The Court of Love

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Chapter 12

Seconds after Zoilo turned off the ignition of his car, he received a phone call. He answered, knowing who it was without having to look at the caller ID.

"Hey, just wanted to make sure you were alright," said the woman.

"Yeah I'm fine," he said as he exited his car. "Just got home."

"Alright then I'll see you tomorrow at work."

"Goodnight, Veronica."

"Goodnight, Zoilo."

At that moment, he heard it. He heard her say what he knew was 'I love you,' but without having to say it. He frowned as he felt his chest tighten.

Nostalgia overcame him. In most cases, people are reminded of the happy moments in their lives. Those memories often brought tears of joy or smiles as if they somehow relived the memory in just a matter of seconds.

But to Zoilo, it brought him pain. It came to him, one after another, the moment he was told those same three words by the same woman.

And that woman wasn't Arabella.

"I care about you." The woman said as she held him in her arms.

That's how it started. When she first said those words he knew she cared about him, but he didn't know the deeper meaning to her words.

He stared at her, waiting for her response. He had just confessed to her that he loved her. He only hoped she felt the same.

She answered, not with words, but with her actions. The moment she laid her lips on him, he knew. He knew she loved him just as he loved her.

While words may seem to be overrated, they were one of the ways you could know how someone felt. Sometimes you needed that confirmation because nothing else was enough than to hear the words yourself.

"I love you Zoilo," she said as they laid within each other's naked embrace. Her head laid on his chest, listening to the sound of his heart. A heart that held a special place for her. While she was unaware that he had woken up just moments before she spoke, he continued to silently lay there watching her in awe. "I love you," she said once more.

Nothing was more painful that remembering the times you spent with someone you loved. The times you gave them everything you could all because you loved them. All because you saw them in your future and no one else. All because you thought it would last.

He hung up and decided to check his phone for any unanswered calls and messages. The moment he reached the entrance to his home, he unlocked it before looking back down at his phone.

He had a call from his mother and another from Nino from earlier in the day.

He then saw that Arabella never answered his text messages.

He placed his things on the kitchen island and picked up the sticky note that laid just inches away from him.

I made dinner tonight, your favorite. I thought it's the least I could do since you made dinner all of last week.

Instead of eating first, he headed upstairs towards their bedroom which he had let Arabella stay in after he told her about the divorce. Zoilo detested when she said she would stay in their guest room and much less when she suggested at a hotel. It was her home as well so there was no need for her to leave. He had told her that he'd stay in the guest bedroom. However, sometimes he didn't come home due to his business.

It still amazed him to this day how even when he thought his business wouldn't get any bigger, it did. This meant he needed more employees and room. In just a matter of seven weeks his third building would be finished.

Arabella wouldn't be there to see it, he thought. Because by then she would be gone from his life. The divorce would be finalized and she wouldn't want anything to do with him. Why would she?

Because she might somehow love you despite the prick that you are.

But again, she wouldn't. Zoilo knew. Arabella deserves better and sadly, that wasn't him.

He entered what used to be their room and sat at the edge of the bed staring at Arabella. His heart ached when he noticed her lower eyelids were a bit swollen. Her cheeks and nose were stained red, and when he ran a thumb against her cheek, he felt the residue of what he knew were her tears. It broke his heart even further knowing she cried herself to sleep.

You did this.

He felt like shit, then again that's all he ever was. He asked himself how she was able to put up with someone like him when even he couldn't deal with himself anymore. Arabella was beautiful inside and out, he had always thought. She was forgiving, full of hope, and cheerful. She was his life and in just a matter of months he was going to lose her. She would disappear from his life and he would never see her again.

He knew he had no right to think like this. He chose to do the things he did. He lied. He cheated. He asked for the divorce. But he still loved her, he really did. That's why he was letting her go.

Zoilo placed a gentle kiss on her forehead and stood up, heading towards the door. He turned around to give her one last look before closing the door behind him. As he made his way to the kitchen, he promised himself that in this time he had left with her he would cherish her. She didn't deserve this and the least he could do was make as much of the pain go away.

