The nine story building belonged to Zoilo, her husband. He relocated the main office his family's business from Italy to the United States. Thankfully, everything went the way he hoped it would and the business grew.
Shortly after his marriage, Arabella began to work with him, helping him with his business.
She had earned a degree in business and wasn't going to let it go to waste. While she did have dreams of having her own business someday, she thought working with Zoilo would help her get the experience of what it was like to be an entrepreneur and more.
It was quite hard for Arabella at first to refer his business as hers as well after Zoilo had mentioned it. It belonged to his family and was now being run by Zoilo. Arabella felt as if she was somehow taking away from him. While she did her best to help him, it was his family who started it all.
But Zoilo made it quite clear time and time again that she was his wife and everything of his was hers. He trusted her and when she mentioned about the chance of helping him with his business, he agreed to it.
Of course he was worried that it might affect Arabella with her career as a model. He didn't want her to stress herself over handling two careers that required a lot from her.
But, Arabella had already thought things through and was determined to handle two careers.
As she made her way to her office, she noticed that Sefora Reed, her personal assistant and friend since she began working with Zoilo, wasn't at her desk.
A slight rush of guilt struck her heart, making it ache.
Many things had changed after Arabella's miscarriage. Not only did she push away Zoilo, but everyone else as well. She ignored every call from her friends and family. She stopped going to work, both her modeling profession and her business with Zoilo.
Once in her office, she shut the door behind her and noticed a flower bouquet and a clear box with something gold inside of it lying on her desk. Arabella frowned as she approached her desk.
It wasn't her birthday, or any holiday, so she had no idea why anyone left her this. Although she wasn't sure who it was, her gut was already telling her.
Her gaze fell on the box beside the bouquet. She instantly recognized that it contained her favorite chocolates covered in gold paper. Ferrero Rocher. It had been so long since she had them. Last time she did was when Zoilo had bought them for her on their third year anniversary and a pair of pearl earrings. Zoilo wanted to spoil her by taking her shopping for anything else she might want, but Arabella already had all she wanted. She had a husband who she loved dearly and loved her just as much and a baby on the way.
Had... It's funny how just one word can change the meaning of something, or how one event can turn everything from have to had.
Arabella picked up the card on top of the chocolate box and read it.
I hope you enjoy the chocolates and flowers. The moment I saw them I thought of you. Come see me when you're done with work.
Arabella heavily sighed and sat at her desk chair. She stared at the bouquet. The colors of the red, white, and green. It had white roses and baby breath, red carnations and roses, and leather leaf.
She wondered why Zoilo was doing this all of a sudden. Was he changing his mind about the divorce?
Her heart felt heavy.
She had to see him anyways since they did live in the same house still and had plans scheduled for this evening. I guess I'll know when I see him.
Arabella started her computer and began working.
Her work consisted of going to meetings and events with Zoilo, doing paperwork, and most of the things that he did. Whenever she wasn't working in the company, Arabella would be doing photo shoots and catwalks.
She was reading through her emails when she suddenly felt hungry. Arabella looked over at the chocolates.
She wasn't going to let them go to waste.
She opened the box, grabbed and unwrapped one before biting into it, while continuing to read her emails.
Minutes later, there was a knock on her door. "Come in!" Arabella said. The door opened and in came Sefora.
"Arabella, I just came to remind you about your plans later today. Oh what's this?" Sefora closed the door behind her before walking further into the room.
"A gift from Zoilo. Do you want one? I basically ate them all but one. I should get going."
"Oh, thank you." Sefora grabbed the last chocolate just as Arabella stood up, grabbing her purse.
"Please lock my office when you're done." Sefora nodded before biting into the unwrapped chocolate.
"Have a good rest of your day."
"You too," Arabella said as she opened the door. She left her office and made her way to Zoilo's.
Once she reached his office, Arabella knocked on his door and heard his voice from inside. Arabella stepped into his office and saw him standing by his desk, buttoning his suit jacket.
