Even though she's had a loving husband, beautiful children, and a solid career, forty-one-year-old Gabriella Visconti-McHolland has never felt complete. Now, she has a life-altering decision to make. Bryan, her husband of twenty years, wants to move to Florida for an incredible job opportunity, but Gabby would rather stay in New York to pursue her own career. Besides, does she really love Bryan enough to completely uproot her life for him?
To answer this haunting question, Gabriella embarks on a journey to discover the essence that dwells deep within her soul and to find the child in her that she thought was lost. After years of being the wife and mother, Gabriella must find the woman underneath those roles to unearth her true identity.
Gabriella questions the stability of her marriage. To find out if it can survive, Gabriella and Bryan take a romantic weekend getaway to try and revive a past she long thought dead. But will they rediscover the love that connected them so long ago-or will they accept their differences and separate?
An emotionally gripping story, Everlasting Essence captures one woman's struggle to find her true identity while reconciling her past with her future.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.07(d)|
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Everlasting EssenceThe hopes and dreams of a girl rediscovered in the soul of a woman
By Ria Prestia
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Ria Prestia
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE PRESENT MAY
It was just before dawn as Gabriella grasped the knob of the French door. Opening it slowly, she stepped quietly out onto the wooden deck. The chill of the morning dew that graced the wood made her stop. Reaching behind her, she picked up her slippers that sat by the door and put them on her feet. Clutching her coffee mug in her hands, she devoured the aroma of Columbian beans that were freshly brewed. The steam from the cup caressed her face with warmth as she took a sip. Standing there on the deck, she glanced out into the distance and saw the stillness of the harbor that fed into the Long Island Sound. A minuscule amount of lights, from the quaint town across the way, flickered giving her a realization that most of the world was still asleep, except for the fishermen whom you could hear in the distance. The trees swayed above, and the rustle of their branches was nature's alarm clock awakening the earth. In the early morning, before the sunrise, she could hear the commencing of boat engines as one by one the ships departed from the harbor, with fishermen, in search of their daily catch.
Slowly, Gabriella walked around the deck examining the world around her. The large deck swung around the back of the house and onto the side. There were two sets of stairs that led to their private beach below, and a dock in the distance was the path they took to get to their boat; an extravagant toy that gave them pleasure when they were able to use it and sail away from the everyday world. The deck chair was slightly damp, so she took a towel from the wooden basket and placed it on top of the chair before she sat down. Allowing her body to relax, she gazed out into the world around her. Leaning back into the chair and taking a deep breath, she inhaled the morning air letting the floral aroma fill her nostrils. The first flowers of the spring were blooming all over Long Island. The change of the season from the cold harshness of winter gave Gabriella hope; hope for a new start ... for a new beginning.
Can we do it? Can we begin again? She thought. How does a woman find herself again? How does she find that carefree young girl who had dreams? Well, through pain, suffering, and love; a lot of love. She called them growing pains, but at times they felt like a fate worse than death. A better phrase would be soul growth. What a transformation; like a caterpillar to a butterfly. Except this took half of her life and almost an end to the things she loved the most. The sun began to creep up over the horizon grabbing Gabriella's attention. A small smile graced her lips. She was never a morning person, but she became one as life put more demands on her; especially demands that came from pint size individuals with loud lungs, dirty hands, and a definite determination to get what they wanted. Amazing how children can make you change, even if you resist, she thought.
Stretching and yawning, she watched as the mourning doves came to rest on the edge of the deck. Together, the doves sat on the ledge and cooed while watching the same view as Gabriella. Doves mate for life, she thought. She remembered hearing that somewhere, but she wasn't sure where. The ringing of the phone jarred her from her thoughts. Quickly, she picked up the receiver and smiled at the name on the caller ID. She clicked the button and spoke.
"Hey, Frankie," Gabby said quietly into the receiver.
"Hi, Gabs, how's it going?" The jovial voice of her friend Francesca Deluca whisked through the phone like a breath of fresh air.
"Pretty good, I guess."
"Are you glad you did it?" Frankie asked.
"I'm not sure. It really may be too late. He and I have been avoiding the problem. Besides, I sort of feel bad about lying to the kids and sending them off to my sister's house in White Plains without them even knowing what Bryan and I are doing."
Playing with her coffee mug, Gabby took another sip. The mist off of the water gave an illusion of oneness between land and sea. Changing the subject she said, "This view today is amazing."
"Are you out on the deck watching the sunrise?" Frankie asked.
"You know me so well. Damn, we've definitely been friends too long, Frankie. What's it been, thirty-five years?"
"Since grade school, you and I have been sharing dark secrets."
"Many secrets, Frankie. It's a good thing you are technically my shrink; otherwise, I would have to kill you because you know too much," Gabriella said laughingly.
"By the way, how is Bryan?" Frankie asked.
"He's fine. I mean ... he really is great. We've seriously been trying to reconnect, and to be honest with each other about what we want."
"Is the romance happening?"
"Yeah, the romance is there, but I think we're both a little unsure of how to woo each other again."
