“So, I scheduled a meeting with the architect this afternoon,” I announced at breakfast with Evie. “You did?” she asked, surprised. “So soon?”
We’d started talking about building a new house on the property. Evie’s paintings were selling like crazy, and more and more galleries had wanted to expose her work. I was starting to perform shows on my own, so we’d had quite a bit of money saved up. And the house was getting a bit cramped, with the four of us and friends coming over all the time.
“Well, I thought we’d just jump on it,” I said, “that way, we can stay with my dad for the summer while they’re building here, and the kids won’t have to travel so far to school every day.” Evie nodded. “That’s smart,” she said. “I just… can’t believe it. We’ve come so far, haven’t we?”
She looked around with a sentimental smile. “I remember when this was your dark, tiny studio apartment. We could practically reach the stove while we were in bed.”
“I think that happened once or twice,” I joked darkly, “I’ve still got a scar on my butt from when we…”
“Matt!” she interrupted, laughing.
“But you’re right, Evie,” I said. “We really have come far. And just wait what our kids will do. I bet you they’ll go even farther, accomplish even more wonderful things than we already have.”
She smiled. “I think so, too. Can you believe how smart they both are?”
“They definitely didn’t get that from me.”
I looked at my watch. “Time to go, honey. I’ll let you know how the meeting went. Let’s not tell the kids until everything’s set in stone.”
Evie nodded and kissed me goodbye. “See you tonight, baby.”
And by the start of the new school year, our home was finished. It was gorgeous. Huge. More bedrooms than we needed, by far. But I felt like this was a home where my kids could grow up happily and could maybe start their own family one day. It was everything we’d wished for.
Of course, it still needed some decorating, but Evie was on top of that. I was in charge of getting the garden together. But for now, it looked wonderful.
“Oh my gosh, this kitchen is amazing!” Evie practically jumped up and down with excitement. “This is wonderful!”
I could only grin at seeing her so happy. “I’m glad you like it, baby.”
Evie turned to me and kissed me on my cheek. “I’m so happy. This home will be in our family for generations. I can’t believe we were able to afford it.” “Well, I’ve got a few connections.” I winked. “But that’s the plan. I don’t think there was ever a Fiore who achieved something like this. I’m so proud of this.”
I pulled her closer to me and stroked her hair. “I’m proud of us.”
It all seemed so perfect. For the first time in years, everything was going so well, I didn’t know what else I could ask for. Evie and I were so happy together, the kids were getting along, doing well at school and even Enzo had made some friends. Things seemed to be going great.
Until I got woken up by that phone call. It was nearly six o’clock on a Sunday morning. Evie was still asleep and the sun was just peeking over the horizon.
“Hello?” I mumbled groggily, after I’d grabbed my cell phone off my nightstand.
“Hello, is this Mr. Fiore?”
“Yes, who is this?”
“Mr. Fiore, this is Cheryl Andersen calling from the Newcrest Hospital. I’m afraid I have some bad news for you…”
A car crash. Seventy-five years old, and what killed him was a car crash. I could hardly remember what the woman said to me or what my answers were. All I could think about was my dad, crossing a street on his morning walk, and some drunk twenty-year old who was returning from a party and…
I started sobbing without realizing it. Evie stirred, opened her eyes, saw my face and immediately sat up in shock. “Matt, what’s going on?”
“Dad…” was the only thing I could whisper before my knees gave out on me and I fell back on the bed.