Chapter 17 - The Deal
Laurie sat on the comfort of the soft rug with a cup of hot chocolate steaming in her hands as she quietly watched the small flickering flames in the fireplace. And when Karma shuffled closer to her legs, she drew up a hand and stroked at its soft fur.
Tomas stretched his legs infront of him casting a look to his side, glancing at her sitting next to him and he shook his head. She seemed so far away, lost in her own thoughts that she didn’t even take notice of him staring for what seemed like minutes. And when the silence finally felt like it was slowly suffocating him, he finally decided to break it.
“Where did you go?” He asked, leaning his head back against the couch.
Laurie blinked, turned and blushed when she saw him staring so intensively at her. “Oh, sorry. I was just thinking about my parents back home.” She answered, setting her mug on the floor next to her.
Tomas shook his head and smiled, “That’s - not what I was asking you.” He said, “Silvia said that you went to explore our town. So where did you go?”
“Oh, I mostly wandered around looking for souvenir shops, then I had a late lunch at Vittorio restaurant.” She replied.
“You should have let us know that you were leaving, you know? Would have made things a whole lot easier and we probably wouldn’t be stuck here.“He pointed out.
Laurie sighed. He was right, she should have but given the circumstances she didn’t think that it would be a good idea to intrude on their private conversation. Not after she had been shamefully listening in on it.
“I uh- was going to tell Teresa that I was leaving but you both seemed busy and I didn’t want to intrude.”
Tomas frowned at her, “Knocking still exist the last time I checked.”
Her cheeks flushed of deceit. She bent her head down and closed her eyes. The guilt was eating her alive, it made her stomach churn.
“I was ashamed.” She admitted, cursing at herself the minute those three words left her mouth. “I overheard parts of your conversation and thought that-”
“You should make a run for it?” He suggested and she nodded in approval.
“How much of it did you hear?” He asked, flexing at his jaw.
Lifting her head up, she turned and gave him a quick glance, “Enough to know that it isn’t my place to ask questions.” She replied truthfully.
Tomas shifted and he sat back up. “In others words, you’ve heard the whole thing.“ He said in a dull tone.
“I didn’t mean to.“ She , “And honestly I’m good at keeping things to myself, so you needn’t worry that I’ll tell anyone about this.”
A bitter laugh erupted from his throat, “Why?“He spat in a sardonic tone of voice, “afraid that the story of a grieving father and lousy ex-husband won’t sell?”
Her heart twisted and pulled at his words. There was something in his eyes and the way that he spoke that made tears sting her eyes. But she had been right all along, both Tomas and Teresa needed to heal.
“Would you, that is, is it alright if I ask you how?” She asked.
“How what, Ms.Slade? How my son died or how my marriage fell apart?” He returned.
Laurie couldn’t tell whether he was setting her up for a trap because his tone of voice had changed, he sounded so indifferent and looked as though talking about it with her, didn’t affect him at all.
“Your son,” she uttered in a soft voice,“How did - What happened to him?”
His eyes held hers and his lips pulled into a bitter sneer. “For me to answer that, I’d have to tell you everything.” He said. Yes, he would have to start at the very beginning.
“Right. I’m sorry, you don’t have to. I’m prying into your private life and that isn’t what I’m being paid for.”
His brows furrowed down at her. “And do you always do exactly what you are paid for?”
Laurie matched his frown,“Well, yes. I love what do, but sometimes I get attached to my patients. They sort of become my part of my family.”
Tomas scoffed. She was naive, too innocent for her own good. And in the world that they were living in, it baffled him why it hadn’t already chewed her up and spit her out the other end, shattering all of her disillusioned dreams. Yes, this world was cruel, far too cruel for people like her.
“And what if I paid you extra, Ms.slade?”
“Extra?” She stared at him confused, “Am I doing something wrong?” She quiered, her mind going back to every single moment that she had spent with Teresa. Wondering whether she had said something or done something to offend her.
“No.” He shook his head to reassure her, “The extra tip is for your time spent on me.”
Her face flushed, “Oh, well then, there’s no need.”
“Are you sure?” He lifted a brow at her, “You’re here to take care of my mother and yet...” he narrowed his eyes at her, trying to assess what to make of her. “You seem just as determined to be my therapist of some sort.”
Laurie let out a short laugh before returning her gaze to him, “You know, your mother also says that to me everything I try to get her to open up to me.”
“Open up, you mean?” She asked.
“Most of the time.” She smiled. “But as soon as she mentions you, she shuts down. Closes herself up and stops.”
“I guess a heart full of regret will do that.”
“Regret? “She questioned, “Does this have to do with way you left Sicili in the first place?”
“You’re quite persistent are you, Ms.Slade?” He said, the gave out a sigh. “Well if you insist on knowing then I’ll have to insist on paying you back for your time. Even if it’s not with money.”
“It really isn’t necessary Mr.Carsigni. ” She told him.
“Oh, but I insist. Whatever you’re gaining out of this, I want my full share. I’m sure that I’ll get some pleasure out of this, somehow.” He told her.
Laurie gave him a puzzled look. Uncertain by the meaning behind his words. But if he was willing to open up then she would take him up on his offer - and if whatever he was planning on giving her was expensive, then she’d just have to secretly give him back.
“Alright.” She smiled, “as long as you can assure me that you won’t be giving me more than I’m already getting paid, then I accept.”
More money? Tomas smiled. She should have accepted the money because if only she knew what he had planned on paying her back with, then that smile would probably disappear just as fast as it had appeared on her face.
