“Bella, dry your eyes. Let’s get you to bed, you’re overly tired.”
I sniffed my nose one last time, wiping my cheeks with the sleeve of my sweatshirt. “Okay.” I managed to say meekly. I didn’t want to go to bed though. Because I knew when I woke up later in the day he was most likely going to be gone. I knew he wasn’t going to wake me to say goodbye because I would start to worry and panic all over again.
I pulled my sleeves down over my wrist, wrapping them in my fingers. I followed Adrian towards the bedrooms. It was set up much like home, expect the loft had only two bedrooms; his and mine apparently.
“You know I bought this place shortly after you came into our lives. Don’t ask me why. Something just told me to.” He turned around in the hallway to face me. It was like he was reading my mind. I didn’t really understand what he meant earlier when he said my bedroom and he knew that I was still questioning it not being courageous enough to ask. “This place Addi. It’s yours. I bought it for you. After tonight, if everything goes as planned you don’t have to stay with us anymore. You’re free to stay here, stay with us, go, do whatever you please. This place is yours. The guards are yours. You’ll be safe here.” Now I understood.
“Adrian… what? No. I can’t accept…”
“I already signed the paperwork Addi.” His eyes held sadness even when he attempted to smile at me. “One more thing you need to know…” He grabbed my hand lacing our fingers together as he looked down to the floor momentarily before looking back up to my eyes. “In the event that anything happens to Alex, Adam or I you and Amelia are to split any and all profits, properties, companies and anything else that is in my name.”
“Everyone already agreed to it. Amelia already knows. It’s all been taken care of by our lawyers. I told you, you are part of this family. I will not leave you to fend by yourself any longer. Although I know you are more than capable of taking care of yourself, it was not a risk I was willing to take.”
“This is all too much Adrian.”
“I know bella.” He squeezed my hand before letting go. He continued to lead me down the hall until we reached two doors side by side. I stood next to him as his face full of sorrow turned genuinely happy. I didn’t really understand why he had looked so sad moment earlier. He made me feel like a part of this family time and time again. Was he afraid that I was gong to leave? Adrian continued speaking after staring at my features for a minute. “This one,” he said pointing to the door on the right. “Is mine. And this one... is yours.” He turned the handle and pushed the door open shortly after finishing his sentence. My jaw dropped to the floor. “The master bedroom fit for the queen you are.” His smile was beaming from ear to ear at the sight of my face in awe. “I hope you like it. I had it decorated to fit your style, simple yet elegant.”
“Adrian… it’s beautiful. Thank you.”
In front of me was a large bedroom. Much like my one back at the house but slightly smaller. It was decorated relatively similar except most everything was white. It had a touch of innocents and purity. Above the bed hung a framed canvas full of abstract swirls of different shades of blues and teals. The king size bed placed perfectly in the middle of the room. The farthest wall was made out of all glass overlooking the towering buildings of the city. The view was just as breathtaking as the one from the living room.
The bathroom was anything but ordinary. A large walk in shower, larger than the one at home. Tiles ran across the walls in light grey, white with hints of broken glass in between giving it a simple sparkle much like a mosaic. The shelf in the shower fully stocked with anything I could possibly need and what looked like some of his supplies too. He must have used this shower one of the times that he stayed. Everything else was white except the rugs that were a light grey. The place looked spotless like it had never been used before.
As I walked around the room examining every detail, I noticed one last door to open-the closet. I turned back towards Adrian to see the look on his face nudging me forward to open the door. I was fully expecting a brand new wardrobe in a closet like I had at home. But this one was not as grand, spacious, but smaller. However, one thing stood out. Unlike the first time I walked into a closet prepared by Adrian fully stocked with a multitude of clothes, this one was empty. Each wooden shelf was bare, the drawers near the floor were barren as well. The place was so clean not even a speck of dust was noticeable on the shelving. One item stood out brightly in the empty room. A large white, rectangular box placed on the middle shelf directly in front of me wrapped in red ribbon with a beautifully made bow on top.
