Chapter Ten~ Brenna
Blinking in a confused manner, I assess the two empty bottles of wine on the table, their labels in shreds on account of drunken, prying fingertips. Looking to my right, I see Nyla, laughing aloud in a crazed fashion over nothing in particular. On my left is Scarlet, a scowl on her face and a determined gleam in her eyes as she unsteadily tries to pour the last drop from the third bottle of wine into her glass. Last but not least, Rosalie is standing before us and babbling in an animated manner as she goes through the different ballet positions with her feet and arms. She likes to dance when she’s drunk.
We should have stopped after the second bottle.
The pub is packed right about now, with good looking Italian men all over the place. I wish I lived here, I swear to all that is holy, I do! The population in Italy is about 90% hot, 10% still pretty darn hot. In the States, you’re lucky if you get even 25% hot! This country needs to share its good-looking genes with the rest of the world. My eyes have never felt so lucky!
“Listen to me,” Rosalie demands, abruptly leaning forward and knocking the two wine bottles to the floor with her force. Luckily, they don’t break and only roll about at our feet beneath the table.
“What is it, Rosa?” Scarlet slurs, her head slumped to the side as though her neck got tired of holding it up.
Pausing for dramatic effect, my little sister smiles at everyone before saying, “I’m so glad you’re here for my wedding, it means sooo much to me. What would I do without you guys? We’re like, so bonded you know…it’s almost like we’re…”
And, as she trails off and then proceeds to nearly lose her balance, we all try to figure out the word Rosalie is looking for. What are we like? Friends, Buddies, the Three Musketeers?
“We’re sisters,” Scarlet announces proudly, and Rosalie’s gray eyes light up in glee.
“Yes, that’s it,” she screeches, swaying on her heels, “We’re like sisters!”
Fighting the urge to laugh, I know my two girls are lot drunker than I previously guessed. Goodness, they are starting to forget familial ties? I wish I was that wasted…wouldn’t it be fun to pretend I wasn’t related to Dom, especially when he sports crazy grandmother clothing?
However, I find it hard to resist teasing the girls over their less than Einstein like observation, “We are sisters, you twits!"
Turning to me with a huff, Rosalie crosses her arms over her chest and drops down to perch herself on top of my lap. I make a noise of complaint as she settles her weight and then snags my wine glass, only to pout when she finds it empty.
“I know we’re sisters,” she states tightly, the lights of the bar bouncing off her face and reflecting in her hazy eyes, “I’m not that drunk!”
Right and Tom Cruise is a completely rational human being who in no way needs to be locked in an insane asylum. We all need to face the truth here.
As my sister begins to fidget about, she grabs my left hand with her own, inspecting my fingers with a frown. Rosalie’s familiar eyes roam over my face as her expression bunches up in confusion. Holding her own left hand up in comparison, a heavy nod begins to shake her redhead.
“Where is your engagement ring?” she questions loudly, causing both Scarlet and Nyla to look our way. In my slow-witted state, I freeze, unable to remember the clever excuse I had come up with just in case anyone asked me that on the trip. I feel Scarlet slam her foot against my shin beneath the table for the second time on this night as the wine bottles roll about, clinking together with a noise that somehow beats inside my brain.
“Brenna, why don’t you have it?” Rosalie asks again, this time her voice seemingly in slow motion as her face spins above mine. Think, Brenna, think! Just say something…it’s so easy, open your mouth and form words, syllables, or even a guttural noise?!?
“She’s getting it resized,” Scarlet blurts out at last, and I shoot her a grateful grin. Thank God one of us retains her ability to lie when she is under the influence!
“It was too big,” I chime in, nodding in a continuous manner until I start to feel nauseous.
Rosalie glances back and forth suspiciously between Scarlet and I, before Johnny approaches and saves the day. Apparently, he has been kind enough to take care of the bill, and now we are all going to head back to the hotel…since, obviously, we girls have had enough to drink. I should remember to give Johnny an award or prize of some sort tomorrow.
