“David, how about joining us for a trip to Switzerland?” Urs asked after lunch. In an hour’s time they would be heading to the airport to welcome back the girls.
“You’re planning a trip back home?”
“Yes. I thought we would go there for a couple of weeks and do some visiting and sightseeing before we start working on the album and tour. It would be good for the kids to spend some time with my family there.”
“I’m not sure. It’s a family re-union after all. I don’t want to be intruding,” David replied, a little unsure of what he wanted to do.
“You’re family too, David. The kids will be delighted if you come along. Besides, it’ll be good to have an additional baby-sitter. Sam and I will probably take off for a day or two, and who better to leave our kids with? You and their grandmother, of course,” Urs grinned as the more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea.
“Do I get paid?”
“You’ll get food and lodging, and if you’re really good, you might get a couple of days off yourself, too,” Urs deadpanned.
And so it was decided they would leave the following week for Switzerland. Urs had a property there, near to where his mother lived, so it would be very convenient for them to visit or leave the children with their grandmother if he and Sam needed to get away for a few days.
Secretly, Urs was hoping to get David out and meeting people. So far mostly all he had been doing was just taking Angel and the twins to town for Angel’s music lessons or pre-school and grocery shopping. Other than that, he spent most of his time cooped up in the EC or playing with the kids.
As David rounded up the kids after lunch to get ready to leave for the airport, Urs observed him and was impressed with the way he handled all three kids. It was like he had been doing it all his life.
On the way to the airport, Urs told the kids about their upcoming trip to Switzerland.
“What about Uncle David?” Angel asked from the back seat.
“I don’t know. Do you think we should bring him along?” Urs asked teasingly.
“Of course. We don’t want him to cry when we’re gone,” Angel stated matter-of-factly.
“Cry? What makes you think I’ll cry?” David laughed.
“You have red eyes when Daddy brought me home from class the other day,” Little Angel revealed. “Are you still missing Aunty Sandra?”
“Angel, that’s enough. Thank you,” Urs tried to stop the conversation, feeling a little embarrassed for David to be caught out by a little kid. Angel’s too smart for her own good, he thought.
“It’s alright, Urs. She’s just saying what she feels. Angel, yes I still miss Aunty Sandra, but I promise you, I won’t cry anymore when I think of her. Like you said, she’s up there making sure we’re all happy, and we should be. And I can’t wait to go to Switzerland with you all.” Urs stole a sideway glance at his friend and was satisfied to see a genuine smile on his face.
Little Anthony and Grace started squabbling over what cartoon to watch on their dvd player at the back of their daddy’s seat and had to be hushed by his stern warning. “If you can’t decide what to watch, I’ll shut it off. Grace, you just watched your favourite cartoon, now it’s Anthony’s turn.” And they had a peaceful ride after that, but not before Grace stuck out her tongue at her brother.
Sebastien, Carlos, Lily and Nick were already at the airport arrival hall waiting for Sam and Ginny when the Buhler clan and David arrived.
“They’ve landed. Should be out shortly,” Sebastien announced to his newly arrived friends.
The kids started playing together as the adults kept a look out for the two women. Soon, they saw them pushing a trolley each, both containing two luggage. Sebastien looked at Urs with amusement and Urs commented, “Looks like they had a great time.”
“I’m glad they only had five days there, otherwise we might be looking for bigger properties for the goods they brought back!” Sebastien joked.
Sam was the first to reach her husband. As they hugged and kissed like long lost lovers, David quipped, “I wonder if one of those luggage contained something in a little black dress.”
Sam pulled away from Urs and gave David a smacking kiss on his cheek, “Sorry, brother, but she refused to be stuffed inside. We’ll have to look elsewhere for another one.”
“Try Switzerland,” Urs said. Sam raised an eyebrow but before she could ask him what he meant, the children surrounded her and demanded her attention. She gave each one a hug and kiss, asked how they were doing and promised them ice-cream when they got back to the house.
Ginny was still in Sebastien’s arms, hands locked behind his neck, lips locked with his when Lily tried to squeeze in between them, “Mommy, what about us?”
Breaking up their embrace, Ginny bent down and gave her little girl and boy a hug and kiss each. Sebastien’s eyes twinkled as he planned an early night for the kids.
“What about poor Uncle Carlos?” Carlos pouted like a wounded child.
Ginny giggled and hugged him, kissing his cheek and said, “There, feeling better now?”
