Chapter 5


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Only a little shine of light fell into the small room and let the few things inside appear almost spooky. From outside you could hear the creak of treads and a lively conversation.

"I really don't know, if I 'd like to see your "future palace" after walking through this impressive hall" a male voice mocked ironically.

It became silent for a moment.

"I didn't force you to join me. Mum has asked me to get an objective opinion before signing anything and enclosed her own – subjective – advisor in her suggestion" the young, female voice replied.

You could hear steps on the treads again. But they stopped again when they reached the door. A key tried to find its way into the locker, but couldn't open it.

"Maybe it's the cute little house on the other side of the road and this here is just nightmare – I mean a terrible mistake."

"It is not!" the woman answered sharply. "One of these keys has to fit. The man who lived here before died suddenly and the heirs handed the whole bunch of keys over, because they had no idea which key belongs to which door."

"I hope they didn't forget to hand over the owner to ..."

"Lionel!   It's enough!"

Just in this moment the door opened with a noisy creak.  Dust fell on Lilly's hair from the top.

"Well, I thought they would throw rice on these occasions – or rice." Lionel's irony was clearly to see and to hear.  

Lilly only had an skeptical look for him, shook the dust out of her hair and went into the room.

"I thought that it would be a bit bigger," she had to admit.

"I thought you would have had better taste."

Lilly had enough of Lionel's hints. She grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him around to push him towards the door.

"Thank you very much, Mr. Lockridge. I believe that your advisor-function has ended just now. Thanks so much for your help."

With a skillful spin Lionel broke free from Lilly, escaping from her grip and walking up to the window.

"But I ain't seen nothing, yet. We should open the curtains and let some light in first. You will see, after that it will look really different."

"Hey, Mr. Skepticism! You are misunderstanding your part – and you are talking the wrong text, " Lilly said,  because she didn't understand his sudden change of moods.

A few minutes ago he was talking like her mother and suddenly he had changed back to good old Lionel. Never prejudiced and always capable of surprises and so flexible. Sometimes a bit too flexible, as Gina mentioned once. But she had gotten used to it; she was never surprised about her husband's latest actions.   It seemed to be more difficult for her to understand and accept, that it was very important for Lionel to keep the friendship to Sophia alive.

"Can you imagine : Lionel would invite Sophia and CC for dinner and I would have to be the caring and sharing host for a woman I would have loved to kick out of town for so many times." Gina had told Lilly in a quiet moment and had enjoyed this image for a long time. "And CC and Lionel. Do you believe, that CC could stand a conversation between Sophia and Lionel for even 10 minutes without getting jealous?"

"Well, Mum. I would say that you wouldn't like it either if your husband goes on so well with Sophia. You would react just like CC."

Gina nodded shortly.

"I should have driven her out of town before she made herself comfortable here."

Even now, when Lilly only remembered the story shortly, she had to start laughing again. And therefore she hadn't noticed that Lionel had asked her twice to help with the curtains. As she finally responded she could recognize that a little more light fell into the room that brought out all the mess inside. The "furnished apartment" contained exactly one old chair, an old matching table, and a broken shelf on the wall. The panes were so dirty, that Lilly couldn't have a look outside.

 "Actually,  I don't know if I really would  like have a look,"  Lilly thought.

Then, Lionel pulled a tissue out of his pocket and started to clean a small part; astonished at the dirt that it left on the piece of cloth.

"Wow! When did the man die, did you say?"

"Perhaps cleaning had never been one of his favorite hobbies." Lilly answered frustrated and disappointed. She was ready to give up her dream. "Let's go! We can meet Ted outside. I really don't like to hear his comments when he comes to see the place."

Lionel listened to her casually. He approached the clean pane as close as he could and had a look outside.

"People really shouldn't judge a book by its cover,"  he said, still looking outside.

"OK!   Forget about it. This is a nightmare and I would really like to go now."

He gave sign to wait another short moment and started to force open the rusted window. After a last attempt, where he put all his weight in it, he was finally lucky. The window opened and for a moment Lilly was blinded by the sunlight that fell on her face so that she couldn't see the beauty presented to her.

"Maybe this guy hadn't been the perfect houseman, but it seems that he was brilliant in gardening."