"You ready to go?" She asked as she stepped further into his office until she stood in front of him.
"Yeah. Did you like my gift?"
"Yes, thank you," Arabella answered. He grinned. As she looked over his suit, she noticed something on his shoulder. She reached to remove it. "You have something on you-"
Zoilo had stopped her by grabbing onto her wrist. Her eyes snapped up to meet his, slightly shocked at what had just happened.
"I... I am sorry." Zoilo let go of her and quickly wiped a hand over his shoulder, removing what was on it. He cleared his throat, "we should get going."
"Yeah... We don't want to be late." Arabella walked back towards the door, but as she opened it, Zoilo placed a hand against it and closed it.
"Zoilo, what are yo-"
"Bella I'm sorry for the way I've been acting lately. Can you please forgive me?"
She slowly turned to face him.
He pulled away and locked his gaze with hers.
No! You've been an asshole. Is what she wanted to say.
He held her face with both his hands while gently rubbing her cheeks with his thumbs.
"Bella baby please," he rested his forehead against hers.
Arabella sighed. She hated holding grudges, the longer she held one the more she felt like it was eating her from the inside slowly. "Okay... and I'm sorry as well if I've acted foolish."
Wait why did I apologize?
"Don't apologize. I'm the one who's been an asshole." He sighed, "so are we good?"
Arabella sweared that she was seeing the eyes of the man she used to know. Those charming, caring, and gentle green eyes.
Could it be?
She nodded and smiled. Zoilo smiled back at her and opened the door, allowing Arabella to step out first.
Although it seemed Zoilo was being sincere just seconds ago, it still wasn't changing the fact that they were still getting divorced.
• • •
"Hi sweetie! How are you?" Arabella's mother wrapped her arms around her and Arabella hugged her back.
"I'm good mom. How's everyone?" Arabella asked as they pulled away from each other.
"Good good. Hello Zoilo." They greeted each other the same way.
"Ciao Helen," he smiled.
"Your family just arrived not too long ago. They're outside with Lamberto. Arabella could you join me in the kitchen?" Helen asked.
"Of course, mamma." Arabella left Zoilo and joined her mother in the kitchen.
Zoilo and his family were Italian, all born and raised there. Arabella was Italian as well, but from her father's side. Helen, her mother, was American. Her parents met in America during one of her father's business trips from Italy, at the restaurant her mother worked in. They dated for three years before they got married.
Less than a year later, Arabella was born and they all lived in America since then.
When Zoilo and Arabella got married they both decided it was best to stay as well. He wanted to build his business in America and she wasn't ready to leave to Italy with him just yet.
It would never happen now that they would soon be divorced.
"So, Bella sweetie, have you and Zoilo talked about having another baby?" Her mother asked.
"Mamma, I told you that we aren't ready for another child," Arabella said as she placed the plates on the table.
"You both are financially capable of taking care of one. The question is do you want one?" Helen arched an eyebrow.
"Yes I do but..." It would make things complicated and we won’t be together for long. "I don't want to go through that again." Her miscarriage had caused her too much pain. She blamed herself for their loss and for ruining her marriage.
"But sweetie, you can't blame yourself for what happened. I can't imagine the pain you must've felt and still do, but if you keep thinking like that then you'll only continue to hurt yourself. This time will be different. I believe it will. Listen to me, you know mother knows best." She gave her a warm, gentle smile.
"I'll think about it mamma." Arabella excused herself before she left the kitchen and went outside. She sat in the gazebo outside by the pool.
She was checking her phone when someone sat next to her. She looked up to meet his gaze.
"È bello vederti, Arabella," the man spoke.
"È bello vederti anche tu, Nino."
Arabella met Nino through Zoilo. Nino was Zoilo's cousin. He was a divorce lawyer, well known by many. Arabella and Zoilo would visit him and his family whenever they could. She never doubted Nino, nor his intentions. He had two kids and had been married for over 8 years with his wife.