He wriggled his eyebrows and exclaimed, “That’s better!” He got a hug and kiss from Sam too, while Ginny showered David with the same attention. Happily, they all left the airport for their homes. Carlos couldn’t wait till they were settled down. He was dying to find out more about Joanne.
Back in the Izambard household, Ginny unpacked her luggage as Sebastien prepared tea. Carlos offered to make himself scarce to allow Sebastien to get properly reunited with his wife.
“Don’t be silly, Carlos. We’re not teenagers anymore, we can wait,” Sebastien winked.
So while they all sat down on the couch drinking tea and nibbling on cakes and cookies, Ginny told them all, including the kids, what she, Sam and Joanne had done while in Spain. The kids were anxious to know what she had bought for them but she told them to wait till after dinner. She wanted them to learn some restraint.
Carlos, on the other hand, was waiting impatiently for her to mention Joanne’s name but she didn’t. In the end he had to ask, “Did Joanne talk to you about us?”
Giving Carlos an apologetic look, Ginny said, “I’m sorry, Carlos. She’s still quite mad and though Sam and I tried to reason with her, she’s still adamant that she’s doing the right thing.” She was sorry she couldn’t help much.
“It’s ok. I understand,” Carlos replied, trying to sound nonchalant.
“No need to sound so dejected though. She does love you still even though you’ve hurt her deeply.”
Giving his friend a pat on the back, Sebastien reasoned, “Why don’t you try calling her again later tonight? With the girls back home now, she might feel lonely and want to talk.”
It sounded like a good idea to Carlos and he face immediately lit up. “Yes, why didn’t I think of that? I’ll call her later.”
“So David is coming along to Switzerland?” Sam asked.
“Uh huh,” Urs replied absentmindedly as he nuzzled her neck while she tried to unpack the luggage.
“That seems like a good idea. We could spend some time in the mountain and the clean cool air might do him a lot of good,” Sam continued, trying to ignore the sensations that her husband was creating in her with his little kisses over the exposed skin on her neck and back. “So what’s for dinner?”
Giggling at the reply and the ticklish feeling caused by his kisses on the area just below her ear, she tried to wriggle free from his cuddle, “Stop it, Urs. The kids are waiting for us downstairs.”
“They have Uncle David the clown.”
“That doesn’t mean we should take advantage of the poor man. Stop it, Urs, or we’ll never make it downstairs at all.”
“T’was never my intention to go downstairs, at least not now,” Urs mumbled into the back of her neck and continued to kiss a trail down her spine, sending delicious shivers all the way down to her toes.
“Ok, a quickie. Hurry!” Even before she finished talking she was up and removing her top. Urs hurriedly shed his clothes and soon they were covered only in each other’s skin as they sought to make up for lost time.
When they finally emerged at the family room bearing all the gifts that Sam bought, David hid a big grin by pretending to look out the window. He could tell from Sam’s flushed face and guilty look and Urs’s satisfied smile what had happened upstairs and he wisely kept his thoughts to himself.
Over dinner, the kids updated Mommy what they did while she was away. It seemed like Daddy Urs had done a commendable job of keeping order at home. Only little Tony had to have a time-out session in the little corner of the family room for throwing his toy at Gracie when they had a fight over some toys.
Things were different at the Izambards’. Ginny looked at Sebastien incredulously as he gave an inventory of things that were broken while she was away. He didn’t have a choice but to tell the truth when Ginny asked about what they did while she was away. He didn’t want to set a bad example for the kids by lying or concealing the truths. Both Lily and Nick hardly dared to open their mouths and looked so miserable that Carlos felt sympathy for them and for Sebastien too.
“Lily, how many times have I told you not to skip in the family room? Why couldn’t you do it in the playroom?”
Lily stared at her food as she struggled to come up with an excuse.
“It’s no big deal, honey. We can always replace the photo frame and the vase. Sometimes kids…”
Before Sebastien could finish, Ginny shot him a look, “Oh no you don’t, Sebastien Izambard. Stop making excuses for the kids. They are old enough to know the rules of this house. Lily, I want you to stay in your room after dinner.”
“But Mommy, what about my presents?” Lily persisted in a small voice that reflected her fear of what was to come.
“You will not get them tonight. And they will remain with me until I think your behaviour has improved. And you too, Nick. How could you disobey your father and run around the house and breaking things in the process?”
