1: Italy

The Twilight Twenty-Five
Prompt: #17/Italy

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain 000ooo000ooo

I was tucked in bed, warm and comfortable, when something brushed my nose, disturbing me.

I batted a hand in front of me to make it stop and met nothing but air.

It happened again and I swung my arm out in a higher arc, but there still wasn’t anything there. Then something lightly pinched my nose. I opened my eyes to see Garrett stretched out next to me, grinning and laughing quietly at me.

“Hey, sleepyhead.”

“Hey, yourself.” I closed my eyes again trying to pretend he wasn’t there.

“Get up, cara. It’s a beautiful day and we’ve only got a week left before we go back to the real world.”

“Mmmph.”

He was right, but I didn’t really care. I was excited to go back to the states, but not excited to share him. It was fine with me if we stayed cocooned in our bed for the rest of the week so I could have him all to myself.

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain 000ooo000ooo

I’d come to Italy to teach English for six months. When I saw the advertisement for the Darby School in the Arizona State Career Counseling office I knew I had to apply. It was exactly what I needed; a chance to travel while continuing to teach and make some decisions about my future.

I met Garrett the first day I arrived in Italy. He lived in the apartment above me and had come downstairs to introduce himself when he heard the sounds of the Black Eyed Peas drifting up from my window.

With boy next door good looks and charm to spare, he was like no one I’d ever met before. He was entirely genuine, not like the frat boys who turned on the charm to get in your pants. I’d met enough of those in college to know the type, and Garrett was not one of them. He was the real deal. He’d was fluent in Italian and had already been in Italy for six months when we met. I spoke vacation-Italian, knowing how to order off a menu and ask for a bathroom. He got quite a laugh out of that and began teaching me even more survival Italian that first night.

Garrett worked for a company that provided English speaking tour guides. He was finishing his Ph.D. in history and and had come to Italy when he hit a brick wall working on his dissertation. Well, that was the story he told me originally and, although it was true, a few days later he admitted that he’d come to Italy to avoid his ex-girlfriend Irina. She’d left Garrett to marry someone that he had never liked to begin with. He explained that for as long as he could remember there had been a sort of turf rivalry between his friends in Forks and some boys from the nearby Indian reservation, and that Irina’s marrying Jared had been too much for him. He said he’d needed some distance and a chance to gain some perspective. I certainly couldn’t fault him for that.

Though I had grown up in Phoenix and Garrett was from the Pacific Northwest, we discovered that my father was actually the chief of police in his hometown. My parents were divorced and I hadn’t been there to visit since I was ten years old, but it was a small sign that he and I shared a connection of some sort. We were probably grasping at straws with that detail, but the little commonalities began to add up, solidifying my feeling that we were meant to be.

Garrett’s father had passed away when he was six years old. He’d been Italian and had given Garrett and his sister Kate dual citizenship. Because of that, Garrett was able to stay in Italy indefinitely without a work permit.

As an American, I was only able to get a six month work visa. After a few months with him the thought of returning to the states tied me in knots. When I’d arrived in Italy I’d been unsure of the future and somehow, only a short time later, I couldn’t see my future without him.

Garrett felt the same and surprised me with a proposal a month before I was scheduled to leave. We were married in a quiet ceremony; it was just the two of us and a court secretary as a witness. We didn’t keep anything a secret from our families, but we didn’t wait for them to join us either.

After jumping through some legal hoops with immigration and wading through a sea of red tape, I was able to stay in Italy as well. We’d lived paycheck to paycheck, more like college students than the adults we actually were, but after two idyllic years there, we had to go back. Garrett needed to defend his thesis and I needed to work in the U.S. if I wanted to keep my teaching certificate. I couldn’t bring myself to call it home yet, even if there seemed to be an entire life waiting for us in Washington state.

Garrett’s family and friends were thrilled that we were moving to Forks and couldn’t wait to meet me. Kate had come for a visit, but beyond that I didn’t know any of them. Garrett had a faculty position lined up and I had an interview at the high school the week after we got back.

Additionally, there was the promise of a relationship with my father after so many years apart. We’d grown closer while I was in Italy and I was looking forward to spending some time with him. My mother was excited that I’d be living near him since she had a new boyfriend and was doing a lot of traveling. My mom had always been a free spirit and sometimes I’d felt like I needed to take care of her. I was glad that it was finally someone else’s turn.

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain 000ooo000ooo

Something gently traced the shell of my ear, and I realized I’d fallen asleep again. I tried to bury my head under my pillow, but Garrett pulled it from my hands and threw it on the floor.

He kissed me gently behind my ear in that magic spot that made me melt. “If there’s nothing more you want to do in Rome we could change our tickets and get a flight today,” he teased.

I opened one eye and pretended to glare at him. “I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to get a flight today. I just want to stay in bed with you, is that too much to ask?”

“Well, when you put it that way…”

He laughed and I felt his arms come around me. His breath warmed my face and I smiled into his kiss as I got my way.

We had a similar conversation several hours later, but that time I let him talk me into getting up and going out to dinner.

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000

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