Tattoos, Tiaras & Thanksgiving

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Chapter 3 - Tea with mum

Callum

I was back in my parents’ house, well what has been their house for at least a couple of years. I’ve never quite got used to this place; it was a house I spent time in - not home. Home was in London; my childhood friends were in London. Nan’ and Grampy were back in England, albeit not in London anymore.

To be fair, the last time I spent more than a month at the house in London was when I was nine years old. Finn and I attended boarding school at Winchester College, so time at home was few and far between.

But still, I liked the fact that my room was still my room when I got home.

Unpacking my clothes into these empty drawers still felt foreign to me somehow.

And then I stood like the stupid oaf I was, with my AC/DC shirt in hand. She stopped me dead in my tracks - the beautiful brunette girl that took my breath away. Walking up the steps I had to steady myself by leaning into Carlotta, who I’m sure is going to grill me about it later over coffee.

I could feel my heart slamming against my chest when I took her hand into mine. She had the softest skin I had ever had the pleasure to touch.

God, I could feel my treacherous mouth curve up into a smile. Just like the time I met Lady Di.

Alessandra Laurenti… why was she here? Where had she been all this time?

And why did I care?

A knock on the door distracted me. “Come in”

The head of curly hair peeking behind the door gave away all hints to who it was.

“Come on in Finn!”

He crashed down on my bed, hands behind his head and feet crossed. His tall, stringy frame stretched from the head to the foot of my bed.

“How do you get yourself in those trousers mate?”

He laughs, showing off those impressive dimples – the ones that made every woman swoon.

“So… Alex…” he starts

I raise an eyebrow, of course my Lothario of a brother noticed her too.

“Don’t go breaking any hearts brother…” I warned “She’s Carlotta’s sister… and technically she works for us…”

That sounded weird to say and the frown on Finn’s forehead indicated that he agreed.

“She is fit though…”

I tried to hide my smile, but my brother was on to me.

“She’s okay…” I shrug at my tiny white lie.

I sneaked a peek over at Finn; he had turned his attention to one of my college books I’d brought along for the holidays. He flips through the pages, feigning interest in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. And here I thought my answer would spark interest, but Finn had moved on already.

“I cannot believe they make you re-read this tragedy at Harvard!”

“You have something against Tolstoy now too?” I smirk at him

“He’s not very original, is he?”

“You do realize Leo Tolstoy was one of the world’s greatest novelists…”

“He was an old long white-bearded Russian and in this book…” he holds it up for me to see the cover, as if I didn’t already know it “every single person’s name ends with ‘ski’”

I let out a shocked laugh “Just so you know, it’s not prescribed reading…”

“No way in hell are we birthed from the same loin! I call for paternity tests”

I laugh again. Finn was a brut, but he was so funny while being one.

“Just put the book back where you found it grouch!” I tease

“Mum’s got scones and coffee in the dining room… She asks that you hurry it up”

“Oh, so now you get to the relevance of your little visit” I laugh

Finn sits up, elbows resting on his knees burying his hands in his mop of curly hair.

“Late night last night I take it”

“Sod off Cal…” he looks up at me and grins “It was epic though”

“Bastard! Whose pants did you manage to get into now?”

“A gentleman never kisses and tells brother”

“Well then it’s a good thing that you’re not a gentleman hey”

He smiles with a grimace on his face, and then hurls a pillow at my head.

“Easy!” I laugh “You reckon you’ll see her again? She from Belle Meade?”

Finn gingerly gets up from the bed and heads for the door, “I’m not telling you… so you can stop fishing for details.”

“Oh, come on, don’t be like that. You know I live my life vicariously through yours” I tease him one last time before he leaves.

When I get downstairs to the dining room, Finn is already seated as mother hovers over him, pouring his tea and cutting up his scone – as if he were a toddler.

“Thank you for finally gracing us with your presence darling” mum announces, sarcastically, as I sit down in the chair opposite Finn.

“Where’s dad?” I change the topic

“He’s meeting with some restaurateur about supplying his new Merlot” she walks around to pour some tea into my cup “all very utterly boring, I assure you darling”

“Thanks mum” I smile up at her, she presses a soft kiss down on the top of my head.

“So, how’s school?” she asks as she sits down at the head of the table.

“This one’s reading Anna Karenina…” Finn mumbles between bites of his scone and feels obliged to add “… by choice”

Finn made me laugh, even at my own expense.

“Such a lovely book, so sad and tragic and beautifully devastating at the same time”

I nod in agreement. “Tolstoy’s a genius”

“Tolstoy is a bore.” Finn mocks

“Oh love…” mum reaches over to give Finn’s hand an encouraging squeeze “Why don’t you stick to romancing and charming the ladies”

Mother had the uncanny ability to pass an insult with a sugary sweet aftertaste.

