yuri’s not wrong, but neither am I.” A took Peter’s hand. “You and I are going to be seeing a lot of them in the next two weeks. I just don’t want it to feel awkward. A person can’t have too many friends.” I waved at Boris. “We had to almost strong arm them from accepting a hug from us. If we hadn’t, they’d probably be back in Boston waiting for us to come back.” “Fine.” Yuri growled. “On the ship they can be friendly.” “And that’s all?” Peter asked. “It might get boring for them if we’re touring Athens.” “Fine.” Yuri said firmly. “But they’re here to perform a job, not be on holiday. I’ll introduce you to them, but if anything happens to either of you, I’m taking their heads!” Yuri wasn’t kidding. Nicolo Cuomo called and wanted to come by the hotel. The only way to the hotel was by boat. Deliveries and supplies were all brought by boat. I think there was a helipad, but we found out he was on the Grandduchessa. There were other boats that came and left all day and night. He had boarded one. It was Sunday! Didn’t he take the day off? He was a lawyer! I couldn’t begin to guess what he pulled down a year in pay. Even a junior partner for this firm in Europe’s top 500 had to be doing well, or wouldn’t work for them. Or Mario. “Do we even know how Mario earned his money?” I asked everyone and no one. Peter nodded. “He was born with it.” He looked at me and read my expression. “This man was dating my mother! I asked him.” He nodded. “I researched and had him looked into.” Peter explained. “His great grandmother mezitli escort was a princess, but down enough not to given in marriage.” He shrugged. “His great grandfather used the money to make more. Mario was born wealthy, but also had his grandfather’s business smarts.” He was still looking at me and my lack of understanding. “He was dating Mom!” I nodded. “I get that.” “He’s not just Italian, but Sicilian! I didn’t want some Godfather reenactment!” Peter defended further. “As nice as Mario is he could suddenly erupt. I was protecting Mom.” “I don’t think Mario has it in him.” I said. “I’ve never seen any anger or heard him raise his voice.” Peter nodded vehemently. “Yes! I don’t think he ever had to.” Peter grinned. “He is more of a slow boil or distant thunder.” I continued to nod. “And Vesuvius was just a mountain that offered Pompeii a pretty view.” I patted Peter’s arm. “It blew up, you know?” Peter bowed a little. “I know. He should be happy I’m so protective of her!” “I’m sure he will be,” I said smiling. “After you tell him.” Peter’s eyes grew. “Oh, man.” His voice said with regret. “You like him now.” “Yes.” Peter admitted. “So do I.” I kissed him. “Just tell him what you told me like you told me and I’m sure he will be happy you are protective.” I thumbed toward the window toward the Duchess. “We owe him that.” I pulled head next to mine, our foreheads touching. “You know me. I hate lying. I don’t believe in cover ups.” I shrugged. “What are you guilty of? Being overprotective of Mom!?” I laughed. “We should all be so lucky. I know Mario will understand. He might even be impressed by what you did. I am.” Peter grunted. “Do I have to tell him?” “I think you should.” I encouraged. “This family is what most would consider to be too honest.” I chuckled. “You readily tell what most people consider to be too much honesty.” I looked at him as my smile grew. “Such as what every man does?” “But that’s different.” Peter whined. “You’re right.” I nodded. “Jerking off is much, much more personal.” I kissed him. “Clearly he’s not after the uranium or the kingdom’s money. He doesn’t need it. That fact makes him the perfect man for Mom.” “Yeah,” Peter nodded. There was a knock on our door. “That’s Nicolo Cuomo, I’m sure.” Yuri announced heading toward the door. Nicolo showed us the signed documents all of the crew signed and gave us a roster of names. “It has five decks,” Nicolo smiled. “Really, it can take twelve guests onboard. The master bedroom is on deck two.” He shrugged. “It was available. There is a reduced crew. You have a full engineering crew, but only three stewards.” He smiled. “And a Galley Chef and two Galley Assistants.” I nodded. “That’s a reduced crew.” It was sarcastic, but it’s what I thought. “Yes.” Nicolo replied. “The Captain can go over some destinations. There is a trusted Concierge available online to help if needed for concert tickets or something like that.” He indicated outside with a jut of his head. “Your things are being loaded now. You’re free to inspect and talk with anyone onboard.” He smiled brightly. “Do you want to see her?” “Hell, yeah!” Peter said in English quickly then stopped. “Who owns it?” “Count Alexi von Bar of Luxembourg and his wife Countess Maria von Bar of Luxembourg.” Nicolo replied and said knowing we’d understand what he said next. “Her maiden name was Basso. She is Mario Basso’s younger sister.” “No wonder Mario got it so quickly!” Peter stated. “How rich are they?” Nicolo frowned as he thought. “It’s hard to give a static number. The Count and Countess are very wealthy. Banking was their business. Mario, too. They’re very quiet about it.” He shrugged. “Easily they are in the billions. Euro.” “Daaaamn.” Peter said in English. Nicolo chuckled nodding. “Yes, damn indeed.” Peter and I were surrounded. Boris and Yuri and the six security and Nicolo had us inside a loose circle as we walked to the Duchess The Grandduchessa was white. I mean everything was white, off white, or cream colored. The floors, carpeting, marble, cabinets, doors…everything were those colors. Handles for drawers and that sort of thing was white