With her head bowed, Luca was unable to see how she was taking it all in. Crushing the urge to tip her face up and telling himself he no longer had a right to be concerned, he forced himself to continue. “You’ll have visitation rights to Eula, and this will be discussed with you at a later date by my lawyer. You will of course receive alimony, and I urge you not to reject it. You must be practical at times like this.”
All the while he had been talking, he had been waiting for her to interrupt.
But she hadn’t.
He stared at her, thinking that this might be the last time he would ever see his wife—-
He must stop thinking of her that way again.
Luca took a gulp of his wine, a fine vintage that tasted stale to his tongue. He looked around him, and it was almost like the whole world was just a bit duller, the colors washed away by the knowledge that after this, Vivian would not be in his life again.
Glancing back at her, he asked abruptly, “Are you not going to say anything?” He heard her laugh and choke, and Luca froze. Before he could ask her what was wrong, she had already looked up, raising her gaze to meet his, and he already had his answer.
Everything was wrong.
“You really want to hear what I have to say? Really? Are you sure?”
“I would not have asked,” he said stiffly, “if I did not—-”
She cut him off, saying thinly, “Liar. That’s what I have to say. I think you’re a liar, I t-think you’re a coward.” Clumsily coming to her feet, she echoed his words, saying, “You came here to divorce me? Liar! You c-came here to celebrate our third month together—-”
“No, I didn’t—-”
“But then something, I don’t know what, I don’t even care, I just know something happened and—-” Vivian snapped her fingers and Luca flinched, the sharp sound cutting the silence, and as he looked at her, seeing the way tears had streamed silently down her cheek, it was almost like hearing the sound of her heart breaking into pieces.
“I know your first marriage d-didn’t work,” Vivian choked out. “I know it m-made you mistrust women, and I know it m-made you think you should have a wife like me because I was s-someone you could control.” Wiping her tears furiously, she continued tremulously, “I k-knew all that, but n-none of it mattered to me b-because I thought we had a c-chance.” Choking back a sob, she whispered, “But I guess I was wrong. We c-can’t ever have a chance because you’re too afraid, too much of a coward to take a risk on me. On us. And that you could even—-”
She could no longer talk, the pain of remembering what he had said was too much.
Because I found someone else more appropriate.
Closing her eyes, she told him tonelessly, “My lawyer will talk to your lawyer, and yes, I’ll take those visitation rights, and the alimony, too. In fact, I’ll even get my lawyer to ask for as much as possible just to make it easier for you. This way, you can tell yourself you were right to divorce me. And in return, please do me a favor.”
Staring at her, he wanted to throw the table between them out of the way, wanted to haul her into his arms and tell her to forget every damn thing he had said. But he could not. He would not.
“What is it?”
“Never let me see you again.”
And then she was walking away, and she never looked back.
Even when he caved in at the end, and he whispered harshly, “Wait.”
She didn’t look back, didn’t stumble, didn’t stop—-
And a moment later, she was gone.
It was all over.
For a long time, he simply stayed there, the minutes ticking by, and all he could see was Vivian walking away from him.
His wife walking away from him.
Finally, he forced himself to move, and as the chauffeur opened the door to his limousine, Luca told him to drive him home.
“Understood, sir. And Mrs. Valencia?”
Luca resisted the inexplicable urge to crash his fist into the window and instead said grimly, “She will not be back. Ever.”
His driver was visibly shocked. “U-understood, sir. A-apologies, sir.”
Inside the limousine, Luca closed his eyes wearily, but still there was no escape.
Never let me see you again.
Agony ripped into his chest, and it was like fire consuming him from within. He opened his eyes and straightened on his seat. Turning towards the built-in cooler, Luca was about to take out a can of beer when he saw something on the floor.
Slowly, he reached for it, recalling how she had been texting nonstop on the way to the restaurant. He opened it, thinking he would see the last messages she had sent, but instead the screen opened on the iPhone’s notepad.