I nervously smoothed down the dress again. I had to calm down. It wasn't like it was Luca's first time seeing me in one. But I bought the dress specifically to impress him. I really hoped he liked it.
When you entered Luca's house, the first things you saw were the two winding staircases at either end of the foyer. It was the kind of staircase a princess would descend from.
And in that moment, when Luca watched me walk down the stairs, I felt like one.
Thankfully most of the guests were further inside the house so we were alone in the foyer. It felt intimate that he was the first person to see me.
His reaction would have been hilarious if I hadn't done the same.
It was a rare sight to see Luca in formal wear. He wore shiny, black dress shoes and black slacks that fitted him so perfectly and accentuated his long legs. He wore a white button down shirt and left a few buttons at the top open. The sleeves were rolled up to his elbows so you could see the veins on his arm that I desperately wanted touch. He even gelled his hair back and it almost looked wavy.
God, he was so handsome.
We both seemed to have caught our breath at the same time. We just laughed it off lightly.
"You're beautiful, Kenna." My breathed hitched in my chest. The way he said it was so sincere. Not one hint of sarcasm in his voice. If Luca kept doing this to me all night, I wouldn't even make it to my plan. It was getting harder to control myself around him.
"And you're very handsome, too, Luca," I replied softly.
He just smiled at me and extended his arm. "Ready?"
I accepted the invitation and mentally congratulated myself for not running my hand up and down his exposed forearm. "Let's go."
Soon afterwards, Luca's parents grabbed us for photos. I expected his arm to wrap around my shoulders but he surprised me by grabbing my waist. I recovered and placed my arm around him. C'mon, Kenna! Friends do this all the time! I reminded myself.
I smiled brightly but felt like a bundle of nerves inside. The butterflies flapped in a huge swell where Luca's hand held me. My heart beated unevenly like the incessant flapping in my belly.
"Do the prom pose!" Lucia shouted. She smirked evilly toward me and I wished that I could strangle her.
Mrs. Conti agreed. "Oh, please do that! It would be so adorable!" She winked at us delightedly. What? Is she in on this?!
Luca just laughed and nodded. "Sure. Why not?" He embraced me with both arms from behind and pulled me snugly against his chest. He didn't seem as nervous as I was so I decided to remedy that.
I stared up at him with a mischievous glint in my eye. "Don't you wish you brought your lady-love along? You'd be taking pictures with her like this."
He opened and closed his mouth like I thought he would. I quickly looked back to the camera just in time for the flash.
"Luca, stop acting like a fish and smile!" His mother reprimanded.
I giggled as we continued to pose for pictures. "I can't wait for those pictures to develop," I teased him. I felt a pinch on my side and almost fell. I was tempted to stomp my heel in his toe but opted to elbow him in the stomach instead. He grunted softly and I smiled smugly at the camera.
Mr. Conti placed a hand on his wife's shoulder. "Honey, if you keep this up, they might kill each other." He laughed at the sight of Luca and I having one of our telepathic fights. I was doing horrible, horrible things to Luca and I knew he was doing the same to me.
She pouted. "Fine."
Luca released a relieved breath and directed us to the buffet table. "I know you were trying to tickle me to death," I told him because I wasn't kidding when I said we could practically read each other's minds.
"And I know you were using your heels to slap my face," he retorted back. "You made me do that on purpose."
I grinned. "Your reaction was priceless!"
"I'll get you back."
"We'll see," I smirked at him. I turned around to view the crowd. "Since I'm your bodyguard tonight, are there any threats you need protection from?"
Luca grabbed a gingerbread cookie from the table and gave me the other half. "I don't know. You're supposed to find out."
I rolled my eyes. "The only threat you have is that guy your sister brought and I'm pretty sure he's not here."
He scowled at me. "Don't jinx it!"
I wanted to answer back but a high-pitched shriek interrupted our conversation.
"Lukie, honey!" I swerved my neck to see Natalie Kane quickly walking toward us.
I covered my hand over my mouth so I wouldn't spit out the cookie. Threat #1 assesed. Ex-girlfriend alert! I couldn't bring myself to save him though. This was funnier than Lucia's friend kissing him.
