Of Blood and Bone (Page 54)

Of Blood and Bone (The Minaldi Legacy #1)(54)
Author: Courtney Cole

However, I restrain that urge.

“When is the funeral?” I ask her.  Again, she shakes her head.

“I don’t know, bella.  Probably in a couple of days.”

“Thank you for telling me,” I murmur.

“Of course, sweet one,” she says.

After she leaves, I pick up the phone and dial Luca’s cell phone.  He answers on the first ring.

“Eva,” he says.  He is surprised that I have called.  “I thought that I would never hear your voice again.”

My heart breaks with his words.  I can imagine that is what he thought.

“I’m still angry,” I tell him.  “I’ll probably never get over the fact that you wanted to abort our baby.  But I know it wasn’t your fault that I fell. I said some terrible things to you in anger.  And I’m sorry for them.  But that’s not why I’m calling.  I want to give you my condolences.  I’m so sorry about your mother.  What happened?”

Luca is silent for a moment.

“Thank you,” he says.  “It has been difficult.  The official cause of death is listed as a heart attack.  But I know you probably know better.  My mother overdosed on her own sedatives. She did it herself.”

I am not surprised.  I remember her chilling voice as she begged me to do it. I nod even though he can’t see me.

“I knew she would try,” I admit to him.  “I told Adrian.”

“I knew, as well,” Luca tells me.  “We tried to prevent it, to watch her around the clock, but Sophia isn’t a machine and mother wouldn’t allow anyone else near her.”

“Sophia must feel horrible,” I say.

“She does,” Luca answers.  “But it wasn’t her fault.”

I don’t voice the unspeakable; that Melina is at peace now, that she can no longer torture herself, that she can no longer torment Luca.  Instead, I simply agree with him.

“No,” I answer.  “It is certainly not Sophia’s fault.  When is the funeral?”

“Day after tomorrow, at the cathedral in town.  But you don’t have to come.”

Pain shoots through me at his words; it feels like yet another rejection.

“Of course I’ll come,” I tell him.  “I’d like to say goodbye to you in person, anyway.  I’m leaving for home next week.”

There is silence, painful and empty.

Finally he speaks.

“That is how it should be,” he says, his voice smooth and devoid of emotion.

“I’ll see you in a couple of days,” I tell him, trying not to cry.

“Until then,” he answers and then the phone goes dead.  I hold it in my hands for the longest time before I lay it down.

The next day passes woodenly, as though I am simply treading water until I see him again.  I’m both looking forward to it and dreading it, because I know it will be for the last time.

The morning of the funeral, I dress in a simple black sheath dress and pull my hair into a knot at my neck.  I carry with me a bouquet of flowers from my own garden.  I take the bus into town and arrive to find that the cathedral is packed full of people from Valletta.  Apparently, because the Minaldis are so prominent in this town, everyone wanted to show their respect.  Marianne waves to me and I make my way to sit at her side.

The mass is a normal funeral service.  I spend most of it staring at the family pew.  Luca is there in a somber black suit, along with his brothers.  I still would have known they were brothers even if I hadn’t seen them together.  They look very much alike.  Damien and Luca could practically pass as twins, while Christoph looks like them, but is just an inch or two shorter.

When the service is over, the priest announces that there will be no public interment and that everyone is free to mingle in the community rooms beneath the church.  I swallow hard.  It is time to say goodbye to Luca.

I steel myself. I can do this.  I’ve done everything on my own in this life.  I can do this.

I wait for a while until Luca appears to be done chatting with well-wishers.  He retreats to a back corner and sits, comfortable in the shadows.  He meets my eyes and I walk to him, my legs shaky.

“Hi,” he greets me softly.  I long to reach out and hold his hand, but he doesn’t move toward me, so I don’t.  I sit next to him instead.  We are alone over here, alone in a crowded room.  There is no one near.

“I’m sorry,” I tell him.  “I’m sorry for everything.  For your mom, that I couldn’t help her, that I couldn’t help you….”

My voice trails off and he stares at me.

“After everything, you’re apologizing to me?”  He’s incredulous now.  “What have I done to you?  Have I truly taken a strong, independent woman and turned her into someone who apologizes for things that she hasn’t done?  This isn’t you, Eva.”

I sniff, fighting back tears once again.

“My hormones have been crazy,” I admit to him.  “Because of the pregnancy and losing the pregnancy.  It seems like all I can do is cry lately. I’m sorry.”

His eyes soften now and he looks away.

“I’m the one who is sorry,” he finally says, turning to meet my gaze once again.  “I never meant to hurt you.  I never want that.”

“What will you do now?” I ask.  “I hope that you let someone try to help, even if it can’t be me.”

The words are difficult to say, because I so much want to be the one who helps him.

He studies me for a moment, then looks at his hands.

“I’m going on an extended trip,” he says quietly.  “I love to sail and it’s been a long time since I’ve been.  Adrian and I are leaving tonight.  I can’t hurt anyone on the water, away from the civilized world.”

“So, you’re just going to run?” I ask bitterly.  “You’re going to hide away from the world, isolating yourself again?”

He shrugs, his shoulders elegant.  “I don’t know what else to do.”

Let me help!  I want to scream.  But I don’t.  It would be a waste of time and dignity.  He’s made up his mind.

“I wish things had been different,” I whisper instead.  He nods.

“I do, too.”