Wildfire

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5.

ADELAIDE

My heart continued to race for a few minutes after he left my room and I got into my bed, turning off the lights. I laid there, staring at the dark ceiling, running through everything in my head.

Luca and I didn’t like each other, we never had. From the moment we learned our fate we warred with each other, picking at and fighting to no end, like we had been sworn enemies. He’d say something arrogant to me or about me and I’d snap right back, fire in my words meant to burn, keep away. He’d purposely do something when he was over to get under my skin, like place a book I was reading up on a higher shelf because he was taller than me and I’d never reach and I’d retaliate later with adding salt to his coffee that was brought into my father’s office for him. We’d built walls up around each other to keep the other out, we thought it would make this more bearable to get through.

But here we were. We’d kissed tonight, multiple times. He staked his claim on me against Liam, knowing full well it’d anger him more. And he had felt good against me. When he touched me, it felt right. I didn’t want it to, I didn’t want him to tame this fire he talked so much about with me. I wanted him to stay away, I wanted to get this marriage over with and move on. I wanted him touching and kissing and holding me to feel wrong but it didn’t.

I tossed and turned for hours, unable to sleep with all the thoughts racing through my head. It was the worst sleep I’d had in forever, finally drifting out when I noticed the sky was starting to lighten.

“Time to get up, little Addy!” Hannah said shrilly as she ripped open the binds on my windows, flooding my room with sunlight, one beam hitting me directly in the face. I groaned, scrunching my face at the bright light assaulting my eyes. Rolling over, I tried blocking out the sun my pulling my pillow over my head, blocking out Hannah’s persistent yelling at wake me up.

“You can’t sleep all day, get up!” Hannah ripped the pillow off my head, tossing it to the side. I rolled over, staring daggers into her.

“If I didn’t miss you so much I’d kill you.” I growled out at her, annoyed at how loud she was and how I’d only gotten a few hours of sleep. She rolled her eyes and scoffed.

“Always so dramatic with you.” She said as she finished ripping open all the curtains in my room so almost every surface was bathed in sunlight. “Here, drink this while it’s still hot.” Hannah thrust a coffee mug into my hands as I sat up, pushing my hair from my face. The aroma of coffee swirled around my nose, instantly soothing some of my annoyance at my sister for waking me as she did.

“Okay so don’t get mad or throw your coffee at me because it’s really good coffee but I heard some of the servants talking and they said that Luca is staying another week.” Hannah sat on the end of my bed hesitantly as I looked at her over the top of my mug, choking on a sip. I sputtered, spitting coffee all over my blanket. Great.

“Fuck.” I groaned, leaning back against my pillows, pressing my hand to my forehead as I sighed.

I was hoping that after last night he’d be leaving for a week like he usually did, giving me time and space to go over what was happening. Now I’d have no escape from him for another week.

“You both disappeared last night, did something happen? Is that why your door was locked? It took me forever to find the key.” Hannah wiggled her eyebrows suggestively, and I continued shooting daggers at her while sipping at the coffee.

Shit, I forgot he basically locked me in with him.

“Uhm... yeah actually. We kissed. But it’s not what you think!” I said quickly as I watched her eyes get big, like they’d come out of her face. She crawled up my bed to where I was, sitting down in front of me and crossing her legs, looking at me like she’d attack me if I didn’t tell her everything.

“He kissed me first. The first two times. I made him mad the first time out on the balcony before dinner. And then later we kinda... made out.” I looked away from her, too anxious now to make eye contact with her when I knew she wanted every single detail. She shot up on her knees and squealed, bouncing me and causing me to almost spill even more of my coffee everywhere.

“I knew it! I knew you two would eventually get over whatever it is you two are always fighting about and just be together. It’s about time!” She grabbed my shoulders, looking at me totally deranged.

Typical Hannah. A true romantic in every sense of the word. She was all about candle lit dinners, walks on the beaches, romantic getaways. This was like a drug to Hannah telling her about Luca and me kissing.

“We aren’t together, Hannah. It was just a fluke thing. Just frustration taken out on each other, nothing more. I’m sure it won’t happen again so don’t get your hopes up.” She rolled her eyes, plopping back down on my bed and playing with a string on my comforter.

“Whatever you say. We all see the way he looks at you. And you don’t know it won’t happen again, what if now he’s accepted that you’re to be married and he actually wants to? Roman and I were so nervous with each other at the start, each of us could barely handle being in the same room together.” She looked at me, hopeful that Luca and I would turn out like her and Roman, completely and totally in love and all over each other.

“I doubt that. He’s a guy and he’s got a one-track mind. Besides, he looks at Cecilia the same way. He just wants to mess around and play with my head, that’s it.” I looked down into my coffee, wondering if that really was why he had kissed me. Maybe it was all a game for him, see how far he can go with me. Anxiety rolled in my stomach.

“Oh please, have you actually paid attention to how he looks at her? Everyone see it, he looks at her like he wouldn’t touch her with a 10-foot pole, much less try to get in her in his bed. You clearly haven’t been paying attention, you’re too concerned with hating him to see he has no interest in her.” She scooted off my bed, standing up and brushing down her sweater to straighten it out again.

