Gaining Visibility(137)

By: Pamela Hearon

She swallowed, too stunned to speak.

Every detail was perfect, right down to the thin lines etched across the middle of both breasts. My God, he’s even included my scars. She pressed a shaky hand to her mouth.

“You like, yes?” Vitale asked, hope and pride mixing in his voice. “She to be perfect by the pool, I think.”

“I . . . I don’t know what to say.” This was something so far out of her world of experience, she had nothing to weigh it against for like or dislike.

Vitale’s arms came around her waist from behind, and he rested his chin on her head. “From the day on the beach, I dream of capturing you in the moment forever. The photograph, she is the not enough”—he paused and gestured toward the clay model—“the not enough Julietta.”

Worded in such a manner, how could she not love it?

She laughed, giddy with excitement. “I love it, Vitale. I think it’s fabulous.”

He hugged her close, leaning down to kiss the smile she turned up toward him. When he straightened, she saw his eyes scan the sculpture, watched his bottom lip droop into that pout that signaled his displeasure. “One imperfection I feex, though.”

Her eyes settled on the scars across the sculpted breasts. While it was a lovely gesture for him to include them, he would surely smooth them out before the clay mold went for its casting in bronze. “The scars,” she said. “You’ll take them out?”

Vitale’s look suggested she’d grown a second nose. “Remove the scars? No, I work very hard to make the scars. I tell you I do not feex my Julietta, yes? She is perfect.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her to the head of the table, pointing at one of the ears, and shaking his head disgustedly. “The imperfection, she is the earlobe. I attach to the side of the face.” He flipped her lobe lightly with his finger. “She is not attach.”

Julia laughed, and when Vitale’s eyebrows drew together in a dark frown, she laughed even harder. “She is not funny, Julietta. She is the serious mistake. I must feex.”

Julia took Vitale’s face in her hands and smoothed away his frown lines with her thumbs. “ Ti amo, Vitale.”

His mouth curved into a smile, and the heat in his look warmed her to her toes. “Ti amo, bella mia,” he whispered before he captured her detached earlobe between his parted lips.

Julia’s head spun with happiness, with the changes the past few years had wrought in her life—the losses and gains. The loss of her breasts, the gain of new confidence. The loss of Frank, the gain of new love. The loss of Hettie, the gain of a new perspective. The loss of Camille, the gain of an opportunity for a new business venture. For every action there was a reaction, for every push a pull. The laws of nature gave balance to an ever-shifting world.

She’d wanted visibility? Well, Vitale had certainly fixed that. She smiled as her eyes shifted again to her uncanny likeness on the table beside them. He’d captured her perfectly—a lovely work of art—but only for that snapshot in time.

Julia was changing . . . would always be changing . . . a perpetual work-in-progress.

But, like Hettie, she’d finally summoned her courage and stepped through the darkness into the unknown. A world of light and beauty had been there all along, waiting for her on the other side.

And perhaps a taste of immortality as well.

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