Who am I kidding? I’m not going to remember a damn thing tomorrow!
As I’m tripping out of the doorway, I feel someone latch onto my elbow and steady me. Glancing to my side, I see it is none other than Billy, and I feel awkward and confused inside. I’m not necessarily in the mood to be stared at some more, especially when I can’t figure out the blasted reason for it!
“Hey, Brenna,” he tells me softly, the first words he has uttered in my direction all night.
I make a noise of acknowledgement, you know…since I’m so well-versed, as I continue to traipse forward, following the rest of our group. From the scurrying sound of footsteps behind me, I guess Billy is not put off by my less than warm greeting.
“Can I walk you back to the hotel?” Billy questions kindly, linking his arm through mine before I even have a chance to answer. With a frown, I stare at him, the lights from the pub bouncing down and reflecting on my glasses, causing a strange golden glow to block my vision. In an annoyed manner, I take them off and habitually wipe them with my shirt.
“If you want to stop a moment and clean them, we can,” Billy suggests, and I can sense him gazing at me though I cannot see it, “It wouldn’t be much trouble catching up with the others.”
“I can walk and clean my glasses at the same time,” I answer snobbishly, immediately followed by me tripping over a crack in the sidewalk and nearly losing my balance. Gripping my arm tightly, Billy pauses for an instant, and I take the advantage to shove my glasses back on my face and glare at him.
“What?” he asks in a confused manner, his expression the epitome of cluelessness.
“I wanna know why you’ve been staring at me,” I yelp in a high-pitched tone like a drunken Wonder Woman, determined to find the truth, let the bad guys beware!
“I…uh…I…,” Billy stutters, his green eyes growing wide and his mouth dropping open in surprise. Suddenly, I feel like a grade A jackass. How come some things sound so much worse out in the open than they do in our mind?
Cringing over my idiocy, I blurt out, “Forget I said anything. I think I have hallucinations when I’m drunk, or better yet I have seizures and speak in strange tongues. It’s best to ignore me.”
Smiling slightly, though possessing red cheeks, Billy fidgets with the bottom of his shirt, shifting his weight from foot to foot. Yeah, I bet he’s thinking I’m a psychopath now! I should have just kept my big, fat mouth shut. God knows he was probably just staring at some hot chick sitting directly behind me…or, maybe he was lost in some daydream and his eyes happened to be focused in my direction. There was no need for me to jump to crazy conclusions without a parachute, a desperate idiot with an embarrassing death wish.
“You’re just so pretty,” Billy whispers into the cool night, breaking into my mental tirade as the Italian moon shines over our heads and the music from the pub is still drifting out and dancing in our ears.
“Huh?” I question eloquently, my lips pursed together and my brain suddenly blank and silent. I am drunk, though, so maybe I misheard him?
“I said,” Billy states louder this time, glancing up to look straight into my eyes, “You’re very pretty, Brenna. And, normally I wouldn’t just stare, I would try and talk, but I was sorta still embarrassed about what happened this morning between me and your, uh, your breasts.”
Twisting on my high heel, I stalk forward praying that the wind will erase the embarrassment from my cheeks. In a few moments, I catch up with the others, listening to Billy walk silently along side us. I cannot believe he just told me that; I cannot believe he was actually sincere! Gosh, if this would have been ten years ago, I would have died a thousand deaths of joy.
Now, I don’t really know what to feel.
“Did I say something wrong?” Billy asks quietly from beside me, and I shoot him a timid glance. His face is very concerned and, oh my, very cute. I can see myself completely falling for him, and that is no good! I made a rule when my engagement ended with Dave…no more rushing into things, no more relationships for a long time until I managed to fix my crazy, unreliable emotions.
But, he’s got green eyes!
“No,” I finally manage to answer him, shaking my head in an agitated manner, “You surprised me, that’s all. I’m not used to hearing anyone say that I’m pretty.”
Billy tilts his head to the side and stares at me quizzically, as though not believing this could be so. And, double damn with feeling, he is absurdly adorable and it makes my heart pound! Did you hear it? My heart pounded!
