Alpes-Côte d'Azur region
14 La Canebière, 1er Arrondissement,
13001 Marseille Provence, France
Elizabeth looks around herself he lives in an indulgent opulence that takes her breath away, "I certainly wasn’t expecting anything like this…" she says aloud to herself since no one else is around.
Well, I’ve never been here before his home in Corse is nice enough but this is decadent perfection. His houseman leads her to another part of the house where he sits behind a desk with an extreme dark tan as if he’s been baking in the sun, thinner which makes him seem so long he’s linear. He’s smoking a cigarette I’ve only seen him smoke once before from a distance. He’s in all black shirtsleeves rolled up, belted linen slacks there’s his suit jacket hanging on a stand nearby. His hair is luxuriously longer than I’ve ever seen unlike his lashes not as curly. He looks different in this setting. He looks different period after five years she lets out another higher pitched whistle he hears it then finally looks up.
“Can I offer anything?” He asks.
“Water if you don’t mind its really hot out there.”
Not long after he pushes a button a man rolls in a cart as big as a table with assorted bottle waters, wines edibles: cheeses pepperonis and other assorted croissants, breads, fruit and grapes...lots of grapes she takes a FiJi and uncaps it.
"Audrey, Cameron, Mille Bella, and Jacob?” He asks without looking upward.
He acts as if he' not glad to see me. "They’re fine all..fine.. adjusting to….well, this isn’t about them, it’s about me.” Why so nervous I add ice in a glass when I pour the FiJi its so quiet I hear it pop. The long swallow is refreshing but it doesn't help settle the nervousness maybe an icebreaker will help. She tries a Cy joke her new acquaintance has the gift .
“Getting to see you hasn’t been easy its probably less difficult getting an audience with the Pope.”
“This isn’t the Vatican you’re here now what can I do for you?”
He sounds like a department store salesman, “I just want to see how things are … I miss you," she tugs an earlobe, “I…I don’t know exactly. I ..want to hang out with you while I'm here.”
He pauses from writing and remains quiet for a minute his eyes rise in hazy shades of a dark storm ... and... then,
"Hang out? So you are not sure what you want?" ...You may be confused about your needs and wants but I have no such conflict about my desires.”
Two long strides gets him to the cart quickly he grabs an apple then begins to peel it with a paring knife. He pauses after he's done then.... "I desire you; I've wanted to make love with you for ten years. You see, I know exactly what I want."
Elizabeth still miffed at his duplicity isn’t surprised he gets right to it he's always been a man who goes for what he wants... a true Gregorian trait, “for a European playboy, you certainly have a very romantic vision Gregor.”
“You should know about paparazzi,” then adds tauntingly, “and love.”
“You pretty much kept them away so I wouldn’t exactly know that now would I?” Jason told her she was under his protection on Corse.
Unaware how she figured that out, he chews on one of the quarters of an apple. He's uncharacteristically quiet….waiting...something he’s not prepared to do any more of for a romance with Elizabeth.
Trying to avoid any mention of love I decide its best to set the record straight, “I know not only what love is but what it can do. I use to be idealistic but now…”
He interrupts not before he strides across to his desk to take another puff of Gauloise resting in an ashtray when he speaks, he exhales, the smoke comes out the corners of his mouth,
“You’re scorned, disillusioned, and eager to lead a controlled life because of one man who ceremoniously walked out on you and his children,” he hoods his eyes for a parting shot,
“you’re a martyr now how convenient.”
Taken aback by his bluntness I gasp out, “Well…twist that knife why don’t you. I.. I didn’t ask for much, excuse me for wanting the man I loved to love me enough to make us his priority above anyone else.”
Wanting to evade a Jason Morgan conversation he takes another quick puff, “Why are you here after all this time?”
“I just told you to say, that I want our friendship, like before, even though you aren’t who I thought you were.”
He's sitting down again he rolls farther back from a glass and wood trimmed desk then swings a long slender leg over the tan leathered arm of his high backed chair. His foot suspends mid air he has on some kind of slip on leather sneakers no socks even his ankles are gorgeous.
“That there’s no need to talk about anything else… about… my marriage...uh" She almost says divorce but since it hasn't become final.."I don’t wish to talk about..that... I- I...”
This room makes me lose train of thought. I’ve seen plenty of places before but adjusting this type of surrounding to Gregor is a hard reconcile. I didn’t expect all this it’s not gaudy, well, maybe the outside but inside its natural elegance of a time gone by,
“I ...don’t know you as Astorre but I miss Gregor terribly,” she smiles weakly.
He continues speaking like an Italian businessman L'uomo d'affari,
“so what are your conditions what am I suppose to do here? I don’t understand please be more direct?”
His cutting to the chase causes me to blink at his release of more severe tones,
“There can’t be anything between us other than friendship. This feeling you think you had five years ago can’t be acted on now.”
“Why is that exactly?” His eyelashes flutter intensely probably from the smoke.