Little Nick looked at his daddy for help, but all daddy could do was give an encouraging smile and mouthed, “Say sorry.”
“I’m sorry, Mommy. I won’t do it again,” and he looked at his Mommy with sad, teary eyes.
“Still, you will be punished for being disobedient. Now, go wash your hands and go up to your room,” Ginny ordered.
Sniffling noisily, both kids did as they were told. Carlos looked on with amusement as Sebastien started to get up from his seat but immediately sat down when Ginny informed him, “They know where their rooms are, Sebastien.”
So instead of a happy and noisy reunion, the Izambard household was quiet for once, something that never happened ever since they had kids.
In their own room, Sebastien tried to soothe his wife’s anger with a cuddle and kisses over her face but Ginny did not relent.
“Come on, Ginny. We agreed that we’ll never let the kids come between us no matter how badly they behave and how we disagree about how to discipline them,” Sebastien was getting frustrated when Ginny seemed unmoved by his advances.
“Discipline? I don’t even think you knew that word. What did you do when Lily broke the frame? Did you do anything to stop Nick from running around the house?” When she didn’t get a reply, she continued, “That’s what I thought. You never discipline them. You let them do whatever they like, always thinking they’re too young to be punished. Well, in case you’ve forgotten, Lily is almost five now, and soon she’ll be starting school, not pre-school, mind you. And Nick, he’s turning out to be like a little spoiled brat.”
“I’ll try, Ginny, even though I know it’s going to be very difficult,” Sebastien gave up trying to solicit even a tiny bit of response from his wife, the exciting kind of response.
“If they’re going to grow up with the right values, and as responsible adults, they should learn from young. You said so your mother never let you get away with any mischief you committed even when you were very young. I expect you to understand the importance of disciplining your own kids,” Ginny turned and held her husband’s face in her hands. For a moment there she thought she saw a six-year-old Sebastien behind those lovely green eyes.
Finally losing her self-restraint, she leant forward and kissed him deeply and passionately which delighted him. He just loved make-up sessions like these and impatiently helped her lose her clothes and his own.
Back in his room, Carlos paced next to his bed as he held the phone in his hand. What should he say if she picks up the phone? It took him about ten minutes to psych himself up for the call.
Joanne was at home when she got a call from her American producer, Felix Johnson. He wanted to discuss some details of their upcoming travel documentary and the travel arrangement. He suggested coming up to her apartment for the discussion but Joanne suggested a nearby café instead. She didn’t feel comfortable being in her apartment with another guy, even one whom she had been working closely with for the past year or so.
At the café, they got down to business straight away. The locations for the shoots were picked during an earlier meeting, now they wanted to work on other stuff, like the contents of the documentary, the travel arrangement, etc. Joanne felt fortunate that she had a lot of say in this twelve-part series that would take her around the world and she could feel that Felix trusted her ability and professionalism.
Joanne was in the restroom when her mobile phone rang. She had left it on the table out of habit. Felix sat staring at the phone, wondering if he should answer it for Joanne. Carlos’s name was displayed on the LED screen. Why not, he thought.
“Hello,” Felix answered. Pause. “Hello, is that you Carlos?”
“Yes it’s me. Why are you answering my wife’s phone?” The initial shock was over, now came the anger.
“That’s because she’s not free to answer the phone herself. Got a message for her?” Felix was unfazed by the venom in the other man’s voice. He knew the Marins were having marital problem and he secretly wished it would end in divorce. He had been eyeing Joanne for a long time now, since they first started working together. He felt this would be his big break with her.
“I’d rather pass her the message myself.” The pause afterwards was so tangible that one could almost feel the hostility building up over the long distance phone line.
“I’ll let her know you called” and the line went dead. Felix sat back with a smug smile on his face. When Joanne came back to her seat, she was reminded of the cartoon Felix the Cat. She was part American and grew up in the States so that cartoon formed part of her childhood memories.
“What’s up, Felix?”
“Oh, nothing. Just pleased that the plan is coming along pretty well.” They continued with their discussion for a while longer. Joanne felt it was a fruitful discussion and was pleased with the progress they’d made.
“Can I take you out to dinner tomorrow evening, Joanne?” Felix asked before they called it a night.
Joanne politely declined. She told him she was meeting her family for some get together. The truth was she didn’t feel up to going out with another guy, not while she was still married. The problem she had with Carlos hadn’t clouded her mind about staying true to herself and her husband. Besides, she couldn’t see Felix as somebody other than her colleague and friend.
