Chapter 30 - Danica
I’m so frustrated. I’ve just come out of the shower and I’m rummaging through all of my clothes to find something to wear for dinner. Aldrich has seen all of my clothes by now. Claire was nice enough to wash everything for me, since I will want to have clean clothes on the trip home. Aldrich is in the house, cooking. Another thing I did not know about him. When he is in the mood, he cooks. But because his father is always eating at the hotel restaurant, he doesn’t cook as often as he had when he was in university.
“Um, Danica?” I turn, clutching the towel around my body to keep it from slipping. Laila is standing at the door, partially open.
“I don’t mean to barge in,” she says, looking over her shoulder before stepping completely in the room and closing the door. “But I wanted to say . . . I didn’t make the connection that that’s who you were, and I am so sorry. Not only that . . . but Aching Heart tore me apart. Adam . . . how did you manage to put so much sorrow into his character?”
I smile, “I had a lot of help from my buddy, Danny,” I explain, sitting on the edge of the bed. “Everything Adam feels and goes through, that was Danny for a while. Adam leans more towards being like my brother, Charlie, but his experiences are from Danny. He wrote everything down for me when I got the idea for the book. He was a senior in high school when it happened though. That was some years ago.”
Laila smiles sadly. “I can’t get that ending out of my head. I stayed up so late to finish it last night and . . . I cried about halfway through, couldn’t stop . . . That’s how you met Aldrich?”
“Yes,” I nod, shaking my damp hair out with my hand, wincing.
“What are you going to do when you leave here?”
I sigh and shake my head. “He keeps saying we’ll work it out. I believe him, I just . . . I don’t know if I can handle it. The distance was easy before because we were only friends.”
Laila nods sympathetically. She then takes notice of all my clothes and starts to smile.
“You should wear the blue dress,” she says, pointing to it. “Dante loved it on you.”
I glance at the dress I wore to the dinner party last week, and smile. I nod and grab the dress, slinging it over my shoulder as I strut to the bathroom. Laila laughs before walking to the door.
“Why can’t I look?” I ask, exasperated.
“I told you, moj slatki,” Aldrich chuckles as he ties the blindfold over my eyes. “It’s a surprise. I promise you will like it.”
I feign a whimper, which only makes him laugh more. I grumble and haw a bit. Theatrics seem to amuse Aldrich tonight. His soft chuckles and warm breath is suddenly next to my ear, sending shivers down my spine. I feel his hand take mine, and I follow him blindly for what seems like several minutes.
“No peeking,” he whispers, kissing the soft skin behind my ear and I feel the blindfold coming off. “One moment, moj slatki.”
I smile, keeping my eyes closed. I feel Aldrich’s hand take mine again, leading me forward a few feet.
“Open your eyes, my sweet,” he whispers, his voice in my ear once more.
I open my eyes and gasp, “Whoa.”
I look at the garden around me and am awestruck. Nothing but roses of red, pink and white. Rose petals cover the pebble path, which leads to a beautiful table with candles. Aldrich gently pushes me forward to the table. He pulls out the chair and motions for me to sit. My heart is hammering in my chest. I’ve never had a guy go through such trouble for me like this. A separate table holds two covered plates.
“I tried to make something that would be familiar to you,” Aldrich explains as he sets one of the plates in front of me and removes the cover. “But it’s better quality.”
I stare at my plate and grin. “Is that what I think it is?” I ask.
“Perhaps,” he replies, smiling.
“Perhaps . . . Meaning it is.”
I giggle and start at the pasta and chicken parmesan in front of me. Gram made this for me a few times growing up. I told Aldrich about it one time. He remembered. Aldrich looks really nice tonight. He’s wearing a pair of dark jeans, a plain white V-neck under a black jacket. I’m swooning.
“Tell me what you think,” Aldrich says as he takes his place across the table.
“Okay,” I shake out my napkin and lay it in my lap. I purse my lips as I ready my knife and fork. I turn my attention to the chicken and carefully cut a piece. I stab a few pieces of pasta and bring it to my mouth. I chew for a moment, eyeing Aldrich, who is watching me intently with a huge grin.
“That’s delicious,” I say after torturing him for a long five minutes. “Reminds me of my Gram.”
“Awesome,” Aldrich says as he starts to dig into his own food. “I tried to put in the proper amount of love that your grandmother would have put.”
“How’d you know that was my gram’s secret ingredient?” I ask slowly, my mind lingering on the word ‘love’.
“Because all the best foods have love and care in them,” he replies, looking up to meet my gaze. “Because loving you is something I felt would show through cooking your dinner tonight.”
My vision becomes a glaze as I look down at my plate. My cheeks grow warm and my heart is beating rapidly. I look back up to Aldrich and see that he is looking at me even more intently than before. Say it, Danica.
“I love you too,” I whisper, but I know he hears me.
Aldrich pushes away from the table, slapping his napkin next to his plate before he comes around to where I am. I have little time to react before he crushes his lips to mine. His hands are in my hair and my eyes are closed.
“Ja sam zaljubljen u tebe, Danica Kensington,” Aldrich mumbles, and I recognize the phrase from the pool earlier. “Volim te.”
He pulls away and I open my eyes. His blues are dancing and the corner of his lip is quirking upwards into my favorite smile. I touch his cheek, his stubble scruffing against my palm.
“You were telling me that at the pool,” I whisper, not wanting to break the moment.
“The difference being I said ‘I am in love with you’,” he whispers back, kneeling next to my chair. “And then just now I said it again, adding ‘I love you’. Because I do love you. I’ve never been so certain in my life.”
The assurance in his voice makes me want to forget dinner and just have him hold me until daybreak. Which he will, later when he tells me to go to sleep. Aldrich pecks my lips again before returning to his seat. He loves me. I love him. We’re going to work it out. It will work out.