Silence, you could hear a pin drop. The empty hallway went on forever as Siena sat at one end patiently waiting to be seen. Her sparkling eyes must have studied each and every small crack and dent in the wide door before her, they danced along the letters that read ‘Julia Walsh - Head of Fashion and Textiles’.
Siena took a deep breath, she felt as though she could hear her heart beating. That’s how dead silent it was, although her nerves were creeping through her body, her excitement sat at the very front of her mind. She was grateful for this, she was thankful that any minute now, Mrs Walsh was going to call her in.
"Siena Romana?" A younger dark haired girl scurried out of the door.
“Yes!” Siena shot up at the sound of the door.
“Follow me please, Mrs Walsh is ready for you.”
Siena took a deep breath before straightening out her skirt. She was thankful that Asher let her buy an outfit especially for this meeting. Through the doors was a large room with a desk leading to another large room.
The dark haired girl knocked twice before telling Siena to make her way in. Siena walked into the bright room, the walls were plastered with photos, paintings and sketches of various outfits and dresses. Siena couldn’t take her eyes off the masterpieces before her eyes fell to the smart blonde in front of her.
“Take a seat Miss Romana.” She spoke, her voice strong and dominant as she glared at the papers before her.
Finally she put down the papers and glanced at Siena who sat straight in her seat. Julia leaned back and stroked her chin as she studied the girl before her.
“So your name has been brought to my attention.” She started, cocking her head to the side.
“If there’s one thing I hate Miss Romana, it’s cheating.”
Siena gulped, trying to maintain eye contact with the intense lady before her.
“Tell me, do you think someone should just be handed a college placement as though it’s a doggy treat?”
“No of course not.” Siena replied, though she knew where this was going. Her heart was racing.
“So tell me Miss Romana, what is so special about you that I just must have you on my course?”
“Mrs Walsh, I understand what this looks like. I really do - but you have to know that this.” Siena looked around her and pointed towards the work on the walls. “This is what I’ve dreamt about since I could walk, since I could talk.”
“Your dream is shared by millions of others Miss Romana.”
“but I’m different!”
“because this is all I’ve got!” Siena closed her eyes, her heart began to ache as she thought of this being taken from her now. “This is all I want.”
Siena’s eyes opened again, her look was that of determination. “Mrs Walsh, I come from nothing. We have nothing and even though that statement was embedded into my head, I still had the audacity to dream even though I knew I wasn’t supposed to.” She took a deep breath before continuing.
“Someone like me is not meant to get lost in their dreams, I wasn’t supposed to believe that I could become something, someone important but enough is enough!” Siena’s eyes glossed over.
“When I was a little girl, I use to sweep the streets for a little money and I would save each and every penny to buy this one dress in a store that I use to walk past day and night. Of course, that money was stolen from me by my own cousin. It wasn’t a lot.” Siena chuckled, thinking back to her memory.
“I remember crying myself to sleep for so many nights after, wondering why this was my life? Why were the other girls wearing such beautiful dresses. Am I not worthy to wear such fabulous gowns? Well of course I am but I don’t have to just wear these dresses, I can create them, I can design them.”
Julia was extremely quiet as she listened, her eyes searching every part of this girl before her. The passion and blazing fire within her was undeniable.
“One year for my birthday, my grandpapa bought me a wonderful sketchbook. I took it with me everywhere, still do. ‘What are you always writing in there? What are you always drawing in there.’ People would ask me.” Siena sniffled as a tear rolled down her cheek.
She pulled out a black tattered sketchbook from her bag, it was almost ripping apart from the middle. With a shaky breath she glided it across the desk to Julia. “We can all dream Mrs Walsh, but I don’t want to just dream anymore.”
Julia’s hardened demeanour had softened, her broad back arched slightly as she looked down at the old sketchbook. Slowly her fingers reached to open the first page, she gasped at the intricate sketches patterned across the page, as she turned the pages each sketch becoming more detailed.
Some pencil sketches, some with blobs of colour, this work was magical. Such bold and vivid lines, stunning outfits. What an imagination this young girl has. Julia had never seen anything like it, the fire in this girls eyes showed in her work.
Julia closed the sketchbook silently and slid it back to Siena. She stood from her seat and walked over to her, extending out her hand. “Miss Romana, it would be an honour to have you join us at your earliest convenience.”
Siena’s hands moved to shake Julia’s, her lips parted as the shock seeped through her.
