Jarrod’s heart was shattered as he sat in his empty home; he felt he’d never love again.
His ten-year relationship with his high school sweetheart Rodney ended, and at 28 years old, he experienced loneliness for the first time.
It had been weeks since he’d been out of the house or engaged in any social activities. His friends had given up calling and inviting him to the bars or their parties anymore. It was evident that Jarrod was in no mood to be social or date anytime soon.
As Jarrod sat on his couch on the tenth consecutive Saturday night watching Netflix, his mind again wondered what went wrong in his relationship?
He was happy staying home, watching movies, and cuddling with his boyfriend. Maybe that wasn’t enough for Rodney anymore? Perhaps Jarrod was no fun?
He and Rodney met in homeroom while juniors in high school. Rodney was a new student from a neighboring city. He was tall, lean, and too exotic looking for the conservative little town Jarrod lived in. Unlike the rest of the students in school, Rodney was bold, funny, and unconventional. It was no surprise that when he asked Jarrod out on a date, Jarrod quickly agreed. Unlike Jarrod, Rodney was the life of the party. Wherever he went, fun followed. People naturally seemed attracted to Rodney. Jarrod, not so much. Jarrod was traditionally attractive in a simple, innocent way. He was clean-cut and handsome. He could easily be described as the boy next door, unlike Rodney, who was dark, striking, and unpredictable.
The two boys turned into men together and, in their mid-twenties, started planning the rest of their life together. Jarrod wanted a big traditional wedding, whereas Rodney was more interested in eloping in some faraway land. Although traveling excited Jarrod, it also scared him a bit. His life was in the small town of Cooperville, and he had never traveled more than 30 miles from the city limits. How could he possibly ditch his family and friends to be wed on some distant shore? As romantic and appealing as they were, Rodney’s ideas always seemed implausible and daunting.
As Jarrod sat staring at his second slice of frozen pizza, he wondered if his inflexibility and overly cautious nature was the thing that drove Rodney away from him? Jarrod always thought that they had the ideal relationship and were happy together. But weeks ago, when Rodney suddenly disappeared, he left a simple note, “I need something new, exciting, different in my life – saying goodbye in person will just be too painful. I’m sorry to do this to you, but I have to go. You’ll always be in my heart; I love you, but goodbye.”
It was days later that Jarrod’s mother called. He would send most people’s calls directly to voicemail, but he knew he needed to take his mom’s calls. Maybe it was an emergency?
Mom was direct and to the point on why she was calling, “Jarrod dear, I hope you’re still not sulking around the house. Best to forget that man, but I’m not calling to give you the same sermon I gave you days ago. This time I’m ringing you about your Aunt Stella. She’s sick and needs someone to help her around the house. No one else can do it since you work from home and are a strong young man – I will need you to help with your Aunt. She specifically asked for you.”
Jarrod’s first reaction was confusion, “Aunt Stella is here? When did she come to the states?” His mother took no time in explaining. “No, she’s home, in her apartment in Rome.” Now Jarrod was really confused. “If she’s in Rome, how am I supposed to help her?”
Mom quickly explained, so it was crystal clear to him, “Jarrod dear, you’ll need to go to Italy.”
Mom continued; I know Rodney made you get your passport a few years back in hopes of taking you to Europe. I’ll cover the price of the plane ticket. This is something that will be good for you.
Jarrod knew he couldn’t say no to his mom. His family needed him, and the truth was, he had no good excuse to stay in his apartment moping around.
“Fine, I’ll do it,” he answered his mother. Mom was pleased with his response and added. “You need to experience things outside this small town; who knows, maybe you’ll meet a man in Italy? Trust me, Italian men are gorgeous… just look at your father. When he was your age, he was breathtaking.
“Awe, mom. Really?” Jarrod groaned back to her, although he couldn’t deny what she was saying was true. His parents had their wedding pictures on the fireplace mantel, and it was more than evident that his father was an incredibly handsome man when he was his age.
