Livia plays with a lock of hair, sitting in her living room, beholding the several buildings beneath her. She has always loved her view; tall, imposing, higher than everyone else. It makes her feel both big and small, depending on her mood.
The tall buildings are hidden by thick mist and the cold threatens to cut people’s flesh like thin paper. It’s silent, if not for the wind’s murmured sentences carried through the streets, making people grit their teeth and think twice before going outside.
The TV is off and Phillippa is doing whatever teenagers do in cold, dark weekends. It probably involves Netflix and lots of fangirling over David Tennant. Livia warms her hands around the BEST MOM mug that Philly gave her so many years ago and inhales the sweet scent of hot cocoa.
For some reason, she isn’t able to stop those thoughts, like a small movie playing inside her head. She sees herself leaving London sixteen years ago, hurt and mourning. Her boyfriend of ages had just died. At the time, she took a plane to Paris to run away, but ended up finding herself.
Paris isn’t just about annual hook up with her daughter’s father. It’s about finding herself after a whole year of ups and downs. It’s about mutual support. Had one of them married during all those years, they would have probably stopped all those meetings — but they hadn’t, therefore, they didn’t. They were there for one another. It became a comfort, as well as an assurance that everything would be okay.
Livia’s head is so full of thoughts that she doesn’t even notice the time passing. Later she checks her mailbox, and to her surprise, she sees a correspondence there. She takes it off and opens right there, curious.
From: Gabriel Hailyn.
She holds her breath.
During the short time we spent together this year you said me things — things that opened my eyes to what we really are. We aren’t just friends hanging out; we share a child. We’re so much more.
Across the years, I’ve come to realize that I actually need you — every New Year’s Eve. Now, though, I need something beyond that short time we spend hooking up and acting like we’ve known each other for ages. I’ve tried with other women, but nothing feels as great as having you.
For a long time, I thought I needed Livvy, the twenty-one years old woman with whom I spent a night years ago. We’re not like that anymore, I get that now. We’ve grown. Twenty-two years-old Gabe Hailyn certainly wouldn’t have liked thirty seven years old Livia Blackwell. I’m not early twenties Gabe Hailyn anymore. I’ve changed and grown, as you have changed and grown, and now I dare to say that we’re on the same page.
I’d like to know you, Livia Blackwell. As the mother of my child, as my long time lover, as a brilliant lawyer who’s been through so much. I’d like to know you now, without any illusions of who and what we are.
I’m writing that because I wouldn’t be able to say that out loud, face-to-face. I’m a man, we don’t do this stuff. Instead, I’m mailing you this letter written in a sleepless night — after all, we all are much more eloquent and sincere when we’re half asleep. Old style stuff.
P.S.: I’m probably dying to know your answer right now, so please call me, don’t send me a letter as well.
She’s still holding her breath once she finishes it. Her hands are cold. Softly, Livia folds the letter and picks the elevator back to her apartment. Phillippa shouts from her room, asking why is she back. Livia says nothing. She holds the phone against her white knuckles and calls Gabriel in his number.
“Hey” The voice says in the other side of the line as soon as he picks up.
It’s probably too early in the U.S. She really doesn’t care.
“I received your letter.”
He laughs a breathy laugh.
“What do you say?”
She bites her lower lip, closing her eyes for a few seconds.
“I’d like to get to know you, Gabriel. As the father of my child, long time lover and ruthless businessman who’s been through so much,” she mimics his words in a low voice.
He lets out a relieved sigh.
“Good. Great. Thank you.” Silence. “Now… Would you like to go out on a date with me?”
“You’d have to fly the Atlantic to get here,” she laughs, quietly.
“I’m not in the U.S., Livvy,” he says. “I came to London as soon as we parted ways in Paris.”
“When did you write the letter, then?”
“I managed to put it in your mailbox yesterday morning.”
She remains in silence, admiring the city. Her thoughts are running so fast inside her head that she doesn’t even keep track of them.
Gabriel clears his throat, “So, do we have a date?”
“Seven thirty, tonight.”
“You’ll have to guide me, though. I don’t really know London.”
She has a stupid smile plastered all over her face. “Do you have a car?”
“Sadly, not yet.”
Playfully, she crosses her arms. Wasting the visual effect.
“And how are you supposed to take me out, Hailyn? Strapped on your lap?”
“I can’t promise it’s comfortable,” oh, believe me it is. His voice is hoarse when he whispers: “But it can be fun.”