Natalie Kane was Luca's biggest mistake. The one time he let his dick think for him instead of his brain. She was as dumb as a brick and as hot as a Victoria's Secret model. She was a spoiled daddy's girl with a fake-tan and bleached hair. She was clingy, bitchy, and got jealous as hell. When Luca realized what he had done, he couldn't break up with her easily enough. He tried to act as horrible as possible to her but it actually made her stay even longer. It wasn't until I told him to start wearing hobo clothes that she finally broke up with him.
Now, it looked like Luca's "transformation" changed her opinion of him.
Luca's panicked eyes begged for help. I just shrugged.
When Natalie neared us, Luca reeled me in to his side. His arm was around my waist again and it caused a havoc within me. "Lukie, it's been too long!" She hugged him on his other side, which was slightly awkward because she kept hanging on.
Luca gently pushed her away though. "Heeey, Natalie. You remember Kenna, right?" His arm tightened around me so I grabbed his belt loop. His touch was driving me crazy, so I returned the favor. I smiled inwardly when I felt him straighten further. Good.
Her charming smile fell when she glanced down at me. Even with heels, I was still pretty short. "No, I don't. I was too 'busy' with Lukie most of the time to meet any of his acquaintances."
See? Jealous as hell.
I didn't let that bring me down though. I still thought it was hilarious to see Luca freak out over seeing an ex again. I got a fun kick out of it. "That's ok, Natalie. It's been a while since we've seen each other." I smiled even bigger as her frown deepened. "What brings you out here? You don't usually come to the Conti's christmas parties."
It wasn't until Luca started dating her that he realized his and her family had business connections. Apparently, he had already met her parents from the parties and never saw her before because she never came.
She batted her flirty eyes to Luca. "I heard Lukie was going to be here so I decided to drop by." Her voice lowered to a husky breath. "I'm glad I did."
Luca scrunched up his nose as if he smelled a dead cat lying around. Part of me was ecstatic to see him repulsed by her. "I'm here every year," he informed her.
"No one told me that." She ran a finger down the open expanse of skin on his chest.
"I invited you when we dated." Her finger paused, then she immediately withdrew.
"C'mon Lukie! I thought you'd be happy to see me again. I thought maybe we could have some fun of our own." She revealed a dazzling, white-bright smile that she probably thought would make him putty in her hands.
His lips thinned. "It was nice seeing you. But I'd much rather be with my date."
She dropped the facade and placed her hands on her hips. "Seriously? She's nothing compared to me!"
The fun was over.
I narrowed my eyes. "I have enough self-confidence to know that I am way better than you." She turned to me with a hateful sneer. "Accept the fact that he's over you and move on. He made this mistake once. Trust me, he won't do it again." I slipped away from Luca's grip and walked to the backyard.
It was too cold for guests to be hanging around so I was glad to be left alone. But I knew it wouldn't be for long.
For the mean time, I sat on the patio swing, glad that an attached awning prevented the snow falling on the seat.
I wasn't bothered by Natalie's words. She attacked my looks as if I gave a flying fuck about her opinion. What bothered me was the fact that Luca acted like a typical asshole at one point in his life to go out with her.
I knew that he wasn't like that now but that could change, right? But guilt ate me away by having that thought.
What Luca did in the past was in the past.
Tonight, he looked at me as if I was the most precious thing in the world. Before I elbowed him and mentally smacked him around, that is. I couldn't help but laugh out loud.
"What are you laughing about?" I heard his low voice say. I looked up to see his amused smirk.
He sat down next to me and laid an arm around my shoulder. I scooched closer to him and rested my head on his shoulder. It felt nice. "I was imagining myself slapping Natalie's face off with my heels."
He chuckled at my remark. "As long as I don't receive it, go for it." He glanced at me from the corner of his eye. "You ok?"
I patted his leg, mindful that I placed it on his thigh. "Yeah. I'm fine. She's just really annoying. Don't ever think with your dick again," I said seriously but I couldn't keep my shit-eating grin off my face.
He threw his head back with a groan. I rubbed my suddenly dry throat. Pure thoughts, Kenna, I advised myself. Think pure thoughts. "You are never going to let me forget, are you?"
I snorted. "Hell no."
He playfully glared at me before he softened and just looked at me. He was twirling a curl in his finger but I doubted he realized he was doing it.