“What is this?” I pointed to the box turning my head to face Adrian but keeping my body forward towards the box.
“Open it.” Was all he said. He was half sitting on the edge of the bed, directly behind me. My eyes light up towards him and the surprise gift, making his already beaming smile grow larger.
I walked hesitantly towards the box all of sudden feeling nervous. The good butterflies were back in my stomach, paddering away. I didn’t know how to respond to this kind of gesture. Gift giving was never my strong suit. The last time someone bought me a gift I was 12 and it was for christmas from my parents. Daniel always told me I was never worth the trouble, or worth anything for that matter so he never got me gifts. As a matter of fact he never did anything special for me, not on my birthday or holidays.
The already paddering butterflies began swimming back and forth in my stomach causing me to be more nauseous than expected. My hands found their way clutching on to my waist hoping to calm my nerves. How was I supposed to react? What if I didn’t like what he got me? I mean, he practically just handed me keys to a loft, now I had another gift waiting for me. Was it possible that I was actually wrong about how he felt about me? The way he had been talking to me, calling my baby and babygirl earlier. Buying me a damn loft, training me, and now this. He may not have verbalized his feelings towards me but he was showing me in so many ways that he cared. Whether or not it was the kind of caring I longed for was a different question. Did he see me as a little sister like Alex and Adam did? Or did he have feelings for me that he wasn’t admitting to. He practically all but screamed at me that there was nothing between us a few weeks ago during our initial fight. Was that how he really felt or did he just not want to admit it to himself that there was some kind of attraction between us?
I composed myself to the best of my ability and grabbed the corners of the box to lift the lid. Inside the box lay some kind of neatly folded, beautiful, golden, silky material. A gasp left my mouth and I had yet to see the whole item. I gracefully lifted it out of the box unfolding it as I held it in the air. It was a gorgeous dress, most likely out of my price range. The dress had a fitted bodice with a few wires underlying in the fabric. From the hips down the skirt of the dress was floor length, flowing at any movement of air that passed through. It had a slit that ran up the side by the legs, making the dress look classy, and sophisticated yet a little dangerous. The dress itself looked like it was meant to be strapless but as I looked closer turning the dress around I notice extra fabric meant to hang off the shoulders giving the dress a look of elegance.
I turned around to face him, tears beckoning my eyes from the gratitude. “Adrian, this gorgeous. But its too much.”
“Addilynn Elizabeth Artell. I am only going to tell you this once, so listen and listen good.”
He moved closer to me, slowly, almost seductively. His eyes narrowed in my direction. His smile dropped a little but the side of his eyes still crickled with smile lines, letting me know that whatever he was about to tell me was something positive, despite the fact that he used my full name.
I still held the dress in the air but lowered it slightly to look back at him. Before I had a chance to object, his hands were around my waist pulling me closer to him until my hands rested on his chest still clutching the fabric. His eyes peering into my soul as they glistened with a new emotions I hadn’t yet seen from him. Something I had never seen anyone look at me with. It wasn’t like how Alex would look at me like his sister, not that kind of caring. Not the kind of look my parents gave me either, no not that kind of caring. This was a different kind of caring, a different kind of desire, longing. Lust? Love? I didn’t really know. Daniel used to tell me he loved me. But if he truly loved me he would have never treated me the way he did. It took me a long time for me to figure that out. I think that’s why I was having such a hard time figuring Adrian out. I think maybe…maybe he loved me?
“There is nothing in this world I wouldn’t do for you bella, beautiful.”
“No, stop it. I mean it.”
“I don’t even know what this is for. When on God’s green earth am I supposed to wear a dress like this?”
“In a weeks time or so. Think of it as reassurance that I’ll come back to you tonight when everything is done.
“What do I even wear a dress like this for?”
“Every year we do a benefit in my mother’s name raising money for cancer research.I know I haven’t really told you a lot about her. Someday I will. I may be the Mafia boss, but I still like to do a little good every once in a while. It’s just one of the ways we give back to all the people that helped her when she was sick.”