Jarrod rallied and got his life as together as he could. He knew he just needed to make the best of it.
Italy… At least I know I’ll eat well!
The flight seemed impossibly long, but the selection of movies on the plane was impressive. There are worst ways of spending eight hours than watching films and listening to his favorite music.
Arriving in Italy was thankfully uneventful. An older Italian chauffeur greeted him at his gate, holding a sign with his name on it, and a twenty-minute drive through the green, plush countryside whisked him to Rome’s ancient, stone city.
The historic city intrigued him, and the bustling European energy was infectious. The automobile soon arrived at his aunt’s building, and the driver hurried to retrieve his luggage.
Compact cars, Vespas, and other assorted vehicles were scattered as far as the eye could see. Cars seemingly parked everywhere without concern for curbs, sidewalks, or traffic flow. What a sight, Jarrod thought. A parking attendant would have a field day in this city. No one seems to care where they leave their vehicle!
Jarrod made his way up the marble staircase that led up to his aunt’s apartment. The building was old but pristine. Somehow time didn’t seem to notice this building; it seemed at least a hundred years old but looked like it was built yesterday.
“BELLO JARROD! Ciao, ciao. Come, my handsome nephew! Welcome,” his aunt proclaimed in her heavy Italian accent.
A big smile appeared on Jarrod’s face as his aunt enthusiastically pressed him into her chest. He had forgotten how aggressive and loving her hugs were. She kissed his cheek in rapid succession, seemingly without end. “Manga, Manga. Eat; you must be starving!” A feast was soon laid out on the table, and exquisite and delicious foods filled the kitchen.
He chuckled; I can tell that I’m going home 20 pounds heavier than I am now.
As Jarrod sat delighting in a fresh Caprese salad when something caught his eye out the window across from the yard. The squeak of an old clothesline revealed a young man leaning out the window and hanging his laundry. The fellow was roughly Jarrod’s age and was strikingly dark, lean, and handsome. The stud was wearing only his boxers.
Wow. It’s true what they say about Italian boys. They’re even more delicious than the food here!
Jarrod tried not to be obvious, but he couldn’t help himself. The sight before him was too good not to enjoy. “si, e un Uomo molto Bello” Jarrod knew that his Aunt saw him staring out the window, and he couldn’t help but agree with her. “Yes, he’s a very handsome boy indeed” The two shared a laugh.
Jarrod finished his meal, helped his aunt with her tasks for the day, and settled into his new bedroom. The night was upon them, and Jarrod was exhausted from the trip.
The warm Italian evening was delightful, but he wasn’t sure about the heavy wooden shutters that swung closed to keep the light out.
Hasn’t anyone here heard of window screens? How do you deal with the bugs?
He hoped nothing creepy crawly would enter the room as he slept.
From across the courtyard, the light from an adjacent window revealed the man who Jarrod admired earlier in the day. The large open window showed a spacious bedroom with a large bed at its center. The view directly into the room was hard to miss from Jarrod’s room.
Who needs Netflix? This stud in his underwear is all the entertainment I need tonight. Jarrod chuckled to himself as he discretely watched the young Italian man lying on his bed texting on his phone.
I can’t seem to keep my eyes open from the jet lag. Maybe I should just dream of this sexy Italian man now and hope he decides to do his laundry again tomorrow.
Jarrod slept the morning away. He woke to see the clock indicate it was noon. He could hear his aunt gleefully chatting on the phone from across the hall. Although it was impossible to tell what she was talking about, whatever it was, she seemed happy.
Jarrod quickly opened the heavy wooden shutters to let the sun in and see what sight may be awaiting him at the window. At first, he was bummed to see the hunk’s room adjacent to him was empty, but soon that changed when he looked down at the garden between the two buildings to see his hot Italian dude working the garden.
Does this guy even own a shirt? Jarrod laughed. Not that he was complaining. The young man before him was fit and toned with a golden tuft of chest hair that could only be described as “yummy.”
