We park up and a sick feeling settles in my stomach. I’m grateful when Domenico releases my hand because I can feel my palms getting clammy. He comes around and gets my door for me. I’m really not used to this kind of treatment. He must be putting it on for my benefit.
I bet he doesn’t get the car doors for his henchmen.
One of the bodyguards retrieves my suitcase from the back and wheels it inside. I try not to laugh at the sight of the burly man dressed entirely in black, pulling along my mega-sized orange suitcase.
Domenico places his hand on my lower back again and ushers me to the door. We enter his house and immediately I feel the need to take off my shoes and wash my hands. Everything is pristine white. Everything shines and is polished to perfection. It’s like the interior of a hotel or art gallery. It’s very obvious that he doesn’t have any children. It would not look like this if he did.
Or maybe he keeps them locked upstairs?Grim thought, Alejandra, move on.
“Would you like a tour, gattina?” He offers, giving me a smooth smile. “My men will take your suitcase up to your room.”
I smile at him, pleased that I get my own room. “Yes, please.”
He shows me around, which takes almost fifteen minutes. The place is a mansion that, as far as I can tell, only he lives in.
“My men live here too,” he explains and points to a large doorway. “They are in this wing of the house, but I won’t bore you with their quarters.”
He takes me outside. The Sun is low in the sky, casting a golden glow on everything. Golden hour. With his hands casually resting in his pockets, Domenico takes me around the gardens. He has designed it to be very much like an Italian landscape. There are olive trees and towering cypress trees. The outdoor pool is beautiful, with pale blue tiles. Terracotta slabs pave the area all the way up to a patio, joined to the back of the house.
“Your home is amazing,” I tell him when we come back to the foyer.
He smiles at me. “Thank you, gattina.”
He takes me up to the first floor and shows me to my room. I try to remember how we got here; this place is insanely big.
“I will give you some time to get settled in your bedroom. How about I come and collect you at six, is that okay?” He asks.
I’ll be honest, I’m a little surprised that he’s asking what I want, rather than telling me what he wants. “Okay,” I respond meekly, feeling nervous all over again.
I go inside and close the door behind me. I’m glad he’s given me some time to get my head straight. I look around my room. It even has a balcony with a table and two chairs. It overlooks the beautiful gardens below. I take out my phone and FaceTime Hanna, wanting her to see all of this.
“Holy shit! That’s where you’re staying?” Her voice echoes around the balcony as I turn my phone and show her everything. “It’s like a fucking film! That’s crazy!”
I show Hanna the inside of my bedroom and then sit down on the end of the bed. I pull the gun out of my handbag and hold it up to my phone.
“What the fuck! You’re like an assassin or something! This is so fucking cool.”
I laugh in a hysterical way and slip the gun back in my purse. “I’m nervous,” I confess to her. “Do you think I should change for dinner?”
She considers it for a moment. “What’s he wearing?”
“He was wearing a suit, but I think he came from his work or something.”
“Why don’t you text him? That way, you’ll know for sure and feel more comfortable.”
“Okay, I’ll do that.”
“And seriously, girl, I promise you, no one is going to judge you if you jump on that Italian sausage tonight, okay?”
My cheeks flame up and I press my hand against one. “Yeah, I know.”
“Seriously, get that fucking D, girl. And then call me the next day to tell me all of the details!”
I say goodbye to Hanna and text Domenico.
Should I change for dinner?
My phone buzzes with his reply a few minutes later.
I will be wearing ‘smart’ clothes for you, gattina, but please wear whatever feels comfortable. I just want you.
How can he somehow be romantic at the same time? This man has a lot of talents.
I choose to swap to a soft, stretchy dress that I always feel comfortable in. Typically, it’s my summer-afternoon, go for a cocktail but not dressed-up, dress. I spritz some perfume and check my make-up just before there’s a knock at the door.
I open it and my heart stops. Domenico is wearing a lightweight blazer, a white shirt that contrasts beautifully against his deep russet-coloured skin. He’s wearing black jeans that hug every inch of his muscular legs.
Sweet Lord above.It looks like I’m a lot more likely to ‘jump on that Italian sausage’ than I thought.
“I-I,” I stutter like a complete idiot. “You look...hot.”
When all else fails, might as well go with the truth.
Domenico smirks and steps out of the way to let me out. “Thank you, gattina, I’m glad that you think so. You look lovely.”
He takes my hand in his warm one and leads me down the stairs. He takes me through to a room which has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the pool.
“Wine?” He offers, holding up a bottle of red.
I probably shouldn’t. My inhibitions are already skewed with this man, adding alcohol to the mix seems dangerous. But the red looks expensive and I’m a sucker for a good Italian Shiraz. The mischievous glint in Domenico’s eyes tells me that he knows he has me hooked.
He casually shows the label to me. “It’s a Shiraz, I heard from your maître-d that you chose the wines in your restaurants yourself, and that the Shiraz is your favourite. I thought I’d get a few in for you. This is from my family’s vineyard.”
Oh, fuck me already.
I lick my lips. “Sure, I’d like a glass, please.”
Motherfucking sexy Italian bastard.
He pours a medium glass for me and hands it over. Our fingers brush as I accept the glass from him, and I swallow hard. Just that simple touch has my nipples pressing against my bra, straining to be noticed and touched.
We tap our glasses together and Domenico gestures for me to sit down on one of the sofas. He sits opposite me, giving me space. I appreciate that.
“Tell me about your restaurants, Alejandra,” he says. “I want to hear all about your success.”
We talk until the meal is called. He asks endless questions about my business, admiring my work ethic and my ideas. It’s great to have a conversation with a man who actually listens and is impressed. Most men are intimidated by me and see conversation as an opportunity for a pissing contest.
Dinner is served in a dining room. The windows are floor-to-ceiling again, taking up the whole of one of the walls. It overlooks the entire city, and I can see why he chose to have such large windows here. The food is Italian and delicious. Apparently, I’m going to put on a stone living here for a week. I’m going to eat all of this gorgeous food.
We chat about different things as we eat. I admire the view and ask him about how he came to have this house and why he chose it. Turns out, he had it built. What a life.
I have two more glasses of wine with dinner but decide to stop at three. That’s more than enough for me to feel a gentle buzz. I’m alarmed by how easy he is to talk to. He’s a smooth-talker for sure, but he isn’t sleazy and surprises me by not making any kind of move. He’s complimentary but he doesn’t leer at me across the table. He listens intently to everything I have to say. I feel flattered but not uncomfortable. It seems that Domenico Lencioni is full of surprises.
After we’ve finished, he suggests that we go back through to the lounge. He shuts the door behind us when we go in. I walk over to the windows, looking out at the pool in the night-time. Illuminated by underwater lights, it’s very tempting to want to go for an evening swim.
Domenico comes up behind me. I can feel his warmth against my back. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” He murmurs, his hot breath fanning over my neck.
“Yes, it is.”
I turn around to face him. My eyes widen as I realise how close he is. Domenico’s dark eyes drop to my lips. He wants to kiss me, I’m sure of it. Scarily, I want him to kiss me, too.
“Can I kiss you, gattina?” He asks softly.
I can’t believe he’s asking.When did the Mafia Don become a gentleman?