"So what's the plan for the rest of the night?" I tried to ask normally but it felt like the oxygen just left me.
His eyes were smoldering and I wondered if he had something planned for us too. I childishly wanted my plan to win first. That mistletoe was going to be put to use, dammit!
"Well," he started, "you're definitely following me everywhere tonight. I just saw Lucia's friend here." I raised my eyebrows in surprise. "I told you you'd jinx me!" I rolled my eyes as he continued. "Mom wants more pictures, Lucia wants you to play that dancing game with her, and dad wants to do shots."
I laughed dubiously. "Why does it feel like it's you who wants to me see me drunk?" He just shrugged as if he had no idea what I was talking about. I sent him a teasing look. "Do you want to take advantage of me tonight? I'm sure your love wouldn't be too happy about that."
He sputtered laughably and his cheeks tinged an adorable red. "You're mentioning her a lot today."
"Of course I am," I said truthfully. "If you love someone, they need to know. I'm just giving you a push."
"More like a shove," he muttered. "I'll tell her if you tell me your big secret." He still seemed bothered by my refusal to tell him anything. It hurt to know that it hurt him too.
I smiled hugely and held out my pinky. "Promise?"
Luca just stared at my pinky. "Seriously? You're going to tell me?"
I nodded. "By the end of the night. Do we have a deal?"
His eyes were hard with resolve as he wrapped his massive pinky around mine. "Deal."
"Good." I stood up from the swing and headed toward the glass door. "Now let's do shots with your dad! I need some liquid courage if I'm gonna out-dance you sister."
He shook his head with a broad smirk adorning his face. "I don't think alcohol will make you a better dancer."
I agreed. "But I'll definitely have more fun!"
Luca slipped himself beside me and the butterflies fluttered again. I welcomed the feeling and loved the warmth his hand spread over me.
Mr. Conti was already way ahead of us as we walked for the kitchen. He was grinning loosely and red in the face. "Kenna! Come here! I want you to try tequila shots!"
That night, I found out I really liked tequila.
I walked out of the kitchen a wobbly, giggly mess.
"Thanks, Mr. Conti!" I shouted loudly.
I heard Luca sigh. "Dad, I think you gave her too much."
"Nah," he slurred. "She's ok."
I grasped Luca's hand and pulled him to the basement door. "Yeah, I'm ok! I wanna play with Lucia now."
He pulled me back. "Just let me grab some water to sober you up. I don't need you throwing up."
He made a good point but I still stuck my tongue out at him. "Fine."
He navigated me back to the buffet table and grabbed all the water bottles he could carry with one hand. I let go of him to eat cupcakes.
"Kenna." I turned to attention with wide eyes. "Stay here while I bring this stuff downstairs. I don't trust you to walk by yourself." I glared at him as hard as I could but failed to be taken seriously. It was hard to do since I had frosting all around my mouth. He laughed and swiped his fingers around my lips. He licked his fingers clean and that sobered me up more than anything. "Be right back."
I blushed and grabbed a napkin from the table and wiped the rest of my face clean.
"Hello, there," a voice I didn't recognize said. He was light-haired and a few inches shorter than Luca. He was dressed to the nines with a black tuxedo that shined. He was cute and looked to be around my age.
"Hi," I replied conversationally. I didn't know him but I didn't want to be rude either.
"Should I presume you are here with a date?" He asked flirtatiously. He sure didn't beat around the bush.
I smiled nervously. "Um," I said hesitantly. "Yeah."
He smirked arrogantly. "It doesn't sound like you're too sure."
I grabbed my elbow behind me and rubbed it anxiously. "I'm with someone," I repeated.
He jutted out his bottom lip. "Too bad. I thought I could have you all to myself."
Ok. Time to leave. "Riiight. Too bad," I said insincerely. The basement door opened and I saw Luca coming out. "There's my date. Gotta get going. Nice meeting you!" I turned on my heel and practically ran for Luca. He looked at me all confused as I practically pushed him back into the basement. "Creepy guy at the buffet. Put your arm on me." He followed my command and held me on his side.
He turned around to look at the man at the buffet and he cursed. "It's him."
My jaw dropped. "That creepy guy kissed you?"