“Its not important, there is no perfect love so why bother with the pretense, mine seemed to be so for a few years but in the end it turns out it was just a fantasy, some verisimilitude. A false image through an artist eyes it wasn’t genuine. Love is an illusion; romance is all bullshit; I was fooled into believing in it not once but twice.”
“By the same man,” Gregor adds.
I feel my eyebrows click together so I must be frowning,
“Yes.. but that doesn’t matter because there’s no such thing as that kind of love for me. There is no love supreme I should have known better.”
When he stands he’s so thin he looks like a long black line... an exclamation point.
Remembering what Kate said years before when she left Sonny for cheating, "I was a fool in love."
After a deep drag, he exhales and speaks through smoke, “I see, we haven't hung out as you Americans say in nearly five years now."
Ignoring her correction, "this sudden urge to be near me .......your terms are not agreeable, so we’re done here, ciao.” He sits down and crosses his legs.
“Arrivederci, ciao,” he repeats.
It never occurred to me he’d refuse my olive branch I blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. “Arrivederci my ass.”
He stares directly while shuffling the cigarette in the ashtray, its prisms reflect that its crystal, of course it would be, how deft to think otherwise he continues his colloquy in his new tones of unfamiliar hostility.
”You’ve always known me I don’t have a multiple personality disorder Astorre Gregorii Marcello is one and the same person we aren’t separate entities Elizabeth you just know me as few have experienced because I won’t allow it.”
“Well one thing is for sure, I’ve never known you to be quite this arrogant.”
He’s not done, “I have feelings for you? No, I love you but you’ve heard that before. I spent many years in England and am aware of how to use the language this is not past tense its still in the present.” He waves his hands furiously,
“if you think I’m hanging around you like some love sick puppy, like before, ignoring my little feelings as you’ve minimized them to be; I’m not in agreement. I spent years tending your wounds after one of Morgan’s fuck-ups. I’m not interested in a repeat of that sad event. Years ago on a beautiful foggy evening we dined in Port Charles, remember that, because nothing has changed."
I wave my hands too but to clear the smoke not mentioning his previous past tense faux paus,
“I have and it seems you have too.” I can’t believe what he’s saying, “Well..I..I didn’t expect you to be so mean to me. I had no idea you harbor such hostility carrying some grudge.”
With a sweep of massive lashes from my head to my toes he’s not quite finished. Unintentionally, I speak so softly I can barely hear it, “there’s more of this preaching you’re not done with me yet, right?”
All of his pent up frustrations unleashes,
“If you’ve come all the way to La Côte d’azur to say you wish to stay stuck in a past while pining for a man whose presently fucking another woman then so be it ..but..
you’ll give it a go without me this time around. Your moping about in overwhelming sadness of your own making on that farm when you are quite capable of passion is your own doom and gloom you’ve assigned to yourself again because of that man but it’s not mine.
Nor am I putting myself through any of your tragic post Jason Morgan drama, as a little puppy waiting for a treat. I’ve seen you at your best with him yet you’ll become a sulking celibate hermit without him, broken into bits and pieces shutting down part of yourself resigning to living romantic interludes vicariously through others. Your request is denied, ciao.”
Wow! He finally shuts up and sits down then promptly swivels around to look out the window of a lighted pool in a vast courtyard of colors.
No longer trying to diffuse his indifference my voice sounds smaller against his bellowing boisterous diatribe. I can’t move; I’m paralyzed in this spot trying so hard not to fire him back up. He’s never been like this we've never had crosswords even when confronted about perpetrating a fraud as Gregor even when he refused to stand with me at my wedding. He basically let me get my rant on with little defense. This is the harshest he’s ever been.
“Just one minute Buster, lets get something straight I didn't come here to cry on your shoulder; I've cried already I'm done."
Surprisingly, this came out soothingly soft but I’m not stopping now; I tackle him head on…“You live large with an ego to match Mr. Man of whatever year. What a way to treat me right now when I come to you with my tail between my legs."
Astorre’s eyebrow suddenly slants up.
“You cast stones at my love life while dodging women left and right chasing you down to snatch you off of that most eligible list you’ve smugly perch yourself on. There’s no need to hit below the belt ... by the way... what's so different with you pining for me it’s the same thing.”
Astoree continues in supercilious indifference, “I accept that others are tolerant of my foibles and don’t deny it’s been relatively easy for me to attract companionship and affection. I confess that I have not been as discreet as I once was and and prone to intemperate permissiveness sometimes to a fault but I make no excuse whatsoever for using money to get what I want that's what its for.”
“You live large Mr. International’s this and that of whatever year. Today, you’re proving what it said about you is true suave but callous. I had no idea you're carrying the five hundred pound monster on your back the effort to hold your grudge must be as enormous as your ego."
Astorre fires back, “Follow your motto don’t believe everything you read and don’t assume I’m pining.”
“You have it all.” I stop suddenly not knowing why.