“Oh and usually, even for scholarship students, there’s a fee of $2,000 for machinery, equipment and supplies - but I am happy to cover all the costs. Welcome to Mayfair City Miss Romana.”
Julia’s lips curved into a proud smile. She went to sit back behind her desk as Siena stood up. Her legs trembling with the thrill and delight of what she had just achieved.
Asher waited patiently in his car for Siena. His head resting back against the headrest, his fingers tapping to the beat of the radio when something in the distance caught his eye.
Flaming red hair, familiar honey eyes, he watched as she laughed with two other girls almost stumbling into a bush. He scoffed out loud. Her hair blew wildly with the wind, her eyes fixed onto her two friends and within seconds, she was gone.
Asher jumped at a knocking sound on the passenger window. Siena was grinning from ear to ear.
“Asher! I’m in! She accepted me. Can you believe it?!” She shrieked, bouncing into the car.
“Of course I can believe it, I didn’t doubt you for a second Siena.” He mirrored her expression.
It pleased him very much to see her this way, he had agreed to let her study whilst still working for him. He had slowly stopped seeing Siena as a maid and more as a really good friend. Each time she wore her uniform, he just wanted to laugh.
Siena was due to start her course at college after the term break, she had a week before her start date. The excitement was building and she still couldn’t believe that it was true. She kept thinking she would wake up in the old cottage on her mattress.
As much as she tried to get into contact with Tia, aunt Maria was still making that really difficult. It didn’t make any sense, why was it such a problem that Tia and Siena were close. Especially now since they were so far apart.
Of course Siena knew it was best to keep the news about college from getting to aunt Maria. The last thing she wanted was for her Zia to intervene and ruin everything.
The winter sun had set on an icy Thursday evening. Siena was busy putting away the dry dishes after dinner. Asher was busy working on his laptop. He had a few projects to approve, so his team could start work designing the buildings.
Siena could hear her phone vibrating before rushing and picking it up.
“Sorella! How are you?”
“Oh I’m great fratello. (Brother)”
“You sound happy Siena.”
“I am. I have so much to tell you Diego.”
“Good, well you can tell me and Briana tomorrow night at dinner.”
“What?” Siena squealed with excitement.
“Yes! Briana has been waiting for this dinner. I’m working in the city tomorrow, I will come and collect you after lunch. You can spend the day here. Unless you have to work?”
“I will ask my boss Diego but I’m sure he won’t mind. Oh I’m so excited.”
“Same here. I can’t wait for you to meet Charlie.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow Diego.”
Siena jumped up and down as she hung up, she couldn’t wait to finally meet Briana and see where her dear cousin lived.
“Asher?” She called, watching him concentrating.
“My cousin has invited me to dine with him and his wife tomorrow. Can I please go?”
“No you can’t.” Asher smirked, his crystal eyes still fixed onto the screen before him.
Siena’s dimples appeared before she jumped beside him. “Pleeease.”
“Obviously you can go Siena.” He chuckled.
“Thank you! You’re like the best boss ever!” She pulled him into a delightful hug.”
“I know I am.” He winked.
Siena skipped into her room and closed the door behind her. She freshened up and slipped out of her clothes before jumping into bed.
Her mind wandered to how a certain someone was doing. She hadn’t seen or heard from him since the dinner last week. Things didn’t end so well the last time she saw him. She felt guilty for asking him to leave when she clearly saw the concern in his eyes. Perhaps she should tell him that Asher managed to sort everything out for her.
She didn’t know how long she had been thinking of Alec before her heavy eyes shut and sleep took over.
Siena had managed to finish all of her jobs this morning. Tony kindly agreed to pick up Asher’s dry cleaning later today as Siena had more exciting plans.
Diego was due to collect her any minute as she applied a little gloss to her lips. She wore her new skirt and blouse with her suede boots.
The apartment was quiet and serene as she waited for her cousin. It wasn’t long before he called her to let her know he was parked outside.
The drive to Diego’s felt shorter than it was, the fun and light conversation between the two cousins made time fly. Siena didn’t mention anything about college just yet as she wanted to surprise them at dinner.
Diego’s house was a comfortable size, especially for a small family. Siena grinned as she got out of the car, the neighbourhood looked a little rough compared to the city but she enjoyed the fact that she was with family again.
Briana opened the door, her arms extended out to pull Siena in for a tight embrace.