“What’s this?” Rosalie suddenly asks aloud, falling behind Johnny and bouncing into my chat with Billy as though she were a super strong conversation kangaroo, “You think Brenna is pretty?”
His face is red by this point, but Billy nods sheepishly, not quite liking how his sentiments are on full display for my sister’s piercing glance. I can see it right now, Billy sitting under a spotlight as Rosalie inspects him from head to toe with an oversized magnifying glass lined with pink rhinestones, as she tries to determine if he is good enough for me. For a little sister, she sure can be overprotective and…
Oh no! There’s something really huge I forgot all about!
“Brenna is engaged,” Rosalie says to Billy in a reluctant tone, patting him lightly on the shoulder as though it were her duty to break this sad news and to comfort him all in one go. Looking at me with wide, questioning eyes, I can see the disappointment clearly painted across Billy’s face.
Piss on the stage! I should have told my actress that I wasn’t engaged anymore. Now, I can’t deny it, my whole lie would be revealed and then everyone in my family would be focused on me instead of Rosalie.
No, I must keep going with the charade…for now, at least.
“Yeah,” I whisper tiredly, “My ring is at the jeweler’s back home getting resized.”
“Right, of course you are,” Billy replies in a tight tone, his face breaking into a forced grin, “Well, congratulations.”
“Thanks,” I mutter, and the two of us don’t speak another word the whole way back to the hotel. The little exchange sobered me up, but it definitely didn’t have the same effect on Rosalie. She talked enough for the three of us…ramblings about God knows what, as I found I didn’t have the heart to listen.
After arriving in the lobby, I trudge up the stairs to my shared room with Sunny, banging on the door for entrance. It was odd that she didn’t come out with us tonight, but she claimed she had other, more important plans.
When the door swings open partially, Sunny stands behind it, blocking my way of entrance. Frowning, I take a wild guess that she’s hiding behind the frame because she has no clothes on. Let the doing of Italy begin!
“Oh, Bren, I have a really big favor to ask,” she starts off, her hair tousled and crazy atop her head.
“I get it,” I interrupt before she starts raving about whatever hot Italian guy she has in her bed, “Just throw me my clothes and I’ll go bunk with Scarlet and Rosa.”
“You’re a doll,” Sunny squeals, running away then coming back to throw my bag out the door.
With a sigh, I fling the luggage over my shoulder and hike towards my sisters’ room. When they find it is me knocking, they don’t even question it, for we all know how Sunny is…most definitely the Paris Hilton of the family.
And, about an hour later as I’m settling myself down with some blankets on the floor, I find my mind wandering back to Billy’s facial expression when he found out I was engaged. I guess I could tell him I’m really not, but then I would look like an idiot. He only said I was pretty…it’s not like he wants to marry me or something! Guys say women are good-looking all the time; it doesn’t mean anything.
Also, it’s better for me not to jump into any form of a relationship so soon after my breakup with Dave. I need to learn from my mistakes, I need to grow. There is no point in taking a risk so quickly; my wounds aren’t even healed yet!
It would just complicate things to tell him the truth; I’m already playing a risky enough game of trying to hide it from my family. If I spilled the beans to Billy, it would make matters all the worse.
The odd, slightly longing way I’m feeling inside is simply some of the leftover crush I had from years ago. I am going to forget it and enjoy my vacation, because it just isn’t important! I’m sure Billy is a nice guy, but he obviously isn’t right for me, I know it…I think I know it. Yes, yes, it will be quite easy to ignore the attraction I feel for him, only because that is all it is-a petty infatuation left over from my teenage years. So, no more worrying about him or questioning if I should confide in him that my engagement is off.
And, I guess since I made such a serious pact, that’s probably why I dreamed about Billy all night instead of 90% of the hot Italian population.
