A feeling of unease came over Giovanni as he entered his home. Nobody besides him was in the apartment, yet, he had a strong feeling someone had been in it. He let go of the duffel bag, dropping it on the wooden floor. He checked the other rooms but no one was to be found. The last place he searched was his office, his eyes scanned the space looking for something to be off.
Giovanni sat behind his desk, leaned back and lit up a cigarette to ease his nerves. When he went to tap the ash off it, his scowl returned. The ashtray was clean; it wasn’t when he left for Vincenzo’s wedding. He was certain he hadn’t emptied it out and it wasn’t as if he had a maid who could have done it. He stood up and only now he saw a little bit of grey residue on the rug. Someone had been it in his office and went through the trouble of trying to cover up evidence.
Immediately, Giovanni went through the shelved documents but nothing seemed to be missing. Everything was still there.
Isabella leaned against the kitchen counter, her eyes trained on the wall clock. Giovanni would come any minute now. He had asked her out for dinner.
‘’Going somewhere?’’ Her brother looked at her outfit as he strolled into the kitchen.
‘’Am I not allowed to?’’
‘’Calm down. I’m just asking.’’ With a small smile, Sergio shook his head at her. ‘’It’s Giovanni isn’t it?’’
Sergio sighed, ‘’I suppose it’s not a coincidence you chose to go today. You know, since Papà is working today.’’
Isabella smiled weakly at Sergio. He was right. She might have been on speaking terms with her father again but couldn’t deny the strain in their relationship.
‘’Can you keep a secret?’’ she asked sweetly.
‘’Sure but don’t let it go on for too long. Secrets and lies like that pile up before you know it.’’
Isabella raised an eyebrow as she eyed her brother. Rarely did she get this type of advice from him.
‘’Speaking from experience?’’ She laughed lightly.
Sergio didn’t get to answer, the ringing of the doorbell interrupting him. He was quick to move to the front door, his sister only a few steps behind him and welcomed Giovanni with a tight smile.
‘’One second.’’ Sergio looked at Isabella and stepped outside to have a little talk with Giovanni.
Isabella covered her face with her hands, feeling mortified. Not only had her father given Giovanni a talk but now her brother as well. Before she knew it, her brother had come back inside.
‘’What did you tell him?’’
Sergio shrugged. ‘’Just about every embarrassing thing you have ever done.’’
‘’Ser!’’ She scolded, her smile giving herself away.
‘’Don’t do anything you don’t want to do,’’ Sergio said in a low voice and hugged her.
Sergio trusted Giovanni enough to let him take Isabella out for dinner. He knew that Giovanni would give her the protection she needed. Problem was that he didn’t have faith in Giovanni’s ability to restrain himself. Nonetheless, Sergio believed Giovanni to be a man of his word and wouldn’t force anything.
‘’You worry too much. Like always.’’ She let go of Sergio and headed out.
Isabella closed the door behind her and went over to Giovanni who held the car door open. On their way to the restaurant, Isabella stole a few glances at him. Her gaze trailing from his well-defined jawline to his cold blue eyes. As soon as he caught her looking, she ripped her eyes away from him. The colour pink rose in her cheeks.
‘’Where are we going?’’ she asked softly and met his blue eyes again.
Isabella almost huffed at his answer. ‘’I know that much. I meant which restaurant. The one your family owns?’’
‘’No, it’s a little outside town.’’
Giovanni rested his free hand on Isabella’s thigh. The way her body tensed told him he had taken her by surprise. Soon, he felt her relax under his touch. It gave him a feeling of content to know she was at ease with him.
‘’We’re here,’’ he announced and went to get the door for Isabella.
Isabella held her breath the second she walked into the restaurant he had brought her. She had never been in a place as luxurious as this. There wasn’t a shadow of doubt in her mind the chandeliers were made out of crystal. The golden glow was in contrast with the rest of the interior design. The host showed them to their table and were seated beside the floor-to-ceiling window. A look of wonder came over Isabella’s features as she looked outside. A perfect view of the Gulf of Naples.
‘’Thank you for bringing me here. It’s beautiful.’’ She moved her gaze to Giovanni and smiled radiantly.
‘’I’ll bring you here as many times as you want.’’
‘’Be careful making those kind of promises. I’ll take you up on it.’’ She laughed making him do the same in return.
The aromatic scents from the kitchen wafted down their table as waiters entered and exited through the doors. When Isabella and Giovanni placed their order, their attention was back on each another.
‘’Does your father know?’’ He took her hand and grazed his thumb over her knuckles.
She dropped her eyes to the white table cloth. ‘’No.’’
The corner of his lips tipped up. ‘’I didn’t think you were this sneaky. Breaking the rules and all.’’
Isabella tried to stop herself from smiling. ‘’It’s not funny.’’
Giovanni brought her hand to his lips, dotting kisses on it. ‘’It will work out. Don’t worry all too much about it, Isabella.’’
The waiter arrived with their food, her mouth watering at the dish sitting in front of her. She didn’t hesitate to dig in, enjoying every bite of it. After finishing, she sipped at the sweet wine.