He uncomfortably nodded before his eyes darkened menacingly. "Look's like he's into women too."
"Ugh, don't remind me. He's just downright weird." Luca led me down the stairs and soon we were in front of the TV. "Where's Lucia?"
"Here!" a muffled voice said from behind the massive TV. She crawled backwards out of there and smiled. "I hope you're drunk enough to get dizzy just looking at the moves."
I glared at her. "The encounter with your friend sobered me up very much, thanks."
"Keith?" I raised an eyebrow for her to elaborate. "Blonde, nice tux, cute face?"
I grimaced. "He's creepy as hell. It's like he gets off on making people uncomfortable."
"Yeah," she admitted. "Sorry about that. Since he found out that Luca's my brother, he's been super bothersome. I told him he could come to the party just so he could get off my back." She continued to meddle with the gaming console so I grabbed a water bottle. "What did he say?"
"He wanted to know if I was single and ready to mingle." I took a big gulp of the water. "I told him I had a date but it's like he took it as a challenge." I turned to look at Luca. "Looks like we're both on bodyguard duty tonight."
"Just stick close by."
"Wouldn't have it any other way," I smiled at him. I noticed Lucia was watching us and she motioned her hands in a big heart. She made kissy faces at us so I ran a finger to my neck so she would stop. She returned to the console while Luca and I sat on the couch. Even though I felt more alert, the alcohol kept me relaxed. When Lucia managed to get the thing working, she lifted me off the couch.
She was right. I was drunk enough to get dizzy just looking at the moves. But I was still having fun. I even managed to convince Luca to dance with me. Especially since the song was Hips Don't Lie.
He shook his head so fast I was surprised he didn't get whiplash. "No, Kenna! No way!"
I grabbed his hands but he stayed put on the couch. "If you don't dance with me, I won't be your date anymore," I threatened. He growled as he stood up when he realized he couldn't get out of it.
We started out fine and as expected, I was beating him. Only because I knew how to move my hips like a belly dancer and he looked like he was humping the air.
Lucia howled in laughter. "Move side to side! Don't stab the air!"
"I'm not a girl!" he replied gruffly.
Suddenly the basement door opened and Mrs. Conti popped her head in. She caught a glimpse of her son moving exaggeratedly with his hips and it made me even happier that I got him to do it. "I'm going to pretend I never saw that."
Luca immediately stopped dancing. "You saw nothing."
She smiled in amusement. "It's time for the family picture."
I rushed up the stairs and ran crowd control. "Hello, guests!" I smiled charmingly. "The annual Conti Christmas party promised to give everyone a memento of tonight's festivities and this is it! When you came in, everybody should have received a number from 1 to 20. This is your group number, so when I call yours up, please stand in front of the Christmas tree."
The photographers the Conti's hired had their own setup of equipment. As soon as the camera flashed, it showed up on their computer. They even had their own portable printer so as soon as the computer registered the photo, it would print. The rest of the crew would insert the photo in a card for the guests to keep in their own goodie bag.
There's a reason why the Conti Christmas party is the best in the town. The photo was just a small part.
I called out numbers to keep things moving along. It took a while since someone in each group didn't like how they turned out in the photo. Thankfully, Luca stayed with me to deal with them. When the last group finally finished, it was time for the Conti family to take their photo.
I usually wasn't included in the photo but it seemed that they changed their minds this year.
"Are you sure?" I asked. "I don't mind not being in it. It is a Conti family picture."
Mrs. Conti smiled warmly. "And you are family, sweetheart."
"It was foolish of us to keep you from the tradition, Kenna," Luca's father said. "We should've included you from the moment Luca brought you home. Now come here!"
I suspiciously looked at all of them and stared unrelentingly at Lucia. You told them! I mentally shouted at her.
She just stared back like a deer in headlights. Confused about my sudden annoyance at her. Telepathic messaging definitely didn't work with her.
Luca yanked on my arm. "Just get over here."
The family portrait was always the same pose. A single red chair was in front of the tree with mama and papa Conti behind it. Luca sat in the chair and Lucia sat on one of the arms. For aesthetic purposes, I wanted to sit on the unoccupied one.
But when Luca grabbed my arm, he made me sit on his lap. "Luca!"
