by Kimberly Sullivan
Genre: Women's Fiction, Romance
Eternal City. Three women. Three wishes. Three coins.
Emma, an American expat living in Rome for twenty years, can’t count on her ex-husband to help out with the kids when things get tough. Dario Rinaldi, famed plastic surgeon to the stars, is too busy gallivanting around Europe with young women to take an interest in his family.
Beautiful Tiffany, born and bred in Iowa, is desperate to get a spot as a dancer on an Italian television show. But is she willing to do whatever it takes to make her dreams of TV stardom come true?
Annarita, from an Italian-American family in Yonkers, teaches English to over-privileged Italians and regularly has her heart trampled by boyfriends all wrong for her. As her mother is always quick to point out, nothing has gone right for her since she moved to Italy. And she isn’t getting any younger, either.
Emma, Tiffany and Annarita all meet up by chance at a 1950s movie night while on a restorative holiday at a beach resort off-season. The triumphs and hardships of these three very different women become intertwined as they form an unlikely friendship and work to better their messy lives.
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The corners of Headmistress Green’s lips tilted upwards, but her stern grey eyes remained unconvinced. “I’m pleased to hear that. Too often, divorce can lead to decreased involvement by one of the parents. But in these cases, it’s our experience that two parents working in partnership can turn a situation like this around.”
She stood, signaling the end of the meeting. Emma scrambled to her feet.
“I hope to hand Chiara her diploma on graduation day. Don’t hesitate to call me if you or Doctor Rinaldi have any concerns you wish to discuss.”
Just shake hands with the woman and make it to the door without crying.
She followed Mrs. Green to the door, her Prada heels clicking with each uncertain step. She blinked rapidly, a desperate attempt to stave off the tears. She offered a weak smile to Mrs. Green at the door, and another to the receptionist, before exiting the office and walking out of the building.
The fresh air calmed her. It was a glorious autumn day, unseasonably sunny and warm for mid-October. The tourists were still wandering around the city’s historical center in shorts and tank-tops, wondering at the tropical temperatures compared to Stockholm, or London, or Hamburg. Usually, Emma was pleased to visit this campus, with its lush green yard and rolling hills, always finding it hard to believe this peaceful countryside was still, technically, a part of Rome. But today being on campus afforded her no pleasure.
She hurried down the hill to the entrance gate as fast as her fashionable but impractical heels would carry her. Please don’t let me bump into Chiara or the twins. She kept her head low, as if that could mask her identity should her children cross her path on campus, on their way to lunch or gym class.
“Emma! Why, it’s been ages!” A voice rang out when she’d nearly reached the school gate.
Emma turned on her heel to see a woman she knew had been one of Dario’s patients on more than one occasion. Her nose had been redone, her lips plumped, and cheek implants strained against artificially tight flesh.
“Margherita! What a pleasant surprise.” Emma stepped forward and kissed the woman on each silicone cheek. “It’s been ages. My fault. I need to contact you to see when I can help out with PTO activities. Isn’t the international luncheon coming up?”
Margherita waved her hand, attempting a smile on skin that was no longer elastic. “Oh, that. We all do what we can. I know how hard it’s been for you, what with …” she lowered her voice. “The divorce.”
The horrified expression accompanying her words would have been equally suitable for “your drug conviction” or “the mafia killings you ordered.”
Divorce was surprisingly rare at the Fairmont School, as Emma was quickly learning. “Oh, it’s fine. I forget about it half the time.” Dragon Lady didn’t need to know the truth.
Margherita sighed. “But still, so tragic. I always thought you were such a perfect couple. Although, I must admit,” she chuckled. “I never would have pegged you for a plastic surgeon’s wife. Although that was always part of Dario’s charm. He’s known for creating perfection on his patients, but never demanding it from his own wife.”
A steady throbbing began behind Emma’s right temple. “I’m over it, really. Thank you for your concern.”
“I’m sure you are, my dear. Especially if Dario could … sweeten the pot, shall we say, with his departure. It’s important we hold them to their financial obligations, eh?” She winked. “But still, it’s a shame for Chiara. Lucrezia tells me how upset she is, how she always complains the divorce ruined her life.” She shook her head. “You know how dramatic teenagers can be.” Margherita stood, expectantly, her head tilted.
Emma silently counted to five. “Thanks for your concern. It was tough for Chiara at first, but I think she’s starting to accept it.”
Margherita’s lips formed a dainty little ‘o’. “That’s not what I heard. But I’m always behind on these things. How nice that everything is going swimmingly, and I’ve been misinformed.” There was a hard glint in her eyes. “Let’s be in touch for the international luncheon. Bye, Emma dear.” With quick kisses on the cheek, she turned on her heels and made her way up the slope to the school.
Emma watched the receding figure, her head still spinning. A double whammy of Mrs. Green and Margherita. Surely, things couldn’t get any worse.
I write the women’s fiction stories I love to read, both contemporary and historic tales of women and the rich lives they lead along their journeys of self-discovery. A lifetime admirer and longtime resident of Italy, I’m often guilty of sneaking the bel paese into my stories.
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