“Oh you’re so beautiful.” She gushed, squeezing Siena with dear life.
“Briana. How are you?” Siena smiled, her dimples glowing upon her face.
“I’m very well sugar.” Briana beamed, her raven hair up high in a bun as she stroked her medium sized belly.
Siena gasped. “oh my god!" She yelled, her emerald eyes bouncing from Diego to Briana.
“Congratulations!” She pulled them both in for a sandwich hug.
“Charlie is down for his nap but you can help me in the kitchen.”
Siena wasted no time getting stuck in and helping with dinner. Briana was singing her husbands praises as he blushed in the corner.
“Ohhh Diego I knew you were just a big old teddy bear.” Siena teased. It was good to know that Diego was a good man who looked after his wife and kid.
All of a sudden, the sound of whimpers and cries could be heard. “Charlie’s up!”
Diego brought him in to Siena who instantly fell in love with him. “Hi Charlie, I’m your Zia!” She clapped her hands and held them out.
Charlie was a little shy at first but after a few nursery rhymes and funny faces he was ready for a cuddle. He looked so adorable with dark curly locks mopped above his small head.
Dinner was almost ready as Siena had pretty much made herself at home. The sound of the door buzzing caught her attention.
“Siena could you get that please.” Briana asked whilst stirring the gravy.
Siena ran towards the door and froze after opening it.
“What are you doing here?” She asked.
“Freezing my balls off. Can I come in?”
“Oh sorry. Yeah.”
“Alec! Brother, you’re late!” Diego yelled.
“I know I got held up at work. You know how it is.”
“Yes. Work is more important than your best friend.”
Siena watched as the two friends ran into each, embracing each other, she couldn’t help but smile.
“Beautiful Briana.” Alec kissed Briana's forehead whilst she pretended to hit him with a spoon.
“Where’s my Charlie?” Alec playfully asked before diving towards the little boy and picking him up.
He was quite the hit with Diego’s family, but then he was his best friend after all. Siena couldn’t help keep her eyes off him as he interacted with everyone, but she couldn’t help notice that he was quiet with her. Sure she hated when he teased her but he wasn’t giving her any attention.
Why did that annoy her so much?
Everyone sat at the dining table with full plates. Siena sat next to Briana, but she was opposite Alec. He hardly looked at her, she was getting irritated.
“So Siena had some exciting news to tell us.” Diego proudly announced, taking a bite of his food.
Siena cleared her throat before glancing up towards Alec, his silver grey orbs were fixed on her. Her heart felt like it skipped a beat. Finally!
“Well, I got into college and my boss is letting me study whilst I work for him.” She smiled, unable to contain her delight.
“Brava! (Well done)” Diego clapped, as he chuckled with joy. Briana approvingly pat Siena on the back. Siena bit her bottom lip as she looked towards Alec again. His eyes looked intense but he was nodding with approval.
“Please don’t mention anything to Zia though.” Siena added.
“Oh I wouldn’t dare. She doesn’t need to know.” Diego responded.
“Alec?” Diego called, slapping his back.
“Have you been looking after my cousin?”
Alec’s lips curved into a slight smirk as he looked at Siena. She gulped trying to give him a look of warning, not to mention anything about Daniel.
“She can look after herself Diego.” He replied, with a knowing look. Siena couldn’t understand why he was being so distant. If there’s one thing that annoyed her more than loud Alec, it was quiet Alec.
“Si. She can look after herself, but I feel better if you’re there. What’s Mr Hayden like?”
“Asher is lovely. He helped me get my placement.” Siena threw her dimples at Diego.
“He’s a good man.” Diego nodded.
“Yes he is.” She replied, glancing up at Alec. “He’s polite and well mannered. Doesn’t play pranks on me.”
Alec scoffed out loud. Siena wanted a reaction out of him, she wasn’t going to get it. Diego and Briana gave each other a funny look at the table.
After clearing up after dinner, Siena wondered how she was going to get home. She sat in the lounge, playing with Charlie before the lights went out.
Briana walked in holding a small chocolate cake with some candles on top. Siena giggled.
“Tanti auguri a te (Happy birthday to you)
Tanti auguri a te (Happy birthday to you)
Tanti auguri a Siena (Happy birthday, Siena)
Tanti auguri a te (Happy birthday to you)”
“Guys what is this?”
“A little birdie told me it’s your birthday in a couple of days.”
