Shasta and Taïga usually have lunch together, just the two of them. ‘So, are you going to meet with your… friends today?’ Shasta frowns at Taïga.
‘Yes. I’ll meet them at the fountain. Why? Don’t you like them?’
‘Nonono… it’s just that Goopy character. His parents are… well, never mind. Go ahead. Have fun…’
Taïga takes the bus to town.
On her way to the fountain she almost bumps into an old man. Who’s that? He looks … familiar? I know! It’s Valentine Monty, his picture is on the wall of the pizza place… But he’s been dead for at least 20 years! Her thoughts are interrupted by Goopy and Cipriana calling her name.
Her friends are waiting for her at the fountain. Goopy explains excitedly: ‘It’s actually a wishing-well.’
Taïga doesn’t believe him. ‘A wishing well? A real wishing well?’
Goopy nods. ‘Si! É vero! It’s true! Mi stai dando del bugiardo?’
‘What?’ Taïga doesn’t understand.
‘Are you calling me a liar?’
‘Of course not!’
‘Forza! Come on. I’ll show you!’
‘What am I supposed to do now?’
‘Just throw in a simoleon, and make a wish. Buona fortuna! Good luck!’
‘Eh… and close your eyes.’ Taïga does as she’s been told. Nothing happens. She opens her eyes again.
Goopy looks expectantly at her. ‘Well?’
‘Non importa… It doesn’t matter… You know, sometimes you have to wait a while for the wish to come true…‘
‘Sure… Let’s go to the park and play!’
There’s an old slide in the park. Taïga and Cipriana prefer watching Goopy do his thing– sliding down that rusty device would surely ruin their dresses…
The girls prefer the old swing that seems as antique as the columns… but at least the seat isn’t rusty! Goopy and Cipriana banter about whose turn it is after Taïga. ‘Tocca a me! It’s my turn!’
‘No! Tocca a me!’
‘OK! Tocca a te! It’s your turn!’
They watch Taïga swing higher and higher… Goopy stifles a yawn. ‘Mi annoio. I’m bored… Ho fame! I’m hungry!’
‘Si… Ho sete. I’m thirsty.’
‘Dove ti piacerebbe andare? Where would you like to go?’ They look at each other and burst out : ‘PIZZA del Monty! Andiamo, Taïga!
Taïga jumps of the swing and starts running. ‘Last man to the pizza place is a nerd!’
‘Che cosa? What?’
‘I’ll have a “Capricciosa”. What about you?’
‘I’ll have a “Quattro Stagi…” ‘ Taïga just stops and stares behind Goopy.
Taïga has never seen somebody like that. Just look at him tossing that pizza dough…
Love at first sight exists, Taïga just got hit by one of Amor’s arrows!
… and he can cook too! He’s actually the best pizza baker in Monte Vista! ‘Desideri?’
‘Granny! It’s great here! I think I want to stay forever! Do I really have to go to France to boarding school? I could go to school here… But the school here is good… Mom told me so… No, she didn’t exactly say I could go to school here. But she said it’s good… And I have nice friends, and the food is the best ever!… What?… Explain again… Yes… Yes… Cowplant? … At the museum?… I can’t hear you!… Hello? Hello?’ Darn it!
Taïga’s phone buzzes again almost immediately. Granny has sent a text, so this cowplant thing must be important. ‘… and it’s vital that you look it up closely so you can describe it. There is a test…’ Hmm… there’s a picture too…
Taïga studies the picture Granny’s mailed over…
Next afternoon, she goes to the museum – alone. This should be it… now let’s see if it’s “the real thing”…
Quickly Taïga checks to see if anybody’s watching her… Ten minutes later she leaves the museum, her friends are waiting to say goodbye in the park.
Cipriana is already there, waiting for the others. ‘Ciao!’ ‘Ciao!’
Cipriana looks at Goopy and Taïga. ‘È una giornata speciale per noi… so I think we should do something “speciale”!’
Goopy agrees. ‘Si! Sei veramente speciale, Taïga! You’re extra special!’
Taïga blushes. ‘Something special like what?’
