I hope you are safe and healthy.
I apologise for being absent all this time. I was so busy with my graduation thesis and didn’t have the time to update at all. I am happy to announce that I finally graduated university.
I will do my best to update more regularly.
Here is a new long chapter!
“Life is about accepting the challenges along the way, choosing to keep moving forward, and savoring the journey.”
― Roy T. Bennett,
“I am not wearing this bowtie, Lillian. It is final, and I won’t budge.” I threw the awful green object on the bed and looked in my closet for one of my black ties.
“Ethan, it looks great on you. Green will bring out your eyes’ colour. Besides, you are the host, and you must wear a bowtie.” Lillian continued her endless speech and followed me into my walk-in closet.
“Aren’t you supposed to be getting ready for the ball?” I asked, trying to change the topic.
“I am waiting for Melissa, she will be here soon.” She answered without even looking up from the pile of ties she was rummaging through. I gave up and leaned against the wall waiting for her to finish her search party.
Moments later, Lillian beamed at me with a black bowtie in her hands. I sighed and took it from her.
“Come on, get out of here. Let me get ready, and you as well should be ready by four. We need to be there before the first guests arrive. We have last touches to do.” I said as I shooed her from my room.
Thirty minutes later, I was ready to go. I headed to the girls’ room and knocked at the door. Normally, I just brag in since Lillian would do the same to me without batting an eyelid. But I knew Melissa was in there as I heard her coming some time ago, and I didn’t want to walk in on something I am not supposed to be a part of.
Lillian opened the door, and I took her in. She was wearing a long red dress with a low neckline. I wasn’t surprised by her colour choice since she was obsessed with red and all its shades. It was a simple dress and clear of any trimmings. Her hair was curly and free around her shoulders. Lillian was an elegant girl and can make any dress she wore look gorgeous.
I didn’t need to lean over to kiss her cheek as she was nearly the same height as me. I don’t understand how girls can wear high heels and walk with them without falling and breaking their necks. I kissed her cheek lightly and complimented her, “You look stunning, cousin.”
“You don’t look bad yourself.” She laughed and looked back in the room, “Are you ready, Melissa?”
The girl in question emerged from the room wearing a purple fluffy dress. It was just above her knee. I looked at Lillian in question, and she just shrugged her shoulders. It was apparent Melissa was the one who chose her attire. Well, it wasn’t that bad but, it wasn’t good either.
I took Melissa’s arm since she was my date for the party, and we exited the apartment with Lillian behind us. As expected, we found Enzo waiting for us next to his silver Audi. My knucklehead of a best friend bowed to Lillian and clasped her hand.
“I can’t believe you graced me with the opportunity of being your escort today. You look breathtaking, my lady.” For the first time ever, I saw Lillian blushing. She smiled at him and squeezed his hand. What was going on here? Did I miss something?
Before I could dwell on the subject for some more, my friend’s eyes landed on Melissa, and they widened comically. I shot him a warning glance, and he coughed and said with his fake charming smile.
“Good afternoon, Melissa. You look beautiful tonight.” Melissa nodded and thanked him politely.
Lillian and Enzo went to the Audi, while I and Melissa took my black Ferrari. I gave Matteo the day off since I wanted to drive to today’s function. It was so special to me, and I desired it to be a huge success.
We were the first to arrive, and the press wasn’t there yet. For this, I was thankful, as I don’t have any time to waste answering their endless questions.
I beamed in pride when I saw the decorated venue. It took us several days and sleepless nights to make it look like it does now. It was a long process, especially since Lillian wanted to change everything the designer team had decided on before we were there. She was pissed at the project director who treated us like some school teenagers, and she made it her mission to piss off the woman.
The next hard part was security. We hired nearly a hundred bodyguards and stationed them around the ball. It was a bodyguard in every corner. We divided and each of us took it upon himself to recheck on his designed missions.
Lillian and Melissa checked the guests’ list, the tables’ seating arrangements, and the chef’s preparations for the food. While I and Enzo re-checked the security cameras, the bodyguards’ stations, and the safe room where we put the necklace.