Lionel pointed to the garden behind the house. Lilly came a bit closer and almost couldn't believe what she saw. A beautiful garden was covered by a high wall; in it small niches with little roman statues inside.   In the middle of the garden area,  stood a huge fountain in the shape of a roman warrior. Along the wall were bushes, trees and rose-sticks planted. A white painted bank in front of the fountain invited them to have a seat and to enjoy the view.  After another fight with rusted hinges, Lionel managed free entry into the paradise-like scene. The fresh air flowing into the house made the old walls seem the breathe and to come  alive again.   Lilly and Lionel took a seat and had a look around.

"Tell me, how can such beauty exist next to such a chaotic mess?" Lilly asked after a while.

Lionel replied with some of his natural poetry.

"Maybe he created this chaos in the house quiet consciously to keep ordinary people at a  distance to his small world. And maybe he knew his fellow men that well, that he insisted that they would judge "his book" by "the cover" he showed them, so that they would never disturb him."

"He must have been a clever man,"  Lilly agreed with Lionel easily.

At that moment, the front door opened and shortly after, someone started to cough loudly.   Lilly, who had closed her eyes and enjoyed the sun said, casually:

"Ted has arrived.   And soon we will find out how clever he really is."

"Who an earth has picked out this horrible place? Lilly? Are you in there?"

Lilly and Lionel looked at each other shortly before they relaxed again.

"Let him search for a while,"   Lionel suggested.

"And if he is shocked like all the others and leaves again, it's all he deserves and nothing more."

Both took a deep breath and Lilly lend her head on Lionel's shoulder – satisfied with herself and the world and that she had found her private paradise. But how long would Ted need to find out about it?

"Let him find out himself while we enjoy," she said quietly and almost forgot that she had also been on her way out just a few minutes ago.



Cilia was glad that Rosa hadn't become aware of her dance with Ted in the atrium. Probably she would have made her day hell because of it – and it had been a tough day already. After the conversation with Sophia, Cilia became unsure about her intention again. It was stupid not to expect that Sophia would not only see her as an opponent but more that she would even ask to challenge her.

By the time she could finish her work she went into her bedroom, questioning herself again how she could have got involved into this. Again and again she asked the same simple question while she walked up and down the small room : Why shouldn't she drop the whole thing right now? It wasn't too late to do. She would simply pack her bags and if she wouldn't appear the next day at work everyone would believe that she had gotten cold feet and had left within the night And everyone would forget about her quite soon and easily.   Cilia stopped and looked into the mirror in front of her.

"No" she said. "No more forgetting."

The word "forget" didn't exist in her vocabulary anymore. She remembered too much pain and couldn't use it just like this. After another quick thought she went over to her bed, bent down, and picked something up from under the bed. It was her small traveler bag and out of this she took another, smaller black bag which had a small yellow sticker on it. It said "In case of emergency" and a smiling face had been painted below it. Cilia had no reason to smile, because she took it too seriously, that she had to admit that she had an "emergency" and that she would have to call for help now. She opened the bag and pulled a laptop out of the cover. Nervously, she searched for a socket, playing with the plug in her hand.

"You should know this room by now – so find  a damned socket," she told herself.

Then she remembered the TV and the lamp next to it. She pulled one of the plugs and it got dark in the room, so that Cilia had problems connecting her computer.

"Great! I knew that you would pull the plug you still need. You are a clever girl!" Cilia grumbled while trying to find the socket again.

After she had ordered herself to keep calm, she tried again and finally managed to apply the laptop. The screen lightened up and gave her enough light to handle the keyboard. Cilia had worked with computers many times, but now she became afraid that she had forgotten everything she had ever learned. A useless thought, because within a heartbeat she entered the Internet program that gave her the possibility to send e-mails.

The cursor blinked on the line that asked for the receivers address and Cilia hesitated. There was a big, black hole in her head. What, if she wouldn't be able to remember the address?

"I know it!" she reassured herself and entered the name.

Then she continued to the frame where she could enter her message.

"The game is open. Need your help!!! Call you back tomorrow at midnight, Santa Barbara time. Be there!!! Cilia."

Cilia noticed that she had written the text as short as a telegram and had to smile about this.

"Girl! This is not "Casablanca" !!"

Now she would just have to push the button and she would feel better right after it. Doing this and hoping that "she" would be there the next night. And then she could be the person she really happened to be – and if only for some short moments. Only one more day left to go. Oh God! Could it be already tomorrow night. A single day can be long if you are waiting for the night to arrive.