Chapter Eleven~ Stacia's Insight
As I sit curled up on the hotel chair, my brain swirls with strange emotions and non-stop doubt. Since I have been fighting nausea all day and let’s not forget the entire trip, so far, I am not in the best of moods. Thus, when my husband, Dom, came in with his cousin’s four children in his arms and trailing after him, I was not necessarily pleased.
I know everyone is wondering what’s wrong with me; all of Dom’s family keep asking questions and pondering what is going on in my mind. Yes, I’ve been rather stand-offish lately, but for good reason. And, Dom bringing kids in here is not going to help matters!
For the past two years of our marriage, Dom and I have been trying to have children of our own. Yet, all we have run into are problems after problems. We’ve tried basically everything, but I’m still not pregnant, and the doctors have told me that I need to accept the fact that I probably never will be.
I’m trying to deal with this, but it really isn’t working. Truly, I wish Rosalie’s wedding hadn’t coincided so near me finding out the definite news that I will never be able to bear a child of my own. It isn’t something I want to share with the whole family, especially since dismal information like this could bring down the happy vibe of the trip.
So, I am determined to move through this on my own, for once I get over it myself; it’ll be a lot easier to tell everyone else. I know Dom is disappointed, too, but I honestly don’t think he is feeling the bite of pain as keenly as I. If he were, he would have known better than to bring children into our room!
“Stuart!” Dom exclaims, and I turn my head tiredly to see Nyla and Elijah’s oldest child bouncing up and down on the bed. My husband glances to me with a pleading look, as though to beg for my help. Right, he should have thought this through or bothered to ask me before carting up these four cruel reminders of what I’ll never have.
Turning my back to him, I let Dom sort through the children’s antics, ignoring his voice each time he calls out to me. To be honest, I can’t really remember the last time my husband and I have had a true conversation. This marriage has become increasingly more stressful with each cold doctor appointment and the disappointing, bad news that keeps coming our way.
“Stacia,” Dom suddenly calls out, and I force myself to steal a glance at how it’s going with the kids. Stuart is still flailing about, managing to hype up the other two little boys, and Dom is helplessly balancing the baby on his hip. Feeling awkward, I stand and motion for Dom to give tiny Sophia to me. He hesitates for only a moment and then there is a baby in my arms.
Staring at the child’s wide blue eyes, I feel a pang in my heart when she blinks sleepily and wraps her chubby arms about my neck. With a sigh, I cuddle her close, knowing this is about as good as it’ll ever get for me. I will have to love on my family’s children, never knowing how it feels to have one of my own.
“Okay, let’s all sit down and color,” Dom suggests to the little boys and they shriek aloud in glee. Nervously, he puts them all down on the floor in a circle and passes out coloring books and crayons. After a few minutes, the children are miraculously silent and Dom shuffles over to me and plops himself down on the bed with a grin. Seeing him with that teasing light in his eyes used to make me happy, but after what he did tonight I find the only feelings I have towards this man are irritation.
“You could have asked me if it was okay to bring the children up here,” I snap, rubbing little Sophia’s back in a soothing manner and taking in her sweet baby smell.
“Stacia, I didn’t have time,” Dom starts to say, but I can easily tell he is lying, “Nyla and Elijah needed a break and I just sort of offered without thinking.”
“Without thinking, huh?” I repeat sharply, my blue eyes narrowing in annoyance, “So, you didn’t once consider how bad it would make me feel to have these little reminders running about in front of my eyes? You never once paused and wondered what it would be like for me to deal with a baby so soon after I heard the news that I’ll never have one of my own!”
Dom’s face falls, as I watch him search for the appropriate words in a moment like this. But, there are none! He should have asked me first, he should have been considerate of my feelings! There is no doubt in my mind I am going to be crying all night in the bathroom because of this.
“I thought it would be good for you,” Dom whispers pitifully, the tips of his ears flushing red, “Don’t you enjoy holding the baby?”
With a snort, I shift the child from one hip to the other, “Is that the point? Of course, I love these kids, but all they do is show me of what we won’t ever have! This is too soon, you can’t rush me like this.”