By the time we were finished, the first guests started arriving. Against my better judgment, we allowed Melissa to be the one who greets our attendants. Lillian was responsible for guiding our guests and answering any questions they might have.
One hour into the party, the don, and Grandma arrived. I headed to their direction, but before I could make any move to greet them, my Grandma took me in her arms. She smelled of Lavender and Vanilla, it was the smell of home. I hugged her back and waited for a few moments before I pulled back.
“Hello Grandma, you look stunning today,” I said as I look at her burgundy fancy dress. My Grandma just shook her head at my praise and said with her usual warm smile. “You are so handsome my boy. I am sure some hearts will be broken by the end of tonight.”
I looked from Grandma to Grandpa, who was standing tall and menacing like always. His face was stoic and void of any emotion.
“Hello sir, I hope you will enjoy the party,” I said formally. Grandpa just nodded, took Grandma’s hand, and together, they disappeared in the crowd.
If anyone knew Rafaello Salviatti, then they would know the man held grudges like no one else on this planet. He was still mad at me and wouldn’t be shy to show it.
After my grandparents, my uncles and their wives came next. I greeted each of them, and I was delighted when they didn’t give me the cold shoulder. We didn’t see each other in three years, but they didn’t bring it up in any of the topics we discussed.
Finally, it was the turn of the encounter I dreaded all day. My father walked in the ball with his usual confident strides. I waited for him to finish speaking with some guests before I approached him.
“Hello, Father,” I spoke formally and stretched my hand towards him.
My father shook my hand firmly and nodded in what I deciphered was satisfaction.
“You did well.” He commented looking around the room.
“Thank you,” I said awkwardly. It wasn’t an everyday occurrence for Damien Salviatti to shower you with praise, even if it was small words of appreciation. So when it happened, you would be an idiot to not bask in it.
We stood in silence for some time, and then I had to open my mouth and destroy the peacefulness I was feeling. “Why didn’t you bring Hunter with you?” I asked my father.
He put the glass he was sipping from on the small table between us and gave me a look that said, ‘Are you really asking me this question?’ “He didn’t want to come. He is on vacation with his friends.” He answered simply.
“Oh, I see,” I said dumbly.
“When are you coming back?” My father’s question threw me off balance, and I nearly choked on my drink.
“I don’t know,” I answered and gazed around the full ballroom, with people smiling and chatting. I don’t know if they were genuinely happy to be here, or if it was just for appearances. I wasn’t the kind of person who could smile and act like everything was normal when he was angry or sad.
“You are still adamant about hunting Alberto, aren’t you?” Dad asked casually as if he was speaking about the weather and took another sip from his champagne. I masked my features and said with a cold voice.
“I heard you caused a hurricane in New York, but the bastard is still nowhere in sight,” I smirked as I observed my father’s jaw clenching. It was taking him a great deal of effort not to grit his teeth in anger. “When I come back to New York, it will be with Alberto’s head in my baggage. Now, if you will excuse me, sir, I have some things to check on.” With those words, I walked away.
Encounters with my father always leave me bothered and uncomfortable. I always loved my father and considered him my role model. I still look up at him and it was my goal to follow in his pattern. I pushed away those thoughts to the dark part of my mind and went to Lillian, who was making sure everyone was sitting in their respective places.
“Are we ready to serve dinner?” I asked as I stood beside my cousin.
“Yes, the appetizers will come out in seconds. Let’s go and take our seats.” Lillian answered and together, we sat on a table that was reserved especially for the family members. I sat with Jackson to my left, with Lillian taking his other side, and on my right sat Uncle Edward. I wanted Melissa to sit with us, but Lillian showed me it was a wrong idea, and it would send the wrong message to our family. I didn’t want them to think she was my girlfriend or anything since she was just my date for the ball.
The waiters and waitresses brought the plates and put them on the tables. The dinner passed in comfortable chatter. At one point, my grandfather put his fork down and looked at me. Suddenly, the whole table’s attention was focused on me.
“I heard you are opening a company here in Zurich.” My Grandfather looked at me with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes, I am developing a new project. If it works, I am sure it will be of great help to others.” I spoke coolly.
“Aren’t you going to share your ideas with us, little cousin?” Jackson asked with his usual smirk on.
