Caroline Ch. 10.01byVitorio©
If you are new to this series please read the intro to Ch 01 so you'll know what to expect. It isn't strictly necessary to read the earlier chapters but some of this won't make sense if you don't so I hope you will!)
Mike takes up the tale again! He repeats his story of the affair with Gianna to Guy. So there is some repetition here but it is from a different perspective. Again, a problem occurring with the use of different 'voices' but necessary for the development of the characters and the story. This chapter has a superficial examination of jealousy and love. Are they part and parcel of the same emotion? I don't think so (sorry!)! It is quite important because it lays down the basis for later liaisons.
Mike's tale: Mike explains to Guy.
Well, what a story eh. Who would have believed all this would happen. I certainly couldn't. I had to keep pinching myself to prove I wasn't dreaming, and even then I wasn't sure. What a woman Lena is, I love her so completely it's overwhelming. The baby, the marriage, hell is it really happening to me?
Apparently yes! I couldn't help but keep thinking about that stupid song from the 'Sound of Music' – 'Something Good'!
Lena's told you how I felt about Guy acknowledging me and now the only thing which could dent our happiness was his failure to understand my and Lena's relationship with Jo. To be honest, while I do love Jo in a kind of way, I wouldn't mind losing her to Guy, her happiness is paramount. He is a good man, of that I'm sure. Uncertain, innocent and a touch naïve, but good. I would miss her in bed but then I had Lena didn't I and, to be perfectly frank, she was more than enough for a man of my age! The real problem was how Lena would take it. You know from her story how she feels about Joanna. Sister, lover, daughter, friend: Jo was all these things and more and to lose that would deal Lena a severe blow. It would be the same for Jo I think, after all they had been lovers for over five years and known each other as friends for far longer.
So what would happen. I had no doubt that if he made her choose she would choose him but I worried about the cost to them both. I know about selfish love! It eats at you, nibbles at the edges until you begin to hate yourself, even to doubt your love. You need to possess the one you love and, in the end, you destroy that love. She would love him still I knew but would she blame him for making her choose. It may not be conscious but I'm sure it would happen.
The other thing was, how could we stay around each other? You can't just switch off feelings like that and closeness would mean intense distress for both women. Somehow I had to make Guy understand the issues, what would happen if he did ask her to choose. The problem was, he was young, in experience anyway. Oh very intelligent and with a vast potential for emotional growth, certainly with Jo, but he was naïve. So it would be difficult.
The thing was, Jo looked so happy on that Saturday afternoon when we came home. Not only radiant, a woman sexually replete, but a woman in love. It's strange really, you can almost tell when a woman is in love, she radiates a sort of aura, don't ask me to describe it, I just sort of feel it. Lena is the same, that's how I know the poor girl is as besotted with me as I am with her. The other strange thing about the two of them is that they seem to need to reaffirm their own relationship after they have sex with a man, or in today's case, men. Although Lena hasn't mentioned it, often after our nights of intense passion together, she and Jo would almost always make love together the next day.
I don't know much about how women love each other. I've said earlier that I think that women must have a greater capacity for love than men so perhaps they can deal with it better: and I mean love not sex. Although I know that Jo and Lena do love each other deeply, I'm sure that that love doesn't threaten our love. I actually watched them make love just after we arrived at the villa. I was recuperating. I had to be careful, incidentally, because the operation I had was more serious, and more painful, that I let on to Lena. I knew she would forego the chance of a baby if she thought I would suffer but I didn't want that. It's true what she says, it will help her doubts and fears and it will help mine as well.
Anyway, I watched them making love to each other. It was beautiful. I didn't find it very stimulating sexually despite all these stories about how exciting it can be watching women making love to each other. Their lovemaking was gentle, tender, thoughtful; lots of moving together, holding each other. Almost like a dance. It was full of whisperings, stroking, caressing. They didn't use anything, only their bodies, and they moved together as one, experiencing each other's body. Their orgasms seemed different, not so strong but powerful anyway and celebrated quietly. I suppose it's different with a man, a woman gets impaled doesn't she, always something inside her. I'm sure that's enjoyable but it must be nice not to have to face that occasionally.
This is just by way of explaining what happened that Sunday. Both women had great sex on Saturday night and, all through breakfast, it was obvious that they wanted, probably needed, to be together for that reaffirmation. Thus, I wasn't that surprised when Lena buttonholed me after breakfast while Jo took Guy outside to sunbathe.