Cilia switched off the computer, applied the lamp again, placed the bag under the bed and went to sleep. Before she fell asleep, she already knew what she would dream about that night. She would dream about Paris and London. About long walks along the rivers Thames and Seine and about so many, wonderful talks they had in little street cafés. The taste of Croissants and eggs with beans and bacon. Laughing all the time and enjoying and helping each other. She would simply dream about that feeling of being herself without hiding and lying. And when she saw the pretty smile of the one that had became such a dear person in her life right in front of her, she knew that a wonderful dream would begin. Both together could make their dreams would come true and in the moment Cilia felt so sure about the plans they made that she drifted into her dream with a smile on her face.

"No more forgetting!" she whispered before she fell asleep.



Sophia had already prepared herself for the night and was sitting on the bed. Lost in her thoughts again her fingers went through her hair. She had started to let it grow and was happy each time her fingers found hold in it again. But in this moment she didn't notice this at all.   CC came out of the bathroom, noticed her behavior, but decided to ignore it. Instead, he went over to the bed and started to pull the blanket off. Torn out of her dreams,  Sophia was startled and got up to help him.

"You are thinking about this girl again, aren't you?" CC asked, while pulling the blanket away.

Sophia let off her part of the blanket and sat down slowly.

"I'm thinking about my years in Italy." she confessed honestly but afraid to look at CC while saying it. "Although it involved 15 years of my life,  I have always tried to repress it."

"I try to ignore these years. It happened to be an interruption of our time together – an unpleasant fact, nothing else."

CC went into bed, while Sophia was still sitting there, thinking.

"CC?" Sophia took it much more seriously than he had suspected. "I'd been married there, had a family."

"A family?" The tone in CC's voice got rude.

"Marcello. I know, he'd been an adopted son, but there had also been Antonio and Serena, the children of my husband's first marriage."

CC's face showed that he disliked the expression "my husband" and that it was unsuitable for him. But  noticing that Sophia put such a meaning on this topic he asked her to tell him more about the Count and his family.

"But first of all you lay down – right here!" he added and pointed at his open arms.

Sophia was glad that was willing to listen to her, laid down and started to talk.

"After Marcello had decided that I would be strong enough – mentally and physically – to leave the hospital after four long years, he talked me into going with him and staying at his parents' mansion. Well, actually, he didn't have to persuade me. At this time I didn't know anything about me, about my home, my life before the accident. Where else should I have gone to? I had to follow him. The first Contessa Armonti was dead for a few years and so the Count shared the gigantic mansion with his children alone. I remember the moment I saw him for the first time. He was a tall grown, impressive man with a light shade of gray in his hair. His appearance and his clothing flawless. Finest Italian cloth. I remember being nervous talking to him, because I didn't speak or understand one single Italian word. The more I'd been surprised when he welcomed me in my own language. It broke the ice between us instantly."

Sophia moved closer to CC. She saw it as a relief to tell CC all these things, but she wanted to make sure who had been the favorite man in her life and who it would  always be.

"He was very discreet – accepted that I needed so much time on my own. But one day, I noticed that his welfare had changed into some kind of deeper feelings. At first,  I felt unpleasant dealing with it – something inside me didn't want to react on his hints. Now I believe that I was still so strongly connected in my heart with you..."

CC held Sophia tighter. "But you married him."

Sophia nodded.

"But a lot of time passed by before I did. The sessions with Marcello hardly showed success. I was able to remember single faces and emotions, but I couldn't put the pieces together. Our meetings turned ultimately into the disappointment of my expectations. I think, that one day, I had simply given up."

Sophia seemed to be ashamed of what she had said and lowered her head, pressing it against CC's chest. Only when CC gave her a cheering up kiss on the forehead did she go on.

"Someday, it became a regular and natural thing that I joined him on any kind of social events in his life and his friends accepted me immediately. When he asked me to marry him, I said yes. To hope, that I could start my life  all over again - to leave all the insecurities behind me was so seductive ...."

She could held back her tears any longer and tried to get more closer to CC, holding him tighter than she already had. CC felt insecure, because a question came up in him :  Did she cry, because she felt ashamed of the things she had said or because she missed the things that happened during the past years in Italy?



It seemed that the day wouldn't pass by.

Cilia could hardly wait for midnight -  eager to have an open and honest conversation about the past few days. And even with the help of a computer.

