Not really all that impressed with this one, but I had an idea in my head after I saw the movie, so I just went with it. Let me know what you think!
Disclaimer: I do not own Letters to Juliet. Or Charlie. Or his accent. *sigh*
The morning following the wedding, Sophie slept in a little late. The jet lag caught up with her, but the real reason she laid in bed for an extra half hour was because she knew these active Italian folk always rose early. She wasn't really in the mood to talk to anyone about her disappearance after the toast the previous day, nor had she any desire to explain her quiet aloofness after her return.
She waited until she heard the clamor downstairs quiet as the family members made their respective ways outside. She passed the time by taking a shower and getting dressed, but eventually, her stomach could wait no longer, and she made her way to the kitchen at half past ten.
There was already someone in the room, standing by the window. Sophie immediately recognized her, and she tensed. The woman's back was to Sophie as she stared out the window, peacefully sipping her tea. If she was quiet, she could-
"Sophie, dear," Claire said with a wide smile. She had seen the young woman's reflection in the window. Putting on a happy face, Sophie entered the kitchen and returned the hug she received. She loved Claire dearly, but she didn't know what to expect in the upcoming conversation. She prepared herself for questions, but instead Claire said, "Come. Let's get you some food."
With a simple slice of toast and a cup of coffee, Sophie sat across from Claire at a small table. "I trust you slept well?" Claire asked with a smile. "The time difference can be difficult to adjust to. How long are you staying?"
"Today and tomorrow. I have to leave on Tuesday to be back in New York." She took a rather large bite of toast then, hoping Claire wouldn't see her discomfort. The previous night, she'd changed her plane ticket from Friday to the earliest available flight she could get on that didn't make it seem too obvious she was trying to get away.
She felt a pang of guilt when she saw Claire's upset face. "We'd hoped you would stay longer."
"Yeah, me too," Sophie bluffed. "But I can't be away from New York for very long with my job."
Correction, she thought, I can't be here with your grandson.
At this, though, Claire smiled. "I'm so happy you finally have your dream job. We're all so proud of you. Even Charlie thought it was a wonderful article." Sophie's chest tightened and began to hurt at his name. Her heart pounded and she found it a little difficult to breathe. Immediately, she rose from her seat, a little faster than necessary, and threw out the rest of her breakfast, her appetite lost. She hoped Claire hadn't seen the pain on her face.
"Actually, I'm meeting the Secretaries of Juliet today. I'd like to spend a little time in Verona." Another lie.
Claire looked anxiously at the clock. "Charlie had to take Patricia to the airport, but he'll be back later today. If you would like to wait, he could take you." There was a hope in her voice.
Fearing her eyes were noticeably red and wet, the young woman turned away, busying herself by putting away her dish. "I should probably be leaving soon."
"Oh," Claire said, now taking her eyes off the clock. "What about tomorrow?"
"I...don't really have a plan for tomorrow, but I'll definitely be back on Tuesday." It would be difficult, but she had to spend time with the newly weds.
Sophie beeped the horn as she drove away, and Claire waved a hand in response, though there were frowns on both of their faces. With the way her thoughts were jumbled in her mind, and with the ache she'd been feeling in her chest since meeting Patricia, Sophie wondered if it was safe to be driving.
Claire knew Sophie shouldn't be driving - at least, not away from her grandson. She sighed; she'd seen the problem. Sophie's thoughts were a mess. Claire had seen right through her hurried excuses. She knew the young woman needed time to sort things out, but she also knew that her grandson had to do something if those thoughts were to be sorted in his favor.
Hours later, Charlie opened the door. "Is she here?" he asked when he saw his grandmother.
She shook her head, but felt the need to hit him when he sighed in relief. "What was that for?" she demanded.
He raised his hands helplessly. "What do you want me to do?"
"Go get her!" Her usual patience was short now.
Charlie sat in the chair opposite her with another sigh, this one exasperated. He pinched the bridge of his nose. "It doesn't matter."
"Charlie, that's complete nonsense!"
"No, it's not." Her voice had risen slightly, but if anything, his had lowered. "She's engaged, Nana. My feelings won't change that."