with gold etched on or in them. It looked so…clean! Even the roses arranged in large gold urns or vases were white. White and roses. There were a bar with a frosted glass backdrop with the rose etched in gold on the surface. We found out it was designed for Maria. The Captain and First Mate was there to greet us. The Captain was a thin older man in his mid-fifties. No hair as he had his hat off inside. He was in the white uniform with his rank on his shoulders. He had no reaction on seeing us. He just bowed. He wasn’t surprised. The First Mate in his late thirties had a slight one. He had black hair. Had, as in past tense. His head was shaven, but you could see what was left of his hair pattern was on the sides in closely cut stubble. The top his head was clear skin with no hair follicles. “This is Captain Lucan Agius.” Nicolo introduced and indicated the other. “And his First Mate, Commander Alcan Perez.” “It is an honor to have you, Your Highness.” The Captain said to us with a slight bow. I was so used to it now, but he had an accent. They both did. Yuri nodded as he walked closer to Captain Agius. “You aren’t surprised.” The Captain shook his head. “It makes sense.” He waved at Peter and me. “They were married yesterday. I’ve known the family for decades, the Von Bars and the Bassos. I knew Mr. Basso was dating Queen Alla of Makarovia.” He smiled at Yuri. “Those documents told me the rest. They’ll be safe.” He assured. Yuri nodded. “Good.” Captain Agius was not Italian, but Maltese. Commander Perez was from Spain. Malta was a small island country below Sicily. Sicily was right at the toe of Italy’s boot. Malta was below that. Then we met Jeanette Gagne. She was from France. A pretty woman in her late twenties who was also a part of the crew. She made sure all purchases for the Duchess was done. Supplies were done and any provisions gotten. She opened the door to our stateroom on deck two. It was the master bedroom. It was big! Bigger than our rooms in Boston or in Stryia. Also, white and gold. The central feature was the bed. It was round. On a raised platform, circled again by white carpeting with the gold rose design around it. It had columns, or posts of gold holding the ceiling up….or so it seemed. The wall background was gold with the large roses on it. White, roses and circles was the theme. One more time. “Daaammn.” Peter let out softly. Almost reverently. “Roses and…white!” Jeanette laughed. “Oui, the Count is very devoted to his wife. She loves roses. He took that décor all through the Duchess.” She smiled. “The Duchess is for you to enjoy. There is a pool on the main deck, a media room with access to almost all movies in several languages, a library, and a gym. The Duchess can accommodate twelve guests comfortably. You may want to get with Henri,” she said the name in the very French way as in onrey, “he’s the chef. If there is anything you desire, he can make it.” She said confidently. She went to a white desk and touched a computer monitor. “If needed, you can speak with any of us at any time.” She touched a key that woke the sleeping computer. “There is a selection menu for each of us. You can request something cleaned or pressed and even let Henri know a request for dinner.” “Daaammn.” Peter said. “The Duchess is ready to leave?” I asked. “We were told it might be another day. We have friends was told we’d see Venice together.” Jeanette nodded. “We’re on your schedule. We might move the Duchess to another port in Venice to ease access. We’ll go whenever you’re ready.” I looked at the stateroom we were staying in. “I don’t know. This could be dangerous, staying here.” I said in Makarovian. “Dangerous?” Peter repeated. “How!?” I shrugged. “Two weeks of this and we might not want to leave!!” Peter chuckled. We walked back to the main deck. Boris and Yuri were there, but Yuri was speaking with the men with us for security. He doesn’t yell. He never has that I knew of. His quiet tones reminded me of when we left Boston. That almost parental talking to warning them what he expected of them. Boris came over to us. “We’ll be leaving you tomorrow.” I smiled. “But you’re staying here the night.” Boris nodded. “We can, but this is for you.” Peter nodded. “You can spare one night. There’s room on the Duchess.” Boris nodded. “We can do that.” Yuri came over. “We’ve moved all our belongings to the Duchess. You’re being checked out of the hotel now.” “Where do we go first?” Peter asked. Yuri shrugged. “Where ever you choose. We can go to St. Mark’s Square and Basilica. We can take a gondola…to say we’ve done it if for no other reason.” He thought, “There some great restaurants. We can have dinner in one. That requires a reservation, so tell me where and the Concierge will make it happen.” He reached for Peter. “Let me see your phone. I’ll add the number so you can do that later, too.” “Yuri,” I began quietly. “Those nondisclosure documents won’t work with the people touring around Venice or in Greece. Peter and I could try to disguise ourselves, but someone will recognize us. They will tell others. It can’t be held a secret.” Yuri stopped what he was doing and nodded. “That’s right.” Then he returned to his task programming the number on Peter’s phone. “People will know you’re here. It will be rumors at first.” He sighed. “Even if they have proof such as a photograph. It will take time for that to circulate. The security guards will stop any harassment from tourists or media. Even if they see you board the Duchess, the crew won’t confirm who you are.” I nodded. “I see.” It was decided that the Duchess