“What are you talking about?”
“Oh, she was looking for you. She didn’t leave a message, but it sounded important.”
Of course it was important. I’d caught her with Blake.
“You’re welcome. I’ll see you in a few weeks.”
She clicks off and I shove my phone in my pocket.
“No one.” Everything.
“What is it the American’s say? Oh yes, bullshit. Who is she?”
I take a deep breath, and before I know what I’m doing, I’ve spilled everything to her. How I met her, how we came together, how much she means to me, all the way through to the day I was coming to Italy and I found out she’d been sleeping with her best friend.
“But she was trying to find you when you were on your way here. Celeste just said so.”
“Of course she was,” I scoff. “She got caught and she was trying to beg for my forgiveness, which she won’t get.”
“So, you haven’t spoken to her.”
Gianna sighs and murmurs something about pig headed men. “Perhaps you should talk to her before jumping to conclusions.”
“I know what I saw, Gianna.”
“You saw her best friend sitting on the couch.”
“Half naked, sweaty, and their clothes thrown all over the fucking living room. It wasn’t exactly innocent.”
“Well, I’ll concede that.” She bites her lip. “I’m sorry. I’m clearly not the best judge of character, and I’ve never met your Alecia.”
“She’s not mine,” I reply quickly.
“Isn’t she?” Gianna grins and cups my face in her hands. “You love so strongly, Dominic. You always have. It’s one of the things that both opens you up to great heartache and brings you such joy. Liliana dimmed that light in you for a while, but I can see that it’s back. There’s anger there, and I’m not saying it shouldn’t be, but perhaps you should try to reach out to her.”
“She hasn’t tried to contact me either, Gianna.”
“You’re halfway across the world. It’s been two days. Cell phones aren’t always reliable.” She leans in and kisses my cheeks then stands. “Ti amo.”
“I love you too.” I kiss her hand before she walks away, lifts the forgotten wine bottle off the railing, and returns inside.
I know what I saw. There was no way to mistake it. Her clothes were everywhere; Blake was half dressed.
And she refused to fucking say that she hadn’t just been with him. She wouldn’t deny it.
If she came looking for me, it was because I found out about it.
I shake my head and scrub my scalp in agitation, and then decide fuck it and pull my phone out of my pocket and quickly dial her number.
It goes straight to voice mail.
I frown and try one more time, but it again goes to voice mail. It’s either dead or she shut it off. I take a deep breath, and finally bring Jules up in my contacts and dial her number.
“Hey, Jules, I’m trying to reach Alecia and I can’t get through on her cell. Have you spoken with her?”
“Who else would this be?”
“Your number came up as unknown. You’re lucky I answered.”
“Have you spoken to her?” I ask again.
“No, I haven’t spoken to her since the baseball game. Is everything okay?”
I swear under my breath and rub my fingers over my lips. “No, it’s not okay. But I’ll figure it out.”
“I’m sure she’s fine, Dom.”
She’s probably right. I’m sure she’s fine. But now worry has settled in. I need to get Gianna back on her feet and have words, and come to blows, with Marco, so I can go home and figure out what the fuck is going on.
I didn’t know I could hate a city as much as I hate San Francisco. And it’s really not the city’s fault. It’s a beautiful city with lovely buildings and interesting people. Excellent food. There’s always something going on here, whether it be an art exhibit or a festival.
And the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean are stunning.
But there are nothing but bad memories for me here.
I drive my rental car through the neighborhood I grew up in. I know the streets like the back of my hand. I walked home countless times, alone, when one of my parents forgot to pick me up from school, or simply didn’t come get me because it was inconvenient.
I could find their house blindfolded.
I pull up to the curb, cut the engine, and simply gaze about the tidy, middle class neighborhood. It’s a beautiful, sunny summer day. The trees are heavy with green leaves, the sidewalks tidy and busy with kids on bikes or running around with friends. Two of the neighbors are mowing their lawns.
I step out of the car and stare at Mom and Dad’s house. They must have had it recently painted. Instead of the solid, dependable dark grey from my childhood, it’s now a rust color, and the green shrubs on either side of the small porch look even brighter against the house.
I take a deep breath and walk slowly up the sidewalk, climb the stairs of the porch, and ring the doorbell. My eyes can’t help but travel to the corner of the porch where I used to sit for hours on end, watching the other kids in the neighborhood, wishing I didn’t have to go to another piano lesson or basketball practice or day camp.
The door opens and my mother, her blonde hair curly and a bit unruly around her thin face, dressed in a simple white T-shirt and blue jeans rolled up to mid-calf, opens the door with a surprised smile.
“Alecia! Oh my goodness, what are you doing? Come in, darling.” She steps back, letting me in and kisses both of my cheeks. “Alan! Alecia is here!”
“Well, this is a delightful surprise. Are you visiting from Sedona?”
“Seattle,” I correct her and clench my hands into fists. “I live in Seattle.”
“That’s right, dear. Come on back to the kitchen. Your father and I were just about to have some lunch.”
The furniture is the same. Brown leather couches and a tube TV at least fifteen years old sit in the living room. The same worn dining room set in the kitchen.
Even the mug my dad is drinking out of in the kitchen is one I gave him for Christmas when I was nine.