"Yeah, Frankie, come on, you know what I mean. We're trying to captivate each other again like we did in the beginning. It isn't easy since there has been like twenty plus years and a lot of water under the bridge."
"Well, imagine if it was forty or fifty years," Frankie exclaimed.
"Well ... then a tidal wave would be under the bridge," Gabby said with a laugh.
"Gabby, the true essence of your relationship is there ... and it's more than kids, work, and a home; although, those are really important. But among all the bills, problems, and tears there is a real Gabby and Bryan. There's a Gabby in you that's not negative and indulging in a very overactive imagination. You know, Gabs, you had a sheltered upbringing, and you've been trying to run from it forever. You change what you want all the time! And to be honest, you want things instantly and without work."
"Okay, doc, I can accept the diagnosis, but the cure is a little bit harder."
"Well, that's because you attract negativity like a magnet. If doom and gloom is out there, they can find you with blinders on." The phone clicked and Frankie put Gabby on hold. While Gabby waited, she noticed that more lights were turned on across the bay, and more boats had launched from the docks. The horizon was now a palette of vibrant hues blending together as if touched with an artist's brush. The crimson red, along with a zest of orange and yellow, set the foreground while amethyst and sapphire hid in the background. The phone clicked back. It was Frankie again.
"Sorry about that."
"Was it another helpless soul like me?" Gabby asked.
"Sort of, but worse ... it was my mother."
"Oh ... sorry ... well ... I'm not that bad ... thank God."
"You said it, Gabby ... not me."
"So, old wise goddess who looms in all the sciences, what does the planetary alignment have in store for me for the next few days?"
"It'll be hot and heavy, with Venus transiting your fifth house."
Chuckling slightly, Gabby asked, "And, um, what does that mean?"
"The fifth house is fun and romance. It's a great time to be twenty and in love."
"Great ... I'm not twenty."
"But you are in love."
"Yeah, but sometimes love isn't enough."
"It can be."
"Well, right now, I don't believe that. There are some things from the past I'm having a hard time letting go of. I thought I could just let them go, but I can't. Those things are making it hard for me to totally trust him."
"So tell him that. Bring them up, and discuss them and let them play out."
"I'm afraid to," Gabby admitted.
"Like Pandora's Box, once opened and unleashed you cannot put them back in, Gabby."
"I know that, Frankie. I thought I could just let them go."
"Only you can decide that."
"Yeah, I know that, too. You know, Frankie, you're my personal savior."
"Wonderful, just don't crucify me if it doesn't work out. You have to remember, Gabby, that you can't control everything in your life. You need to enjoy the here and now, and the only approval in life you need is your own, not your parents, or anyone else's."
"I know that, but I still get unsure of my own instincts. It's hard to change old beliefs. I still get an unsure feeling, and to be honest, I want it to completely go away forever."
"Well, it takes time and facing fears, but first you have to want a new start. You can't carry the old false beliefs around with you because they'll weigh you down so much that you can't carry the new ones too. Gabby, your father was a powerful business man who wanted to control everyone and look at what happened. You learned from him that money meant power, and power meant control of your life. Gabby, your ego will always ruin you and your life if you let it."
Gabby knew Frankie was right. It took so much pain for her to realize it.
Absent-mindedly, Gabby began to play with the gold locket that hung from a chain around her neck.
"Gabs, are you there?"
The question brought her back to reality.
"Frankie, is there a divine plan?" A noise from behind startled Gabby and made her turn from the receiver. The light in the kitchen was on, and she could hear the French doors open."
Interrupting Frankie, she said quickly, "He's up, I better go."
"Okay, fine. Call me later and we'll continue where we left off."
"Okay, Frankie, I will." She proceeded to hang up and quickly brought the phone to her ear. "Frankie, hey ... about a plan, I ..." she began to say, but she realized Frankie had already hung up.
A cool breeze off of the water gave a chill to Gabby's bones. She knew Frankie was correct in all she said. With all those cultural superstitions like: bad luck, bad karma, an endless list of what ifs, as well as the old religious fear that God will strike you down for missing a mass, she felt predestined for failure. She really was amazed that she survived to her forties. Thank heaven for Frankie, her friend, personal shrink, and resident astrological star charter. She was a jack of all trades. Frankie was not the most conventional doctor. She believed that philosophy, religion, astrology, and science were actually all connected, and by separating them you kept people ignorant. She lived by the truth of what people should do based on their inner passion, and she hated the fears and guilt that had been instilled in people from generation to generation since the fall of Eden. It was Frankie's goal and passion in life to help people find their calling, get on the right path, and create a wonderful journey for their lives.
* * *
She heard his footsteps behind her, and as she was about to turn around, she felt his smooth, strong hands caress the back of her neck and shoulders. His touch made her melt as she felt his energy emanate from his body. He made her feel safe. The scent of his cologne took her back to the beginning and the innocence of not knowing each other.
"I'm glad we bought this house," she whispered to him.
"So am I," he said as his hands gently massaged her shoulders. He stood behind her and let his eyes penetrate the horizon that was in full bloom in front of him."