would move. We would go to the heavily populated island in the borough of San Marco. Venice made up of five boroughs. We were moving to the Southern most one. From there we could easily go anywhere. I had seen St. Mark’s Square on television. It wasn’t flooded now. It was low tide. I remember seeing a show whose character run through the abundance of pigeons and other birds sending them flying away. Neither Peter nor I thought about not showing affection with each other. We did as we often did holding hands. Millions had seen us marry, holding hands should shock no one. Our security team was with us, surrounding Peter and me, but dressed as tourists. They wore their guns in holsters near their chests and not really noticed. They were under loose shirts that covered t-shirts. They wore jeans. It was in the upper seventies, but the water and breeze kept it cool. It would be comfortable for them. They didn’t have on uniforms, but the configuration of six men, Boris and Yuri told everyone we were being guarded. We got curious looks and they spoke with whomever they were with. You didn’t need to hear it as they confirmed what they saw with the other. Was that who they suspected? Had to be, look at the men guarding them. Typical stuff. Venice played a major part of the Renaissance. There were galleries galore here. The very buildings themselves were art! We only had that day to see anything. We did go to Doge’s Palace. They were exhibiting pieces of Gothic works. Paintings at this time had gained perspective and looked human. They looked like real people. Realism. Even the ceilings were art. The walls should have painting on thems, but here, the ceiling had them, too. Framed in gold molding were scenes of men, women and landscapes. It was beautiful. Yes, it did have that “old world” elegance and grace from the past thousand years. We had lunch at Quadri. It was right there at the San Marco’s Square. The hostess looked up as we came in and her eyes widened seeing Peter and me. Boris walked up to her. “Non abbiamo fatto una prenotazione. Spero che tu possa inserirci.” The woman reached for the menus she knew were there. “Certamente. Se vieni con me.” “What did he say?” I whispered to Peter. Peter shook his head. “I don’t know.” Boris chuckled. “I said, we didn’t have a reservation. Could they squeeze us in?” “Oh,” Peter said. He nodded. “If you say so.” I pulled Peter closer. “What will we do in Greece? Do any of the security speak Greek?” Yuri shook his head. “No, but enough in Greece speak English. You’ll be fine.” Almost all the restaurants views of the water. We were seated at a table by a large window. The waiter had been told we were here and came quickly. It was very nice. I had Astice Tostato, seared lobster, mushrooms, crab and sea urchin. Peter had Costata di Manzo, a ribeye with oyster cream. Yuri had Capesante Scottate, sea scallops and Boris had the Calamari Pasta. Squid. The rings and tentacles. It was very good. Two of our security came in with us standing by our table, the other four stood at the door. I knew why and just resolved myself to what had to happen. Yuri had said it, this was their job. I didn’t object now. “The plane is to take you to Sicily.” Peter said. “You don’t have a set time.” Yuri nodded. “We leave when we’re ready.” He looked at us firmly. “Do not come with us to the airport to see us off.” I waved at the many patrons in the Quadri. “They know we’re here. It’s not a secret.” Yuri nodded. “I want to see the Duchess heading off. Boris and I will be there to do that. Please.” Peter smiled. “Sure. This has been enjoyable. Hanging out with two of our favorite people.” Boris nodded. “We like you.” He shrugged. “We love you, but we also like you. We’re going to have a good day in Venice.” We wandered the walk ways in Venice. It was mid-afternoon when Peter’s phone dinged. Peter looked at the screen and smiled. He showed me the screen. The thumb’s up emoji was there. “We’re going to be uncles!” Peter grinned. I nodded. “Yes,” I nodded. “Helga was right. She is worried about being an unwed mother.” Peter nodded. “The people of Makarovia won’t care.” “Other people in other countries will.” I stressed. “They need to marry soon. The end of this month.” “The Proposal and the year…” Peter began. “Which is tradition, I know.” I patted Peter’s arm. “I suggest a legal marriage for now. We can do a more traditional wedding later.” Peter shrugged. “We’ll talk to Helga and Olek.” He smiled at Yuri. “What did talk to the security about?” Yuri nodded. “I reminded the why they’re here. When onboard the Duchess, there will be crew to help, pozcu escort but the crew’s first concern will be the Duchess. Security’s only concern will be keeping you two safe. They can never forget that.” He nodded a little. “They were cautioned not to let you, King Olek, Makarovia or me down.” He shrugged. “These six are the best. I wouldn’t trust just anyone.” Coffee. That was the other item needed. Again, it was right there! Caffè del Doge. It smelled great even outside. It was coffee and the world loved it. We took our first gondola ride. The gondolier recognized Peter and me, but keep his face steady as we traveled down the Grand Canal. It was nice. The best part was there were no traffic sounds. No horns honking or engines idling. Just the sound of water lapping and many voices in many language as crowds walked, laughing and spoke to each other. “There’s just one thing missing.” I said in English and turned to our gondolier. “Aren’t you supposed to sing?” The gondolier was a man in his early thirties. Clearly