Pieces of Me (A Pieces Novel)

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Chapter 29 - Aldrich

The days go by as Danica’s time here comes to an end. And I don’t want them to end. I don’t want Danica to leave. I want her to stay with me. I want to wake up to her smile every morning and come home to it every evening. It might be too soon to be thinking of such things. We’ve only been a actual couple for a week. But I know what I’m feeling towards her is real. Why else would I want such things?

I’ve never wanted these things with Karolina, before her character turned for the worse, she really was a great girl. The only other girl I was with was when I was in university. But it didn’t last nearly as long as it did with Karolina. With Danica, everything feels right. As though everything has fallen perfectly into place. With Danica . . . Life feels complete.

Danica is napping beside me. Her hair is slightly damp from the shower she took after we came back from the hotel. And she is wearing my clothes again. I cannot blame her for being tired. Instead of spending an hour signing books, she was there for three hours and then came back after we had a short lunch. I had to announce to the other people that were waiting to come another time, because Dania had begun to show signs of fatigue. She had tried to protest, but I gathered up her things and pulled her to the exit. In the car, Danica admitted to feeling tired.

And now, as she rests, all I can do is watch her. She’s so beautiful, even when she sleeps. Even without makeup. Even wearing my clothes. And the sight of her wearing my clothes . . . She should wear them all the time. I trail my fingers across the soft skin of her forearm. This woman. My phone rings and I grumble as I push out of bed to answer it. When I see the unknown number on the screen and crease my forehead.

“Hello?” I say softly, not wanting to wake Danica. “Who’s calling?”

“Dante.” I recognize the voice immediately and scowl.

“I have nothing further to say to you,” I say, preparing to hang up.

“Don’t hang up,” Karolina says, and her desperation is flying to the roof. “Please . . . just tell me why her and not me?”

“Are you serious right now?” I ask, marching towards the bathroom and closing the door behind me. “I told you everything about you that made me back away in the manner I did. Or do you not remember that I yelled at you in my dad’s office? Either way, I do not need to explain myself further. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a lovely woman waiting for me in my bedroom.”

I end the call and leave the bathroom without a second thought to what Karolina might have interpreted from my statement. And I don’t care. I turn off my phone and shove it into my drawer of undergarments. When I glance at Danica asleep in my bed, my frustration subsides. Karolina just cannot take a hint. I walk to the side of the bed and carefully lie down behind Danica. I pull her to my chest and kiss her hair.

Volim te, draga Danice,” I whisper, knowing she won’t quite hear or understand my confession. With that, I close my eyes to enjoy being near her. She leaves in three days.

“I love this,” Danica says as we sit poolside at the hotel. “So relaxing after months of nothing but sitting and traveling. The view is not too bad either.”

“What view?” I ask, sitting up and moving my sunglasses to look at her. I chuckle when her eyes roam my bare chest, her cheeks flushed. Her bathing is one piece, a lovely shade of blue that complements her complexion. She wears a pair of swimming shorts as well. I rise from my chaise and reach for her hand. No one else is here at the moment.

“Swim with me,” I tell her, motioning to the pool behind me. “I promise not to let you drown.”

“Very funny,” Danica deadpans, taking my hand as I hold it out to her. “I tell you my one fear and you hold it over my head.”

I smile give her a quick hug. Danica has a fear of drowning. She knows the basics of swimming, but doesn’t like the feeling of holding her breath or submerging herself below water. I tease in jest, but I am not going to take it too far. I don’t want to hurt Danica’s feelings. I mean to make good and pleasant memories with her.

“C’mon, moj slatki,” I say, pulling her towards the shallow part of the pool, where the stairs are. Danica squeaks as her feet enter the cool water. I chuckle and release her hand before diving under the water completely. When I come back up out of the water, I see Danica standing on the lowest step in the water. Her expression is wary as she hugs herself and kicks at the water softly.

“I won’t let you go,” I say, treading towards her. “I’ll hold you close and protect you from sharks.”

Danica smiles at this and wades towards my waiting arms. I pull her to my chest, letting her sit on my thighs. I wrap my arms around her waist and rest my chin on her shoulder. I carry her towards a deeper part of the pool, but not my deeper. I can feel Danica’s body grow tense, but she relaxes when I stop and lean against the wall of the pool.

“Aldrich?” Danica says softly, her tone taking a sudden sadness. “I don’t know how I am going to leave you.”

“Danica,” I whisper, kissing behind her ear. “It’s going to be okay, I promise. We’ll figure it out . . . We managed to make time to talk to each other in these last couple of months, didn’t we?”

“That’s different,” she whispers back turning slightly to look me in the eye. “We were just friends then. Now we’re . . . We’re together; we’re a couple now and . . . I didn’t expect this to happen when I started the book tour. And now that it has . . . I want nothing more than to make it work, but I don’t know how I will handle the long distance. We are, literally, on opposite sides of the world.”

Moj slatki,” I tilt my head to the side when I see the tears in Danica’s brown eyes. I bring up my hand, cupping her cheek as my thumb wipes away the one tear that escapes.

“Don’t cry,” I say as I press my mouth to hers gently, briefly. “Breaks my heart.”

Danica squeezes her eyes shut, shaking her head as she pushes away and starts walking to get out of the pool. I stand quickly to follow her. Danica wipes at her cheeks and grabs her towel from the chaise.

“Danica,” I say, wrapping my arms around her shoulders, from behind, after she has wrapped the towel around herself. “I promise you that we are going to work it out. Every moment I have with you makes me want nothing else. I’ve never wanted to keep something this much since I was a young boy . . . And you know what else, moj slatki?”

“What?” Danica whispers, her voice cracking as she sniffs.

Ja sam zaljubljen u tebe, Danica Kensington.”

Danica twists around to face me. I frown at her sadness, drawing her to my chest as I kiss her forehead. She doesn’t know what I’ve said, but I’m not worried about her not saying it back just yet. I need to be straight forward with her so she can do that. And I plan to tell her what I feel. Tonight, over dinner.

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