She sat up as she held the end of the bed sheet against her bare chest. She looked towards her right and saw Zoilo was still sleeping.
His face and most of his upper body was on full display. His left forearm laid over his stomach while his right laid beside him freely on the mattress.
Arabella bit her lower lip. Zoilo had always been tall, handsome, and built. She loved running her hands over his dirty blonde hair. His green eyes reminded her of the forest, leaves, and life which screamed spring. It was her favorite season and after she met him, whenever she looked into his eyes, it always felt like spring.
She shifted her gaze down to his left arm. Tattoos were embedded on his bicep, his shoulder, and over his left pec. He had a snake wrapped around his bicep. On one side of the snake's head he had a branch with small leaves and on the other side there were two matches that were crossed, one of which was lit. On his pec he had a heart that looked almost real. Two rose leaves surrounded it. Branching out from the top of it there two flowers.
Arabella remembered before he had tattooed both of them on. First came the rose. It was as if Arabella was reliving the moment. One night, just a few moments before Zoilo and Arabella ended up spending their night in bliss, Arabella had removed Zoilo's shirt and noticed his chest had more ink than before.
A rose that had roots growing into the heart he had already tattooed since before they met.
She gently traced her fingers over it. Zoilo winced and Arabella removed her hand. "When did you get this?" She asked.
"A day ago. I wanted to wait till it completely healed to surprise you, but here we are," he chuckled.
"It's beautiful," she stared at it in awe.
"I wanted something that would remind me of you that no one could take away from me. Something that showed what you did to me and still do." He grabbed her hand and placed it once more on his chest. "You've planted yourself in my heart, Bella. And there's no way to dig you out of it. I love you."
"I love you too, Zoilo."
The other flower was small. It resembled a new life. One that was created by both of them. Zoilo got it the day after he found out that Arabella was pregnant. He told her he wanted to continue adding to the heart as their family continued to grow.
But instead, it became a reminder of what they lost.
Arabella looked back up at his face and pushed back her memories. She brought her legs against her chest and placed her chin on her knees.
Zoilo's appearance was close to perfect as many would say, including herself. But there was more to him than just his looks. Before she met him, she was skeptical about him. She had only heard of him from her parents and sometimes people can be wrong about someone.
She hoped he was how her parents described him to be and in the end, he was. He was funny, sweet, charming, and someone she trusted.
Her heart thumped while heat rushed to her face. I can't let this happen again. You're getting divorced, Arabella. Just because you slept with him doesn't mean things will go back to how they used to be.
But I could enjoy it while it lasts. Her expression saddened. Before he leaves me.
When in fact he had lost her the moment he told her he wanted the divorce. In a way, he did leave. The Zoilo she knew left her and was replaced by someone she didn't know. It was why Arabella always felt alone even if he was next to her.
She got out of bed and headed towards the bathroom.
Minutes later, Zoilo woke up. He turned to look at Arabella, but she wasn't there. He could hear the shower running and her sweet voice singing. She wasn't a professional singer but she did have a beautiful voice. It was far better than his he thought. Never again would he sing after Arabella caught him softly singing his favorite song. She would insist that he sang for her when he would rather hear her voice. Zoilo smiled thinking of all the times she sang. He missed it.
He remembered when she learned to sing his favorite Italian song for his birthday. He would ask her to sing it from that day on whenever he wanted to hear her sweet voice. He remembered the lullabies she sang as she rubbed her stomach while gently swaying on the rocking chair.
After the miscarriage, Arabella changed. It was as if her old self was running away from him. He lost her. He lost her to something he couldn't control and no matter how much he tried, she never seemed to come back.
He got up and dressed in a pair of sweatpants, before heading downstairs.
Meanwhile, at Costano's office.
"Alright I have all the files I need for your case... Yes just worry about showing for court... Thank you sir... Alright have a great day." Costano hung up his new office phone.
He pulled his cellphone from his pocket and read his messages. He reread the last message he received from Arabella. It was from yesterday about an hour after she left his house.
Just got home. I'm about to get ready for work but thank you for yesterday and this morning. I owe you.
Costano sighed, shut his phone off, and placed it back in his pocket. He was now her lawyer and that meant he couldn't do things like that again, even if she was his best friend. If he was caught doing something like that, he could lose his job and worse. It would also affect Arabella and he didn't want anything bad to happen to her due to something he could've avoided.
The door opened and in came the woman he thought he would never see again. His breath caught on the back of his throat and his eyes slightly widened.
The woman smiled and spoke, "it's good to see you, Costano."
"I hope I'm not interrupting anything. I was hoping we could talk."
"About?" He frowned.
"I know you have questions and I owe you some answers," she sighed. "But I understand if you don't want to see me. This is an unexpected visit, one you probably never wanted to happen."
"Why now?" Was all he could say.