Italian. He chuckled. “Oh, no, Signori. You don’t really want me to do that.” “Why not?” I asked. “Not even O Sole Mio?” The gondolier bowed briefly and laughed. “Only because you are just married and a prince.” He cleared his throat and began. “Che bella cosa na jurnata ‘e sole, N’aria serena dopo na tempesta, Pe’ ll’aria fresca pare già na festa, Che bella cosa na jurnata ‘e sole.” I grinned at him. So, he wasn’t Luciano Pavaotti. He could carry a tune. It was good. Yuri insisted the men from security was included. The gondolier didn’t stop when that song was done. Next he sang Ti Amo and Grande Amore! When the gondola was finished showing us Venice. I grinned at the gondolier. “Thank you for doing that.” I said. “You sing just fine. I enjoyed it.” The man nodded. “Qualsiasi cosa per amore, Altezza.” He bowed. I must have been around some Italians enough, because I knew he said. Anything for love. I shook his hand. Venice was beautiful, but it was sinking. They had floods often during seasonal change. I saw evidence that it was. Many of the buildings had surrendered the first floors to the flooding. Five stories became four that were habitable. They worked to find ways of keeping this ancient city, but would eventually lose. Some worked on ways to make Venice float. They had a project named Mose where a series of gates were being constructed across three inlets. Mose, after Moses who parted the Red Sea in the Old Testament? I paid attention in Sunday School. There were thousands of workers and there were protesters. Not about saving Venice, but about harming the environment with these huge gates and wanted an alternative. I was told all of Venice had sunk nearly a foot in the past one hundred years. The Adriatic Sea would not give up. This gate system was costing billions. It would cost millions to maintain. They lost billions in the mid-sixties when a flood damaged artworks worth billions. It was also used as a political platform for many in Italy. Venice did have a lot of canals. There were thin ones like alleys between buildings in a city. They were alleys. We did see the flooding at the next high tide. San Marco’s Square had a foot of water. Yep, it was a problem. I was reminded of the flooding in Charleston. I’m not one upping anyone, but Market Street downtown flooded badly during the rising tides. All of those trendy shops battled water from coming into their stores. That was here, but with all of Venice. We opted for an outdoor concert. Yep, it sounds snooty, but I like classical music. Thanks, Grandma. We returned to the Duchess and changed. Then we went to the Molocinque. Technically, it wasn’t in Venice. The closest community was Marghera to the South of Molocinque. It was just a few miles away. Yuri wasn’t thrilled, but told our security to be on their toes. “We’ll be protected, Yuri.” Peter reminded him. “We’ll be careful. Otherwise, we should have stayed in Makarovia!” Yuri’s look told us he wished we had. Tonight, our security looked like security. Dark suits and dark glasses. I found out those glasses helped them see in the dark. Yes! No one could flash lights in their eyes and blinding them even a few seconds. They cut glare and made things sharper! It was a night club that wanted you to dance. Peter and I did. It wasn’t concerned whether their patrons were gay or straight, just people friendly. If you had the lira, you were welcome. Make that Euros now. It noisy and loud. Just what we wanted. Not everyone was as observant as others. The man who let people in didn’t react when we got there. “We need all ten of us to be allowed in.” Peter said and handed his ID and credit card to the man. It only took him a few seconds, but his eyes grew. “Solo un momento, per favore.” The man said quickly and rushed inside. “You understood that, right?” Peter looked at me. “Please,” I muttered. “That wasn’t even difficult. Mario must be rubbing off on me.” The bouncer came back with another man. The bouncer was your typical tough guy. Like our security, he showed no emotions until he found who we were. This new man was hard to tell. Italian, but Botox or surgery kept him looking in his thirties. He had black hair. Or did he? I looked at his hairline and couldn’t tell. I mentally shrugged. “I am Marco Rizzo.” The man bowed. “The wedding was in English. I assume that’s the language to use.” Peter grinned. ” Vy rozmovlyayete makarvinsʹkoyu.” “I didn’t get that.” The man frowned. “There’s your answer.” I smiled. “He asked if you speak Makarovian. You don’t, so English is preferred.” “I see.” The man smiled. “It’s an honor you chose to come here.” He thumbed over his shoulder. “It will be just moments. They are arranging tables for you.” He looked excited to have us. “We’ve set you up a semiprivate room.” “We would like to be near the action.” Peter said and waved at our security. “These men are our protection.” Mr. Rizzo nodded. “Understood. Normally, we don’t allow weapons in, but they won’t be drinking?” “No,” Yuri stated quickly. “They’re on duty.” A young lady came out to speak with Mr. Rizzo. He nodded and waved us toward the door. “We’re ready.” Mr. Rizzo said. Inside, it was a club. A little different than Jocks and more densely crowded than the Grotto. These people were doing what people did in clubs, they sipped drinks, tried to carry on conversations, but mostly danced. There wasn’t just a dance floor, there were four dance floors playing different musical themes in different rooms. “It’s open almost every night from May through September.” I said loud to be heard. “This is a special night.” “What’s