From the Sky - Part XX

"What do you need to know, Saul?"

"Which of us you choose," said Raymond.

"Choose?"

"We've been patient," said Patrick. "We've each been dating you for nearly six months. All of a sudden, you vanish out of our lives."

"We know your heart is torn between the three of us," interrupted Saul, "You've been trying to decide who you truly love. We can't wait any longer, Zia."

"Boys…" Zia began, but Raymond raised his hand.

"We have to know, Zia," he said. "We'll come back tonight. Choose one of us or lose all of us."

Saul nodded towards Patrick and said, "I hope when you choose me that Paddy's left his gun home."

They turned and walked away, leaving Zia open-mouthed.

"You've got yourself quite a problem, my little Zia."

"Oh, Papa! I'm mortified! I don't love any of them! I date them because they're fun. I haven't even thought of them in weeks! I've been so busy! Oh, why are they complicating things by dragging love into it? Where did they get the idea they were in some kind of contest? I can't deal with this Papa, I have cakes to finish!"

"Zia, what they said goes to the very nature of men. We fight to win the heart of the woman we love. You …you, Zia …are the prize they seek!"

"Well, I'm not something one of them gets to pull out a Cracker Jack box!"

"No, you're not," Ernesto said, reaching out and gently cupping her chin.

"What am I going to do?"

"You know what to do. Pick one or lose them all, Zia."

Ernesto leaned forward, kissed her on the head, and walked back to the picnic grounds. Zia stood in the doorway and watched her father a moment, then closed the door and leaned back against it. She thought about what her suitors wanted: a proclamation of love. She couldn't give that to any of them, not now and not ever, and as she realized this she gasped in surprise. There were tears running down her cheeks, falling onto her apron and making tracks in the light layer of cake flour dust there.

"Zia!"

Gio now, calling her impatiently.

"Coming, Uncle!"

She reached up and dried her eyes with the back of her hands, then started back to the table where Gio and the wedding cakes were waiting for her.

Matters of the heart...


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