After the Ballet

After the ballet, Patrizio took Camilla home. As they stood in the foyer facing each other, she looked at him. She could tell that something was troubling him. She had sensed it all evening. “What’s the matter, Darling?” she asked him now.

“Nothing,” he said. “I’m just a bit tired. Today was a very busy day.”

“All right,” she said, reaching up and touching his face. “Go home and get your rest. Call me tomorrow when it’s convenient for you.”

“Goodnight, Camilla.”

“Goodnight, Darling and sweet dreams.”

He leaned over and kissed her. She saw him to the door and stood there, waiting until he got into his car and drove away.

When he was gone, she went into the drawing-room where her father was sitting in the armchair by the fireplace, reading a book. He glanced up when she entered. “How was the ballet?” he asked.

She went over and kissed him on the forehead. “It was marvelous. Thanks for springing the tickets for us.”

“You’re welcome. Did Patrick enjoy the ballet too?”

“Yes, he did. He seemed more quiet than usual but I expect it’s because he was tired. He had a very busy day today. Poor darling.”

“A good night’s rest will do him good. Now, tell me about the ballet.”

Patrizio let himself into his flat and headed straight to the bathroom where he took a long, hot shower. As he stood under the water, he thought of Leticia. All evening, even at the ballet, she had been on his mind. He didn’t know how much more he could take. It had been weeks since he ran into her at the restaurant. He wanted desperately to see her again. If he called and asked her to meet him somewhere, would she accept or turn him down flatly. Well, there was only one way to find out. In the morning, he was going to call her and ask her to meet him at a bar they used to go to when they were dating.

After toweling himself dry, he brushed his teeth and then, walked naked out of the bathroom and climbed into bed. He lay on his back, staring up at the ceiling. He hated lying to Camilla but how could he tell her the truth? How could he tell her that while he was with her, he had been thinking about and pining for his ex-girlfriend? He closed his eyes in despair. Two women. One loved him and the other probably hated him. He cared for one but was madly in love with the other. What a wretched mess his life had become.

The next morning, after he had breakfast, he called Leticia. Just when he thought she wasn’t going to answer, she did. “Hello, Patrizio.”

His grip tightened on the phone. Just the sound of her voice filled him with an intense longing and his heart beat faster. “Hello, Leticia.”

“Why are you calling me?”

“I need to see you.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea–“

Please!

There was a brief pause and then, “All right. When and where?”

“7pm this evening at the Library Bar.”

“All right. I’ll see you then. Goodbye.” She ended the call.

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He slowly hung up the phone. At least she had agreed to see him. For that he was thankful. Grabbing his keys and wallet, he left the flat. It was a beautiful sunny day. He hadn’t slept well when he finally managed to drift off. Still, that didn’t matter now. What mattered was that he was going to see Leticia.

He was waiting for her at the table, nursing his drink. He had taken the liberty of ordering one for her as well. When she showed up, relief washed over him. He had been afraid that she would stand him up. He stood up. His gaze travel restlessly and hungrily over her slender figure as she approached him. How he longed to take her in his arms and kiss her. His mouth watered at the thought and heat raged in his loins. Fortunately, his jacket hid his arousal.

Unable to resist, he reached for her hand and after turning it over, he pressed his lips against the palm. Leticia trembled as desire surged through her body. “Please don’t,” she protested weakly and pulled her hand away. She pulled out the chair and sank down on it as her legs felt like they would give way.

He sat down, his eyes filled with longing. “I’m sorry,” he muttered tautly. “I couldn’t help myself.”

“You’re engaged.”

“I know. You hate me for that, don’t you?”

“I don’t hate you although sometimes, I wish I did.”

“If you don’t hate me, how do you feel about me then?”

“I still love you, Patrizio.”

“And I love you,” he muttered thickly.

“How could you say that you love me when you’re engaged to another woman?” she demanded.

He sighed heavily. “I’m not marrying her because I love her.”

“Then, why are you marrying her?”

“I’ll tell you why now. I owe you that much.” After taking a deep breath, he told her everything. “As you can see, I was deceived. Camilla wasn’t a part of the deal before I signed the papers. If she had been, I wouldn’t have signed.”

“When you found out why didn’t you tell her father that the deal was off? Why are you going through with it? Are you that hard up to own his company?”

“I’ve asked myself the same questions.”

“I hated her but now I feel sorry for her.”

He stared at her in surprise. “You hated Camilla?”

“Maybe hate isn’t the right word. I resented her.”

“Why did you resent her?”

“Because of you. You were my man and now you’re hers.”

“No,” he protested tautly. “You’re wrong. I’m not hers. I’m yours, Leticia. I’ll always be yours.”

“You’re her fiancé and soon you’ll be her husband.”

“I’ve managed to get myself into a bloody mess, haven’t I?” He took a swig of his drink.

“You still have an option,” she told him quietly. “You can break off the engagement. I know that you’re really keen on owning her father’s company but it wouldn’t be right for you to marry her when you don’t love her.”

“You’re right.”

“You said he deceived you but you’re deceiving her. She thinks that you love her. Do the decent thing and break off the engagement.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“What is there to think about, Patrizio?” she demanded. “It’s not complicated. All you have to do is break off your engagement and tell her father that the deal is off.”

“Leticia, it isn’t that simple–“

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“It is but you’re making it complicated. Maybe the company means more to you than you want to admit. Well, I hope it’s worth the trouble.” She stood up. “I have to go. Thanks for the drink.” She hadn’t even touched it.

Patrizio rose to his feet. “Do you really have to go now?” he asked, his expression tense.

“Yes.”

“I want to see you again, Leticia.”

“No, Patrizio, we can’t see each other again. Please don’t call me anymore–” Her voice broke. She turned and bolted as the tears began to fall.

Patrizio watched her go and then, he sank back down on the chair. He finished his drink and hers and then, buried his face in his hands.

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