Valentina Bound - Book 1

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Honesty is the Best Policy

Nate’s Mom passed away at the end of January. His life became even busier as his dad slipped into a state of melancholy. I can see how a husband can die of a heartbreak after losing his wife. Nate’s fear is just that. So he is diligent about getting his dad out as well as adamant about moving in with him to take care of him. I know that he has been looking forward seeing me in New York City this spring break and I am not sure how to tell him just yet. There is a part of me that wants to hurry there so that I can help give him some reprieve. Nate is too macho to ask for help, I know he needs it and I can help. Plus his dad really enjoys when we talk, so I can sit and watch baseball games with him and let Nate have some time away from it all. I am overcome by the guilt of feeling like I am such a bad friend.

We spend the next few days keeping in suit with our playbook. I avoid any attempts that Tommy makes to discuss spring break. I need to talk to Jessica, Nate and maybe even consult the boys on this.

“So? How was meeting the family?” Benji asks.

“It went really well.”

“How was your weekend?”

“Oh, same old shit, different weekend. All good.”

“That’s the most important part.”

“Okay, what’s the deal. You are answering like robot Val.”

“Nothing, I just have a lot to catch up on because I didn’t get any studying done this weekend. Then all this extra work that Mikey has Tommy and I doing to advance our communication skills is taking it’s tole.”

“Well, let’s put some of that schooling to work and you can disseminate what’s bothering you, nice doodling by the way. You know you doodle when you are trying to distract yourself from life.”

“Nothing, really, I promise. Tommy and the clan got on so good, too good.”

“Oh Val, still waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Valentina you chicken shit, I say to myself. Benji is the one that encouraged you to give Tommy a chance. As well as the one that complains you don’t enjoy life. A vacation is something he will totally cheer on. Just tell him what’s wrong, he will be completely understanding of it all.

“Now, we can sit here all day and pretend that I don't know you better than you know yourself. Or you can cut the shit and spill the beans.”

“You are such a persistent ass.”

“And you are a pain in the ass.”

“It’s just that Tommy brought up the break coming up to the family during dinner. Feels a bit of an ambush.”

“Not really, sometimes we need the calvary to get you to see another side other than yours.”

“Great, you too. Anyway, he first bring up the idea of going to London. How maybe after graduation we can move there so he can open an offie there for his dad. It would mean that I would have to find work there to get a work visa which I am sure will be a pain. Then he suggests that if I don’t find work there that I turn to my art, maybe take art classes there on a student visa. Neither of which is any part of my dream.”

“To be fair, London does fall under the parameters of living anywhere but here. And I am sure that Jessica can help you with finding a job in London as much as she can in New York City.”

When Benji pisses me off, I like to draw him how I feel. I draw a pussy cat and and arrow to him. Thanks to Benji, my cartoon skills have improved over the years.

“Why don't you just tell Tommy that you want to do a few days in New York City and a few in Seattle?”

A nervousness floods my body. I shouldn't lie to Tommy and technically, I haven't. But I cannot lie to Benji. One, because I made a promise to him awhile back. Two, he will know, I am an awful liar.

“It's all coming to me clearly. Your face tells all, you don't want to go to Manhattan with Tommy. And why is that I wonder? Would a guy name Nate be the reason?”

My silence isn’t about Nate. It’s because I don’t know the reason why I don’t want to go with Tommy. Have you ever had a feeling in your gut but can’t explain the feeling? This is how it is with this situation. There is no real legitimate reason for not wanting him there, I just don’t feel like it. Worse thing to ever say a partner for sure.

“Val, remember your list. You cannot ask for honesty if you don't give it.”

“Me, what about him? London?”

“That's why I actually agree with your sister and you should go to Hawaii. Seattle and New York City can both be done other times. Plus the jobs you are considering in both cities are pretty much in the bag. The only decisions now are: which city do you see yourself living in and do you want to work in technology or broad media? OH, and do you want Tommy after graduation?”

OUCH! How did Benji manage to make an honest women out of me without marrying me? Everything sounds so simple when Benji says it. Staring down at my doodling, I laugh at the palm trees and surfers that I instinctively drew.

“The most important thing is, be honest. I suggest you start with the good news about your decision on Hawaii. Then talk to him about how you feel about New York City. Like you said, it's not like that between you and Nate. If that is in fact true, then you have nothing to hide.”

