I came home early from work one afternoon, it had slowed down temporarily and I decided after all the unpaid overtime I could allow myself this.
As I walked in I was briefly greeted by the dogs, but they seemed tired and went straight back to sleeping on the couch. Hanging up my jacket I heard noises from Liam’s room. School was going to be out early today, I remembered the email now, so at least he was not playing hooky.
Blaine was not home, had texted me that he needed to run by the Skyline, where he and Ben performed, to prepare for a new setup and acoustics.
I walked closer to the door and realized I was hearing someone cry. Liam? OK, maybe if he was this vulnerable I could get through to him, if I played my cards right.
I carefully knocked.
“Liam, it’s me. May I come in?”
“OK.” I heard.
I entered and there he was, hunched over on his bed, when he turned and looked at me I saw that his eyes were dry now, obviously he had wiped them, but rimmed red and swollen. Liam was just like Blaine and Vivian, not one to cry easily. Never had been, even as a toddler. So this must be big.
I sat down next to him and just put my arm around him. As I let go he seemed better, even attempted a smile at me. I took down my arm to give him ‘space’.
“Ready to talk yet?” I asked.
He shook his head. He seemed really down. Maybe he felt bad about his bad behavior. Hope dies last, right?
“Just need some more time, ok?”
“You have all the time in the world, just quit being such a fool about it ruining your life in the process. No more breaking rules for a while at least, ok?”
“I really am sorry. For everything. It’s just … it’s … nothing.” he shook his head, more to himself than for me.
I realized that I may be overstaying my welcome and since truce is a delicate thing I decided not to press my luck. I rubbed his back, hugged him one more time briefly, then stood up and went towards the door. I already had the handle in hand when Liam asked
“Mom, can I ask you something?”
“Sure.” I smiled.
“Why did you leave the old Auditore for dad?” Oh dear! Help. How to answer that, palatable enough for your own child? And why did this keep coming up everywhere? For heaven’s sake!
“It’s a long story. But basically because your dad and I always belonged.” Tada, I thought, a clean and tidy answer.
“But how did you know?” Oh, great, there was more.
“You just do. I felt it. And you suddenly know.” Yes, I know, it was a lie and never THAT smooth for us, but he is a kid. My kid.
“Ok. So what about the Italian? Do you still have feelings for Auditore?” he asked. I cringed on the inside.
“I do, but not romantic ones. He is a very good friend and my boss. And my best friend’s husband.”
“I thought dad was your best friend.”
“He is, but so is Melissa.”
“Have you ever regretted not staying with the rich guy?”
“It was never about money, Liam. Now let me ask YOU something. Why the 20 questions? Where is all this coming from?”
“Nowhere. Just so.”
“Uh uh. You do not get to back out now. I get a question too now and this is it: what happened with Michelle?”
I saw him wince, then look back down at his feet.
“She cheated on me. And I caught her. Saw it all. Her with that arrogant rich loser. And I really thought … never mind. I don’t want to talk. It’s over, it’s history. I am done.”
He fell backwards onto his bed and rolled on his side, facing the wall, away from me. I gave him privacy. So that was it then. Broken heart. Hopefully he would heal and be an average teen soon.
I was about to make coffee, then decided on wine instead. Sitting in the living room I pretended to watch a movie, while my mind was far, far away.
I did not notice Liam sitting next to me until he addressed me.
“Mom, hey mom, HEY. How much wine have you had?!”
“What? Oh, my first glass. I was just … thinking.”
“About how to fix your messed up son?” he smiled.
“Among other things.” I smiled back.
“What would you do if you were me? Forgive her? Date another girl and hope for better? Stay single forever?”
“I don’t know baby. I wasn’t there, I do not know how much she means to you. Just quit whoring around. Your dad did that and it did not better anything for him, but could push a nice girl away, thinking she’d just be a number among many.”
“At least I’d be good in the sack, with lots of experience.”
“Yeah, not the topic to get into with your mom, kid. Your dad may be the right address for that.”
“Dad and I are not really on good terms these days. Not since .. that one night.” he looked down at the floor.
“All you need to do is start. He’ll come around. But needs to be you who goes first.” I suggested.