"You would've blocked mom's head in the picture."
"No, I wouldn't have!"
"You're short, Kenna, but the arm boosts you up a lot." I slapped his chest. "That hurt. Now smile for the camera!"
My body felt like jelly. His arms held me in place, one around my waist and the other resting on my bare legs. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I felt like I was high and now my giddy smile would forever be captured on a small 5 by 7 photo.
"Now just with Luca and Kenna," Mrs. Conti declared. "This is too adorable!"
I protested and tried to get off of Luca but he wouldn't have it. I looked at him head on. "You did this on purpose!"
He smirked. "Told you I'd get you back."
I scoffed and was beyond irked at him. I turned my head slightly to watch his parents. "What is with them today? It's like they insist on making us look like a couple." I returned my eyes on him. "I don't think your lady love will be happy about that."
He didn't blush like I thought. His smirk grew wider. "Maybe."
I felt the corners of my lips turn up slightly. Did he finally figure out my secret? I thought.
I faintly heard the sound of a flash and Mrs. Conti exclaiming, "Oh, just look at that! That came out perfectly! Print it, print it!"
Luca and I rolled our eyes and he finally let go. Lucia showed us the picture on the computer screen and it was incredibly intimate. The photographer didn't even show the entire tree and instead focused on us. Apparently, several photos were taken. But the last one had us both feeling awkward.
There was no denying of the complete adoration for each other. Our heads were so close together, bent toward one another and our smiles looked so soft, I was surprised that we hadn't kissed.
I cleared my throat to get rid of the feeling. "Great pictures."
I saw Luca scratch a non-existent itch on his neck. "Yeah, good job."
Their cooing was absolutely suffocating so we left them to ogle at the rest of the pictures. "Are we even now?"
Luca seemed glad to leave them as well and nodded. "Even. I'll be right back, I need to do something." He walked off and disappeared in the crowd.
Before we left his family, I noticed the clock on the laptop. Midnight was approaching rapidly and I wanted to grab Luca's gift before he returned. My plan was to lure him with it and open gifts away from everyone else.
I was able to spot him and made my way toward him. "Conti! It's almost midnight! Present time!" Luca plucked the gift from me and ran away to give it to the DJ. As soon as he was close to me again, he pulled me into his arms. "What are y─" Luca interrupted me by covering my mouth with his hand.
"Shush! Just listen and dance with me."
I regarded him annoyingly until I followed his orders. He pulled his hand off and raised mine to place them on his shoulders. I could barely register the lyrics as he ran his hands down my arm to my waist.
I let out a surprised laugh. "How did you find it?"
"I've had it ever since."
My love for Luca grew even more. "That was the first night I realized how great of a guy you were," I admitted.
He smiled sheepishly. "I couldn't leave a pretty girl spend homecoming without a slow dance."
I met Luca way back in 6th grade. We were too shy to really get to know each other and that year, he moved. I met him again in high school and when we saw each other, it was like we knew each other for years. Since he was on the football team, it was a requirement for all players to go to homecoming with a date.
No, I wasn't the date.
It was another girl and I had my eye on another freshman. Technically, I was date-less but I still managed to snag a few dances with the guy. And so did every other girl.
Yeah, I've had shitty taste in guys since way back then. Shut up.
So when a slow, romantic song came on, I sat down on the bleachers of the gym. It was obvious the other guy was too engrossed with his harem to actually pay attention to me.
I was playing with the hem of my dress when I heard, "Kenna? You ok?"
Luca had the cutest baby face back then. His hair was a little longer and leaned more on the skinnier side. He hadn't worked out a muscle mass yet. "I'm fine."
He looked at me skeptically. "Then why do you look like a drowned puppy?"
I crossed my arms. "I do not!"
"Now that's the Kenna I know." I socked him in the arm. "But really, what's wrong?"
I sighed and lazily gestured to the other guy's direction. "The guy I like definitely doesn't like me."
Luca sat down next to me and leaned back against the bleachers behind him. "He's an idiot then."
"Yeah. And here I am date-less and no one to slow dance with."
"If it makes you feel any better, I've never slow danced with anyone."
I whipped my head to look at him. "Seriously?" He nodded. I played with my dress again. "Me neither."