Jarrod could hear his aunt hang up the phone. Best to end the show in the garden and say good morning and see if she needs anything. After all, he was there to help her.
The day quickly passed as Jarrod and his aunt walked to the local market. The town’s sights smells, and hustle was too spectacular to describe. On the way to the fishmonger, they casually strolled past the coliseum. Yup, the coliseum! Jarrod couldn’t believe his eyes at the marvel of it all, whereas his Aunt didn’t even seem to notice the ancient and historic sight.
As remarkable as the coliseum and the other miscellaneous sights that day was. None was as spectacular as the view out Jarrod’s bedroom later that night.
The warm wind blew through the open window. Jarrod could see as clear as day the young man across the way entering his bedroom. Within minutes, he peeled off his shirt and pants. Jarrod ducked behind the wooden shutter to not be seen.
Am I a weird peeping tom? He wondered. Yes. I guess I am. But I don’t care. This show’s too good to miss!
The young Italian didn’t care who looked into the window from the adjacent building. He confidently slipped out of his boxer briefs and headed into the next room, seemingly to shower. His spectacular ass was a sight to behold as he walked into the bathroom.
Now I know what inspired Michelangelo to carve the statue of David out of stone. The men here have bodies to die for!
Ten minutes later, he emerged wearing only a towel and slipped into his bed, leaving his towel hanging on the bedpost. He quietly texted or played a game on his phone while Jarrod decided;
Alright, I’ve had my fun; time to mind my own business.
Several days had passed, and the young man across the way seemed consistent with his shirtless gardening, showering, and dressing in front of the open window. Jarrod himself found himself not minding that the windows had no screens or coverings other than the heavy wooden shutters that were closed at night. Before long, he found himself changing in his room, undressing for bed, or coming out of the shower in a towel without caring who may be looking in from the adjacent building.
Jarrod quickly adjusted to his new location and found spending time with his aunt quite pleasurable. He was happy to do some housework to help her, run errands, and in the afternoon, go sightseeing in one of the most remarkable cities in the world.
Jarrod was grateful for his experience in Italy and his time with his aunt. Still, he couldn’t shake the sadness he felt from his ex-boyfriend, Rodney. Try as he did, his heart still ached from being dumped and realizing he was now single and without a man to love.
A week later, his aunt asked Jarrod to run to the market for her. She wasn’t in the mood to make her pasta from scratch that day and knew of a spot where they made it fresh and almost as good as she made it. Almost.
“Amore Mio, per favore, please pick up some rigatoni for tonight, and on the way home, you can sightsee at the Trevi fountain. Here are some coins for you to throw in and make a wish for yourself.”
Jarrod was excited to see the fountain of Trevi. He had heard about it his entire life and was eager to see it. Not only was the fountain famous, but it was the place where his mother and father first met and began dating.
“of course, Zia Stella. I’ll be happy to go for you. I’ll leave right away.
Using google maps, Jarrod quickly found both the market and the fountain. It was mid-day when he turned the small corner street and, much to his surprise, found the fountain. The fountain was evident on the map, but he hadn’t expected it to be down a small street, seemingly in a small, remote spot. He expected the famous fountain to be in the middle of some grand piazza rather than an unassuming side street.
The fountain was as impressive as promised. Carved horses and figures adorned the spouting water, cascading down the pristine carved rock formations. Jarrod looked around to see if anyone was looking at him being a goofy tourist. He tried not to be too conspicuous, but the sight took his breath away, and he decided to do just as his aunt requested of him. Make a wish. At first, he thought of wishing her good health and recovery, but then he remembered her instructions. “Wish for something for yourself.” Although it seemed a bit selfish having a sick aunt and thinking only of himself, he decided to do exactly as instructed, make a wish for something he wanted.