Sophia had left the house very early and Cilia was glad that she had been in the kitchen at this time and wouldn't have to meet her. On one hand she liked the game they were playing, but on the other hand she was afraid that Sophia would be too strong for her. Even if she hadn't seen Sophia for a very long time, she knew that this friendly, loving woman could become a feared enemy in case she or her family felt threatened. Cilia had to be a bit more careful. To force Sophia to fight would be the worst thing that could happen right now. Not now - it was too early for a fight.

About noon, Rosa had asked Cilia to walk over to the market to get some fresh vegetables for dinner. This order had almost been like a proof of trust in her, because Rosa has always been very selective with the food she chooses to prepare for the Capwells. And to send her, as someone that didn't know Santa Barbara that well, had a great meaning.

"Maybe it's just one of Rosa's chicanery to show the Capwells that I'm unsuitable for the house." Cilia thought walking down the long road that led her to the city. "She will praise the quality of food to me and later on she will apologize for the food in front of the Capwells. "I'm so sorry, but I have been so busy and had to send the girl!" And then they will all put on their lovely, charming smile."

To herself, Cilia's tone became cynical and aggressive.

"But this time you are dealing with me, Capwells!   I know the country where milk and honey flows. But I don't show it that shamelessly."

A superior grin refined Cilia's face while she swung her basket and walked down the street, enjoying the arising feeling of satisfaction.

"Such a pretty lady on the run? Where are you going to in such a hurry?"

Surprisingly, and with a strong grip, somebody swung  Cilia  at the arm and forced her to look in his direction.   Cilia  didn't want to believe what her eyes saw. In front of her stood a tall, dark-haired man with wide shoulders. His beautiful face was disfigured by a growing, light beard, but in his dark brown, almost black eyes was this glow, which had let Cilia fall in love with him immediately when she saw them for the very first time.

"Angelo!" Cilia tried to look not that surprised, but it didn't work out quite so well.   Why should it?   She would have rather expected to meet the devil on earth than meet Angelo in Santa Barbara. Even if this could turn out to be an identical destiny for her.

Angelo still didn't let her go; rather, he reinforced the grip and pulled her away from the street to a nearby park. When he discovered a bank he led her there and with a rough push he made her to sit down. Then he joined her – relaxed and casual beside her, his head leant on his left hand and starring at her.

"I missed my sweet, little Bella," he said with a bittersweet grin. "You left so unexpectedly - and without telling me good-bye – I couldn't get used to that new situation."

Cilia had no chance to think about what he had said. A minute ago she had thought about Sophia and her life in Santa Barbara and now she had to deal with this Italian nightmare of which she hoped would have been over.

"Don't provoke him! Try to explain to him – but don't provoke him!" she admonished herself.

"I'm really sorry.   Everything happened so fast. I only could tell Mama good-bye and then I found myself on the way to Roma."

She had considered her words so carefully, but she had no success. Angelo gripped her wrist with such a strength that Cilia got tears in her eyes because of the pain that arose within her.

"My sweet Bella." Angelo still grinned – Cilia's pain didn't impress him at all. "Telling her Mama good-bye, but forgetting her darling Angelo. This is not very nice!"

He pressed a kiss on her cheek and when a disgusted Cilia turned her head away his muscular hand griped her face, forcing her to look at him again.

"Does a good girl behave like this?"

The look on his face didn't show any friendliness anymore.

"I tried to explain again and again, that I don't like people that are not able to show respect for me. And don't you think that I deserve respect in regard to the relationship we both had?"

Angelo was waiting for an answer. He had made it once again; Cilia was intimidated and could only nod anxiously.

"Good girl!" Angelo seemed to be satisfied, gave her a light slap on the cheek and took his hands off her. While Cilia held her chin, Angelo got his old, but expensive looking Armani suit in order. Without looking at her, he continued.

"I don't know all the facts that made you leave  Italy so that you can spend the rest of your life at the other end of this world. But the things I have heard sound good.   Really."

Suddenly and unexpectedly, he got closer to Cilia so that their noses almost touched.

"You will tell me everything about this enormous rich American family, that has come so close to your heart, that you decided to stay with them instead of me."

He moved backwards again, sitting in this relaxed position with the arms laying on the backrest, looking around.

"You will tell me everything about the Capwells Everything."

Chapter 6