Claire put her hand over his. "They could. If she truly loved her fiance, she wouldn't be confused." She squeezed his hand, but when he looked up at her, he shook his head.
"I can't do that to her." He smiled sadly. "It'll only make things worse."
Her shoulders dropped a little. "When did you become so romantic?" He let out a short, quiet laugh, but didn't answer. "Charlie, all I want is to see you and Sophie happy. Right now, neither of you is happy. Please, take my advice."
Just then, she saw him perk up, a completely new thought in his mind. "That's it."
"What?" Claire asked, bewildered as her grandson rose from his chair and ran back to his car. With raised eyebrows, she heard tires skid into action and saw a trail of dust flying behind the black vehicle. She hoped whatever he had in mind would work.
That evening, Sophie sat at the table of the Secretaries of Juliet, writing the final paragraph of her last letter of the night by the light of the lamp. Across the table, Isabella sat scribbling away as well, but she had another to answer after this one. Francesca had left early, feeling a bit under the weather, Maria had already finished and gone, and Donatella powered through her letters to go out that evening with her husband.
Sophie dotted the period of the concluding sentence and reread the letter, pleased with her answer. As she did, a loud, impatient knock sounded at the front door of the building. Sophie looked up at Isabella, who shrugged, not knowing who it was, but rose to answer it anyway. By the time she came back, Sophie had finished reading her letter, folded it, put it in the envelope, sealed it, wrote the address, and stuck the stamp in the corner.
"Who was that?" Sophie asked as she placed the letter in the basket.
Isabella opened her mouth, but didn't say anything for a second, as if she was thinking. "I...don't know...her name. She said she found this by Juliet's house." She held up a folded note. "It must have fallen out of the basket."
"That was so nice of her," Sophie said. "We would've had another fifty-year-old lost letter."
Isabella smiled, though Sophie couldn't help but think there was something behind it. "Sophie, I hope it's not an inconvenience, but I was hoping you could write this one back. I still have two more."
Sophie looked from her watch to Isabella. Quarter after eight. She put her things back down. "Of course. No problem."
"Thank you," Isabella said gratefully, handing her the note and getting back to her own answers.
Sophie sat as well, unfolding the paper, and read:
It was an accident. I didn't mean for it to happen. In fact, at first, I didn't like her very much at all. She was engaged, and I openly gave pity for her fiance in my blunt, cynical, rather unpleasant way. But then, after a series of unfortunate events, I wound up being stuck with her.
Days passed, filled with conversations, laughter, understanding, and eventually, feelings developed.
At least, for me they did. But, like I said, she was engaged, so as any good man would, I pushed them aside, ignoring them. Now I know they cannot be rid of so easily. I was the best gentleman I could possibly be while we were together, asking about her welfare, apologizing for mistakes.
I told myself to just get through the days, but as our time together drew to a close, I couldn't take it anymore. I kissed her, and I don't regret it, but things became very strained after that. I think I might have confused her about her true feelings, which gives me hope, but also makes me feel terrible for causing her pain.
Two months later, she is with her fiance, and I am sick with a pathetic longing I would admit to no one else. I know you probably don't receive many letters from men, and I know that two months ago I would have laughed at the thought of any man doing this. But I desperately need your advice, for as hopeless, stupid, and insane as it is, I am madly in love with her. Please: Should I tell her?
Sophie read the letter twice to take in all the details, and immediately set to work; she knew the answer she would want. When she finished, she placed the letter in its envelope, then the envelope in the basket, and wished Isabella a good night.
The following afternoon, Sophie once again found herself at Juliet's house. This time, though, she wasn't a tourist. She was more or less an assistant secretary. Watching the many women with tears in their eyes as they put their notes on the wall, and seeing those that scribbled furiously in anger, she was proud of her minor position.
Not long after, just as the sun was starting to set, coating the town in a yellow-orange glow, Isabella came with her basket. Sophie helped her collect all of the tear-stained notes.
"Is that a letter?" Isabella asked, looking upwards. Sophie followed her pointing finger and saw, with disbelief, a note on the wall, all the way up next to the balcony.