Carlos was beside himself with anger and frustration when the line went dead. He flung the phone onto the bed and paced the room once more. Finally giving up on torturing himself, he picked up the phone and called David.
“David, I need to talk to you.”
“Huh? Oh, ok. I’ll come over,” David was a little groggy from sleep as he turned to look at the clock on the bedside table. Finally he was able to sleep early and Carlos had to call. Oh well, he could always some sleep tomorrow,
“No, I’ll drive over. I don’t want to wake up the others here.”
“Ok, but drive carefully,” David cautioned. Somehow David could sense Carlos was on the verge of bursting, but bursting with what? He’d have to wait to find out.
He got up and put some water to boil for coffee. Then he picked up the phone and called Urs to tell him that Carlos was coming over so that they wouldn’t be alarmed by the late night visitor. From the EC, David could open the main gate when Carlos arrived. Urs wanted to go and join in the chat but David suggested they keep it simple for the moment and he understood.
“She’s with him!” Carlos bellowed the moment he stepped through the door of the EC.
“Keep your voice down, bro. You’re going to wake up even the Izambards from here!” David closed the door and led the fuming Spaniard to the lounge. “Tell me what happened.”
In true Carlos Marin fashion, the Spanish Divo recounted what happened when he called Joanne earlier on in rapid-fire English mixed with Spanish. In his haste and anger, some of the words were completely x-rated but David didn’t even bat an eyelid. Years of working with Carlos had thought him how colourful his band mate’s language could be.
When Carlos stopped talking, David summarized, “So you called your wife just now and Felix the Cat answered the phone, and he said she was busy, but didn’t say busy with what. Hmmm, it could mean several things, Carlos.”
“What else could it mean? She’s with him! She’s seeing another guy when we’re not even divorced yet,” again Carlos roared.
“Look, amigo. If you keep yelling like that I may have to send you to the naughty corner, like Urs sent Tony to time-out.”
Carlos looked at David aghast, “I’m having a marriage crisis and you’re joking about the naughty corner? What kind of friend are you?”
“Someone who’s more rational than you are and you know it. Otherwise, why did you call me up in the first place? Now, keep quiet and let me think.” And think he did, pacing the room and stroking his chin, all the while mumbling to himself.
Carlos’s eyes followed his friend until he got too tired and decided to go get the coffee that was still in the kitchenette. When he came back bearing two mugs of coffee, David looked at him, eyes sparkling.
“What? You found out why they were together? Or do you have a plan?”
“It’s time you head back home, old man,” David smiled.
“Is that all you could think of? I would have done that if there’s a flight back at this moment!”
“Yeah, but do you know what you’re going to do when you get back?”
“I’m going to knock out all his teeth and more, that son of a…”
“Tsk, tsk! Look at you, Carlos. You have so little faith in your own wife, no wonder she’s with someone else.”
Immediately, Carlos charged forward and grabbed David’s collar and hissed, “Watch what you’re saying, boy, or you’ll be sorry!”
Unperturbed, David continued as he disentangled Carlos’s hands from his collar, “Think about it, Carlos. She threw you out of the house and you went away. What’s she going to think?”
“I tried winning her back but she refused to even talk to me. What am I supposed to do?”
“Try treating her like you’ve only just met her and want to woo her. I’m sure if she really wanted a divorce she would have pressed you to sign the papers. My guess is that her pride is preventing her from taking you back. You did after all insult her, first by messing with a woman, then by accusing her of being unfaithful,” David said pointedly.
“But she’s with him right now. How can I believe that there’s nothing going on between them when they’re together this late in the night?”
“Carlos, you know your wife is a workaholic. She’ll get up and go three in the morning if her job requires her to do so. Besides, you said they’re filming in a couple of months, so maybe they had business to discuss. Don’t jump to conclusions like you did before.”
When Carlos remained quiet for the next two minutes or so, both hands coupling the coffee mug, David continued in a quiet tone, “Listen, Carlos. Try to think clearly what you really want with her. Do you want to get back together? If you do, then you shouldn’t let the guy come between you. Show her how much you love her by trusting her and believing in her. I’m sure she will feel it and will learn to forgive you and trust in you again.”
