Adele was busy for the next few days tying up all loose ends in New York. She included Georgio in all the meetings since he would be overseeing all of the projects in New York for at least the next year. Adele was going back to Europe to focus on the winery. She had extensive plans for its growth and some the preliminaries were also being arranged from there as well.
That particular morning was as busy as the others had been when she was interrupted by her personal secretary.
"Contessa, I have Sabina from billing here and she wishes to speak to you personally."
Adele thought for a moment and asked Diane her secretary to show Sabina in.
Sabina had been working for Adele for over 10 years. She had rendered Adele a few considerations from time to time in the past. Usually bills of questionable references that should not be put through to avoid embarrassment or speculation of her past indiscretions. Sabina had been a loyal employee and had been held in high regard by Adele for this.
"Come in Sabina." Adele stood up. "Sit down please." Adele looked towards Diane that was lingering at the door. "You may leave us Diane."
Diane closed the door behind her and Adele gave Sabina all of her attention.
"You needed to speak to me?"
"Yes Contessa." The woman seemed more uncomfortable by the second.
"I…a bill came through Contessa and…"
"Still? It's been years…." Adele trailed off in confusion.
"It's different." Sabina seemed more embarrassed by the second.
"Sabina, I can't imagine… I haven't…"
"It's not you Contessa…"
"What? Please Sabina tell me what this is all about." Adele could not figure what it was. Sabina had brought her bills of dubious situations and they had been privately paid for. Adele did not understand since she had not had any questionable incidents to cover up since she and Gillian had gotten together.
"This bill is for Mrs. Visconti." Sabina would not look at her in the eye as she handed Adele a piece of paper. "I wasn't sure if it was fraudulent or…."
Adele took the paper from her and began to read it. Her features suddenly turned ashen as her hand began to shake.
"Thank you Sabina, you may go now." Adele heard herself say and did not recognize her own voice as she spoke. She felt an incredible coldness fill her being. Her face felt hot and the vile rose from her stomach into her mouth. Adele left an opened mouth Diane as she stormed out of her office.
"Contessa, will you need a car?"
Adele was beyond rational thought. All she felt was an incredible fire growing out of her and all it wanted to do was burn and destroy. She walked out of the building and got into a cab. Rage, she was consumed by rage. The crushed piece of paper was still in her hand. All she felt was anger…. It filled her, seeped into every part of her. Gillian had killed their child….
She was lucid enough to call the estate to ready the limousine and to have two of her bodyguards and Catty's nanny set to leave with her as she arrived. Her eyes burned and her head hurt. She felt like something was tearing her to pieces from within. Her eyes burned; her heart was shattered beyond repair. The fire that was taking over her body felt like an inferno of heat and anguish.
Less than an hour later the limousine seemed to fly through the city streets like a black bird splashing the wet and dark streets as it flew through the darkness crashing against the dark waters that would lead it to its demise. Adele knew that today she would no longer exist. She was dead inside. It had begun when she found out how Gillian had betrayed her; her life ended the moment that she realized that the woman that she had loved so deeply had never existed. Gillian had toyed with her from the very first. Everything had been a lie. All that was left of her was primal and expendable. She simply felt only the cold. Her eyes had never been more focused nor her mind more alert and yet she felt lifeless and disconnected from the world. The heat that had consumed her had now turned to ice. The frozen tundra had spread like a mantel all over her senses. She felt nothing but a controlled sense of no return. Adele knew that the car that she was in was moving very quickly; the numbness that now permeated her whole being was devoid of any emotion, of any sense of the real. Her lifeless eyes stared at the buildings that appeared continues blurs and as the car pulled up to her destination, suddenly like gap in time a rush of cold air hit her as the car door opened like an unstoppable avalanche; it hit her so quickly that she felt a grotesque thing inside her step out of the car instead of the woman that had existed in her body previously and like an animal bent on killing she rushed to her target. She was savage, jury, judge and executioner. She tasted blood in her mouth and her body moved fluidly like that of a wild animal ready for the kill.
One thought kept repeating itself in her mind over and over again. "She killed my son….she killed my son" Because the report had gone into great detail and even that was revealed to her. Gillian's betrayal had taken her beyond what her mind could endure. Gillian had made her believe in love, and then she had betrayed her, used her, taken her child, made her look ridiculous; she would soon be the laughing stock of those that had warned her that people like her should never trust anyone because money was ultimately the object. Gillian had proved that no one had truly loved her for her; betrayed her with Candice, wanted to take her child from her and now she found the ultimate betrayal…Gillian had killed her son. It would have been a son…..and Gillian killed him. Gillian had broken what had never been broken; Gillian shattered her heart beyond reconstruction.
