Cilia

Chapter 4

     

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13

Samantha had already fallen asleep a few minutes after Cilia had laid next to her on the big bed in the guestroom. She had just started to tell her the story about an Italian princess, when Samantha passed into the sweetest dreams a girl could dream. And she looked so cute lying within the big pillows and they almost let her disappear in the comfortable bed.

Cilia remembered the bed she'd had in Italy, when she was Samantha's age. It has been as big as hers, but instead of the wood it had metal, golden bars and it was filled with all kinds of dolls and cute little things a girl of her age could need to feel safe at night. Most of them she had got from her father. Big ones, little ones valuable ones and those they'd  won when they had been to a fair together. And those had always been Cilia's favorites. Her favorite doll Anna had always been right by her side and when she woke up at night and felt frightened she took Anna and held her tight. Anna was the only doll she was allowed to take with her when she had to move into the much smaller house at the other end of the property. There wasn't that much room and so Cilia had to share her room with two more girls, who soon became sisters to her.

Cilia stroked Samantha's hair once more before she left to go into her own room. Before she went she saw that she was well covered and wouldn't freeze at night. She gave her a good-night-kiss on the forehead and  whispered, "Buona Notte, Bella" before she closed the door softly behind her.

Since she didn't know Santa Barbara that well and had had no chance to search for a place to stay Rosa had allowed her to stay in one of the few servant's rooms in the Capwell house. The only condition she'd had to accept had been, that she would have to do a 24 hour stand by shift every day. Cilia could agree with this quiet easily. She had done these kinds of shifts at the Armonti residence before and knew them well, and it also gave her the chance to be around the family all day long.

In her room Cilia placed herself in front of the mirror and started to take the little hood out of her hair. While standing there Cilia's thoughts went back to the years in Italy and suddenly she saw her little room in the little house on the Armonti property. She saw the little girl in the mirror, trying to put some colorful hair-slides in to her much lighter curled hair. In the back of the mirror she could see the bed with all the photos on the wall above it and the dried flowers that were around them. Anna was sitting on the bed and she wore the blue dress with the little yellow flowers on it. The same dress the girl wore that stood right in front of Cilia on the other side of the mirror. Suddenly the girl was distracted and turned around as if she had heard something. Cilia tired to concentrate on the voices that came from the other room and then she could understand them. She knew the voices she heard ..... and she knew what they would say.

"Maria, you can't take her with you" a male voice implored someone.

"But I can't leave her here either. The others are coming with me, too how could I explain why she would have to remain here?" the female voice defended herself. "She has joined his funeral and now she should also be there at his first anniversary."

The man wasn't satisfied with this answer at all.

"You know the arrangement we made. We can't let it happen, they can't meet. It's too early for both of them."

"Will there ever be a right moment? You can see how she is reacting. She wants to be with her again, not with us. She won't stay that patient much longer."

"She will stay as long as I consider that she has to remain here. She trusts me and she will listen to me. Maria, we have to keep calm now."

The man was willing to make a concession.

"OK. Take her with you. But keep a distance between her and the others. And don't let her talk too loud. Tell her that the right moment hasn't come yet. She will understand, believe me."

The woman couldn't hold back her tears any longer and searched for a tissue.

"She was so happy to see her again. She's put on her best dress, you know, the one that Anna her favorite doll has, too. And she has asked for her hair-slides ......"

The man didn't care about the crying woman, just touched her arm quick without looking at her at all and left the house.

The little girl had heard enough. Sad she went back to the mirror to take her hair-slides out again.

"This is not the right moment. I have to wait. I have to understand" she said to herself and sounded like a grown-up.

The same time the picture in the mirror turned back to Cilia, who was combing her hair with her fingers. A tear ran down her cheek, but she knew that many years had passed,   and that she had learned not to give up that easily. She had waited for so long and now her time had come and she was sure that she would use it and that no one could hold her back this time.

 

14

Sophia had been notably quiet during their return trip from judge Lewis' party. Most of the time she had looked out of the window and was completely lost in her thoughts. CC had tried a few times to talk to her, but he hadn't gotten any response. He didn't like the cool atmosphere in the car at all and so he looked for the next chance to park the car with the hope that this would wake Sophia out of her dreams and that she would talk to him. If Sophia was mad with him because he had talked her into going to this party she should be fair and tell him. He stopped the car and had success, because Sophia noticed it and turned around to him.

