16 June 2009

The Tuscan Trap: Part X

The car gave way three quarters from the villa due to lack of petrol, something that Dawn had estimated wrong. There was nothing Dawn could do but make it on foot the rest of the way. She grabbed her bag and the gifts she brought with her and started making her way to the villa. The sun was bright and the temperature was well into the thirties, Dawn delved into her bag and wiped the sweat from her face with her handkerchief. She exhaled and carried on walking, it was a beautiful tranquil day and she pondered about whether this was the right thing to do but she couldn't turn back now, as she would literally be stuck otherwise and in this heat she didn't want heat stroke. She made her way to the villa and noticed that Luca's car and an unfamiliar car were parked in the driveway, at least someone was home. She walked to the front door and took a deep breathe and knocked on the door, waiting a few seconds she looked out into the Tuscany scenery and she felt, she didn't know what she felt, scared perhaps. The door open and a gust of cool air flooded her senses, she turned around and was met by Stefany.

Stefany grabbed her in a hug and ushered her in, speaking bouts of Italian to her. Fortunately for Dawn, she could understand what she was saying and answered back in Italian which made Stefany pause in speech.

"You speak Italiano now? That is grand, come, come in and come sit. I go fetch some lemonade and something to eat. How are you love? What brings you here?" Stefany asked with glee as she disappeared and reappeared in no time with platters of food, "You come just in time, we have a party for Clive, it is his birthday today. You must come, he would like to see you."

"How is Clive?" Dawn asked.

"He is very well, he will show you the building. He refurbished it himself, he is not here now because he had to go to Venice to sort some business out but he be back later. So tell me Dawn, how have you been?" Stefany asked.

"I've been well," Dawn said.

"And how is London and your job?" Stefany asked.

"My job... well, I quit a few months after I left here... it wasn't what I wanted. I wanted more, if it was possible. I've primarily been commuting from here to back home but I'm hoping to find something a bit more permanent. I've been teaching English to kids here, I was around, I just wanted to pop by and say hi... and oh, I forgot," Dawn said as she brought out a bag of gifts, "These are for you, Luca and Clive but it seems my timing is perfect, considering."

Stefany hugged Dawn, "This is too nice of you, thank you." Stefany unwrapped her present, it was a velvet box and when she opened it, the gem clasped on a platinum chain glistened before her very eyes, "Darling, I can't take this, this is much too great."

"Please I insist Stefany, I really wanted to," she handed her Luca's and Clive's presents, "These are for Luca and Clive."

"No no, you must give these to them personally," Stefany insisted, "You are to stay for his party, otherwise you will make me very unhappy... but I have an idea... you must hide when he arrives, I will unveil you, you are his present... he will be so surprised and happy to see you... he will love you."

"When is he due?" Dawn asked.

Stefany looked at the clock, "Ah in a few hours, but he will call when he is coming but for the meantime, you tell me everything you have been up to and help me in the kitchen before then. We have a girlie chat."

A few hours later, Stefany had ordered Dawn to freshen up. Stefany laid out an exquisite dress, it was cotton but looked more like chiffon in a multitude of colour that wasn't headstrong but wasn't subtle either. Dawn gazed at it, it was beautiful, it was perfect. She tried it on and it was a perfect fit, it came below the knee and now she had only to figure out, how she would have her hair, she decided to have it fall to her shoulders naturally. She had to wait in the room, until it was the right time for her to go down. She looked at herself in the mirror, she hadn't looked this great in ages. She just hoped that Clive would be happy to see her.

"Mama, there is a car abandoned three quarters away from here... do you happen to know who's it is?" Clive said in Italian, as he kissed his mother on the cheek when he entered the kitchen.

"Beats me, I'm sure whoever it is, will be back. Your guests are in the garden, go and say hello, I am just about to prepare the table." Stefany answered back and Clive walked into the garden where he was greeted by at least twenty people.

Stefany waited five minutes and instructed Luca to keep Clive away, whilst she went to fetch Dawn. She led Dawn downstairs quietly and made her walk around the house and into the throngs of people present at Clive's party. Dawn looked around but she couldn't see him anywhere and she didn't know anyone there. She went to the table and picked up a glass of lemonade and took a seat on one of the chairs. The taste of the lemonade on her tongue was refreshing, as well as tangy. She looked to the floor, for answers when a shoulders blocked her view, she looked up to see a man pass her and sit next to her.

"Hi, my name is Demetri and you are?" he said in polished Italian. He looked like Clive but was far more built and was wearing a linen blue shirt and linen khaki trousers.

She shook his hand, "Dawn, nice to meet you," replying back in Italian.

"And how do you know Clive?" Demetri asked.

"We used to work together but... that was a long time ago and you?" Dawn asked.

"Oh he's my older cousin, I live in Venice but I came down with him." He said.

Stefany came into the party and announced that everyone was to grab their plates and start eating, everyone made a beeline to the table of food, leaving Dawn seated down at one of the benches on the far side. Stefany watched as Clive watched the people rush to the table and then his eyes clasped onto Dawn seated away from the throngs of people. He stilled and then made his way gallantly towards her. Stefany knew success when she saw it and this was success.

Clive watched as everyone scuttled to the table, he raised a beer to his lips and something in the corner of his eyes caught his attention. As he looked towards this, everything in him stilled. It can't be, can it? He asked himself. The sun must be up to it's usual tricks because there was Dawn sitting on the bench furthest away. She was looking at the floor as if it was charming her into conversation and when she looked at the people at the dinner table to him, her eyes stilled and her body became stiff. He made his way towards her.

