The house is alive with people hustling about trying to get decorations up for the party tomorrow. I almost walk into some men carrying a chandelier. They didn’t recognize me as one of the Correttis so I got a good word or two about how I should watch where I’m going. I just woke up so I don’t have the energy to return the favor. Instead, I ignored them and just went on my way.
In nothing but my pajama shorts and a thin silky robe I wandered into the kitchen. He was there, dressed impeccably in one of his many dark suits, leaning against the counter, a glass of coffee in one hand and the new paper in the other. He looks up when I enter. His dark , unreadable eyes rake over me shamelessly and my skin tingles at his attention.
“Good morning,” I murmured, huskily, still half-asleep.
His head snapped up to my lips at the sound and before I do something stupid I rush for the coffee, I needed to busy my hands before they decide Enzo wasn’t the asshole he made himself out to be and run themselves through his soft silky hair.
“Good morning,” he replied indignantly and went back to his paper, his jaw tenser than it was a moment ago.
I made my coffee and circled the counter to sit in one of the stools, which was directly in front of him. I took a sip, reveling as the creamy goodness slid down my throat warming my belly. I moan lowly and it didn’t slip my notice how the paper crumbled in his clenched fists.
I smirked knowingly and bring the mug to my lips again. “So, where are the others? The house seems quieter than usual.”
He didn’t look at me when he said, “They’re out conducting business for me.” He discards the paper after a beat and finally looks at me, giving me a charming smile that wreaked havoc on my ovaries. “We have business of our own that needs to be dealt with.”
I cock an eyebrow. “We do?”
Something dark flickers in his eyes before it disappears and I’m left thinking I hadn’t seen it at all. “We’re going to get you a new wardrobe. Emilia’s bitching about sharing her clothes and today I intend to remedy that.”
“You want to take me shopping?”
I shake my head trying to wrap my head around it, I blame the grogginess. “Wait, what’s wrong with my clothes?”
“We can’t have you following us around looking like a broke hooker now can we?”
I scowl. “It physically pains you to be nice, doesn’t it?” He merely winks and turns his back on me, heading towards the door.
“There’s an outfit in your wardrobe I expect you to wear it today. You have ten minutes, mia cara.”
I raise both my middle fingers at his retreating back. Asshole.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
This is my first time outside the house since my kidnapping.
The outfit he’d laid out for me, was a simple sky blue summer dress, that hugged my chest and hung all the way to my knee. The ensemble was paired off with nude wedges that I couldn’t quit drooling over. My hair was out, the fringes framing my face. I wore minimal makeup; when I say minimal I mean mascara and lip gloss.
I tried my best to look at anything but him as he drove with a casual hand on the steering wheel, the other draped behind my seat but he was too goddamn sexy for his own good and every single cell in my body went into heat with his presence.
Enzo rolled off the busy New York street and into an underground level. My spine straightens and I look around me at the darkness. “Where are we?”
He didn’t answer but rather came to a stop. A man in a uniform came to the drivers side and I see Enzo throw him the keys before he came around the passenger side and held out a hand to help me out of the car.
I ignored his hand and stepped out, careful not to step on my dress.
He rolled his eyes. Instead, he kept his hand on the small of my back and gently urged me forward.
My feet met white marble floors and a gush of air conditioning hit my face carrying with it the scent of luxury and privilege that made my purse cringe. On either sides of us were dozens of high-end stores and I recognized names like Christian Dior, Prada, Cartier...
I paused, I could still feel Enzo’s large hand firmly on my back and I look at him over my shoulder. “What is this place?”
“It’s a shopping centers built for celebrities and high rollers to shop in privacy. It houses only high-end brands, straight off the runway.” He urges me on again and I walk looking around like a bloody tourist, but I can’t help it everything looks extravagant and pricey.
We walk into a store, Alexander McQueen, it read and I look around at the racks and shelves of dresses and bags that I wouldn’t be caught dead in on a normal day. But this isn’t a normal day. Today I’m on the arm of a billionaire and one of the most feared men in the world. What has my life come to?
A saleswoman amble towards us in a sleek pencil skirt and a silk blouse that look like it could cover my rent this month. “Mr. Corretti, it’s a pleasure to have you here. How may we assist you today?” The saleswoman was smiling from ear to ear and I noticed she shifted on the soles of her feet either from nervousness or excitement.
Enzo nodded curtly. “I want her fitted and measured in only your finest.”
The saleswoman looks at me as if she just realizing I was there. Jealousy flashes over her eyes for a moment before she plasters on a smile and gestured me forward. “Right this way, ma’am.”
“You can call me Dylan.”
“Of course, Maam.”
I throw Enzo a look before I’m being pulled away.
At the back of the store, near the dressing rooms, the woman disappears and I run my hand over dresses and shirts and I feel as if my heart will burst. I’ve garnered a love for clothes since I was a kid.
