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“You will love this, Neonata. This is more special because you’re here and this is no one’s favorite but you. I craved for this for a while now since I haven’t cooked this in months when-”

“Nana,” Alessandro cut her in a hard tone.

I threw her a questioning look to which she just shrugged off and smiled. So, it only meant one thing, there were things never done in the house that would remind them of me. Was he that really adamant to forget about me? I internally sighed down, quickly dismissing the unwanted disappointment.

He was sitting at the head of the table like the powerful man that he is, looking very intimidating. As I was sitting across from him next to Nana, I just couldn’t look straight without meeting his eyes- if he were looking at me.

Nana continued, “The house has never been so alive. Alessandro seems more like a living man now, I suppose. By all means, I knew you would come back, but he had kicked the bucket when you left-”

“I think you’re overdoing it, Nana Mena.” He carped. “We’re eating, aren’t we?” His tone was scolding, but Nana seemed to pretend not to notice it.

As for me, I just couldn’t look in his direction yet. The embarrassment from earlier was still scolding in my mind, replaying the scene of how I begged him in my mind to touch me there. Instead, I fixed my eyes on Nana Mena, eager to hear what she was going to say despite the distaste in Alessandro’s voice. She went even deeper into the subject, not even trying to tread carefully, looking amused. I felt like Alessandro butting in had creased her up even more.

“Non lasciarlo di nuovo, Neonata, altrimenti congelerà l’inferno per trovarti.” She chuckled. My forehead wrinkled.

Although I’m surrounded by these people speaking in their language, Italian is still puzzling for me to completely understand longer sentences, howbeit, Inferno is crystal clear to my ears.

(Don’t leave him again, Neonata, else he will freeze hell to find you. )

“What does that mean?” I heard myself asking.

“Nana,” his voice was filled with warning.

She feigned a gasp, “Oh, I apologize. I just said, now that you are finally here, it wouldn’t feel like an Inferno anymore because you are like a block of ice breaking it.” She smiled warmly. I smiled back. I understand that whatever she meant by that, it was not meant for me to comprehend. She could be saying we’d go to hell and I would just say yes without a tad of doubt.

Without conscious control, I glanced in his direction only to hold back the gasp that almost slipped past my mouth to see that he was already staring at me, intently. Flustered, I immediately cast my gaze down on the food in front of me, feeling sheepish all of the sudden. The memory of us together in the bathroom was just difficult to rid of. I guess I had just missed being with this man, to be back in his arms again. And the thought made my thighs clench together.

Clearing my throat, started to eat.

Nana Mena put pieces of garlic butter shrimps on my plate. Oh Yeah. I missed her cooking.

She really is one of the best cooks in the world.

Hmmm. Damn, this is good. The tastes burst on my tongue, making me moan. I missed this wholeheartedly. In those months alone, my tongue was sick and tired of eating takeout foods. All greasy and very unhealthy.

“I missed this so much, Nana Mena,” I told her, moaning, as I licked my fingers enthusiastically.

Right, I especially eat this scrumptious dish with my bare hands, because when I do so, the more they get tastier. I had told Nana before that I much preferred to eat shrimps in their carapace as I have the time of my life removing the shells. The food is also much appreciated.

My eyes unconsciously fell on Alessandro. Our eyes met, sending butterflies stumbling over in and out of my stomach that almost had me choking. I swallowed audibly. He was eating like time never bothered him. With his eyes so deep and dark, novel emotions passing through, reaching the deepest pit of his mind was rather difficult. His expressions drastically changed. It was always hard for me to read him, but he was always good at reading me, and I hated that.

“Grazie,” Nana burped.

I internally groaned. What’s eating his ass? How can I eat properly?

Nonetheless, I went all out eating, ignoring him. I’d rather eat this scrumptious food to be stuffed than to worry about this man’s cold how-do-you-do. In my peripheral view, an amused smile tugged at the corner of Nana Mena’s lips. This woman had always been very observant.

“Eat more of this,” she offered while handing me more of the garlic butter shrimp to which I happily accepted.

Eating like he wasn’t there, I kept a smile and a nod to Nana to show her how I loved her food, and missing her cooking helped me shut my eyes to Alessandro’s consuming stares.

“Nana, you’re stuffing me to the gills. I can’t eat all this anymore. I’m stuffed.” I cracked a smile at her action. She was putting more food; she looked like a worried mother feeding her prodigal daughter who had been faraway gone for long.

“You lost weight. You’ve not been eating properly, I know. Hasn’t she lost weight, Alessandro?” Nana asked him. I looked away. I didn’t want to meet his eyes because every time I did so, I seemed not to want to look away.