Jarrod took several coins out of his pocket, closed his eyes, and thought, “I wish I could get my ex-boyfriend out of my mind. If only I could meet someone special, I could love and would love me back. I wish I could find a special, wonderful, caring man.”
Jarrod tossed the coins into the fountain, and they made a delicate splash into the water. He opened his eyes, feeling a bit silly about partaking in this old tourist ritual, but then again, it worked for his parents, and who knows? Maybe it could work for him?
“mi scusi. Sei l’americano che va a trovare tua zia? Excuse me. I’ll say In English… Are you the American visiting his aunt in the building across from me?”
Jarrod stood frozen. Right in front of him stood the sexy young man from across the courtyard. He was dressed neat and casual with a button-down dress shirt and Italian capri pants. His attire was very unlike the boy who works in the garden or hangs his clothes out on wash day. He looked dashing and well-groomed as if he were going on a date.
“Yes. I am American. And I recognize you too. My name is Jarrod, and yes, I’m visiting my aunt.”
“My name’s Lorenzo. I must admit. I’m quite familiar with you. I’ve noticed you in your room at night. When you weren’t looking, I admired you.”
Jarrod laughed. “Well, thank you for being honest. I’ll tell you the truth as well. I’ve noticed you in your room as well.”
Lorenzo blushed. I was sent here on an errand from my aunt. She sent me for Pasta at the store next to the fountain.
Jarrod was surprised at the coincidence. “Me too! My Aunt sent me to the same store. Her name is Stella. She’s quite a lovely lady, although I’m afraid she has some kind of sickness.”
Lorenzo tried to hide a chuckle; he knew something Jarrod didn’t know.
“What’s so funny about my aunt being ill?” Jarrod wondered. Lorenzo was sorry as he explained. “Scuzi. No. I no laugh at your aunt. I know Stella very well. She’s a second mother to me. My Zia and your Zia are best friends. I hear them talk on the phone all day. I no think she’s sick. I think she tell you that so that she could get to you come to Italy. I hear Stella say to my aunt you have a broken heart. My Aunt suggests you come to Rome for vacation. I think that they both send us to Trevi fountain at the same time to meet.”
Jarrod was shocked. Was it true? Was this all a ruse to get him to leave his home, visit an exotic land and find love with a sexy Italian boy?
Lorenzo could see Jarrod was confused. He continued to quiz Jarrod, “Scuzi. Ono question. How many coins did you toss in the fountain? What was your wish, If I could ask?”
Jarrod decided to give Lorenzo a simpler version of his request. “I wanted to forget my old boyfriend.”
He continued, “and how many coins did you throw in?” Lorenzo seemed desperate to know all the details.
Jarrod answered. “I tossed in the two coins my aunt gave me. Why?”
Lorenzo chuckled. “Two coins in the fountain of Trevi means you find love. Especially if that’s what you wish for.”
Jarrod looked deeply into this sexy Italian man’s eyes and thought, I could do worse than fall for this hunky European stud.
Lorenzo motioned towards his Vespa cycle. “Maybe we see if we can make your wish come true? Stella and my Zia did go through a lot of trouble to make sure we met. We should at least get to know each other better. I would love to show you my favorite café.”
Jarrod climbed onto the back of Lorenzo’s Vespa and hugged him tightly as he raced through the streets of Rome. He could feel Lorenzo’s six-pack abs through his shirt as he pressed his hips tightly up against Lorenzo’s backside.
The two young men drank coffee, strolled through the streets of Rome, and visited every sight imaginable. The day seemed never to end as they returned home in the early hours of the following day.
Jarrod couldn’t help but think that Rome is truly a magical place, and the men are as sexy as they are sweet and romantic.
He soon learned that his aunt was healthy, spry, and fit. She and her friend’s plan to get him out of his rut worked perfectly since he received just what he wished for; a man he could love, who would love him back.
Just like his parents, he met his partner in Italy. It seems what they say about throwing two coins and making a wish at the fountain of Trevi is true: You’ll most certainly fall in love.