CHAPTER I : Unfinished Business
Cleopatra Callas looked back and smiled, a smile that could warm even the coldest of hearts.
“See you, babe,” Gab said to her as she walked away from him, her black and camel-colored DVF suitcase in tow. Cleo stole one last look at his sexy grin and his dark, brooding gaze before disappearing into the crowd at JFK.
The terminal was alive and bustling, planes flying in and taking off, people crying out to family members as they welcomed them home or said their farewells for faraway destinations. Cleo had already bid adieu to her mother and sister before Gabriel scooped her up and escorted her to the airport. She had been nervous for the plane ride, especially after last year’s trip, but rolling through customs had proven to be a breeze. As the 747 rocketed towards the clouds, Cleo’s heart was calm. She was going back to Greece, and everything was going to be okay.
This past year had seen Cleo through trials and tribulations, and had tested her emotionally, pushing her to her limits. She had been counting down the days until her return to Villa Callas, her family’s estate on the Greek island of Naxos. It was a place Cleo went when she needed peace, and Villa Callas had come to mean many different things to her, marking the colorful chapters of her life. Visiting every summer as a child had inspired her European love affair, and with each passing year Cleo would look forward to every June, and to the feeling of coming home again.
As the plane began to cruise, Cleo’s thoughts drifted to Gabriel. On the drive to the airport, he had made her promise to call him every day, and she had happily obliged. Though they’d only been dating for a short seven months, Gab had quickly become a staple in her life, and had picked up the pieces of her last wretched heartbreak, sewing them, almost seamlessly, back together. He had come into her world when she had needed someone most to remind her there were always new experiences to be had in the way of love, though Cleo wasn’t certain she loved him - not yet, anyway. The last time Cleo had fallen in love, she had grossly miscalculated, and so now, she was a stickler for taking things slow. Rushing into love was for fools, she’d resolved, and she’d sworn to herself that this time, she’d be a lot more careful. She wasn’t about to fall hard and fast again. Not if she could help it.
The thought of Cleo’s last love made her heart begin to flutter nervously. She had made a conscious effort to give him no thought, to push him out of her mind when his hazel eyes would appear to her in a daydream. This would happen more often than not, and so the endeavour to erase him from her memory had been a taxing and unsuccessful one. While Cleo had navigated the hellish waters of loss and abandonment she nevertheless felt as though she had unfinished business on the island of Naxos. She had tried her best to move on, and Gab had been a part of that, but Cleo’s heart was stuck in the past, ever searching for closure. She wondered if she would someday attain it, and then escaped into the recesses of her mind, daydreaming and fantasizing to pass the time, of sandy beaches and sweet and salty air…
Those hazel eyes. There they were again. Cleo willed herself to sleep, but found no peace in slumber. She had never been a good sleeper, anyhow.
Twelve hours, six in flight movies and two plane rides later, Cleo landed in the quaint and familiar Naxos airport, making her way towards its taxi stand. As the plane’s doors opened onto the tarmac, her feet carrying her down the roll-away stairs and touching Greek land, Cleo was met with the air of the island. She stopped for a moment to breathe it in. There had always been something magical about it. Cleo had figured it was simply childhood magic, attributed to the island by her innocence and imagination as a girl, but somehow that magic never dissipated no matter how many years Cleopatra aged.
It was 6 A.M. and the island was asleep, save for a few penny-pinching cab drivers who probably hadn’t gone to bed yet. One of them drove Cleo to Villa Callas.Finally, finally, she was home again.