“First of all, I am not little anymore, dear cousin. I am a university graduate now.” I winked at him, and he stuck out his tongue at me. I laughed at Lillian as she struck him behind the head. “As for my project, it isn’t suitable for a dinner table. We can discuss it later if you want.” Jackson just nodded and didn’t press the matter anymore.
After dinner, it was time for dancing. I didn’t know how I agreed to Lillian’s idea of turning our dance floor to one from the eighteenth century, but the little vixen had convinced me that anyone who can walk and know the difference between right and left can perform a country dance.
At least she had the courtesy of informing our guests of the dance they should learn. She said we will be the talk of all the upper society since it was a new idea, and no one was brave enough to do it.
Jackson groaned once he heard Lillian’s explanation about the dance. I nearly laughed at his expression of horror.
“You realise the purpose of this dance, don’t you?” Jackson spoke to me.
“Yes, I know it was used as a getaway for potential courtship,” I said to my cousin.
“Oh my god! I never thought you would agree to that, Ethan. This is getting ridiculous. The ball is an exhibition, not a party from some middle-age movie.” Jackson protested and looked around as if trying to escape the inventible.
“Try explaining this to your sister, not that I didn’t try already,” I said and watched in amusement as Jackson went to Grandma and begged her to be his dancing partner.
I took Melissa’s hand and led her to the dancing floor. We waited until everyone was in their places before the music started.
We were transformed into a different era. I nearly laughed as we swiped partners and danced with different people on every turn. At one point, I even found myself dancing with Grandma, who was smiling widely.
It wasn’t common for Mafia parties to turn out like this, and I am sure half the people in here would have refused the invitation if it wasn’t from our family.
On my third turn, I found myself a partner with a gorgeous brunette. She was confused and looked out of her comfort zone. I didn’t know why I felt the urge to ease her nerves. I squeezed her hand and leaned over to whisper in her ear.
“You will be okay, just copy what we are doing, and you will be fine.” She smiled at my words and nodded her head silently.
“You will be okay.” Those were the first words Ethan Salviatti said to me. I wanted to laugh and ask him if he would be okay by the end of tonight, but I controlled myself and gave him a little smile.
I never thought my mission will land me in the middle of a dancing floor like this. I had never danced in my life before. My bastard of a boss didn’t tell me I needed to learn dancing or anything as stupid as this. And to be honest, it never crossed my mind a mafia family would organise a country dance for a formal ball. Those people were strange.
I headed Ethan’s advice and danced with the flow. It wasn’t hard, and I think I was able to save my face from doing something embarrassing or worth the attention of anyone.
To be honest, the man was gorgeous in his black tuxedo. He emitted power and control. His steps were confident and his touch firm. I even found myself enjoying being his partner. I don’t even want to start on his green eyes. They were the most beautiful eyes I saw. They resembled emeralds and were so enticing.
′What the hell, Nina? Get a grip on yourself’ I scolded myself and concentrated on the last moments of our dance.
Once the music stopped, the attendants went back to their places. The lights in the room dimmed apart from the platform, which was still illuminated. Ethan moved to the front of the room and stood on the stage beside a stunning girl in a red dress. I didn’t have words to describe her, she was a walking doll. He tested the microphone a few times before his strong voice blared in the room.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you are having a great time at our humble party. I think we all enjoyed the country dance, didn’t we?” Ethan said and waited until the chuckles from the crowed died before he spoke again. “Now, we will move to the main part of our function.” He said and clicked on a small remote in his hand. “This expo explains the cause we are working for, and where the benefit’s from today’s ball will go.”
“Children around the world are suffering from abuse, homeless, and lost all hope from this life. We will work hard to help them move on and see a different part of this cruel world. Ladies and gentlemen, every penny you will spend tonight will go to the right persons, who are in real need.” Lillian said with a gentle voice while a video played in the background.
Wow! How impressive? I nearly believed the words I was hearing. Those people in here were kidding themselves. It was disgusting how they lied and believed their own bluff. I watched as boxes after boxes of jewelry were displayed.
