The Gem of the Romano Dynasty (Romano Dynasty - Duology - Book One)

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Chapter Twenty-Three: Shopping for the Perfect Dress

Sofia paced her small suit, her foster father had added to the blueprint of his mansion, for her, almost twenty years ago.

“Sofia?”

Sofia stopped pacing and stared at her boyfriend of the past ten years. She does love him so. She had known before their friendship had turned to more, that he wasn’t the type to get married. And she is more than fine with how things are. He lives with her in her small suit, and Dom thinks of him as a son. Both she and Dom trust Nicola with their lives; that is why Dom had given her permission to tell him; everything.

“Dom didn’t get my note,” she whispered.

Nicola stared at her. “How is that possible?”

“Somehow, Martina got hold of my note, and kept it from him,” she whispered.

“Martina? What for…” He stopped talking, and his eyes opened wide. “Did Dom see…”

“Oh, he saw them all right,” she said, her cheeks turning a bright red.

“Damn,” Nicola grumbled.

“There’s more,” she whispered as tears streamed down her cheeks.

Nicola studied her face and didn’t dare pull her into his arms when he spotted the tears. She will come to him when she is ready.

“Oh, Nic, what if Dom had told one of us to kill Ren?” She choked out in a loud cry.

Nicola sighed, then moved to her and pulled her into his arms. Even if she hit him, he didn’t care, she needs this.

But she didn’t it hit him or pull away. She fell into his arms and cried harder. It was rare for his beautiful and strong Sofia to cry, let alone wail as she had done just then.

“It’s okay,” he whispered as he kissed the top of her head, “Dom would never have one of us kill the boy. He knows how we all feel about him.”

Sofia took a deep calming breath. “That doesn’t make me feel any better,” she grumbled against his chest.

He chuckled, “I know. But you know Dom wouldn’t have Ren killed.”

She nodded, “that bitch almost got Ren killed. What if Dom was more like Trevisani?” She asked as she looked up at him.

Nicola looked down into her reddened brown eyes. “But he’s not,” he said as he wiped away her fresh tears. “Now, why don’t we sit down, and you can tell me everything that happened.”

She nodded and let him lead her to the couch.

~💎~

“One week?” Aurora asked as she watched Ren.

Ren sighed, “one week,” he confirmed.

“It won’t be real, will it?” She asked nervously.

Ren smiled and pulled her into his arms. “No babe, it will not be real. Dom has some actors stashed away,” he said with a grin.

Aurora sighed with relief, then stared at him. “I still don’t like the thought of her walking down the aisle towards you. That is my job…”

Ren laughed as he pulled her into his arms and kissed her. She sighed as she melted into him.

He lifted his head from hers and took her face in his hands, then looked into her eyes.

“Soon, I will ask your father for your hand, and you and I will walk down the aisle for real,” he promised, then kissed her on the tip of her nose.

She closed her eyes with a smile. “Is that a proposal, Lorenzo Mancini?” She asked out of breath.

Ren grinned. He loved his name on her tongue. “No, Aurora,” he whispered.

Her eyes flew open, and she stared up at him.

He leaned down and kissed her. “It’s a promise,” he said against her lips, with a wicked smile.

His smile faded with a groan, and she whimpered as he deepened the kiss.

~💎~

Martina growled and stomped her feet in a fit. Not even the fear of Domenico Romano; is slowing those two down. She turned from Ren’s window and stomped towards the mansion. She paused and looked up at the large house.

“Soon, this will all be mine,” she said as she glared at the mansion, “and no one will stop me. Not even the real daughter, who wasn’t even raised in this life.”

With an idea in her head, she grinned and continued up to the front door.

~💎~

“Yes, one week from this Saturday,” Dom looked at his calendar as he talked on the phone. “I am sorry that it is such short notice, Father, but it is important,” Dom laughed at something the Priest said. “No, I don’t want it to be fake. My daughter deserves the best, even if it’s not what she’s expecting,” Dom sighed, “you know the situation, Father. Yes, she has returned home, I will fill you in on everything, next Saturday,” Dom chuckled as he set the phone down in its cradle. “Now to find the right dress,” Dom said with a smile.

