The early morning light completely failed to dissipate the sense of age that settled over Sal as he stirred an extra lump of sugar into his tea. It didn't help at all that he was only putting the sugar in because he knew that Chiara was asleep, and he could therefore get away with no lectures about doctor's warnings and such. He was quite unequivocal in the belief that there was no point in getting more and more antiquated if he couldn't enjoy life anyway, and that resolve only wavered around his matronly sister. Who, he knew, would be waking up in about half an hour, to begin the daily routine of bustling 'round the kitchen at her own ungodly hour.
His contemplation, and more importantly the silence that preserved it from the sleeping household, was broken by the telephone. He himself loathed the thing, or rather, he wouldn't mind it at all, if only everyone else could be convinced to keep it nicely tucked up in the wrappings, somewhere in the large and drafty attic. Still, he lunged in the most dignified way to get it, before anyone else heard. Like Mary, who would see the sugar on the counter.
"Yes?" he answered testily.
"Who is this?" The voice was definitely American and female.
"Shouldn't you know?"
"Look, I need to talk to someone named Daniel Chalmers. Do you know him?"
"That depends on you, and you still haven't introduced yourself."
She sighed. "Ok, I'm Laura Holt, and --"
At that moment, Chiara came down. Maledizione, the infernal machine had woken her up after all. At least she wasn't looking at the counter yet.
"Chi è esso?" she asked, scowling slightly.
"It's Laura Holt."
With an expression of malice, she grabbed the phone right out of Salvatore's hand. For a moment he tried to look affronted, but it was useless, and he gave up and sat back down to his tea with nary a word. Fine, he thought. He didn't want it anyway. At least he wasn't in trouble about the extra sugar.
Laura Holt, however, was in trouble. She didn't know whom the strange Italian woman was who was suddenly giving her a tongue lashing in Italian, but she couldn't make it stop. She tried to recall the negligent Italian she knew.
"Chi è, prego? Ciao? Listen, I don't speak Italian, somebody listen to me, I just need Daniel Chalmers "
At the name, Chiara stopped. "You? You have no right speaking to Daniel Chalmers! You have no right with Harry! Terrible woman, Holt --"
"Wait! Stop! Look, I know that I've really screwed up. So let me talk to Daniel! I want to make it better with Harry; I just need to know where he is. Tell me, prego!" Back in her hotel, Laura was near tears and utterly exhausted. How could she talk to Harry if none of his friends would tell her where he was? And what was Daniel even doing at this villa in Italy? Suddenly her tired brain picked up that thought, quickly why would Daniel suddenly go cavorting off in Italy, to a place where other people evidently knew Harry and knew about her unless, of course, he could be there to stay with his beloved protégé ?
She spoke again with renewed confidence. "Miss, I realize now that Harry must be with you and your family or whoever. I know Daniel's there, because I found the address at his apartment. Just let me talk to him. I just want to apologize to Harry. I want to fix the problem."
Chiara was torn. Finally, out of lack of anything better to do, she agreed and sent Sal to fetch Daniel, quietly. As he got up, she made a mental note to see what that was all over the counter.
When Daniel came down, his expression apprehensive, she handed him the phone and stood demurely next to him, looking respectful but desperately struggling to hear the other end of the conversation. It was a tribute to Daniel's troubled state of mind that he didn't shoo her away.
He hung up more firmly than intended, with a loud click. Both Sal and Chiara were watching him expectantly. "Well?" asked Chiara angrily.
Daniel stared at the tea in Salvatore's hand and let out a long breath. "I'm going to meet her in the park this evening," he admitted. "See what she has to say, you know. I think today, somebody has to casually try and talk to Harry. See if he's ready for this, maybe. I don't know."
"Well, why don't you go get a few more minutes of sleep," coaxed Chi. "It will be better after breakfast."
"You know, I think I will too --" started Salvatore, hurrying to follow Daniel before his luck ran out.
"No you will not!" exclaimed his
younger sister and surrogate matriarch. "YOU need to know
a few things about the doctor's orders and that sugar in your
tea that you have forgotten