"Mike," she said in that way that told me she was serious.
"Yes angel di dio, what is it?"
She smiled, happy always that I used her Italian pet name. "About Jo and me, you know."
I laughed, "You want to 'disappear' for a while together?"
She kissed me, "You don't mind?"
"You know I don't mind."
"It's Guy." I nodded. "Jo's worried about how he will react. She's told him she loves us both, and that she loves him in a different way. Stronger, more complete but she hasn't said she wants to go on being with us. If we go upstairs this afternoon will you speak to him?"
I wasn't sure really. I'd just 'found' my son; to speak to him now about such an important issue would be difficult. And I had to tell him about his mother as well. He mustn't blame her for making him promise so I had to tell him about us. That would be difficult as well. Lena sensed my hesitation and reluctance.
"Oh Mike, if you don't speak to him who will? Jo can't certainly afterwards. If you talk to him while we're upstairs perhaps he'll accept it."
"Does she know how dangerous this will be?"
"Oh yes," she said seriously, "she knows. She told me that if he asks her to choose, she'll choose him. I know we can't stay together and deny that we love each other can we, so she'll have to go away."
Lena was obviously very upset about this and I needed to cuddle her then to let he know she could rely on me. She didn't like people leaving her life and, if Jo went, it would be a major blow at what was an important time. As I sat with her in my arms I began to realise what effects him making her choose would have. With the baby hopefully on the way Jo wouldn't be there to support her. Nor would she be living with us, probably wouldn't be at the wedding. Oh, not through choice but how could she be? I couldn't risk all this happening for fear of the effect on Lena so I had to talk to him, to try to get him to understand.
"I'll speak to him," I said, "and I'll tell him about his mother and me. OK?" I knew how much speaking about Gianna worried Lena so I wanted to check it with her.
She pulled away and smiled at me, "I told you last night, I'm grown up now. I don't worry about her any more. I'm looking forward to meeting her again. I know how you feel about her and how you feel about me so it doesn't matter. I've even thought about Jo going away," she said, "and I'm going to be grown up about that too. It's her life, if she chooses him I mustn't be sad. I just want her to be happy," she ended with that wonderful determined look on her face. This was costing her, costing her dearly.
I held her tightly to me, "Let's cross that bridge when we come to it," I said. "Guy is a bright lad. He may be naïve emotionally and inexperienced but I'm sure he can see the obvious. You two go upstairs after lunch. Don't make a big thing of it though. He'll notice Jo's gone and probably ask me about her. That'll give me the start I need." I kissed her, "Enjoy yourselves."
She kissed me back, "Again tonight?" she said.
I smiled, "I'll do my best," I said. Don't get me wrong, Lena is not a nymphomaniac, she just likes sex. As Jo has said, it's like a release for her. If she is worried, like today, she uses sex to release her worries and to affirm her feelings. Even if I can't manage to satisfy her with my penis, my fingers and tongue will do the job!
The rest of the morning was spent lazing in the sun and swimming before a light lunch because we were eating out tonight. As they began to clear away I said quietly to Lena, "Disappear when you're ready," so she whispered to Jo and they drifted upstairs. I heard the shower go and I knew they'd be in the bedroom soon. I pottered in the kitchen while Guy had gone back outside. After a while he came into the lounge where I was sitting with a bottle of wine with two glasses.
"Where's Jo?" he asked. From the tension in his voice I think he knew the answer as he looked around the lounge.
"She's upstairs with Lena." Deep breath, "In bed together."
I could see conflicting emotions on his face, anger, frustration, disbelief, doubt all flashed across his countenance.
"Son," I said to him to get his attention, "sit down and have a drink."
He flopped onto the other settee, "She said she loved me," he said despairingly as he buried his face in his hands. This was the masculine pride showing, his love was with another WOMAN and that added to the difficulty of understanding Jo's need.
Some firmness was therefore required before he began to wallow in self pity, that's a bad place to go – I know, I've been there. "Guy, Guy. Look at me."
He looked up, the emotion raw on his face. "She does love you, you bloody idiot. You know that don't you. Christ, I can see it."
"Why is she with Lena then if she loves me."
