After dinner, I told Luca about the auction and the antics of Mrs Federov, he Luca laughed his head off. His board meeting had gone very well so we were both in a great frame of mind. He’d also been meeting with his lawyers about something to do with the children. He was a little reluctant to tell me and I didn’t want to push it.
Our brief period of happiness didn’t last and we were brought down to earth with a bump when two days later when we were just about to leave for the airport and our flight to London when Gina arrived on the scene.
It was obvious that she was breathing fire.
“You…” she screamed at me.
“You scheming Bitch. This is all your doing!”
She was waving some papers at me.
“What is the matter Gina? We were just leaving to go to the Airport.”
“Yes. That is right. Flying off to your little love nest in England.”
Luca couldn’t resist laying into her.
“That is not true and you know it. In case you hadn’t realised Gina, we are divorced and it was you who went off with that Racing Driver. It is also the Easter holidays in a few days. Are you going to be a mother for a few days?”
Wow! I’ve never seen him like that. I might get to like him if he were a little more assertive.
My dreaming was rudely interrupted by Gina launching another verbal tirade at me.
“He has no money. This stupid trust idea has taken it all. What are you going to live off now then?”
“What is stupid about putting money that I’d have to pay you aside for our Children’s Education and wellbeing?” Countered Luca.
“What am I going to live on then?”
“What about your men friends? Who is your current boyfriend? I seem to have lost track recently. Surely there are some left who you can sponge off?”
If looks could kill, Luca would be pushing up daisies right now.
“That is none of your business.”
“Really? Yes it is. You are our children’s mother. You should be setting a good example. Instead you go off skiing, partying and frankly my dear, you don’t give a dam about me or them apart from how much money you can squeeze out of me. Well, that is all over. I’ve put my most of my money out of your grasping hands. Now get a job or a lover. Don’t even think of going to a lawyer to get it reversed unless you have the money to pay them. I’m not paying one cent towards your legal fees ever again. I’m done paying for your affairs. You get your settlement and not one Euro more. Go find a sugar daddy or live life like a normal person.”
I tried to stop myself from giggling at the slight twist of those famous last words of ‘Gone with the Wind’. Sadly, I failed.
“What is so funny?” barked Gina.
I managed to stop laughing.
“Gina, from what little I know of you, you really don’t give care very much about your Children. I fail to understand why you would ever want to have sole custody of them? It can only be at the request of Luca’s mother. Is the plan to let her bring them up while you are off enjoying your playgirl lifestyle?”
Luca looked stunned by my outburst. If he was stunned, then Gina was absolutely livid.
“Do you let the paid help run your life now?”
Her anger was strangely not vented at me but at Luca.
“Fran is not the paid help. She and I are getting married.”
Gina took this opportunity to hit back.
“Not if I don’t sign those papers you won’t.”
Luca permitted himself a smile.
“That is where you are wrong. My lawyers can go to court to force you to sign or you will lose your settlement.”
Gina totally ignored that statement and finally turned her attention to me.
“You wouldn’t dare? Besides, what do you see in this…? She isn’t even worth looking at.”
Luca came to my rescue.
“Fran is more of a woman than you will ever be. I realised a very long time ago that I only married you because my mother arranged it. Apart from two wonderful children nothing positive came of our time together. Now I want it to end once and for all. If I never see you again, it will be a day too soon.”
Finally, Gina realised that she wasn’t going to win. She did not say anything else but she turned on her very expensive Louboutin heels and literally fled.
Neither of us said anything for several minutes. Finally, Luca said,
“What just happened?”
“I’m not sure really. I think I might get those papers signed and I doubt that we will hear of this custody battle again. On the other-hand we might very well have stirred up a hornets nest. I can probably guess that she is hot-footing it to talk to my Mother,” said Luca.
Then he added,
“At least my Father is on our side and won’t pay for anything either.”
“Then we can only hope that the former happens,” I said with a nod of my head.
Easter came and went. Suddenly, it was June and I was in London to see my Doctor once more.
“It is time Fran. Your year is up. How does it feel?”
I smiled back at her.
“Actually, rather good. I’d forgotten the exact date of this appointment. It wasn’t until Luca reminded me last night that I remembered.”
“That is very good to know.”
Then she paused.
“Are you ready to go beyond the point of no return?”
I looked puzzled.
“I thought I’d passed that several months ago? You know when I started to get real breasts and my penis decided that it was time to go to sleep and never wake up.”
“That is one way to look at it. You know what I meant.”
“Yes, yes I do. I have thought long and hard about it this past year. If there was one thing that has kept me going, it was the though of finally realising a dream. A dream that I’ve had since I first put on a dress and felt, ‘this is me. This is what I should have been. The dream I denied myself for so long.”
She looked at me sternly.
“This should be more than a dream. It should be a need.”
“Perhaps you are right.”
I paused for a second while I tried to get the right words together.
“Before I came to see you last year, this might have been a dream. Then something happened to me that…. Well I decided that the time was right to make the dream come true. Once I’d made that decision, there has never been a doubt in my mind that this is the right thing to do. It is the right time in my life to stop messing around sitting on the fence and become what I truly want to be.
I am in love with a wonderful man who is supporting me all the way.”
I looked at her for some sign that I’d said the right thing.
For what seemed a long time she looked at me with nary an emotion or expression on her face.
Then she wrote something down in her notes before looking at me once more.
“Then you had better get your surgery booked then.”
My jaw fell open. Wide open.
“Does this mean…”
She smiled back at me.
