Chapter 11 - A Kiss
I think I’m going to faint ...
.... or burst out in fits of laughter.
There’s a giddiness that swarms in the depths of my tummy from the way he’s holding my hand.
Though he’s held my hand before this instance feels different. The other times were out of some type of obligation to help guide me through a crowd, but now he’s holding my hand because he wants to.
Well at least I think he is, but I won’t let that thought sour my mood.
“I want this if you want this,” referring to my question about the arrangement of our relationship. “The way things are set up, I know it’s not ideal but it’s what we have to work with, and we will work with it.” It’s with strong belief he says this.
I appreciate that Alessio acknowledges that the way our marriage came to be isn’t exactly practical, and that he’s willing to find some type of solution help ease our situation.
It lets me know he cares.
“Ora mangia,” he demands, pointing to my food with his finger. “It’ll get cold.” Concern licks at the edge of his voice.
Picking at the food that’s on my plate I begin to eat at a leisurely pace, savoring the taste so deeply that I let out a unintentional hum that’s long and embarrassing.
“I’m assuming you like it.” Alessio smirks while I messily shove another fork full of pasta into my mouth. Feeling red I give him a small nod and swallow down what’s left in my mouth. My manners have gone out the window today, all forgotten because of how comfortable I’m becoming.
It must be the food...or maybe him... or maybe him and the food.
Bringing a napkin up to my lips I swipe away any possible sauce that clings to my skin. “I do, it taste very good,” happily mumbling as my feet sway back and forth underneath the table.
Alessio gives me a weird facial expression, looking as if he’s trying not to laugh.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” I ask self-consciously.
Shaking his head he grabs his napkin and leans across the table, carefully wiping at the edge of my lips. “You missed a spot, goffa cerbiatto.” His actions are done swiftly, too quick for me to comprehend the situation and pull back on instinct.
It takes me by surprise.
Feeling like deer in headlights I stutter out, “o-oh, um... thank you.” Stoic as ever he nods and goes back to his food, carrying on with his lunch.
A silence has swept over, neither one of us knowing what to say until we’re completely done with our food. Alessio finishes his meal before me, it’s awkward to feel his heavy gaze on me, watching as I eat. I try not to chew too loud or eat untidy because of this. I want to ask him subtly if he can stop staring, that I’m feeling slightly bashful, but I don’t.
When I put my fork down I go for my cup of water and drink the cool liquid. It’s refreshing, settling my nerves. As for Alessio he’s drinking a glass of whiskey, the ice in his cup sloshing around as he takes another sip with his eyes still on me.
He’s always giving me that same look, like when lions go after their prey on discovery channel.
Like he wants to eat me as if I’m a piece of meat.
My eyes glue to the beverage in his hand, and my mind indulges with curiosity that’s doesn’t go unseen.
“Have you ever tried it?” Alessio lifts up the glass. There’s a devious look in his eyes that’s full of mischief.
“I’m not allowed to try that one.” My father would be furious if I ever drank whiskey.
Alessio nods, understanding what I mean by this. Grabbing another bottle at the end of the table he twists off the cork and pours the drink it into another spare glass. The liquid is blood red, deeply rich as it lightly hits the ice. “If you want,” he says as he slides the glass in front of my plate. “This one is different.”
Curiosity clouds my judgment and temptation of the unknown excites me. Though hesitant, I now I’ll be alright with Alessio and the men who have come along to stand as my shield.
“It’s just wine, not a lot,” he nonchalant says, “you don’t have to drink it.”
But I do want a small taste.
So I gather my wits. Picking up the glass I take a small sip. “It tastes sweet,” automatically speaking my mind without filter.
A little sour, but also sugary.
The taste of of the wine lingers on my lips, mindlessly I lick away the liquid that saturates the skin which catches Alessio’s attention.
His eyes hone in on my mouth, staring as if he’s waiting for something to happen. “What is it?” Asking as I take another sip of the drink.
