I was over at Vitto’s home, we were watching a movie while enjoying some wine, curled up on the couch together.
Usually when we did this, I would stay overnight, we’d have coffee together in the morning, and when Ezio’s driver would stop by to pick Vitto up, since it was on the way, I would leave for my parents’ home, a nice 20 minute walk in the fresh crisp air.
Out of my peripheral vision I noticed Vitto’s eyes were not on the TV, in the middle of the crescendo of the movie, but on my lap. I looked at him, when he noticed it he attempted a smile and looked back at the TV. The next time I caught him staring, I realized it was my hands he was focused on and since I was not known to be shy, I called him out.
“Don’t like my nail polish?” I asked.
“What?” he blushed a little bit.
“You keep staring at it.” I told him.
“At what?” he tried but my annoyed facial expression made him choose to let the cat out of the bag “It’s the ring.”
“What about it?” I inquired, looking at it myself now.
“Why are you wearing it?”
“Because I like it. It’s pretty, and the stone is green, like my eyes.”
“Looks NOTHING like your eyes. And it’s your wedding ring. HE gave it to you. You are divorced. People do not wear their wedding bands after they got a divorce.” Vitto said, sounding like a pouty toddler.
“It does not even look like a wedding ring.” I argued.
“Still. I don’t like it.” he pulled a face.
I rolled my eyes, then closed them and counted to three.
Normally my temper would already have me going 100 mph flattening any further bickering, but this was Vitto, gentle Vitto and if I did that to him, he would be like a mortally wounded deer. It did upset me, but I decided to make peace with it and pulled it off my finger, slipping it into the pocket of my pants.
In response I saw a smile appear on his face, when he took my hand into his and kissed it.
Aww. Fine. He got his wish and I had my peace. We finished the movie and headed for bed. Despite us being vampires and there being two perfectly good coffins in the house, brand-new, Vitto still hated being a vampire and prefered a bed, I never cared either way and joined him. Snuggled up, I was drifting off to slumber when I heard
“Vivian, are you still awake?”
“I was thinking … why don’t we make it official and you move in here.”
My eyes flew wide open and I sat up.
“Why not? You are here most of the time anyway …”
“We talked about that. I do not want to move in with you, at least not yet. We agreed to take things slow. I need to be alone, enjoy my freedom, after that long marriage.”
“You do not live alone now. You live with your parents.”
“VITTORIO AUDITORE! Quit splitting hair. My parents are just beside the point. They are not controlling my life.”
“Ha! Have you met them?”
“Oh, shut up! What is with you today?”
“What do you mean?”
“I did not know I was ‘testy’.”
“First the ring, now the moving in again…. why?”
“I know you went to see him.”
“Oh dear lawd! How would you know about that and why would you care?”
“Why are you spending time with your ex-husband?!” Vitto looked every bit as jealous as he sounded. I counted down from ten in my mind. Again, patience was NOT my forte.
“Because, if you must know, he asked for my help with something.”
“Oh, what would he need his EX-WIFE’s help with?”
“You have got to be joking! Why would he need your help with that? Unless he wants to date YOU!?”
“Because Silas is about as great at talking to other people as YOU are!”
“I don’t think you should be spending time with him.”
“Oh, now you get to decide whom I spend my time with?!”
“I thought we are together. You should not hang out with other men. Especially not men like Blackbourne.”
“You do realize I make my own decisions, right?”
“But that one is another bad one. I warned you about Lucca, you did it anyway. Did not work out well. I also tried to warn you about Blackbourne. Same thing. When will you finally start listening to me?”
More counting. Again, this was Vitto, if I ever lost my temper like I would have with pretty much everybody else by now, he would be scarred for life. And if I was honest with myself, he did have a point.
“Vivian, don’t be mad. It’s just a really bad idea. And why do you need to help him? He does not need help.”
This is where Vitto was wrong. Silas may be imposing in appearance, but he was every bit as socially awkward as Vitto. Starting to wonder if I had a thing for that type of guy.