"Because she loves Lena as well. Come on Guy, I know she told you she loves Lena, and me for that matter. She hasn't lied to you has she."
He seemed to calm down a little bit but the emotion was still raw, "It hurts so much father. I feel as if I've lost her even before I've really got her. I feel in pain. I love her, I want her, hell, I need her now, new we've done all that. I don't know whether I can cope with this. Her with Lena," he looked up at me, "her with you."
"God," I said, "you should listen to yourself." He looked up at me sharply. "Here you are talking about woman who loves you more than anything else and all you can say is 'I'. Hell Guy, what about her?" He looked at me somewhat shamefaced. He wasn't stupid; he knew what he sounded like now it was pointed out to him.
"Guy, I need you to listen for a while. I need to tell you about your mother and me."
"You don't have to father," he said looking away
"I do Guy, for her, for Jo, for me, and for you. You need to know the story because it's relevant to today." He looked puzzled. I smiled sadly, "Yes, I know that sounds silly but it is, I assure you."
Now you must know I wasn't going to enjoy this. No man likes talking about his faults, particularly when they were as crass as mine were then but it was something that had to be done. I poured two glasses of wine, took a long draught from mine, and began.
"Now listen," I said, "when Maria was about two Silvio had to go back to Italy to sort out some family business. We knew he'd be away for a few months so it wasn't surprising when he didn't return quickly. After about four months I got a phone call from him out of the blue. He wasn't coming back! Well you can imagine how I felt. He was my best friend, I was his best man. I was also fond of your mother, not in anything other than a platonic sort of way although she was an extremely beautiful woman in her twenties." I smiled wanly at him, "Lets face it, she is now. He couldn't look after your mother or the children, he had no money. He was totally besotted with a young girl, and she was pregnant so he was staying with her. I was absolutely astonished. Anyway, he wanted me to tell your mother. You need to know that your mother was a sort of 'mail order' bride. She came over when she was 18 to marry him and although I suspected she didn't love Silvio she was fond of him and I was sure this would devastate her.
"So I had to tell her. Guy, she was distraught. I held her tight as she cried and worried about the children." I looked at him through misted eyes as I recalled my feelings on that day: feelings of falling in love.
"I fell in love with her on that day. Desperately and completely. Oh Guy," I had to make him understand, "she was so beautiful, so vulnerable. My heart opened to her. I didn't want to fall in love, it just happened. Over the next few months I saw a lot of her I had to arrange to sell the small café I'd bought with Silvio and to find her somewhere decent to live. She had no money so I had to support her. I fell deeper and deeper in love with her Guy. In the end I couldn't stand to be away from her and I wanted her so badly it was painful." I looked at him, "I know that pain you feel, I remember it so well but Guy, it's all selfishness." A deep breath to control my feelings. "Anyway, to carry on. I continued to 'press my suite' as it were and finally the inevitable happened, she succumbed to my 'charms'," I said wryly, "and we slept together. Over time she fell in love with me, a true, kind and thoughtful, love whereas mine was selfish, possessive and ultimately would have proved destructive.
"She was like a drug to me, I had to get a fix but more than that, I began to need to own, to possess, her so, after about 9 months I decided I wanted to marry her. I asked Patricia for a divorce – she refused. Why I don't know. She must have seen something in me that I didn't realise existed. But that wasn't going to hinder me. I'd divorce her. Then I asked your mother to divorce Silvio. I should have known better. Her background is rural, Catholic, 1960's Italy. For a girl that's marriage and duty. Silvio was her husband. She might love me and not him but that didn't matter, she was married to him. I was angry, angry with both women, but I had a plan.
"I'd make her pregnant. Birth control was up to me so I didn't bother and she fell. She was so ashamed but so pleased at the same time. Ashamed because I was the father and we weren't married but pleased because she could have a child by the man she loved. Work that out!? Women are strange creatures Guy, so much more capacity than we have, capacity to deal with emotions and feelings that seem to contradict. She was still married to Silvio you see. She had a son, you, but she wouldn't even acknowledge me on the birth certificate, the scandal was too great. She loved you Guy, and she always has. More than the others I think, they were all born out of duty, you were born from love. Please don't blame her, it was my fault." I looked at him pleading with my eyes. He was motionless.
