They emerged from the cave in a different location than where they entered. Servi could not see for a moment in the sparkling sunlight. The country was dry and brown. Servi was surprised to see the town behind him, and at a different angle. He had no sense of how they traveled below the ground.
“Where is the car?” he asked.
“There,” she pointed across a field of grazing cows to a tiny red spot. “Your shirt tale is out. Tuck it in; you look like you made love in a cave!”
They began to walk toward the car over the field. Servi tried to hold her hand, but she shrugged it off. “Not here,” she said.
“The cows will tell?” Servi said, laughing.
“They’re Italian cows,” she smiled. “Who knows?”
When they arrived at the villa it was already late. The sun had set over the hills, leaving a smear of purple and crimson in the sky, like a trail of lava. They parked the car at the end of a row of olive trees, and in an effort to prolong their day, decided to walk back to the villa through the shimmering rows.
After weeks of unrelenting heat, a cool breeze blew through the valley. Servi gave Beatrice his light jacket, and she slung it over her shoulders. Then she took his hand.
“So, you are getting married,” Servi did not want to ask this question, but blind impulse compelled him. He wanted to hear the answer to somehow cauterize the open gash he felt within.
“Yes,” she said, squeezing his hand. “What else? I suppose I love him. No one knows anything about love.”
“How about this, then?” Servi felt even worse about this sentence, and to counterbalance it, he pulled her closer, although they continued to walk forward.
“A little childhood fantasy,” she smiled at him without directly looking at his face. “I couldn’t help myself. To me, life is like a dream. Sometimes a good dream, and sometimes bad; and I have these two huge, detached pieces of my dream. The girl I was in America, and the person I am here in Italy. They never meet. I have a terrible time matching them. In you, they match. You are a good part of the dream, so I acted on it. Didn’t you want it? You don’t expect more, do you? We just have to hope that this doesn’t screw things up, but…”
“But you never know,” she said, now looking at him through tired, clear eyes. “Servi, I realized a long time ago that I could fuck things up, and my family would fix it for me.” She stopped and searched his eyes for a trace of judgment, and finding none, continued. “I don’t think I have abused the privilege. I have taken advantage of it; I have used the opportunities it has presented. What else could I do? What would anyone do? It has made up for a lot of broken things in my life. But I fall to temptation sometimes like everyone else. Like what we did.”
“I’m a temptation?”
“No,” she shook her head. “More than that, you know it. But look, even without all this other stuff you have a sick mother in New York. You belong there with her not here with me. Don’t you think I kick myself for not spending more time with my mother when she was alive? Everyday that I missed is a day that is dead and buried,” she sighed and kissed Servi lightly on the lips. “We need to take advantage of what we have, when we have it, and not ask for more… come on, I’ll show you something amazing.”