Well, I used to know you so well, yeah.
But how did we get here?
Well, I think I know
[‘Decode’ – Paramore]
She wasn’t the same woman who left Venice at twenty-two. There were similarities, certainly and familiarities—the things that Alessandro recognized as Phillipa Kerr despite this new broken aura that surrounded the gaffer. But this wasn’t his brilliant star, this wasn’t the woman he had loved so fiercely and given so much of himself to; she was a pale imitation. A ghost. A shadow. It broke his heart.
He accepted that she hadn’t wanted to marry him and that she had wanted to return to New York. Love was that way at times, burned fast and bright and then was over. The memories would last and there would still be a student for him to mentor. There was no regret or animosity there; he only wanted her to be happy—happy and fulfilled. It was painfully clear to him that Pippa was neither of these things.
Pippa spent her days working like a thing possessed, not an artist enjoying her craft but a soul tortured and engulfed in a painful penance for sins imagined and transgressions he couldn’t begin to fathom. They had argued about this, the way she worked. He wanted her to slow down, rest more. Drink. Eat. Live and not merely exist. She steadfastly refused and on the days that he would voice his concerns, Pippa would only work harder and longer. At what, he didn’t know. She would not discuss it after his one derisive comment regarding molds and forms. This had been his error and her silence the price he would pay.
Alessandro accepted that as well. He insulted her unwittingly and the red-haired beauty would hold a grudge. Recognizably Pippa, such behavior was. It would have made him smile if the sheer stubbornness hadn’t turned into something far more disconcerting of late. The anger, he could deal with it was the sadness in her voice and the hollow look in her eyes that he didn’t like. Something was missing, a vital part of the young woman. Determination wasn’t security, working to near exhaustion wasn’t confidence and aloofness didn’t disguise fear. Whatever happened to change his former lover had been profound.
The maestro had the disheartening suspicion that that something had a name and that name was Rory Stone.