"Yeah," Sophie said. "Did she really expect us to see that all the way up there?"
Isabella smiled and shrugged. "Some people don't think when they are in love." She put the last of the letters in the basket and nodded to the door that led to the balcony. "Sophie, would you mind getting that? You can answer it."
"Of course." She walked towards the door. "I'll meet you at the house," she called over her shoulder.
A minute later, Sophie stretched over the balcony gates to reach the letter, her arms just long enough.
A voice rose from the courtyard and met her ears; a voice she knew well enough to hear even when he wasn't there.
" 'If you honestly and truly love her as you say you do, then you must tell her.' "
Sophie stared down at him as he read from a paper. She blinked occasionally, her mouth parted.
He continued, " 'Your heart has been through enough drama, and it is time to end it for the both of you, for better or worse.' "
Sophie attempted to swallow, but her throat was completely dry. She knew those words; she'd written them the previous night.
" 'It isn't fair to you, her, or her fiance to keep dragging this out. If she has any inkling about your feelings, she may be just as confused. But whatever the outcome may be, let your feelings be known, because two months is a long time.' " He put down the letter. "Need I say more?"
"Charlie," she managed to sputter out, completely taken aback.
"Everything I wrote in this letter is true, Sophie. I have this constant pain in my chest, and I know it's because I love you. And I'm sorry if I've ever hurt or confused you in any way. I know you're engaged, but I need-"
"Wait, what?" Sophie interrupted.
Charlie held up one finger, signaling for her to wait a moment. "Will you please allow me to finish?"
"No, no, what did you say?"
He blinked at her, thrown off his rant. "I love you?"
"No, about me being engaged."
"Um...that you are?" She was surprised to see him so inarticulate and confused for once.
She shook her head. "I'm not."
Charlie stared at her, his jaw slack. "You're not?"
Sophie shook her head. "No, we broke up a few weeks ago. I -" She was suddenly overcome with a need to be nearer to him, and she was tired of yelling. "Hang on." She disappeared into the building and a few moments later entered the courtyard, stopping directly in front of him.
"You're not engaged?" he repeated, just to be sure.
"No. We ended things."
She shrunk a little in stature. "You."
"Me?" This was most definitely not how he had planned this moment.
Now that it was out in the open, Sophie seemed to stand straighter, speaking with more assurance. "You. That's one of the reasons why I came to the wedding. To see Claire married...and to see you."
He stepped towards her and cupped her cheek with his hand. "Why didn't you say anything then?"
She stared at him incredulously. "Um, I think her name was Patricia?" She had no anger directed at the woman, but there was obvious pain in her voice.
"What about her?"
"Patricia," Sophie repeated. It was like he'd totally forgotten about her. "Your girlfriend?"
"My...Oh, no!" Realization seemed to dawn then. "There happen to be two Patricia's in my life," he explained. "One would be the ex-girlfriend that I haven't seen any time recently. The other would be my cousin that I just drove to the airport yesterday." He shook his head, not able to believe how confused the situation had been.
"Well, that clears things up," Sophie said, obviously thinking the same thing.
He nodded and continued, "Sophie, there is no one in my life. And that's why I wrote the letter. I love you."
She looked up at him. His blue eyes were fixed on hers, clearly and honestly displaying the love she knew was there. After a moment, they began to change - something crept into them, something she wasn't sure she liked after seeing how they were before. They searched her face, looking for some sign of - what?
"Now would be an excellent time if you were going to say something," he muttered, smiling nervously.
She hadn't realized how long she'd spent just looking into his eyes. Making up for lost time, she closed the little distance between them and kissed him, her arms wrapping around his neck. He responded quickly to her touch, reaching the second hand to cup her other cheek.
After, he rested his forehead against hers, beaming. "Can I take that as a 'yes'?"
She nodded. "I love you." He kissed her once more, then she added playfully, "By the way, I loved your letter."
"Yeah, I had a feeling I'd pay for that one."
"Are you really madly in love with me?" she asked, biting her bottom lip to keep from laughing too much.
"Oh, Sophie," he said, chuckling. "You have no idea."
Read and Review!