There other million dollar question, how do I feel about Nate? The story of Nate and I is one of those books that you read on the plane and forget it when you disembark. You miss it and wish you could finish the book. Okay, maybe that was a bad analogy. The answer to that would be to buy another copy of the book. Instead it seems that I may have bought a new novel entirely, on accident.

“Nothing is an accident,” hippy Emily would always say.

There is no denying that Benji is correct again. Not sure if this is brilliance or a game I am unconsciously playing. I decide to call Nate and talk to him about Tommy and I. Maybe if he thinks that there is no chance with us, he will step up. Wow, just answered that question. I guess not so deep in my subconscious. Better not to tell Benji this part. He will be happy with the fact that I tell him he is right and drop it. We do need to get some studying done today.

When I get home that night, I decide to call Nate. He should be getting off in a few hours. I can set my alarm and catch a quick nap. Tossing and turning, listening to music to distract my mind, and so not napping. Loving texts from Tommy that I respond with kissing emojis. He knows that this is a big study day for me so it doesn’t alarm him.

Just before my attempt to nap, I text Tommy, “I love you darling, sweet dreams.”

Happy that the text show’s delivered and not read. He must be asleep already. We didn’t get much sleep at my parents. I am sure he is exhausted.

It’s 2:00 a.m. here, Nate should be home now. The phone rings twice and he picks up.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, why do you ask?”

“Because it’s 2:00 a.m. where you are at.”

“Couldn’t sleep.”

“What’s wrong babe?”

“I really need us to talk about something.”

“Okay, I am all ears.”

A very abridged version of Tommy and I flows out of my mouth. Silence on the other end as I tell my story, finishing with the dilemma at hand.

“So, what is the real reason you are hesitant about a beach vacation?”

“You.”

“Me?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I don’t really know.”

“Val, we have discussed this. We are 3000 miles away. It is unreasonable to even contemplate what we are.”

“But what if being with Tommy make me loose my chance with you?”

“The fact that you have been dating this man and that you find yourself at this crossroad says it all.”

“How?”

“You wouldn’t be worried about loosing me if it weren’t for the fact that I have already lost you.”

So fight for me is what I want to yell into the phone. But I know better than this. His mind is so filled with loosing his mom and working through his own stuff right now. Rightfully so, he has always made it clear to me that he doesn’t want to live his life on what could be. He chooses to live each day as is, in gratitude for the blessings in his life.

“Val, don’t make a great moment in your life into a what if scenario. The idea of what if will only make you crazy. You said yourself that fate brought us together. It’s not our place to question that. Because with fate is the reality that we are miles apart physically and spiritually. I know what I want in life, you are still figuring it out. You are so young. Live every day to it’s fullest and enjoy what is versus dwelling on what could be. Don’t over think everything. Save that for your schoolwork. Let life be. Let go and let yourself grow as you are meant.”

There is a part of me that knows he is correct, and that part is slightly disappointed. At least I know that I am not hurting him with all of this. Or maybe I am and he won’t show it. I can’t make him say what he won’t say or feel what he isn’t willing to. For a woman that lives in a world on certainty, this is really hard for me. I can make my pro and con list about it all but that won’t solve anything. Tommy is here and he loves me. Just as I worry if I am doing Nate and I injustice, I am doing so with Tommy and I for sure.

“Valentina Perotti, I love you for the amazing woman that you are. And I love you unconditionally. So whether we stay friends for life or grow old raising a family together, what will be will be. And all of it will be encompassed in the beauty that is you. I will never have a regret about us, because to have you in my life in any way possible is better than to have never known you at all.”

“Thank you. I know that as a friend, I love you too.”

“Let that be enough for now. You just cleared the second decade of your life. You have so many more to go. Don’t be so serious and feel that certainty is the only answer.”

“Why does every one keep saying that?”

“Why aren’t you listening?”

“Touche!”

“Grazie mille, amore mio.”

“De nada mi linda. Besos.”

“Baci! Baci!”

Looks like I am packing for Hawaii. Whether Tommy and I end up visiting New York City together or not, that’s something to tackle another day. One big decision at a time.

In the morning I text Tommy, “good morning sweet love, I can’t wait to lie on the beach with you.”

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