• • •

The next morning, Arabella entered Zoilo's office.

He had a meeting to attend that morning and had asked her to find the files for a property he was thinking of buying. She looked at his desk, but there weren't any files about a property.

As she continued to look around his office, she sighed. She couldn't find the file he asked for anywhere in his office. Zoilo must have left it at home or something, Arabella thought.

She gave one last look around the room. She notice the drawer on his desk. Very unlikely place but maybe.

So she checked. Bingo!

She pulled out the file and closed the drawer.

Arabella paused before reaching once more for the handle of the drawer. As she opened the drawer again, her mind was trying to process what she had just seen.

Once the item was in sight, she frowned.

She wasn't blind, but she couldn't believe what she was seeing.

She placed the file on the desk and reached into the drawer, pulling out the small sealed wrapper. Why does he-

As soon as she began to ask herself why he had a sealed condom, she looked at the date written on the package. It was expired and for quite some time.

Instantly, her face grew hotter. While the memories of her and Zoilo's activities in his office in the beginning of their marriage flossed her thoughts, her heart felt nothing but pain.

Arabella removed some of the shredded documents from inside his trash can and threw the sealed wrapper inside, placing the shredded papers on top. She grabbed the file and exited his office, making her way towards her assistant.

Sefora smiled at her upon seeing her.

Arabella returned the gesture, but her smile wasn't as cheerful as Sefora's. "Hey Sef, could you hand this to Zoilo? He's currently at the meeting room."

Sefora took the file and nodded. "Yeah no problem. Do you need anything else?"

"No that's all. Thank you." Arabella's smile returned once more before she turned and walked away.

Sefora noticed Arabella wasn't herself but didn't say anything about it, and turned to finish the task she was assigned.

Arabella locked the door of her office and sat behind her desk. Tears streamed down her cheeks.

She didn't know why she was crying. She couldn't control herself. She just knew she needed to, hoping it would take away the pain she felt.

She cried silently. Tears fell from her eyes and were quickly wiped away before they travelled too far.

After a few minutes, she was able to stop her tears but the pain in her heart was still there. She turned her attention to the work that laid before her.

• • •

On her way home she decided to buy some fast food. She didn't think twice when she suddenly felt the urge to.

As soon as she reached her car, her phone rang. She reached into her purse and pulled out her phone.

"Hello? Cosmo, what is it?" She asked as she unlocked her car and got in.

"I need to speak to your husband's lawyer. Do you have his number?" Costano asked.

"Yes I do... but why do you need to speak with his lawyer? He's on the opposing side."

"I know how it sounds, but it's actually part of the divorce process. It makes the process easier."

"Oh okay. Uhm... I don't have his card on me right now, but when I get home I can send you his information."

"That's fine. Well sorry if I called at a bad time. Talk to you soon."

They said their goodbyes before Arabella hung the call. She started the engine of her car and drove home.

• • •

Later than evening, Arabella sent Costano the information about her husband's lawyer. The moment he read his name, his eyes widened.

He recognized the name, Nino Venditti.

The man who stood by Pia's side as her lawyer. The man who also ruined Costano's reputation as a lawyer. First Pia and now him.

Everyone in his past was coming back into his life.

Costano sighed. He knew he had to call him to schedule a meeting so they could discuss about the divorce between Arabella and her husband. It was his job and he couldn't let the past continue to affect him.

He dialed Nino's number and placed his phone against his ear.

"Hello? Who's this?" Asked Nino.

"It's Mr. Mattaliano. I'm calling you in regards to the divorce between Mr. and Mrs. Venditti. I'm Mrs. Venditti's lawyer. I'd like to schedule a meeting to discuss about the divorce." Costano answered.

Their conversation didn't last long. Within minutes they were able to pick a date and time to meet.

After he hung the call, Costano exhaled the breath he didn't know he held on to.

