(translation of foreign phrases at end of chapter)
Loud hammering on the door. Blaine swung it open, struck a pose like a model and with eyelashes batting asked
“Do I look pretty enough?”
“Oh mio dio, just get in the car!” Ezio turned and walked off to the driver seat, while Blaine locked the door behind himself, grinning. Pushing Ezio’s buttons was his favorite hobby. Well, one of them at least.
“Had to splurge for the exotic, huh? Still trying to impress me.” Blaine smirked while he was trying to pry open the door, which finally worked, so he slid in.
“Fancy schmanzy, I have to admit. What is this? Ferrari?”
“Lamborghini Gallardo Performante, 2010 model!” Ezio replied proudly, pointing to the bright yellow logo on the steering wheel.
“Ah, do I need to apologize to your car now?”
“You should. But we need to get going or the girls will be upset.”
With a loud hum the engine started and soon they roared from the gravel road the Cameron’s home was on onto the paved road and onto the highway, where Ezio couldn’t help but show off what this car was capable off.
Once arrived at the “Stargazer Lounge” Ezio elegantly threw the keys to the waiting valet before handing him some paper money as tip and incentive to keep the car scratch-free. They knew him and his entire car park here and probably had heard him coming.
Inside the men greeted Melissa and Viktoria with hugs and kisses.
“Did he try to scare you with his driving, Blaine?” Melissa smiled.
“Tried to and succeeded. I think at several points my butthole took bites out of the seat from clenching so hard after ol’ leadfoot here did some launching.”
“Classy.” Ezio grumbled, while the others laughed.
Just a few minutes later they were shown to their table, overlooking the nighttime hustle and bustle of San Myshuno, when the usual staff parade ensued, which Melissa disliked so much.
Just this time, the girl who brought the drinks evidently took to Blaine. Standing next to him she smiled, blushed, and went “Hi!”
“Hi!” Blaine smiled back.
“I am Laura, your … erm … ahem … server.”
“That will be all for now, thank you Laura!” Ezio dismissed her.
“Ok.” she blushed deeply, but looking at Blaine smiled again and said “Bye!”
“Bye!” he smiled back until he caught Ezio’s glare, who then looked at Viktoria.
“Does this not bother you at all?!”
“I am used to it.” she smiled, shrugging, rubbing Blaine’s arm.
They spoke about the movie Viktoria and Melissa had seen, since it had been a dark, overcast day vampires were able to venture out much earlier than usual. After that the ladies had been window shopping through the city, where the displays had just been changed to the forthcoming Spring season.
“I mean, they just look amazing on her. The color is so unique and I mean, they are Jimmy Choo’s, right!” Viktoria swooned over one of Melissa’s purchases.
“Jimmy’s shoes?” Blaine joked and grinned “idiotic name for girls’ footwear, especially something so expensive.”
“It’s first name: Jimmy, last name: C-H-O-O’s. It’s a designer brand. Very well known, to educated people at least.” Ezio lectured Blaine, while the women were giggling.
Ezio looked down at his buzzing phone, a text message from Viktoria “KNOCK IT OFF!”. Ezio looked up and saw her shaking her head at him, while sliding the phone back in her jacket pocket.
“Would you ladies and gentlemen like another drink? Maybe you would like our new house special, it’s called a “Changeling”.” the waitress proceeded to talk about it. The girls went with a refill on their wine, Ezio with Bourbon, but Blaine decided to try one of the cocktails.
“Where was it?” he ran his finger down the extensive drink menu card “Ah, here. A charg … chazz …. ummm…”
“He means a ‘Cherchez la femme‘*!” Ezio sounded annoyed, the waitress nodded while Ezio continued towards Blaine “it’s French. BASIC French!”
“Cool.” Blaine seemed unfazed, grinning at the waitress who just told them that she would be right back with their drinks before blushing again and smiling at Blaine.
Once she left, Blaine smirked at Ezio, who just grimaced. Blaine leaned over towards him across the table and asked “So Ezio, do you need a tampon change, buddy? Yours seems to have a bunch of sand in it tonight, more than usual!”
“Oh stop being so vulgar. What are you using for class this season, you buffoon?!” Ezio growled and averted his look towards the bar area, away from Blaine.