"Why did you stop the car ?"

CC leaned against the driver-door and crossed his arms against his chest.

" You haven't spoken a single word with me at all, since we have left the party. You even  ignored my attempts to start a conversation with you and I would like to know why."

Sophia needed some time to understand what was going on. But then she recognized that there might be a big misunderstanding between them.

"I'm so sorry." She tried to excuse herself and put her hands on his arm. "Obviously I was lost in my thoughts."

"Well, I noticed that. Would you like to talk about it, Darling ?"

CC tried to be as soft as he could and hoped that Sophia would tell him what she had been thinking about and together they could try to solve it. He also wished that it wouldn't have anything to do with the party and Samantha being at home.

"It's ..." Sophia wasn't sure if and what she should tell. She wasn't sure how she should describe the ways her thoughts were going in her mind. But when she noticed the sad and disappointed look on CC's face she decided to try her best.

"It has something to do with what Cilia  told me before."

CC had been ready to listen to any kind of explanation. But that the stories of their brand new housemaid should interfere in their social life was too much. His answer came out a bit harsh and his gesturing hands just scared  Sophia into withdrawing.

"You want to tell me, that we left the party a very important party to me as I have mentioned because of something our housemaid said, and that made you so quiet that everyone at the party could notice it ?"

Sophia felt completely misunderstood and got angry with CC and the way he had behaved again. She opened the door and got out of the car. CC had no choice but to  follow her. After all, he wanted an answer. And her second one should be better than the first one.

"It seems to be so impossible for the great CC Capwell, that a simple creature like our housemaid could say something that makes me start to think."

"No! But I don't like it when people working for me are causing trouble in my family. And to stop it happening again, she will leave the house tomorrow morning!"

CC had said everything he had to say and so the case was closed. He insisted on getting back into the car.

"Please don't do this CC!" Sophia became afraid that all the questions she had in her mind wouldn't be answered if Cilia were to leave.

"I will think about it if you tell me what for God's sake is going on here and what she had said or done that's confused you so much."

CC's patience seemed to be at its end. Sophia knew that she would have to tell him now everything she had on her mind.

"She has told me, that she lived and worked at the Armonti residence in Italy and that she knows me as the Contessa."

Sophia had no idea where it would get her, but CC still had this look on his face and so she went on.

"I know it sounds silly, but I know this girl. I can't remember her, but I know her. Right when I saw her for the first time she was so familiar to me. She said that she didn't know that I was living here with you and since she had no other chance to see the Contessa Armonti than from far away she couldn't have recognized me. But ....."

Sophia searched for the right words.

"Now that I know, that she knows parts of my past, a past that I always tried to hide and forget since being back in Santa Barbara, I've started to remember so many things that happened in Italy. I see the house, the garden, the people. I hear people talking, watch them celebrating parties, being together and having fun."

CC had come around the car again and stood next to her. When Sophia stopped for a moment he tried to hold her by putting his arms around her and he could feel that Sophia was trembling. Suddenly she broke away from him and turned around and looked at him.

"And you know what frightens me the most and makes me start to wonder who I am? I see me, in the middle of them as a part of them."

 

15

When Mason and Julia arrived on the party, they had just missed a special event : most of the party guest had just jumped into the pool and had started to get rid of their superfluous clothes.

"What did you say again who invited us ? " Mason asked and couldn't take his eyes off the pool.

"A client mentioned today, that she was planning to celebrate the good results she got in the case." Julia explained and was as fascinated by the happenings in the pool as Mason was.

After a few more moments they looked at each other, nodded and turned around to go back to the entrance. But they didn't get far, because Mason bumped into someone and hit the glasses in his hands by mistake, so that one of them fell down. 

"I'm really sorry" Mason apologized and tried to help when he noticed that it was Kelly he had bumped into.

"Brother, Darling. I didn't expect you here at all. And Julia is here, too. Good to see you!!"

Still two glasses in her hand, Kelly gave Julia a big hug.

"Come on. We have just moved the party into the pool and now we're getting drinks for everybody."

When Kelly tried to go further on to the pool Julia held her back.

"Kelly, we were just on our way home again. I didn't know that ....." Julia looked at Mason embarrassed and seeking help. "And I don't have my bathing suit with me." she finally ended awkwardly and earned Mason's sarcastic note. He saw it as his chance to swing the situation his way and started to give Kelly an explanation she would hopefully understand and respect under the given "alcoholic"  circumstances.