We were quiet for a moment until he asked, "Do you wanna dance?"
I looked at his date and she seemed to be occupied with her friends. It was as if she just left him to be with them. "Are you sure she won't be mad?"
He smiled adorably. "Nah. I don't think she'll mind." He offered me his hand and I took it.
Even though I didn't like Luca as beyond a friend, I was so glad that my first slow dance went to him.
I still thought that.
Now, I loved him more than anything in the world.
I hugged myself closer to Luca and played with his hair. The gel was losing its hold so I didn't feel guilty for messing it up. "I'm so happy we met, Luca."
He lowered himself and pressed his forehead against mine. "Me, too."
A bright flash hit the corner of my eye and I turned to see the photographer take another photo of us. A few feet behind him, Natalie shot me a murderous look and Keith was openly checking out me and Luca. "We're getting all sorts of attention tonight," I told him.
I nodded my head to the side him so he spun us around so he could take a look. "Keith gives me the heebie-jeebies."
"You're not the only one."
We danced a little longer until the DJ grabbed the mic. "Alright, folks! It is officially midnight, you know what that means? Merry Christmas!"
I stared at Luca with wide eyes and I knew that he already read my mind. "You grab the present from the DJ and I'll get mine. Meet back in my room?"
I nodded quickly and ran as if my life depended on it. I could not let Luca be first. I wanted to surprise him!
I took the tiny box away from the DJ's mixing stage and practically tripped over my own feet running back to Luca's room.
Luck was on my side since he was being held up. By Natalie. And they were near the fireplace.
Aw, crap. Goddamn mistletoes!
"Hey, Lukie. Remember the last time we celebrated Christmas together? Didn't you have fun?" She bit her lip seductively and trailed a fingertip down her unusually perky chest.
"Uh, sure. But I gotta go. I have to see Kenna." He was awkwardly stepping away from her but she went forward.
"Stay with me!" she commanded.
I intervened. "Natalie, I just an older woman wear the same exact dress as yours back in the dance hall. Had it for years, says its her go-to dress."
"What?" she shrieked. She immediately forgot about Luca and stomped her way back to the hall.
"You're welcome." As soon as I said that, I ran up the stairs. "But I'm still first!" I cackled my way up and mumbled an oh, shit when he caught up to me. He picked me up off the floor and ran to the door as if I was a football and the door was the touchdown line.
"I win!" Luca shouted in the empty hallway.
"We both win, doof." He put me down and was about to open the door until I grabbed the door handle. "Wait! We have to do the exchange here."
He raised an eyebrow. "Oh, really?"
"Yes! So here." I shoved the gift in his palm. Without another thought, he excitedly ripped the wrapping paper off. It was a small, black cube with an open slit with a ball bearing snug in between. He looked down at me questioningly so I explained. "3D labyrinth. Push the ball through and shift the cube to move the ball around the maze inside. Once the bearing makes it to the slot on the other side, you pass. Usually, the cube itself has a map of the maze so you know how to shift the cube, but I got you the hardest one. No map."
He smiled like a hyper child. "I love it already."
I giggled. "You're going to figure out in a week anyway."
"You give me too much credit. And here's your gift," he handed to me.
He also had a tiny box, which was weird. I usually got clothes from Luca. My face showed him what I was thinking but told me to continue. I took the wrapping paper off and was surprised to see a jewelry box. I opened it and there sat a delicate silver ring. A round white-sapphire stone with diamond accents stood proudly in the center with smaller stones flanking it. It didn't call much attention but it didn't make it any less beautiful.
I gasped softly. "Luca."
"It's a promise ring," he said shyly. He took the box from me and removed the ring before he closed the box and put it in his pocket. "We've been friends for 10 years—" I opened my mouth to correct him but his eyes told me to be quiet. "So after being friends for all that time, I made a decision about us." My face told him to get on with it but he had a fun time making me wait. "No matter what happens here on out, I promise to always love you Mackenna O'Hara." He slid the ring on my left hand and I couldn't help but think how the ring perfectly suited it.
I brought my hand up toward my face to take a better look. I loved how it glittered on my hand.
I loved that he gave it to me.
"I got you two gifts this year."
It wasn't the response he was expecting if his reaction was any indication. But he quickly shook it away. "Two?"