special about it?” Peter asked. “There’s an Arts Festival beginning.” I shouted back. “The increase in tourism means more revenue.” Our table was in a recessed portion of a wall. Naturally, people were curious who was going to be sitting there. In spite of the noise, word spread like a spark in dry grass and people began staring. No one came close. The six emotionless guards put a stop to the very notion. The music now was techno-trance dance music. You know, those great sounds that just made you want to dance. There was no beginning or end. One song just took over the other with a different beat, but still made you want to dance. Not a lot of singing. There were some phrases sung but it seemed to just be part of the music. I know, singing was part of music, too. This voice was not telling a story of any kind. These phrases merged the primitive, rhythmical cadence. You just had to move! “I don’t know how to dance to this kind of music.” Peter said. “You just do it. It’s primal.” I grabbed his hand. “Let’s go, Twinkle Toes!” “Stay where we can see you!” Yuri instructed in a shout. The song playing morphed into another and it was a primitive part of our minds that was tickled. It came from ancient African tribal drums used as we evolved. We just started moving. It didn’t take too long before a young woman spoke while dancing with her partner. “Sei il Principe Pedro e il Principe Eric.” “Scusa, no Italiano.” Peter said simply and we continued to dance. I frowned at Peter and turned to her. “No, but do you speak English?” She nodded. “I can.” “You saw the wedding?” “Absolutely.” She nodded. “It was beautiful.” “This day two,” I explained, “of our honeymoon. Forgive us, but we don’t really intend to include anyone else.” I bowed to her and chuckled. “We know who we are.” “Certainly.” The woman nodded and bowed to me. “I understand, your highness.” I saw Yuri’s eyes remain on us. The other security watched us, too. I knew that even if I couldn’t see their eyes. We got winded and sat down at our table. I smiled at Boris who was sipping some amber colored drink. Yuri was drinking a soda. I smiled at them. “Neither of you are working now.” I waved at Yuri. “Or not supposed to be.” Peter nodded. “If you’re still working,” he waved at our security. “Why do we have them?” A waiter came over to serve drinks. I looked around, but didn’t see others getting their drinks this way. There was a crowded bar people were ordering and getting drinks there. It was just us. I shrugged ordering my favorite White Russian. After our drinks were gotten I looked at Yuri. “How are you going to make it with no duties for two weeks?” Peter sipped his drink and nodded. “We appreciate your dedication, Yuri, but you have a marriage that needs your attention, too.” I chuckled. “The people from Makarovia are driven. We had to force Olek to take a week off last year.” Peter nodded. “That island doesn’t have a Wifi connection or a computer. It drove Olek insane being cut off from the world.” He looked at Boris. “I get the feeling Yuri will take a day or two to relax.” “You, too.” I said to Boris. “I know you like to cook. I’m sure the lady that made our meals will let you cook, but you don’t have to.” Yuri snickered. “You’re right. It will be hard. I’ve done this everyday for two years.” Boris smiled at Yuri. “He’s sort of…anxious about you two going off by yourselves.” “We won’t be by ourselves.” I waved at the security. “I understand you personally chose these men.” Yuri nodded. “I did. I trust their skills, but I don’t trust many.” “We’ve traveled without you.” Peter said. “Not very often.” Yuri pointed out. “You’ve flown to Makarovia alone.” He shrugged. “I feel responsible. Olek trusts me.” He leaned forward. “If these men didn’t have my trust, I would insist I come with you.” “You need time with Boris.” I said kindly. “You’re still in love.” Yuri chuckled. “We are.” I grabbed Yuri’s hand. “Come on, let’s dance!” Peter chuckled looking at Boris. “That leaves you and me. We’ll show them how it’s done.” We didn’t stay too long and returned to the islands of Venice. We boarded the Duchess and went to our quarters. Boris and Yuri was in one nearby. Our stateroom had a private terrace. We stood looking at the lights of Venice. “This is going to be a great honeymoon.” Peter said softly to me. “We’ll have a great marriage.” “We will.” I agreed. “I love you, Peter.” “I know you do.” Peter said smiling. “I love you, Eric.” I nodded kissing him. “I know.” We woke up with no itinerary for the day. The curtains were drawn which were thick and made the stateroom dark. I couldn’t tell where the sun was. Until I became accustom to the Duchess, I needed use my own things. I held my watch up and touched the button on the side to illuminate the watch’s face. Peter moved, groaning a little. “I don’t want to get up.” “You don’t have to.” I said rolling over. “But Yuri and Boris want to see us sail away.” I moved my face closer to him. “They have their own honeymoon to go on.” Peter grudgingly nodded. “Okay. What time is it?” “Just five minutes from nine.” Peter sighed. “I guess we need to see them off.” He started to roll off, but ended up scooting to the edge of the round bed. “This is a comfortable bed, but I stretched out thinking I was on the edge only to have more bed.” I chuckled. “I had the opposite problem. My head would go to where I thought was the edge and found there wasn’t any.” Peter nodded sighing with mock resolution. “We’ll just have to suffer.” He rubbed the surface of the bed and bounced slightly. “It was comfortable.” I chuckled coming