“You have yourself a deal Ms.Slade.” He said offering her a hand and she shook it.
“Should we start now?“She asked, “It doesn’t look like we’re going anywhere anytime soon.”
Tomas chuckled, then shrugged, “It’s your funeral not mine, Ms.Slade.” He told her.
She laughed, doubting that to be true. “Alright. Where would you like to start?”
He caught the glint of excitement in her eyes and he smiled, “How about with the lousy ex-husband?”
“Ohkay.” She said, grabbing hold of Karma and placing him on her lap.
And when Tomas was sure that he had her attention, he cleared his throat before he spoke. “Perhaps, I should start with the reason why I got married in the first place. It had nothing to do with love. I did it to make my father happy. He had cancer and was dying - and I thought that it would selfish to deny an old man’s wish to see his son married and maybe, just maybe if there was still time then he could also have the chance witness the birth of his grandchild.” His brows marred at the memory.
“I wasn’t inlove with Nicoletta but I thought that with time I could grow to love her but if anything, I was nothing but loyal to her. Did everything that I was suppose to do. Everything that I thought I was supposed to do to keep her happy. And for a long time I thought that she was. She never complained, not once. And then, she gave birth to our son, Paolo. We both loved him so much and I actually convinced myself that I really did love her, I had to love her because there was no water that this bundle of joy, this beaming light of love could have come from two people who didn’t love each other.“He stopped when his voice started croak and he cleared his throat, leveling his eyes to her.
Laurie hadn’t moved, Tomas noticed and he wasn’t even convinced that she was breathing. She seemed engrossed, hanging on to every word that he said. And when her eyes glazed over, he averted them, clenching at his teeth. He was suddenly reminded why he never spoke about this before, to anyone.
“All the illusion of having a happy family was shortly lived, Ms.Slade.” His voice suddenly turned cold. “I caught her cheating on me with the lead singer of a band, the same band that I hired to play on our wedding anniversary.”
“Oh God. ” Laurie gasped, forcing Tomas to jut his head up and catching the horrified looked on her face.
“I’m sorry.” She said, “I mean, it’s just so horrible. For you to have seen that and on your wedding anniversary nonetheless. It’s--”
“I’m going to stop for now.” He interjected, rising to his feet. “Pity is as about all that I can stand right.”
“Pity?“Laurie quickly to follow suit. “’You think I pity you?“She asked.
He drew a brow up at her. “Don’t you?”
“No! I’m appalled by your wife’s behavior, Mr. Carsigni. Sorry, I mean ex-wife. You’d have to be a horrible person to do such a thing.” She explained, marching on behind him as he made his way to the kitchen.
He let out a short laugh before grabbing the kettle. Horrible? Ms. Slade was being too nice. He had called Nicoletta far more worst names than that.
“I’m serious, Tomas.” Laurie said, when she heard him laugh. “I think that she should have just told you she wasn’t happy, if she wasn’t. Why stay when you’re so miserable?”
His fingers tightened around the handle of the stainless still kettle. “For the sake of our son, I convinced myself that it was because of him - even if it it wasn’t.”
This was about all that she could bare to hear. A mother choosing wealth over her own flesh and blood.
Her face paled. It reminded her of her own mother.
“I think we stop.” She swallowed dryly.
Tomas turned and his brows touched when he caught her solemn expression.
“You okay?” He asked, noticing her look of discomfort.
“Yeah.” She lied, forcing on a smile on her face. “I just think that we should continue this another time.”
“Alright. But are you sure that you’re okay?” He asked, observing her, seeing past her smile.
“Yea- yeah. I’m fine.” She nodded, hoping that he wouldn’t press on. Her mother, wasn’t a topic that she liked to talk about.
“Good.” He said, seemingly satisfied. “Do you want your payment done now or should we wait?”
Laurie chortled a laugh, “You aren’t going to give me this cabin are you? Because I was secretly planning to give you back everything that you were going to give to me and -” she casted a quick look around the small place. “I don’t think that I will be able to refuse it.”
Tomas gazed at her, amusement sparkled in his eyes and a smug attached on his lips. “The cabin wasn’t what I had in mind Ms.Slade. And quite frankly, I wouldn’t mind if you returned what I’m about to give to you.” He said, setting the kettle back on the counter.
“Oh?“She frowned. “Then what is?” She grinned, then swallowed down her half of a smile when his eyes trailed down to her lips and he took a step towards her - closing the distance and stealing her breath away from her.
The next thing she knew, their bodies were touching and his arm was wrapped around her, holding her close and the other one, threading in her hair, caressing the back of her head.
“Tom--” His name died on her lips when his head swooped down and his lips touched hers, warm and firm, yet gentle and effortless.
For a moment Laurie felt the ground beneath her melt away and time stopped. And when he pulled away, she blinked - only half believing that he had just done that.
“I think I should go to bed.” She said in a hastened heat, holding on to her breath - afraid that she would somehow, magically wake up on her bed at the mansion and find that all this was nothing but a dream.
Her heart was pounding against her chest and her face, dear lord, she could feel the colours burning on her cheeks.
Tomas smiled as he took a step back, allowing her some space. She looked flushed, confused yet excitement danced in her eyes. As unexpected as his kiss was, she liked it, he could tell. Only...
“Goodnight, Ms.Slade.” Tomas said, frowning back at himself.
He hadn’t expected to like the taste of her lips.