Carlos looked up and saw encouragement in the younger man’s eyes and nodded, “I think you’re right. I was too hot-headed. I shouldn’t have left her in the first place, even when she threw out my stuff, I should’ve stayed and told her I’m sorry. Instead I left her feeling angry and hurt. My pride prevented me from apologizing at that time but when I wanted to apologize later, she refused to listen to me or take me back. She even took back my keys to the apartment.”
“She’s a smart woman, your Joanne,” David remarked tongue-in-cheek.
The next morning saw Carlos waking up earlier than usual. Urs was surprised to see him in the kitchen of the main house preparing coffee and breakfast. David sat at the table and read the newspaper.
“Well, well, looks like the night owl has turned into a rooster. Morning Carlos,” he said as he passed the Spaniard to get his coffee. “You too, David. Are the two of you trying to pip me to the ‘early riser’ title?”
David chuckled, “Not unless there’s a worthy prize to be won.”
“I’m flying back to Spain in a couple of hours. David’s going to take me back to Seb’s place to collect my bag and then head to the airport for my flight,” Carlos explained his early morning appearance.
“So you had a good chat with Baby Bear last night and came to your senses?” Urs questioned. Baby Bear was their nickname for David, who was the youngest member of Il Divo, after Carlos had likened him to a big bear in one of their video interviews.
“Yeah, wish me luck,” said Carlos, uncertainty flashed across his face.
Patting his back reassuringly, Urs said, “Don’t worry about it. It’ll all work out. If she really wanted to divorce you she would have the lawyers send the divorce papers here.”
That reassurance put Carlos’s mind at ease and he continued with making breakfast for the whole household. By the time Sam and the kids came down from the bedroom, the food was on the table and they tucked into pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausages, omelets and toasts.
Sam agreed that Carlos should go back and get down on bended knees in front of Joanne, and she told him his suspicion about her was unfounded. This made Carlos even more eager to get back home to set things right.
“I think a five-carat diamond ring is in order,” David joked.
Carlos looked horrified. “What if she threw it out of the window?” he choked.
“You mean you’re really going to get her one?” Urs asked. “Come on, Carlos, you’ll be setting a very high standard for us to follow.”
Looking at her husband with mock horror, Sam said, “Now, Urs Buhler, don’t tell me you have something to confess?”
Laughing, Urs reached over and kissed her, “Of course not, my love, wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Aww, come on guys, It’s too early for this mushy stuff!” David protested with a roll of his eyes which immediately earned him a slap on the arm by Sam.
“Ok, Carlos, if you want to make that flight, let’s go!” David announced as he got up from the table.
“I want to go too!” the three Buhler kids all put up their hands. Before Sam could object to that, David motioned for them to follow him.
“But David, all three?” Sam was surprised. Urs just smiled when she looked at him with a puzzled expression.
“Sure. We’ve had several rides together, right, kiddos?” David asked the kids. Angel, being the spokesperson for all the kids, affirmed with a nod of her head.
“No, the kids stay home with me. Urs can go with you, and maybe Seb can join you guys too. It’s time for the daddies to have a little time-off from the kids,” Sam suggested. Urs looked at his wife with raised eyebrows and she told him, “Yes, go ahead and have fun. Lunch out and do whatever you want, just don’t drink and drive.”
When the words ‘drink and drive’ were out, she immediately regretted it. Whatever possessed her to say those words, knowing full well that her husband and friends were very responsible men? Fearing that she might have brought back the terrible memory of Sandra’s accident for David, she looked at him with great concern and apologized, “I’m sorry, David, I…”
David put his hand on her shoulder and reassured her, “It’s ok, Sam. It’s all in the past now. Besides, it’s a good piece of advice. You’ll never know if your level-headed husband might decide to do the unthinkable now that he’s freed from parental duties.”
“Yeah, I might just get up on the counter and do a bar-top dance,” Urs quipped.
“Yeah, right, and then we’ll get to see pigs fly too,” David joked.
“I want to see pigs fly too, Mommy,” little Anthony chipped in, followed by “Me too!” from his sisters. The adults had a good laugh at the innocence of the children who stood staring at each other, wondering what was so funny.
Little Gracie hung on to daddy’s leg when he tried to leave the house with Uncle Carlos and Uncle David. Sam had to pry her free and promised all three kids that they would all get to play with the toys she bought for them from Spain, and together they would bake a cake for tea later. Finally, the little girl reluctantly waved goodbye to her father.
