“Viktoria!” Ezio came hurrying towards me from the hallway into our bedroom, where I was making the bed.
“Have you seen Addy’s room of late?”
“I see it daily. Remember, I am also the maid …”
“Where are her toys, her furniture .. EVERYTHING?”
“She is a teen now. She outgrew the child stuff. The gaming table is in Marco’s room, along with her drawing table. The rest we …. donated.”
“Yes, donated. As in doing good for the more unfortunate.”
“Her beautiful things. Where is Mr. Teddybuggles?”
“Mom, did you see my mandala book?’ Addy stuck her head into our bedroom.
“Addy come here for a second. And what in the world is a manolo book?”
“Mandala, dad. They are expressions. In paper form. You let your soul speak via pen on paper…”
“Why do you not use your old drawing table then?’
“Ezio, because she is too tall now and her chin rests on her knees if she sit on that.”
“Yeah, what mom says.”
“And where is your stuff?”
“Oh, THAT’s what this is about. I was waiting for it. We donated it.”
“Even Mr. Teddybuggles?!”
“Yes, dad, even that old teddy bear.”
“But … but …. you had that since you were born …”
“You could have kept that!”
“Dad, it’s all just material stuff. None of this matters. What matters is in here.” she dramatically placed her hands on her chest, kissed her father on the cheek and vanished.
Ezio looked at me.
“Is it too late to pass on this parenting thing?”
“Yup. Just a tad too late. But it gets better, in two more years you’ll have yet ANOTHER teen on your hands. This time the hormone raging kind, where you tell the birds and bees story from the other side …
“Birds…” Ezio stuttered.
My husband was an excellent husband, well, for the most part, and a wonderful father, but if just the mere idea of his baby girl and boys or babies came into play, he got pale and looked like he was about to die on the spot. He was a very modern man generally, but every so often the very old-fashioned raising became obvious. I met his parents.
We had been dating … nix that. We had been seeing each other for nearly a year when I met them, and mind you, not intentionally. We went to a restaurant with a bar, when they showed up to have a drink after a theater play. Ezio would probably have downplayed me as just a colleague had they not been eager to introduce themselves in the middle of a very … VERY … intense kiss. Even once he proposed to me and officially took me home to his parents for a proper introduction with the ENTIRE family there, it was not hard to see that I was not the idea of potential daughter-in-law they had. Even his older brother, who at the time was their father’s right hand in the business, while Ezio was management and with that my direct boss, flat out told me to just go find another man to mess around with, not the man I worked for. The only two people I clicked with right away were Jennifer, who was Ezio’s older brother’s wife. She was Scottish and just as strictly Catholic as the older Auditore’s, which … I was just not. Even worse, I was divorced. I had dated several men. To them, I was just slightly better than some street hooker. The other one I got along with right away was Claudia, the youngest child of Ezio’s parents and only girl. She was still a teenager when we met, and strangely, got away with a lot more than her three older brothers did. Petruccio, the third youngest brother was very nice and handsome … and also already married. At first I liked him A LOT. But then I ran into him several times and each time he tried to get me to sleep with him. I was appalled and had I not feared Ezio would seriously clean his clock if I told him, I would have told on him. But it made more sense when I met his wife. Stunningly gorgeous, but cold as ice and always distant. But they were expecting, which is all the old Auditores cared about. Until I got pregnant. We were not yet engaged. We were boss and employee. Yes, I know. But I was young and still hurt by my former husband’s infidelity. Plus the extra attention of my handsome, rich boss, whom all the female employees with a pulse drooled over, really stroked my ego. And Ezio at the time would just not make us official. I recalled his expression when I told him about the pregnancy. Or lack of any expression at all, I should say. There was no movement, no reaction, nothing. He just sat there like a puppet. Maybe it was my raging hormones, maybe it was my fear of the unknown that made me extra-sensitive, but I straight out asked him to say something. When his first and only comment was “Whose is it?” I lost my shit. I yelled and insulted and yelled more, yelled out all my frustration. And eventually my rant got to his family and what I thought of them. That is when he started yelling back. We yelled and yelled, I cried and he eventually left after telling me to “do whatever I want!”.
So I did. I reacted more to the hurt than thinking clearly. I made that appointment and had an abortion within days of that fight. I called in sick the day of the appointment, then took a week of vacation and disappeared. I went into the mountains, a small cabin and told nobody where I went. The scenery was beautiful, but I hardly saw it, spent most of the days crying until I had run out of tears.
