Peace be with you, my red-haired darling. Good-bye.
Those were the last words he’d said to her. All he could say once she told him that she was moving back to Venice and she wasn’t planning to return. That she was leaving him in order to try and make sense of the chaos her life had become. To reclaim the things so suddenly lost to her.
I love you.
That was what she wanted to tell him even if he might not believe it.
She hugged the Doberman tightly, squeezed him until the pup whumped and whined at the way she was pushing the air from his lungs. Pippa kissed his head, his snout, rubbed his back once more and forced herself to stand. It broke her heart to leave Mr. Beaker behind but she honestly believed it the kinder thing to do for him.
Be a good puppy for Mike, Mr. Beaker. No making messes, don’t eat anything that isn’t doggy food and no loud barking in the house.
He tilted his head and gave Pippa a confused woof and an excited wag of his tail.
More hugs, more tears. Promises extracted and made. She’d call. He’d follow her lists of instructions about the dog. She’d take care of herself and he’d not work too hard. She’d find the time to drink good Italian wines for him and he’d call Rory Stone if Mr. Beaker became too much to handle. She’d stop crying and he wouldn’t ask how the Irishman could let her go.
Everything necessary had been packed in two suitcases and a carry-on. Things that were important to her had been packed away and sent to storage. Furniture had been draped in white cloths and everything else had been sold or given away. Pippa flipped the switch to shut off the custom light fixture in the bedroom. She ran a hand around the basin in the master bath. The little bits of herself she was leaving behind—the real estate agent was thrilled with that. Real selling points, the woman had assured her.
Pippa left her keys in the lockbox hanging on the door.
She flew out of Newark’s international airport, not JFK. It was more modern, less crowded and seemed less New York to her than the famed major hub. Somehow this was fitting in Pippa’s mind. She’d said farewell to the city as she’d taken the ferry from Staten, the subway through Manhattan and then finally hailed a cab to the airport. She kept the window closed during the plane’s ascent, her last memories of ‘home’ would not be an impersonal aerial view.
Phillipa! Mia Bella! Come here and let me see you.
She made it from the airport to the bus and then to the gondola all on her own. But once she’d arrived at the address belonging to Signore Evangelisti, Pippa was welcomed. She hadn’t seen him in three years and she’d been surprised at what a difference a short time-span could have on an old man. His eyes were still bright and his embrace still strong though and that’s all that mattered. She cried. He held her. They both laughed.
Later, they would talk of many things but for now Pippa was content to just be back.