Liar, Gillian was a liar; a liar that had torn out all her belief in that love was real, that she deserved it, and then led her to an abysmal coldness that she had never known. Her heart was beyond broken; and now all she had was the cold…she ran to it…. the cold that turned her to ice. She would never truly feel again; she would breathe but would never truly know that she was alive.
Adele rushed through the receiving area like a whirlwind; the two men that were accompanying her followed closely behind her as well as the nanny. She bypassed the manager that came up to greet her and like a rag doll; she had tossed him out of her way like the insignificant thing that she felt he was at the time. Because the only thing that Adele knew was that she had to find Gillian. The man fell onto a chair indignant of this treatment and stared behind the power that had just pushed him aside. One of the bodyguards stared him down and the manager simply remained in place keeping the words that were about to come forth to himself.
She entered the elevator and her fury was palatable in the air by that time. The elevator barely contained the anger gaining ground inside her…the ire that filled her lungs and the fire that made her skin burn with rage was spilling over. Ice had become fire once more. Within seconds the doors of the elevator opened and within steps she was in front of the penthouse door. Her fist hit it with such force that the door itself shook as she continued to pound it.
"Gillian!" she kept yelling and still no answer from within a minute later. She stepped aside as one of the men kicked the door open with one swift kick.
As soon as the pieces of what remained of the door swung open she could see Gillian rushing towards them in shocked surprise. Candice came through another door towards them as well and immediately walked towards Adele, obviously angry at the forced entry. Before Candice could speak Adele struck her so hard that she fell back against a side table and seemed unable to catch her breath as she lay on the floor.
Gillian stared in horror at the woman that was approaching towards her now. Adele's eyes caused her to take a step back and turn to run from her. Adele moved swiftly graving Gillian by the hair and roughly turned her around to face her.
"Where is my daughter?" Adele growled as her other hand grabbed Gillian by the neck. "Go, find her" she shouted towards one of the men. The nanny followed to look for the child as well.
"Ade…" before Gillian could finish Adele shoved her hard against the wall. "I should kill you" she said seething as she came towards Gillian again. Gillian tried to run by her and Adele grabbed her by the hair and pulled her hard against her. "I want to kill you….liar."
"Dell…" Gillian was barely able to say as Adele struck her hard across the face with relish and placed her hand over her mouth as she pushed her against the door. "Be quite, you are going to scare our baby" she whispered into Gillian's ear in a sarcastic growl as she pressed her body harder against Gillian's.
Gillian heard Catty calling out mommy and Adele answered saying that she would be going to be with her soon. Gillian heard as they went out the apartment and she knew at that moment that she had lost her daughter. Her eyes turned to Adele in horror and in confusion.
At the same time Adele's crazed eyes turned to her.
"Gillian!" Candice cried out from the other room.
"Keep her there!" Adele screamed at the man outside as she pushed Gillian further into the bedroom with her and slammed the door shut behind her.
"Dell.." Gillian began to say as Adele struck her hard across the face yet again.
"Don't speak…liar, everything was a lie!" Adele accused her with all the anger inside her. "I believed you; I want to kill you!"
Gillian's tears ran freely down her cheeks.
"I'm dead inside…. I am disgusted by you!" Adele ranted as she paced side to side like a caged animal. "You are my wife and you lay with her…. I want to claw at my skin to remove you from it." Adele held her head with both her hands in utter rage. "I am going to rip you out of my head and my body!"
"Dell…" Gillian sobbed miserably.
Adele seemed disoriented for a moment as she turned to look at Gillian and her fingers lightly touched Gillian's face. Adele then stared at her fingers as if mesmerized only to look up and stared straight in Gillian's eyes with something akin to madness. Adele's eyes were unreadable.
Gillian watched in horror as Adele stared back at her hand. Adele's hand had blood smeared on it…she then looked up with a venomous smile. She licked the blood with her tongue as she stared at Gillian. At that moment Gillian screamed, No!"
As Gillian went to her, Adele pushed her away from her so hard that Gillian began to really feel fear. "I am going to treat you like the whore that you are…. You killed my son!"
Gillian stared at her in horror….she knew….Adele knew….her son? It was a little boy….she had killed their little boy…she had killed their dream. Gillian's eyes filled with tears. She welcomed Adele's attack…her anger. She heard the tearing of her clothes before the horror of the last time that Adele would touch her body. The madness that followed would haunt them to their death. It wasn't sex nor was it violence; they had gone beyond that, neither would survive it and time would show that neither did.