After Vitto left the next morning I needed peace and quiet, so I went for a walk to helped clear the proverbial cobwebs from my brain.
Things were starting to become clear to me. Vitto and I were an odd couple, I knew that, he knew that, everybody could see that.
I knew, that his dad was less than thrilled with the outlook of his son dating me, for a boatload of reasons. I was not even sure if easygoing Melissa, his wife, was too keen on me as potential part of their family at some point in the future.
I knew that my parents were not too fond of the thought that one day I could be an Auditore. That part especially rubbed dad all sorts of wrong.
What I had been overlooking, and nobody else seemed to realize either was, that I basically was continuing the Cameron family tradition of taking wrong turns only to eventually end up marrying the childhood friend.
Mom and dad had done it, Liam and Leonie basically did that, and now here I was with my childhood friend Vitto.
What’s worse was, I was really suspecting that he and I were soulmates.
For so long I had thought Silas had been my soulmate and I his. Truth was, whatever was between us had not too much to do with love. Silas was almost unable to love, and I had been infatuated with him being the quintessential ‘tall, dark, handsome stranger’ mysterious and exactly what your parents did not want you to date. I never wanted to marry him, but back then I had little control over my hot temper and he dared me. Then I got pregnant and I was not going to do another single mom pregnancy so I stayed.
I did not want a new relationship so soon and was fighting it hand and feet, but I was also afraid to hurt Vitto again. He did not deserve that. Things were moving way too fast for me already, and him starting to become so clingy did not help calm my anxiety. But then again, had I not made him wait long enough already? I had imagined my time after the divorce to be some sort of single life, then find a good job, have a career, and eventually start thinking about a relationship. Vitto sort of crashed that party, inadvertently, and I wasn’t exactly fighting it.
Maybe I should move in with Vitto, but then again, that would just add oil to the fire of suspicion brewing in his father’s mind. Vitto’s previous wife had taken him for all he had, and while he still was not forthcoming with details, it seemed like she had been pretty mean and hurtful to sensitive Vitto. I had met her but not spend much time with her back when, but she seemed like a sweet innocent girl with that charming French accent. Who knew?
I knew that Vitto was not everybody’s cup of tea. His shyness and social anxiety hailed from a very cold and evil mother. Lilith Vatore had been some sort of rebound woman to Vitto’s father, but somehow resulted in an unwanted pregnancy. Ezio Auditore, old-fashioned as he was raised, put a ring on it but the marriage didn’t last long. He kept the boy, trying to raise him on his own, completely overwhelmed with the task itself while also trying to run a large business, and dealing with the special needs of a vampire child when he had zero idea about vampires himself. His attempts to be social with Vitto’s mother for the child’s sake ultimately seemed to have made matters worse, damaging the kid for life.
I knew Vitto since birth, my mom helped raise him through yet another failed marriage with a gold digger, who hated little Vitto for several reasons, none being his fault. She hated that he was not her kid, that Ezio did not want further children with her, she hated that Vitto was a vampire and she hated that he was the heir to all the wealth and not her. She was borderline abusive to him whenever Ezio was not around. After that marriage failed and all the way up until Ezio met his current wife, my mom was there for Vitto and I was his only friend. This was the reason why he was so attached to us. Dad had never been particularly fond of the situation, but he felt for Vitto and his undeserved plight so he played along.
At Liam and Leonie’s wedding, while still married to Silas, I began to realize how unhappy I was. My tough front crumbled to the ground and I wanted to be that princess coming down the aisle while everybody stood, mouths agape, tears flowing while daddy gave me away to my husband, who would make me feel like I was the only thing that mattered to him. Silas was not that man. Vitto was, but even if we were to get married, now or at any point in the future, all most people would see in me would be the golddigger. And I hated that thought so very much.
Into my jungle of thoughts my cell phone beeped. I pulled it out and read the message. Vitto.
“Still mad at me?”
It made me smile and tore on my heartstrings. Silas would have NEVER.