"Our lovely hostess was Julia's last client before the pregnancy and we only stepped in to congratulate. Had we any idea what kind of party this would be, we would have sent some flowers and stayed at home, sitting in front of the fire knitting little socks."

"Oh, my brother is getting all serious, now. Seems to be "in" in this family at the moment. First Ted and now you." Kelly had no intention of sinking down to Mason's "bad-party-mood-level". "So it will be left to me again to keep the Capwell-tradition alive and to celebrate a party and I will fall for it !!!" Kelly stopped for a moment and looked around. "Talking about falling. Did you see Connor, by the way? Last time I saw him he fell for a pretty blonde."

While Kelly was still looking around, Julia and Mason just looked at each other.

"Connor fell for a pretty blonde ?" Julia asked again.

"Fell over not for. Did I say "for" ?" Kelly started to laugh but stopped again when she saw that no one was laughing with her. "Connor fell over a pretty blonde who was crawling on the floor searching for her earring. Connor didn't see her and ......."

Kelly indicated with her hands how Connor fell down and spilled the other two glasses on the floor, too.

"Great! Now I can go to the bar and get it all again."

Kelly had a look at all the spilled drinks around her and tried to clean her dress. Then she looked at Mason.

"And you will come with me to give me a hand!" She took Mason's hand to pull him away. Julia followed them.

At the bar Kelly gave orders for new drinks and then turned around to Julia and Mason.

"What was it again that brought you here ? A client of yours, Julia ?"

Mason didn't want to have a long conversation and answered first.  Kelly was drunk and so he wanted to cut a long story short.

"It's a kind of farewell-party for us before Julia  starts her maternity leave. So we ..."

"I have no idea what "maternity leave" you are talking about, Mason." Julia interrupted. "I have no intention of staying away from work at all."

"One day you will have to."

"One day. But not yet!"

Visibly displeased by Julia's opposition, Mason sipped some water before answering again.

"Do we really have to discuss this here, Julia ? And by the way, I thought that discussion had been settled."

"Oh no! Not for me, Darling. Not until you give up your pre-historical, chauvinistic male opinions, then we can talk about it seriously."

Julia's gaze in her eyes gave her statement a sarcastic emphasis.

"Well I agree, that a pregnant woman is absolutely capable of going to work."

Julia was delighted by Kelly's statement and felt her views confirmed. Happily she jumped into the air. Mason's enthusiasm otherwise ......

"Kelly. Could you please concentrate on yourself and spare us both with your remarks. You'd better see if you can find Connor, otherwise he might get lost and we'll have the pleasure of your company all night long."

Mason became very aggressive and loud and made everyone in the room stop talking.

"Typical male! When there are no arguments left they try to argue by shouting. You should try to cover yourself with a isolated feeding to avoid that you disturb the whole human nature." Kelly was offended. " And now I will see if I can find Connor. Tell the bartender to bring the drinks to the pool."

After Kelly had left Julia turned to Mason.

"Was that necessary?"

Mason, offended too, answered again by drinking some water. Suddenly Julia took the glass out of his hands and put it on the bar.

"I will tell you this for the last time now : I'm pregnant, not sick. I'm living, I'm breathing and eating and I'm even enjoying myself. This baby inside me grows and thrives and by the time she comes into this world ...."

"SHE ??? I thought were having a boy ?"

"I don't know that yet."

"So why are you saying it ? I've already ordered everything for a boy. I can't change it that easily" Mason defended himself.

"What stuff are you talking about ?"

"A bike, baseball, football. The encyclopedia on the Yankees, LA Lakers all of them!"

Julia took Mason's hand.

"We should go you're not feeling well" she said and pulled him to the door.

"I also got the special-issue " How to survive a radical wife". " Mason stopped and thought for a moment. "Well, perhaps I would have use for that, too."

Caught by so many eyes on their way to the door Julia apologized with a embarrassed :

"Pregnant !!!" and pulled Mason through the door.

 

16

The next morning Rosa had a lot to do in the kitchen and wanted to be left alone. Therefor she ordered Cilia to dust the big entry hall, pointing out that she should do it very carefully, however long it might take.