“You want me to go?”
“Addi, you are apart of this family. Yes, I want you to go. I want you to go with me. I bought that dress the second day after I saved you when Amelia and I went out shopping for you while you recovered. That was months ago. I knew, from the first moment I saw you, that was it. I was done. I knew you were going to be apart of my life, apart of everyone’s lives. My mother would have loved you Bella. So yes. I want you to go.”
“Oh Adrian…” I was all I could manage to say. Tears welled at my eyes again. I wasn’t used to hearing such sweet words from anyone. Maybe it was part of my past trauma but I always expected the worst.
“Oh no, don’t start crying again. I finally got you to stop.”
“I just- I….”
“No, no, no. Put the dress back in the box, do not get tears all over it! Let’s get you ready for bed. Like I said you’re overly tired, you haven’t slept in almost 24 hours. Come on, brush your teeth and get in your pjs.”
“Okay…” He was right. I was exhausted. Is that why I was so emotional? Or was it because he was making me have all of these new feelings that I didn’t know how to handle?
I placed the dress back into the box, remembering that this was the only thing that my closet held. I had nothing to wear to go to bed in.
Adrian began walking back into the room, nearing the bed getting it ready for me to crawl into. I was still standing in the middle of the closet staring at his figure as he walked away from me. His body screamed of exhaustion himself. His shoulders had begun to slump over. The steps he took had slowed down from earlier in the night. I didn’t want to bother him with another menial thing, he had enough on his plate. But my voice spoke up anyway.
“Hmm?” He turned back around to face me his eyebrow raised in anticipation patiently waiting for me to say what was on my mind. Dark marks had begun to form under his eyes. His eyelids began to droop. Occasionally I would catch him holding back a yawn. He was just as exhausted as I was, if not more.
“I don’t have anything to wear to bed.”
“Shit. I forgot to grab you clothes from the house before we left. Hold on.” Adrian’s face perked up if only for a minute. He raced next door to his room coming back within minutes with something grey draped in his hand.
“Here.” He said reaching his arm out towards me motioning me to take what was in his hand. “This is the best I could do.”
It was one of his simple t-shirts. It was a kind gesture and honestly it was going to be more comfortable than sleeping in what I had on currently. Or sleeping naked to be honest.
“Thank you Adrian, for everything.”
“You’re very welcome beautiful. Now, get your ass to bed. Don’t make me tell you again.” His finger playfully pointing towards me. The smile turning the corner of his lips upwards once again filled sadness and fear. I don’t think he wanted to leave me as much as I didn’t want him to leave. I was tempted to ask him to stay with me again but I thought otherwise of it. Somehow, I knew he would decline it tonight, or this morning really.
He edged himself closer to the door and began to shut it as he walked out. He turned to take one last look at me, standing hopelessly in the middle of the room at the foot of the bed just glaring down at his t-shirt as my body filled with sorrow and dread. “Hey, I’ll see you soon okay?”
“Okay.” I flashed him a half smile choking back tears.
“Goodnight beautiful, sleep well.” And just like that, the door clicked behind him, shutting me away from his world. Not knowing if I was ever going to see his face again.
I quickly tossed my clothes to the floor not caring how much of a mess I was making. I stripped down into just my pink lacy underwear. All I wanted was his shirt resting on me, on my skin. I wanted to have one last piece of him with me until I could have him back. I placed the shirt over my head letting it drape over my body. It was almost too large for me. The end of it covered me down to my butt, barely showing the bottom of my cheeks, but completely exposing my legs. My hands found their grip onto the fabric that lay above my breasts bringing it up to my nose, inhaling his scent one last time before crawling into the warm comfort of the bed.
I slipped in under the comforter, adjusting the pillows under my head. Daylight was just starting to rise behind our building causing the sky outside my window to show hues of pinks and oranges mixed with streaks of grey clouds. It was truly beautiful. On any other day it would have brought me peace. I would sit here with a cup of coffee in my hands watching the day start before the rest of the world did. I couldn’t wait to see it at sundown just like he said. But it wasn’t going to be the same if I couldn’t share it with him. I needed him. More than I knew. My heart began to hurt with worry for the day to come. But the best I could do was close my eyes, and clutch his shirt against my body and hope. Hope for him to come home to me.