Silence followed. Costano noticed Pia's grip tighten on the handle of her purse she held in front of her.
"Like I said, I owe you some answers."
Costano didn't know whether he should allow Pia to explain herself. It wasn't going to fix the damage that was done.
But he wanted to know. He wanted her to answer all his questions. Why did she leave? Where did she go? He needed to know.
His response seemed almost unreal to Pia. "Uhm do you prefer to talk here or somewhere else?"
• • •
Arabella wrapped a towel around her torso before exiting the bathroom. She realized she was alone in the room. Her first thought was that Zoilo had left for work. Today was Arabella's day off from working at the office and modeling. She thought of spending some time at the pool sunbathing first, maybe watch a movie after, and then later decide what to do with the rest of her day.
After putting on a maroon bandeau swimsuit, she put on her sheer black cardigan paired with nude sandals and headed downstairs. As she went down the stairs, the smell of food filled the air. Her frown deepened as she approached the kitchen.
Once there, her eyes widened. "What are you doing here, Zoilo? Shouldn't you be at work?"
"I'll be going in a few. I just wanted to make sure you ate before I left," Zoilo answered as he placed her plate on the granite island.
"Besides I'm the boss. I can go whenever I want to," he grinned and gestured at her plate before turning back to the stove.
Arabella raised an eyebrow as she sat on a silver high stool. He made her white rice and two scrambled eggs with cooked ham.
"Thank you..." she said before digging in.
Even though she couldn't see his face, Zoilo smiled at himself but his smile didn't reach under his eyes.
• • •
Pia and Costano had finally arrived at their destination. Costano held the door open for Pia as she entered the coffee shop. Within eight minutes, they sat and ordered their food.
"I love the welcoming feel of the place and the service," she commented as the waitress walked away. She smiled as she looked around, her eyes landing on the paintings on the walls.
Costano ordered a cup of coffee while Pia ordered a slice of banana bread and a cup of chamomile tea. It wasn't long before the waitress came back with their order.
"Enjoy. If you'd like anything else just let me know." They thanked the waitress before she turned and left to serve the other tables.
She grabbed her cup and sipped some of her tea. She hummed in satisfaction as the warm drink filled her mouth.
"How has work been?" Pia asked, before taking another sip.
"It's been the same as always," Costano answered. He didn't want to tell her anything. She didn't deserve to know anything. He just wanted answers from her.
"Did you get the dog you always wanted?"
"Yes," he stated.
"I'm glad," she smiled.
"So when will you explain what happened?" Costano asked, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Let's enjoy our food first. Your coffee will get cold soon. Plus I was hoping we could catch up." She tapped the tips of her pointer fingers against the sides of her cup.
"There's no need to catch up. There's a reason why we divorced and never spoke after it," Costano stated in annoyance.
Pia sighed, "you're still mad at me. I get it and I'm sorry for how things ended the way they did. I never meant to hurt you."
Costano slammed his fist against the table. "Bullshit," he spatted. "You had everything planned out from the beginning. You used me to get what you wanted and when you did you left me." Costano furrowed his brows together and his lips formed into a thin line. Just the thought of what she did to him brought back all the emotions. The pain and anger of her betrayal.
Pia looked down at her cup. "I never wanted to do any of those things to you. I never imagined I would."
She took a deep breath, looked back up at him, and continued, "I did love you. You never did anything wrong. You were the perfect boyfriend and husband."
Pia's eyes began to water. "But I had to do what I had to do for you and-" She stopped herself before she could finish her sentence. "I wanted to meet with you today because I hate how I left things. Even if you won't forgive me I thought you should know why I did what I did."
Costano began to question himself. Was this the right choice? Did he really want to know why she left? He had moved on. What was her motive? It couldn't just be that she wanted to tell him the truth, or could it be?
"Okay." He looked down at his wrist watch. "But not today. I have clients waiting for me at my office and I can't keep them waiting." He handed her one of his business cards. "Call me so we can plan a day when I'm free to meet with you."
Pia nodded. She watched as Costano stood up, payed the bill, and left the coffee shop. Suddenly, her phone rang. She answered the call as she leaned back against her chair.
"Pia, I'm sorry for calling so early but I can't stay at your home for much longer. It seems I'm going to be a grandmother sooner than expected," said the woman on the other end.
Pia could imagine the smile on Karla's face. She had known Karla since her early teens and saw her as a mother, and father at times. Pia knew how much Karla wanted grandchildren. It was one of the many things they spoke about. Pia was grateful that she was able to go through many of those moments with her, knowing how she felt and what it was like.
Pia was anxious for the day that she would become a grandmother, but she also wished that time would slow down as there was still so much to enjoy about the present.
"I'll be there shortly." Pia handed a ten dollar bill as tip to the waitress before standing and leaving.