“Life takes you unexpected places,
Love brings you home.”
September 24, 2011
Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport, France
The pair landed at Lyon, from where they made their way to Grenoble, to his parent’s house. Isabella never told him why she’d chosen Lyon as a destination - but her intent was clearly to meet his parents and stay at their home for a while.
“You planned this all along, right?”
“I didn’t have too many choices. I was given very short notice, and I chose Lyon since it wasn’t too far from Grenoble.”
“I don’t even know what to tell my parents. I had spoken to my mom last week and I didn’t mention anything about coming home now.”
“It’ll be fine. Besides, I’m sure they’ve been missing you terribly.”
During their car ride to Grenoble, Lucca observed the vista from the windows, noting that a lot had changed. “That’s new. And that building wasn’t there either,” he pointed at the scenes like an excited child, while introducing his hometown to his girlfriend.
Isabella watched him in dreamy silence, reminded of the man who’d danced to Vasco Rossi and chased her down a park, the man before everything had changed.
September 24, 2011
The taxi finally stopped at Lucca’s childhood home and he got off. He glanced at the place he’d spent most of his life at. Thankfully, nothing had changed here since he’d left for Atlanta. Except, perhaps, for the new satellite dish that’d been fitted on the roof.
“Come on…” He picked up their suitcases and led the way, Isabella following closely behind. At the front door, he knocked and waited. When he didn’t get a reply straightaway, he knocked again.
A soft voice echoed from within the house, “J’arrive, J’arrive… (I’m coming, I’m coming…)”
Lucca smiled at the sound of concern in his mother’s tone – not surprising, since it was pretty late, and unusual to have visitors at this time of the night.
“C’est moi, Lucca – (It’s me. Lucca),” he answered, knocking once again.
Footsteps quickened, and the door flung open.
Lucca dropped his bags and stepped inside to gather his mother in a warm embrace. Janet held Lucca, emotionally patting his cheeks.
“Tu m’as trop manqué... (I missed you),” Lucca came away, and introduced Isabella.
“Welcome dear. I’ve heard so much about you and I can confirm – you are beautiful.” Janet took a good long motherly look of the girl, before welcoming her with a hug.
Isabella blushed. “I’ve heard so much about you too.”
“I hope he’s told you good things about me… if not…” Janet jested, while ushering the pair into the four bedroom house.
“Where’s dad?” Lucca glimpsed around.
“He’s sleeping already. He had a lot of work to do today, and he’s taken a Zolpidem to help him sleep. You’ll catch up with him in the morning.
Leave your suitcases in the room, and get yourselves comfortable. I’ll get you both some coffee.”
Janet patted Lucca on his back and disappeared into the kitchen.
“Is coffee a Grenoble tradition?” Isabella elbowed Lucca, as they settled into the couch. “You served me coffee the first time I visited you too.”
“Mom is the reason I like coffee so much. She prepares a wonderful fresh brew for my dad every day, from which I’ve secretly stolen a few drops to make my own mug many times. I’ve loved the flavor ever since.
I guess, now I can claim to be a better barista than she is!” Lucca grinned.
His mother arrived soon enough and served them two steaming mugs of the beverage. A few sips later, Isabella leaned close to Lucca, “I’m sorry, dear… but your mom’s coffee is definitely better than yours.”
Curious, Janet enquired what they were whispering about. When Isabella let her know, Janet broke out into a laugh and patted her son on the arm. “Don’t you dare compare your skills to mine? I’m a Goddess at the art of coffee-making. Anyway,” she stifled a yawn, “you haven’t told me what spurred this sudden visit…”
“Mom… you’re sleepy.”
“I was nearly asleep when I heard the knock at the door.”
“Why don’t we continue this conversation in the morning, then?”
“Oh, alright…” Janet sighed softly. “Your room is exactly as you left it – a little dusty though. You can use the second bedroom for now.” She gestured towards the door down the corridor.
“Ok… mom,” Lucca stood up to hug her once again. “Good night.”
“Talk tomorrow.” Janet patted Isabella’s shoulder, and headed for her bedroom.
“Your mom is really cool.” Isabella observed the outline of her boyfriend’s face, while his eyes continued to follow his mother’s shadow.
“We’re all cool. I got my coolness from my parents.” Lucca tugged at his collar, standing up to go check the second room, along with Isabella.
“It’s so nice,” she chirped. “You have a beautiful home.”
Carrying the luggage in, they arranged their belongings around the furniture. Finally, slipping into his pajamas, Lucca hit the bed – he was exhausted. Isabella excused herself and stepped out to the lounge to have a short chat with her grandmother. While waiting at the airport for Lucca’s arrival, she’d called her grandmother to let her know about the France trip, promising that she would get in touch as soon as she landed in France. She dialed the number; it rang but no one picked up the call. “Grandma must be enjoying her siesta,” she shrugged, deciding to try again next morning. Just as she was about to return to bed, her phone rang - it was her grandmother returning the call.
“I told you to call me as soon as you landed. And you’re just calling your old granny now?”
“Oops sorry,” Isabella giggled, before going on to have a short pleasant chat with her grandma, describing beautiful Grenoble and Lucca’s lovely parents.
Lucca and Isabella remained in Grenoble for the next three months. It was the first time in a while that he lived a life free of crime.
His schedule consisted of sleeping, eating, sharing long conversations with his father and listening to his mother’s jokes. And of course, with Isabella at his side, it made all those moments worth it. Yet, at the end of three months, Lucca was not satisfied with merely sitting at home and doing nothing. His father had asked him about his future plans, and if he would like to work with him at his new organization, but Lucca remained undecided. As a lone wolf, he knew he would be happiest working for himself, while making money in a legitimate way.
One night, Lucca was sitting outside the house with Isabella, gazing at the stars when she threw him a question he hadn’t been able to answer yet. “You know… you should have found something to do already… and maybe we would be less of a burden on your parents. We should think of starting a family soon and we clearly aren’t going to start it here. You’re very brilliant and I know you can do anything, if you set your mind to it.”
“Isabella… it’s not that I’m comfortable with the way things are…” Lucca grimaced, with a tinge of remorse. “It’s only that I haven’t been able to figure out the best career option for me to pursue.”
“I know what… maybe it’s not been working because you’ve been trying to do this alone. How about we start something together?”
“Fine.” He gazed at her determined smile. “Let’s do this then… together.” Lucca kissed Isabella on her head and rested his head against her shoulder.
The next day, Isabella told Lucca what she’d come up with. As someone who’d studied and worked in the field of interior design, she was confident that with her know-how and with his tech-wizardry, they would be able to achieve something big. Lucca was fascinated with the idea and since Isabella was well-versed with American designs, they could come up with something totally different. He grabbed a notepad and started jotting down pointers on how they would go about it.
After weeks of brain-storming and discussions, Lucca researched the market online and discovered that the consumer demand for interior design companies in France was highest in the capital. “Yes…. Paris would be the perfect place to start our company,” they decided jointly.
Lucca discussed the idea with his parents and they seemed to like it too. They offered some financial support towards the start-up for the young couple and helped them prepare for the move. Isabella left France and flew back to Atlanta, staying with her grandmother for a couple of months, so she could have her French work visa processed.
In the meanwhile, Lucca shifted to the big city, and began their company at Paris, while drawing out the paperwork for Isabella.
Not long thereafter, she booked an appointment with the French consulate in Atlanta and submitted the application. Three weeks later, her application was approved and she rejoined Lucca in Paris, permanently leaving behind her life in Atlanta.