Adele walked out of the room an hour later. She seemed lifeless and did not look at Candice as she walked out of the penthouse. When she was honest with herself she knew that it had never been about Candice, it was Gillian. Gillian had made the promises; Gillian had been the one that broke them. Love had been a word that other used. Love had been something that had never truly held her. She had given Gillian her whole being; her dreams, her secrets and her passion and a heart that had learned to be for only one name. Adele had loved her beyond the realm of the possible and when her world came crashing down she could not escape it. It had crushed her because she never had built her defenses against it. She had loved Gillian so completely that the word betrayal had simply never entered her thoughts. The first revelation impaled her and her shocked senses only registered that her life was oozing out the wound that would never heal. All the other that followed simply made the tear of the wound bigger and bigger. She then remembered the impact of the words when she first heard them. "I choose her, I don't love you…" She had never truly been whole after that; the silence encased her and the void had begun to take her back into its darkness.
The body guard had kept Candice outside the room. Candice had sat on the sofa in what seemed like a lifetime holding her bruised body and as they left the apartment she got up slowly. Every step that she took towards Gillian's bedroom took forever. She was scared; something told her that it would be painful. Finally as she got to the door she couldn't hold the sob that escaped her lips as she saw what Adele had done.
Candice wept as she slowly walked towards where Gillian lay. She seemed lifeless. She stared at the rumpled bed sheets and then allowed herself to look at Gillian's body. Gillian lay naked and unmoving. Her eyes were dull and her face was smeared with blood. She was bruised and a child like whimper escaped her lips as Candice lightly touched her. Suddenly Candice saw the tears spill over Gillian's eyes and she breathed a sigh of relief.
"Gillie….oh god Gillie" Candice sobbed as she covered Gillian with a sheet. She kept trying to cover her and trying not to meet her eyes again. "Oh god Gillie"
Suddenly Candice felt her hair being caressed. She immediately looked up at Gillian. The tenderness of it made her cry all the harder. She put her head down on Gillian's chest as she wept. "Oh my baby… I'm sorry….I couldn't stop her; I'm so sorry my baby. Forgive me…oh god, forgive me" Candice cried so hard that her body shook.
Gillian caressed her hair softly. "Shhhh…..shhhh" Gillian continued to console her.
Adele walked out of the building in a daze. Her footing was unsure and she stumbled once or twice trying to keep a hold of her sanity. What had she done? Gillian deserved it! She was a whore that had used her…she was a liar that had made her love her…..tried to take her money; her child…had humiliated her and had killed her son! She kept justifying her actions; why did she feel such disgust at herself. What had she done…the horror of what had just occurred kept pushing itself into her head.
Liar, she was a liar; she had loved her she kept telling herself and Gillian had used her. Adele kept repeating the same thing over and over again in her mind. She wanted to make the whole world hurt like she did…. She couldn't stand the pain inside her. Adele wanted to forget, she wanted to hurt her, to tear the hunger for her out of her body and her soul and now the pain was worse. Every step she took she knew would take her further and further from viper that she had loved. Because even now Adele knew that she would love Gillian to her dying breath. Death, she would welcome death. She kept reminding herself to breathe.
Adele looked disheveled as she got into the limousine. All the occupants looked elsewhere except at her. Her daughter immediately went into her arms.
Catty caressed her mommy's face sweetly. "Mommy, you hurt yourself" her little girl pulled her sleeve over her hand and began to wipe her mother's face. All the occupants watched as the child gently wiped the blood smeared on her mother's face. Adele slightly turned and a sadness seemed to fill her eyes as she looked at her child.
Adele's eyes suddenly filled with tears and they began to run down her face unchecked and unnoticed by her.
"Don't cry mommy, I will kiss the boo boo away" Catty leaned in and kissed her mother on the cheek sweetly.
The tears however did not seize and Adele finally looked into her child's eyes, pulled her to her gently and began to sob. "Oh god, oh my god help me…" Her cries expressed the pain of her soul; she wept inconsolably as she held her child tighter to her. She caressed her little girl and rocked her back and forth sobbing inconsolably. Why? Why, was the only word in her mind. Why? How could she do this? Why, when she had loved her….