They talked about how they've been, their work, and their families. Nino would say a joke every once in a while that would make Arabella laugh.
At one point, he placed his arm behind her shoulders on the chair.
• • •
"Come sei stato il mio figlio? Come sta Arabella?" Zoilo's father asked.
"Siamo bravi, padre," Zoilo answered.
"Hai parlato con Arabella di avere un altro figlio? Sai quanto vogliamo essere nonni," his mother said as she stood alongside his father.
Zoilo had thought having children with Arabella many times. He wanted her, and her alone, to be the mother of his children. But things were different now.
"Non siamo pronti per averne uno presto." It would only complicate the divorce. They haven't even told anyone about their divorce.
It was better this way, or so they both thought.
Zoilo excused himself and went to find Arabella. When he did, he saw that he was with Nino, his cousin. They were both laughing, her especially. Zoilo balled his hands into fists and walked towards them. Nino put his arm behind her shoulder and that's where Zoilo lost it.
"Get you hands away from her Nino." He pulled Arabella out of her seat and wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her closer to him. Zoilo narrowed his eyes at him. Arabella was in shock, since she didn't realize when he had walked up to them and also because of what he did just now.
Nino chuckled and put his hands up in surrender. "I was just having a conversation with your wife. No need to get all worked up," he grinned. "It was nice seeing you again Arabella. I'll see you both later inside," Nino said before walking away.
As stated before, Nino was a lawyer. He finally got the recognition he wanted after a divorce case between a couple in which the wife had filed the divorce. Her husband was also a divorce lawyer and that is what helped Nino get the recognition he had.
Now, Zoilo hired him as his lawyer for his divorce case.
However, Zoilo didn't care if Nino was his cousin or his lawyer. He wasn't going to let Nino get his hands on Arabella. Zoilo knew his cousin very well, stuff no one else in the family or anyone else knew.
"Are you okay Zoilo?" Zoilo looked down to see Arabella staring at him.
"Yeah, I just didn't like him being so close to you."
Arabella nodded and remained silent. She didn't want to start an argument with him here at their family dinner. She didn't even understand why Zoilo felt that way towards his cousin. He had no reason to. Nino had done nothing, much less lay a hand on her.
"We should head back inside. I'm sure your Helen must be done with the food," Zoilo stated.
Arabella remained silent as he led her back inside her parents' house.
• • •
The rest of the day went by smoothly and they finally reached their home. Yes, they still lived together just in different rooms. Sometimes, Zoilo stayed at other places, leaving Arabella alone.
But even if there was someone with her, she sometimes felt alone.
Zoilo opened the door and allowed Arabella to step inside first. She made her way to the living room and sat on the couch. She reached for her heels.
"Let me," he said as he kneeled in front of her and began removing her heels.
When he finished, Arabella grabbed her heels. "Thanks..." She turned and headed for the staircase.
As she walked away, he stared at her figure.
She was a beauty from head to toe with a slim figure, toned legs, soft skin, and defined facial features. She was just as beautiful on the outside as she was on the inside, he had always thought so since the day he met her.
He loved everything about her. Every crevice in her body, the sound of her voice, the touch of her skin against his no matter how slight it was, he loved it. It sent his heart running and yearning for more from her.
He loved her, meaning he didn't anymore.
Or did he?
Zoilo stood up and made his way up the stairs.
• • •
Arabella was standing in front of her dresser, placing her jewelry on it, when she felt arms wrap around her waist.
"Bella, amore mio," Zoilo tightened his grip and began to lay kisses on her shoulder.
"Zoilo stop. What do you want?" She asked in an annoyed tone. Stop. Her heart ached in pain as butterflies filled her stomach. How was that even possible? Well, that's because...
I can't hate you when you make me feel so... Butterflies began to spread all over her body.
She hated, yet, still loved Zoilo.