over kissing him quickly. “You’ll get used to it.” The bathroom was just like everything else, white, cream and ivory. Gold fixtures. Countess von Bar liked her extra comforts. The floor looked like marble, but those usual lines that ran through marble was gold, not black or gray. It was subtle. There was a stand alone shower that had enough shower heads that would not just get you clean, but massage your body. She had a tub big enough to soak in, be it one or two people. That was convenient. There are just so many words to describe what was there. It was huge! Peter spotted something on the wall. A panel. He grinned. “Look.” He pointed. “Heated floors and towel racks!” He pressed a few buttons. “I’m trying them out.” I tell you, they worked. No cold floor and nice warm towels to dry off with. “You said Mario was born with money.” I said as I dried off. Peter nodded. “He was.” “I wonder how he remained unspoiled.” I said out loud. “He doesn’t think he’s better than anyone. He doesn’t look down on anybody.” I waved at the yacht around us. “His sister doesn’t suffer and was generous to let us use the Duchess.” Peter chuckled. “It is possible to be rich and still be humble.” I shook my head. “I guess, but if Maria is like Mario, which seems to be the case, how did they get that way?” “My research didn’t tell me that.” Peter grumbled. “You’ll have to ask him.” “I will.” I nodded. “When we get back.” The quick shower and we hit a snag. It wasn’t too bad, but we didn’t unpack. Someone else did. It was arranged logically. Casual, semi-formal and formal. The drawer with our underwear and socks were all mixed up. Not that it mattered, but some people got territorial with personal items. It was nine thirty when we came out of our stateroom. We came to the dining room where Boris and Yuri were eating breakfast. It was a French breakfast. Our chef was French. There were Croissants and cheese (fromage) and crepes. I smiled at Boris and Yuri. “Did you leave us anything?” I asked them. “Crumbs.” Yuri replied. I looked around and didn’t see the security guards. “Where is our security?” I had gotten used escort bayan to seeing them and now they were gone. Yuri gave a nod. “We’re in port.” He shrugged. They are watching the area to be sure we’re safe in port.” A man in his late thirties or early forties came in. “Ah, vos altesses,” your highness, he bowed to us. He wore a chef’s shirt, but skipped the tall white hat. His hair was still dark brown, but he liked to not only cook food, he liked to eat as was evident from the few pounds more than he needed. “I am Henri. I was told by Boris you enjoy seafood, no? I made Crepes aux Crevettes et au Homard. That’s shrimp and lobster with a light tangy cheese sauce. I have more, or I can make you something else.” “Henri is a wonderful chef.” Boris assured. “It’s delicious.” “Boris told you correctly.” I smiled. “If it comes from the water, I love it. Crabs, shellfish, prawns, fish, mussels and anything else from the sea, it’s all good to me.” “Me, too.” Peter agreed and looked at me. “Do you know I never had a seafood meal until I left Makarovia?” My eyes widened. “Oh, you poor guy!” It wasn’t really said as a joke. I did feel sorry for him. I never went without it. I was raised on the coast as well as the mountains. I crabbed and caught shrimp all the time in Charleston. I ate something related to the ocean at least once a week, if not more. He shrugged. “Other than the occasional fresh water fish, I never had so much as flounder.” I nodded. “I guess not. Being that far inland would be hard to get fresh seafood.” I looked at Henri. “We need to make up for that. Can we have something with seafood every day?” “Absolument!” He said in French. “Any cultural preference?” I shook my head. “No, surprise us. You’re a chef.” Henri bowed. “I will bring it to you.” He touched some urns. “We have fresh squeezed orange juice and we have apple juice…” “Coffee?” Peter asked hopefully. “Oui.” Henri said with a smile and pointed at Peter. “Boris also told me you like hot macchiato. We have Noisette. I hope you will like it. It’s very good.” He turned to me. “You like a cold vanilla latte. I’ll get those right away.” I nodded. “Oh, yes.” I concluded. “This is very dangerous. I love this!” We met with Captain Agius and discussed where to go. “We have enough fuel to go anywhere.” The Captain said. “You are looking for ports in Greece. It’s over 1100 kilometers to Corfu. Once there it’s very friendly to you.” He smiled patiently. “You also don’t want to go where people do not view your marriage a positive thing. Both sides of the Adriatic Sea are not that accommodating. We can make it to Corfu with no problem, but I suggest Kotor, Montenegro first. They are trying to cater to some groups about cruise ships coming there. Increase tourism. I know last year, they had a Podgorica Pride in the capital.” He smiled. “Gay Pride?” He shrugged. “It’s not a big country, but they say their are trying.” “And you?” Peter asked. “What do you say?” The Captain bobbed his head. “I don’t get what the problem is.” He shook his head. “Homosexuals are everywhere. In every race and in every country. Millions of people around the world! Some don’t care about the gender. In Malta homosexuals have the same rights as anyone. Except for Makarovia, we have the most progressive rights for gay people.” He frowned. “We aren’t a big country. We only have about half a million people, but we see people. If you don’t commit crimes, you’re fine.” Peter grinned. “You’re a wise people.” We decided to go there as well. Corfu, Athens, Mykonos