Women and men competed in getting the pieces they liked no matter how much the price was. Even Allen took part in the bidding and brought a pair of earrings for a big amount of money. I looked at him in confusion, and he just shrugged his shoulders.
“We need to keep appearances.”
I shook my head at his words and continued watching the display of wealth and power. Finally, the auction was over, and I sighed in relief.
“Now, to finish today’s successful event, we will display one of our rare jewelry pieces,” Ethan said, and I watched as the girl in the weird dress wheeled a glass box to the middle of the ballroom.
The girl in the red dress took the necklace in her hand and showed it to everyone in the room. Everyone awed and looked at the necklace in wonder. When she came to our table she showed it to Allen and then to me, it was stunning in her hands, and I even longed to touch it.
The girl smiled at me and explained. “The necklace is created from a rare jewel called, Alexandrite. This gem is so special. It is Emerald during the day, ruby by night.” Sure enough, the gems in the necklace were a red colour.
“Why didn’t you put it in the auction?” I found myself asking the girl.
The girl chuckled and said with a gentle voice. “This necklace is priceless, dear. It is one of the rare original Alexandrite stones around the world. Now, I must go, have a good night.” She said and left me with racing thoughts in my head.
Suddenly, I realised the magnitude of my mission. I sighed and closed my eyes. It wasn’t the time to be a coward. This mission was the key to my freedom, and I won’t fail, no matter what. I watched as Ethan spoke some more and thanked the attendants for their time and generosity. Guests started to leave, and I decided it was the ideal time to strike.
I looked at Allen and arched an eyebrow, “I think you know what you have to do, right?”
“Yes Ma’am, consider all the cameras off. But once my mission is over, I am out of here. I won’t wait for you.” He said in warning.
I rolled my eyes at his words and said sarcastically. “Don’t worry your pretty head about me. I don’t need princes in shining armour to rescue me. Just do your job correctly, or I swear, I will hunt you down and kill you slowly and painfully.” I smiled in satisfaction when his eyes enlarged, and he hurried to do his job.
I watched as the girl started wheeling the cart back, and I realised it was my chance to proceed with my plan. I blended in the shadows and followed her silently. She walked a long corridor and then swiped her card to enter another room. I looked around and noticed the cameras were off. Well, at least the handsome bloke had a good head on his shoulders.
Two guards were standing at the entrance, and I waited until the door closed behind her to make my appearance.
“What’s up boys?” I said to the two burly men. They looked at me in confusion, but before they can register there was an invasion, I punched one of them in the face, and surprisingly, he fell on the floor unconscious. I shook my burning knuckles and avoided a kick coming my way. The second guard gave me a hard time, and I was forced into a combat mode to knock him down. I breathed deeply and took one of the guards’ cards. I swept it and the door opened. I ran to the end of a long hall and was met with another two guards. I groaned in frustration and engaged in another fight. I cursed myself for not using my revolver. I don’t know why I have a soft spot for guards. They didn’t deserve to die while protecting some bastards.
This time when the door opened, I was met with a large empty room aside from a huge glass box, where I assumed the necklace was. I saw the girl with the purple dress placing the blue velvet box in her hands in its rightful place.
“Hello there, pretty girl.” The girl jumped and turned around so quickly she nearly dropped the box from her hands. I advanced towards her and stood with her face to face. “No, you don’t want to drop this box, do you?” I tsked in a mock scolding voice.
“Who are you?” The girl managed to squeak while she was trying to stabilize her breathing.
“It didn’t matter who I am. But I am a busy woman, so can you please hand me the box you are holding, so I can see to my other work.”
“What! No, you can’t take the necklace. It is....” I held my hand to stop her blabbering, and with a swift movement, I aimed my gun at her. The girl’s hands trembled, and tears gathered in her light blue eyes. I just shook my head and blew a breath through my nose. It wasn’t the time for me to deal with a cry-baby.
“Look, I won’t harm you. Just give me the damn box, and I will leave you alone.” When she didn’t make any move to obey my orders, I took it to open myself to snatch the box from her shaking hands. The moment my fingers touched the box, a deafening alarm blared around the room. Now, I was in trouble. I am sure half the mafia family was on its way here, and the other half was outside blocking all the exits.
