Luca - Would you fucking answer me, you brat?
A text from Luca popped up on my phone. I’d ignored the first three, hoping he would have taken the hint I didn’t want to talk to him.
Me - What could you possibly want?
I shot back, angry I had to even answer him. It was pretty obvious I was in my room and with a pounding migraine that’s where I was hoping to stay.
Luca - Where the fuck are you? You’re supposed to be at this dinner. It’s for YOUR family after all. I look like a fucking idiot sitting here without you.
Fuck. I totally forgot about Hannah’s dinner for her engagement. Fuck fuck fuck, my parents and Hannah were going to kill me if Luca didn’t first.
Me - Well, I mean you are.
That’s right, Addy, just going to keep stirring the pot now while he’s stuck there by himself, trying not to show how pissed he is at me in front of my family and the other families.
I’d probably pay for that later.
Luca - You’re hilarious. Doesn’t answer my question, Princess.
Always with that damn nickname. I didn’t even know why he had started it, probably something he had called me out of spite when we were younger but it stuck. It was never Adelaide or Addy like my friends and family called me, it was always Princess. It was only Adelaide when he was really angry with me. And that was more often than not.
Me - I’m in my room, I didn’t feel well. Leave me alone.
My head pulsed again from looking at the bright screen, making me groan and roll to my stomach, blocking out the light. Luca stopped texting me long enough to get somewhat comfy in bed again before my door banged open, light flooding the room, heavy footsteps walking over to my bed. I groaned and looked up, already knowing full well who it was.
“Always some kind of excuse,” Luca said as he ripped the blanket off me, exposing me to the cold air.
“Leave me alone, Luca!” I screamed at him, rolling over to try to grab my blankets from him. He held tight to them as I yanked, not before catching a glimpse of him and losing focus long enough for him to get the advantage. He was in a fitted black tux with a black button up, his hair in its constant disheveled manner that only he could pull off. He’d even let his facial hair grow out a few days, giving him a rugged look. My heart fluttered enough to distract me while he ripped the blankets from my hands, throwing them to the floor, me almost flying with them.
Luca and I had been bound together since we were younger, him a young teenager and me only slightly younger, in a contract created by our fathers. My father was the head of a massive underground illegal trading cell, and had made a deal years ago with Luca’s father, Demetrios Katsaros, a known rival, that had gone south rather quickly. In order to pay the debt, a deal had been struck that one of his sons would marry my father’s youngest daughter when she came of age in order to give Luca’s father more power and territory. I don’t know why Luca had been chosen out of them, having four other brothers, but I was the youngest and now promised to him with no way out.
Neither of us had ever been happy about it, and when we had learned of the contract, the anger of our circumstances began being taken out on each other. For years we had picked at each other, trying to find out what made the other tick and kept at it, neither of us letting up. But over the past few years as we got older, I had noticed how attractive Luca had become and how involved he had become with his family’s business and mine, constructing an aura of power around him. It dominated anyone around him, pulling in those caught in its currents while I tried to keep my distance. If I stayed away, the longer I could put off the contract and marriage.
I seemed to be the only one who resisted his influence and that annoyed him to no end. He had wanted me to submit rather than fight him, he was used to everyone else doing so, so why shouldn’t a girl smaller than him be any different?
“You’re putting up quite the struggle for someone who doesn’t feel well. Or is that just another excuse, Princess?” He leaned against my bedpost, crossing his arms across his broad chest.
“Get out of my room,” I said sternly, meeting his eyes, narrowing mine. He challenged me back with his stare, neither of us daring to break.
“You don’t look very sick to me,” He arched his eyebrows, giving me a disbelieving look.
“And you’re a pain in the ass,” I threw a pillow at him but he caught it, his arm reaching out to catch it without a flinch. He tossed it to the ground, landing on the blankets next to his feet. I huffed and got off my bed, walking up to him, and closing the distance. He towered over me, a look of amusement flashing in his eyes that he’d gotten me up and wound up.
“Will you just leave me alone tonight? For God’s sake, if I tell you I don’t feel good, I don’t feel good.” I could feel heat creeping up my chest in annoyance. My head throbbed, causing my legs to buckle enough for Luca to notice as the nausea hit me. That heat the crept on me was frozen the second his arm wrapped around my waist, holding me up and tight against him.