"Well, your arrival didn't change her mind and now she wouldn't even sleep with me so I had a vasectomy to prove I couldn't make her pregnant again and we finally got back together. I was living two lives, running two families and both suffered but I didn't care, I was OK. This went on for more than two years and god knows where it would have led but it wasn't to be. One day Silvio phoned me, completely out of the blue. He wanted to come back." Again I looked at him and tried to keep a grip on my feelings. "It's impossible to explain how I felt then, anger, despair, hopelessness, you name it. Because, you see Guy, I knew she would take him back even though she loved me." I had to hold back a sob as the intensity of the emotional memory hit me.
"Oh father," Guy said as he touched my arm. I think he could understand just a bit of those emotions.
"Why, I wanted to know, after nearly 4 years was he coming back. He was in a terrible state. The girl and his daughter had been killed in a car accident and he felt that it was God's judgement on him for leaving your mother so he had to come back." Now I had to choke back the tears.
Guy came across and knelt in front of me, "You don't have to do this father, I think I understand." I reached down and held him to me, my son, and I began to silently cry. For some reason this was so much more difficult without Lena at my side. But I had to get hold of myself, to finish for his sake.
"It's OK. I'll be all right in a minute. Pass me a glass." I took another long pull at the wine and refilled the glass.
"I had to ask her," I said bleakly, "I can remember every second of that meeting. She cried, she said she loved me, but it was her duty to stand by her husband. I ranted, I raved but she wouldn't budge. So Silvio came back. He had to be told about us but what could he say. I'd looked after his wife and children for nearly four years. He accepted you as his son and he's not been a bad father has he?"
Guy nodded, "No he hasn't. I always felt happier with you, you know," he smiled now, "apart from the business with Maria. Now I know you couldn't be the father!"
I smiled at him, "That was an interesting time. Anyway, I had a hard time handling this. Thinking of them together, you know, in bed. I'd lost the woman I loved to my best friend and I'd lost my son as well. Your mother was adamant, even more so now Silvio was back – she couldn't face the shame of a public affair. I started drinking, staying out, searching for the answer in the bottom of a bottle but there isn't one," I smiled
"Then she was pregnant. I could just about ignore the fact they were sleeping together, he was having the woman I loved more than anything, but now, proof. I just lost it Guy. I got in the car and drove. I couldn't tell you where or for how long. Patricia said afterwards it was 12 days. I slept where I could, ate where I needed. I never want to feel like that again. I ended up in the Lake District, in a car park overlooking Derwent water. I could drive off there, you see, straight into the lake, about a hundred feet."
"Oh father," Guy said again as he held my hands.
I stared into space as I re-examined those feelings. Utter and complete despair. "I couldn't find any reason to go on, no way to stop the pain. I missed her, I needed her, why didn't she stay with me. I was a pathetic self-centred wretch. I sat there for hours before I realised that I didn't have the courage to do it. So I had to face the music. I examined the last four years and I began to realise what a selfish bastard I had been. Not once in all that time had I thought about what your mother wanted, needed. As for Patricia and the girls, well how she stood by me I'll never know. Killing myself wouldn't solve anything would it, only to hurt those I loved so I turned away. I phoned Patricia and bared my soul. I drove home and we spent the night talking. She took me back Guy, why, I don't know but she did. She saved me I think but I still had to see your mother one last time to explain.
"Off course my disappearing like that had now made Silvio realise how much pain his return had caused, how much I'd had to give up and, in a strange way, it seemed to bind us together. I think he might have loved your mother then, I'm not sure he did at the start, but he understood how I loved her as well but that couldn't go on. You can't keep rubbing shoulders with someone you love who you can't have. It just isn't humanly possible so I had to talk to her and put my love away.
"It was a painful meeting. She cried a lot and said she was sorry, that she would always love me but it was her duty. She didn't love Silvio. I understood that now, I told her and she mustn't blame herself. I told her I realised what a bastard I'd been but, you know, she wouldn't have any of it. Her love for me was pure you see, untainted. Mine for her was now, but it hadn't been. You see Guy, when you love someone unselfishly the only thing you really want is for them to be happy. If that causes you pain then you have to accept it. I told her I had to bury my love for her deep down inside and only keep the memory up front and, thankfully, she understood. We kissed one last time as lovers and held each other tightly, then said goodbye. Not literally of course but as lovers."