“No! R U still @ work?”
“Yes. Long night ahead.”
“Would U mind a visit?”
“Of course not!”
Instead of borrowing my parents’ car, I called a cab, hoping I could catch a ride home with Vitto later.
When I walked in and told the security guard my name, he bend over backwards to get me up to the floor where Vitto had his office. Wow. I guess it truly was all about whom you know.
When I entered his office he got up and came to hug and kiss me.
He seemed exhausted, there were piles of documents everywhere.
He told me about some tough clients keeping him and his father on their toes. He was all tense and said he needed a break.
I do not know what came over me, but right then and there I decided to give him a break he would never forget…
I began kissing on him.
Sweet and gentle at first…
… then a little more demanding …
Utilizing my best seduction skills I loosened his tie, pulled off his jacket, ignoring his faint protests and his repeated blushing. Again, I do not know how I got this idea but it felt right at the time… we went for it. Full on office nookie.
But as my luck would have it, what was intended to be some brazen action to brighten Vitto’s day – and mine – turned into havoc when in the middle of us doing things that had no place in a corporate setting the door opened and not only Ezio walked in, but in tow he had said tough clients.
As we froze in the midst of what could not be explained away, my boyfriend’s father and owner of his place of employ along with two very important clients stood there for what felt hours and looked on. There was no place to hide. Finally the old Auditore ushered the men back into the hallway, not until shooting me and Vitto one of those death stares.
This most certainly had NOT helped my situation with him. I felt so bad for Vitto, who got dressed as fast as he could, told me he would talk to me later, and his face a deep shade of reddish purple ran out the door to his father’s office on the top level.
I took a cab home and as I was walking in, both of my parents nearly tackled me.
“Vivian, what were you thinking?!” my mom laid into me, while even dad looked everything but amused.
Oh gawd, Ezio told them?!
“I .. just …”
“Seriously kiddo, I would be the last person to fault you for nookie, but could you not have at least locked the door? If that Mafioso wasn’t a vampire, I swear he’d have had a heart attack by now!”
“The second time you let him walk in on you, seriously Vivian, Ezio just does not deal with such things too well and especially not at work! You could have REALLY hurt his business tonight! Vivian, what is going on with you of late. Maybe you should step back from it all for a while, maybe take a vacation or something. Fly out and visit your brother and Leonie, maybe?”
It went on and on and was so very embarrassing. Your parents knowing you do things and them KNOWING you just did that were two different things altogether.
At the same time Vitto was over at his parents’ for a similar verbal spanking. It was not a planned thing, but instead of dropping him off at his house on the way home as usual, Ezio had the driver skip that stop.
So there he was, poor Vitto, looking lost at the big dinner table.
“Vitto, what were you thinking?” Melissa demanded, looking genuinely worried.
Vitto frowned. How was he supposed to answer that. He blushed, deeply.
“Really son! You know what that little stunt could have cost Auditore Financials, let alone my reputation? In case you forgot, I run a serious business, not a brothel or hourly hotel, kid!”
“Sorry? SORRY?! You pull something like that and all you can say is sorry?!”
“Melissa, do you understand the repercussions transgressions like this could potentially cause?”
“No, but I know if we were playing verbal Scrabble you would have won.”
Vitto chuckled, met by a ‘wrong move!’ glare from his father.
“Vitto, your father is right. You have to take it slow. Lust makes you impulsive, but love makes you think. So if you are serious about her, pull the brakes and slow down. For your sake, for her sake and for my sake, so I do not have to listen to your father complaining about that in his sleep even.”
“I do no such thing!”
“You used to have a sense of humor.”
“Not in situations like this, cara mia! I really wanted to either fire or spank that child of mine today, possibly both! And that Cameron girl too, while I was at it!”
“Vivian’s last name is Blackbourne, dad.”
