Chapter 6 – Isabella

It’ a quick 10 minute drive from Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to Blythswood Square on Highway M8 as it winds it’s way past Bellahouston Park, where you’ll find the Palace of Art and the Glasgow Ski and Snowboard Centre, before crossing the River Clyde and entering the arts and cultural center of the city.

Situated at the corner of Blythswood Street and W. Regent Street and overlooking a private garden square, the hotel’s stone colored Georgian townhouses were originally home to merchants and were later turned into the club headquarters for The Royal Scottish Automobile Club. The newly opened two-bedroom penthouse, Liam’s new home for next few days, or weeks, stretches over 1,850 square feet with a private entrance, an outdoor terrace, fully-equipped kitchen, bar and dining room, and a master suite with a double steam shower as well as a sunken bath.

Liam had been discharged from care with a stern reminder from Doctor Rashid about his new prohibitions, prohibitions Liam had neither interest in, nor intentions of following. To him, life was meant to be lived with abandon, and come what may. He’d worked too hard and become too successful to spend his remaining years playing small.

“Mr. Liam, I’ve invited Christie to join us for brunch at about 11:00 if that sounds good to you.”

“Yeah that’s fine. I need to get settled, grab a shower, and make a couple of phone calls. See you at 11:00,” Liam replied, distracted, and in a hurry to get to his penthouse. “Hey, what is this number,” Liam asked handing Isabella’s slip of paper to Stag.

“That’s a phone number in Spain. The 34 is the country code. Spanish phone numbers have nine digits and since it begins with a 6 that means it’s a mobile number. Someone you know?”

“If I’m lucky,” Liam said grabbing the paper from Stag’s hand and heading toward the elevator.

Once inside Liam quickly dismissed the porter with a tip far below what a porter in such an establishment would receive. He had grown accustomed to spending lavishly on himself, but no so much on those around him. He settled himself onto the sofa and dialed the number on his mobile.

“Hola,” came a soft, familiar voice after a couple of odd sounding rings.

“Is this Isabella?”

“Si, quien es?”

“Umm…I only speak English.”

“I’m sorry, yes this is Isabella. Who is this?”

“My name is Liam. I was on your flight from Naples to Glasgow yesterday and you handed me a piece of paper with your name and phone number on it as I was leaving the plane.”

“Ohhh…Liam! I’m so happy you called,” Isabella shouted into the phone. “I was nervous being so forward handing you my number like that. I looked at my phone several times yesterday hoping to see a call.”

“I’m glad you pushed through your nervousness. I had a bit of a problem yesterday. As soon as I got off the plane I passed out and ended up spending the whole day and last night at the hospital. I was discharged this morning and just got settled into my penthouse at Blythswood and thought I’d give you a call.”

“Oh no amore! Are you okay?”

That word, amore, didn’t stir the same feelings deep inside Liam the way it had so many other times he had heard it, as recently as a week ago at Le Sirenuse. This time it felt oddly comfortable, even calming and reassuring, sincere.

“I’m okay now. The doctor wants me to have some tests when I get back to the states, but I don’t think it’s anything too serious. Are you still in Glasgow?”

“No, I’m in Brussels between flights at the moment.”

“Will you be coming back to Glasgow soon?”

“It’s not likely. I don’t normally fly that route. I got called in at the last minute to help out after another flight attendant was sick. And now that I’m on the phone with such a handsome gentleman from my flight I’m very happy I went off course for a day!”

Isabella spoke nearly perfect English but with a very noticeable Spanish accent that Liam felt extremely alluring. Her voice, feminine, but with a tone of assertiveness, and confidence.

“Your number is from Spain. Is that where you’re from?”

“Si, I live in the Haza Cuevas neighborhood in Malaga. Do you know where that is?”

“Haven’t a clue.”

“Ah amore, I must show you! It’s right on the coast of the Mediterranean, about two hours away from Gibraltar. You’d love my city Liam!”

“Did you grow up there?”

“No, my father is from Mexico. My mother is from  a small town just outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico. I grew up in Puerto Rico until I was thirteen. My father left us. Madre met a man from Spain and when I was almost fifteen she married him and we moved to Malaga.”

“You have a beautiful voice.”

“Gracias mi amore. That means, ‘Thank you my love.”

“Yeah I kinda picked up on that. I understand bits and pieces. So what made you decide to hand me your name and phone number? Why me?”

“I’m glad we’re so far away from each other right now or you’d see my face is red. I noticed you when you boarded the plane. You were very serious, you even seemed a little frustrated, but I could see a kindness in your eyes. I was drawn to you. You’re very handsome. You smelled good when you passed me at the cabin door. Every time I passed you in the cabin you were looking out the window with this distant look in your eyes. It was a look of…how do I explain…longing. Like, there was something stirring deep inside of you and you were gazing out the window hoping to find it.  When cabin service began and I came by and asked if you wanted a drink, you were in a very deep conversation with the man next to you, but you paused, looked me in the eyes, asked for a glass of wine. As soon as I looked into your eyes something leaped inside of me and I thought to myself, ‘There he is.’ So after we landed and were taxiing to the gate, I just had a feeling that I couldn’t let you go without at least giving you a way to contact me if you wanted to.”

Liam sat quietly, long enough for Isabella to ask if he was still on the phone thinking the call may have dropped. No woman had over spoken to him that way before. He’d slept with dozens of women throughout his adult life. Sweet things were said, but always in the context of a shallow, usually drunken, sexual encounter, or by women who were drawn to him not for who he was, but for what he had and what he could do for them before they disappeared never to be heard from again. Isabella’s words did not find a soft landing spot in Liam’s heart, though he felt a warmth like none he’d felt before.

“Yes, I’m still here. That was nice of you to say. Thank you for the compliment. So where do you fly to next?”

“I’ll be flying to Milan later today, then to Belarus, and then to Spain and I’ll be home for a couple of days.”

“I have to meet a couple of friends for brunch in a few minutes. Can we talk again?”

“Of course Liam! I’m really happy you called and I’d like to spend a lot of time getting to know each other. You have my number. Call or text me any time and if I’m in the air when you do, know that I’ll call or text you back just as soon as I land.”

“Good talking to you  Isabella.”

“You too amore. Ciao.”

Stag and Christie were seated at a table near the window overlooking the gardens when Liam came out of the elevator. His mind still lost in the conversation with Isabella, he didn’t acknowledge Christie’s greeting, quietly pulled the chair away from the table, seated himself, and looked out the window deep in thought.

“Mr. Liam, how are you feeling,” asked Stag?

“I don’t know. It’s been kind of a fucked up couple days. Glasgow, the whole passing out and hospital shit. I missed an opportunity to meet this amazing attendant from our flight who gave me her number. She’s in Brussels now and doesn’t even normally fly into Glasgow so she won’t be back. I have no idea what do here. Why am I here Stag?”

Stag turned to Christie as if to give him the floor.

“Mr. Liam, you’re a very wealthy man and you live a very large life don’t you?”

“You could say that.”

“You should take today to rest. Tomorrow I’d like to take you someplace and introduce you to the kings. Just stop saying ‘fuck.'”