Choices of the Heart
A moment’s decision can change a life forever. For a young Italian peasant girl, it is surrender to forbidden love with a young priest. He is sent away, but a later reunion reinforces their bond. With their son Vittorio as visible evidence of their passion, she is forced to move halfway across the world to America.
An immigrant Irish father’s prejudice tears apart the next generation of lovers. Kitty Dwyer and Vittorio Rossi must overcome hate’s destructive power and face the challenge of separation. A tragic accident and a careless mistake cause a long search and a loveless marriage while each longs for the other. Their unexpected meeting as Vittorio leaves for war heals past wounds, but their future is still in question even in the aftermath of the fighting in Europe, with more challenges to overcome.
Are lovers who choose what seems necessary destined to forever remain apart, or will the choices of their hearts bring them together again?
The two clerics headed toward the Arno, strolling down the length of it along with half the city, the kites overhead airborne and shimmering. At the edge of the city, as they turned back to retrace their steps, the late afternoon sunlight, the people, the river below, and the colors above melded in a rainbow haze. The city is ripe in its beauty, about to explode with color—rose, yellow, peach, cerise. And I am being seduced by the day because I think that a beautiful woman, in a dress as bright as the sun, holding a child’s hand and walking serenely toward me, is Ottavia.
She was talking with the child, and they were laughing, enjoying each other’s company. He pointed to something on the river, and they walked to the railing to look, leaning over, head to head, engrossed in each other.
Another step closer and Vittorio’s heart began a furious dance. He stepped up his pace to reach Ottavia, and the monsignor, who had just asked him a question, stopped and stared. Vittorio was already far in front of him.
Ottavia was unaware of him until he called her name. She turned her head to look up at him, her mouth open slightly, her eyes wide in shy surprise. It seemed to him that she turned in slow motion, a glint of sun upon her lips, her hair swinging against her cheek.
“Vittorio,” she said. She stood up from the railing and faced him. She said nothing more than his name; her eyes said the rest.
Vittorio was close, seeing the smoothness of her skin and aching to touch it, his being filled with tenderness for her. “What brings you to Firenze?” he asked, keeping his hands in his pockets lest they, on their own, reach out to embrace her.
“I came to help my sister when she had her baby.”
There were pauses in the conversation, when they marveled at the presence of each other. Words were mere frills; being near was all that mattered.
“Which sister? I remember you had many.” God, I want to touch her.
“Lucia. Lucia Simonelli.” I will drown in his eyes.
“Ah, yes, I remember her.” Her beauty tears at my heart.
“I’ve been here a few weeks.”
He nodded. How well he knew that she had been there.
“Is this your son?”
She put her arm around the little boy, who leaned into his mother’s leg. “Yes, he is.”
“He’s fine-looking. What’s your name?”
“Federico,” the boy said shyly.
Vittorio smiled at the handsome young boy, suddenly wishing that he were his child, a visible tie that bound them and their love.
“I’m sorry about your husband, about Federico.”
“It was meant to be…God’s will.” The way she looked at him when she said it, there was no regret, and though he shouldn’t have been, he was pleased.
The monsignor had stood there quietly, taking in the meeting, the beauty of the young woman, the look in Vittorio’s eyes, the conversation mere foam upon the sea. While Vittorio introduced Ottavia and the monsignor, the child climbed up on the railing and reached out for an ownerless kite that floated by. They saw him at the same time. In his eagerness to grasp the kite string, his footing slipped; he was too far forward, at the point of falling to the water below.
“Vittorio!” she screamed.