He looks at me to emphasize his acknowledgment, “I don’t have you.” Then pushes the same button, “Make sure Mrs. Morgan gets to her vehicle.”
I stare at him after a long moment, his discharge pisses me off. I just as swiftly reach through a cloud of smoke to snatch the cigarette from between his lips and grind it to a scrunch in the ashtray. After choking a bit, he clears his throat stares at the deflated nub then at me,
“Ms. Webber,” I retort sharply.
I can feel smoky eyes follow behind me; strutting out his door, he gets in the last words. “If you want me you know where I am.”
I glance back just as he leaps to the door like a sleek panther ready to attack, he must see my backside move swiftly down the hall. I turn again just in time to hear,
“and I won’t dump you.”
I stop at some huge macho painting of a matador scoring a kill, not mine, it befits his haughtiness; I reluctantly turn completely so he can see that my face should be as red hot as I feel he looks away as if suddenly ashamed.
“I always thought how lucky it was when you were in my life and I came here to get that back because I missed my best friend more than words can say. Now I’m not so sure this was such a good idea and should have followed my first mind. You’ve been crude, coarse, corrosive and since you’re slinging f-bombs, a first for us. I can truthfully say, I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with you.”
Tears drip from my face dotting the blue voile blouse; even though I don’t want them to.
Suddenly he walks out a few feet from the doorway in a most genteel voice contrary to his tone throughout this conversation to say ever so sweetly,
“Love is patient, kind, and believes the best. Its hopes are fade-less. You not only believe this, you live it, Love never fails. "
I reply in a flat monotone, “Love dies.” I change my mind and turn around again just in time to see a blur of black as he walks through the arched door as it softly clicks close.
Suddenly he startles me he sweeps it back open and shouts at me,
"Why can’t you allow us a chance? Why! You gave him how many yet you refuse to give me the one to allow you happiness to show that you can fall in love with me with little effort. Do you find that possibility so revolting? The man didn’t love you like you should be loved, accept it, move on."
With my back to him, "Ha! With you? A spoiled narcissistic notorious playboy?" I am a mother of three children and I don't have time for your particular brand of bullshit."
Just then a kaleidoscope of colors weld together in an unusual glimmer. These can’t possibly be all his no wonder he’s acting out like a spoiled brat. I whip out my camera aim and capture these for a reason I can’t fathom at the moment. Fast cars, fast women he’s a fool to think there’s room after this kind of life for my children and me. I went that route once and got nothing but heartache. Where's the laid back Gregor from our cove, in Ts with something written on it? This android I just left is impossible to deal with.
I drive toward the exit and expect the motorized gate opened so I don't have to stop, when it isn't, one of his lackeys appear, "My apologies no photographs are allowed of the residence," he says in Italian.
I flip on the ignition, "if you take my camera I'll punch your fucking lights out."
She walked swiftly down the hall without replying, its almost ten years to the day of first loving this woman, on sight, it happened instantly! He was captivated by her simplicity then her complexity because once he got below the surface she was more complicated than he imagined.
Valid points were made she's a smart woman he admits to his arrogance. But she has no idea the repercussions when she married Morgan..
He went a reckless route for a couple of years off and on …too many women, too much liquor and hard partying, even tried cocaine for a few lost weekends but it stopped as quickly as it began. It was always on the scene at some of the trendy parties. A few models he dated used it for weight control but he didn’t like the way it made his body feel or how his mind worked. What good is it to be on top of the world one minute and in the pit of despair the next. It was an impulsive streak he gave into.... being reactionary is not his manner he plans long term, calculates then methodically executes. A retreat to seek the age-old question the meaning of life, fasting on organic teas he came out if it with a new outlook albeit the same problem a different relationship with Elizabeth and Cameron after five years.
He could have kowtowed to her as Mrs. Jason Morgan but it just isn't in him to witness first hand being the gracious loser. He'd always been in and out of their lives but now he arranged keeping his distance. He looked in on Cameron from time to time but it wasn’t the same finally his visits became less frequent then they stopped.
Its always buzzing in the back of his thoughts if they were meant to be they will be. And if not, so be it. He avoided entanglements with false promises of love or attempting to settle for a second love; maybe, in his subliminal void, he keeps himself freed up for her.
He's busied himself focusing on building an empire that has already been built it would have been easier to very well sit on his ass without lifting a finger but staying busy keeps him out of trouble.
What a mistake! He can't make another one that could cost them ten more years by alienating her further than he has today. When he got around to letting her know his feelings ...it was too late. He rarely looses control he planned to take a lesser route of resistance, his intention wasn't to come on so strong but he got lost in the fury of the moment. Not with her but fueled by an inept Jason Morgan, there's no regret confronting her head on and he doesn't give a damn about Morgan. He knew about it almost as soon as he walked out on her but for nine months he’s kept his distance patiently waiting...waiting for her to make the first move
…she just did.