Out of the three of us, Hannah was always the most put together. Not a single hair was ever out of place, her lipstick never smudged, and her clothes always pressed and neat. I used to envy Hannah, she always had the best grades, was the better at sports in school, she was the daughter who would be capable of taking over the business with Roman when and if my father stepped down, regardless if she wanted to or not. And regardless of what business it was, legal or illegal.

My father tried hard to hide us from that world, never letting us get too close. We had seen many powerful men come and go from out home over the years, always here to meet with my father to discuss his business, and we’d sat through many tense dinners with them and their families. Luca’s family was the same, his father had come many times to meet with my father, bringing Luca and his brothers as they got older. My sisters and I were never to partake in these meetings, never to know what was happening on the other side of my father’s study doors, only that we were each to marry into a family to would strengthen our alliances. Except me. I was to be married to correct a mistake that almost cost my father his life.

“Anyways, I came in here to ask if you wanted to go shopping with me today.” Hannah said, snapping me out of my thoughts and back to my room. “Roman and I have a dinner to attend with the Laurent’s and I need a new dress.” She looked at me, hopeful that I’d say yes. She knew I hated shopping, I like my clothes very minimal and non-fuss but I hadn’t seen Hannah in so long I couldn’t tell her no without a guilty conscious.

“Fine.” I groaned out, knowing now there was no going back to sleep for the day and no avoiding Luca unless I was out of the house. Hannah squealed in excitement.

“Meet me downstairs in half an hour!” She said as she walked out the door.

I groaned again lightly as I drug myself out from the warm comfort of my blankets, my legs meeting the cold air from the air conditioning running all night.

If I was right, Hannah would have us out shopping all day, buying multiple dresses from different stores so she could try them all on again at home and return the others later. Which meant comfort over anything today. I walked in my closet, coffee still in hand while my yawning never stopped.

So now not only was Luca messing with my head, he was messing with my sleep schedule.

I grabbed my oversized gray sweater, a pair of cropped black skinnies, and a bra and started tackling my hair again. Down and wavy was usually the way to go, today I just played with the volume of it. I didn’t even attempt with concealing the bags under my eyes, thankfully I could just wear sunglasses all day.

I met Hannah downstairs after grabbing a pair of slip-on flat black mules and my purse and in usual Hannah fashion, she had changed again to go shopping.

“About time, I was about to leave without you.” She said as I fished my oversized sunglasses out from my bag, putting them on and sliding them up so I could walk to the kitchen.

“I’m like one minute late. Let me grab more coffee and I’ll meet you at the car.” I said disappearing around the corner and bee lining for the coffee machine. I could see from down the hall that there was just enough coffee in the pot for one more cup, just enough for me as I saw Luca come out of the other room, mug already in hand and grab the pot.

“NO!” I screamed, reaching my hand out as if it would ever be able to grab the coffee from him last enough as I was half way down the hall. He paused and whipped his head around to look at me, eyebrows forming into questioning arches. Then I saw it click on his face as I stopped, watching him pour the coffee into his mug and set the now empty pot down. A smug look spread across his face, fully understanding now that he had just taken from me the only satisfying part of my morning. I groaned, rolling my head back and sighing.

There went my ability to handle shopping with Hannah and staying awake today.

My head rolled back down to look at him and I let out an aspirated sigh, now totally annoyed with the whole morning.

“You look tired today, Princess. Something keep you up last night?” He said, staring me right in the eye as he took a long sip of coffee. My eyes narrowed, annoyance boiling inside me that now only had he taken the last of the coffee, but now he’d noticed that I hadn’t slept because of him. Nice.

“Yes. The dread of having you exist for another day.” I said walking now into the kitchen to see if there was any more coffee anywhere. Nada.

"Fuck.” I mumbled under my breath as I closed the last cabinet door. I turned around to see him bending over the counter, one arm folder against it to prop him up while he continued to sip the coffee, keeping his eyes on me as he did so.

“Where are you off to?” He eyed me up and down, noticing that I was getting ready to leave and go meet Hannah in the car. My body felt hot as I felt his gaze on me.

“None of your business.” I snapped back, no longer having the energy to interact with him, especially since he’d taken the last of the coffee in the whole house.

“Aw, someone grumpy in the mornings? You should really have some coffee.” He teased, my annoyance level at him rising. I stormed past him, flipping him the bird over my shoulder as I left the kitchen to meet Hannah. He barked out a laugh behind me before I rounded the corner.

God, he was infuriating. Especially without coffee.

What else was infuriating was how my body burned up like that whenever I felt his gaze on me. I didn’t want to be falling for him in any way, especially since he didn’t like me.

“Are you ready now?” Hannah bugged as I got in the car. I rolled my eyes.

I put my sunglasses back on and leaned back, looking lazily out the window as Hannah drove us into a very long day of shopping.