“What’s going on?” His voice was overly concerned as I gripped his shirt, riding out the wave of nausea that had crashed into me. It subsided and I stood back up straight, feeling even more exhausted than I did before. These migraines were no joke.
“I have another migraine. So as you can see, I’m a little too incapacitated to come to dinner and sit next to you while Cecilia Blake and you eye-fuck,” I snapped. He couldn’t just leave me alone like I asked him to, he always had to keep pushing and poking all my buttons until he got what he wanted. He barked out a laugh at the last comment, keeping me held tight against him as I attempted to push him away.
“There was quite a lot of that coming from her tonight, you really missed out,” I rolled my eyes, finally getting out of his hold to pick up my blanket and pillows, throwing them back on the bed.
“I’m sure. You can go back to that with Cecilia and leave me alone,” I stood in front of him, crossing my arms over my chest and staring up at him in annoyance. He flashed a small, crooked smile.
“There’s no fun in it when I’m not actually going to fuck her. Besides, I’m a guest this weekend which means you have to entertain while I’m still here. So get your pretty ass on the bed and let me help you with your migraine,” He stared as if he gave me no other option, more requirement than request in his voice.
He’d called me pretty.
He’d never called me pretty, or even given me a compliment in any way, even if it was back handed.
It set me on edge, causing me to look for any break in his controlled gaze as I slowly got back on my bed, putting the pillows back where I wanted them. I propped back up against the pillows as he walked to the other side of my bed, slipping his suit jacket off and tossing it onto my chair and slipping his shoes off before climbing onto the other side of my bed.
“You can’t do anything to help unless you’re magically a pain medication,” I said not looking at him, laying my head back to stare at my ceiling.
“I know a few tricks. I’ve had enough concussions from training with my brothers to know how to help pain, especially migraines.”
“That explains it all.” He moved in a flash, sitting behind me with me in between his legs as he placed his hands over my shoulders, locking me in place.
“You want help or not, Princess?” He leaned in, his breath warm against my ear, the slight annoyance in his voice.
“Fine.” He started working his thumbs into my shoulders and in between them, causing me to hiss every time he hit a knot and wince. I knew I was tense but having him in my room directly behind me only made it worse. But my migraines always shot down the back of my neck, settling in my shoulders.
He worked at my neck and shoulders, kneading out the knots while working a little more tenderly on my neck as I felt some of the tension slowly leaving, my head no longer feeling like it was in a vice. I felt my muscles loosen as my head fell forward some, giving him more access.
“Better?” He continued rubbing as I relaxed enough to close my eyes, falling into the heat from his hands and the relief of finally not having pain shooting through my neck and head.
“Mmhmmm.” I couldn’t even speak, being too relaxed to even fully respond. He was good, like really good at this. It had hit me that this was the first time he’d really touched me other than a brush of the hand or having an arm around my clothed waist during events, pretending we could stand each other to avoid any conflict from our families.
“I didn’t know you had migraines like this.” His voice unusually soft, as if he actually cared. It wasn’t much of a secret, they were just a nuisance I had always dealt with since puberty, but he had contributed to most of them lately.
“You don’t care to know me most days so you wouldn’t know,” I said sharply, as he traced his fingers along my shoulders, causing a chill to run along them even though my shirt.
Maybe he’d know about it if he had ever asked me about any part of my life or even bothered to talk to me any other time he was here. When Luca was here he was usually with my father in his study, avoiding me at all costs other than dinner and the occasional free second he had where I’d seen him off on his own going to the room that adjoined with mine down my wing. Even then neither of us were too thrilled to see each other.
“I know you. I know plenty about you. You just like to hide yourself away, throwing a wall up in front of me because you know I’m everything you want,” I heard the satisfaction in his voice, causing me to try to pull away from him as he grabbed me from behind, pulling me up flush against him so that his face was in the crook of my neck, his breath hot against my skin, his grown out stubble prickling against the delicate area. His other hand spread across my stomach, holding me in place against his chest. Warmth spread across my back like sunshine. Nudging my face to this side with his nose, gently tracing the shape of my neck with it, my breath caught in my throat as I felt him place a soft kiss where my neck and shoulder met.