I’d spy all the wealthy women walking through town and I’d follow them, eyeing the way they dressed, how they interacted with people, and the way people treated them. I learn that what you wear and how you wear it defines the way people perceive you. I was the orphaned kid in rags that people shooed out of their establishments with a bucket of water, I wanted to be the wealthy, beautiful woman who wore clothes that match, that people invited in with a glass of champagne and a tray of expensive french chocolates.
Clothes made me feel respected, though I never had the money to pay for it I still found myself staring earnestly at the storefront in passing and whispering a silly wish under my breath every night that all my hard work would pay off. That I’d be able to finish school, work under a wealthy company in IT and be able to save my Grandma the hassle of taking care of me when she could barely take care of herself.
I snap out of my reverie when I feel Enzo at my back and I turn around, having to crane my neck upwards to look at him because he’s so goddamn tall. He holds out a black card towards me and I eye it like a bomb. “Use this to buy whatever you want.”
My eyebrows shoot up. “Are you serious?”
“When am I not serious?”
I still didn’t take it. “Enzo, if you give me that card you’re going to have a serious talk with your bank afterward. So I want you to think long and hard about what you are going to do next.”
He scoffs. “Trust me, love, you wouldn’t even put a dent in my account. Now, take it.”
My fingers curl around the end of the card and my eyes never leave his. “I’m taking your card...” He releases the plastic, his hands dipping into his pocket as he casually leans against a clothing rack. “It’s in my hands...” I take a step back. “I’m walking away with your credit card...” I take another step away. “I’m going further away... It’s leaving, Enzo. This is your last chance... You should try to stop me...”
He just stands there with his unreadable eyes and his pink lips fighting a grin. When I realized he wasn’t going to come after me, I spin around and wrap my hands around a rack of clothes bringing them to my chest as I started for the dressing room. “My precious.”
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
I let out an impressed whistle as I stepped out of the car. Enzo didn’t bother offering me his hand this time.
He brought me to the most beautiful restaurant I’ve ever seen. Okay, you shouldn’t take my word for it, considering I’ve never been inside anything that started or ended with ‘restaurant’. But it was gorgeous either way. A large monochrome building with so many lights and shiny details to put an epileptic person in a coma.
There were lines of expensive cars behind us, just as ostentatious as Enzo’s. He guided me into the restaurant. As we entered everyone scrambled to part a way for us, staring wide-eyed at him.
Enzo didn’t seem fazed by the attention. Actually, he doesn’t seem fazed by anything at all. You can get struck by a meteor an inch from his nose and he’d still stare at you like you were a nuisance he couldn’t seem to get away from.
Their eyes follow us as we stroll towards the Hostess and even she couldn’t take her eyes off of the billionaire.
The woman rushed towards us, her smile eager and a little flirty.
I smirked. This is going to be fun.
“It’s a pleasure to have you here, Mr. Corretti.”
Enzo nodded, expression bored.
Her smile brightened even though he didn’t look her way once. Instead, his eyes were traveling around the perimeter of the room. A calculating look in his eyes. “Your usual table then, Mr. Corretti. Will you be dining alone?”
“No. I’m not alone,” his eyes fell on me and I smiled at the girl from around him.
She glanced at me as though just realizing I was there.
A tight smile formed on her lips as she dragged her gaze back to Enzo. Props to her for being professional and not outright scowling at me. “Ye—uh... right this way then!” She said, with mock enthusiasm.
We followed her deeper into the restaurant, along plush red carpets, gold mosaic ceilings, and marble tiles. We were guided into the middle of the restaurant where a wide golden chandelier twinkled down on us like a spotlight. Enzo pulled out a chair for me like a gentleman but because I’m a bitch, I bypass him completely and took the seat across from him.
He clicked his teeth in annoyance but slid into the seat without a word.
“Your waiter would be right with you, Sir,” The hostess said and I noticed her neckline got a lot lower on the way here. “And if there’s anything I could assist you with, Mr. Corretti please don’t hesitate to call.” A hopeful look in her eyes.
“That won’t be necessary—” He said monotonously, “—but thanks for the sentiment.”
I bite my lip to hold back the laughter as her smile fall.
She looked as if she was on the verge of tears when she scrambled away. If I weren’t in the process of stopping myself from laughing my ass off, I would’ve pitied her. “You’re such a dick, do you know that?”
He raised an eyebrow. “Shutting down her ridiculous fantasies about her and I before she could make a fool out of herself, makes me a dick?”
“Yup,” I say without missing a beat.
“How so?” But his tone said he wasn’t interested in my answer. I gave it to him anyway.
“There are other ways you could’ve told her you weren’t interested. Maybe if you used your words next time, you’ll find it highly effective.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” he said dryly and I rolled my eyes.
The waiter came soon after sporting our menus and my eyebrows scrunched up as I tried to read the thing. What the fuck is a Bistecca ai ferri?
“Are you having problems reading your menu?” He damn well knew I couldn’t read this shit.
I sigh putting it down, “It’s all in Italian.”
“I think it’ll have to do with the fact that it’s an Italian restaurant.”
