Chapter Thirteen: Papa’s Girl
“We should be safe here tonight. We are well out of range of where Trevisani had sent his men to search for you,” Nicola said as he tossed Ren a room key.
“That will be nice for a change,” Ren said as he caught the key.
“I will stay in van for quick getaway,” Paolo said as he leaned against the van.
“Didn’t you hear him? We’re safe tonight,” Sofia said as she looked at the large man.
Paolo laughed, “two rooms, two couples, I’m the fifth wheel. I will be fine in van.”
“Two couples?” Aurora asked as she looked around them. Her cheeks turned a bright red when she realized that they all know about her and Ren. “I…uh…I…we…”
The others laughed as she sputtered her words.
“Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with us, Piccolo,” Sofia said as she placed her arm over Aurora’s shoulders and walked her into the hotel. “Dom would be just as angry with us for letting it happen.”
“But, I’m twenty-three…” Aurora started to say.
Sofia laughed, “it doesn’t matter. You are still his little bambino.”
Aurora sighed, “I never thanked you guys for saving me.”
“It is what we do,” Sofia said as she pulled Aurora closer to her side, “and not because your father orders us to do it, but because we want to, Piccolo.”
“Thank you,” Aurora whispered, “though you wouldn’t have had to rescue me if I hadn’t run away.”
“Stupido thing to do, si,” Sofia said with a nod.
Aurora sighed, “I know.”
They stepped onto the elevator and waited for the men. Once they were all on, Sofia looked down at Aurora.
“Your heart was in the right place, even if your brain was not,” Sofia said as she gave Aurora a squeeze.
Aurora sighed, “yeah, well, I didn’t want you guys to get shot again, or worse…”
“Being shot is all part of the job, princess,” Nicola said with a smile.
“I don’t like being the reason,” Aurora said with a heavy sigh.
“Tomorrow, we will be home. Then you will see how many will give their life for you,” Sofia said with a smile.
Aurora groaned, “that’s what I’m afraid of.”
“So, what shall your punishment be?”
Aurora turned to Ren as they entered their hotel room.
Ren laughed at the look on her face. “What? Did you think you would get away with running away from me?”
Aurora shook her head. “Not the first time I have.”
He grinned as he dropped their bags and moved closer to her. “True. But this time, you actually got away.”
“And both times I almost got killed,” she said with a frown.
He stopped as he watched her. “Aurora, what is on your mind?”
Aurora sighed, “I told you guys. I don’t want any of you to get hurt over me…again.”
Ren quickly took the last few steps between them and took her into his arms. “Sofia told you. It is what we all want…”
“But none of you know me,” she cried, “you all think of me as that three-year-old…”
“I didn’t know you then, Aurora. I am here to protect you, the woman.”
Aurora sucked in a breath as he pressed his body against hers so she could feel his arousal. Yeah, he was here for her as the woman, all right.
“You’re special, Aurora. Even if you weren’t the boss’s daughter,” he said with a smile.
“How special?” She asked as she looked into his chocolate eyes.
He grinned, “let me show you.”
She moaned as he claimed her mouth and walked her back towards the bed.
Yeah, she’s special, all right.
As long as she’s in his bed. But what about outside of the bed? Will they still be together once they reach her father? All of a sudden, she wasn’t in such a hurry to reach her father’s house anymore.
“Ren, Aurora, time to get up!”
Aurora groaned as she rolled over and came face to face with Ren. She smiled as she stared up into his dark chocolate brown eyes. He smiled back as he leaned forward and kissed her lips.
The pounding on the door, which had woken them, got louder.
“We hear you, Sofia!” Ren hollered at the door.
“We’re meeting at the van, in twenty minutes,” Sofia said, then turned and walked down the hall, shaking her head.
“Plenty of time,” Ren said as he pulled Aurora against him.
“I don’t think I can make love to you and shower in twenty minutes,” she said as she studied his face.
He grinned, “then we’ll do both at the same time,” he said as he pulled her out of bed with him and carried her to the bathroom.
She giggled as he pushed the door closed with his foot and set her on her feet on the cold tile floor of the bathroom.
Ren smiled as he rubbed his hands over her body. She had called it making love rather than sex, screwing, or any other word she could have used.
Was she falling for him as hard as he has fallen for her?
“You’re late,” Sofia said as she leaned against the van with her arms across her chest.
Aurora blushed as she pulled herself up into the van.
Ren grinned as he tossed their bags into the van. “Sorry, couldn’t decide what to wear.”
Sofia scoffed as she followed him into the van, then closed the door behind her.
“Today, we reach our destination,” Nicola said as he started the engine.
Aurora stared at Nicola, then looked at the others in the van with her. Today? She’s going to see her father today? Her stomach twisted into knots, and she felt ill.
Don’t panic. Aurora told herself then took deep breaths as she searched her purse for her inhaler.
Sensing her mood, Ren took hold of her hand and squeezed it. She looked up into his beautiful eyes and suddenly no longer needed her inhaler. He was looking at her as if she was the only thing in the world, and he won’t let her go.
Will he talk to my father? She wondered.
Will he tell his boss, Domenico Romano, that he had slept with the man’s only daughter? Will he be, as they say on TV… Sleeping with the Fishes?
Aurora stared out the window at the large mansion. Her father lives here? All alone? She looked around at the others in the van with her. No, not entirely alone. He has his assassins and his foster daughter… She looked at Ren, and whatever Ren is, exactly. Something like her father’s second, whatever that means…
“You’re home, Piccolo,” Sofia said as the van stopped in the driveway in front of the mansion.
“This isn’t my home,” Aurora whispered as Sofia opened the door.
“It is,” Ren said as he squeezed her hand, “look.”