We’d never ever been this close before.
And I suddenly didn’t hate it. My body seemed to hum against his.
I liked it.
“Isn’t that true, Princess?” He trailed his hand up my chest and between my breasts, resting it gently on my throat as he ran a calloused thumb lightly up and down the side of it, no doubt feeling how rapidly my pulse was pounding.
Heat spread throughout my entire body, especially where his fingers had traced and where they now were.
This was too foreign to me. Me with him like this. Us touching at all in any way. Me with a guy at all. My breathing began to pick up when I realized what he was doing.
“I don’t want you,” I grabbed his hand from my throat, causing his other arm to tighten around my waist, locking me to him.
“Who else do you want, Princess? Someone else got their sights on you?” He played as he nipped at my neck, causing me to jump since I wasn’t expecting it.
He peppered kisses along my jawline and neck, planting another open mouth kiss on the nape. Something had stirred in me and the air around me felt different. It felt like it was forcing us together, if I had tried to pull away from him I would have been pushed right back into his arms. He tensed his arms around me, like he had felt the same thing.
“I suggest you get up and get ready for dinner before I drag you down in this. Wouldn’t want to ruin the night for your sister now would you?” He pushed me up so I was now standing next to the bed with my back to him and he smacked my ass, hard.
"You fucking prick!" I spun around, ready to slap him. He caught my wrist mid-swing.
“What? Don’t I deserve a little thank you helping you out?” He smirked as he walked over to the chair to grab his jacket. I was fuming and stormed into the closet to grab my dress and heels, and walked out to slam the bathroom door before he had a chance to come in.
“Fucking asshole,” I murmured to myself as I started gathering up my makeup and hair things to get ready for the dinner. I’d be late but hopefully at this point everyone had had enough pre-dinner drinks they wouldn’t even notice me slipping in.
“Such a mouth on you, Princess. It puts me to shame!” He called from the other side of the door. I let out a frustrated sigh, and now I knew he wouldn’t be leaving until I was dressed for this dinner.
“Go away!” I yelled, hearing him laugh.
I started in on my hair, pulling it down from the high ponytail I had it in and combing it, but almost breaking the comb at the size of the knots I had to work out. Once that was handled I curled the ends around my biggest curling iron to give it some beachy waves and left it as be, it’d be tangled by the end of the night anyways. Makeup was a simple foundation, mascara, and a hint of a matte pinky lipstick that went with everything.
How I was going to fit in this dress was beyond me, it looked too small for me and I was small to begin with. It was a black fitted slip dress that went down to the floor with spaghetti straps and a slit on one side from my mid-thigh down.
By the grace of God I got the dress on and zipped, and it went on surprisingly better than I thought. It hugged on all the right places, like my hips and waist, giving me an actual shape like I’d seen my sisters wear. It even made my skin look tanner than it already was, making me look like I was literally glowing. I grabbed a pair of gold hoops and put on my heels, giving myself one more glance over. If everything went to plan, everyone would have thought I’d been there all night, not up here fighting with and getting help with my migraine from Luca. And hopefully, he’d gotten tired of waiting for me and went back to the dinner.
Not thinking, I threw the door open and walked, not even paying attention that Luca was standing right there, causing me to crash into him. I stumbled in my heels and screamed, causing him to throw his arms around my waist and pull me to his chest once again.
“You don’t have to throw yourself at me, I’d take you if you just asked,” He steadied me on my feet, not letting go of my hips while he looked me up and down, taking me all in. His eyes lingered on me a little too long and I suddenly felt self-conscious in the dress and all this hair and makeup. He’d never seen me this made-up before, he’d always seen me in my casual outfits.
“What, are you going to make fun of my dress now, too?” I crossed my arms, narrowing my eyes.
I wouldn’t put it past him, he picked and poked at me every chance he got. But we both did it to each other mercilessly.
He looked at me longer than I expected and then blinked, breaking whatever trance he was in.
“No. You look nice, Princess. Ready?” He said, walking to the door and opening it to lead us downstairs.
“As I’ll ever be,” I said as I walked past him, dreading what was to come.