I tossed and turned for what seemed like forever. No positions felt comfortable. My mind was racing with thoughts of Adrian, and thoughts of Dominic. I remembered how I felt about Dominic when I met him. The pit he gave me in my stomach, the uneasy emotion. The darkness that coarsed in an out of every little move he made. If evil ever walked the earth, it was him. I knew that today was going to be anything but easy for Adrian and his men. And it terrified me.
I turned on to my back sighing loudly. What was I going to do if I lost him. If I lost Alex and Adam. They were my family and Adrian was my- I didn’t really know what Adrian was. The way he made me feel. Damn it. He could make me so happy yet so angry at the same damn time. The way his eyes glistened when he stole glances at me. His lips, how rough his hands felt from the calluses. My body craved any little touch from him. The scars over his knuckles from the things he’s had to do over his life. How his eyes turned cold when he was aggravated. Even when he was pissed off, I wanted him. But why? I still barely knew him. But the things he said to me earlier. I knew you were it, I was done. What the hell did he mean? He knew I was it? How could someone like him ever think of someone like me being it? I was full of scars and past wounds both emotionally and physically. I wasn’t worth the trouble. I wasn’t the one for him. He deserves someone truly beautiful and strong. That wasn’t me.
But still, I couldn’t lose him. I knew that much. It didn’t matter where we were. As long as I had Amelia, Alex, Adam and him; I was home. I didn’t care if we lived in a mansion, or we were homeless. He made me feel safe. Even when he was upset and angry with me. I knew he would never lay a hand on me. He would always protect me. He was my home.
Before tears could drip from my eyes again I pushed the covers off me. I was done sitting here wondering. I needed answers. I needed to do something, anything. If he was going to get killed trying to protect me today, the least he could do is tell me how he feels.
I made light steps towards the door practically tip toeing. His shirt still barely covering my butt, my light pink underwear peeking out from the bottom. My hair still up in a mess from training and shooting. I was exhausted and I wanted to sleep. But my mind wouldn’t stop turning. I’m sure dark circles had taken over the bottom of my eyes. But I really didn’t care. Adrian had seen me in worse states.
I carefully padded my feet to his door and opened it abruptly. He was lying in bed on his side facing the window. The blankets were barely covering his half naked body. His back muscles twitched at the sound of the door unlatching and he quickly turned his head to see what the commotion was.
“Bella? You alright?”
“Promise me.” I stood there with pleading eyes intensely staring at him. He rose out of bed only dressed in his boxer briefs. Damn it, that wasn’t helping. Each step he took towards me came in slow motion. His muscles rippled with each extremity that he moved. Everything around him became hazy. My eyes could only focus on him. The rising sunlight out the window cascaded over his shoulders making him appear like he was walking out of the light towards me.
Before I knew it he was standing right in front of me, towering over me. I hadn’t realized his height before, but now I felt small compared to him and not just in stature. His eyes were hypnotized by the sight of me. I could see him eyeing me over, looking from my head to my toes. I remembered then I wasn’t wearing anything besides his shirt.
“Promise me. Promise me you’ll come back.” I tilted my head up to look at his irresistible eyes with a sparkle in my own. This time, I knew no tears would come. But I felt something else coming to the surface; my feelings. Everything I felt for him was going to come out, like word vomit. I couldn’t help it. I needed him to know how I felt about him, even if he didn’t feel the same way. He needed to know before he left today. I knew that if I didn’t tell him now and if something were to happen to him, I would regret not speaking up.
“Of course Bella. I already told you I would.” His eyes peered down to mine bouncing back and forth between my lips and my eyes. And then I felt it… the word vomit.