and Malta. We even decided to go to the island where Yuri and Boris were staying before going back to Venice. They’d cruise back with us and we’d all fly back to Makarovia. We did cruise over to Porto Marghera, a series of ports on Italian mainland. It was a port they could take a transport to the airport with no problem. Our two friends were doing what they said they’d do. From the Duchess, we saw their luggage being put in an SUV that waited to take them to the airport. “I worry,” Yuri confessed to Peter and me. “It’s not just my job. I came to know both of you and I care for you.” He smiled taking an arm from both of us. “You took a big step last Saturday.” He grimaced. “There some dangerous people out there.” He then smiled. “We’ve dealt with them for decades…” “Centuries.” Boris added. “Yuri and I are not Russians that hid in Makarovia. We are Makarovians. It’s our home. It says so on our passports. People took things from Makarovia because they could.” Yuri nodded. “Not anymore. You two helped Makarovia step out into the world telling everyone we’re here. I can’t wait to see what you do next.” This time he hugged us. Not just accepted one from us. “I will worry.” Then he shook that parental finger at us. “Listen to the men assigned to protect you. Enjoy yourselves, but be smart like I know you are. I’m leaving Mikell in charge. Remember him?” “Yes.” Peter said. “We’ll see you in ten days.” I said to them. We watched them disembark and stood by the SUV. The Duchess’ soft sounding engines increased and we began to move away from the port. Peter looked at me. “What do we do now?” I shrugged. “Whatever we want.” I turned looking at the surrounding deck. It had a number of cushioned lounges both in the shade and in the sun. The color theme was still white, cream and gold. There was a lap pool. “Yep, this is dangerous. I’m getting spoiled already.” Peter nodded. “Me, too.” It was only a little more than five hundred miles to Montenegro. We weren’t racing to Podgorica. The breeze from the water was relaxing as was the gentle rocking of the Duchess. Getting unwound for me was tough. That surprised me. I made myself relax. That feeling that you needed to be somewhere was hard to shake. I did research on Montenegro. Makarovia was actually bigger. It did have an advantage Makarovia didn’t. It had access to the Adriatic Sea. Therefore, the rest of the world. Captain Agius was right. We were everywhere. They had a population about the size of Malta. About half a million people. Most lived in Podgorica. Still they had a good number of people marching in the Pride Parade. Montenegro borders Bosnia to the Northwest and Serbia on the East. I’m sure you know those names. Unrest just seemed to be a curse in this part of the world. Agree or don’t, I blame the religions for that. Like Makarovia, there were powers that controlled Montenegro. The Ottomans and recently Yugoslavia. They decriminalized homosexual activity in 1977. While the didn’t prosecute gays, they allowed the to serve in the military. On the other hand, just like almost everywhere, there were samples of horrible intolerance. Police caught two becoming “intimate” in a park. It didn’t say what they were doing. The police decided to teach them a lesson by beating them, locking them up naked and in the dark in jail a night. Activists took it to court and the police that did it were accountable. There were other accounts hate and intolerance. My blood ran cold. Peter and I were on our honeymoon. I was a prince now. Visibility was the way to make changes. Peter and I had been very visible when we married. I represented no one in Montenegro. Or did I? Even if it was a short visit, Peter and I would be seen there. Together. With the political help from Great Britain and the United States in Makarovia, I was determined to make a difference while there. They wanted to be a part of the European Community? Start with tolerance. When I told Peter and Mikell who was the security guard in charge while we traveled. Peter’s eyes widened. “Wait,” Peter said holding his hand up. “They’re tolerant, but intolerant? How?” “Allowing gay, lesbians the right to be together, but not allowing them to marry, for one.” I said back. “We made a statement on Saturday. Love is love. We married and to Hell with the rest of those who don’t understand that.” Mikell was typical security. Big. He shook his head. “Be sure Yuri knows this was your idea.” I laughed at him. “I don’t worry about Yuri. You shouldn’t either.” I looked at him. “He isn’t wrong to be concerned. We are putting ourselves in danger.” I shrugged. “Who would be better than us? We’re already seeing the results. Everywhere we’ve been, they knew who we were before we told them.” Peter nodded. “We’re on our honeymoon, not to further the rights of gays and lesbians.” “Why can’t we do both?” I asked. “We are pretty high profile. Millions saw us marry. There is a man here, Zdravko Cimbaljevic.” I said carefully. “He is the first openly gay man in Montenegro. He was the man who organized the first pride march in Montenegro. I know he would love to show us his country.” I looked at Peter. “These people have done what Makarovia did. They hid.” Peter shook his head. “Why are we going there!?” “Just like Makarovia does,” I began. “They want to participate more in the world.” I reasoned. “They want the reward without accepting that we are all different. They need to grow up.” I gave a nodding shrug. “If you say no, I’ll understand, but we didn’t marry in private. We allowed the world to watch us. Why?” Peter nodded. “I understand