Out of all the lawyers her husband just had to choose him, he thought. He then thought of the coincidence of Arabella's husband and Nino's last names. Venditti.

They were either family, or the last name happened to be common. Either way, he dreaded having to meet with Nino.

But there were just some things he couldn't avoid.

• • •

Three days later, both men stood facing each other.

"Hello Costano," Nino grinned as he stood outside the cafe. They shook hands.

"Long time no see Nino. Good to see you," he lied.

"Good to see you too."

They sat down and discussed about the divorce. The purpose of this meeting was to make the divorce process as easy and smooth as possible. Things like who wanted and most likely would keep what needed to be said. Sadly, Costano knew the process too well to know that this wouldn't be the only meeting between him and Nino. It also wouldn't be the only meeting were it was just the two of them. Arabella and her husband would need to attend as well in the near future.

As they continued to talk, the conversation started shifting in another direction.

"Geez Costano what's with the passive aggressive attitude? I know I was your wife's lawyer, correction ex wife, but she was the one who hired me. I was just doing my job. No need to hold a grudge on the past," Nino said and placed his cigarette between his lips.

"What do you mean passive aggressive attitude? We're supposed to be talking about the Venditti's divorce case, not mine. Besides, I'm over it."

Nino leaned back against his chair, "I wonder why she left you. She never really gave me a good enough reason as to why she wanted the divorce."

"Then why did you defend her?" Costano balled his hand into a fist.

"I thought I'd get a lot from it and I did. Thanks to your case, I received more clients."

"Is money all you think about? Don't you have morals?"

"Morals have nothing to do with business. Sometimes you have to do things, even if it means bending the rules. It's the world we live in Costano, you know this. I'm sure you've had to pull a few tricks to get the job done. Not every client is easy."

"Thankfully I haven't."

Nino shrugged his shoulders as he inhaled the tobacco. He let the smoke slip past his lips and then exhaled before he spoke.

"I can't believe Zoilo's leaving Arabella."

Nino's words caught Costano's interest. He frowned at the surprised look on Nino's face.

"He seemed half hearted when he asked for the divorce papers," Nino shook his head. "I honestly thought for once things would work out for him." He inhaled the tobacco once more before letting it fall to the ground, and flattening it with the heel of his foot.

Nino continued, "so how is Arabella?"

Costano frowned. "Why do you ask?"

"She's family, or at least currently she is. I'm really not supposed to call her to talk about anything case related when I'm siding with my cousin. Not that I haven't tried but she won't answer my calls knowing I'm Zoilo's lawyer. So I'm stuck having to ask you how she's doing."

Costano took a moment to ask himself if he should even answer Nino's question. He wasn't entirely sure of her state during the past few days since he told himself he needed to keep distance between him and Arabella.

"She's okay."

Nino took a look at him. "Is there something going on with you and her?"

Costano's frown deepened. "What are you insinuating?"

Nino sighed, "you know what I'm saying. Forget the reason we're here in the first place. Forget the code of conduct for a moment. Do you have feelings for Arabella? And if not then have you though of fucking her?"

Costano's eyes widened. "What kind of fucking questions are that? What does it matter to you?"

Nino smirked, "so I'm right. Don't know to which question but still. If I were you I'd have my fun with her."

Costano stood up, "what kind of family are you? Don't talk about her like that."

Nino remained seated, enjoying that he got under Costano's skin. "Do you think I wanted to watch my cousin marry her?"

His statement caught Costano off guard. "What?"

At that moment, Nino stood up. "Another question for you Costano, are you willing to break some rules?"

"No," Costano said without hesitation.

"That's the difference between you and me. You always follow the code of conduct. I don't. I'm not her lawyer, which means I don't have any boundaries between client and attorney," Nino grinned.

"Sadly she wont answer me at the moment, but I get it." He shrugged his shoulders. "Whatever it is she allows you to do with her, do it. Or not, it won't stop me."

He patted Costano's shoulder, "see you at court."
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