‘’I’m so full.’’
‘’I don’t doubt it.’’ He chuckled before looking outside again.
Isabella had been watching Giovanni all night, there was something off about him. She tried ignoring it at first but couldn’t do it any longer. He made sure to put up a good face but it didn’t work on her. There was something clearly gnawing at him.
‘’Giovanni?’’ She got his attention. ‘’Did something happen? In the past week?’’
He shook his head dismissively. ‘’No, nothing.’’
‘’If you want to talk about it, you can tell me.’’
‘’There is nothing to talk about.’’ Giovanni said in a stern voice as he looked Isabella directly into her eyes.
Business was not to be discussed with outsiders. It was strictly forbidden for made men to do so. He knew for a fact the intruder in his apartment was in the same line of work as himself.
Once Giovanni paid for dinner and the two walked out of the restaurant. Not long after they set foot outside, Giovanni took note of Isabella’s light shivering. He took off his suit jacket and handed it over to her.
‘’Wear it,’’ he said after she had given him a puzzling look.
‘’Oh,’’ she said and wore the jacket that was a few sizes too big for her. ‘’Thank you.’’
Even though the clock hadn’t struck midnight, Giovanni decided on taking Isabella home. Bringing her any later wouldn’t do him any favours where her father was concerned.
Sitting in the passenger seat, Isabella snuggled up in the warmth of Giovanni’s clothing. It made her feel safe. His cologne still faintly on it and engulfing her.
‘’When can I see you again?’’ She tucked a piece of hair behind her ear.
All of a sudden, the car pulled over and came to a stop.
‘’Gio-‘’ Isabella’s breath hitched as he unfastened the seatbelts and made her sit on his lap.
Only now, Isabella wondered whether she should have finished her glass of wine. Hiding her surprise was futile. She was a mess. Isabella was trembling and could her hear her heart in her ears as she straddled him.
‘’Dio, you’re beautiful,’’ the rich timbre of his voice reached her making her blush.
Giovanni tilted her head and leaned in for a kiss on the lips. He was stopped however by Isabella, her hands on his chest.
‘’I- I don’t know- I’ve never kissed someone,‘’ her voice had never been this small before.
By now, Isabella’s ears matched the colour on her cheeks. For the first time, she was embarrassed by the fact she hadn’t shared a kiss with anyone.
‘’I’ll change it then.’’
Giovanni pulled her closer, catching her floral scent. He made his lips meet hers and moved slowly, waiting for her to reciprocate. When she did, his squeezed her waist.
Isabella gripped onto his dark-blue dress shirt as his slow and gentle kiss turned into something else. One that was more aggressive and demanding. Hungry and passionate at the same time. Her thoughts got hazier with each second. A small moan escaped her as he deepened their kiss. Needing to catch her breath, she tugged on his shirt. He pulled away and rested his forehead against hers. Both of them out of breath.
Giovanni looked at her slightly swollen lips, brushing over them with his thumb.
‘’Don’t move,’’ he told her when she shifted in his lap.
‘’I’m sorry,’’ she whispered despite not knowing what she was apologising for.
Isabella rested her head on his chest, melting into his warmth. She found herself thinking how his cologne suited him. It had a masculine feel to it. She listened to the pace of his heart becoming more steady. The complete opposite of hers. One that was still fidgety.
The knocking against the window quickly removed her out of her trance. She threw Giovanni a look of worry and got one of reassurance back. Rolling the window down revealed a police officer with raised eyebrows at them. Isabella immediately averted her eyes once it hit her what position she was sitting in.
The officer planted his hand on top of the car. ‘’You have to move your car. You can’t just pull up wherever you want. Now, I will let you off with a warning but next time Mr…’’ He waited for Giovanni to tell his name.
‘’De Rege,’’ irritation evident in his voice. The man had disturbed him when he was with Isabella.
The man his eyes widened for a split second and stayed silent for a couple of more. Finally, he cleared his throat. ‘’I’m sorry, Sir. I didn’t know…it won’t happen again. I’ll be on my way then.’’
Giovanni didn’t miss the tremble in his voice and offered him a small smile. ‘’It’s fine. Everyone makes mistakes.’’
Isabella was confused by the drastic change in the officer’s demeanour. Under normal circumstances, it should have been her and Giovanni apologising. It seemed as if roles had been reversed.
‘’Thank you for your thoughtfulness. Have a good night, Sir,’’ the officer said whilst glancing at Isabella and turned around to walk back to his car.
‘’Come back.’’ Giovanni ordered.
The officer turned again to look at Giovanni. Sweat began forming on his forehead, unsure of the capo’s intentions.
‘’Is something wrong, Sir?’’ He smiled nervously.
The officer answered and left when he was told to. Giovanni would take care of him tomorrow. The suggestion the officer made about having a good night with Isabella made his blood boil. While Isabella didn’t know what the man implied, Giovanni certainly did. She didn’t deserve to be disrespected like that.
‘’What was that? He let you off so easy.‘’
‘’He’s a family friend, ‘’ Giovanni said.