“It’s not the other nemesis. But it is somebody you probably don’t want to see.”
Stitches fixes the glasses on his face. “My bet’s on Rhino—you don’t want him to know you threw out his fur rugs.”
“You must’ve missed the photo I sent him of them in the trash,” I reply, aloof and nonplussed. I redirect my attention to Fabio at the door. “Send him in.”
A second later, I learn what Fabio means. He steps aside to allow Stefania to enter. She stumbles through the doorway, a complete wreck.
Everything about her is melted Barbie doll—from the wrinkled designer dress she wears to yesterday’s make up streaking down her face. Years of yoyo dieting and alcoholism has finally caught up with her and her middle-age; she’s no longer the tall, slender model on Lucius’ arm. Her face is bloated and the plastic surgery nips and tucks are bursting at the seams.
Worst of all, she’s as sloppy drunk as expected.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” I say, scowling.
She lurches over to the sofa and trips on air. Fabio does the decent thing and tries to catch her before she falls. He doesn’t make it in time.
Stefania crashes into the end table and knocks over the lamp on top of it. It shatters into a dozen broken shards and she cuts open the palm of her hand.
Thenhas the audacity to be pissed about it.
“Seriously…” she slurs, sliding when she tries to get up. “What was that… why was that there… look at this. I’m bloody.”
“Fabio, what the fuck is she doing here?”
A rush of anger washes over me. I storm out from behind my desk. I might as well be eleven again, when she showed up to my school like this, stumbling and slurring, knocking shit over at every turn. The school security had escorted her away. The kids in my class had laughed. I’d gotten into a nasty fistfight with three of them later that afternoon.
“Get. Her. Out. Of. Here!” I bark.
“Salvi… Salvi,” she hiccups, struggling in between Stitches and Fabio. Both have rushed over to help her up. She can no longer stand on her own. Her eyes water at the sight of me, more mascara settling into the aging lines of her face. “Why won’t you… hic… answer my calls…hic…”
“Because I don’t want to speak to you.”
It’s cold and cruel but true—I can’t stand being around Stefania for more than a few minutes at a time.
She lets out a shrill cry, her face twisted in supposed heartbreak. “You refuse to forgive me… hic… why won’t you… I’m your mother!”
In the biological sense only.
Stefania and I have never been close, contrary to what she’s delusional enough to tell herself. For the duration of my childhood, she was checked out. The woman who drank ’til she blacked out while her husband tortured her son.
She’s vapid. Stupid. Selfish.
But it might be surprising to learn I don’t hate her. I… pity her.
I don’t want her anywhere near me. Her presence ruins any room. Her shrill voice irritates my ears. I’d rather she go away.
“Why won’t anybody forgive me?!” Stefania wails. She covers her face with her hands, her long crimson nails digging into her artificially tanned skin. “It’s not like I… hic… had a say… hic… in anything! I never meant to betray you. I’m so, so sorry,anima gemella.”
“Anima gemella? What the hell are you talking about?” I snap. “You are so fucking out of it you have no clue what you’re saying.”
“Psycho, that’s not all,” Fabio says as she sways against him. “Look out your window.”
The sloppy bitch.
Outside on the street below, a banged up Audi is parked haphazardly on the sidewalk. It’s rammed into a fire hydrant and has run over a bicycle that was tied to a tree. Water sprays out of the broken fire hydrant, flooding the street. Several pedestrians gather around the abandoned car, quizzical looks on their faces.
“You were driving,” I say, pinching the bridge of my nose. “You were fucking driving. Stitches, have the guys on shift go out there and get rid of the crowd. Move the vehicle to our underground garage. Fabio, bring her down to my car. I’ll drive her home.”