Chapter Twenty-Four: Pearls of Wisdom
“What is that?” Ren asked as he walked into Aurora’s bedroom and found her sitting in the middle of her bed, with a hideous white dress spread out in front of her.
She grinned up at him. “This is the dress Martina had picked out.”
His eyebrows raised. “And you bought it for her?”
She shook her head. “No. I bought it for myself.”
Ren choked. He knows her taste is better than that.
She chuckled at his reaction and went back to whatever she had been doing before he had interrupted her.
“What are you doing to it?” He asked as he watched her.
She smiled without looking up at him. “I’m taking the pearls, they’re real. Thought I could make me a necklace with them.”
He moved to the bed and picked up a piece of the dress with a pearl embedded into the material.
“They’re exquisite,” he said as he rubbed it against his tooth.
She giggled as she watched him. “What are you doing?”
“Making sure that they’re real,” he said with a smile.
She chuckled, “we already stopped at a jeweler to have them tested. They’re very expensive pearls. The man offered to make me a necklace, if I can get them out of the material, that is.”
“He did, did he?”
She nodded, “for a price, of course.”
He chuckled, “of course.”
“You want to help me?” She asked as she held the material up towards him.
He shook his head, “I didn’t come here to play with a dress,” he said as he placed a knee on the mattress.
She sucked in a breath when the dress was pulled out of her grasp and tossed to the floor.
“Ren,” she said as she stared at him.
He grinned as he crawled up the bed and took her mouth with his. She moaned when his tongue slid across her lips, and opened her mouth to his touch, to allow him access.
“I love you,” he whispered against her mouth as he pulled on her shirt.
She moaned as both their tops were tossed aside, and her bare breasts were pressed against his bare chest.
“I love you too,” she said on a breath as she laid back on the bed with him on top of her.
“Au…” Isabella’s mouth fell open when she opened her daughter’s door.
She blinked for a moment, then quickly pulled the door closed. She placed her hands on her hot cheeks and stared at the wall across from her.
Isabella looked at her oldest. “Your sister forgot to lock her door,” she said with a quiet squeal to her voice.
Sofia looked at her mother for a moment, then at the door, and almost laughed. She has told those two to be more careful.
“It’s okay, Mama,” Sofia said with a smile.
“But- if Dom sees them…”
“Papa already knows,” Sofia assured her mother.
Isabella took a deep breath. “I just saw my baby girl…”
“Uh,” Sofia fought back a laugh. Her foster mother was so pale…
She pulled out her cell phone and murmured into it. She hung up and kept an eye on her mother as she waited.
“Everything all right?” Nicola asked as he joined them in the hall.
Sofia smiled, “our secret has been discovered,” she said as she nodded towards the door.
He looked at her, confused, then his eyes lit up with understanding. When he laughed, she slapped his arm.
“Not funny,” she said with a growl as she motioned towards her foster mother, who is still in shock.
He looked at Isabella and sobered when he saw the look on the older woman’s face.
“I’m taking Mama out somewhere, you stay here, and make sure no one else opens that door.”
He nodded as he pulled her to him and whispered into her ear. “It is a little funny.”
She chuckled as she kissed his cheek. “Don’t let anyone else open that door.”
He nodded, then watched them walk away and sighed heavily. How many times have they told those two, to be more careful, when they’re having a tryst?
Domenico stared at his eldest with wide eyes, as she reported what his wife had walked in on earlier, and that only she and Nicola know about it.
The two lovebirds had been so enthralled with each other, that they hadn’t even noticed her mother opening the door and catching them in the act.
Dom couldn’t help it, he burst into laughter.
“Stop, Papa,” Sofia said with a laugh, “I have been good; I haven’t let myself go…”
“Let it out, my girl,” Dom said in Italian.
And Sofia did. She laughed so hard that she bent forward and held onto her stomach for dear life.
“Thank you for getting your mother out of here for the afternoon,” Dom said as their laughter died down.
Sofia nodded with a bright smile as she took control of her laughter. “You should have seen the look on Mama’s face when I first found her in the hall.”
“Probably worse than mine when I realized it was my daughter Ren had been hiding from me at the pool.”
Sofia nodded. “Should we tell her everything?”
Dom sighed, “I will take care of it. You go back to looking after your sister.”
Sofia nodded, “yes, Papa.”
Ren looked at the people gathered for the engagement party. He wished it was real, and with the genuine Aurora Romano. The Gem of the Romano Dynasty.
“Ren; stop looking so sour. We are supposed to be in love,” Martina hissed.
“No,” Ren said with a shake of his head, “I never said that I would be in love, I only said that I would get Domenico Romano’s daughter to fall in love with me. And right now, my dear, that is you,” he said with a grin as he looked at her. “I promised that I would get her down the aisle, said nothing about me loving her in return.”