No one could call them real friends, but each had learned to accept and respect the other, and so working together was quite easy. Rosa liked it when Julia came in early that morning to pick up Samantha, and mentioned that her daughter couldn't stop talking about her short stay in the house and that she had already asked to come back and stay here that evening again. Although Rosa had nothing to do with caring for Samantha, she took it as a compliment and so did Cilia.

The big entry hall was empty and quiet. As Rosa had mentioned earlier the whole family was out and so Cilia felt safe to take out her little pocket radio and turn it to a channel that played Latin music all day long. Fixed with a small clip on her apron, she turned the volume to a low level, so that Rosa wouldn't hear anything in the kitchen. Cilia needed music to feel good while working. The rhythm of a Mambo made her dance through the hall and when she passed by the antiques and flowers, she cleaned the dust. Just like that. Cilia was a very musical human being. She loved music and couldn't remember starting  a new day without it. It belonged to her like the sun in the morning and it was the last thing for her to hear before she felt asleep at night. Musicals on stage and TV had been her favorites for many years and sometimes she amused the workers on the property by imitating little scenes from the films she had recently seen. One day a worker had called her "Little Ginger" and from that day on it was her nickname. Everyone knew "Little Ginger" and when the music played she was the first to be called to come to the dance floor. Cilia even forgot that she didn't like to be watched or that she felt uncomfortable. She liked it to be watched and a kind of triumphant mood came up in her when the people applauded.

The music the radio station played was very good and so she didn't hear when Ted came down the stairs, concentrating on the folder in his hands. Just at that moment when Cilia turned around to threaten the huge flower-vase with her dust whisk, her and Ted's paths crossed. No chance to stop, she bumped into him and all the papers in his folder fell out and scattered all over the floor. Cilia was almost shocked, because she hadn't expected anyone to be at home. Aware that she hadn't behaved decently at all, she was scared she might get into trouble. But when she noticed that it was Ted Capwell and not his father  whom she had bumped into, she calmed down.

"Mr. Capwell. I'm really sorry. Wait, I will pick this up for you."

Cilia bent down to pick up the papers.

"Let me help you." Gentleman-like Ted helped her to get everything together. "I've never seen anybody fighting the dust with such  energy."

They were still able to hear the rhythm the radio played and so Ted started to dance right away.

"Hmm. Latin music you've got good taste in music."

It was an embarrassing situation for Cilia that Ted had caught her dancing and the music was still on.

"Oh God. The radio. I shut it off." And quietly she added "And hope that Rosa didn't hear it" but Ted did hear this, too.

"Don't worry. If they'd have played some kind of heavy metal music, Rosa would have  probably been horrified. But I have seen it with my own eyes, that she danced to this music herself. At work, I mean. I watched her secretly from behind the big flower-vase."

Cilia imagined how tall grown Ted tried to hide behind the vase crouched, but watching Rosa.

"Must have been quite uncomfortable."

Both started to laugh.

"I was a child. And I don't think I would fit now if I tried it again. You would see my left ear."

"And why the left ear. Is it bigger than the other one ?" Cilia wanted to know.

After Cilia had said it, they both couldn't stop laughing at all. And the radio was still on, so Ted opened his arms and gave a sign to invite Cilia to dance. Irritated Cilia looked around.

"If Rosa gets to know  about this, this will have been my one and only dance with you in this house" she warned Ted.

Ted answered by taking her in his arms and directly he started to dance slowly.

"What would she say? You are dancing with the "master" of the house. Master of all servants and dance classes."

Cilia got right into step and it harmonized immediately.

"I thought that Mr. CC Capwell, your father, was the "master" of the house."

"He's off today. Will be in charge again tomorrow" Ted answered like a gun shot.

Both had to laugh again and devoted themselves to the Mambo rhythm that came from the radio. And so they danced through the big entry hall and didn't notice, that Sophia had come in and had watched them for quite a while. She recognized how much both were enjoying dancing together and felt infected by their mood. If Lilly weren't Ted's woman they both would make a nice couple. How old could she be ? A few years younger than Ted or the same age ? Cilia was a mystery to her. Serious and honest most of the time and the next time she could feel and behave like a kid. Strange but familiar at the same time and no one could be really mad with her. Sophia couldn't help herself and started to applaud.

"Bravo! The most beautiful couple since Ginger and Fred!" she called to them.

Cilia wanted to stop immediately, but Ted had no intention of stopping or letting her go.

"And, Mum. Did you know that your son is such a brilliant Mambo dancer ?"