“Sì. You need to eat more.” Was his grim response. Didn’t he like me slim? I pouted.

“Now, I’m being abandoned again?” I feigned disappointment to which they just shrugged off. They could read me so easily.

During the duration of the dinner, I managed to avoid his eyes- or did I, really? Sitting across him was making me feel like I was in a hot seat squirming and waiting to be roasted.

“We’ll go somewhere. Make yourself ready. We’ll leave at around 8 sharp.” Setting his spoon and fork down, he said, and hoisted himself up, retreating to his room.

“He is always difficult to define, Nana,” I said softly.

“He’s happy, Neonata, stop worrying. Now, you go make yourself ready, yes?” She urged, hauling me from my seat, both arms on my shoulder. She kissed me on the forehead and nudged me upstairs.



I rummaged through the dresses my closet decorated. They hadn’t touched anything since I left. Probably Nana made sure to organize and see about the cleanliness in the room. However, one thing made my brows twist in confusion; my belongings at my small apartment and my office stuff were already here! Since when these things arrived?

“The man keeps his nose to the grindstone fast!” I grumbled.

Pushing the matter aside, I opted for the sexy but not too revealing V-neck cotton dress. It was a casual loose dress reaching mid-thigh. I chose a pair of brown boots to go with it and put them on; I beamed at the results. I curled the tip of my light brown hair to add to the final touch of my light makeup.

I finally stared at myself again in the mirror. For so many days I could not look at myself in the mirror without seeing the nightmare I had run away from, I could finally smile again; I saw a radiant woman. Eyes no longer gloomy. My brown complexion seemed to have a bit of pinkish color. My cheeks looked scarlet and flushed. I appeared to be more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, in a nutshell. My lips stretched to an almost content smile.



Alessandro was breathtakingly devilish standing in the living room with his hand on his hip while speaking with someone on the phone. That notorious scowl always struck to mark his face. His shoulder was perfectly outlined by the white shirt he chose to wear paired with ripped denim. He looked drop-dead gorgeous. Until now, he could make my heart beat fast as if he owned it. Shhh, stop it! Be kind! I’m your owner!

His eyes ascended to mine- he must have sensed someone was gawking at him. Untold of emotions crossed his eyes before it turned to a scowl again. A sharp pinch of disappointment squeezed my heart. Didn’t he like my outfit? My hand proceeded to palm my dress.

“I’m ready,” I told him. He just nodded impassively.

“We’re going,” turning he said. I nervously bit my lip. His heedlessness bruised my confidence I began to hoard. I tailed him to the door when Nana Mena made an appearance from the kitchen.

“Oh,figlia! Sei bello. You look beautiful, I mean.” She acclaimed, approaching us. Her honeyed words touched my heart. Couldn’t he give me the same praises? That was what I wanted to hear. Especially, from him.

“Thank you, Nana,” I hugged her.

“Don’t wait for us, Nana. We might get back home late.” He said and strolled out of the door. Disappointed, I turned to Nana with a pretense of excitement although disappointment was consuming me from within. But with her sharp senses, I couldn’t really hide that, could I?

“He’s happy, Figlia. I know he is. The man is just taciturn howbeit he is loving. You knew him.”

“He changed, Nana. He hates me now. He’s not the same since.”

“You’ll have to teach him how to communicate.” She assured me as she held my hands. “He’ll get over it.”

I took a deep sigh. “I’ll bear that in mind, Nana. We’re going.” I kissed her on the cheek marched outside.

Alessandro was already waiting, leaning his back on his black Mercedes-Benz. His eyes were fixed on me as I made my way to him. His expressions were unreadable.

A standoffish man that he is, presuming what’s in his mind is an utter arduous piece of work for me.

I couldn’t actually meet his eyes.

When I reached him, he soon opened the car to the front passenger seat, obligingly.

I exerted an amount of effort to regulate my breathing when he installed himself down at the driver’s seat and let go of a sensible breath as I made myself comfortable.

He momentarily paused, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel.

“Where are we heading for?” I asked him.

“At @Hearts,” he answered, bringing the engine to life.

I gasped aloud. Shrilled.

“You don’t know how much you make me so excited right now! For real?”

He chuckled and just like that my heart swelled with happiness.

@Hearts is a charity that takes care of the orphans whose parents, unfortunately, died of accidents or parents who have abandoned their responsibilities. Children in that institution are brilliant and preposterous. Alessandro has been funding the charity to keep it going.

It had been three months since I last visited the place. It was before the situation went off the rails that led to the death of his sister.

The truth crowded my mind and I fell silent.

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