Never a Ever After

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Dear No one

Maia tore her gaze away from Bella to settle upon the younger of her two companions. Alyssa Bergetti was pretty in that girl next door kind of way. She had a flawless peach and cream complexion offset by a chocolate brown mane streaked with honey blond highlights and cut in layers around her face.

Alyssa possessed long, curly eyelashes that bordered almond-shaped brown eyes and high cheekbones like her grandmother. If there was perhaps anything that could diminish the younger girl’s beauty in Maia’s eyes, it was her severe lack of confidence. The teen found herself battling the urge to pull Alyssa’s rounded shoulders back to force her to stand upright or hold her head straight so that she’d have to maintain prolonged eye contact.

It was perplexing to Maia for one to be so beautiful and somehow ignorant of it. Alyssa spoke then, or at least Maia thought that she did. She saw the girl’s lips move, but the sound that came forth was barely audible, causing her grandmother to cast a stern glance in her direction.

Clearing her throat, Alyssa spoke again, “I’m very pleased to meet you, Maia.”

Smiling warmly at the younger girl, Maia replied, “I’m pleased to meet you as well, Alyssa.” “I love that top that you’re wearing, by the way. It’s such a lovely color on you,” Maia added graciously.

Grinning at the compliment Alyssa’s dark orbs twinkled merrily.

Perking up a bit, Alyssa replied, “Thanks! I really like your bracelet.”

The charm bracelet that the young girl admired was a simple yet beautiful accessory. The bracelet had a stainless steel adjustable chain with three charms plated in sterling silver and 18k gold. There was a microphone, a piano, and a clapperboard. The microphone served as a reminder to never let her voice become stifled. The piano was a recollection of the first time she and Kenneth met, and the clapperboard symbolized her secret desire for a film career.

It was by far the cheapest trinket that she owned, and yet it was priceless. Kenneth had bought it for her birthday last year with the money he’d saved up from his summer job. The bracelet had become such a staple in her wardrobe that she often forgot that she was wearing it. For a moment, the brunette’s eyes clouded over with sadness until she felt a jab in her ribcage, which made her jump a little in surprise.

Out of the corner of her eye, Maia could see her mother tilt her head slightly in the direction of Mrs. Bergetti’s grandson. Maia’s cheeks tinged pink as she realized that she’d been so focused on Alyssa that she’d been unintentionally ignoring Alex. Maia turned to greet Alex, but as her amber orbs fell upon him, the words hung in her throat. If Alyssa Bergetti was pretty, then Alex Bergetti was gorgeous.

Unlike his sister and grandmother, Alex’s coloring was more olive, making him the darker of the three. He had short, dark brown hair that was tousled in a deliberate attempt to look unruly. Alex’s dark thick brows were positioned above hooded hazel eyes with flecks of forest green in them. A thin patch of hair underneath his nose framed his rounded cupid’s bow lips.

Maia had met many an attractive boy before, but none had left her quite this speechless. Why was everyone in this family so damn perfect? It was unnatural and unnerving, she thought to herself. Come on girl, pull yourself together. Say something, Maia urged.

“Uh, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance Alex,” Maia finally stammered. Great, now he probably thought that she was a complete spazz, Maia chastisedherself. However, as she studied Alex’s face, he didn’t seem annoyed at all. In fact, the manner in which his lips tilted upwards at the corners would suggest that he was amused. The boy clearly knew the effect that he had on girls, and he loved it.

Nervously, Maia extended a dainty hand forward for him to shake, and with a dazzling smile, Alex stepped forward to clasp it. However, instead of shaking it, he leaned in close, allowing Maia to catch a whiff of his cologne, which was a delightful blend of sage and sandalwood with just a hint of citrus. It was a delicate fragrance, yet somehow still very masculine.

Without warning, Alex brushed his lips tenderly against Maia’s left cheek. They were soft and left a warm, tingling sensation on the skin that they had caressed. He then moved to the other cheek allowing his lips to linger there perhaps a minute longer than what would be deemed appropriate before pulling away. Maia could feel her face flush as he breathed, “The pleasure is all mine, Maia.”

So focused on her charismatic dinner guest was the Latina that she was oblivious to the knowing looks exchanged between the Bergetti matriarch and her mother. A throat cleared in the distance, and with a herculean effort, Maia lifted her gaze from Alex’s handsome visage to find their butler Pemberly standing next to her mother.

With his dark eyes fixed on Shanna, Pemberly stated politely, “Dinner is served, madam. Please follow me to the dining room.”

That said, he promptly did an about-face and started in the direction of the dining room. Flashing her a toothy grin, Alex bent his arm at the elbow and extended it towards Maia as he inquired, “Shall we?”

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