Escaping the curse

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For the three weeks that Marco was here, every day was the same. I wouldn't see or talk to him, apart from the odd smirk or wink he'd throw my way, but every night he'd find his way to my room and my bed. We'd have hot steamy sex and he'd leave. Until one morning he was gone. Back to Italy, with no goodbye. I was left reeling from my encounter or should I say encounters with him. It consumed my thoughts for weeks. After two weeks of over analysing everything that happened, I finally let it go. As confused as I was, I didn't regret anything.

That was 8 months ago. I've spent most of my time either helping out around the vineyard or studying. I'm flying through my course, having almost completed the online component. Today is the first day of my practical classes. I'm both excited and nervous. I've never been to school. I'm really not sure what to expect. I know TAFE is different to high school, being that we are adults, but I have no point of reference. Nevertheless, I will try to enjoy it as much as possible.

I pull up in the TAFE car park in the car Angelina insisted I drive. It still overwhelms me, their generosity towards me. I get out and grab my books, locking the car behind me I make my way to my first class.


The room is almost full when I walk in, everyone chattering away to each other. I suddenly feel shy as I scan the room for a spare seat. I find one next to a blonde woman about my age

I walk over to her and offer her a friendly smile.

“Do you mind if I sit here?” I ask. She looks up and smiles wide.

“Not at all!” I return her smile and place my books on the table and bag under the chair. “I'm Natalie.” She extends her hand and I take it.

“Nicola.” I reply. I sit down beside her and start to get organized, copying what Natalie already has out.

“Is today your first prac class?” she asks and I nod my head.

“Yeah... yours?” I ask. She nods and smiles.

“It is! I'm so excited to get my hands dirty! The theory was starting to bore me!” She's incredibly bubbly and happy, I find it infectious and can't help but smile.

“True! I'm looking forward to today.” I say, starting to feel at ease with my unfamiliar surroundings. The teacher comes in and everyone goes quiet.

The day starts with introductions. Of the 16 students there are only 2 males who appear to be in their early 20s. The rest vary from my age up to their 50s. We learn how to find veins and draw blood, insert cannulas and catheters and how to treat and dress wounds. The morning flies by and I find I'm really enjoying it. Natalie is easy to work with and picks up the information quickly. As the class finishes and we start to pack up, Natalie turns to me.

“Hey, do you want to grab some lunch before heading home?” she asks confidently.

“Sure” I say with a smile. I've never had a female friend my age before. I'm excited to get to know Natalie.

We walk out to our cars together and decide to meet at a local patisserie that Angelina and I go to often. Natalie is new to Griffith so doesn't really know the area.

I drive down to the cafe and park my car. I get there before Natalie, so I grab a table in the corner and wait. A few minutes later she walks in and sits down across from me.

“Can you believe I got lost getting here?” she says. I laugh. Griffith is bigger than you think, but not that big. “I seriously only know how to get to TAFE, the supermarket, my work and a pub.”

“Well you have your priorities right with the pub.” We both giggle.

“I know right!” she exclaims. We order lunch and sit and chat. I learn she's originally from Lockhart, a small town a couple of hours from here. She moved here a few weeks ago to attend TAFE, picking up a part time job in one of the local bakeries. She lives with two roommates who are both nurses at the hospital, but doesn't see them much as they work different shifts.

As we leave the cafe we exchange numbers. I'm excited to have someone other than the Valentino's in my phone. Honestly, I've barely used the phone since Rafael insisted I have it. I know it's a safety thing for when I'm out of my own, we have a system in place in case father shows up, and the phone is needed for that. We say goodbye, both having the same class again tomorrow and head our separate ways.

I can't help but smile when I get home and see Angelina in the kitchen.

“Hey sweetheart are you hungry?” she says when she notices me. I shake my head.

“No, a friend and I went to lunch after class.” I say. Angelina's eyes light up.

“You made a friend?” She comes around the bench and pulls me into a hug. “Oh I'm so happy! I was worried that you were isolating yourself here.”

I smile and pull away

“I enjoy spending time with all of you.” I tell her but she waves me off.

“Oh I know, but you deserve more than that. We are family, you need friends! So tell me about her, or him.” She says as she sits at the kitchen bench.

“Her names Natalie, she just moved here from Lockhart.” I say with a smile. Angelina smiles wide as I fill her in on my day.