I had to laugh.

“Ha! Ha!” Finn flashed a grin “and here I thought I was your favorite son”

“Oh Finn…” she smiled

“Speaking of… how are my boys dealing with the desperate advances from the fairer sex?”

I smiled. Mother always thought of us as innocent bystanders when it came to seduction and heartbreak. I could be depended upon to be somewhat innocent, but Finn was always the heartbreaker seducing naïve, all-too-willing women.

“Nowhere near the altar mum… but I’m doing alright” he said nonchalantly.

“And you darling?” she turns her attention to me.

I could feel the blush rising in my cheeks. I hated having these conversations with mother because they always ended with her trying to fix me up with one of the daughters of dad’s golfing buddies.

Finn looks up from his now-clean plate and notices my discomfort “He’s saving himself for marriage mum”

“Finn… don’t be nasty to your brother. Callum is just waiting for the right girl. Aren’t you dear?”

I shrug and decide to change the topic yet again. “So how is it that Carlotta’s sister is working here now?”

Finn coughed into his teacup. I raised a quizzical eyebrow. Surely my question wasn’t that absurd.

“Her name’s Alessandra…”

I tease mother with a crooked grin “We gathered that from our meeting on the patio earlier…”

“Apparently she was a dancer at Julliard no less…” mother takes a sip of her tea before continuing to dish about Alex “And according to Maria…”

“Maria, Carlotta’s mum?” Finn finally pipes up

Mother nods and continues on “Alessandra was booted out of Julliard because of an indifference with the director… but the girls at the club know Director Steward rather well and they say the girl was caught in a compromising position with the director’s son… in his office”

Mother could always overdramatize things, eyes popping with a high-pitched voice.

This certainly caught Finn’s attention “So you’re telling me… she shagged the principal’s son in his office?”

“Certainly nothing to be proud of dear… she’s a very troubled girl”

“She is officially my new hero” he jokes

“Finn… honestly” mother frowned

“So, they cut her just like that?” I asked

Mother nods “That girl threw it all away, for some frivolous rendezvous. She lost her scholarship, ruined her future and now she’s a maid”

“Mum, no need to be so condescending about it… besides, everyone has made a mistake they couldn’t rectify…”

“I know darling… but it’s just sad is all. You should’ve heard the hurt in her mother’s voice. She was the shining hope for the Laurenti family… and she let her family down”

I cocked my head to the side and gave her a knowing look, she smiled.

“Oh alright… everyone makes mistakes”

Finn reaches out to grab another scone from the basket in the centre of the table.

“Where is Maria by the way?” he asks, while stuffing his mouth

“She’s gone back to Sicily… to take care of her mother”

“Her mother is still alive? She must be ancient”

“Jeez Finn… a little tact brother” I laugh

He shrugs as he continues to shovel the pieces of scone into his mouth.

“The poor old thing is on her death bed… and Maria being the Florence Nightingale she is, just had to go back and take care of things. Such a lovely woman she is”

“So now you got a fitter, better model” Finn smirks

“Really Finn” my brother astounded me

“You leave that girl be Finn Logan McGrath!” mother warns “Besides, she’s bad news… I don’t want you to get caught up in that kind of scandal”

“Mum, have you met Finn? Ninety nine percent of the time, he’s the cause of that kind of scandal”

Finn chuckles “Tis true”

“Still…” mother brings out her ‘concerned parent’ face as she looks at Finn “I know she’s very pretty love… but just be careful. She does have a reputation of being a loose girl”

“How very Scarlet Letter of your mum” I tease her.

Mother freezes, placing her fork down diagonally across her plate before looking at me with those dramatic bulging eyes.

“Callum… love, please tell me that you’re not the one I should be concerned about”

“Concerned?” I fake a smile

“Concerned about getting involved with the loose Laurenti girl…”

Both Finn and I pack out laughing, looking across to each other wondering why the other found mother’s comment amusing.

“Relax mum” I squeeze her hand “I just think you’re being unusually hard on Alex…”

“Hmmm” she pulls up her aristocratic nose “on petname basis already, are we”

We laugh, as mother smiles nervously.

I could see that she was still mulling the idea over in her head. Mother was a worrywart; she always has been.

She looks up to meet my gaze and smiles, giving my hand a squeeze back.

“You have nothing to worry about mom… and I’m sure Alex just wants a fresh, new start… so you don’t have to worry about her either” I try to put her mind at ease.

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