Sofia and Aurora are close in size, he can get her to try on some of the dresses.

With a satisfied smile, he picked up his cell phone and speed-dialed Nicola. “I need to speak with you.”

“Be right there, boss,” Nicola said as he stared at the wall in front of him, then hung up the phone. Dom sounded serious.

“Everything okay?” Sofia asked from beside him.

Nicola smiled as he leaned over and kissed her lips. “Everything is just fine. Dom just needs to see me.”

She smiled, “probably about security for the wedding next Saturday.”

Nicola nodded, then got out of bed and got dressed.

“Don’t let Papa bully you,” she said sleepily.

He smiled as he leaned over and kissed her. “Don’t worry, I can handle your father.”

Or so he thought he could; until he walked into his boss’s office and saw the look on the older man’s face.

“There is something I need your help with,” Dom said as he looked up at Nicola.

“Yes, sir?”

“I need help convincing the groom,” Dom said as he got to his feet.

Nicola stared at him, confused for a minute, then he understood. “The wedding isn’t going to be fake, is it?”

Dom shook his head. “I am sure the bride is ready, but the groom; will need some convincing.”

Nicola snorted, “I am sure Martina will be thrilled. But why are you forcing this on Ren? Is it to keep him away from Aurora?”

Dom laughed as he walked around the desk and placed his hands on the younger man’s shoulders.

“My daughter is ready for marriage,” he said. “Are you?”

~💎~

Martina listened in on Dom and Nicola’s conversation, with a smile. She hadn’t had to go through with her plans, after all. Dom had beaten her to it.

A real wedding!

She couldn’t hear the last bit, but it didn’t matter, Ren is going to be hers. Now, she just needs to get rid of her competition.

~💎~

Aurora laughed as she watched her foster sister spin in a circle in front of the standing mirror. They were at the seamstress’s shop her father had recommended for the wedding dress.

“This is it; don’t you think?” Sofia asked, and she looked at herself and the dress in the mirror.

“You said that about the last three dresses,” Aurora said with a laugh.

“But this one really is it,” Sofia said with a bright smile.

“I prefer this one,” Martina said as she walked out of the changing area, in one of the most expensive wedding dresses in the shop.

It was ugly and had too many pearls embroidered into it. Aurora hated it, and she knew Ren wouldn’t like it either.

“I would never wear that,” Aurora said as she stared at the other woman and the ugly dress.

“But it’s not up to you,” Martina said as she grinned at Aurora’s reflection in the mirror. “My father will buy me anything I want. It’s my wedding, after all.”

Aurora and Sofia snorted.

“Why are you here, anyway?” Sofia asked as she watched the conniving bitch.

“I told you already,” Martina said with a grin, “it’s my wedding, so I should pick out my own dress.”

“You only want that one because it’s the most expensive dress in the shop,” Sofia said with an annoyed growl.

“Yes, well,” Martina said with a smile, “if you have the money, flaunt it.”

Aurora groaned. The woman was taking this fake wedding with Ren, too seriously.

“Ladies!”

Sofia and Martina screamed and ran back to the changing rooms.

Aurora laughed as she turned to the three men who had just walked into the store.

“What was that all about?” Nicola asked as he stared at the door to the dressing rooms.

Aurora smiled, “not supposed to see the bride’s dress until the wedding.”

“Oh, right,” Nicola said, his face turning a bright red.

Aurora eyed him for a moment, then looked at Ren. He had moved to stand behind the chair she sat in.

“How are you?” He asked as he gently ran his hand over hers.

She shivered at his touch. As much as his hands have touched her, you would think she would be immune. But every time they touched, it was as though it was the first.

Martina came out of the changing room and glared at Ren’s hand on Aurora’s.

When is Dom going to put a stop to their relationship?

He is marrying the man off to her, for crying out loud!

“Darling, let’s get out of here. My sister can take care of everything from here,” Martina said with a smirk as she looked at Aurora.