But to be honest, I was impressed. They thought of installing an alarm on the box itself. They weren’t clumsy after all.
I looked around the room and saw no windows to escape. So I leaned against the wall with my gun still trailing in the girl’s direction. With my free hand, I opened the box and stared at the magnificent piece of Jewellery. It was shiny and so elegant. I took it in my hand and was surprised at its lightweight. I was sure it was heavy and wearing it would be torture, but for once I was wrong.
“Can you please help me put it on?” I asked the girl who looked at me as if I were totally crazy.
“I am sorry, but you can’t wear....” She started blabbering again, and I snapped my fingers to get her attention.
“Look baby girl, I was polite and threw a please in my request, which I don’t do most of the time. So help me put the necklace on before I force you to do it, which won’t be pretty.” I said with a sickeningly sweet voice. Even I cringed at how it sounded in the empty room.
I touched the necklace around my neck and smiled at how it felt on my skin. I leaned back against the wall, but I put my gun on the ground. The poor girl was already afraid out of her skin, I didn’t want to be the reason she becomes traumatised.
What’s better than waiting for your enemies to arrive?
I didn’t wait for long before a dozen men in dark suits came running into the room with their guns aimed in every direction. I sighed in boredom and looked at them. “Where is your boss? I want to meet him.”
When no one answered my question, I looked at the scared girl standing beside me. “Hey, can you please go and tell Ethan Salviatti I want to speak with him?”
This time she just nodded and ran out of the room. The moment she was out, I found myself engaged in another battlefield. I can’t remember how many bodies I flung over, or how many men I punched in the face, but I was getting tired and sweaty by the minute. When will he come and get me out of this fruitless fighting? I was relieved when I heard his voice booming through the room. “Enough.”
It was like a magic word. All the goons stopped their relentless fight and stood around the room at attention waiting for orders from their boss. I rolled my eyes and tried to fix my messy hair. I needed to apologise to the stylist since all her work evaporated into thin air.
“I see your fighting skills are better than dancing ones,” Ethan commented as he advanced towards me.
“You see, a girl needs to choose wisely in which field she spends her time and effort,” I said as I waited for him to stand mere inches from my face. He reached over and touched the necklace gently with his fingers. I felt a shiver ran up from my neck to the end of my spine.
“I think you have something that’s not yours. Can I have it back?” He said with a low calm voice, but I knew better. The fire in his green eyes and the furrow of his brows, were enough indicators he was beyond angry.
“You can’t demand things from me. I am the one here who has the upper hand.” I said with a smirk on my face.
“I am not in the mood to play games. What do you want?” He said with a dark shadow casting his face.
“I want to speak with the don privately.” I said emphasizing the word ‘privately’.
Ethan surprised me as he laughed so hard until tears gathered in his eyes. “Look, the don is a very busy man, and he doesn’t have the time for some girl, who wants to speak with him out of the blue.” He said when he composed himself enough to speak coherently.
“Ok, I am good with this. I will go my merry way, and you can tell the don I said hello.” I said with a smile on my face and started walking.
I felt a strong arm encircling around my own. Ethan leaned over and whispered in my ear. “Aren’t you forgetting something?”
“Ah, you mean the necklace. It is mine now. I found it, I take it.” I said with a wide grin taking over my face.
“What makes you confident I won’t just shot you in the head and take the necklace from your limp body?”
“I am not confident or anything. When I stole this necklace, I knew I can die at any moment. But be honest with me, aren’t you curious about the girl who was able to crack your unbreakable security?” I said with a challenging tone.
I was met with silence. I always liked how I can render anyone speechless, with only a few well-placed words. Without another glance my way, Ethan Salviatti said with a harsh voice.
And I was happy to comply. It turned out my mission wasn’t all that bad. Let’s see what will happen when I meet the Alpha of your pack. I thought in my mind as I nearly ran to keep up with Ethan’s wide strides. Didn’t he know that a lady and a man are supposed to walk side by side? Maybe he was really in need of some etiquette lessons.
Nina:” Like and comment and maybe I can let you take a glance on my necklace! Wink!Wink”