Keeping Faith by Cindy Bradford (serial 49)
Chapter 18 Part I
The phone was ringing when Patrick ran into the house. It was Carmella.
“Patrico, I have been trying to call you since Friday. We have two new grandbabies,” Carmella gushed.
“Yes, can you believe it? Elisabette had twins again, a boy and a girl. And this was just as big a surprise as Alex and Alexia.”
“Congratulations, to you all. Are mother and babies doing well?”
“Yes, they are coming home tomorrow.”
“What did they name them?”
“Penelope and Paulo.”
“I like both names. You are getting the house full of grandchildren, just like you wanted.”
“Yes, Patrico, it is quite noisy when they arrive,” she laughed.
“Carmella, I was just about to call you. I was just getting in from Boston.”
“How is everyone?” she asked.
“Mom passed away on Wednesday. Although she had not been well, this was somewhat unexpected.”
“Patrico, I am so sorry. Why did you not call me? I would have come for the funeral.”
“That is exactly why I didn’t call, Carmella. I knew Elisabette was due any day. You needed to be there, and I knew you would feel like you should fly here. It would have been too much to ask.”
“How is your father?”
“He’s not handling this very well. It was hard to leave him, but I had to get back here. One of my sisters is with him. I’m not sure whether he will go home with her or what. We’ll just have to wait to see. He’s still a young man, only sixty, so I hope he will keep the house and try to stay busy. How’s Stefano?”
“He is fine, handing out cigars, wouldn’t you know?”
“Carmella, tonight I’m surprising Carol with a special honeymoon package to Vienna.”
“How exciting, love. Will she really be surprised or do you think she knows?”
“I don’t think she has any idea. We’ve talked about several places in the Caribbean, but never Europe. She has mentioned wanting to see Vienna any number of times so this is the perfect opportunity.”
“Then Patrico, you two must fly to Florence or Rome and spend time at the manor!”
“I know Carol would love that, but I’ll have to see if I could change our return flight and also if I can be away several more days. I’ll work on that, but are you sure? I know you’re really busy.”
“I am never too busy for you, my love.”
“But you and Stefano are still coming to the wedding, aren’t you?”
“We would not think of missing it.”
“I would like for the two of you to sit up front with my dad.”
“That would be an honor, Patrico.”
When he hung up the phone, Patrick knew he would have to hurry to get ready in order to pick Carol up on time. Besides, he didn’t want any spare time to think. He arrived at her door with a minute to spare.
“You look beautiful! I’ve never seen that dress.”
“I bought this in New York to surprise you sometime. I just didn’t know it would be this soon. You don’t look too shabby either.”
They were seated promptly at a corner table, overlooking the water.
“This is nice, Patrick. I never dreamed we would be doing this tonight.”
Although he had planned to wait until after dinner to surprise her, as usual, his excitement wouldn’t hold. He pulled out an embossed white and gold envelope and handed it to her.
“After he brings our champagne, you can open it,” he said, smiling.
“What is it? You hand it to me and then make me wait. How mean!” she teased.
The waiter brought the drinks in special fluted glasses which Patrick had requested when he called for the reservation.
“To us,” he said as he lightly touched her glass. “To a long life, together.”
As soon as they sipped the first taste of the sparkling wine, Carol carefully, but quickly opened the envelope and inside the card read: Vienna for Two. Slowly she read the highlights for their honeymoon.
“I can’t believe you did this. When did you have time?”
“Just a little side stop in Boston, that’s all.”
“So that’s why you needed extra time. Oh! I am so excited. I have wanted to see Vienna for so long.”
“Michelle at the Travel Service said she would try to reserve terrific seats for us at the opera. She said that since you speak French you might understand some of it. Me? Well, I’ll be lost, but I will enjoy it, nevertheless. Afterwards you will finally get your Sacher Torte at the Hotel Sacher next door.”
“This is going to be so wonderful.”
“My only disappointment is that the Vienna Boys Choir doesn’t perform in August, nor does the Spanish Riding School, but I do have a day trip arranged to Baden, and we’ll actually get to see some of the Vienna Woods as well. Then if you like, we can go down the Danube to Krems,” he added enthusiastically.
Finally noticing a pause, the waiter interrupted. “Would you like to order sir, perhaps an appetizer?”
“Give us a few more minutes.” Turning back to Carol, he asked, “Are we having lobster or would you rather have something else?”
She knew Patrick never tired of lobster and would eat it every day if he thought he could afford it.
“I think I’ll have the filet of sole.”
“The two pound lobster for me, Sir. And, could I see your wine list, please?”
“My pleasure. I will get the sommelier.”
“Patrick, have I told you today how much I love you?”
“No, but if you don’t, then tell me quickly so I can get a refund on this honeymoon,” he teased.
“I don’t think I told you that Fredrico and Marc want to do all the decorating and food for the reception as a wedding gift to us.”
“That’s great, a little scary, but great,” he said, smiling. “If I don’t recognize the food you will tell me what I am eating, right?”
“I tried to impress upon them the need for toning it down a little.”
“Then no rainbow flags or banners, I hope.”
“Patrick, you’re terrible,” but she laughed. “They are over the top sometimes, but I love them dearly.”
“You don’t need to worry. I’ll like them because you do. I’m really rather anxious to meet them. Oh, I almost forgot; Carmella called. She and Stefano are grandparents twice over again.”
“Yes. A boy and a girl, again.”
“And no one even expected it?”
“No one. Carmella said the doctor was just as surprised as anyone and a little embarrassed. Needless to say she is on cloud nine, talking a mile a minute. She and Stefano are still coming to the wedding, though.”
“That is wonderful news on both counts. I know I’m going to love them. They have been so sweet to you.”
“I told Carmella what I was about tonight and she immediately invited us there after Vienna,” he said with a little hesitation, “but I told her I didn’t know if that was possible.”
“Oh Patrick, can you work that out?”
“You mean you would want to do that?” he asked, feeling a sense of relief.
“Certainly. You have talked so much about their place. I really haven’t seen as much of Tuscany and Umbria as I would like. Do you really think we can?”
“I can call the travel agent in the morning to see if our tickets home can be rescheduled. I’m sure she can change it, especially if I add a flight between Vienna and Florence. Would you like to fly to Venice instead and spend a couple of nights there and then take the train to their place?”
“Patrick, this gets better by the minute.”
“And longer; I hope I don’t get fired.”
“If you do, we can just stay at Carmella and Stefano’s. It sounds like a dream world anyway.” Pausing, she gushed, “The dinner was delicious.”
“Yes, I rather enjoyed my lobster.”
“I noticed,” she smiled.
“It’s messy, there’s no way to eat a whole lobster gracefully, is there?”
“If there is I have never quite been able to master it.”
“Would you like dessert?”
“Would you share something with me?”
“Only if it is chocolate,” he said with a wink. Patrick signaled the waiter and asked about dessert.
“You choose, Carol.
“The Chocolate Eruption will be just fine, knowing that is what he would prefer.”