He whispered in her ear, "I want you." His voice sent shivers throughout her skin.
"I'm not playing around Zoilo," she hissed. Arabella removed his arms from around her waist and faced him.
"Neither am I." He quickly wrapped an arm around her waist and placed a hand behind her head.
He pulled her towards him, sealing the gap between them, and planted his lips onto hers.
"Don't hold back," he quickly stated before kissing her again, roughly.
Arabella was still in pain. Her heart was breaking more and more with just the touch of him. Yet, in a way, each piece was flying. Her pain and butterflies tugged and pushed against each other. Yes. No. Her body wasn't sure what to do. She was torn between what she knew she should do and what she wanted to do.
And for a slight second, it seemed as if the pain left and was replaced with butterflies.
In that moment, she chose.
She allowed that slight second to determine her decision. Even after the pain came back a second later.
She listened to him. Arabella wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back.
She missed his touch. She missed his kisses. She missed the way he made her feel, when it wasn't pain. She wanted that again. Even if it was just for tonight. Even if it was the nights leading up to the day where they would sign the papers that would legally name them as separate.
She wanted him, all of him.
"I love you Arabella." He held her face between his hands and stared into her brown eyes.
"You don't have to say it back," he said as he rubbed his thumb against her cheek.
Zoilo kissed her again, softly this time. Within a minute, their clothes was on the floor. Zoilo lifted her up and laid her on the bed.
He pinned her arms above her head before leaning down and kissing her.
Arabella felt him move her legs apart before pressing down against her. His lips began their journey down her neck. Her breath hitched in her throat when his lips reached dangerously low.
"Zoilo," Arabella whispered. He hummed as he locked his gaze with hers.
There was no going back, not tonight. Arabella knew what she wanted.
"I want you," she whispered, loud enough for him to hear. She didn't broke eye contact, feeling heat along her face.
He laid kisses along her lower stomach, sending shivers all over her body. "What do you want me to do?" He asked.
Make me feel like I'm the only woman you want.
Make me feel like you did all those nights before the miscarriage, like when we first made love on our honeymoon.
Love me again, as if you never stopped loving me, even if it's just for tonight.
She wanted to say all those things and more.
"Anything you want."
Because I don't know if this will be the last time that you'll look at me the way you do now.
Arabella never believed in the saying that the eyes spoke louder than words, or that you could tell how someone felt just by looking into their eyes.
At least, not until she fell in love with Zoilo.
Call her delusional if you want to, but right now, she was looking into the eyes of the man she loved. He was staring at her just like he did when he would tell her he loved her. Somehow she hoped it wasn't her eyes deceiving her. Somehow she hoped that the Zoilo did look at her the way she thought he did.
But then again, it could just be a saying after all.
She felt her throat tighten and her vision began to blur. She looked up at the ceiling, blinked, and pushed her thoughts far back in her head. She focused on the touch of his hands as they laid on her thighs and Zoilo's lips as they continued peppering her lower stomach with kisses.
Zoilo froze and frowned as his face held another emotion, one that Arabella didn't see. Pain. He quickly masked his pain before Arabella could see it.
She stared down at him, waiting for what he'd do or say next.
He then traced his hands up along each side of her body until they reached her hips. His lips started the trail from her stomach, between her breasts, and the side of her neck.
He then spoke, "ti meriti il mondo e molto altro, Arabella."
He kissed and left love marks that would stay with Arabella for days, reminding her of this night. "Se potessi, ti darei tutto quello che volevi, ma..."
Arabella was having a hard time understanding what he was saying. She didn't know every Italian world, but she could have a simple conversation. She knew phrases and certain words she had heard from her parents, Zoilo's family, and from Zoilo. Along with that, Zoilo's actions were distracting her from concentrating on his words.
He placed a hand under her thigh. He lifted it, causing her leg to bend, and slightly parted her legs further apart. "Stasera ti darò tutto di me. Solo per te."