“What does THAT have anything to do with the price of rice, huh?! Fact is, she is the evil fruit of that punk’s loins and it is blatantly obvious! I hope Viktoria will do her job, at last, and give that girl a lecture she deserves. Behaving like a common whore in a well-reputed place of business .. tssk. Viktoria should well know HOW wrong that was! Too bad the two of you are grown or I swear son, I would send you to a boarding school or military college or something! Anything that gets you thinking with the right head again!”
Vitto blushed again.
“Ezio … come on…”
“You were not there, Melissa!”
“And for that fact I thank all the powers there be. But he is just young and in love. Cut him a little bit of slack. I am sure he feels bad enough now and will not do anything like that again, right sweetie?”
Vitto shook his head.
“I am not so sure. That girl has always been bad news for him. I do not foresee that changing any time soon. And do not get me started about what I think about this fling ever going any further. The future of my legacy in the hands of my nerdy son and that Amazon! Oh, heaven help us!”
This continued for the better part of the evening, so they put Vitto up for the night on the couch in Ezio’s home office, but not until Ezio had warned him a solid dozen times about sneaking out to go down to that beachhouse, where I currently lived with my parents, a mere stone throw away.
The next morning, before he had to head into work even, Ezio graced my folks with a visit.
Mom barely opened the door when he galloped past her into the kitchen, where he knew they usually sat drinking coffee at this hour.
“I hope you were able to talk sense into that girl of yours!” Ezio roared
“Yes, we talked to her, of course we did. Calm down Ezio.” my mom tried to talk him down.
“I certainly hope you did a little more than just kumbaya around the campfire with her! She needs to good talking too. I realize they are both of age, but evidently you missed out when she was young enough and here I am having to bathe out your tub of parental fails, risking the welfare of my business in the process!”
“Get your head out of your ass Mafioso! They screwed around in an office, not commit murder! Whoop-dee-doo!” Blaine said, annoyed.
“I’ll have you know, punk, that I worked and continue to work very hard so that my children inherit something more than just the lint that lines my pockets, like in your case!”
Blaine started to get ruffled, slamming down his mercifully almost empty cup.
“Well, I taught my children to provide for themselves, so the don’t depend on my inheritance like vultures over a dead carcass!”
“A carcass is always dead, you fool!” Ezio informed Blaine.
“Care to demonstrate?!” Blaine offered angrily.
“Blaine! Ezio! Enough!”
It was like whenever those two were together somewhere mom should have a broom in her hand to separate them with if needed. The last few times they have been somewhere between civil and bromance again, but not today. They looked like they were about to beat each other in the worst way.
And in this worst of moments, I walked in.
“Ah, there she is, fantastic. I was hoping I would have the chance for a word with you!” Ezio barked at me.
“Tread lightly there, Meatball. That is still my little girl.” my dad warned.
“Dad, it’s okay, I got this. Look, Mr. Auditore, I know what we did was wrong …”
“We?! You mean YOU?! We all here know that this did not sprout on Vitto’s manure. That was all you, you little Delilah.”
“Hey, maybe the idea was mine, but I didn’t exactly rape your son, Sir!” I decided to stay polite. Well, polite-ish.
“That is beside the point. You had NO business being at that office. That boy is cuckoo for coco puffs over you and you are using that for your personal benefit.”
“Using for … what? What benefit?
“The obvious reason would be to lure him into marriage, possibly by sticking him with a kid, so you would have it made for life.”
I gasped for air, while dad grabbed the old Auditore by his collar and dragged him out the door
“Say bye bye meatball!” where he slammed the door shut behind him.
As funny as that was, it wasn’t when my dad came back into the kitchen still fuming addressing me
“You are THROUGH with that Auditore kid! Find yourself a real man and stay away from that inbred arrogant family! Don’t even try Vik, I am DONE with him and all of them! DONE!”
Dad rushed out and I heard the door to the living room slam, then some angry riffs on his bass.
“Well, I agree with your dad. I know you are old enough for your own decisions, but …”
In that moment a dark cloud poofed up and dad was in the kitchen again, his finger pointing at me
“Oh, and in case you were thinking you are too old for me to tell you what to do, remember that THIS is MY house and I make the rules. You sneak around with that nerd again, find a new place to live!”