Aurora looked out the window where Ren was watching, and her heart leaped from her chest.
“Mom,” she whispered as she stared at the blond on the front stoop of the mansion.
“Come, Piccolo,” Sofia said as she offered Aurora her hand.
Aurora took the woman’s hand and let her help her out of the van. Once her feet were on the ground, she quickly moved around the front of the van, then stopped and stared at her mother, who was still standing on the stoop, wringing her hands as she stared at her daughter.
“Mom,” Aurora choked as she continued to stare at her mother.
“Aurora,” Isabella cried out, “you’re safe.”
“Am I, Mom?” Aurora asked as she continued to stare at her mother.
“Of course, you are…”
“Do you know what I’ve been through the past few days? I have been shot at, run-down, chased, slammed around, I actually got rocks imbedded into my calves…” Aurora said as she turned her legs to show her mother the still healing holes in her calves.
“But you are home now,” Isabella said, then covered her mouth with her hands.
“Home? Really, Mom? How is this my home?” Aurora asked as she pointed to the mansion.
“My father is dead, remember that one, Mom?”
Isabella stared at her daughter. She has been through so much in the past few days, she understands why she is so upset. And yes, she had lied to her children, but it was only to protect them.
“Mom. So much has happened to me, and I don’t even know why,” Aurora said with a cry. “Not really, I mean, I heard the story, but…”
“Your father can tell you…”
“I am tired of everyone saying that,” Aurora said as tears streamed down her cheeks.
“Aurora,” Isabella cried as she held her arms out to her daughter.
“Mom,” Aurora cried, then ran into her mother’s arms.
Isabella held her daughter tight as she kissed her cheek. “You are safe now,” she whispered.
Aurora shook her head. “We will never be safe, Mother. Not as long as Trevisani is alive.”
Isabella whimpered. Her daughter was already sounding like her father and his people. Why did this have to happen? They had been so happy; before Trevisani had ruined it all…
“We should get you two inside,” Sofia said as she walked up the stairs to the stoop, where her foster mother and sister still stood hugging.
“Sofia, thank you,” Isabella said as she reached her arm out to the woman.
Sofia smiled as she hugged her foster mother, then led them into the mansion.
“I think you should keep your dealings with the princess professional, from now on,” Nicola said as he passed Ren.
Ren stared at the man. He’s right, of course, he really should keep it professional. But he doubted that he could, especially when they’re alone. That is if Dom lets him be alone with his daughter again.
“Come again,” Domenico said with a smile as he motioned for his son to come at him.
Jayme grinned at his father. He hasn’t had this much fun with an opponent in a long time.
Dom blocked his son’s kicks and laughed when Jayme did a flip and connected his other foot to Dom’s head.
“Very good,” Dom said as he rubbed his head.
“Just be glad I don’t have my steel-toed shoes on,” Jayme said with a grin.
“Hey boys, look who’s home,” Isabella said as she and Aurora entered the room.
“Aurora!” Jayme hollered as he ran across the room and lifted his sister into his arms.
Aurora smiled as she hugged her younger brother.
“Aurora,” Domenico whispered.
Jayme finally set Aurora onto her feet, then turned from her to their father.
“Papa?” Aurora whispered.
Domenico quickly moved across the room and took his daughter into his arms. He kissed her forehead and closed his eyes as he held her close.
“Papa,” Aurora cried, “I didn’t want to believe that they were telling me the truth,” she said as she closed her eyes tight and held onto her father.
“Your mother did what she needed to keep you and your brother safe,” Dom whispered.
Aurora nodded as she continued to hold onto her father. He still smelled as she remembered, peppermints and toffee.
“My family is finally whole again,” Dom said as he backed out of his daughter’s embrace and looked at her. “Look at you. Just as beautiful as your mother.”
Aurora smiled, “thank you, Papa.”
“Let’s see what the cook has for dinner, you must be starving,” Dom said as he wrapped his arms around his daughter’s and wife’s shoulders and led them from the room, Jayme close behind them.
“They kept me well fed,” Aurora said with a smile as her stomach growled.
Her father and mother chuckled, and her cheeks turned pink.
“But it has been a while since lunch.”
“Of course,” Dom said as he leaned over and kissed the side of his daughter’s head.
They sat at the same end of the large table and talked about what happened in the past few days.
When Ren and Sofia joined them, Aurora did her best to not look at Ren. She didn’t want her father angry with him; if he figured out what they have been doing…
“Sofia,” Dom said as he looked at his foster daughter.
“Yes, Papa?” Sofia asked as she sat in the chair next to Aurora.
“How did Ren handle things?”
Sofia looked from her father to Ren then back again. “He was outstanding, you would have been proud.”
Dom grinned, “I knew I would be,” he said as he looked at Ren. “Did anyone know what you were doing?”
“A couple,” he said with a nod, “but they won’t talk.”
Dom nodded, “I expect not.”
“Papa,” Aurora said as she watched her father and Ren.
“Yes, Piccolo?” Dom asked as he looked at his daughter.
“Ren saved me many times. If not for him, I would have died in my own home…”
“Good,” Dom said with a nod, “that is what I sent him after you for. To keep you alive and safe…”
“But why did you send your second in command? And what exactly does it mean, to be second in command, if you’re just a businessman and not the mafia?” Aurora asked as she looked between her father and Ren. Ren was sitting next to her brother on the other side of the table from her.
“It means that if I am not available, your sister and the others listen to him,” Dom said as he picked up his fork and started eating his dinner.
Aurora sighed. Still sounded like the mafia to her.
“I will show you the business when all this mess is cleared up, and you and your mother and brother are safe,” Dom said with a nod.
Aurora shook her head as she picked up her fork and started eating.