Chapter 23: Falling for a monster with a heart
“Gattina.” My head snaps up to see Enzo, in all his glory, dressed in a tight black shirt that clings to his big muscles, his jacket draped over his arms and his gun tucked into the back of his slacks.
When I was done helping Sofia and Gia, I decided to sit in his library, enjoying all the books he has in there. I never knew he kept such a collection but books were all I had when I was living at the Moretti house. I curled up on the couch in there and opened a classic book.
“You found my library,” he says, taking a seat next to me and pulling me into his lap with my book. “You like books?”
“Yes. I love books,” I reply with a bright smile. He appears more relaxed than usual, and it makes me able to smile. It makes it hard to stop smiling. “Is it a problem that I’m in here?”
“No, bambina. Of course it’s not. I said you could go wherever you wanted in the house.” He brushes hair out of my face and tilts my chin up to look at him. “Where do you want to go? You get to choose. I’ll take you anywhere.” I can’t not go, he’ll think that’s a little suspicious, will he? I do want to get out of the house, and he’s offering. But where to go?
I give him a pout with a puzzled look and he chuckles.
“How about I take you to dinner? Just the two of us, no one else. I know you get anxious easily,” he offers and I nod. “Go get dressed and I’ll meet you downstairs.”
I brush through my hair and leave it down to cascade over my shoulders. I dress in a royal blue tight-fitted dress which ends mid-thigh and has cutouts in the middle. Most of the night dresses in my wardrobe look like that. I apply minimal makeup, finishing my appearance.
His jaw drops as he takes in my body, his eyes trailing slowly up and down my body. His lips upturn at the corners, and the best smile he can do is a sexy smirk. It’s good enough for me.
“Cazzo!” Rafael cheers, leaning against the wall as he looks between the both of us. Luca joins in, smirking and raising his eyebrows at us. It’s at that moment that I notice the similarities between the three brothers, all with dark features and a signature smirk. Even though there are great differences, Enzo a lot colder, taller than the others and broader chested, Luca lanky, still with muscle definition and a right hand man to his brother, Rafael with a boyish charm and a playful grin, all three brothers hold this dark alluring aura. But Enzo, his darkness protects me, warms me, keeps me safe. I feel safe around him.
He hugs me close to him with a scowl towards his brothers as they check me out.
“Mine,” he growls lowly but I know they heard too and their smirks grow wider. Enzo leads me out before he does anything remotely homicidal to his brothers. I am getting used to Enzo’s possessiveness, it protects me. Even though he loves to reiterate that I am his, he knows, and I know, that he’s mine too. I hide my face a little with my hair, just so no one sees as we get into his car, him opening the passenger side door for me and then moving over to his own side. The boss drives his own car? I like that.
His hand rests on my thigh as he starts the car and drives off.
“Where are we going?” I ask.
“To dinner,” he answers with a smirk, knowing that was not the question I was asking.
“It’s a surprise, gattina.”
“I don’t like surprises,” I whinge playfully and his hand squeezes my thigh, warning me, daring me to talk back to him.
After a while, having fallen into a comfortable silence, I stare out of the window to see a familiar city. I’ve been locked away in his house of weeks, a few months even. The days almost blend when there’s not really any routine or schedule. Enzo just tells me to do something and I do it. Then I sleep or read or help Sofia.
The trees look different, even though they’re the same old dying leafless collection of branches. But somehow, I see hope where I have never in the life they represent. There are couples dressed up, like us, yet the smiles on their faces hide less than us. They have stress, who doesn’t in New York, but together, there is nothing between them, baring their souls to one another.
“Gattina,” Enzo calls out, grabbing my hand. “We’re here.” I let him take me out the car and I follow him into a candlelight establishment. It is dead inside, strangely, as it appears a posh Italian restaurant: ′Tonalità del blu’ (hues of blue). He has a strange fascination with blue.
It’s beautiful inside, and romantic, with this warm, erotic atmosphere. On the tables, three candles with ornate cutlery and plates with intricately folded napkins. The restaurants opens out into a luxury view of the city, the flashing urban lights and various sized skyscrapers. I gape in awe at it as we are led to are seats by a polished waiter, seats right next to the scene. We’re right by the Hudson River, the water a calming scenery.
“You like it?” Enzo ask as we sit at the table, him opposite me, staring at me.
“It’s magical,” I mutter, completely awed by everything. “Why is no one here?”
“It is my restaurant, my new restaurant,” he declares. “I named it after you.”
"Tonalità del blu?"
"Your eyes. They're beautiful. So many shades of blue." I smile at his words, his perceptiveness. He named a restaurant after me. A very beautiful restaurant after me. He's not good at telling me how he feels, I know that. He struggles with what he feels and he can't tell me. But he's showing me. He's showing me he cares, that he actually sees me, that he actually likes me. His declaration that he likes me.
But he doesn't know me. Not truly. He knows I've been hurt, he knows that my family have been cruel to me, he knows life has been cruel to me. Maybe it doesn't matter my family name. It's just a name. It doesn't mean anything to me. It never meant anything to my father. And I killed him.
"What's on your mind?" he asks, gazing into my eyes.
"All of this. It's amazing. Anyone would be lucky to be taken here," I state. "Tell me something, about you." He pauses, keeping his eyes locked to mine as he seems to contemplate.
"I grown up my whole life being taught how to rule the criminal underworld, how to be a mafia boss. My father taught me to be cold, ruthless, the devil. My mother died and it turned his heart completely frozen. He told me that loving someone is pointless, that I'll marry someone strategically, regardless of love, and I'll have children with her, heirs to my thrown, and I won't be weakened by loving someone. I think you're threatening that." I furrow my eyebrows. He thinks I'm a threat to him, that I'm weakening him, with love? "I'm falling in love with you." My eyes widen at his statement and I'm struck still as a statue at his eyes are still fixed on me, waiting for a response.
"I-I'm..." I stammer, unable to quite get the words out. He is telling me how he feels. His expression deflates within an instance and he begins to scowl, brooding as he leans back in his seat. I can tell he's not happy by my response, but he will be. "I'm falling in love with you too." His whole face brightens up as he sits up straight once more.
"Don't lie to me, gattina," he says, but in a lighter tone than usual. He wants to make sure this is real, that I'm telling the truth. And I am.
"I'm not lying. I'm falling in love with you, Enzo." Suddenly, an actual smile appears on his face, a real smile. It's beautiful, more incredible than anything I've ever seen and makes liquid pool in my panties. It's so rare that it excites me, to know that he's smiling for me, that he doesn't smile for anyone but me. His smile makes me smile but I know it's bittersweet. He'll hate me when he finds out, he'll hate me that I lied to him. But when was the right time to tell him. There was never a time. And I can't tell him now. I don't know how he'll react.
"Oh, there's a party tomorrow at the house. You'll come with me," he declares, and I'm so entranced on cloud nine that I don't ask any questions and I agree to his command.