“Yes but you didn’t have to do this. Thank you.” Siena hugged Diego and Briana before licking her lips, the homemade cake looked amazing.
Alec sat on the couch in the far corner, Diego parked himself next to him. “So are going to tell me what’s got you so riled up?” He asked, looking towards Charlie playing with Siena.
Alec smirked at his friend. “Nothing.”
“I see how you look at my cousin Alec.” Diego cocked up a brow.
“Oh please Diego. I look at every girl like this.”
“No. Not every girl.” Diego smiled as Alec rolled his eyes.
“Relax. I won’t touch your precious cousin.”
Diego laughed. “Seems you’re not going to let anyone else touch her either. You’re forgetting that I’ve known you my whole life Alec.”
“Give it a rest.” Alec snapped, staring ahead at Siena laughing with Charlie.
“I’m just glad to know that she’s in good hands. I definitely don’t have to worry about her now.” Diego chuckled. “Who knew that the great Alec Marino will be brought down by a little girl?’
“Diego I’ll have to get going now.” Siena announced. “Yes. Alec will take you home.” With one last smirk at his friend, Diego stood up to say his goodbyes.
“Thank you so much for such an amazing evening.”
“You’re welcome, you must come back soon.”
After hugging everyone and kissing Charlie, Siena joined Alec in his car. She bit her lip as she wondered what to say to him. She had never seen him so quiet towards her when he was absolutely fine with everybody else.
“What’s your problem?” She snapped.
“What makes you think I have a problem tesoro?” He replied.
“Oh so you just put on the whole good guy act in front of Diego. Is that it?”
Alec scoffed but stayed silent.
“You didn’t even-.” Siena stopped talking and folded her arms to her chest. She huffed whilst turning to look out of the window.
“I didn’t what?”
“Okay.” Alec replied with no emotion. He knew exactly why his tesoro was annoyed. He knew what he was doing and had kept his distance.
Being busy with work was one reason but he wanted another reaction out of her, this time he wasn’t sure if he would get it - but it seemed Siena missed him. She craved the way he irritates her even though she couldn’t admit it to herself.
Siena turned back to face him and switched on the radio, all whilst her jewel like eyes glared at Alec. She was going to get a reaction out of him whether he liked it or not!
She started to turn the sound up even higher. Alec carried on driving, not a flicker of emotion on his face.
“You know Asher loves this song.” She chuckled before the car was met with a sudden silence. Alec had switched off the radio.
“Good for him.” Alec replied deadpan, he knew what she was doing.
“Alec. You didn’t even congratulate me.” Siena sighed. She watched his jaw clench under his sharp features. His full brows furrowed at her statement and he turned to gaze at her.
“Congratulations tesoro.” A slight smirk met his full lips. Siena sighed, she wasn’t satisfied with this Alec, he wasn’t being himself.
“What do you want from me baby?” Alec asked, his cloudy eyes boring into her.
“I don’t want anything from you!”
Alec scoffed again. “If I had to guess I’d say you miss me principessa (princess).”
Siena’s lip parted slightly. “I don’t miss you, you’re just acting strange.”
Alec cocked up a brow at the young girl, her cheeks flushed and she was done with this conversation.
“Okay fine! You win, no more talking. Ever!” She snapped, shaking her head.
Alec couldn’t help chuckle under his breath.
“So let me get this straight. I talk to you, you hate me. I don’t talk to you, you hate me?” He paused to admire Siena, speechless, irritated.
The car came to a calming stop outside the apartment.
Siena rolled her eyes, looking straight ahead. Alec turned towards her.
“You don’t need my congratulations to know that I am completely happy for you. You think I never recognised the passion in your heart burning through those beautiful eyes? You will do great things with your life. I have no doubt.” Siena’s dimples glittered under the moonlight. She could feel the colour stain her cheeks.
Alec was silent, watching her reaction. “Look at me tesoro.”
Her eyes met the silver flecks in his, she was afraid he could hear her heart thumping out of her chest.
“Siena?” He whispered, as he glided his hand through his dark hair.
“I know I’m the leading man in all your wet dreams.” His serious face instantly turned into a cheeky grin.
“Alec!” She gasped. “Good night!” She snapped, stepping out of the car.
“Sweet dreams tesoro.” He made sure to enunciate the word ‘dreams’, Siena tried to hide her giggle before walking towards the entrance.
What was it about this man?
- but there was the question that she couldn’t answer. What did she want from him?