Newly divorced Valentina had recently moved to Rome with her daughter from New York. She was very well-versed in the city, having visited there many times, even in her childhood. As an Italian-American, she had always felt very connected with her ancestry and particularly the city of Rome. That’s why she had found it to be the perfect place for a new beginning.

Valentina loved the freshness of the food in the city. She specifically liked to buy fresh bread in the morning. She found a bakery that she went to daily and was very pleased with, but this morning, she would find more than bread to peak her interest.

After she paid for the bread, her open wallet fell out of her bag and her money fell all over the floor. As she bent over to pick up the money, she saw another pair of hands helping her. When she looked up, she was greeted with a handsome, warm smile and kind, crystal blue eyes. The most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.

She had never seen him there before because he was usually in the back baking the bread. His name was Aureliano, and he was so handsome. He was just perfect in her eyes: sun-kissed skin, a full head of soft, brown hair, chiseled bone structure, nicely shaped lips, a strong physique like a gladiator, and of course, those amazing eyes. More important than his physical appearance was the intense connection they instantaneously shared. This was felt as soon as they made eye contact with each other and the way his eyes felt on her deep, dark eyes.

Aureliano asked her if she comes to the bakery regularly and when she would return. She let him know that she tries to go daily, and he then told her he is there every morning.

Valentina returned to the bakery as usual for the next few days, with one detail being different. When she arrived, Aureliano would come out of the kitchen, smile at her, and then talk to her for a while. It was evident to everyone that they liked each other, especially since Aureliano was usually reserved and kept to himself.

After a few days of doing this, Aureliano approached Valentina one morning and told her he had something for her. He had baked her a small batch of soft amaretti cookies. They were her favorite cookies. Valentina was very impressed and said to him, “Thank you very much. How did you know these were my favorite?” He just smiled and asked her if she would like to go out with him sometime, but he felt the need to mention something else. He told her that he had a fiancée, but they could meet as friends. Normally, she would not want to be involved with a man in this situation. But her connection with him was so strong, and she found him to be so irresistible, that it was impossible for her to refuse him.

Well, their encounter was much more romantic than friendly, to say the least. After that night, they began a relationship and eventually fell madly in love with each other.

It was as if they were soul mates. He told her that when he first saw her face, his heart started beating intensely. She told him all her deepest secrets as did he, so there were no secrets between them. They were enamored with each other to the point that they could finish each other’s sentences. Each kiss was an out-of-body experience. When they made love, Valentina felt as if she was literally elevated. Their eyes would stay interlocked the whole time, the perfect blend of light into dark as if they were both in a trance. It was the most beautiful and passionate experience either one of them had ever had. They truly felt that they were inside of each other, so close that they can touch each other’s souls and hear each other’s thoughts. Valentina was also very intrigued about how Aureliano knew all these random things about her she never told him. This included things about her childhood, things that would be impossible for him to know. He also used to say it felt as if they had known each other forever, and she felt the same way. The most intriguing thing was yet to come.

One day Valentina had a cut on her lip, and Aureliano told her he wanted to show her something. He kissed her lip, and the cut immediately healed! Valentina was astonished and asked how he did it. He told her that he had a special power as a healer, and she was the only one who knew. He then proceeded to put his hand over a small scar she had for years on her thigh. He rubbed it, and it was gone. Valentina was speechless. Then he told her this is how he could confirm his love for her. His healing power only works on people he truly loves. Valentina thought this was amazing, but then he explained that there was a negative side to the power as well. If someone was emotionally hurt by him, meaning he no longer loves someone he once loved, but that person is still in love with him, the power is reversed. What this meant is, the person he hurt would begin to deteriorate.

All of this was perplexing to Valentina, but she did notice a rejuvenation in herself in general after being with him. She looked about five years younger, but she just thought it was due to happiness.

He then went on to tell Valentina that due to this reason, he needed to end their relationship. His fiancée was becoming ill and physically deteriorating because he no longer loved her. He feared that if he continued his relationship with Valentina or left his fiancée, she might die. He did not want to see any harm happen to her, physically or emotionally.

As sad as she felt, Valentina understood and accepted the end of their romance. Aureliano could not bear the thought of never seeing her again, so they decided to remain friends. This time that was what they were –just friends. His fiancée had regained her appearance and health again once he ended his relationship with Valentina. Aureliano had proceeded to marry his fiancée and then built a family with her.

Years passed and seasons changed, but Valentina and Aureliano remained in each other’s lives. There was still love for one another in their eyes, which people still noticed, but they did not act on it. Even though they had a friendship, Aureliano never spoke about his wife to her, and Valentina never spoke about her boyfriends to him.

Then one evening while Aureliano was having another silent dinner with his wife after his children had finished eating and asked to be excused, he decided to tell his wife about his healing power. When he tried to show her, it did not work. She laughed at him and said he was nuts. She then proceeded to go up to their room, close the door, and talk on the phone, like she usually did after dinner each evening. Aureliano would usually be downstairs cleaning the dishes while this was happening. This evening, he had to run an errand and needed his car keys in their room.

Before he opened the door, he heard part of his wife’s conversation on the phone and continued to listen. It sounded like a conversation with a lover. She sounded happy saying sexual and loving things to her lover and giggling. Then she said, “I love you.”

Aureliano was overjoyed! This meant he could leave her, and nothing bad would happen to her because she was no longer in love with him. He did not confront her about it because he didn’t care. Instead, he hopped on his moped and drove to Valentina’s flat in Central Rome.

He parked outside of her flat and threw a stone at her window. She came by the window, and he shouted for her to come downstairs. When she got down there, he immediately grabbed her face and passionately kissed her. She kissed him back. When they regained their breath, he told her what happened.

They went for a ride on his moped and drove to one of their favorite spots from years ago, The Roman Forum at night. They loved the way it was lit up. When they got there, he passionately kissed her again and told her, “I never want to stop kissing you like this no matter how old we are. I love you, and I want to continue to love you. You waited for me, Valentina, like I knew you would. You could have married others, but you didn’t. Maybe aside from being a healer, I’m also a clairvoyant?!” They both laughed and kissed as they celebrated their eternal love in the eternal city.