why.” “We are pretty well known and we have the support of two very powerful nations.” I reasoned. “They wouldn’t dare let us get hurt.” Mikell looked at Peter and shrugged. “He’s right.” At Peter’s nod, I grinned. “I’ll call Mr. Cimbaljevic.” I used the number on the website and used the Duchess’ phone. After a hesitant answer. “Bongu?” Probably because of what showed on the caller ID screen. Assuming they had caller ID. I assumed that was what the hesitation was about. “Kakoy yazyk vy predpochitayete? Russkiy? Ukrayinsʹka ? Or do you prefer English?” I asked using Russia, Ukrainian and of course, English. “I prefer English if I have those choices.” The male voice said. “Fine.” I said. “This is Prince Eric Ivanov of Makarovia. Who do I speak to regarding our arrival there?” “Ma nemminx hekk.” I chuckled remembering when I called Drew that first time when he said I was shitting him. From the tone, I figured out it meant something similar. “It is what I say. I am on my honeymoon with my husband Prince Pedro Ivanov. We will be arriving in the morning. We’d like to see Montenegro.” “You are serious?” “I am.” I chuckled. “We could just forget that and just proceed to Corfu. I understand Montenegro wants to be a part of a more global world. Will we be welcomed? Is Zdravko Cimbaljevic available?” “Not at moment.” The voice answered. “He can call you?” “I’m on a ship.” I said. “We’ll probably arrive at night. We’re on the Grandduchessa. I would love it if someone there showed us around.” The man now sounded flustered. “They can.” He was writing something with a pencil. I heard it. “My phone says number. You want me give to Zdravko? He call back.” He said in broken English. “That will be fine.” I assured. “I look forward to hearing from you.” I hung up. Peter was thinking about what I’d told him. “Do you think this visit will help?” I shrugged a nod. “It can’t hurt.” I sighed. “We’re shining a spotlight on them. Things won’t change if no one sees who we are.” I turned to Peter. “They have both Christians and Muslims there. They want to play in the world’s sandbox, they will have to become more accepting about what the world is made of.” I saw him nod slightly. “If you don’t want to do this, I can call and cancel.” Peter turned a little pink. “I’m being selfish.” “With what?” I asked. Peter shrugged. “This is supposed to be about us. Our honeymoon.” I nodded and came to him. “It is.” I assured. “I looked up the other destinations. Corfu, Athens and Mykonos are very accepting. There will be nice. It will be just you and me.” Peter nodded. “Why did Captain Agius recommend this place?” I shrugged. “Let’s ask him.” Captain Agius was in his office attached to the bridge. He smiled at us as we came in. “What can I do for you?” He asked pleasantly. “By telling us why you recommended Montenegro.” I said. The Captain nodded, but avoided looking in our eyes and sighed. “My brother is like you are.” He confessed. “My son tells me he’s attracted to both girls and boys.” Then he looked at Peter and me. “My brother got involved with a man and they took a trip and one stop was in Montenegro.” He looked angry now. “They were arrested and held for almost a week. Indecency was the charge.” He held his hands out helplessly. “They kissed! That’s all.” I nodded. “I see.” “Who better to go there and show you’re just people? You don’t have to go.” Captain Agius said. “You two were married live on television! You can kiss in Podgorica! That’s no more indecent than straight couples who kiss in public.” His eyebrows came together. “My brother and his partner were beaten by police and other inmates.” He now spoke more determined. “He was raped and the police knew it and did nothing to stop it. They committed no crime even using Montenegro law.” Peter and I looked at each other. “I guess we have to.” Peter nodded. It was another two hours when a steward came to us. “Forgive me, your highness, but you have a phone call.” He presented me with a mobile handset. “Hello?” An accented voice began. “This is Zdravko Cimbaljevic. You called a while ago?” “I did. I’m glad you called back.” I said pleasantly. “I am Prince Eric Ivanov. I was married Saturday.” “I saw the wedding on television.” Zdravko said. “Good.” I responded. “Then you probably know Prince Pedro and I are on our honeymoon.” “That makes sense.” Zdravko said back. “I was told you were coming here. Why do you want to come here?” I answered honestly. “It’s on the way.” I said simply. “I read somethings about Montenegro. It decriminalized what we do in 1977, but many still suffer persecution still.” “We do.” “I think a visit by us could help.” I said. “Will we be welcomed?” “Yes!” Zdravko said immediately and then he said softer. “By some of us, at least. It’s getting better, but…” “You organized the first Pride Parade in Podgorica.” I said. “You are out in Montenegro. That’s brave.” “It is necessary.” Zdravko said simply. “Someone had to be the first.” “We will shine a light on Montenegro and it’s struggle to accept all people. Or the lack of acceptance.” “I look forward to meeting you.” Zdravko said excitedly. “How early?” I chuckled. “After nine, please.” “I will be there!” Hanging up I smiled at Peter. “They want to show they are a progressive nation.” Peter nodded. “Don’t they have a right to believe what they think is right?” I gave a grudging nod. “They do, but to force those beliefs on others? Is that fair?” “No.” Peter agreed as he brought me close. “My love for you is a fact. Not a belief.” I nodded. “As mine is for you.”

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