Urs drove them all to Sebastien’s place and while Carlos packed his bag, Urs asked if Sebastien would like to join him and David for a drink at the club house where he was a member. Sebastien was delighted to get away for a few hours and after checking with Ginny who gave her blessing, they all piled into the SUV and drove off.
Along the way to the airport, David, Urs and Sebastien all gave Carlos some helpful tips on patching up with Joanne. They all heard how Felix had answered her phone and tried to convince him that it didn’t mean anything at all. Urs told him not to bring up the subject when they met if he really wanted her back and Carlos agreed.
At the airport, the three younger men wished their Spanish friend best of luck and with a quick hug each, he turned to walk towards the departure gate. He couldn’t wait to see Joanne again and though he wasn’t sure if she would be at the apartment when he reached home, he told himself he would wait till she turned up, even if it meant his neighbours witnessing the embarrassing situation like they did when she first threw him out more than two months ago.
When Carlos had disappeared from sight, Sebastien left David and Urs to go to the washroom. The two men slowly made their way towards the main entrance of the airport. David told Urs how concerned he was about Carlos and Urs put an arm over his shoulder to reassure him that Carlos was old enough to know what to do. Suddenly, a voice called out from behind.
“Excuse me.” It was a lady’s voice. The men turned around. Something about the lady made David think she looked familiar. “Hi, I’m not sure if you remember me,” she addressed David. When David continued looking at her with a puzzled expression on his face, she ploughed on, “I’m the woman you saved a few nights ago outside a dance club, remember?”
Realisation lit up David’s face and he smiled slowly, “Ah yes, the damsel in distress. How can I forget?
“Well, I’m sorry I didn’t thank you properly, but I was too shocked to think straight. My name is Claire Morgan and it’s really nice to meet you again. Thank you so much for coming to my rescue,” she put out her hand to shake his.
David took it with a smile and replied, “Don’t mention it, Claire. My friend and I just happened to be there at the right moment and it was the right thing to do. I hope you had an uneventful ride home after that?”
“Oh yes, I managed to get a cab shortly after you left,” Claire replied, all the while her mind registered the handsome-looking man beside David and wondered if the men would introduce themselves. She also briefly wondered if that was the same guy David was with that night but decided he was not as the other guy looked more mature and had a darker complexion, though he was also rather good-looking.
That thought made her envy David for having such handsome men with him, while at the same time she thought what a pity it was that a good-looking guy like David preferred the company of men instead. At least that was the impression he gave her both times they met. The fact that he had never made any attempt to get to know her, which wasn’t normal as she was often told by men she met how beautiful and desirable she was, sort of confirmed her suspicion that he wasn’t interested in women at all.
“Mommy, can I?” a little girl appeared behind her and held up a packet of sweets.
“Sure Amelia,” Claire bent down and took the packet from her two-and-a-half-year old daughter and opened it for her.
“That’s your daughter? She looks like you, almost like a carbon copy,” David remarked as he bent down to touch the little girl’s curly brown hair while Urs got down to her level and talked to her.
“That’s what everyone said about her. Well, I guess we have to go now. It’s nice meeting you again, Mr…” she didn’t know how to address him.
“David Miller. I’m sorry I forgot to introduce myself,” David extended his hand for a proper introduction. “This is my friend, Urs Buhler. And that’s Sebastien Izambard,” he added Sebastien’s name as he had just rejoined them.
Not another good-looking hunk of a guy, Claire groaned inwardly as she shook hands with all of them.
“So where are you heading to?” David asked.
“LA. I have some unfinished business there,” she replied vaguely and David couldn’t help but feel she didn’t like going there. “Well, time for us to go now. Say goodbye to the gentlemen, Amelia.”
“Goodbye,” Little Amelia said as she waved her little chubby hand.
“Goodbye and be good, ok?” Sebastien bent down and touched the little girl’s cheek.
“Bye, Amelia,” Urs opened his arms and the little girl gave him a hug. Then turning to David, she hugged him too. David held on to her for a tad longer as he remembered hugging Urs’s twins the first day he moved into the EC. It seemed like a long time ago.
Claire was at a loss as to what to make of these three men who seemed so taken by her daughter. They seemed like they really loved children. Perhaps she was wrong to think of David as gay. As she and Amelia approached the departure gate, she turned in time to see the three men leaving the airport talking and laughing with each other. Nothing unusual about that, she thought, and heaved a sigh of relief. There’s hope yet for the tall one, she grinned.
