‘Dad wants to speak to all of us together.’ Maria broke the silence of the hall.
Andre and Leroy put Giovanna’s things in the guest room and the family filed silently into Mario’s room.
‘When I die this house will be sold and the proceeds shared between my four children.’
‘Four?’ Maria holding her father’s hand looked round the room.
‘You didn’t tell them?’ Giovanna sighed; all eyes turned to her.
Gabriella squeezed Mario’s hand in hers.
‘That’s why you got Andre to send for her. Are they coming?’
‘I never told Lucy who her father was.’
‘I want to meet her before I die.’
‘You’re a bastard Mario I always knew that but THIS.’ Gabriella let go of his hand.
‘And as for you.’ She poked Giovanna in the shoulder, ‘Send for your daughter, let her see who her parents really are, my guess is she’ll run for the hills.’
‘I wouldn’t blame her if she did.’ Giovanna dabbed her eyes.
‘Why don’t you kids go up in the loft, sort out your old toys and stuff, I think there’s even some belonging to your mother. Then you can talk and maybe I can broker some peace here.’
Andre, Leroy, and Maria left the room.
‘Peace? No chance in hell.’
Gabriella paced the room.
‘I’m sorry.’ Giovanna touched Gabriella’s shoulder.
‘Oh well, that sorts everything.’
‘Don’t be like that.’
‘You had a child with my husband.’
‘There would be another brat on the way if Mario hadn’t paid off Valencia.’
‘Valencia is pregnant with Mario’s baby, she’s been staying with me in Rome, we flew in together, I told her to make the bastard pay, he wouldn’t know faithful if it was in one of his precious wine bottles.’
‘How many have there been?’
Mario closed his eyes pretending to sleep.
‘How many?’ Gabriella shook him by the shoulders.
‘Children or women?’
‘I said 4 children.’
‘And if they hadn’t been aborted?’
‘I don’t know. You knew when you left, I had lovers.’
‘I suppose I shut the thought out of my mind as to how many. I knew there was more than one, no woman could put up with you as long as I did.’ She hit him.
‘I’m not counting.’
‘You were with Giovanna the night I came back and knew someone was here. It was her in your bed, the act that made me realise we had to break up.’
‘The first time I was unfaithful, yes. She reminded me of you.’
‘Well, that’s ok then.’
‘You.’ Gabriella turned to Giovanna ‘You were quick to jump in my bed.’
‘Lets say we have the same taste in men.’
‘No, you saw a meal ticket and you took it, we are nothing alike. I loved him, love him.’
‘This all happened so long ago I’m different now.’
‘Not so different, you got a whiff of a will and you’re on the first plane.’
‘Giovanna you better call Lucy not sure how much stress this old heart of mine can take.’
‘Well perhaps if you’d been led by another part of your anatomy we wouldn’t be in this mess.’
‘Gabriella let a dying man meet his daughter. You can give me that surely.’
‘Let’s hope she isn’t disappointed.’
‘Mario doesn’t disappoint.’ Giovanna’s words drifted through the door as Gabriella left the room.