He breaks contact and leans back in his seat. “Nothing.”
“Can I ask more questions?” saying as I pick my fork back up and twist the pasta onto it to take another bite.
“Depends on what you want to ask,” he replies, eyeing me intently.
“I just want to ask questions about you.” When we do marry I want to be able to say that I know the basics of him, that I’m not going into this totally clueless.
“Cosa farò con te piccolo cerbiatto.” Taking another drink of his whiskey. “Ask away.”
Smiling I ask, “what’s your favorite color?”
An eyebrow arches at me, challenging the nature of my question with a light comical scoff. “My favorite color?”
“Yes.” Nodding at him with a smile that doesn’t falter.
To me, I think he’s a man that’ll say green like the forest in his eyes.
After hours of asking questions, that some went unanswered, and my ongoing babbling, Alessio finally says it was time for us to leave, which I’m thankful for. Though I’m glad I got to know him better than before, my backside was beginning to hurt from all that sitting. We had already left the restaurant thirty minutes ago and were on the freeway now.
But my mind is elsewhere, the drive back home is long so it’s easy for me to zone out. I think I wore Alessio down with all my talking because he doesn’t say anything to fill the void.
Instead of trying to bother for a further conversation, I look out the window and watch as we pass by cars.
However a sudden swerve has me jolting sideways to my left and Alessio shooting his arm out to hold me back against my seat.
A shock of panic surges through me.
“What are you doing!” I squeal as he speeds into another lane, taking an exit off the ramp.
His hands turn the wheel exceptionally fast with expertise.
Unexpected fright shakes me.
When I look to him he’s eyeing the rear view mirror with vigilance. “Alessio,” harshly whispering because my breath coming out shaky. “What are you doing?” Asking as serious as I can.
However, he ignores me.
It isn’t until we drive for another few blocks and pull into a secluded alleyway that he turns off the car and looks at me.
Adrenaline spikes through my veins.
Goosebumps scatter my arms.
My heart beats wildly inside of my chest.
“Why did we stop?” I continue to probe for a response, twisting in my seat to look at my surroundings.
“Piccolo cerbiatto,” sighing as if this is no big deal, “I just wanted a moment alone.”
“But we were already alone.”
“I mean without your hounds tailing us.” It takes me a few seconds to realize he’s referring to the men who’ve been assigned to watch over me. How naïve can I be! Oh goodness I’ll get in trouble if they don’t find us soon.
Not knowing what else to say I face forward in my seat and wait for him to say something.
“You’ve been asking me questions all day.” Alessio takes off his seat belt and turns his body towards me. “Now let me ask you one.”
Hiding my gulp I stare at his face, stopping myself from letting my eyes roam to his frame.
The temptation is strong but I need to focus on what’s happening now.
What is it that he wants to ask, and why in the back of an alleyway?
“I asked you before if you wanted this marriage... you said yes the first time out of obligation,” he pauses, “but if you really don’t want to do this, now is the time to say it. There’s always alternative options, Cherry.”
His face reflects no emotion but the greens of his eyes hold anticipation, betraying his cold apathetic expression.
“Could you marry a man like me?” Murmuring out his questions. “Would you?”
He waits and I try to find my words.
The longer I take to muster up my thoughts, the closer he physically gets — until his face hovers slightly away from mines. One of his hand grips the dashboard on my end while the other hand grips the headrest of my seat, caging me in a corner.
I can smell his cologne, it’s musky like the earths wood.
It distractingly alluring.
His face stops a few inches from mine; my mind is at a haze.
“Tell me, Cherry.”
If I were standing I would have collapsed by now or possibly pass out. As for my other senses, they’ve all completely muddled.
I’m at his mercy.
“Yes,” I mumble breathlessly.
He’s all I can see.
When he moves forward, his lips brush against mine. Delicately our lips connect. Softly pressing against each other, spreading a fiery heat as one of his hands move to the back of my neck.
Alessio is all I can feel.