“Yes, it does. Actually, I never doubted your intent and downright desire for this to happen, right from the first day we met. All this time I’ve been testing you. Every time you have passed. It is time for you to become the woman you so desire. Please don’t feel bad about me testing you. That is my job and I am certain that you are ready for the final step.”
I tried hard not to tell the world about my news on the way home. In the end, I switched my phone off and sat on my hands and waited impatiently for the train to take me home.
As I got out of my car, the front door of the house opened and three very excited people hurried out. They all had but one question on their lips.
They didn’t need to ask it. The huge grin on my face told them everything they needed to know in an instant.
Luca hugged me so tight that he squeezed all the breath out of me. Saffy and Claudia wrapped their arms around both of us.
“Please. I really do need to be alive for the operation you know!” I gasped.
Eventually they let me breathe once more.
“I’m so happy for you my darling,” whispered Luca as we walked into the house.
I squeezed his hand tightly. He couldn’t fully appreciate that the hardest part of my journey was yet to come.
Once the euphoria about my impending transition had died down, Luca and I sat down and talked about it and a lot of other things.
The outcome was that I’d delay having the operation until September. At least the children would be back at school so the workload on that side of things would be a lot lower than if I had it in the holidays. It would also be easier to hide the fact that I was having fairly major surgery from them.
The School Summer holidays would soon be upon us and then there was the little matter of overseeing the work on the Tuscan house. It was at a critical stage with the roof off for the second time in such a short time. I didn’t want to let that job get on top of me. Luca was also busy helping out Marco with the yard. Since the ‘investment’ from Sicily, nothing more had been heard from Mr Federov.
Marco announced that he was divorcing Niamah. It looked like it was going to be just as messy as Luca’s due to even more weirdness of Italian divorce law. As for Gina apparently, she was now living with a much older man in a place on the coast about 30km south of Venice. She had been very evasive about how much time she wanted to spend with her children over the summer. In the end, she only had them for a weekend in Genoa.
Back in England, Saffy and Claudia were planning an expansion of the business. They were thinking about opening another branch in Notting Hill more specifically, Portobello Rd or just off it. I was happy for both of them.
Everything seemed to be going so well when a few days before the end of term, I got a phone call from Sophia’s house teacher.
“Yes this is she. Who’s calling?”
“Oh hello Mrs Morris. What can I do for you?”
I listened to what Sophia’s teacher had to say.
“Of course I’ll come to the school today. I can be there in a couple of hours if that is agreeable to you?”
“Fine. Four pm then.”
I hung up the phone still unclear about the reason for the call.
After a few minutes of deep thought I called Luca who was in Italy attending a handover of one of the Yards products to its new owner.
“Hello Darling.” I said trying to sound cheerful.
“I’m fine but I’ve just had a rather strange phone call from Sophia’s house teacher.”
“No, she didn’t say specifically what is wrong. Sophia isn’t hurt or anything but she wants to see me today”
“Yes, after the final class of the day, when Sophia will be doing her ‘prep’.”
“That’s it. She wouldn’t say why. She just wants to see one of us ASAP. It has to be something that she can’t or does not want to say over the phone.”
“Yes. I will call as soon as I find out.”
Slowly, I put the phone away in my handbag. Something felt not right but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. That made me even more concerned.
Just before 4pm, I drove through the school gates. I could see a lot of girls playing Tennis and even a few were playing Cricket, which both surprised and pleased me.
I parked the car outside Sophia’s ‘House’. This was the dormitory block where she slept and studied when not attending classes. I sat in the car for a few moments as I watched a tall girl send down a devilish ball that demolished the batsman’s stumps. That brought a small smile to my face as I remembered my puny efforts at bowling when I was at St Wilfred’s Catholic School.
As the dashboard clock flipped over to 4pm, I gritted my teeth and got out of the car and went into the house. I looked for Sophia but the hallway was empty, the sounds coming from the playing field and tennis courts seemed a million miles away.
I knocked on Mrs Wilson’s study door and waited. I felt like some naughty pupil waiting to get their punishment for some misdemeanour.
“Come,” came a voice from inside.
Slightly nervously, I opened the door and went in.
Mrs Wilson was sitting at her desk in the middle of marking some work. As I came in she looked up and gave me a smile. She was in her late 30’s or early 40’s and looked like a typical school mistress. Memories of seeing Maggie Smith in the ‘Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ came back to me. Then I saw a ying-yang tattoo on the inside of her wrist. Perhaps my first impressions might not have been so accurate after all.
“Ah Ms Clarkson. It is so very good of you to come to School at such short notice. Please take a seat.”
I tried to smile but that sense of foreboding was getting to me.
“How can I help you Mrs Wilson. You really didn’t say what the reason for your call was for…”
I got stuck for words.
Mrs Wilson opened a drawer in her desk and pulled out a manila folder.
“Would you please read this?” said Mrs Wilson as she handed me the folder.
I opened it. Inside, I saw some paper with what was obviously Sophia’s writing all over it.
At the top of the page it said in capital letters, ‘MY FAMILY’.
I started to read Sophia’s essay.
By the time I’d finished reading the piece I fully understood the reason for the summons to the school.
Mrs Wilson saw that I’d finished reading the piece.
“Is that an accurate picture of your family?”
There was nothing like being direct and to the point.
I took a deep breath.
“I’m afraid it is.”
Then to my complete surprise she said,
“I’m rather relieved that it is accurate. We do pride ourselves here that try to educate our students to always tell the truth.”
Then she looked at me for a second or so before dropping the bombshell that I really had not been expecting.
“Would you be prepared to come and talk to the senior girls about your Transexuality?”
[To be continued]
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