I nodded. "You'll get gift number two once you open that door."
His hand lingered on the door until I silently encouraged him to open. He closed his eyes as if he thought something would pop out in front of him. But he opened his eyes when he heard a light jingling above him.
Now that's the mistletoe that I want to see!
"Hey Luca," I called. He glanced down at me and smoldering eyes returned. "I love you, too."
I love you as in less-than-a-friend-more-like-a-lover-and-god-I-really-want-to-ravage-your-lips kind of way.
I knew he thought the same thing because he swooped down and eagerly caught my lips. It was familiar and new, calm and wild, heart-throbbing and heart-stopping all at once. I could smell the soap from his earlier shower and taste his mouth. It was crisp like the early morning and hot like the sun. His lips melded over mine so deliciously and all other thoughts completely disappeared.
All I could think was him. Smell him. Taste him. Feel him.
My hands wandered on his torso. The image of his bare chest I saw last year burned in my mind. I bunched up my hands against his shirt and roughly pulled it out of his pants. As soon as it was free, I laid my hands flat on his stomach. He moaned in the kiss and I wanted to hear it again. I grazed his sides with my knuckles and he shuddered. He released my lips and I whined from the lack of contact.
"Kenna, you're driving me crazy," he growled.
I was surprised to answer him in a husky voice. "What do you think you've been doing to me all night?"
He hoisted me up in the air which forced me to wrap my legs around him. His hands on my back held me in place while he walked us into his room. He slammed and locked the door shut and we fell into his bed. He attacked my face and jaw with kisses. I squealed when he nipped my ear and shuddered myself as he ran his hands all over me.
I moaned loudly when he reached my neck. "Luca!"
"God, I love you," he repeated in my neck. His breath over my pulse point raised goosebumps everywhere and I shivered again. He lifted himself up to look at me properly. "Are you sure?"
I raised my hand for his cheek. I lightly caressed it before I smiled lovingly at him. "I love you, Luca. I've always loved you."
He leaned down to kiss me again and I could feel all emotion pour out of him. He was nervous, excited, happy and he knew I felt the same. But overall, I felt his love for me.
I remembered his promise.
I promise to always love you, Mackenna O'Hara.
I smiled. I promise to always love you, Luca Conti.
I woke up on Christmas morning in Luca's arms. Our clothes were scattered on the floor but I couldn't bring myself to care. Sleeping with Luca beside me was the best gift I could ever receive.
I settled further into him and he responded by tightening his arm around me. I chuckled. "You're awake?"
"You know, when you wiggle like that there's no way I can go back to sleep."
I slapped his arm. "Smart ass."
He kissed the back of my neck and I melted into jelly. "I really like yours."
I would have let him continue but I was bitterly reminded that we were still at his parent's house. "We should get ready. My parents are probably prepping breakfast now. " He removed his lips and groaned in my back.
"We can save time by showering together," I suggested.
He literally jumped out of bed and I screamed when he lifted me off.
Suffice to say that it was a long shower.
I rooted through my overnight bag for a clean outfit until I was blinded. I felt the material before I saw it and chuckled. "You love to give me your jerseys."
"They look better on you," he replied cheekily.
"So it has nothing to do with the fact that your name and number is clearly displayed on my back?" I asked sarcastically.
"Nope," he popped the 'p'.
I just rolled my eyes. I grabbed my underwear and pants but found that I didn't bring any socks. "Do you have any socks?"
Luca emerged out of the bathroom with jeans riding low on his hips and a toothbrush in his mouth. I involuntarily licked my lips and he noticed. "Are you sure we have to go now?"
I sighed to myself and calmed down. "Yes. But do you have any socks? It's gross when I put my bare feet in my sneakers."
I heard him spit out the toothpaste. "But bare feet on sandals are fine?"
"Because they're sandals!"
He laughed and threw me a pair of socks. "You're weird, Kenna. Use those. I haven't worn them since elementary school."
I put them on. Perfect fit. "Why do you still have these?"
He made a sound of indifference. "Lucia always loses socks so she uses mine."
I stood up without checking myself in the mirror. The jersey was ridiculously large on me but it was Luca's so I loved it. "Do I look ok?"