“Any more women you haven’t told us about, David?” Urs teased. He had told Sebastien about Suzie Kramer as they made their way out of the airport and now they were heading to the club house for a swim and lunch.
“No, and I swear I’ll never go into another pub again, unless it’s to celebrate something with friends.”
“Come on, it’s not so bad. At least you met Suzie and Claire,” Sebastien joked.
“A whole lot of good it did. One wanted to eat me alive, the other turned out to be a mother and most probably somebody’s wife. Thanks, but no thanks.”
At the club, the guys changed into their swimming trunks before taking a dip in the Olympic-sized pool. All three of them did a few laps in the water before gathering at the Jacuzzi pool to relax and chat. There weren’t many people around at that time since it was a weekday and most people were at work. However, there were a few ladies around and they continually stole glances at the three Divos.
A very talk and slim young lady got up from the swimming pool and walked towards them. David eyed her wearily as she made herself comfortable in the Jacuzzi.
“I hope you don’t mind me joining you guys,” she looked at Urs who was nearest to her and smiled. She had two lovely dimples on each side of her cheeks, and she wore her long black hair in a pony tail. Even without any makeup she was a real beauty.
Urs moved slightly to his left to allow her more space and said, “Not at all.”
The men were actually having a discussion about the upcoming tour but with this new addition to the group in the pool, the talk switched to more mundane stuff like the children and Urs’s planned trip to Switzerland. David noticed that the woman very slowly and discreetly moved slightly towards her left.
Urs was talking animatedly with lots of hand gestures as he described his family’s last visit to his homeland when his hand connected with the woman’s face.
“Ouch!” she cried out and touched her cheek where the hand had hit her.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” a very concerned Urs turned towards her. “Are you alright?”
Nodding her head, the woman replied, “I’m fine. It’s really my fault as I just wanted to sit closer to the jet here. The one on the other side isn’t working very well.” Urs moved further away to allow her to sit in front of the powerful jet. David then got up and announced he’d had enough fun and was ready for lunch. The other two men agreed and got up, leaving the woman to appreciate their rear views as they climbed out of the Jacuzzi one by one.
As they walked towards the shower room, David whispered to Urs, “She did it on purpose.”
“I know,” Urs smirked, and the other men chuckled.
“Did you see that body? I think she might be a model or something like that,” Sebastien mused.
“Don’t let Ginny hear you say that, Seb. She’ll have her claws out in an instant,” Urs reminded his French band mate.
“What about Sam? What if she knew a woman was trying to get close to you in the Jacuzzi?” David asked.
“She’ll just laugh it off,” Urs replied. “She knows I only have eyes for her.”
“Hey, I only have eyes for Ginny and she knows it too. Don’t see why she has to be so jealous at times,” Sebastien lamented.
“That’s because you’re French, Seb,” David joked. The guys laughed; it had been a while since they joked on stage about Sebastien being French and that was why he had to be the one to bring the bad news and other funny jokes like that. It made them all the more eager to get back to performing live again.
Over a scrumptious lunch, they continued their discussion of the tour and the new album and all three of them were determined to make their return to the music scene a success.
Having landed at the airport less than an hour ago, Carlos stood waiting impatiently for his turn at the taxi queue. He could have just called for a cab or booked a limousine at the airport but he was really stalling for time. On the one hand, he couldn’t wait to see Joanne and make everything right again; on the other hand, he didn’t think he could take it anymore if she threw him out again. He tried calling her but she did not answer her mobile phone. He called the apartment number too but again, no reply. He really should have been used to that by now but still it rankle him that she was ignoring him for so long.
Joanne felt like screaming when the water kept spewing from the burst pipe of the kitchen sink. She tried desperately to stem the flow of water with a kitchen cloth but it was useless. The kitchen floor was slowly getting flooded as she looked on helplessly. Finally she waded to the living room and picked up the phone to call the apartment’s management office to send for a plumber. But before anyone answered the call, the doorbell buzzed. She ran to open the door, hoping that whoever it was would be able to help her. She was both surprised and relieved to see a familiar face standing outside.
“I brought breakfast,” Felix said as he held up the breakfast.
“Oh, I’m so glad you’re here Felix. The pipe burst and my kitchen is getting flooded,” Joanne almost wailed.