When I got back home that Friday, knowing Monday I would have to work again, I felt unable to do it. So I called Penny, my neighbor and known party girl, so we would go out and dance and drink the night away. I was totally drunk and had some nameless guy kissing my neck when he was pulled up and off of me. Ezio. A short argument ensued and the guy stumbled off, while Ezio faced me. He said something I could not hear because of the music, so he pulled me out of the club behind him.
“You are drunk!” his tone was harsh and accusatory.
“So?” I mouthed off to him.
“It’s not good for the baby.”
Ouch. That pain again.
“Why do you care?”
“It is MY baby too.”
Oh shoot … that part I had missed. Maybe I should have told him before … oh man.
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Of course I worry about it. It is blood of my blood. And I would prefer his or her mother not engage with other men at least until the birth.”
“Leave me alone!” I turned to walk off, but I was very intoxicated and merely managed to stumble. Ezio caught me into his arms. So strong, he smelled soooo good …. I missed this.
“I will take you home.”
Neither of us spoke during the drive home. Until the end.
“I have to tell you something…”
“The baby…. ummm… there is no baby … not anymore.”
As in the movies he hit the brakes and stared at me. Other cars behind us started honking, dodging, yelling. Ezio ignored this in its entirety, his full focus on me.
“What happened?! Are you ok?! Why did you not call me? Did you lose the baby? Did you have an accident? I was wondering where you were all last week. I asked everybody, but did not even think of calling the hospitals… oh god …”
“Ezio! Stop!” my heart was racing and I was instantly sober. I loved how he was worried and cared … maybe he did love me. Maybe we could … maybe he would ….
“I had it taken care of.”
“Tell me this does not mean what I think it does!”
“I am afraid so … you must understand I was so alone … afraid … that small apartment … you gone … I just..”
“GET OUT OF MY CAR!”
I exited and with tires spinning he rushed off. That would be the last time I saw him for a very long time.
I eventually got my life back together. I considered looking for a new job, but within one week Ezio had himself reassigned to another division and we hardly every crossed paths.
Slowly I told my friends what had happened. And even slower I began to live again. I even at some point became interested in men again. There was a new next-door-neighbor, some athlete or body builder, sort of emotionally unavailable which suited me well. We would meet and watch movies, we would go out dancing, and we would spent nights together. No strings attached, no jealousy, not meddling family.
One day I was at a club with Blaine and Olivia, when I went to the bar to order us another round. The bartender was no other than Petruccio, Ezio’s younger brother. I had cut and lightened my hair, and was wearing a lot of makeup that night, and hoped he would not recognize me like this. But he did. As he handed me the last of the three drinks in my order he leaned forward and simply said “You know he misses you. He is not the same as before you.”
I stood stiff for a second, a sharp pain in my heart, when I inhaled, grabbed the drinks and turned to rush off – straight into a human wall.
“So sorry, this was completely my fault, I … OH!” Ezio!
“Seems like every time we meet, one or both of us are apologizing…” he smiled faintly.
“Right. Ummm…” I literally knew nothing to say. Just stared.
“Well, I better let you get back to your company. I should return to mine. See you around.” he pointed to a woman at the bar, now waving at him. She could be a runway model. Ugh.
After that night, Ezio and I just seem to meet everywhere. I blamed a sick sense of humor by fate, until he appeared at my apartment for a party. I KNOW I had not invited him and was pretty darn certain he was not a ‘plus one’ to any of my friends. Instead of trying to yell over everybody and the music to attempt to get rid of him, I just avoided him. My apartment was minuscule, so eventually I just snuck into the bedroom and leaned against the door. Somebody trying to get in.
“BUSY!” I yelled, realizing that is more appropriate for a toilet stall. Oh well, my home, my rules.
“Vik, it’s me, open up.”
I opened. Why, I do not know.
Ezio entered, closing the door behind him, locking it.
“We need to talk. Really talk. I am ready now, and I think you have been ready for a while…”
And we talked. We talked and talked until the next morning.
After that things changed. They changed quickly. So quickly it will make your head spin.
When he left after lunch, he was my boyfriend. Not a full week later he had proposed to me. And just three weeks after that he married me in my mom’s living room (one of her neighbors was an ordained minister). I moved into his small house. A month later I kept getting sick … I was pregnant, despite 2 forms of birth control. Neither one of us was sure we were really ready, but we were going to do this …
The rest of our story is, as they say, history.
Shortly after a beautiful baby girl whom we named Adrianna, I got pregnant again, once more despite all efforts to avoid it. This time with a little boy. Marco.
And yet, our story was only just beginning …