“Blaine, how is performing going? Vik said that you have been pumping out new songs. Are you planning on selling them or play them yourself?” Melissa asked interested.
“Going good! We..”
“Well.” Ezio interrupted.
“It should be ‘going well’. Not ‘going good’. That’s incorrect and bad English!”
“All right …” Blaine seemed annoyed now too, when he looked back at Melissa to continue “anyway, things are GREAT and yes, I have been writing. I don’t plan to sell, I like writing about my own life and telling about it in my songs.”
“Good thing you scream it at the audience with your boisterous racket you call music or they’d be asleep.” Ezio complained.
“Ezio! That was mean. I like his music!” Melissa defended Blaine.
“I would not call THAT abomination of sound ‘music’. But above all, I would not call that a job! If he had a real job, he’d know what Jimmy Choo’s were, and his wife could own a few pairs!”
“OK, that’s it! Ezio, a word!” Viktoria jumped up so fast her chair almost fell.
“Auditore, now!” she hissed and stomped off towards the chill section, where the hookah lounge was and the noise level allowed for easier conversation.
Ezio got up and followed her, while Blaine gleefully said “Someone’s getting their ass chewed now.”
“Viktoria, I do not like to be ordered outside like …”
“I do not give a rat’s ass about what you like, Auditore! You have tried my patience. This stops NOW. For good. I am so sick and tired of you harping on and on about what you think Blaine should be like, what he should do. He is not yours to command, he is not one of the Auditore lemmings blindly following orders from unreasonable ancestors beyond the grave! Am I making myself clear?”
“What the hell is this attitude about? He is the one with all the jokes all the time, including low-blows, I do not see you ordering him outside for a tongue-lashing!”
“He knows when to stop. And when he does not, you bet I do!”
“Fine, what do you want me to do?”
“Behave reasonable. And quit the constant stings about our financial situation. None of your business.”
“Fine. I’ll stick my head in the sand just like you, while you are wasting your talent for business while howling along his guitar screeching on stages for barely enough to afford a coffee afterwards.”
“You just do not have an off switch, do you?”
“Off switch for reality? No, I do not. You must have enough of those for both of us in your happy little lala land.”
“At least I AM happy! You would not recognize happy if it bit you in the face, despite all the good in your life you are just perpetually miserable! Maybe that is why I refuse to go back into business.”
“As if I would hire you back…”
“You think I need YOU to give me a job? Buddy, let me remind you that when you and I were a thing, you were but a manager at your daddy’s company, with just a few savings to your name. I helped you build that empire you throne on today.”
“You think you helped me get to where I am? You really have lost all touch with reality.”
“I was the brains behind your operation. The idea you took to your daddy that made Auditore Financials what it is today, was mine, you just took it and ran with it, while you had me tucked away at home after you stuck me with a child I did not want. And if I really wanted to, all I would need is some capital and I would build another company that within a few years would swallow yours alive and shit you out in front of the unemployment office, you arrogant stronzo*!”
“You could not build a sand castle without me holding your hand! My parents and Frederico were right about you all along! I should have just screwed you a few times to scratch that itch and then fired you, instead of bringing a little assistant-whore with delusions of grandeur into an esteemed family like the Auditores, where you never had any business in, with that sorry little messed up life you had. No wonder your first marriage barely lasted past the honeymoon phase!”
Viktoria gasped, before running back inside.
“Merda*!” Ezio cursed before running after her. He knew he had gone too far.
When Viktoria arrived at the table Blaine and Melissa were still laughing about a joke when the waitress brought the drinks.
“I am sorry, but we need to cancel the order for this party of two. Blaine, we need to leave now. Sorry Melissa, something came up, I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Umm… what happened.” Blaine looked concerned and surprised, as did Melissa, when Ezio arrived, trying to hold on to Viktoria’s upper arm, opening his mouth to speak when she turned out of his grip and hissed at him
“Touch me ever again and you will loose a hand!”
“Viktoria, I …”
“Stai zitto, cazzo*! Blaine now, or I am leaving without you!”
Viktoria rushed off, after throwing some Simoleon bills onto the table, Blaine followed her. Leaving a shocked Melissa and a guilty looking Ezio.