“But it’s in America. A land that speaks English. I bet you every son of a bitch in here is Googling this shit under their table.”
He snorts and my eyebrows shoot up in surprise. “Was that a laugh? Did I get the crime boss of New York to laugh?” He give me a dry look. “Do it again, I wanna record it.”
He rolled his eyes and called the waiter over. ”Cosa posso portarle, signore?" The waitor asked with an authentic Italian accent.
“I’ll have the mushroom risotto for the appetizer. Torcelli salsiccia e porcini, Bistecca ai ferri, Patate al forno and for desert Coppa di fragole con panna e menta. The lady will have the same thing. Grazie.”
The waiter nodded, taking our menus and heading off. Enzo’s eyes fall on me and his eyebrows draw together in mock concern. “What is it?”
I shake my head, pulling my jaw off my lap. “You should speak Italian more often. My urge to kill you lessens when you do.”
He chuckles for the second time tonight and I find myself cataloging the sound in my head. “You’re a strange one, you know that right?”
“Mhmmm,” was all I said in confirmation. We fall into an awkward silence as we both realize that we’re surrounded by people who are all watching us like a scientist would a new discovery. Expressions ranging from longing to lust, to envy, to anger. Is this how it’s always been being a Corretti? Always being scrutinized and envied. I don’t like it and I’ve only been with them for two days. Imagine having a reputation like that for your whole life.
The waiter comes back soon after with our order and Enzo takes the liberty of translating what I ordered. I find out that the ‘Torcelli salsiccia e porcini’ is basically fancy pasta. ′Bistecca ai ferri’ is steak and ′Coppa di fragole con panna e menta’ is strawberries with sour cream on it.
I eyed the steak distastefully. He raises a brow as he digs in, “What’s wrong with it?”
He looked most surprised by that. “Are you sure?”
I give him a look. “Of course I’m sure. What kind of question is that?”
He lifts a shoulder. “We’ve only had a couple conversations but you seem like the type to strangle puppies and use their blood for your pagan sacrifices. I never pegged you for the caring type.”
“You don’t know me.”
He nodded, sliding the steak away and pushing the mushroom risotto towards me. “Try it.”
I did, and it was the best thing too enter my mouth. I moaned. Enzo’s eyes darkened and his jaw ticked as he watched me slide the fork out of my mouth. “Is it good?” He asks, his voice lower than usual.
“Dude, it’s like my taste buds are having sex,” I gush and he chuckles again.
“Glad you like it,” he says, hoarsely. He clears his throat. “We need to get a couple things clear before tomorrow.”
“Okay...” I say unsurely. Enzo’s eyes darkened and his jaw ticked as he watched me slide the fork out of my mouth. “Is it good?” He asks, his voice lower than usual.
“Dude, it’s like my taste buds are having sex,” I gush and he chuckles again.
“Glad you like it,” he says biting into his own. “We need to get a couple things clear before tomorrow.”
“Okay...” I say unsurely.
“Tomorrow I will be escorting you to the party as my girlfriend who I’ve been seeing for two months. I thought it was a good idea to tell them we met at one of the computer firms my company is funding. You were interning and I came to do my annual check-in. I asked you out and one thing led to another and we’re here today. What do you think?”
I cock an eyebrow. “Oh? I have a say in this?”
“Of course you do.”
“I thought since you kidnapped me and seem to dictate everything around me... I didn’t think I had a choice.”
Enzo pinches his nose bridge letting out a frustrated breath. “Dylan, for this to work, I need your corporation.”
“And would you look at that, another thing you need from me.”
His jaw clench and I smirk at the storm raging in the green of his eyes. I was pissing him off. Good. But before he could lash out I decided to play nice. “How about we come to a compromise?”
“You’re in no position to compromise with me,” he said through gritted teeth.
I sat back in my seat, imitating his relaxed manner. To an outsider, we may look like a nice couple leisurely admiring our lovers but we both know we were in a fight for dominance neither of us was backing down from. “Well then good luck trying to get me to behave at your party tomorrow. As you said not so long ago, I’m crazy. Don’t make me show your guest just how crazy I can be.”
If his anger was tangible it would have wrapped around my neck and choked the living daylights out of me. His fingers drummed on the table as he studied me. I feel like his eyes were digging into my soul and searching for it’s secrets. It was a while before he finally spoke. “Fine. What do you want?” I open my mouth. “—Besides letting you go—” he cut in.
I sighed. There goes that dream. So I say instead, “Since you’ve taken me I’ve fallen behind on my course work. I need to get it done or else I won’t graduate this year.”
He nodded. “I’ll work something out—”
I raise a hand and cut him off. “I’m not done.” He didn’t appreciate that but I didn’t care at the moment. “My sister is having a wedding three weeks from now. I need a bridesmaid’s dress and your permission to attend.”
“Done,” he said, firmly. “Anything else?”
“No, that would be all.”
“Good,” he contends. “We have a deal then.”
I raise my wine glass in a mock salute. “That we do.”