“Well, what am I supposed to do?” Dom exclaims loudly, causing the little boys to glance up in surprise, “You never talk to me anymore, I don’t know anything that goes through your mind! I want to help you get over this, but I can’t if you refuse to let me.”
Casting a stricken look in his direction, I know what he says is true and every fiber of my being urges me to walk forward and just let him comfort me. But, all the hugs in the world won’t help me through this; though Dom may mean well, I don’t know how to let him into my little world of pain and despair.
“Leave me alone,” I whisper hoarsely, placing the baby in his arms and retreating outside to the balcony. Wind pushes through my thick hair like invisible fingers trying to soothe away my desperation. The airy refreshment cools my blazing cheeks and calms away my anger until I feel like nothing more than a hollow, empty little shell. Sometimes I feel so alone it scares me down to the core of my soul.
The lights of Catania flicker before my eyes in the darkness, painting me a beautiful picture of yellow sparkles on a black canvas as I wish with my whole being that things could be different. It’s not fair, why must I always be denied what I want? Nyla and Elijah have four children…I can’t even have one! And, everyone just thinks I’m being a bitch-oh, I’ve noticed the looks they throw my way. Dom’s entire family believes I have gone off the deep end, they think there is something implicitly wrong with me.
Well, there is! Can’t they see it written across my face, can’t they read it in my dull, defeated eyes? No one understands, though…all they do is whisper behind my back and step away cautiously when I walk by.
But, I don’t care…because nothing really matters but my own grief and self-disgust.
Hearing the door of the balcony open behind me, I realize more time must have passed than I thought as an old friend is making her way outside to join me. Blinking tiredly and rubbing my face, I turn to see Nyla standing there, a sleeping Owen nestled in her arms.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” she asks kindly, her blue gaze shifting over my face, as the wind makes her long, blonde hair dance in a slow, distracting fashion.
“I’m okay,” I reply quietly, standing up and letting the gusts blow through my brown hair. Inside, I pray that she leaves quickly; I don’t want to talk things over with Nyla…the one person who has everything that I never will.
“Sorry if I woke you,” Nyla states remorsefully, “I just wanted to thank you for watching the kids before Elijah and I went back to our rooms. We really needed the break, and I appreciate it, since I know you’ve been feeling under the weather and all.”
All I do is nod, not even bothering to look her way. Nyla and I used to be so close, I guess because we both married into this family around the same time and immediately bonded. She’s even the only one who knows that Dom and I were having trouble conceiving. But, here lately, I’m finding it hard to tell my old friend anything…I know I have shut her out of my life.
The reason is simple…I am jealous, completely and utterly jealous of she and Elijah’s family. I was preposterously angry when she called a little over a year ago to tell me she was pregnant with Sophia. It was sort of an ‘accident’ baby, and Nyla actually seemed stressed and a bit unhappy about it! I was so put out by that…I would do anything to be pregnant and there she was, lamenting the fact.
“Stacia,” Nyla states quietly, her hand reaching out to touch my arm in the dark, “If you ever want to talk, you know I’m here.”
“I’m fine,” I lie, turning to her with a fake grin, “Just a bit tired from all the touring we’ve been doing.”
Brilliant cover up, we have only been at it for two days!
With a sigh and a quiet good night, Nyla leaves me and I sit back down on the chair, letting my mind wander yet again. I think of all the things Dom said, about the way I behaved. He wants me to let him help...I just don’t know how to do that. The only person who can help me right now is myself, and the thing I need more than anything is time.
“Stace,” Dom’s tired voice calls from inside, “Please, come to bed.”
“In a minute,” I reply, wrapping my arms about myself in a hug.
I’ll not go in there to be comforted because I don’t deserve it. A terrible wife, friend…they both describe me perfectly. And, I will never even have the chance to be a mother.
I’m a failure as a woman, in every way you could possibly think of.
Chapters Two and Three
Chapters Four and Five
Chapters Six and Seven
Chapters Eight and Nine