“No Adrian, you don’t get it. I need you to come home to me. You tell me I’m apart of this family, but you give me the choice to leave when this is done. I can’t leave. I can’t leave you. Alex, Adam, Amelia, they are my family. You, you are my family. Adrian, you’re my home. Adrian I’m in lo-”
“Please, Bella. Don’t say it. Whatever you want to say, say it when I come back.”
Part of me was glad that he stopped me from saying what I was milliseconds away from saying. Did I really love him? I shook my head at the thought. Even if I didn’t tell him that part of it there was still other parts I needed him to hear.
“No. What I need to say needs to be said now. Or I may never get the chance to again. Don’t you for one second say there isn’t something between us again, because there is and you know it. I see the way you look at me. No one has ever looked at me like that Adrian.” I was spilling everything out that I felt for him. I couldn’t stop myself. “The way you’ve cared for me since day one. The way you make me feel when you walk into the room. The damn butterflies. And don’t you dare pretend you don’t feel the spark when you touch me. I can’t get enough of it. The minute you stop I find myself craving more and never wanting it to end.” And in one moment my brain said fuck it. “Adrian DeLuca, I don’t completely understand what my feeling are for you, but I know that I can’t live without you. So yeah, damn it. I need you to come home to me. Because I can’t live without you.”
His face looked like he saw a ghost. It turned pale for only a second. I thought I had said something wrong in my rambling. Maybe I did. Maybe proclaiming my feelings for him was too much. Should I have kept it to myself? Maybe he really didn’t feel the same way. But in an instant his pale face turned into a faint devilish smile that I hadn’t had time to notice before I looked down to the ground hiding my face that was now raw with too many emotions that I didn’t know how to comprehend. I tried my hardest not to let the tears fall. But here they came. I couldn’t choke them back anymore.
“Are you done rambling Bella?”
I continued to look down at the floor feeling embarrassed as the tears spilled over my cheeks and down my nose. My face flushed in anger; anger at myself. I could feel the heat radiating off of my face as the cool tears attempted to chill it. My arms and legs began to shake. I needed to get out of here. I needed to get away from him before I embarrassed myself further, before I ruined things any further.
I nodded my head shyly and turned my body practically running out of his room. But before I could get far I felt his grip on my arm. It wasn’t tough like before. It was soft. His calloused hands practically caressing my arm pulling me back towards him. He gently pulled me into his muscular chest. He pulled my hands towards his pecs resting them gently just below his collar bone. His skin under my hands made goosebumps raise over my arms making an all too familiar tingle run down my spine. His hand found a place under my jaw tilting my head up forcing me to look back up at him. His eyes bounced back and forth between my dark, semi-swollen ones. His hand swiftly moved from below my jaw line to my cheek. My eyes closed as the pressure of his hand rested on my face and he began sweetly wiping the tears away that riddled my face.
“I thought I told you no more crying Bella.” It came out in a hushed tone. I almost wanted to double take to see who said it. Adrian’s voice had never been this sweet, and soft towards me. It made me melt further into his embrace.
His other hand still rested on mine holding it in place on his chest. It soon found another place to rest. Within seconds both of his rough hands grabbed my face nearing the back of my neck after brushing a few strand of my hair out of the way and tucking a few behind my ear. My face nuzzles into his touch. God, it felt so right.
“Look at me Addi.” And I did. I did as I was told. My eyes shot open to look at him. His face centimeters away from my face. “ I promise you, that I will always find my way back to you. No matter what happens. I will always come back to you. Okay? Always.”
I needed more. I needed more than a promise. I wanted him. All of him. I needed to feel him in every way possible. So much lust and desire poured out of every pore that reside on my body. Hearing those words weren’t enough to calm every inch of my body that craved him. In one instant I knew completely what my feelings were for him.
A comfortable silence fell between us for only seconds. It felt like a lifetime though, just staring at each other memorizing each others features like it was going to be the last time we were going to see each other. It very well could be. I was the first the break the silence. I needed so much more.
“Kiss me.” I looked up to his eyes pleading.
“Damn it Adrian. Kiss me.”
And without another hesitation his lips crashed upon mine.