Mom opened her mouth to protest, but he already poofed and left. Mom groaned and rolled her eyes.
“What I was going to say, in this house, that is also MINE, I am not going to kick you out and neither is your father, but you really have to slow your roll, Viv. From what you have been saying, your marriage with Silas was an uphill battle, I get it, but don’t rush into things with Vitto, for both your sakes. He is a sweetie and we both know he loves you, still and I know you are feeling the same now, but a lot has happened since you two were kids and you cannot just pick up where you once left of. If Vitto were someone you just met, you would be taking it slow too, wouldn’t you?”
“Sure mom, but, everybody is mistaking us. I didn’t do what I did because I am some floosy. I love him. He was so tense and I thought … you know … it always works in the movies…”
“Baby, movies are movies, your brother could tell you all about that. And Leo too. She told me she used to hate Liam having to do kissing scenes, which always looked so raunchy in the movie, but one time he took her to the set with him and she said it was the world’s most unromantic place and looked nothing like the finished take. In other words, real life romance is something entirely different.”
“Vitto asked me to move in with him. I told him no, but I kinda want to …”
“No, baby. You can stay here for as long as you need. Maybe you’ll have your own place for a while. But you need to do you first. Find out who Vivian really is, and THEN you can be everything to someone else. Okay?”
I snuggled up against my mom. Hopefully dad would come down eventually or I had another problem, as I was certain Vitto was whom I wanted. Dealing with his dad would be bad enough, but not mine too.
All that had only been the tip of the iceberg. I let one day pass to cool the fronts, then I called Vitto. No answer. I tried three more times. Finally, at my fifth attempt he answered.
“Hey, you’re harder to get a hold of than the pope.” I joked.
There was a pause.
“Vitto? You still there?”
“I am here.” he sounded short.
“Is everything ok?”
“I was wondering if you’d mind a visitor.” I said smiling.
“Umm … I was about to go to bed.” he stuttered.
“Vitto, it’s barely 9 PM.”
“I know … I … I have been thinking. Maybe my father is right and we should slow things down and not see each other for a while …”
My chin hit the floor. Was sweet Vitto just blowing me off?
“You are breaking up with me because of your dad?” I asked, still in awe.
“Yes. No. Not breaking up. More like .. umm .. what do you call it.. ummm?”
I would never know what you called that, as I hung up.
I could not stand any more of this. Ouch.
So that is what that felt like. OK. Two things. I felt horrid if that was what it felt like what I had put Vitto through so many times in the past. And also, I did not deal well with rejection.
Maybe everybody was right. Maybe it was too soon, too much, too fast. All I knew was that I felt like everybody’s scapegoat and was tired of it. Maybe I did need to make myself sparse, go away to somewhere to lick my wounds.
And truthfully, it hurt. In essence, Vitto chose his father over me. No matter how much you would reason the whys, at the end of the day, it felt like crap.
I turned off the phone, ignoring the ‘new message’ pop up. I didn’t need three guesses to figure out who that was from.
Two days passed since.
Mom and dad were laughing tears at some comedy on TV when the doorbell rang.
“If that is that Mafioso I am going to beat him into next week! Every damn time!”
“Blaine chill. Ezio has not stopped by since your lover’s quarrel and I doubt he will unless Mel and I patch things up with you too – AGAIN. I’ll get it.”
It was Vitto.
“Good evening. Is Vivian available?”
“Sorry Vitto, Viv is not here.”
“Oh. When will she be back?”
“You see, she is away. Like on a vacation. I do not know when she will be back. And before you ask, I do not know where she went. She just packed her bags one night, told Blaine and me not to worry, kissed us goodbye and left.”
“Oh. Okay. Thank you. Bye.”
Vitto looked like a kid who’s balloon was popped as he turned and walked back up to his parents’ mansion.