“I will see you tonight,” Ren whispered to Aurora; before he was dragged out of the shop.

“Damn woman,” Nicola said with a growl as he looked at Aurora. “Are you okay, little sister?”

Aurora looked up at Nicola, with a forced smile. “I am fine,” she lied.

He shook his head. She didn’t look fine to him.

“I am not paying for this,” Sofia said as she walked out of the changing room, with the pearl sequined dress held out away from her.

Nicola laughed at the look on her face. “Then don’t,” he said with a smile.

Sofia snorted, “but she’s the bride,” she scoffed as she turned away from them, mumbling.

Nicola laughed as he shook his head. He loves her more and more every day. He looked at Aurora, who was smiling at her sister. Sofia was still grumbling about the ugly dress.

“Hey, kid,” he said as he kicked the back of the chair to get her attention.

Aurora looked up at Nicola with a puzzled look on her face.

He bent forward so he could whisper into her ear. “Do you know which dress Sofia likes?”

Aurora nodded; her eyes open wide.

“Buy that one,” he said as he handed her a gold credit card.

“Okay,” she said, a bit shocked as she took the card from him.

“I will see you ladies at home,” he said with a smile, then stood and walked out the door.

Paolo stood against the wall beside the door, his eyes never missing a single detail of their surroundings.

“What was that about?” Sofia asked as she walked up to her sister.

Aurora smiled, “he said that we don’t have to buy that monstrosity,” Aurora said as she looked at the dress Sofia was holding with her thumb and middle finger.

“Oh, thank God,” Sofia said as she tossed the dress onto a chair.

Aurora stood from the chair, and they turned to find the seamstress standing close, staring at the horrendous dress, Sofia had just tossed onto the chair.

Aurora gasped, “we are so sorry,” she said, her cheeks turning a bright red.

“It is quite all right,” the seamstress said as she regained her composure, then smiled at them. “Have you made your choice?”

“Yes,” Aurora said with a smile, “we want the last dress that my friend here had tried on.”

Sofia sucked in a shocked breath, and the seamstress beamed.

“Excellent choice,” the older woman said, then left to retrieve the dress.

“Are you sure?” Sofia asked as they headed to the counter.

Aurora laughed, “it may be her so-called wedding, but it’s our father’s money,” Aurora whispered, still laughing.

Sofia chuckled with her.

“Here you are,” The seamstress said with a smile, as she carried a dress bag over to the counter.

“What’s the story with that dress?” Aurora asked as she nodded her head towards the discarded dress on the chair.

“Jili,” Sofia hissed.

Sofia and the others had started calling Aurora, Jili. A nickname from the surname, Jilani. The name her parents had given her when she was three.

“Sorry,” Aurora said, “I’m just curious…”

The seamstress sighed, “it is all right. I know how hideous the dress is, it was a specific order. The pearls are real, as per the bride’s order. But when she saw the dress, it wasn’t what she had envisioned. I refused to give her the one hundred dollars down payment, so she went to another seamstress. And now, I am stuck with a dress that nobody wants,” the woman finished, then took the gold card from Aurora’s hand.

Aurora looked at the dress, then at the seamstress.

Sofia read the look on her sister’s face and grunted.

“Add that dress to the bill,” Aurora said as she pointed to the dress on the chair.

Sofia stared at Aurora. Both dresses?

“Are you sure?” The seamstress asked as she stared at Aurora, debating if the girl had the money for both.

Aurora smiled at the seamstress. “Domenico Romano is paying.”

The woman’s eyes opened wide, and she quickly moved over to the chair, and bagged the dress, then returned to the counter.

“Thank you,” the seamstress said as she handed them the card and dresses, “please come again.”

Aurora and Sofia laughed as they left the store, each carrying a dress bag. Paolo came out behind them and followed them down the sidewalk to the car. He opened the back door for them and closed it once they were inside, then moved to the driver’s side and climbed in, then headed back to the mansion.

“What are you going to do with that dress?” Sofia asked as she pointed at the dress bag on Aurora’s lamp.

Aurora shrugged her shoulders. “Make a pearl necklace?”

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