Yes, I remembered clearly that I had been sick, the night before I met Luca. I’d just taken the pill, then Salvatore had asked me to take him into my mouth. I was so disgusted I had gagged, and then been actually sick in the toilet. Since I had skipped dinner, only liquid had come out. And it never even crossed my mind that my pill could have come out too.
“Oh my God, Melania. I was sick the night before I met Luca. Should I tell Luca about it? Explain to him how it happened?”
She shook her head. “No, that’s not a good idea. He’s not ready to hear that. He’s heard it before.”
“What do you mean?”
Through the window, I saw Luca’s car on the driveway. It was traveling away from the house. I jumped off the stool, ran to the window and watched it until it disappeared out of sight.
“Luca,” I breathed. It felt as if he was gone forever.
“Come here, Madam. I have something to tell you.”
I walked back slowly to the counter and sat down. I felt dead inside.
“Before the master bought this house, he lived in a big mansion in the heart of Boston. He had many admirers who used to come to the house. Sometimes they would even stay a few nights with him. One of them was a woman called Alessa. I have to admit I was completely fooled by her. She was the warmest friendliest woman who he had ever brought to the house. She had dark hair and she laughed easily.”
She turned her head away from me and looked out of the window.
“I actually hoped he would settle down with her, but he didn’t and after two weeks it was over for him. Even though she was gone she used to call me and treat me as if she truly cared about me. About a month later she came back to see the master. She was pregnant. I heard the argument they had. She pretended one of the condoms must have been torn, but I remembered something. I once saw a used condom stuffed under her pillow. Somehow, she had taken the used condoms and impregnated herself.
“I didn’t tell anyone what I saw and that was my mistake. If I had he would have been forewarned and known not to trust her. He married her. Once he married her she changed. All the warmth was gone. She treated me coldly, as if I was nothing more than her servant. I think she thought the master would come to love her, but as time passed he moved further and further away from her. In his heart he knew that somehow she had tricked him.”
I inhaled sharply. Now I knew why he had looked at me as if he was seeing me for the first time. He thought I had tricked him too!
Melania continued with her story. “But when the baby was born was when things really took a turn for the worse. She had mistakenly thought that it was her pregnant body that he did not want and once she had given birth to the baby he would start to want her again. The opposite happened. He completely lost interest in her and fell in love with the baby instead. I had never before and never since seen a man love a child the way he did. He loved that child more than he loved himself. He would have walked into fire for his son. Actually, there is nothing he would not have done for that boy.
“And Alessa, she simply grew more and more bitter. She was jealous of her own son. He was such a good child, but one time I came into his room and I saw her pinching him for no reason at all. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to tell on her, but I knew the child had to be protected and most of its care entrusted to another person so I advised the master to get a nanny.
“Once the nanny arrived she would only see the child when the master was in the house. Then she would pretend to love him, and touch him, and coo at him. By this time, the master had moved out of her bedroom.
“He was two when it happened. The nanny had called in sick and I had already planned to keep the baby with me for the morning, but I had an urgent order to make for the kitchen. I thought I would make it first so they could deliver it later that evening, then go to his room, but before I could even finish the order I heard her wailing and screaming. When I ran out she was at the bottom of the steps curled over his dead body.