David Caraccio lives in Fair Oaks, California, with his wife, a son and a daughter. He graduated from San Diego State University and is a 25-year journalist working at The Sacramento Bee.
Sacramento, Calif. | June 25, 2017 | Sac Town Sports Bar
In lives filled with passion and temptation, five young people experience the many forms of love. Achieving their wildest dreams takes everything they have, and soon their romances, friendships, and dearest personal values are tested. Along the way, their lives intertwine in surprising ways—on the lush soccer fields of college campuses in California and the glamorous fashion runways and football pitches of Italy and France.
The brilliant and beautiful Sallie is embarking on an exciting international modeling career, but, so far from home, she runs the risk of getting lost in more ways than one. Her college sweetheart, Marco, is focused on his goal of becoming a professional soccer player and relies on the expert advice of his mentor, Lorenzo. But Lorenzo must figure out his own way to stay on top.
Meanwhile, their athletic friend Dave has already hit rock bottom, attracting the empathy of nursing student Autumn. She’ll do anything she can to help Dave, despite the risk of getting dragged down with him.
Boundaries exist in the game of soccer, but in life they are all too easily crossed. Before long these five friends will learn exactly how far relationships can bend before they break.
As five young people pursue their passions for soccer, modeling, and nursing in the United States and abroad, romance blossoms and their lives intertwine in dramatic—and potentially dangerous—ways.
David Caraccio's first novel, a historical fiction account of the true life events in the life of lover-bandit Tiburcio Vasquez. The novel was named one of Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2016.
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The Tuscan hills changed shades of olive green as clouds drifted overhead, and the late afternoon sun set the city's red-tiled crown ablaze. The first hint of a cool evening breeze blew across Giovanni Cordinni's rooftop garden. He breathed in warm, sweet scents of tomato, rosemary, basil and oregano from the bounteous plants that grew in terra cotta pots along the walls. This terrace, this view, this sun, these aromas were his little piece of paradiso sulla terra. He closed his eyes and smiled. He was content.
His childhood friend, Aldo Fiero, and another amico, Antonio Bertone, sat with him at a wooden table in the garden, drinking prosecco and talking soccer, as they often did for hours, breaking down every tiro, calcio di rigore, calcio di punzione and cartellino rosso that they had seen or heard about since the last time they spoke. Giovanni listened as he soaked up the sun and the flavor of Florence all around him.
Then, he couldn't believe what he heard.
"I Sudamericani possederanno i prossimi venti anni di calcio internazionale," Aldo declared.
"You are crazy," Giovanni said. "The prosecco has gone to your head. Italy is seeing its finest soccer since 1982. I guarantee we win the World Cup in Korea!"
He tossed back a half flute of the bubbly wine.
"Oh, what blind faith," Aldo said. "You must know a player somewhere in this country, maybe even this city, who will redeem our aging Azzurri."
"Yes. In fact, he is right under my roof. My youngest son, Lorenzo, will return the pride to Florence and the entire country."
The big, attacking fullback would take the corner kick. He always took them. From where he stood, though, the corner flag looked as far away as his own bed back in the United States. His legs - strong enough to squat five-hundred pounds, fifteen times, three repetitions - were at the moment as heavy as the humid Venezuelan skies above. Gravity pushed down on his limbs, but he had to get himself down the field to take the kick because time was running out. He started into a sprint at half field and cut it to a jog about a dozen yards from the corner of the field.
How fucking close are those fans? Close enough that he could hear every Spanish jeer they shouted. Close enough to feel tens of thousands of feet pounding on the stadium floor. Close enough to be the intended target of flying plastic water bottles, fruit, flares and deadlier flying objects like batteries and glass bottles being hurled down upon the field. The debris was hitting the turf around the corner flag. He heard horns and whistles and barks and growls as he approached the end of the field. The anathemas and threats and banging of feet and hands intermixed into one deafening roar. He saw three FIFA officials waiting for him with hefty umbrellas opened. He smiled and ducked under the semi-safe canopy. Beautiful game, my ass, he thought. Dangerous game is more like it.
He stepped back three and a half strides, and the officials with the umbrellas backed up with him. He paused to watch his teammates in front of the goal as they formed their runs. He breathed deeply. He heard bottles, rocks and batteries hit the makeshift cloth shelter as he and his protectors huddled underneath.
How did this rivalry get so crazy? He knew. The Venezuelans were seething at the United States for forcing them to play in Denver in a snowstorm last winter rather than delay the match. Several inches of snow piled up as the match proceeded, causing frequent slips and even stopping play so crews could clear the fields. Venezuela lost the three points available. In retaliation, the country refused to provide the U.S. team with a training facility or any other accommodations for this second leg of the competition. Of course, the Venezuela fans found out where the Americans were staying the day before the match, and they tried to keep the players up all night by honking horns, firing guns and playing crazy-loud music right outside the hotel.
This was his favorite route. He ducked down a narrow alley and emerged onto a quieter street, dropping the ball to his feet again and jogging and kicking it against the stone walls in quick sets of give-and-goes. He dribbled past several trattorias, gelaterias and ristorantes until he found himself on the busy Via dei Neri. He crossed the Arno River, south of Ponte Vecchio at Ponte alle Grazie, and sprinted around Piazalle Michelangelo to the bottom of the spectacular stairs that led to the holy and peaceful church of Santa Miniato, where his family would go every Sunday until soccer consumed their entire weekends. He capped the run with a leg-burning sprint up the stairway. And finally came the payoff: In front of Santa Miniato, he took in the sensational cliffside view of the Duomo and all of Florence below.
They bolted into Milan, tearing out of the mountains and down the autostrada in Gino's black Porsche Cayman GTS. Approaching Milan, the pair flew past one of the city's outlying industrial areas and Gino brought up the convertible rooftop. The city was smoggy, subdued in a dirty yellow hue which was especially perceptible after a week of breathing air fresh off the Alps. But these Italian stars were aiming for the shiny glitz of the fashion world inside.
The bright flash of what she was getting into could not have gone off with a more fitting background. From sitting next to international celebrities at the fashion show to drinks at the gilded landmark Antico Caffe Greco with its waiters in tuxedoes, Sallie now felt that she had stepped over the chasm between ordinary existence and the joie de vivre.
"I forgot you're going to have to leave, and I will be alone."
"No. You will be with trusted people, friends of mine."
The spicy red Ferrari Testarossa roared through the black iron gates and up the driveway, around the centerpiece fountain and stopped in front of the valet station. The huge stone house on the hilltop overlooked the Tiber River. From the outside it appeared silent, like a gigantic, beautiful, granite custom tombstone rising out of the ground. But it was vibrant inside, with yellow light filling the window cavities like a jack-o’-lantern. Dark silhou- ettes occasionally drifted by one of the backlit windows.
The couple walked up the cobblestone steps to a carved, oak wood door and were greeted by a liveried, white-gloved doorman, who gave their dress coats to another man while greeting them by name. Conversation and live orchestra music filled the radiant, lavish house. Dozens of glamorously dressed people stood around on the marble floors under modern paintings hanging on high, broad walls in spacious rooms adorned with classical furniture. This party was not small but it was exclusive.