She stared at him in shock. She hadn’t been told that part. So, if he hadn’t promised to love her in return… Martina grinned. Then he doesn’t really love Aurora. It is all a game to him.
Aurora sat off to the side by herself. Now that her mother knows what is going on, she stood at her place beside her husband. Aurora felt her cheeks heat. When Sofia told her and Ren what her mother saw, she had been devastated, and Ren had burst into laughter. She knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she can trust her mother to keep it from her father. She noticed her mother looking in her direction and smiled at her.
Isabella Romano smiled at her daughter. Her real daughter. She looked so sad and lonely, sitting over there by herself.
“Excuse me,” Isabella said as she excused herself from her husband and guests.
“Bella?” Dom asked as his eyebrow raised, and he placed a hand on her arm.
She smiled as she patted his hand. “Just going to check on our oldest.”
Dom nodded and removed his hand, then went back to talking to their guests.
Isabella sighed and went in search of her other daughter. She found Sofia and Nicola, talking to a couple beside the punch bowl, and b-lined her way to them.
“There you are,” Isabella said with a smile as she approached her foster daughter.
Sofia smiled at her mother until she saw the look on her face. “Excuse us,” she said to the couple, then followed Isabella when she tugged on her arm.
Nicola followed close behind them.
When they were out of earshot of their guests, Isabella turned to them.
“Your father and I may have to ignore your sister, but you surely do not. Especially you, Nicola. You are supposed to be her big brother.”
Sofia and Nicola looked past Isabella, to wear Aurora sat, alone, and their faces fell.
“Oh, Mama,” Sofia almost cried. Her little sister looked so depressed. “We hadn’t even thought of that. We only thought of not bringing any attention to her. Poor, Piccolo.”
“I should have thought to keep her company,” Nicola said with a nod.
“Then what are you waiting for?” Isabella demanded as she placed her hands on her hips.
Nicola smiled as he moved past their queen and headed for the princess.
Sofia moved to follow after him, and Isabella took hold of her arm to stop her.
“Not you. You need to go spend some time with your fake sister,” Isabella whispered.
“No, buts,” Isabella hissed, “you are not leaving me alone with that woman. We are supposed to be happy for her.”
Sofia snickered as she looked at her foster mother. She was glad Isabella had caught Ren and Aurora together. Because misery always loves company.
Aurora tried to not look at Ren and Martina, but she couldn’t help it. The woman was all over Ren, and all Aurora could think about was how much she wanted to claw Martina’s eyes out for touching her man.
“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?”
Aurora turned to the man who was standing behind her and looking at Ren and Martina as well.
“The Gem of the Romano Dynasty,” the man whispered, “makes a person jealous.”
Aurora snorted. She hadn’t meant to; it just came out.
The man laughed, “the name is Andre,” he said as he held his hand out to her.
“Jili,” she said as she politely shook his hand.
“Jili. What an intriguing name,” he said, then pulled her up off her seat and against his chest.
“I have intriguing parents, who let my brother name me,” she said as she tried to pull away from him.
“Why don’t we dance,” he whispered into her ear.
“No, thank you,” she said as she tried to pull away from him again.
“You are prettier than Romano’s Gem,” he whispered.
“Please,” she begged, still trying to pull away from him.
“I have seen how you look at Ren. Were you and he lovers, before the Gem came home? He won’t choose you, you know. Just the Gem’s title; is worth billions. The closest you will get; is his mistress. But he will let you go completely; if he knows what’s good for him. Dom will not abide, adultery.”
Aurora sucked in a shocked breath. Is what this man is saying, true? And why has no one told her that her title is worth billions?
She was so caught up in her thoughts, she hadn’t realized that he had dragged her out onto the dance floor.
Ren glared daggers at the man who was pawing his woman.
“Stay calm, Ren,” Sofia said as she placed her hand on his shoulder.
“Stay calm?” Ren almost shouted as he seethed.
“Don’t draw attention,” Sofia hissed.
“Yes, Ren, please keep your composure. You are supposed to be all over me, not watching your mistress,” Martina purred as she leaned against him.
Isabella and Sofia hissed.
“If anyone would be the mistress in this scenario, it would be you,” Isabella said with a soft growl as she took hold of Martina’s arm, with surprising strength.
“Easy, Mama,” Sofia said as she took hold of her mother’s arm.
“Yesss,” Martina hissed, “easy, Mama.”
“My daughter calls me, Mom or Mother, and you would know that; if you ever paid attention to your role,” Isabella said as she let go of the woman’s arm.
“I’m going over there,” Ren said when the man pulled Aurora onto the dancefloor.