Waiting for the valet to bring the car, Viktoria seemed tense. Blaine said nothing, just looked at her as she laid into the valet attendant
“Why the hell is this taking so long?! It’s a Golf, not an Easter egg!”
Blaine answered the door and gestured Ezio inside.
“Is she home?”
“Make yourself at home. But use caution. If it comes to you, she is still pretty combustible.”
“Has she told you …”
“Not a word. I quit asking. But if you wanna share, I’d be all ears …”
The kitchen door opened and Viktoria appeared, her mood dropping instantly when seeing the guest.
“Hello Viktoria, I …”
“Why did you let him in?”
“Cos he asked so nicely.”
“Hm.” Viktoria turned around and went into their office.
“Viktoria, I would like to apolo…”
She jumped back up out off the chair she just sat down in, pushed him aside and ran into the bedroom, throwing the door shut behind her with a loud bang.
“Viktoria!” Ezio turned to follow, but was blocked by Blaine, quickly draping himself into a leaning position in the door frame to the bedroom.
“I think that would be a no. She is not ready to talk yet.”
“Blaine, I need to fix this. I messed up bad.”
“Oh, I had not noticed…”
“Please, no jokes. Can you talk to her please? Tell her I really am very sorry.”
“I do not even know what about. And frankly, I think this is between you and her to sort out. I am not going to get in the middle of it.”
Another knock on the door.
“Stay here, on this side of the door or you will have to deal with me, too.” Blaine warned, before opening the door again. This time it was Melissa.
“I figured I’d find you here. Did you apologize?” she walked over to Ezio, planting a quick kiss on his cheek.
Ezio shook his head. “Doesn’t want to see me.”
“Ezio, I swear you better fix this or you and I will have words! If whatever you said or did costs me the first friend I made here in Brindleton Bay, I am going to be very mad for a very long time!”
“I am trying, mia cara*!” Ezio looked tortured.
“What did you do?” Melissa asked.
“I said some really harsh words. Hurtful ones. Words I didn’t even mean. Just ammunition. Something I knew would hit her deep.”
“WOW, the great Ezio Auditore acknowledging a mistake he made.”
“Blaine, knock it off, this is not helpful!” Melissa warned.
“Can I go talk to her?”
“I don’t see why not. She’s in the bedroom.”
Melissa walked to the door, Ezio tried to follow when Blaine held him back by the arm.
“Not you, buddy. Come on, let’s have a drink. Even if it is not the good stuff you have. enough of it will get you feelin’ fuzzy all the same.”
“Hey you. Everything okay?” Melissa sat down next to Viktoria on the bed, placing an arm around her.
“Yeah fine. Sorry to ruin last night. I just can’t with that husband of yours. Maybe this whole ex-spouses being friendly thing really does not work.”
“You are not bowing out now, Missy! You set me up with that knucklehead, you are going to stay with me through it! Besides, to quote you, he is not that bad. Also, he really is sorry. In all the years I have been with him now, I have never seen him like this. Whatever happened made him change. For the better. Actually, I should probably thank you. All I have to do now is say the word and it is done, no arguments, no palavering, he listens to reason and done. He has been so sweet, even cooked breakfast for me and the kids this morning, which he had not done since he changed. So whatever you did, remember what it was, so you can do it again, should this wear off!” Melissa laughed, hoping Viktoria would join in. She didn’t.
“I am glad for you Melly, really am. He should treat you right, you deserve it, and he needs to remember what a sorry heap of sadness he was before you came into his life. But I think I am done with him for good this time. I do not think he and I mix too well anymore.”
“Are you bestie-breaking up with me?” Melissa asked.
“No, of course not. But I think for the time being we should meet here at my house for the girls’ nights. Without your husband. I’ll take you back home afterwards for safety, or Blaine will.”
“Oh Vik, come on now. He is a wreck now. He knows he messed up. Give him a chance to apologize.”
“Thing is Melly, I really do not think I care if he means it or not. What he said to me yesterday is not something that you can wipe off the table with an apology and a hug. Something’s gotta give here. And it won’t be me.”
“The boys are in the living room drinking. Can we have some coffee or Moscato in the kitchen?” Melissa suggested.
“Nah, Lissa, I’ll pass today. Just need a bit of time. Kinda tired too, I think I’ll just take a nap. Sorry, girly. Raincheck?”
