He saw the waiter studying him and knew what he was thinking straight away. Up until a few months ago he would have been right, but the attractive young woman sitting next to him was his daughter this time, not his latest conquest. Since coming out of the doctor's office Alessandro had wanted to spend as much time with his daughter as he could. The doctor had told him not to worry. He just needed to make some life style changes. Exercise a bit more,give up smoking and eat more healthily.He was frightened though. He had never thought about his health befgore, he had sailed through life without so much as a cold. Now to be told that he had high blood pressure and should slow down was a bit of a shock. He had started to reflect on his life, on what really mattered to him. He had pleaded with his ex-wife to help him mend the rift that had appeared when he walked out them both when Anna was at Elementari. Francesca had a new husband now and two small boys. She had persuaded their daughter to give him a chance. Anna was studying Archeology at the University in Rome and so he had planned a route going from Rome round to Arles, Orange, Nimes and the Pont du Gard. They had stopped at the small town of Frèjus for the night and had been busy learning about its Roman history. Where they were sitting in the market place had once been by the sea, a Roman port. Last night they had been to a show at the Arena . They had both laughed so much at the Toro Piscine and wandered what the Ancient Romans would have thought of that. He had never enjoyed female company so much. They had so much to say to each other, he found everything she said fascinating. They were interested in all the same things.She hung on his every word as he told her all he knew about the Romans. Today they had seen the columns of the forum and been round a museum with a floor map showing the Roman port. Everything was protected and displayed with loving care. Not for the first time he reflected on all the treasures in Italy. Something like eighty per cent of the World's Art treasures were supposedly to be found there. No wonder Italians sometimes seemed complacent. They were surrounded every day by all this beauty. they couldn't dig a hole without finding some hidden treasure .Just to build a car park near his apartment had taken years, with all the bureaucracy involved when the workmen had found some old Roman toilet thing. The pizzeria round the corner from his office had a Roman bath carefully restored and displayed under a glass floor. . It was probably just as well that the French had the Mona Lisa. The queues to get in the Uffizi or the Gallerie Vaticane were long enough as it was.
He had always been a womanizer, he couldn't help it. One woman alone had never been enough. He had always been drawn to a short skirt or a cleavage. He loved being close to a woman's softness and scent, but in the morning he liked to wake up alone. The only woman he had really loved was Francesca, but even she had worn him down. All that nagging and the rules. No smoking in the house, no outdoor shoes in the bedrooms. All the questions when he was late. It had seemed better just to walk away. He hadn't thought that she would punish him by keeping Anna away from him.He hadn't seen that coming at all.
Anna was telling him about her Tesi di Laurea. She had thought of a title and just needed her Professor's approval .It was going to be about their trip. He looked at her lovely face and' a strange sensation came over him. He thought he was going to cry. She put her hand on his arm. ?It's all going to be alright, papa,'she looked into his eyes.'You're going to be fine'.
He put his arm round her and drew her close breathing in the perfume of her freshly washed hair.How many times he had done that when she was a little girl.he thought of all the bath times and bedtime stories he had missed. He was being given a second chance.
They stood up and he put a couple of notes on the table for the tough-looking waiter. After all, you can't take it with you.