IT HAD all started with a look: blue eyes from an English father; ebony hair from an Italian mother. Once he had not cared that his eyelashes cast long shadows upon his cheeks, that he had the Cupid’s bow of a cherub or that his cheekbones chiseled out at a geometric angle, but when he did, he became what the English termed a wanker or a prick. Perhaps they confused the expression for a heartbreaker.
The camera loved him at least.
He could recline on silk sheets for cologne or seethe in a sportscar. His life became the silk sheet he had once reclined upon: smooth, compliant and without substance. In pursuit of something, he enterprised. His upbringing on Lake Como receded as he found himself sipping sangria on a Monte Carlo balcony, basking on his cruiser in Cannes or cheering Chelsea within a glass suite above the terraces.
His choice expanded with his acquisitions: hotels, leisure centres, nightclubs, a recording studio. Those he found company with complied to fulfill their talents, wit, resource and diplomacy.
He convinced himself he’d fallen in love and got bored. He got high and watched endless sunrises. American girls were fun, the English rose, a tease; Europeans were flamboyant but he knew how to let them all down easy.
He reinvented himself. No longer just a playboy but a mind turned industrious. He managed and delegated. The routine grounded him and his prosperity burgeoned. He hosted charity events to satisfy his guilt but concealed his disdain for the unfortunate. Soulless, someone had gibed about his lifestyle, but that was fine by him. Those that gibed would never be seen next to royalty, pop stars or politicians. The alternative was unthinkable. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Until the day he had glimpsed her face in the half-light, unrepentant and not of his world. As the black void engulfed him, his worldly achievements counted for nothing.
He thought he’d never wake again.