His head popped out of the bathroom door and his eyes lit up as looked at me possessively. "Maybe I do like you wearing my number."
"I'll take that as a yes." I opened the zipper on the outside of my bag and took out my toothbrush. He was swishing mouthwash as I brushed my teeth. I envisioned us doing the same thing everyday in our own home. The thought brought a smile on my face.
I caught Luca staring at me through the mirror. "We'll get our own place one day."
I spit out the paste like he did earlier. I turned and touched his cheek. The ring on my hand shining proudly. "I'm looking forward to it." Doing something so domestic together made me fall in love with Luca even more. "Now go put on a shirt before I convince myself that we can stay in all day."
"Aye, aye, captain!"
Once I finished in the bathroom, Luca was finally ready. "Can we grab some left overs? I'm starving."
I nodded. "As long as it's small. You know my family has a huge breakfast."
We raced down the stairs and we were surprised to see no food left over. The buffet was clear and the kitchen didn't even have anything. Then we checked the refrigerator and saw the last piece of lemon meringue pie.
"Mine," we said at the same time.
"All I had last night was half a gingerbread cookie!" Luca argued.
"Me, too! Plus I got drunk. I'm in way more need of food than you!"
"You did not get drunk. If anything, you were tipsy. Plus I did all the work last night."
I raised an eyebrow challengingly. "I wasn't the only person on my back in the bed." He blushed but didn't argue any further.
I grabbed the plate without thinking and ran away. "Kenna, get back here!"
I went to the buffet table and grabbed a fork. I successfully stuck it in the pie and ate a bite before he got me. I taunted him but he suddenly had a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
He grabbed the back of my head and forced my face upwards. He crashed his mouth upon mine and boldly licked my lips. He compelled me to open my mouth and his tongue sweeped inside. My knees felt weak but he kept hand firmly on my back.
"Lemon meringue tastes better from you."
I just nodded. Anything to get his lips fused with mine again.
We completely forgot about food as we continued kissing. It was all the ailment we wanted. Needed.
"Ugh, gross. I could have lived the rest of my life without seeing my sister macking with some guy."
My brother's voice jolted us apart.
I saw the rest of my family standing with Dylan, all carrying food alongside the Conti's.
"That took you guys long enough." My sister, Aislin, smiled broadly at us.
Mom turned to Mrs. Conti. "We're officially family, Maria!"
Mr. Conti slapped my father proudly. "We did a good job with them, huh, Craig?"
My dad kept staring at Luca blankly. I could tell he was nervous but it didn't stop him from linking his hand with mine. "I love your daughter, Mr. O'Hara. I will never harm her, I promise. But I think your approval will make us more comfortable taking the next step forward."
There was no doubt in my mind that my father saw a good man in Luca. But he wanted to make him squirm. I guess I was just like my old man.
He sighed and ran a hand over his face. "We should've seen this coming." He walked over and showed him a hand. "You were always part of the family, Luca."
Luca showed of his pearly whites and shook hands with my dad. "Thank you, sir."
He waved it off. "Don't mention it. Don't ever let me catch you kissing my daughter like that again." Luca nodded rapidly. Dad motioned for Mr. Conti. "Let's set up the food in the kitchen."
Everyone dispersed to set up breakfast but Lucia stayed behind.
"You already got in trouble with the dad," Lucia teased.
He narrowed his eyes at her. "Just go help in the kitchen, Lucia."
"I'll leave you two love birds to it. Just don't go at it like bunnies here. We need a place to eat." She ran when Luca raised a fist.
"That went well," I said.
"Yeah. Dad doesn't want to beat you to a pulp."
"He was like that with Owen?"
I scowled at the memory. "Yeah. He said he didn't look like an honest man. I didn't listen to him though." I sighed. "Would've saved me the trouble."
"Hey," he lifted my chin, his thumb softly rubbing it. "It wasn't your fault. And I would never do that to you. I love you."
I brought my lips up to him. "I love you, too."
"Get a room!"
I glowered at Dylan and was tempted to throw the fork at him. "If you don't leave us alone, I'll tell mom where you hide your porn stash." He immediately clammed up and left.
Luca chuckled above me. "Merry Christmas, Kenna."
I smiled widely below him. "Merry Christmas, Luca."
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