“Don’t worry. I’ll have it fixed in no time,” he said, entering the apartment and handing the breakfast to Joanne. She showed him the way to the kitchen and he immediately got down to business trying to fix the pipe. First he went to search for the water main and turned it off, hence stopping the flow of water effectively. Then he asked for the toolkit and when Joanne handed it to him, he removed his shirt and got down on his knees to check on the pipe below the sink.
After assessing the damage, he decided that they needed a plumber to replace the broken pipe. Joanne quickly went back to the living room to call the management office. While she was at the phone, the doorbell buzzed again and Felix went to open it. There stood Carlos, dumbstruck at the sight of the half-naked man standing at the door of his own apartment.
“What the hell are you doing in my apartment?” he said in a deadly calm.
“What does it look like I’m doing?” Felix smirked. Even before he could blink, a fist connected with his jaw and he stumbled backwards, finally landing on his backside.
Joanne let out a scream upon seeing Felix crashing to the floor. She didn’t know who was at the door or what had transpired between Felix and the guest as she was deep in conversation with the administrative staff on the other end of the line. She quickly hung up the phone and ran towards Felix, only to see Carlos walking in with a thunderous look on his face.
“Carlos!” was all she managed to say.
“I’m surprised you remembered my name,” with that, he turned and walked out the door.
“Wait, Carlos!” she shouted and ran after him but he didn’t look back. By the time she got to the lift, the door had closed, but not before she saw the hurt in his eyes. Heading back to her apartment in shock, she knew she had a lot of explaining to do and hoped that Carlos would listen to her. Just when she was thinking of allowing him back into her life, this had to happen!
“Are you alright, Felix,” she asked when she got back into the apartment. Felix sat on the sofa rubbing his swollen left cheek. Nodding his head, he didn’t say a thing. “I’m sorry Carlos did this to you.”
“Don’t apologise for him, Joanne. It’s not your fault. If a man can’t trust his own wife then he’s not much of a man to speak of,” Felix said softly, touching Joanne’s face tenderly.
Taking hold of his hand and placing it on his own lap, Joanne shook her head, “No. I mean, I can’t blame him for thinking what he was thinking when he saw you at the door, without any shirt on. Now I have to go and explain things to him. I hope you don’t mind if I ask you to leave.”
Felix looked hurt and he didn’t try to hide his contempt for Carlos, “He left you alone for so long. What did he expect to get out of this? If he really loved you he would have stuck by you instead of running away.”
“You don’t understand, Felix. I threw him out and ignored all his calls. He never stopped calling me every day in spite of that. Anyway I was going to call him today and patch things up with him, if only the pipe hadn’t burst and you hadn’t come along. I’m sorry Felix, I didn’t mean to be ungrateful to you but I really need to be alone right now.”
“Joanne, don’t you know how I feel about you? Ever since we started working together, I’ve been thinking about you constantly. You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to working on this documentary with you,” he said, holding her hands and searching her eyes for some acknowledgement of his feelings for her.
Sighing deeply, she removed her hands from his and said softly, “Felix, it’s not possible between us. Carlos is the only man I love, and no matter how much he likes to flirt, I still love him. I know deep inside my heart that he loves me too. There will be no one else for me if I can’t have him back. He has stolen my heart from the first day we met.”
Defeated, Felix stood up and went into the kitchen to retrieve his shirt. After putting it on, he left without another word. It was obvious to Joanne though that he wasn’t happy with her at all.
Walking to the bedroom, she picked up her mobile and saw she had a few missed calls, all from Carlos. Checking the time of the calls, she realized that he had called her before reaching the apartment but she had been too busy with the burst pipe to answer the calls.
Carlos didn’t know where he was headed; he just took off in a cab and told the driver to just drive. Not knowing where to drive to, the driver drove him round and round the neighbourhood. He wasn’t worried that Carlos would be a tug or that he would refuse to pay him. He recognized his passenger as the Spanish member of Il Divo. His wife was a big fan of the group and he had attended a few of their concerts with her.
Carlos didn’t know what to do. He was too shocked and hurt to think straight, his mind a jumbled mess as he looked out the taxi window at the familiar sights. His phone rang but he ignored it, not even bothering to check who the caller was. Finally sighing deeply, he turned to the driver and told him to drive to the nearest hotel.
As he paid the driver the fare, the older man smiled sympathetically at him and said in Spanish, “Don’t worry; everything will work out fine if you have faith.”
“Thank you,” with a wry smile, Carlos headed up the steps to the hotel entrance wearily.