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Chapter 21 - The Little Things (pt.1)

“Are you okay?” I ask Alessio who’s standing on the third step of the ladder that’s been propped up to reach one of the trees he’s attaching the sensor device to.

Fifteen minutes or so had passed since he told me he was trying to work on himself, whatever that means, and after those words left his mouth it had gone quickly silent between us.

“I’m fine,” he bluntly says.

I feel awkward just sitting here, not understanding why his mood his dipped or if I was the cause of it.

Had I said something disrespectful?

Maybe I was rude without even knowing?

“Are you sure?” Lowering my head, I direct my attention to my legs that are gently swaying back and forth as I dwell on the reasoning.

“I’m fine,” he reiterates to my frustration.

Though the uncomfortable tension is guiltily unsettling I still won’t give up on having a conversation with him. We were having such a good moment, which was unfortunately ruined for whatever reason. However, now that I think about it maybe it wasn’t for some random reason… maybe it was because of what he had experienced last night. Oh god, how did that slipped my mind? Had I really been so caught up in the moment that I’ve forgotten about what he’s been through!

All that blood, his poor cousin, — what trauma he must feel.

Maybe I can rectify the situation by getting him out of here. Mom always does that for me when I’m feeling down, so it’s the least I can do for him. But I know Alessio isn’t into theatrical things so maybe something simple might do.

Thinking about the limited choices I have I come to the idea of something he might appreciate. “Have you eaten yet?” Asking with high hopes as I raise my head. I’m guessing that he hasn’t yet, perhaps I can treat him and share some quality time if he wants to vent… maybe I’ll even buy him some sweets.

Who doesn’t love sweets?

“You don’t need to worry about me,” Alessio responds, bringing down the height of my excitement along with my rising smile.

Hopelessly my shoulders sag.

“But I know you haven’t eaten. I could take you out for lunch if you’d like.” Instantly the happiness returns. He may not be hungry but at least he wants to spend time with me, and if I can take his mind off whatever’s it on, then that’s a start.

Asking once more couldn’t hurt, could it?

The sly expression I want to hide makes itself known as I make one last attempt of an insinuation. “Where we could eat... together.”

His fingers that are still working to attach the mechanism to the tree stop and so does my breath.

Please say yes! Please say yes!

A heavy sigh leaves his mouth. “Yeah… where we can eat together,” he begrudgingly answers.

His head turns to look over his shoulder at and I can see him stifle a smile. “Can you pass me the drill?” He points to where the tools are laid out on the bench across from me.

Feeling relieved right now my head enthusiastically nods on its own accord as I get up and rush over to where the electric drill is laying.

When I pick it up I’m careful to walk over to the ladder and hold it up to him. “Here you go.” Smiling happily I push up on the tips of my toes so he can grab it.

Upon being this close to him I’m able to see just how tired he really is. But even disheveled he’s absolutely stunning. “You’re tired?” Stating the obvious.

“I’m alright.” His eyes meet mine as he leans down just a bit to take the drill from my hands. The small smile that’s he’s given me has still yet to slip away — but I hope it doesn’t.

I’ve been taught by my mother to be kind and to offer hospitality to those who you care about. “Well if you want… you can take a nap on my bed.” Without tonight the words rush out and I see his smile drop along with his eyes slightly widening.

After a few seconds I mimic his expression.

Oh my god...

“Not my bed! I mean the spare bed… the bed in the room! The guest room!” My speech stumbles and the skin of my face burns from embarrassment. Deciding to shut up I turn away from and look to the grass under my feet.

How can you be so dumb, Cherry!

The need to scold myself amplifies the longer he stays quiet….

…. that is until I hear an airy laugh from him.

It’s light at first, but his chuckle builds from something small to a meaningful laugh that’s more audible.

I don’t know if I’ve ever heard something so fulfilling, even if he is laughing at me.

Alessio genuine laughter is infectious and that gives me the courage to grin a little and look back up at him as it dies down.

Those few seconds of his bliss are also my own.

“Sei davvero qualcosa di speciale,” Alessio says with a calm smile. “Thank you,” he nods once at me, “I needed that.”

(You really are something special.)

Blushing like an idiot I give him a nod back and shyly drag my eyes elsewhere. He’s even more beautiful with the wide smile he had a moment ago — I wish he would do that more often.

I suppose something good came from my little freak out. “You’re welcome,” I mumble lowly, still feeling red faced.

“Ti prego, non essere nervosa, Cherry.”

(Please don’t be nervous, Cherry.)

“Piccolo Bambi.” When he says that I look back to him and to my surprise he puts down the drill on the flat surface of the top step and comes down the stairs. When reaching the ground he takes one step in my direction where we’re almost chest to chest.

(Little Bambi.)

Before the hesitancy can settle over my bones again I confidently look up at him and ask, “I take it that you’ll be calling me Bambi a lot, won’t you?” I think I’m becoming fond of the pet name.

His hand reaches up to move a stray hair out of my face and carefully tucks it behind my ear.

“You’re catching on.”

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