"Seems to me that your partner is as gifted as you are and that you complete each other." Sophia answered and gave Cilia a sign that she wasn't angry about the situation at all.

Nevertheless Cilia thought that it would be better to stop to dance and so she switched off the radio and gave Ted the rest of his papers, that she had put on the table before.

"Thank you very much for this dance, Mr. Capwell. Maybe we can continue another time when I have won the battle against the dust." She held the dust whisk in front of her and marched like a soldier to the other end of the room.

Sophia was still amused by the situation and was happy to see that her son was having a good time.

"Tell me mum, did we ever have such a housemaid? She's marvelous."

"You're right" Sophia had to admit "It could be because of her Italian mentality so passionate and full of life. I used to have something of that, too, until your father came back into my life."

Ted saw that his mother meant it as a joke, but his smile turned into a shocked expression, after he had had a look at his watch.

"My God. I'm late" Quickly, he pressed a kiss on Sophia's cheek. "I'm meeting Lilly in town. She said that she's found the perfect apartment for us and I should have a look at it." Then he ran out of the hall and before Sophia could say something the door had  already been closed behind him.

"Now what about me ?" she asked there standing all alone, knowing that nobody would be home. She had taken a day off from Armonti, but suddenly she had no idea how to spend the time she had available. Slowly she walked over to Cilia, who stood in front of the big mirror next to the study, trying to reach the upper sections of it to clean it from dust.

"Does it remind you of something ?" Sophia asked, pointing at the mirror and shocking Cilia, who wasn't expecting her.

Cilia made a step back from the mirror closer to Sophia. The golden ornamentation framed the glass in which both women were mirrored. Looking into the mirror Cilia said the first thing that came into her head.

"The huge mirror in front of the ballroom. Two mirrors exactly, hanging opposite each other, so that the ladies could have another look at themselves from the front and the rear before they entered the ballroom. I enjoyed sitting in the little corner between the library and the chimney-room  and to watch them. It was funny to see them turning around all the time to find every little pleat that had to be corrected."

Sophia had her suspicions confirmed. Cilia had been in the front rooms of the Armonti residence more than a few times she knew it too well. But she didn't mention it, to keep Cilia talking.

"I remember that. And I have to admit that I did it myself before I entered the ballroom. The count had an eye for detail appearance was very important to him, his own and that of others."

"Yes. He was an impressive man"

Cilia couldn't help to fall into her memories.

"And tall for an Italian."

Cilia's remark made Sophia smile. She has had the same thought  very often during her stay in Italy.

"I remember, that the tailor brought a suit once. The Count put the jacket on immediately, went to the mirror and had a look at himself, just as the  as the ladies had. Then he took off the jacket again, gave it back to the tailor and said, "It's very nice. I will take it, when the left sleeve is shortened by 3 inches and both sleeves are equally long." No one could cheat him. He had eyes like an eagle."

Cilia noticed that she had spoken more than she wanted and became silent. Sophia knew that this would be all she would get to know from her today and became directly offensive.

"You were in the front room of the residence. And you were there quite often. You are familiar with the realities of the house and you are familiar with my deceased husband's practices. How's that ?"

Sophia had got her. How could she ever get herself out of that?

"As I told you,  life in the residence had always had something mysterious for me and as a kid, I was curious. So I walked into the rooms and saw it as an adventure to hide and to watch the people there secretly."

Sophia seemed to be satisfied with Cilia's answer, but not with the way Cilia looked at her.

"You know," she started quietly, "to remember all these things that happened during childhood, all the adventures you were playing is one thing. But to remember the life of almost strangers which is what the Armontis were to you -  with so much emotion is something different. And even to start crying ....." Sophia looked at the tears in Cilia's eyes, "means that these people meant a lot more to you than you are telling.

Sophia walked away from Cilia but stopped again after a few steps and looked at her.

"Could it be, Miss Ardello, that your stay here is just another adventure you are playing and you don't want to get caught again ? Then I have to warn you. Don't see me as one of your playmates, and always remember, that your adventure is based on my memories. Memories full of emotion and pain. Your game could easily get dangerous for you if you try to provoke me. You should think about it again consider the rules."

Cilia wasn't able to answer while Sophia walked away.

"Rules ? We both can win if we both fight and none of us runs away."

The games had been opened and it was Cilia's turn now.

Chapter 5