The sun rays coming through the curtains greeted Isabella’s eyes prompting her to wake up. Giovanni was fast asleep, his arm around her waist, keeping her in the same place. She slid her gaze to the ring, a smile creeping across her face. Not wanting to leave just yet, she lowered her lids and fell back into a dream. It was still a few hours until she had to go to work.
She got out of her sleep not much later. This time, Giovanni was not at her back. She draped an extra blanket around her and let her feet touch the floor, her hand reaching out to the nightstand, needing to support herself. Her whole body was sore and shaking.
Giovanni took notice of it when he stepped out of the bathroom and so, he carried her bridal style toward the bathtub.
Isabella let go of the thin blanket and got laid into the warm bath he had prepared for her. After thanking him, he waited outside as she cleaned herself.
‘’Are you done?’’
‘’I’m done,’’ she spoke and shook her head when he got inside again. ‘’It’s fine. I can walk.’’
‘’Can you?’’ Giovanni asked not believing her, grabbed a towel and held his hand out for her to take.
‘’Can you turn around while I…’’ Isabella peered up at him with a blush.
He listened to her request and Isabella got out, using his broad back for support. She tried drying herself as fast as possible and wore her clothes.
Giovanni turned around, immediately narrowing his eyes at her outfit. ‘’You’re not going to work today.’’
She blinked in surprise. ‘’Why not?’’
‘’Your body needs rest.’’
‘’I know but I haven’t been to work for a while now. I don’t think I can get away with another free day.’’
‘’I will take care of it.’’
When Isabella changed into her regular clothes, she was carried by Giovanni to the large couch. His service included breakfast and gave her a book to read. Throughout the whole thing, Isabella suppressed a wide smile. Beforehand, she was unaware to what extent Giovanni had her in his heart but it was clear she had him completely wrapped around her finger.
Giovanni checked in with the guards, making sure they would do their job and left for work. As the elevator continued moving downward Giovanni dialled Alberto.
‘’Ciao Alberto sono Giovanni. I called to tell that Isabella can’t make it to work.’’
‘’What did you do?’’ Alberto inquired, his tone accusing.
‘’Nothing,’’ Giovanni simply said. ‘’She’s sick but said she will be better by tomorrow.’’
‘’I see,’’ Alberto mumbled and decided to steer the conversation in a different direction. ‘’You asked for my daughter’s hand.’’
‘’Is that all you can say?’’ Alberto’s vexation shone through the clipped way he spoke in. His rhetorical question wasn’t met with any kind of response and he let out a loud sigh before adding, ‘’Don’t hurt her. Making her happy is your new priority.’’
The following day, Isabella was dropped off by Giovanni at the Donati store. She eased past the door, the familiar bell chiming and saw her mother behind the counter, helping a customer.
‘’Have a nice day!’’ Donatella spoke as the customer left, leaving them to be only ones inside the store. ‘’Isabella! How are you feeling?’’ She leaned back from her hug and held the back of the hand against her daughter’s forehead to check her temperature.
‘’I’m fine,’’ she said slowly. ‘’Why?’’
‘’Why else? You were sick!’’ Donatella exclaimed.
Isabella quickly caught on and guessed what lie Giovanni had told her parents yesterday. ’’Really, Mamma, I’m completely fine.’’ She jokingly flexed her arm to prove the point.
Hours passed by and Isabella showed a woman an assortment of wines to go with her dinner. Another customer was getting help from Donatella and another one was pretending to read the labels on the wine bottles.
The man had a short beard, his features covered by a cap. His focus on Isabella’s enchanting eyes. She had been his obsession for a while now.
He had a firm grip on his pocket knife when he observed Isabella helping a male customer. The man put the knife back in his pocket after the customer finished paying up. On his way to the exit, he bumped into a shelf’s corner, lowly groaning in pain as his hand shot up to his ribs. His eyes tracked the man and followed him outside. According to him, no man was allowed to get near Isabella.
‘’You can take a break. I’m not going anywhere.’’ Donatella winked at her daughter.
‘’I’m good. You can take one if you want, but weren’t you free today?’’
‘’Sì, but I wanted to see my little principessa.’’ Donatella’s words got Isabella to smile from ear to ear.
At the end of her day, Isabella returned home with Giovanni who she called beforehand. The drive was quiet. Not that she minded it, but something about Giovanni was off. The elevator doors moved out of the way when they reached the top floor. She watched him throw his jacket on the couch before sitting on it himself.
‘’Is everything alright?’’ She walked up to him, her hands massaging his shoulders. It was as hard as a rock. Full of stress.
‘’Dr Leonetti said he might hear me if I talked to him. So, I did. But it just feels like I’m talking to a hollow version of him.’’
‘’He will get out of it, Giovanni.’’
He noticed the shimmering of her ring. A representation of their future together. He grabbed her left hand, placing a peck on her knuckles and thought to himself to be more hopeful like her.
The sudden ringing of Isabella’s phone caused her to jump a little. The name identification on her screen making her brows scrunch up.
’’It says ‘No caller ID’ again.’’
‘’Give it.’’ Giovanni put the phone on speaker. He was going to do the talking and gestured for Isabella to stay quiet.
‘’I saw you today. Hair in a ponytail. White shirt. Blue jeans. I also saw that thing on your ring finger. It’s all wrong. You never gave me a chance. That bastard Sergio did a good one on me but I’m back. I’m the only man you’re allowed to talk to, Isabella.’’
‘’Don’t come near her again.’’ Giovanni’s warning was laced in menace.
‘’Who the fuck are you?’’ he shouted.
‘’Her man,’’ Giovanni said and ended the call.