(II) Chapter 35 (Answers)
I went up the staircase and down the main hall, avoiding the bloody and lifeless bodies, while looking for the boys.
I finally found them in Leandro's room. They were conversing in Italian when I stepped in. They looked grim.
"How are you feeling?" I asked slowly.
"How do you want us to feel?" Anthonio replied, staring at the floor. "Velma is down there claiming to be our mother."
I gulped, feeling bad for them
"I think you guys should listen to Lodovica." I said slowly.
"That's not Lodovica." Leandro replied, "I don't see how she was able to keep such a secret all these years."
I knew how they felt and I understood them, but still.
"That's why I want all of us to go listen to what she has to say. That woman down there is your mother, the one we all thought was dead and to understand this we have to listen to her. Hate her or whatsoever but first, listen to her. Please." I ended with a plea.
They remained silent.
Just at that moment, Velma,
Lodovica, appeared at the door. I turned to the boys.
"Please, give her a chance."
We all sat down, ready to listen to what Velma, well, Lodovica had to tell us.
"Odessa's diary said our mother had blue eyes. Yours aren't blue." Leandro started.
"They are." she replied and we silently watched her send her finger into her eye and remove what appeared to have been eye contacts from the start, exposing her almost sky blue eyes, just as remarkable as Anthonio's.
Goosebumps took over my skin.
"You were said to have been dead." I said slowly.
"They thought they'd killed me. The thing is, Eugene had never seen me before. And so he'd described Odessa to his assassins because he'd seen her close to Lorenzo's body the night of his murder and thought I was the one. They killed Odessa, thinking she was Lorenzo's lover. It was Facundo who killed her." she began to sob.
"Tell us everything." Anthonio muttered.
With tears rolling down her cheeks, Lodovica told us her story.
"After Odessa and I separated, I ran and found refuge in a little
town close by. I was lost and vulnerable. I cried continuously for Lorenzo." she explained with difficulty, "Till this day, it hurts me terribly."
She sobbed and I felt horrible.
"Not only had I lost the love of my life, I'd lost both of you. I didn't know what had happened to you, Leandro." she told him, "Nor did I know what would happen to you, Anthonio. I was alone and desperate. I managed to find a place to stay and a little job, a kind family to whom I'd explained my story, had offered me. When I gained enough money, I changed my identity, I cut my hair, lost some weight and put eye contacts. I became Velma. An English woman. I learnt good English and struggled to imitate the English accent. After that, that is, some years later, I returned to my hometown and the first thing I did was to go back to the orphanage." she turned to Anthonio, "Where I'd left you. I wanted to get you back. No matter the huge risk I was taking. But they told me you'd been transferred. I was now certain that I'd truly lost both my sons. That made me want to revenge. I promised to find Eugene and make him pay. I gathered all the courage I had and came to this same house, seeking employment. Surprisingly, they employed me but with threats and conditions. Whatever I learnt about within these walls had to remain within these walls, if not they would attack my family. Because I'd made them believe I had one."
"Why didn't you execute your revenge earlier?" Leandro asked.
"Because of you." she started, "When I started working in that house, none of them recognised me. And so I knew I was safe. My plan had been to discretely set explosives in every part of the house and bomb it once most of them were in it. But then one day, I saw you Leandro, playing around. You were only six but the resemblance with your father took away all my doubts. I wanted to live with you, stay by your side and watch you grow. I didn't want to risk losing you again because of my risky plans. And so I didn't do anything.
You grew up as a member of this now hideous group. The new group Eugene had created. I watched you consume drugs and kill at only fourteen. And there was nothing I could do about it. If I'd told you who I really was, that would've been putting both our lives at stake.
And then one day, when we'd gone to the headquarters in America, you brought Anthonio back to the house. I'd been shocked on seeing you enter the house with him, claiming to have found him in the streets. I knew he was the one, the moment I saw him. And his name and story confirmed my thoughts. The joy I felt that day was unbearable. Eugene immediately knew at the moment he saw him that he was Lorenzo's son too. He believed that Odessa had given birth to a second son before dying.
I watched helplessly as he transformed both of you into monsters.
I waited over the years, patiently, for Anthonio to get well. But he never did get well, especially with the long absence of Leandro. He got worse and worse and I began to lose hope. Until you appeared in our lives, Donnica. I knew from the start that you would be the solution because of your courage to stand up to Anthonio. You feared him, but never entirely succumbed to him. You closed your eyes on his bad side and decided to love him. And I'm still so grateful."
I was silent, not knowing what to say. She went on,
"When I knew Anthonio was fine, I decided it was time to let the truth out. I had to leave early on the pretext of holidays, to think of a plan. I found Odessa's diary which was perfect. She was my best friend though she claimed for my own good, not to know me, until the incident, as written in the diary. I then hired a trained spy to help me place some clues in your rooms along with the diary."
I realised it was surely that spy that had hit Leandro's eye in order not to get caught.
"I wanted you to discover your father's hidden office, the key and the diary. I knew you would avenge his death. And you did."
She looked at them.
"Please, forgive me. For your own sake and that of Donnica and I, I had to keep this secret for a very long time. Please, forgive me." she sobbed.
I looked at the boys, feeling sad for all three of them.
Leandro stood up slowly and made his crying mother stand. I watched with tears in my eyes as he hugged her tight. She hugged him back, sobbing her heart out. It was heart warming.
While she cried against her son's chest, she stretched a hand out at the other.
"Anthonio." I called his name softly.
He looked at me and I motioned for him to please answer her. His eyes were red and watery. He was withholding tears.
"Amore mio..." Lodovica called him in a shaky voice.
Anthonio stared briefly at her before standing. Leandro let her go and she turned to Anthonio who hugged her in turn.
She hugged him back, crying. Tears were already rolling down my cheeks.
She pulled Leandro close for a family hug. I watched them hug their mother and my heart ached in a sweet way.
Then slightly turning in my direction, Lodovica stretched a hand out to me.
"Come dear. You're part of the family too." she smiled through her tears of joy. Not thinking twice, I took her hand and joined them.
*😍😍😍😍 At last. Your thoughts? 🤗🤗🤗*