"Bryan ... I'll really miss this place if we go, or if you go ... I'll miss you."
He pulled at the chaise next to her and sat down on the edge of the chair. She sensed his silence before he spoke. "Gabby, I'll miss this home and New York too. It's my home and my past as well."
She realized in his words that this just wasn't about her. This was about him and their family as well. Gabriella Visconti-McHolland was not a woman alone in the world. She was a woman whose decisions in life affected many souls, not just her own.
"Can we really start over? I mean like it was when we just met?" she asked.
"Do you really want that? Gabby, these few days we're spending together are not about fantasy ... they're about reality. You know that we need to make a final decision about us, our family, and what we each want. As much as I will miss this home, I want to leave New York. And this opportunity with the firm is perfect for me, and for us. That is, of course, if you want us to still exist, together? You need to decide what you really want?"
She sat there quiet and uttered not a word. She was stalling with her answer, and she knew he knew it too. She just did not know what she wanted. Noticing his leather jacket, she changed the subject and asked, "Where are you going?"
She noticed the distance in his eyes as he said, "I'm taking the Harley up to the deli to pick up some breakfast. What do you want?"
"A ham, egg and cheese sandwich would be nice."
The hum of the engines from the boats grabbed her attention to the harbor. A butterfly flew between them and landed on the edge of Gabby's chair. It sat there still. She noticed the first Monarch of the season. The beauty in its wings, and the grace it had to fly without fear made her realize how glorious that must feel.
Bryan got up and the butterfly fled. "Wait!" Gabby yelled.
He stopped and looked at her. "What?" he said unenthusiastically.
"How about today ... What should we do?"
He smiled slightly. "I was thinking about taking the boat out since we haven't done that in a long time," he said.
"I'd like that. I really would," she said sincerely.
She stood up and put her arms around him. They stood there and hugged each other. His warmth felt good. It felt right to her like an old pair of jeans that were always comfortable. She stared at him as he leaned in and kissed her lips. She felt the energy between them ... it was still there. She got up from the lounge and grabbing his hand led him into the house. Not making it up the stairs to the bedroom, they fell onto the plush rug in the living room in front of the fireplace.
"You're beautiful, Gabby."
"I love you, Bryan, you know that ... don't you?"
"Yes, I do. But, Gabby, love isn't enough. You're afraid to trust, and I can't change that for you; only you can change that."
Placing her hands around his neck, she kissed him.
"This time together is not just about sex, Gabby. I don't know if you're saying hello or good bye. She could feel the touch of his hands on her body, and she began to fall under his spell.
"Does it matter right now?" she asked.
"No, it doesn't," he said.
They kissed softly. They sat on the area rug by the fireplace and held each other. His arms felt nice around her body as they made love again like they had the night before.
* * *
Lying naked on the floor, Gabby leaned over the pillows and stared into the fireplace. The flames flickered quickly within the bosom of the hearth. The warmth of the heat graced her body as she reclined there deep in thought about herself and her life. Keep the karma good. Live in the moment and stop reliving the past. Be positive and don't doubt. The words played over and over in her head as if Frankie was there talking to her. For years, actually decades, Frankie had told her to be positive, have faith, don't doubt, but it was difficult for Gabriella to do. It was as if it was a force she couldn't control. She had read every self-help book, searched her faith, read her astrological chart, and sought counseling with Frankie, and yet, she still couldn't end the feeling of fear completely. She understood the feeling, befriended it, and tried to discard it when the friendship turned to hate, and still it lingered. It would come in the middle of the night, during an outing with the children, on holidays, while pleasure shopping, and so on ... the list was endless.
It was a negative attitude created by fear and worry of the unknown. It was a constant vicious cycle that seemed to have no end. Once Gabby allowed the doubt into her thoughts, it would dominate her mind and lead to worry and fears that created a negative, bitter woman that wanted to control. By controlling, she thought the fears would not materialize. But Gabby learned what she feared the most was what she would actually create; a woman no one liked. She was trying to have faith, real faith. Not the faith tied up only on Sunday morning for one hour. She was trying to trust the unseen and to allow things to flow by making clear choices from her heart; by the acceptance of things that she could not control or change.
Excerpted from Everlasting Essence by Ria Prestia Copyright © 2011 by Ria Prestia. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I absolutely loved this novel and cannot wait for the sequel. My life is not much like that of the main character in the book but this novel made me feel very close to her. The author had me sitting at the edge of my seat and I cannot wait for a sequel.
Prestia is the queen when it comes to creating sympathetic, endearing and lifelike characters. She paints each so scene perfectly readers hover on the edge of delicious voyeurism.
This is the kind of book that requires you to continue turning the pages to find out what happens next, but not as in a mystery/thriller book sort of way, but because you feel you know these characters personally and you have to see them through to the very last page and then you want the sequel. Their life events, their decisions, could be yours, ones you or friends/family have experienced and the story is so real because of that.
What a wonderful novel to get lost in! I can't wait for the author to write the sequel. A great book for book clubs to read and discuss. A+