Chapter 8 - Unmasking Vulnerability
“One can be the master of what one does, but never of what one feels.” ~ Gustave Flaubert.
After an hour of waiting my father finally came back up to let us know that he would be gone for the rest of day. Giving up both kisses on the cheeks, he left with urgency along with the rest of the men who were here earlier.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come with me?” My mother softly asks with a frown. “I don’t want you to be alone, Cherry.” Usually I would tag along but considering that my father bulked up our security before leaving, I didn’t really feel like running errands with eight men dragging behind my mother and I.
I hate feeling closed in.
“I’ll be fine here. Besides, dad said he put more security around the house so I won’t technically be alone.” I smile widely at her, trying to reassure her.
“Okay, but if you need anything you’re uncle is downstairs alright.” she’s already beginning to fret, hugging me tightly to her body like she always does when she’s worries.
I hope the hug I’m reciprocating clams her wild nerves.
“I know,” I say as I let her go and she flashes me a small smile before turning to walk down the stairs towards the group of men who appear to be on guard already.
They take their job seriously.
Heading back to my room I use this opportunity to freshen myself up and get ready for the day at a leisurely pace. It’s not often that I have time alone, so taking advantage of this day despite how the morning started off is a refreshing change.
After finishing a warm long shower and putting on my undergarments then a white lace halter dress, I pick up my toothbrush and thoroughly brush my teeth. When I’m done with that I grab my hairbrush and open up my bathroom door, walking out as I carefully brush out my hair starting from the ends to the top.
“I see you’ve changed everything but those shoes.” My body flinches and I let out a high pitch scream that’s immediately muffled by cold hands. My heart is pumping fast, legs shaking until my body pulls into someone’s chest and a hand goes around my jaw to push my head back.
“Shhh.” Alessio lowers his face to mines, cheek sliding against cheek as he brings his lips to my ear. “If I let you go, will you scream?” whispering in my ear.
Now that I see it’s him I try to gather my wits. When I shake my head he removes both hands and I exhale a deep breath. “How do you keep getting in?” I wrap my arms around myself, backing away to give us room.
Alessio shrugs. He doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal.
His eyes wander over my room.
Though he’s been in my room once before, I think he’s taking this time to look over it more carefully, fully inspecting everything as if he’s seeing it for the first time all over again.
I’m not one to get irritable, but now I feel like I’m being taken advantage of. “I-I don’t think this is right,” boldly saying with a tremble. “This is my room, my parents will be upset if they knew y-you were here.” It irks me that he hides in the shadows and comes out when he pleases.
“I can’t help it,” he’s touching the perfume bottles on my vanity now, examining, “you keep provoking my curiosity, ciliegia.”
Alessio’s hands goes back into his pockets and he turns around to look at me. “That and I find it interesting how you fluster like an idiot whenever we run into each other.”
My face falls at his insult and he his eyes slightly widen.
“Shit,” he murmurs underneath the hands that are dragging down his face. “I mean — fuck that’s not... I just thought...”, his jaw ticks, as if he’s vexing himself.
His own words are causing his annoyance.
I understand that I can be a little behind on certain things, but it’s because I’m on a leash with independence, and I don’t think it makes me an idiot... but in this moment I feel quite dumb.
I’m not able to fight the pout that pushes itself onto my lips.
My head lowers but I keep my vision on him still. He looks uncomfortable, shifting his eyes around, undecisive of where he wants them to be.
“I’m...”, he sighs and groans out a few words in his native language, “that’s not — listen I’m not good at this.” He points his finger between us two. “I don’t do this kind of shit, and I don’t know what to do now... so I’m sorry okay, sono l'idiota.” Alessio genuinely looks like he’s in physical discomfort. He rolls his shoulders back a few times, clearing his throat and trying to meet my eyes. “Are we okay now?” He’s asking with sincerity that to anyone else wouldn’t sound sincere, but because I’ve grown up with people who aren’t as emotional, I know that his tone is one that’s trying to be gentle and truly apologetic but doesn’t know how to express it like everyone else does.
It’s how my father use to be with my mother until she showed him differently. He was once awkward with his emotions but his heart was always in the right place with her. I suppose Alessio was raised the same way.
“I forgive you, as long as you don’t say that anymore please.” My voice comes out small and I watch his gaze move to my shoes.
What is it with him and my shoes?
“Do you like my slippers?” Asking as I flicker my eyes to the embroidered bunnies then back to him.
Maybe he wants a pair?
Giving me a half smile that’s one of his own, he says, “I do, they suit you.” Those words make me happy.
I think I will get him a pair now.
“Why are you in my room?” I think this is the longest I’ve ever kept my eyes on him without feeling the need to turn away.
Alessio’s walks to the windowsill bench and sits down. It’s a little odd to see such a large man sitting in such a small space. “Come sit down,” he says while patting the cushion next to him.
When I do, it’s almost a tight fit, but we do fit. In a way that a puzzle piece would. Our thighs and shoulders touch and that tingling sensation comes back.
My mind goes fuzzy and cheeks are getting warmer by the second.
“I want to get to know you better. I want to know the person I’ll be spending the rest of my life with.” I inhale sharply, the way Alessio is looking at me right now brings out... weird feelings. “For obvious reasons... like our family’s business and stuff.” He finishes, clearing his throat and looking away.
A bashful smile tugs at my lips... he wants to get to know me.
My fingertips start to pick at the hem of my dress. “I would like that.”
Letting out a deep breath, he nods then runs a hand through his hair. “Good, that’s good.” Alessio stands and fixes his shirt, rolling up the sleeves of his white button up. “Do you want to take a walk?”
“I don’t think I’m allowed out without supervision, or without my parents permission.”
“I’ll let them know,” he’s quick to answer, “and you don’t have to worry about any type of supervision when I’m with you.” Alessio is deathly serious about the protection part.
And I believe him wholeheartedly.
“But you’ll have to change those shoes first,” he smiles a little wider.