Over the next few weeks Natalie and I grow closer. We spend most of our free time together, either shopping, going to the movies or drinking down at one of the local pubs. I found myself opening up to her in ways I hadn't before. I told her about my past, about coming to Griffith and my fling with Marco, which she was very interested in. She told me about her cheating ex-boyfriend, her life in Lockhart and her dreams of moving to Melbourne.

We are sitting on my bed, drinking wine and flicking through movies trying to find something to watch. Natalie insisted on having a sleepover as I'd never had one before. Angelina, of course, was thrilled and bought us a heap of wine, nail polish, face masks and snacks. We offered her to join us but she said it was important for me to have time with my friend away from my mother.

I pour the rest of the bottle of wine between our glasses when my bedroom door opens and Tony and Luca walk in.

“Heard you were having a party without us.” Luca says as he grabs a chip out of the bowl.

“It's a girls night.” I tell them.

“Nicola has never had a sleepover, I wanted to be the one to pop her cherry.” Natalie says. I giggle at the look on Luca's face.

“So... like... pillow fights and stuff?” he says, excitement playing in his eyes.

Natalie looks Luca straight in the eye

“Of course, we bought sexy lingerie to wear just for it.” Luca blushes as Tony's mouth drops and Natalie and I burst into laughter.

“People don't really do that!” I say as I throw a pillow at Luca.

“Only in the movies.” Natalie giggles.

“Hey! Don't ruin my sleepover fantasies.” Tony says. I throw a pillow at Tony which he dodges and laughs,

“Get out!” I yell. They chuckle and leave, closing the door behind them.

“Sooooo…” Natalie says. I look over at Natalie whose wringing her hands nervously. “Luca is pretty hot.” Her voice is a nervous whisper, I can't help but giggle.

“You have a crush on my brother!” I say. She blushes and nods.

“I don't think he's interested or anything... but I don't want to keep secrets from you.” She says softly. I smile at her.

“Well, considering you just put the image in his head of you in sexy lingerie throwing pillows you never know.” I say as I wiggle my eyebrows at her. She giggles.

“You'd be ok if something did happen?” she asks me and I nod

“Yeah I would be, I just don't want it to come between us. You’re my best friend.” I say. She smiles and pulls me into a hug.

“Chicks before dicks, always!” We both giggle and pull away. The rest of the night is spent with wine, talking, facials and movies.


By the end of the year, Natalie and I have finished our diploma and are completing our placement at the local hospital. I'm excited that we are both at the same place. We will rotate through the hospital wards until our hours are complete and hopefully, get a paying job out of it. Our placement starts straight after Christmas.

Natalie and I walk out of the hospital after our first twelve hour shift and are immediately assaulted by the December heat.

“Urgh! We need outdoor Air conditioners!” Natalie complains, making me laugh.

“I believe that's called winter.” I quip.

“Yeah, that.” Natalie giggles.

“So how was your first day anyway?” I ask as we make our way towards our cars. Natalie started her rotation in the medical ward, while I'm in the children's ward.

“Really good! I got to put a catheter in a living male!” she says and I laugh.

“Nursing goals right there.” I exclaim.

“How about yours?” Natalie asks as she links her arm through mine. I think for a moment.

“Hmm... let’s see... I blew up a latex glove and made the kids laugh for half an hour with my animal impressions.... oh! And I sat with a little girl and drew pictures while the doctor talked to her parents.” I tell her. Natalie screws up her nose.

“Sooo... babysitting?” Natalie says and I nod

“Pretty much! But I'm sure I'll get more hands on experience in the next few shifts.” I say.

“Let’s hope so! If not, there's always next rotation.” She says and I nod in agreement.

“Want to come over for a swim?” I ask, changing the subject.

“I was going to anyway, but I'm glad you invited me!” Natalie says. I laugh and wave her off as we separate to walk to our cars.


On the way home I stop in at the bottle shop and grab us a couple of bottle of wine. As I pull in the driveway, Natalie pulls in beside me and jumps out of the car. We walk in the front door and straight up to my bedroom to get changed into our swimmers.

As we walk out the backdoor towards the pool, we can hear yelling and splashing. Figuring the boys are in the pool we head over to join them, and that's when I see him. I stop in my tracks and hold my breath. He's even more beautiful than I remembered. His defined muscles dripping with water, his wet hair and that delicious V.

“Holy mother of god... who the fuck is that?!” I look over at Natalie who is staring wide eyed, her mouth open and I swear drool in coming out.

“That... is Marco De Paulo.”

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