The three sets of eyes that beheld them, could feel the sorrow; before them was a total opposite of the woman that had just committed such a genus crime. The all mighty Contessa suddenly seemed very human. She wept openly and for once in her life was not able to control what the world saw. They had all been in the service of the Contessa for many years. They had also for the past few years had gotten to know Gillian. Their loyalty however was never in question. The Contessa was who they owed their allegiance to. There was shock but not totally unexpected at what had happened. They had been in her employ long enough to know that the Aristos as they called people like her were not bound by the same laws like them. Still, there were mixed emotions; they were appalled at what they had supposed happened behind that locked door and yet they were overcome with empathy at the woman who so obviously was in such pain before them. The Contessa was human after all; her tears and her pain were proof of that.
Fall seemed to come early to New York that year Candice thought to herself. It had been a few months since the day that changed everything. When she had walked into the bedroom and found Gillian she had been overwhelmed by the bruises and the bite marks on her body. Gillian seemed to give up on life since that day. They didn't talk about it. Gillian just faded away; she had mentioned Catty's name once and Gillian placed her finger on her lips. The pain she saw on Gillian's eyes was enough to make her never try to talk about it again.
She had tried to make Gillian talk about it; her anger at Adele was fathomless. She had kept telling herself over and over again that Adele had to be punished. Gillian did address it once.
"No more, let it go Candice. Enough, no more pain…." Gillian's eyes filled with tears.
"She had no right to do what she did!"
"Neither did I…"
"What? You are excusing her?"
"No, we both went too far…" Gillian said sadly. "I knew what to do to push her away… I lied to her, in her eyes I betrayed her …and still she wanted me. I then went further and further, to the point where I shattered something inside her that will never be whole again…."
Candice stared in disbelief.
Gillian then looked at her in tears. "I am the woman she loved who I betrayed with you. She gave me her heart to hold and I broke it. She entrusted me with her secrets and a part of her that she never trusted to anyone. You think she hurt me? What she did to me killed her. It will torment her for the rest of her life. I did that Candice!"
Candice remained silent.
"I did that… "Gillian's body began to shake as she began to sob. "I should have told her the truth. It would have hurt her but she might have survived it. I broke a beautiful heart Candice, she gave it to me to take care of…she told me so and I broke it."
"Gilly…" Candice said softly.
"I killed her Candice! Oh god, I killed her…she thinks I used her, that I didn't love her. I killed her…."
Candice took Gillian into her arms. After that day Gillian began to go into herself.
Candice walked out onto the balcony holding a tea tray trying to put that memory away yet again. Her eyes searched for Gillian and it hurt her to see the once lovely woman looking so much more fragile each passing day. Gillian was huddled in a chair in the far corner of the balcony. Something inside her had just seemed to die; and memories of that day that she had just been thinking about filled her once more. Adele was not the only one that died that day like Gillian had said. Candice now knew that Gillian had died too. Candice looked up again and stared at Gillian; she loved her, she had always loved her. And her eyes began to water as she looked at what remained of a once vibrant beautiful woman who now seemed always so peaceful of late that Candice was terrified every time she had to leave her alone.
"Hello baby, aren't you cold out here honey?" Constance asked as she lay the tray down on the small table in front of Gillian and smiled at her.
"No, I'm fine…. Its very nice out here" her voice was calm and melodic and as of late, lifeless.
Candice poured the tea for both of them; and as usual the time passed and Gillian did not drink it. She just seemed to drift off onto a world of her own as she usually did these days. She was getting thinner and everyday her condition seemed to worsen. The pills she took didn't seem to help anymore while she was awake. She slept too much as of late; she seemed to prefer oblivion instead of life.
The nightmares for Gillian were a constant as well. Every night she would wake screaming completely drenched in perspiration. The woman she loved was her demon and yet those were the arms that she wanted comfort from. Candice knew this as she watched in anguish and fascination; even now Gillian loved Adele. She would sometimes lay next to Gillian for hours thinking. The nightmares had become hers as well; she should have done something. From the very first she acknowledged to herself that Gillian should be with Adele. She didn't want to know that. The guilt had begun slowly; she should have helped her but, she thought of herself. She knew all along that it was wrong and now she shared the horror. Candice had to look at herself at last and admit that she had wanted Gillian more than she wanted Gillian to be happy. Because she knew without a shadow of a doubt that Gillian would have found the peace she so desperately needed with Adele. Gillian loved Adele; if she had truly loved her she should have helped to make that happen. It was too late now; Candice wept.