***

We reached shop one of many, Hannah so excited to buy more clothes she barely put the car in park before jumping out. Though Hannah and I were allowed to drive alone, we were always closely tailed by one or two of my father’s security guards to ensure our safety. With him possessing so much power and authority, there was no telling who would try to harm one of us to get to him and leverage that kind of power.

“Oh my God, isn’t this just gorgeous?!” Hannah squealed as soon as we stepped foot in the shop, practically running over to a red lace dress that was dangerously low cut and had a slit up the leg. She picked it off the rack, walking over to a mirror to see how it would look on her.

“This would look beautiful on you, Addy, with your hair all curled!” She spun around to look at me, excitement in her eyes. I sat on one of the sofas towards the dressing room, having no desire to look. I had plenty of never worn dresses at home from Hannah and Chelsea over the years, I needed a new dress like a hole in my head.

“We’re not here for me, you’re the one who needs the dress for the dinner. Plus red’s not really my color but you should go try it on.” I laid my head back against the back of the couch, too tired to even attempt to like the dress.

“You’re no fun, it’s like playing dress up like when we were little.” Hannah said walking around the store with the sale’s woman, grabbing dresses left and right to fill her fitting room.

We’d been there for what felt like hours and it seemed like Hannah had tried on every single dress twice before sending a pile to the counter to buy, no doubted returning most or all of them by the end of the week.

“Do you have enough dresses yet?” I whined to Hannah as we loaded her bags into the car.

“There’s one more shop I want to look at and then we’ll go, promise!” She looked at me with pleading eyes, knowing that I was towards the end of my rope with patience, especially with how tired I was. I groaned and followed her down the street to the next shop, this shop looking three times the size as the last. Oh how I wish I had gotten to that coffee before Luca this morning.

I sat down again towards the fitting room on the sofas, taking a look around at how many things Hannah would try on before finally letting us go home before something caught my eye.

Though I loved my simple, comfy clothes, a little sparkle every now and then didn’t kill me.

I got up and grabbed this beautiful short black dress with mesh-like sleeves with black sequins running all around it. The neckline plunged but a little two-sided tape and it’d never budge. For once maybe it did pay off to go shopping with Hannah, I did plan on going to the club this weekend when Edie, my best friend, came back from her trip to Bali. I hadn’t seen her in almost 3 weeks and was itching to get out and this would be perfect.

“I’m going to try this one.” I said to Hannah, her just nodding her head in acknowledgement as she continued to pick out dressed with the sales woman.

I found a dressing room with ease, we seemed to be the only ones shopping around today, and tried it on.

It fit perfectly and the fabric was so light-weight and comfy, this would be one of the easiest dresses to wear this weekend with Edie. I looked almost like I belonged in a 70s disco club with the way the light bounced off the sequins.

I could hear that Hannah was still picking out dresses so I figured it’d just be easier to send her a photo of me in the dress, knowing she’d look at her phone again when she finally went to try on her dresses. I snapped a few photos, finding the one with the best angle to show off the detail and how well it fit before scrolling through my texts to find the last ones to Hannah. Suddenly there was a knock, causing me to jump and drop my phone in surprise.

“Everything going okay in there?” One of the sales ladies called from the other side of the door.

“Yep, it fits really well. I’ll be out in just a second!” I called back, picking up my phone and attaching the photo to the text, sending it and not even double checking. Soon enough Hannah would come bounding back here to see me in it and I could finally change. I waited a couple more minutes before taking the dress off, waiting for Hannah but she never came. And then I saw why.

Luca – Please tell me you’re not wearing anything under that

Oh fuck.

I had sent it to Luca. The last person I had wanted to send a photo of me in a short cut and plunging dress to. My eyes went wide in the horror of what I’d done.

Me – That wasn’t meant for you, delete it right now you prick!

I shot him a text back, praying he’d delete it and forget all about it but with him I know he never would. He had a one-track mind and would keep that photo forever now to taunt me. I can’t believe I didn’t check who I was sending it to before I sent it after dropping it, I know better.

Luca – Who else would this be for? Feel free to send more, maybe without the dress this time

My cheeks turned bright red in embarrassment of what I had done and what he’d said back. He really did only think of one thing and now I knew for sure that one thing involved me. My cheeks heated up even hotter.

Me –Go to Hell

“Addy? Everything okay?” Hannah knocked softly on my door, breaking out of my trance of embarrassment. I tried to calm myself down, trying desperately to get my cheeks to return to their normal color but to no avail.

“Yeah, just making sure it fits!” I called back, fanning my face.

“Let me see!” Hannah said, pushing the door open and coming it, seeing how red my face was. A look of concern flashed across her face. “Are you okay?”

“Yep, it just got hot in here or something suddenly. I’m fine! How does this look?” I said, twirling around to I could hide my face and have her focus on the dress.

“I’ll make you walk home if you don’t buy it. Or I’ll call Luca to come get you.” She teased, eyeing the dress again. I rolled my eyes at her response. After what I had done, I didn’t want Luca anywhere near me with this dress.

“Alright, alright, I’ll get it. Now let me change.” I said, pushing her out of my fitting room to change and silently dreading going back home knowing Luca would be waiting for me.

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