Goopy scratches his hair. ‘Cipriana, hai in mente una qualcosa particolare? Do you have something special in mind?’
‘Non lo so… a pact or something…’
‘Si. Mi sembra una buona idea!’
They hold hands and decides they are like the three mosqueteers. ‘All for one – one for all!’
Cipriana hugs her and dries her tears. ‘Devo andare adesso. I have to go now.’
‘I’ll miss you, Cipriana.’
‘Si, anche io! Buon viaggio, Taïga! Per piacere mi chiami…’
‘Of course I’ll call you! Bye, Cipriana!’ Goopy is happy he’s finally alone with Taïga.
‘Cosa c’è? What’s wrong?’ Come è bella. How beautiful she is.
‘It’s just… I’m just sorry I have to leave…’
Goopy swallows. Va bene, here goes… ‘Ti penso sempre. I always think of you… Tu sei una stella…la mia stella. You are a star…my star.’
Taïga thinks Italian is the loveliest language on earth. ‘Oh Goopy, that was so… beautiful! I’ll miss you terribly…’
She pecks a kiss on his cheek. ‘Arrivederci!’ And then she runs off.
‘Mi manchi tanto. I miss you so much.’
Suddenly he snaps out of his inertia. ‘Taïga! Aspettami! Wait! Per piacere! Aspettami! Voglio vederti stasera! I want to see you tonight!’
But she’s already too far away to hear him.
‘Buon viaggio… ti penserò… I’ll think about you… ti amo…’ Goopy is devastated.
Taïga cycles home, blinded by tears…
The Butler has prepared Taïga’s favorite Italian food: Scampi fritti. Yummy!
She prepares a hot bath, taking some of her mother’s expensive bath salts…
… then she soaks in the hot water for a long time thinking about the holidays…
… how fun Goopy was to play with! Like when she taught him how to throw a Frisbee after they’ve been to the movies, waiting for their parents to pick them up.
And how patient he could be. Like when she invited Cipriana and Goopy over to meet her mom… ‘Non c’è male, Goopy. Not bad.’
‘Uhoh… Rowan will destroy it…’
Goopy smiles at Rowan. ‘Ciao, Rowan! Puoi aiutarmi? Can you help me?’
‘He’ll smash your castle to pieces…’
‘Non ti preoccupare. Don’t worry. I’ll just start over again…’ Actually he started over at least a dozen times, to the great joy of Rowan!
… and the day the Giordani’s horse escaped… Goopy was so brave!
The horse was quite terrifying… so huge…
Luckily Goopy was there!
‘Taïga! Over here! Sbrigati! Hurry up!’
‘Goopy! What shall we do?’…
They helped the neighbor catch the horse… and Alessandra even let Taïga come and ride it once…
… and best of all : the feeling when hesitantly Goopy took her hand. And she let him! He could be so sweet…
Taîga almost falls asleep in the bath… Tomorrow morning she flies out to Midnight Hollow. She’ll fly alone for the first time. She’s a little nervous, but she soon sleeps soundly.
I think the dishwasher’s broken… I saw the Butler repair it the other day so I’m sure I can do it too…
‘Meow… it’s Ellen… She wants you to help her.’ Egon is talking? Black cats can talk, but… ‘Hurry Taïga… he’s behind the door…’
‘Who? Who’s behind that door?’ OMG! I’m talking to Egon! About a… a… a ghost?’
‘Meow… He’s here now…’ The door creaks slowly open, and Egon backs out, right into the looming darkness. Ellen floats in the air, her lips are moving but Taïga can hardly hear her. ‘Bewaaaare…’ She can feel a dark force, whispering, cajoling, pulling at her… Against her will she starts to move in the direction of the door… Please! I don’t want to go out there! Help me! But no sound comes out of her mouth…
She awakes from the nightmare drenched in sweat, screaming with terror. After turning on the lights, she lies down again and falls asleep…
… I’m sure I heard her screaming… Hmm… must have been a bad dream.
After putting Taïga on the plane back to Midnight Hollow the following day, Leonardo and Shasta have a light supper… and lots of time left for dessert…
Part I – End of Chapter 38