He couldn't help being in a kind of haze. The entire flight had dampened any kind of positivity he had managed to find. The pain he had forgotten while with Rowan had made their way back inside of his soul, tearing him apart immediately. He felt the ache soar inside, the pressure building within. He could feel himself lose control of every sense, of every emotion, he was the world's for the taking.
He looked down at the text he had gotten, Shannon asking if he had gotten in alright. He replied quickly before leaving the exit and standing outside.
The Italian air washed against him, sheltering him for a moment from going into the taxi parked at the curb. But he knew he had to get a move on. He got in, muttered the address to the man, thankful he understood him on first hearing and sat back. He set his bag down and let his gaze watch the city strolling outside the window. It all seemed like a dream, the beauty of the night here. A dream that he wished no longer existed. A dream he wanted to rid himself of completely. If he could count something in his life as a mistake it would be coming here,slipping that ring on her finger and letting himself drown in everything that he knew was reckless. He couldn't blame youth, couldn't blame alcohol, couldn't even blame lack of intelligence. He had been of sound mind, swept away in the feel of the way she intoxicated him, drowned him in the power she had over him. What a fool he had been.
The taxi stopped outside the hotel and Jared got out, taking his bag with him. He handed the money over, not even sure if it was more than expected and went inside. The lobby wasn't busy although there were a few hushed voices. He could see women near the staircase, their beauty almost hypnotic. Men in suits sat on chairs, looking at their watches. He got his key from the desk, waved away help, and went upstairs. The room was wide and spacious, luxury at its best. He gave himself a quick shower and got dressed. He threw on his coat, dropped his phone into his pocket and made his way out the door.
Again the Italian night hit him, caressing over him sweetly. For a moment he had the thought to never leave this city, to bring all he knew here and disappear. But again that thought was part of the mistake he wished he could forget. What was it about this city and its women?
The walk was short before he reached the small house. There was a small white fence, vines grew over it. Smoke rose from its chimney and the moonlight danced off the windows. It was strange to see the house actually alive when he had left it without life. It had been silent, not even a ghost would have wanted to inhabit a place so dead.
Harshly he swallowed, his nerves setting off inside. He forced one foot in front of the other all the way until he was at the front door. There was a lace curtain over the window there and the gold door knocker she had loved so much. Lightly he touched his fingers to it, remembering her tapping at it the day he had said they were going to live here. He closed his eyes on the memory before he knocked quietly. He had the hope that she wouldn't come to the door but of course that went unanswered and slowly the door began to open.
He let out a breath of relief when he saw it wasn't her. Instead it was a man. He stood there with confusion on his sharp featured face. His dark hair was a pile of curls at the nape of his neck and his skin was nearly as dark as the gold knocker.
"Is Bianca here?" Jared asked hesitantly. He hadn't spoken her name out loud in so long and the sound of it nearly drove him insane. That same name he had whispered when he had married her, promised his life to her. The same name he whispered when she would kiss him, when she was miles away from him. That name he would say whenever he made love to her. That same one he cursed.
"Who are you?" The man asked, his accent purely Italian but not hard to understand.
He drew in a breath, thinking that this was his moment to walk away now. He looked behind him at the night, that darkness that told him he had to stay. He turned back to the man. "Tell her it's Jared."
He nodded and disappeared for a moment, his confusion leaving itself behind. Jared remained there, looked inside the opened door and found that nothing had been changed. He had carried her up those stairs, caught her in his arms in that hallway, stole a kiss in that kitchen. He had lived a life here with her that only now seemed ancient.
"Come in...She is in kitchen." The man said, gesturing him inside and closing the door but he didn't follow after him.
Jared made his steps slow, not sure if he was exactly ready for this moment. He hadn't exactly prepared himself for this but how could he after what she had told him?
The smell of sun-dried tomatoes and pasta met his senses once he came into the kitchen. He kept his eyes lowered to the tiles beneath his boots. He couldn't look up, he just couldn't bring himself to do it. He could feel himself closing up, his throat was restricting, his heart was splitting in two. Suddenly he couldn't breathe, his hands were shaking and an ache broke its way inside. He heard the click of heels, the sway of a skirt, the jingle of jewelry, the quiet sound of hands resting on a counter.
He told himself he had to do this. He had to put an end to the one thing that was tormenting his decaying mind. The one thing that had managed to rip his entire life apart. How else was he supposed to go onward? How else was he supposed to find a chance with Rowan?
Slowly he lifted his gaze. The soft light overhead was the first thing he saw before he finally let his eyes rest on her. "Bianca." He whispered aloud, everything inside breaking with it.