People would just step out of the way rather than incur her rage these days. Something inside her always seemed to be angry. There was a cruelness within that was becoming entrenched in her very core. The grey began to appear in her temples like an outward extension of the icy coldness that had begun to take over her soul as her eyes had become chips of cold steel. Where once upon a time she had enjoyed her takeovers or her business successes they had now become a fix that she needed often. Her plans for her beloved winery had become secondary in her life although she was now running her empire from her estate in Italy; her dream to take the winery to an international level had seemed to simply wane. Adel just simply didn't care. She had always been an astute business woman; she was now becoming known as a vicious one. Adele seemed to take great pleasure in the process of the takeovers these days; where she had once left her competition with some sense of dignity now she enjoyed the pushing that knife even deeper and the word annihilation entered her vocabulary.
"Contessa, we don't need that; its over it's simply not necessary. It will take up time and cost money that we simply don't need wasted. Quite honestly, it's not worth the manpower that it will take, the company is ours." Franco, one of her new vice presidents in Italy was explaining on the phone to her.
"Do it, I want to be there when you deliver it, just do it." Adele growled with barely controlled anger. "We are not there friends; they should have just made it easy and they chose a fight. Well, this is the spoils, and I want them. So set up the meeting and do it as I asked."
There was silence on the other end of the phone line for a mere moment then the words that she wanted were spoken. "Yes Contessa, I will call you with the specifics."
"I want this wrapped up this week Franco." She hung up not waiting for a response.
There was a soft knock coming from the door. She looked up from where she was sitting. Her eyes mirrored the anger inside her. She hated being interrupted when she was working.
Margot poked her head in. "Come Adele, the children are ready."
"Margot, I don't have time..."
Margot walked in and walked up to her sister. Her hand reached out lovingly and caressed her sister's hair. "The grey is spreading" her hand then ran down her sister's face. Adele pulled away in dislike.
"I don't have time." She turned away from Margot.
"Catty is fussy and is crying for her Mommy." Margot waited for the response that she knew would follow.
Adele froze for a second, put her pen down, got up and walked out with Margot right behind her.
Gillian leaned against the rail of the veranda. The world seemed so unreal all the way from up there. She closed her eyes and smiled at the breeze that caressed her face.
"Close your eyes cara mia…." Adele whispered as she was caressing her face with a rose.
"Mmmm, it smells heavenly." Gillian smiled with her eyes still closed.
"No, this is heavenly amore mio.." Adele leaned in and kissed her lips with such sweetness that it had left her breathless.
Gillian opened her eyes as a tear spilled and ran down her face. "Dell…"
Candice came out to the veranda and walked up to Gillian. She put a shawl over her shoulders. "Its getting cold out, I thought you might like this."
Gillian smiled at her then looked out over the city again. "Thank you."
Candice smiled but she knew that Gillian didn't even feel the cold anymore. Gillian had accepted death. She wasn't even fighting it. Candice stood behind her and pulled her against her holding her tightly. She buried her face in Gillian's hair and closed her eyes. "I love you Gillian…."
Catty had been fuzzy all day. And to Margot's surprise Adele's patience with the child was endless. Adele was not the same but she didn't care. She had finally gotten what she wanted, Adele was back in Italy and this time she would make sure that nothing would get in the way of her plans. Their mother was due to arrive soon and her presence would help as well. Adele hated Gillian, or at least never mentioned her nor did she want to know anything that had to do with her. Gillian was simply a subject that was not open to discussion. Margot was happy Adele gave in to her insistence at times to have lunch or take her to the opera or to some fashion show that Margot wanted to attend. Then their were the times that Adele simply was oblivious to; the times that they shared and that Margot planned for to the last detail. Tonight she would fill her want yet again.
Dusk, Adele hated dusk; she was leaning against the veranda watching the Sun's farewell to the day when Margot joined her. She was glad to have some kind of relationship with her half sister. She had loved Margot when she was a child; the years that followed into her adult life were odd in her mind. Margot made her feel uncomfortable at times. She kept reminding her self Margot was family; and she was lonely. The loneliness that no one noticed had begun to consume her from within. Margot was talking about attending yet another fashion show and she simply tuned her out as she drank her glass of wine. The wine numbed the pain; she had begun to drink too much. Adele closed her eyes as her body began to sway. She wanted it to stop, to always be numb, to feel nothing, but the nights were so long. She wanted to prolong the day; the night was were Gillian always waited for her. She fought her with a full life during the day but the nights…the nights, she hated herself in the mornings because she always gave in during the night.
The glass fell from her hand and she felt Margot's arms come around her.
"It's okay Adele; I'll put you to bed."
"No, not yet Margot, I don't want the dark yet…"
To Be Continued