“Stop,” Sofia hissed as she grabbed his arm.
“We are supposed to protect her,” he said as he looked at Sofia.
“We are, look,” she said as she pointed to the dance floor.
Ren turned and sighed with relief when he saw Nicola headed towards Aurora.
“Please, let me go,” Aurora begged as she tried to pull away from the man, once again.
“You don’t really want to leave me, Jili,” he whispered.
“Yes, I do,” she whispered back.
“No, you don’t,” he said as he pressed himself against her.
She almost lost the little bit of food she had managed to get into her stomach today.
Aurora smiled when she heard Nicola’s voice. Her big brother to the rescue. But why hadn’t Ren saved her?
“Wait your turn,” Andre said, annoyed.
“It is my turn,” Nicola said as he moved around the man and pulled Aurora away from the man and held her, cradled against his chest.
“Nicola,” Andre said as he glared at the man.
“Andre,” Nicola said with a nod. “Do you really want to lose Romano’s business? Can you afford it?”
Andre snorted. “Over a dumb girl? I don’t think so.”
Aurora gasped when the man called her a dumb girl.
“Over my baby sister,” Nicola said with a growl.
Andre took a step back. “Nicola Gallo is your big brother? The one who named you?”
Aurora looked up at Nicola and nodded.
“Why didn’t you tell me?!” Andre hollered in a panic.
Aurora shrugged her shoulders. “You never asked.”
“I …” Andre stood there, opening and closing his mouth. “You almost got me killed,” he whispered.
Aurora held her head up high. “You did that yourself. I had said no, several times.”
“I would have turned and walked away if you had told me that Nicola is your brother.”
“You should have done that anyway, the moment she had said no. No matter who she’s related to,” Nicola said as he watched the man.
“They always say no at first,” Andre said with a grin, “they soon change their tune.”
Nicola shook his head. “Thinking like that will get you neutered or killed.”
“Or both,” Aurora said.
Andre snorted, then turned and walked away.
“He’s dangerous to have around,” Aurora mumbled.
Nicola sighed as he looked around for their bouncer. He found Romeo with a beautiful woman with bright red hair, in his arms, and his partner beside him, also escorting a beautiful woman. He got Romeo’s attention, then pointed at Andre and signed for the bouncer to keep an eye on the man.
Romeo nodded to Nicola, then tapped his partner on the shoulder and whispered in the man’s ear.
“Isn’t that the bouncer from the nightclub?” Aurora asked as she watched Nicola, silently communicate with the bouncer.
Nicola looked down at her and nodded. “He works for Dom.”
She sighed, “I should have known. What did you tell him?”
“To keep an eye on Andre. Dom profits from Andre, as much as the man does from Dom, but Dom doesn’t need, rape, screamed out tonight.”
Aurora nodded, “those women look familiar too,” she whispered.
Nicola chuckled, “I didn’t find this out until two days later. Romeo had seen the man follow you into the bathroom and sent his lady friends in, hoping it would be enough of a distraction for you to escape. He knows that Dom doesn’t want attention drawn to you.”
Aurora smiled, “I had thought things seemed a bit set-up.”
Nicola nodded as he moved with her to the music.
Aurora sighed as she swayed to the music with him. “Thank you for coming to my rescue.”
Nicola smiled, “it is my job, Piccolo.”
“Did you work for my father when I was little?”
He shook his head, then realized she wasn’t looking at him. “No. I visited a few times. I had met Sofia at school, and we became best friends. So yes, I saw Sofia’s baby sister,” he said as he hugged her.
Aurora sighed as tears slid down her cheeks. To think of all, they have missed, because of one man.
“I don’t think Ren really cares about me,” she said with a soft cry.
He stopped moving and looked down at her. “Why do you say that, Piccolo?”
“He is after my title,” she whispered.
Nicola laughed. “Is that what Andre had said?”
She looked up at him, shocked, then nodded.
Nicola smiled, “no one can take your title from you, Piccolo. Not by marriage, not even your death. It is yours, and yours alone. If you die, it becomes nothing. You are the title, Aurora,” he whispered as he gently held her.
Aurora sighed. “Then why did you come to my rescue, instead of Ren?”
Nicola chuckled. “Did you forget that we are at his engagement party? He can’t leave his so-called bride-to-be’s side to rescue a damsel in distress and risk bringing attention to said damsel, who is hiding her own identity.”
“Oh,” she said, her mouth open in an O.
“Look at him, Piccolo,” he whispered into her ear.
Aurora looked over at Ren and sucked in a breath. Ren stood with her mother and sister on either side of him as they watched her and Nicola.
Martina stood behind them seething, having lost all the attention.