“What needs to be him? Don’t tell me he got into some shit again!?” Blaine entered the room now. Way to go, klutz, I thought. But luckily Liam was tougher than that.
“To apologize to you. So here goes. I am sorry, dad.” he looked up at his father.
“Oh, ok. Well, in that case, I am very sorry too. For – ahem – you know .. I should not have hit you. Under no circumstance.” Blaine was shaking his head.
“It’s okay, dad. I know I deserved it. Besides, you hit like a girl, old man!” he grinned, Blaine playfully punched him in the arm and plopped next to him on the couch, a brief hug and that was that.
Man, that was easy. Wondered, if that would last.
“Hey son?” Blaine said.
“No more driving until you have a license, no more drinking until you are old enough, no more whoring, and no more wrapping Mafioso’s cars around trees.”
“I’ll do my best.” he smirked that same smile his father did.
We had a pleasant evening and of course, as soon as Liam was in bed, Blaine and I hashed through it all. We agreed to go with careful cautious trust and see if Liam would abuse it, or really meant it and wanted to be better. Jury was still out at this moment.
My office door was opened, and in walked Ezio, already talking, at first I thought he was on the phone with someone but then I realized he was talking to me, when he stood there staring at me, obviously expecting some sort of response.
“I am sorry, what was that?” I asked.
“Which part of it?” he sounded mildly irritated.
“All of it.” I said, causing him to sigh.
“Fine. I said that tail’s up is at 8:30 PM sharp. I’ll have the driver take us home around 7, should give us enough time to get our bags, say our goodbyes, and get back to the airport.” he rattled down, and was gone again, out the door, so I chased after him into his office. I tried to limit teleporting at work to a bare minimum.
“What?!” I really did not understand why he was telling me all that.
“Which part now?” he was more irritated that before.
“Struggling with pretty much all you just said. Are you going somewhere?”
“Am I…? Viktoria, where are you these days? I understand you have some domestic issues, but I need you to be at work when you are at work. Mind AND body, please! Sit down.” he pointed at the visitor chairs and sat down next to me.
“Duly noted, but still lost.”
He inhaled deeply, kind of rolling his eyes.
“The trip. It’s today.”
“What trip, Ezio?”
“Why are you so daft today? Milan. Meeting with investors. Ceccarelli, Ltd. Ringing bells?”
“And you are going today?”
“WE are going. Do you have dementia?”
“Must have. Umm, I cannot fly across the pond right now Ezio. Please, take somebody else.”
“You can, and you will. And whom else shall I take? Addy? Hardly. Meyers? He still has that condition where he cannot go 20 minutes without passing gas. While I feel for his health issues, I cannot sit in a meeting with him and expect anybody to take us seriously. The rest of the management is on the accounting side. What am I to do with them on a sales call? Show them how nicely our books are balanced?” Ezio was not amused.
“Let me call Blaine and see what he thinks.”
“Viktoria, I do not give a damn what your husband thinks. You are going, and if I have to drag you along! Basta! Now finish up loose ends and do some handovers of things that cannot wait for your return.”
“Wait for my return? Ezio, how long are you planning for this trip to last?”
“As long as it takes. So pack extras. We’re flying charter, obviously, since I cannot deal with the timing of commercial flights. Not as sun-proof as you are. Another reason I need you there. ” he stormed out of the office.
I dialed Blaine’s cell phone. He was not impressed by the news.
“You ok, Blaine?” I asked into the silence after I dropped the bomb.
“Fantastic. Home alone with a loose cannon of a son, and you go vacay with the meatball. Never been better.”
“It’s not a vacation, Blaine. Trust me. I tried to get out of it.”
“Wished you tried harder. Isn’t there someone else he can take to hold his paw?”
“I tried that. Addy is out, the other old dude farts too much and rest is specialized in accounting. Won’t work.”
“So start farting a lot, too. Problem solved.”
“Blaine! Anyway, I’ll be home around 8 to pack and kiss you goodbye.”
“Need some really big lips for that. I’ll be a t the Skyline then. When will you get back?”
“To be determined.”
“Just great. So I will be home alone with a rabid teen and two needy dogs, while you are off spelunking through Italy with the Mafioso? I deserve a medal for world’s most patient husband.”