"Hi Dawn," he said as he sat next to her in English.

"Hi Clive, happy birthday," she replied in Italian, "How are you?"

"Wow, you speak good Italian Dawn. I'm good, all the better for seeing you and you, how have you been keeping?"

"Good, thank you." She whispered.

There was silence, it was due to shock on both their parts when they spoke, they spoke at once.

"You first," Clive said.

"Okay... I'm sorry I didn't say goodbye the last time, when I spoke to Hiller, he didn't see any point in keeping me here and it didn't really give me a chance to say a proper goodbye... I..." Dawn said.

"Right... well that's in the past now, isn't it?" Clive said, rendered speechless. He hadn't bargained on how the past would make him ache, "How long are you here?"

"I still have a few days and then I'm back to London," Dawn said.

"And how's the job back there?" Clive asked, his eyes never straying from hers.

"In London?" Dawn asked and Clive nodded, "I quit."

"You quit?" Clive said astonished.

"Yeah, a few months after... it didn't feel right anymore... I wasn't the same after... well..."

"Clive, I see you met Dawn..." Demetri said as he intervened in between Clive and Dawn, separating the both of them.

Dawn looked at Clive, as if being separated from him any longer was too much for her.

"Demetri, do you mind, we're having a private conversation here!" Clive said in hardened and annoyed Italian.

"As a matter of fact, I was talking to Dawn first, so really you are in our conversation," Demetri answered back, turning towards Dawn.

Dawn stood up and suddenly both Clive and Demetri stood up too.

"If you would excuse me, I... err... I just need to get a drink." She walked off, leaving the two of them. Dawn walked inside, where it was cooler and she suddenly felt someones hand in hers as she was spun around to be held in Clive's arms.

"You don't know how much I've longed for you and I wasn't going to allow Demetri, the idiot to lodge him self between us. I've missed you Dawn... I've missed you so much that you've been on my mind consistently these past eighteen months. I don't know your favourite colour, I don't know what you like to do in your spare time but I do know that you work hard in anything and that when the sun is shining your hair turns a crazy red which reminds me of a good fine Merlot and that you're crazy energetic, you get nervous and that somehow, you came here for a reason... tell me I'm not crazy and that you feel something too?" Clive said.

Dawn looked up at him and then at his linen suit, she played with the lapels of his jacket and then heard her say, "I've thought about it so many times, more then you know... just to hear those words and you've said them," she laughed to herself and then looked up at him, "I guess I'd have to be mad too and since we're here confessing things..."

"Wait, I want to show you something..." Clive interrupted, "Come with me."

"Where are we going?" Dawn asked, as he glided her towards the door and opened the door to the car.

"I'm taking you to my home," Clive said.

"Your home... but what about your..."

"They won't know I'm missing... besides... this is far more important." Clive said starting the car. He was driving for five minutes and then ten and then fifteen minutes and suddenly he was parking outside the building, "You'll absolutely love it, I want to show you the restoration."

"Restoration?" Dawn said puzzled, "You mean you didn't modernise it,"

"I restored it to it's former glory, I wanted to retain it's charm," Clive said as he opened the front door.

Dawn walked in and her mouth gaped open in awe. She was speechless, it was how she had imagined it.

"Do you like it?" Clive asked, as he attentively watched her.

Dawn still said nothing, she walked over to the staircase and touched the grain of wood decorating the stairs, she looked to the ceiling, it was as if she had stepped into the Sistine Chapel. She walked up the stairs towards the first floor where she had found the photograph that had revealed that Clive was indeed the heir, the Duke. The room was airy and full of light and she walked in, it was the frame beside the larger window that caught her eye. It was indeed the one that she had found with Clive.

"You put it up?" Dawn said.

"Of course, how could I not? He is my great great grandfather and what is his is now fine," Clive spoke surveying the room but mostly his attention was caught on the woman standing in the middle of it all.

"I want you to share this with me... I want you to have this with me..."

"What are you saying Clive?" Dawn said.

He walked up to her and held her hands, "However crazy this sounds, I just don't care... I love you Dawn... and though we didn't start off on the right footing, I'm hoping you would make me a decent man, I hope you will love me for the man I want to be when I'm with you, when I'm thinking about you and especially when you fill me with such hope."

"I'm sorry, what?!" Dawn said utterly confused.

"I want you to marry me... that's if, if you'll have me?" Clive said the words and went down on bended knees.

"Is this some sort of trap, some tuscan trap to lure me stay?" Dawn said.

"No trap at all... not in the physical sense but since you've been away... away from me, I have been trapped by the notion of never having you beside me, I want nothing more then to be free of it, to be able to love you like a woman should be loved and I want to be the man who does... God, this is crazy but I love you so much, it's devastating me the longer you stay quiet." Clive pleaded, "Say you'll have me."

Dawn looked at him, "Have you? Let me think about it," she giggled.

"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" Clive looked at her and felt the laughter, "You're tormenting me woman,"

"Men are meant to be tormented," Dawn smiled as she walked into his arms and he kissed her.

"Is that a yes?" Clive asked.

"No... it's a hell yes! Happy birthday darling," Dawn smiled.

"It's the best birthday ever!" and with that knowledge, he kissed her.


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