Pieces of Me (A Pieces Novel)

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Chapter 25 - Aldrich

Danica is silent as we drive to the hotel, but she is smiling. She hasn’t had any more dizzy spells. I suppose that was from moving too quickly this morning. Something that I keep thinking about is how I could not stop staring at her lips when she tasted the pomegranate juice. I wanted to kiss her right there. But I felt it might be too soon. So I thought it might be better to just hold her hand. Right then, Danica took my hand, taking the thought right out of my mind.

We are nearly at the hotel when I notice Danica slumping in the seat.

“Hey,” I say, reaching over to touch her cheek. “What’s wrong, moj slatki?”

Danica sighs, “Are you sure it’s alright for me to tag along while you work?” she asks with a small voice. “I don’t want to get in the way . . . or distract you from your duties.”

I smile; Danica, always careful not to intrude.

Moj slatki,” I reach for her hand, closing my fingers around hers. “I am the son of the hotel owner. I am allowed to do as I please, yet I don’t because I am hardworking. Bringing you with me is not going to be a burden. You won’t get in the way . . . as for the distraction, I don’t mind. You’d be a good distraction. Alright?”

I stop at a red light, which gives me the chance to look at Danica. Her cheeks are flushed and she is gazing at our tangled fingers. I smile and turn my gaze back to the road, just in time for the green light. Pressing my foot on the accelerator, I bring Danica’s hand into my lap, giving it a gentle squeeze.

“Okay,” Danica whispers a short while later, when we pull in front of the hotel. Jordan is working as valet today. Great. I shake my head as I take off my seatbelt and release Danica’s hand as I get out of the car. Jordan opens Danica’s door before I can get to it. When he sees her, his gaze turns to me with a smirk.

“I knew you had it in you,” Jordan says, chuckling as he shoves my shoulder. “Introduce me to you lady.”

“You’ll have to speak in English,” I warn him, knowing very well that he hates speaking the language.

I slide my arm around Danica’s shoulders, protectively, bringing her to my side. She offers Jordan a small smile. I can tell that she is trying to make sense of what we might have been saying. Instead of introducing Danica and Jordan, I pull her towards the entrance. If I were on the clock, as a valet, perhaps I might’ve remained talking with Jordan a bit longer. However, Jordan tends to take things too far, and I don’t want him to disrespect Danica in any way.

As we pass the concierge desk, Alana looks up and smiles.

“Good morning, Dante,” she says, coming over to greet us. “I see you have brought with you a visitor. Who might you be?”

I suppose Alana is trying to make Danica feel welcome. She knows who she is already.

“Danica, this is Alana,” I say, giving her shoulder a light squeeze. “Alana, meet Danica. She’s here for the book signing . . .”

I don’t know what to call her. My friend? Danica is my friend, but lately, with her staying in my room, it feels like more. Danica puts out her hand to shake Alana’s.

“It’s nice to meet you,” she says softly.

“Likewise, sweetheart,” Alana replies with a gentle smile. “You’re safe in this one’s hands. Don’t go fretting or worrying about anything. Dante is a man of his word . . . and he protects the ones he cares about.”

As Alana says this, Danica’s cheeks flush, but her smile brightens. With that, I smile at Alana and lead Danica towards the office behind her desk. I close the door and motion for Danica to sit in the chair behind the desk. She hesitates.

“You can sit there,” I say, nodding. “This is where I would come to hide from . . . Karolina.”

“That’s the girl who . . . got you arrested, right?” Danica asks, slowly walking to the chair.

“Yes,” I reply; I furrow my brows when I see Danica cover her forehead with her hand. “Moj slatki, what’s wrong?”

“It’s just a small headache,” she grimaces, which tells me it is not just a small headache.

Moj slatki, that does not appear to be a small headache. Why didn’t you say anything before?”

I kneel beside her, resting my hand on her shoulder. Danica sighs, closing her eyes. I shake my head. I shouldn’t have came to work today. I move Danica’s hair away from her face and kiss her cheek, hugging her shoulders. Then a thought hits me.

“I have an idea,” I say, straightening and pulling Danica to her feet. “You’ll like it and it will be peaceful.”

Danica gives me a quizzical look, but nods. I place her hand in the crook of my arm. In attempts to make Danica smile, I stick my head out the door of the office, as if to make sure no one is looking. Her smile is small, but it’s better than the frown she had a moment ago. I am taking her to the garden on the roof.

I lead the way through the lobby to the elevator. There are four elevators, but only one of them takes you to the roof. But in order to get to that elevator, we must go to the floor with Blossom Suite. The Blossom Suite remains reserved for royalty or highly esteemed political parties.

When the elevator doors open, I pull Danica inside and press the button for the Blossom Suite, inserting my universal room key. Only people with a key can get to this suite. Otherwise, the elevator won’t work.

“Am I allowed up here?” Danica asks when we enter the suite. “I’m not even a guest in the hotel anymore.”

“You’re fine,” I reply, pulling her through the suite to the balcony. “Come on, you’ll love this.”

I move my hand to take hers as we ascend the staircase outside the large glass doors, which separate the suite from the balcony. I am sure Danica does not have enough time to really observe the surroundings. But she will have the chance when we return. As we reach the top of the stairs, the view of the city begins to come into sight. Danica gasps and I turn to see her reaction. Her brown eyes are wide with admiration and her mouth is curving into a smile.

“It’s so beautiful,” she whispers, letting her eyes wander to me, but only briefly before she looks back at the view.

“I’ve seen things more beautiful,” I whisper back, my gaze never leaving her face. This makes Danica meet my gaze and her mouth opens slightly in a soft gasp. I smile as her cheeks begin to turn pink.

“Can I tell you a secret?” I continue to whisper, moving to stand in front of her.

“Okay,” Danica replies, sounding out of breath all of a sudden.

“I’ve wanted nothing more than to be near you from the moment our emails started to get off topic. I waited for them with anticipation and each time you sent me a picture, I would get that . . . warm feeling in my chest. And every time I accidently said something without thinking, it didn’t matter. And . . . though I told you otherwise, I wanted nothing more than to see you. I don’t know why I resisted so hard, but not anymore.”

Danica stares at me, speechless. Her cheeks were pink before, but now her entire, lovely, face is flushed. I smile, waiting to see if she will say something. I need her to say something, or else she won’t have the chance. If I kiss her, I won’t be able to stop.

Moj slatki,” I whisper, taking Danica’s hands into my own as I pull her closer to me. And I can’t hold back any longer.

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