“Ok, you got it. But do not even think about trying to ignore me again for weeks like you did with that Count-dethroning.”
“No way.” Viktoria attempted a somewhat failing smile.
“How is she?”
“Still livid with you. She won’t tell me what you said to her, but you really did it this time, lover.”
“Care to fill us in?”
“No, sorry guys, not today. I think I need to go lay down. Melissa, are you coming with me or staying with Blaine? I am fine either way.”
“I’ll go with you.”
Blaine waved at them walking up the hill to their mansion as he locked the door, before going to the bedroom, where he found Viktoria laying on her side, facing towards the other wall, away from the door. He slid onto the bed behind her, hugging her from behind.
“You really cut him down to size with whatever you told him, babygirl.”
“Blaine, I just don’t want to talk about this. Just hold me, ok?”
“For as long as you want me to.”
Weeks had passed. Life resumed as normal, except the tension between Viktoria and Ezio was still unchanged. She avoided him.
“Of course I will give this to Mr. Auditore right away, Mrs. Cameron!”
The last words of the butler made Ezio listen up. He left the business proposal he had been working on and hurried to the door, the butler handed him a medium sized box which he mindlessly took, opening the door again, as he saw Viktoria almost to the mailbox.
“Viktoria, wait up please!” he called after her. She halted, but did not turn as he ran towards her.
“Thank you. Can we talk please?” Ezio pleaded.
“Nothing to talk about.” she remained short with him.
Searching for something to say to lure her into a longer conversation he looked at the box in his hand. Photos. Albums and loose. He could tell without much effort that they were of them, as a couple and with their children, from a long time ago. A sting where his heart once had beaten reminded him that this was not a good sign.
“Why are you giving those to me?”
“To do with as you wish. Keep them or toss them. I wanted to give them to Addy, but as you know they are on vacation.”
“Why don’t you keep them. They are memories.” he hated the feeling of being cut from her life like this.
“No. They are painful reminders of a lie. I have to go.”
“Viktoria wait!” he reached for her arm to hold, but remembered her words and let go as quickly as he touched it, trying not to make matters worse. “just one conversation is all I ask for. Please.”
“Fine. Then talk.”
“How about the raised deck? There is open Moscato in the fridge, I’ll even have a glass with you.” Ezio had recalled how much Viktoria loved that deck. And Moscato. He smiled, hopeful.
“It would take longer to get up there than I am willing to invest in this. Clock’s ticking, talk.”
‘Shit!’ Ezio thought. With business deals he had been able to swing unwilling investors and clients with eloquent reasoning, but even for that he needed a little prep time. If he did not fix this, he would sorely disappoint Melissa. Let alone he felt like he was about to lose a good friend for good.
“About that night, Viktoria, I want to apologize from the bottom of my heart. I truly and honestly did not mean a word I said. I was solely looking to win the argument, even if that meant I needed to fabricate something to take the wind out of your sails.”
“I never meant for it to go here. I need you to know that I never once regretted what we once had. And you were right, I would not be where I am today without you. You deserve half of all I own. I know that. Please believe me.”
“It’s just always about work and money with you? I just wasted more time of my life listing to the same horse and pony show as always. Bye Ezio.”
“Please, tell me what I can say – or do – to fix this. I’d do anything.”
“I do not think this can be fixed. Truthfully, it’s probably unhealthy anyway for us wanting to be friends. We should be like all ex-spouses and avoid each other. And if you want to do something with this, learn from it and do right by Melissa. Because while I am not one to meddle, you have been playing Russian roulette with that marriage for a while now. If you love her as much as you say you do, and half as much as that girl loves you, you better clean up your act fast and remember what I always told you: remember who will be there when you really need someone, work or your loved ones. Spoiler alert: it won’t be work.”
Viktoria turned to leave, Ezio let her, rubbing his face while pondering her words.
O mio dio (Italian) = Oh my God!
Cherchez la femme (French expression) = basically means “the usual problem” but literally translates to “look for the woman”
stronzo (Italian) = a$$hole
merda (Italian) = Shit!
Stai zitto, cazzo! (Italian) = Shut up, d*ck!
Mia cara(Italian) = my darling