He grabs my hands and holds them, clutching them to his chest, pulling the rest of me there as well.
“Shh,” he whispers into my hair. It is now that I realize that I am crying yet again. I fall limply against him and allow him to hold me. The hormones from this pregnancy are wreaking havoc with my emotions. I hate that I feel so weak and weepy.
“Let me take care of it,” Luca says. “I’ll set up everything up and you won’t have to even think about it. I’ll do it.”
I pull away and stare at him incredulously as I realize that he is speaking of our child.
“I won’t have to even think about it? You think I can abort my child, your child, and not even think about it? Are you insane?”
I get up and stalk backward, my heart frozen as I stare at his expression. He is quite convinced that we will be aborting our baby. And suddenly, I feel as though I need to get away from him. I don’t know why, I only know that the maternal instincts inside of me are telling me to run.
Luca follows me as I back away from him, watching me carefully.
“Eva, that’s not what I meant. But I’m trying to be frank with you. We can’t have this baby. Trust me, no child would want to live the life that I’ve lived. I would never wish that on anyone. There’s no way that you can understand. But I understand. I’ve lived it. I’m still living it. And I would never put a child through it.”
His voice hardens toward the end, growing even more determined.
I stare at him again in disbelief. “You are telling me that you would rather be dead than the person that you are?”
Luca says nothing, but his silence says everything. And suddenly, I can’t take it anymore. I have to listen to my instincts. They are screaming at me and I can no longer tune them out.
I whirl and race from the cottage, down the paths leading to the beach. The trail is uneven, filled with rocks and pebbles and roots. I stumble, then right myself. I don’t know where I’m going, but I can’t stay there with him. I hear him behind me, calling for me, but I don’t stop. I reach the rocky incline that slopes steeply to the shore before Luca catches up with me and grabs my arm.
“Eva! What are you trying to do? Get yourself killed?”
The sea is crashing below us and I turn, staring Luca in the eye.
He is desperate and anxious, two things that I have never seen on his face before. I don’t know his motives. Is he scared that I will hurt myself or scared that I will get away and he can’t force me to abort our baby? The wind whips my hair around my face and I impatiently push it out of the way.
“No,” I answer. “But that almost sounds more appealing than the alternative at this point. Now let go of me!”
I wrench my arm out of his grip, but as I do, as I yank backward, my foot slips free of my tenuous foothold. The rocks and dirt give way and there is nothing holding me up anymore. I scream as I skid downward at an unnatural angle. I flail and struggle to regain my balance, but I can’t. Everything is happening too quickly. Luca grabs for me, but it’s too late.
I tumble down the rocks, down the steep incline, flipping over several times before I finally land with my cheek resting in the watery sand below. The jarring blow knocks the wind out of me and I struggle to breathe as I gather my wits. It happened so quickly that it seems like a blur.
Luca is beside me in an instant.
“Eva! Can you hear me!”
I nod without lifting my head. I can’t seem to breathe well yet. I don’t have enough air to move or speak. Long seconds pass before I can urge any sound from my lips.
“Go away, Luca,” I finally rasp. “Just go away.”
“Not a chance,” he says. He bends and picks me up from the shallow water and rocks. As he lifts me from the water, my scraped feet sting in the breeze. I have no idea if I am injured. I feel completely numb. I am dirty and muddy and wet as he wordlessly carries me back to my cottage.
He carries me into my bathroom where he runs a bath and strips off my wet clothes. He holds my hand as he settles me into the tub, then kneels next to me, washing my arms and legs carefully. I’m scraped all over and it burns as the hot water seeps into the cuts. But I don’t care. I draw my knees up to my chest and lean my cheek against them, closing my eyes.
I’m too numb to cry.
“It will all be okay,” Luca says carefully as he washes my muddy face. “I promise, Eva. You will be okay, no matter what. I will make sure of it.”
I don’t answer, but I allow him to help me back out of the tub and wrap me in a towel. I feel so empty and alone, even though he is right here. Because I know what he wants and it is very different from what I want.
I feel utterly alone.
I pull a t-shirt over my head and then collapse back onto the couch.
Luca settles me in with a blanket and a pillow and sits at my feet, stroking my legs soothingly.
“Rest, Eva,” he tells me. “I know you are exhausted. You aren’t taking care of yourself. I can see it. Please sleep. I’ll be right here.”
I stare at him wordlessly for a moment, then grasp his hand and close my eyes. He might be against what I want, but I still love him. I can’t help it. And his presence comforts me. I sleep more quickly and deeply than I have in weeks because even in sleep, my body knows that he is here.
I wake several hours later in horrible pain, my body wrenching and twisting as my abdominal muscles contract. I double over, clutching my stomach, trying to breathe. The pain takes my breath away. As I look up, Luca is watching me in horror, in pain. And I see something in his eyes that I don’t wish to see.
“What is happening?” I ask him limply. “Luca.”
He turns away, but not before I see the terrible answer in his eyes.
And I know, even while I am asking him, what is wrong. I am miscarrying.
It isn’t long before the sticky wetness between my legs lets me know that I am correct. I cry as I clean the blood from my legs. I use washcloth after washcloth to wipe my unborn child’s remains from my skin. With each ragged breath, with each cloth filled with tissue and blood, I cry a little more.